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Blackberry and Apple Loaf Cake

It’s that time of year again! The hedgerows are bursting with blackberries and the apple trees are laden with fruit. I’ve always loved this end of summer/beginn g of autumn period when the evenings are getting darker and the mornings just a little cooler. So long as we still have those hot days to carry me (and the crops) through I’m happy with this all too brief slice of the best of both worlds! 


This recipe for Blackberry and Apple Loaf Cake is one of my mother’s and she always has one freshly baked in the kitchen at this time of year. It’s a delicious, moist loaf with a wonderful crumbly cinnamon topping that ticks all the boxes for me. The hint of orange adds a lovely depth of flavour and really brings out the best in the blackberries.  The perfect pick me up with a cup of tea! 

Makes 1 x 1.7l loaf

1 eating apple, grated

2 eggs, beaten

zest of 1 orange

250g self raising flour

175g butter

175g light muscovado sugar

1/2tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp Demerara sugar

1 tsp baking powder

200g blackberries (pick more than you think you’ll need)

1 small eating apple, sliced

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C and line and grease a 1.7l loaf tin. 

– Grate the apple into a small jug, leave the peel on but don’t use the very centre. 

– Add the eggs and the orange zest to the apple and mix well. 

– Using a food processor combing the flour, butter and light muscovado sugar and pulse until the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Alternately use a large mixing bowl and rub together using your hands. 

-Remove 5 tbsp of the flour mixture and place in a small bowl with the Demerara sugar and the cinnamon. Mix to combine. 

– Combine the liquid ingredients with the remaining dry mixture. Mix swiftly but well until you reach a dropping consistency. It may seem dry at first but trust me, it will come. 

– Fold 2/3 of your blackberries into the mixture with a metal spoon, try to avoid crushing them. 

– Scrape the mixture into the loaf tin and level it with the back of the spoon. 

– Scatter the remaining blackberries on top and place a row of apple slices along the centre of the loaf. 

– Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the top of the loaf. 

– Bake for 1 1/4 hours, checking at 50mins to ensure the top is not overly browning. Cover with foil for the remaining bake time if necessary. 

– Test that a skewer comes out clean and the cake is firm before removing from the oven. Leave to cool in the tin. 

– Put on a pot of tea and enjoy with your feet up!

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Korma Paste

This was one of the tastiest things I’ve cooked all year! I was so proud of how it turned out. My kitchen smelt amazing having been full of spices! I usually have a jar of supermarket curry paste tucked away for emergencies but I was feeling creative and I knew I could do better. 

It was actually a doddle to whip up and it gave me enough for two separate curries. Needless to say, the second portion wasn’t hanging around for long!


For the Korma paste:

2 tsp garlic purée 

1 tbsp ginger paste

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garam masala

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon tomato puree

2 fresh green chillies

3 tablespoons coconut powder

1 tsp dried coriander leaf

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tablespoons flaked almonds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

For the Sauce:

2 chicken breasts, sliced

1 x 400g can coconut milk

1 tbsp corn flour slaked with a little water

– First you want to heat a large, heavy frying pan and lightly toast the flaked almonds and cumin seeds over a medium high heat until fragrant. 

– Then put all of the ingredients for the paste into a food processor/blender and pulse until you have a smooth paste. 

– To serve 4 add half of the paste to the large frying pan and heat on a medium high heat. 

– Add the chicken breasts and stir well. 

– Add the coconut milk and simmer on a low heat for 15minutes. 

– To thicken your sauce add the cornflour and stir well until thickened. Then remove from the heat. 

– Serve as a main meal or as part of a larger feast! (My Cumin Roasted Cauliflower and Red Lentil Daal go brilliantly with it.)

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Ration Week: Day 6

Today started with a bowl of ‘Swiss Breakfast’, that’s muesli! Oats, milk and sultanas topped with fresh berries from the garden and a light drizzle of honey. The milk was from powder and I have to say I’m impressed with how good it is, I will definitely be keeping powdered milk for down the plot and camping trips in the future! I am also incredibly thankful that I keep bees because their honey has been absolutely invaluable! 

Lunch ended up being bread and jam and tea loaf and jam. It was supposed to be pilchards in tomato sauce on toast but I couldn’t bring myself to even try them! I have a fear of fish bones, a ridiculous one,  I acknowledge! But I’m going to wait to try them until there’s someone around to a) perform the Heimlich if required and b) finish the tin for me if I don’t like them!

This evening’s dinner was Bacon and Potato Cakes with braised cabbage and boiled carrots. I saved my 4oz bacon diligently until today! There was even enough of this that I’m saving 2 potato cakes for breakfast tomorrow. By chopping the bacon into small bits you can make it go a lot further and, by cooking it in the pan before mixing it with the potato you have the cooking fat already provided! I’m doing rather well on my cooking fat ration though, in quite impressed with how far it’s gone. Proper dripping fat from the butcher is definitely something I plan to add to my supplies after this, it’s amazing, high cholesterol be damned! 

Bacon Potato Cakes: dice 4oz bacon and fry in a large frying pan until crisp. Carefully fish out of the fat, leaving this in the pan, place the bacon in a mixing bowl with 3 grated potatoes, one egg (reconstituted from dried or fresh), salt and pepper and 3oz flour (approx). Mix well until everything is combined. Dollop 4 equal portions into the hot fat in your pan and cook until browned then flip and cook the other side until browned and firm in the middle. 

One thing I really am not going to miss is the amount of washing up that each meal produces! You’ll usually need a mixing bowl to prepare something, then a pan for cooking your main dish, a pan for boiling vegetables, a pan for mash or cabbage, then, of course, you have to serve it with plates and bowls and cutlery and glasses… it never ends! Just think what the poor women had to go through before the advent of dishwashers. Heck, in 1951 not too many people even had fridges! Thankfully, the dishwasher has been taking the strain for me or else I’d never have for any work done this week! 

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Ration Week: Day 5

I’ve been rushed off my feet again today! Seems like there’s a never ending list of things to do. Normally on days like today I’d either be skipping meals entirely or grabbing something quick and portable to eat on the run. With this challenge though I’m trying to cook different foods every day, which is actually good because it makes me stop and think about what I’m eating. Anyway, I started simple with Beans on Toast. I also had the delicious extra treat of 3 eggs from the girls! This was literally beans and toast, no butter involved, so it was nice to have that extra treat! 

Lunch was Potato Rarebit. Yes, my friends, mashed potato on bread. The cheese was really more of a garnish at 1/2 oz but you got a good amount of flavour out of it, I definitely use too much cheese on everything normally! 

Potato Rarebit: spread mashed potato on two slices of bread and crumble 1/2 oz cheese over the top. (A good mature crumbly cheddar is what you need here as you get the most flavour!) Grill until the cheese is melted and browned. 

A special afternoon pick me up today (though actually started yesterday) a simple Honey Tea Loaf. It only has 4 ingredients, it’s so simple I can scarce believe it! It’s my own recipe, adapted from reading a bunch of tea loaf recipes but not finding one that I liked the look of. It’s got s gorgeous texture, I imagine if you added malt extract it would be just like malt loaf! I can only imagine how good it will tast with butter… May be tomorrow!

Honey Tea Loaf: Soak 1lb sultanas in 1/2 pint cold tea overnight. Mix in 6oz honey and 10oz self raising flour. Scrape into a loaf tin and bake for 1 hour at gas 4. Leave in the tin to cool (it sinks a bit). Dust with 1/2oz icing sugar to serve. 


Supper tonight was the quick and simple Leek and Potato Soup with bread and, wait for it, BUTTER! Soooo good! I love butter! A nice traditional soup, quick and simple to prepare and warming and filling, what’s not to like! (Dunno but my father can’t stand it! I suspect once you’ve had it twice a week for 10 years you would probably hate anything!) 

Leek and Potato Soup: Melt 1 tsp cooking fat in a small pan. Add 1/2 leek, sliced and cook until softened. Add 2 large diced potatoes and cover with boiling water. Add 1/2 chicken stock cube and sat and pepper to taste. Simmer for 25 minutes until the potato is soft. 

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Happy Easter!

 Happy Easter from Darcy and Anna!

We hope the Easter Bunny was generous this year! 

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Roasted Vegetable Couscous

A popular deli counter option but did you know how quick and easy roasted vegetable couscous could be to prepare?  Really, all it takes is a tiny bit of chopping and the rest is time!

You can roast whatever vegetables you fancy too.  If you really can’t stand roasted tomatoes, leave them out!  Love roasted cauliflower (and you should!), then pop it in!  Got some leftover parsnips looking a bit suspicious? Hey, shove them in, no one will notice!   I like to stick to Mediterranean vegetables for the most part, with the occasional bit of cauliflower or sweet potato thrown in for fun!  The quantities don’t really matter and this is a great way to use up odds and ends in the fridge.

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Serves 4

Mediterranean Vegetables, For Example:
~ 1/2 aubergine
12 cherry tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 courgette
2 red onions
1 teacup of dry couscous
1/2 a vegetable stock cube

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.
– Chop up your veggies into bite sized pieces.
– Place on a roasting tray.
– Drizzle with olive oil.
– Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
– Roast for 30 minutes.
– Take 1 teacup of dry couscous and your stock cube and put it in a serving bowl.
– Take 1 teacup of boiling water and add to the couscous.
– Give it a little swirl and then leave it for ~ 20 minutes.
– Come back and fluff it up with a fork.
– Take your veggies out of the oven and tip into the couscous.
– Mix and enjoy!  Can be served hot or cold, however you fancy it.  Makes a fabulous main or a nice little side dish.

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The roasted veggies are super versatile and the couscous super quick!  Make up a huge tray of veggies and save yourself some prep work for meals later in the week!

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Death to the Mare’s Tails!

They look kinda funny, don’t they? Like weird asparagus.  But BEWARE! These are Mare’s Tails and you will never defeat them.

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We once had an allotment.  We dug that place over religiously, we weedkilled, we rotovated, we pulled and we grafted.  We never got them all.  So to discover that the entire left hand border of my garden is infested with them was… well, vexing.  But I shall not go down without a fight!  The first wave to poke their heads above ground got zapped with Roundup Gel.  Then the next day the whole border was hit with a good soaking of the strongest glyphosate I could buy and each stem bruised to allow it to penetrate.

There go my dreams of keeping things organic (my go to weed killer is neat vinegar) but organic won’t win this fight.  The best I am hoping for is to kill as much of it as I can before raking up the gravel and laying weed suppresant fabric and just keeping things in pots along that border rather than planting direct into the soil.  This is a fight I know I won’t ever really win but I can cheat and run away!

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