It was the spring equinox last weekend, and I can feel the change of season in the warmth of the air, and in the five (!!!) sunny days we’ve had out of the last ten. I can see it in the garden, where the daffodils are withering, the fruit trees are densely covered with white flowers, and every branch of the fig tree is tipped with soft green leaves.
But the one thing that’s really made me feel like we’ve turned the corner out of winter into spring is the fact that when we washed our sheets last weekend, we hung them outside on the line to dry, rather than draping them over chairs in the dining room and turning up the central heating. Looking out of our back windows and seeing the white sheets billowing in the sunshine finally made me really believe that spring was here. I never thought I’d get such a thrill out of laundry.
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Some fantastico links:
Two excellent blogs I’ve started following recently: Suburban Tomato and Whole Larder Love. They’re both about producing more of your own food, and the pleasures to be had therein, though in very different modes.
I made an omelette this morning (with chives and chervil from the garden), following this Delia Smith recipe. Who needs a recipe for an omelette? I do. I’ve never made one before and was very happy with how this one turned out.
The best thing I ate last week may have been the chard panade Ted made on Wednesday night while I was at pilates. It was comfort food of the highest order – the bread soaked in stock became almost custardy, in lovely contrast to the crisp pieces on top. Chard, home-made chicken stock, sourdough, gruyere, slow-cooked onions – there is nothing there not to like, and it was perfect for a cool rainy evening. Leftovers for lunch the following day were also still good.
I bought Seville oranges at the markets last weekend, and today I finally got around to turning six of them into marmalade, using David Lebovitz’s recipe. I initially thought that there was far too much water in the recipe, but after simmering away for quite a long time (I wasn’t checking the clock, but it felt like well over and hour) it cooked down and set nicely. I put not only the pips but also all the membranes into the cheesecloth bag, and left it in until about ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, more out of forgetfulness than deliberation.
I still have a couple of Seville oranges left over, and intend to use at least one of them to make requesón.
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This evening I made a cake, based on this recipe, which was itself based on Dorrie Greenspan’s recipe for French yoghurt cake. The version I made had so many of my cake fetishes in it that I feel the urge to name it to reflect them all:
Yoghurt, olive oil and almond cake with orange, lemon and thyme.
It has the almost crumbless texture of a cake that’s not based on creamed butter and sugar, but it’s simple to make and the flavour hits all my buttons.
1 cup plain flour
0.5 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
sprigs of thyme, leaves picked, finely minced to yield two level teaspoons
0.5 cup plain yoghurt
3 large eggs
small dash of vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180C, and line a 21 x 12 cm loaf pan with non-stick baking paper.
In a smallish bowl, mix together the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt.
Put the sugar in a larger bowl, then zest the lemon and orange over the sugar. Add the thyme, then rub the sugar and flavourings together until the zest and thyme are infused throughout the sugar. Add the yoghurt, eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix through. Finally, add the olive oil and use a rubber spatula to fold it in. The mixture will be smooth and moderately thick, but quite pourable.
Pour the mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45-55 minutes. The cake should be golden brown and coming slightly away from the edges of the pan. A skewer inserted into the cake should come out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely on a rack.