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Confined to Barracks

Our small back garden, around 7.30 am today

More snow fell overnight, and this was the scene about 8 o’clock this morning (Monday).  It was a lovely scene for those of us in South Devon unused to seeing snow, unlike those living in the north of England and Scotland.  I made coffee and stood simply looking at it, almost transfixed by the blanket of whiteness, I just loved it.

Later in the morning, the hazy sunshine which was there when I took this photo totally disappeared, and the skies darkened, as if more snow was about to fall, but it was only momentary, and since then the sun has been shining and at last the snow is melting.

Our front garden and drive covered with snow, midday today

I decided to do some more baking this morning and after breakfast (not a cooked one for me today, must a warm brioche with some of the new seedless raspberry jam, and porridge for husband) I made what in my recipe book is called Belgian Loaf.  I wrote this recipe down from a radio programme in the early 1970s and have been making this very tasty tea loaf ever since.

The ingredients are in cup measures.  I just use an ordinary tea cup as we don’t usually use measuring cups in England, we tend to measure in grams (metric) or in ounces (imperial).

1 cup sugar (I use golden granulated)

1 cup milk (I use semi-skimmed)

1 cup sultanas

2 cups plain flour

4 oz (112 grms) margarine

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 egg

1 level teaspoon cinnamon – optional

1/2 nutmeg, grated – optional


First, set your oven at 355F, 180C, Gas 4.

Prepare a loaf tin with a cake liner or baking parchment.



Put the sugar, milk, sultanas and margarine into a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring all the time.

Allow this mixture to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, measure out the 2 cups of plain flour, the bicarb and the baking powder, the nutmeg and the cinnamon (the spices are optional, but we like them added to this tea loaf.)

Sieve the ingredients together and when the mixture has cooled, add them to the saucepan, plus the egg, and beat them all together.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 3/4 hr – I test with a skewer after 1/2 hr.  When baked cool in the tin before turning out the loaf.  Best kept a day, if you can, before slicing and buttering.  But of course, I had to check it for you didn’t I?

I also made leek & potato soup, not for our lunch as I was re-heating a steak pie I recently bought in the deli (we had half each as they are very filling) and we enjoyed that with potatoes, peas and gravy for lunch.  So now we have home-made soup for two ready in the fridge, and also a portion for two in the freezer.

The soup, which simmers for 1/2 hr before blending

Such an easy soup:  simply chop a large white onion, peel two or three potatoes and chop them into bite-size pieces, and slice a couple of leeks.  Then saute them together in a large pan, add sufficient boiling water to cover, add 4 or 5 crumbled veggie Oxo stock cubes, and simmer for 1/2 hr.

Then add a dollop of cream or crème fraiche or a splash of milk; test the seasoning (you might want to add extra salt and pepper, but I find the veggie cubes are sufficiently salty) and partially blend with a stick blender – I like it only partially blended so there are still some vegetable pieces in the soup, but you could blend it until smooth or even not blend at all, it’s entirely up to you.  A quick and easy soup.

I am now going to have a cup of tea and a slice of the Belgian loaf – I must make sure it’s up to snuff!

Until next time.



About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    I always think the cook should sample the goods.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I actually have a confession to make, Marlene. It is good, but for some unknown reason I forgot to include the egg before I baked the tea loaf! Of course, I blame husband; he was in the kitchen loading the dishwasher to be helpful, but I do like to cook alone in the kitchen, and I think I must’ve been distracted. Anyway, that’s my excuse. I put out all the ingredients as usual, but when I had finished, there was the egg … Never mind, it still tastes good, but not as good as when there’s an egg in the mixture!

  2. I smiled when you said you’d forgotten the egg, Margaret but I’m sure your loaf tasted delicious. Home- made soups are so tasty in cold weather. Most of our snow has gone now which is good, although it looked quite magical at first, as in your photos.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I simply couldn’t work out why, after I’d made the tea loaf the way I always made it, it failed to rise like it should and yet it tasted good, apart from being just a little dryer than usual, even though the cooking time had been a fraction less than usual. Then I realized I had omitted the egg! I blamed husband of course for taking my attention of the job in hand, ha ha!

  3. The snow looks picture perfect. What a beautiful thing to see. I sent my youngest to go live in New Zealand’s South Island when she was 17, living with a few of her friends. I’ll always associate the snow with her being independent and very happy.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      How lovely that you associate snow with your daughter living in South Island and being happy! I have really enjoyed seeing snow, and although it’s caused so much chaos on our roads, with high snow drifts in North Devon, and some people had to abandon their cars and stay in a nearby school overnight, being at home and being able to look out onto a winter wonderland has been most enjoyable for me. The temperature has risen slightly this morning and the sun is shining, so we are now expecting a thaw and then things will get back to normal again and hopefully spring will return.

  4. Such a pretty snow scene Margaret, but good that you are looking at it from the inside and warmth of your home.
    When we lived in Yorkshire, I well remember having to brave the snow drifts to take my son to school. Then in Upstate New York, being snowed in for days on end, somewhat cured me of the attraction of snow. Here in TX it is rare for us to get snow, ice yes, but not much snow.

    Thank you once again for the recipes, more deliciousness, I can see I am going to have to compile a folder of your lovely recipes, they are all so tempting.
    Best wishes,
    Pam in TX.x

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      The snow has now totally disappeared, Pam. Deep snow yesterday, gone today! But I’ve not been out of the house as I had an article to write, so had to buckle down to that. My goodness, from Yorkshire to New York to Texas, you have certainly moved around, Pam, and seen a variety of weathers on your travels, no doubt.
      All the recipes I give are favourites of ours, and are very much tried and tested. I’m now off to make supper which this evening will be a simple omelette with a side salad.

  5. Baking always seems like such an an appropriate activity for a snowy day.
    Leek and potato soup is the one I make most often….perfect comfort food.
    I think we have had enough snow now and hope that’s the last of it. It’s been sunny here in Worcestershire today but still cold.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      I really enjoy baking, Eloise, when I have time in which to do it, i.e. without other more urgent or necessary things to accomplish. Indeed, I love a day spent cooking and baking. Yes, leek & potato soup is wonderful comfort food for snowy weather but by the time we were enjoying it the snow had all but vanished! Yes, sunny here all day but cold again this evening.

  6. That cake looks delicious. Mind you, I say that about pretty much anything that’s homemade. Never mind forgetting the egg – we’ll keep mum about that one for you 😉 Alas it’s still to hot here to contemplate using our oven. I’m sorry to keep harping on about it but it’s been a long and unusually hot summer for us. This morning feels cooler, for which I’m grateful, so I will use the opportunity to get a few things done.

    Your photos of the snowy landscape are so pretty. I certainly would be out in it making a snowman or having a snowball fight. Snow is a rarity for us in Australia – mostly restricted to the alpine areas – and many Australians never see it in their lifetime. In fact, it can be cheaper to fly to New Zealand or Japan for a ski (or snowboarding) holiday than to do same in Australia.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      It’s funny, Lara, but not putting the egg in has actually made little difference to this cake. Yes, it’s not risen quite as high, and the texture is a little denser, but it is still very moist and tastes lovely. Had I not remembered that I’d forgotten the egg, if you see what I mean, I’d really have been none the wiser and just thought I was perhaps losing some of my culinary skills!
      I’m so sorry that you are still experiencing such high temperatures – our snow has now disappeared except for some small pockets of it in the garden where yesterday’s warm sunshine failed to penetrate. However much disruption the snow caused, I don’t think I’d like to live somewhere where snow never fell, it is a lovely experience for children to rush out into the white world and scoop it up and snowball each other, or built a snowman. Our son and our little grandson built a lovely snowman. It’s a lovely memory they will both have of our little grandson’s childhood.

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