Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Belle Mere and Nightmare (and Cake)

Well, I nearly started this posting with a massive rant about nightmare changes in Blogger that are driving me crazy, but that isn't what you come to my blog to read all about, so I'll take a deep breath and try to contain myself! (Actually three hours later and I'm not sure that I can - ARGH!!!!) But if my photos are not in the order or size I was quite hoping for, my spelling is a bit odd and Featherglen is not the haven of calm it usually is, you know why...

I haven't had a lot of time to blog recently, mainly because my mother-in-law (or 'Belle Mere' as the French so tactfully put it) has been staying with us for a few weeks. As she lives so far away, we don't see her more than a couple of times a year, but it is usually quite an event!

So we need to have the welcome party out...

And a decent cake. This is a fabby doo recipe, which is easy peasy and has so much fruit in it you can almost convince yourself it's healthy, ahem...
You need...

125g marg/butter
90g muscvado sugar (the very dark brown stuff...mmmm)
1 tsp cinnamon or allspice
50g walnuts
450g dried fruit - I like a mix of raisins, sultanas and cranberries, but use whatever is to hand
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 teacup water

Put all of this into a big saucepan and bring to the boil. Let it boil for about 10-15 mins, then let it cool a little. Meanwhile heat your oven to 150 degrees C, line a medium sized cake tin, make a cup of tea, ignore the mountain of laundry etc.

Then, add..

2 eggs, beaten

260g flour (I like half wholemeal) sifted with...

1 tsp baking powder.
Top with some blanched almonds if you like (I do).

Stick it in the oven for an hour, more or less. It will come out looking craggy, and if you stick a skewer in it, it should come out clean. Cool in the tin. Serve to suitably impressed Belle Mere, who LOVES British baking.

Our Belle Mere is a very civilised sort, she is a wonderful  professional artist, bookaholic, deeply enthusiastic about food and cooking, sews her own clothes, tells hilarious stories in top speed French complete with hand gestures and impersonations (it has taken me 12 years to finally be able to follow them!), doesn't mind grandsons tapping at her door at 6am, adores Marks and Spencers and, best of all, wouldn't notice dust if it was knee deep around her. Any downsides? Not really, but I expect that my boys will probably learn all the fairly rude French words from their Granny! 

So, the last couple of weeks have seen quite a few really good celebratory meals...
Quite a bit of drawing...

Some beautiful autumnal moments...

And LOTS of sewing. 
Over a year and half ago I bought about 3 metres of tweed at a sale for a fiver, plus an old Vogue coat for a pound, and decided to have a go at making a coat (I can't actually do dressmaking, by the by, but hey! If someone is there to tell me what to do, I'll give it a go.) However, after cutting out the pieces, we then decided to move house, so everything got packed up and I was so busy making curtains and things for the boys, that the poor old coat lay in a basket neglected. A visit from Belle Mere was just what it needed. And thank goodness she was there to help me, otherwise I would have never got beyond the first few instructions - which I could barely understand in English, never mind translate for her. Also, she does things properly. I am a complete bend-the-rules sewer, but she got me tacking and fitting and trying - and of course, it does all make a huge difference. Coat is not quite finished yet, but the end is in sight, so if I don't completely loose the plot with Blogger, I'll let you see the finished product.

In the meantime, to recover my calm, I'm knitting a lace scarf to go with the coat. It is a lovely pattern and I promise to share it with you too. Deep breaths, a bit of cake, a few cups of tea, or possibly even something a little stronger, and I will get the better of this new Blogger editor (said in a threatening voice to the computer). Until then!

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