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 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.