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Posts Tagged ‘cherries’

In a previous post about the tasty contents of my Christmas box, I missed out the fruit cake component because I hadn’t yet tried it.

I can now report that the cake has been consumed, and slipped down nicely with some Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea.

Here’s the cake as it was when whole: a round of fruit-filled cakiness decorated with a thick lid of fondant icing and a gold snowflake supporting a white star:

On cutting into it a layer of marzipan was revealed between icing and cake:

This piece of cake might look quite small, which it was, but it was also very rich:

It was stuffed with cherries, sultanas, raisins, apricots, brandy and other delicious ingredients:

As I was writing this post, I felt inspired to bake.

Initially I thought I’d make a fruit cake but, given the inordinately long time it takes to cook, I opted for the quick fix of fruit scones instead:

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I recently mentioned a box of goodies I received as a Christmas present, and said I would report on the contents when I’d tasted them.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve now tasted 4 of the 5 items in the box, as follows.

The Plum Pudding:

Wine Society Plum Pudding

Plum pudding ready to eat

I like a nice fruity plum, or Christmas, pudding, and this one was particularly well endowed with fruit. In fact, the first thing on the list of ingredients was mixed dried vine fruits, at a lovely big 33%.

Plum pud stuffed with fruits and a heady dash of brandy

I haven’t got the packaging any more so I can’t check, but I do remember that brown sugar came quite low down on the list of ingredients. The pud was stuffed with sultanas, raisins, apricots, cherries, nuts and brandy, all of which were present in larger quantities than the sugar.

The pudding was duly heated up and dished out, steaming, into plates for me and my two most delightful assistants.

All sorts of things can accompany plum pudding, such as brandy sauce or ice cream, but I think the pick of all accompaniments is single pouring cream:

Plum pud doused with cream

A little snowy mountain of pudding

Unfortunately, technology doesn’t yet allow pictures on the screen to be tasted, but I can assure you that this plum pudding was a first class specimen. Fruity, nutty, boozy and extremely rich and delicious.

You might think that after such a pudding one ought to have had one’s cravings for sweet rich foods satisfied.

What, though, if you had a packet of shortbread biscuits and a box of jelly babies that had been neighbours to the pudding in the Christmas box looking as if they, too, yearned to be tasted?

Shortie and jelly babies

A pot of Afternoon Ceylon Orange Pekoe Tea (that also came in the Christmas box) was made, and the biscuits and babies laid out for contemplation.

Being a bit of a stickler for my preferred biscuit texture, I’m sometimes a little nervous when it comes to shortbread.

When I took these shortbread biscuits out of the pack they stuck together a bit, which caused anxious furrows to appear on my brow.

However, I needn’t have feared, for the dampness did not in any way impair the flavour or, indeed, texture of the bite. I wonder now if in fact the dampness was there simply as a reminder to me that dunking was called for.

Diving in for the dunk

Dunked shortie

To my mind, a biscuit successfully dunked (i.e. almost saturated with liquid and withdrawn just in time to avoid slippage into the bottom of the cup), is a biscuit that has attained the highest possible achievement in the biscuit world.

The biscuit packaging stated that the contents were duty bound to be dunked. I’m delighted to report that they performed with aplomb.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Feeling I was on an unbeatable winning streak, I didn’t stop at biscuits.

Baby on the brink

Baby diving head first into tea

The babies, unlike the biscuits, didn’t mop up liquid, but they did melt very slightly and glistened with tea when brought out of the cup.

On the whole, I take my jelly babies dry, but on this occasion the tea-coated baby was a very pleasant departure from the norm.

The only thing remaining for me to try from my Christmas box is the Christmas cake, and I’m saving it for its own little post.

Simply Delicious hand made Christmas cake

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The autumn colours in Perthshire are particularly good this year and, thinking that the Scottish Borders would be putting on a similarly spectacular show, I took the delightful assistants down there for a gawp at the weekend.

We were most surprised to find that, despite being further south, it felt like winter rather than autumn in the Borders. Many of the trees were completely bare and most of the leaves that were left on the trees were well past their flame-grilled best.

However, I’m happy to say that at our destination of Dawyck Botanic Gardens, nature’s loveliness was abounding:

A couple of beech trees had curious wrappings round their trunks:

There was a poem, entitled The Bandaged Trees, attached to one of the trunks, but I found it a tad depressing so I won’t burden you with it.

Looking up into the trees was beautiful with the sunlight on the leaves:

Dawyck (more or less pronounced Daw-ik) is a beautiful place to walk around, and even though there were a lot of cars in the car park, we met very few people as we strolled through the gardens.

Here are a couple of tiny assistants perched atop a lovely bridge:

The air smelled very fresh and I took lots of deep breaths. The amount of lichen on the trees was perhaps a good indicator of just how pollution-free the atmosphere was. Some of the birches looked as if they were dressed in furs and feather boas:

Bits of the garden were in the shade and quite frosty, an ideal hiding place for ice nymphs and frost elves. Apparently, if you run backwards making chirpy little whistling noises they sometimes pop out. I tried this, but I didn’t see any. Mind you, I find that trying to stay upright while running backwards takes up most of my concentration.

My camera battery died just past this bench,

which was a pity as I had been hoping to take photos of the lunch we had after our walk.

However, I wouldn’t like to sign off without a small morsel to share with you, so here’s a Christmas pudding scone* I made yesterday instead:

*so called because it was inspired by Christmas pudding, and contains sultanas, mixed peel, slivered almonds, cherries, dates, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and treacle, as well as the standard scone ingredients

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There are those (maybe you’re one of them?) who frequently share their teabags, or even reuse them for a second cup some time after the first, and perhaps I’m a little greedy when it comes to teabags but I do like to have a whole teabag to myself for each cup of tea I consume.

That’s not to say I’m against teapots, far from it, but if I’m using teabags to make tea for two, I put 2 teabags in the pot, 3 for three, and so on. I’m prepared to admit that this might be a failing on my part, but up till now I think it’s served me quite well as a tea making method.

Well, my eyes were opened today when I visited a certain tearoom in Perth, which is part tearoom, part gift shop (another of these perfect partnerships – see previous post).

This is where gift shop meets tearoom:

And where the tearoom comes into its own:

The tearoom features two large light shades, which I think are possibly made out of paper, suspended from the ceiling. They reminded me of daisies. When I suggested this to my botanically minded mother, she pointed out that they resembled not daisies, but dead dandelion heads. I bow to her superior knowledge on the subject, but I can’t help feeling that her more correct comparison seems a little bleak for such beautiful light fittings:

I was visiting this tearoom in the company of both of my parents, and since it was a cold day and he had come out without his own hat, my dad had borrowed one of mine:

My mum ordered coffee, my dad and I ordered tea, and it was “luxury fruit scones” all round (I gather the ‘luxury’ was a reference to the large proportion of glace cherries contained therein, and jolly nice they were, too).

The amount of crockery involved in this order required two waitresses, each with a trayful of goodies, and when the first waitress laid down the (rather full) teapot on the table, tea gushed out of the spout and straight onto my pink woollen hat, which I had unwittingly put bang in the line of fire:

Before I had time to do anything about it myself (and my hand was moving towards the hat almost instantly), the second waitress had whipped the hat off the table and begun rushing down the stairs calling in her wake that she must get the stain out.

Waitress one was very apologetic and a little distressed at the turn events had taken, but I assured her that it was fine and not to worry, and I felt very confident about saying this because of the lightning quick reactions of waitress two (whom, I should perhaps add for greater effect, was almost certainly in receipt of a free bus pass*).

Immediately after the hat incident, I remembered that I had been planning to visit the facilities when we came in, and so I made my way down the stairs (at a considerably slower pace than waitress two) towards the toilets, and caught a glimpse of waitress two with a colleague in the kitchen next to the bathroom washing my pink hat and discussing the success of having got the stain out.

When I was back upstairs again, enjoying my tea and scone, waitress two reappeared and explained that the hat was all right but a little damp, and so she was going to put it on the radiator to dry out for me. Waitress one was still apologising profusely whenever she passed our table, so I explained to them both that despite the seeming tragedy of the situation, I was still in fact the owner of one dry hat, the one my dad had borrowed. He was going straight back to his car and home after our refreshments, and so I could wear my dry hat while I did a bit of shopping after my tea. As it happened, when we left the tearoom my pink hat was still sodden, it having obviously been washed through very thoroughly, so I was extremely glad of the dry one.

But I digress. To get back to the teabags, this was the teapot our tea for two came in:

As you can see, taking into account the distorting effects of perspective, the teacup is of a fairly standard size, as compared with the size of the scone and the normal sized human hand on another scone in the background. I can tell you that this teapot contained 5 of these teacupfuls of tea.

Now here’s a view from the other side, showing the sole teabag content of the pot (to make quite sure, I did look inside the pot and prod the teabag about to see if any others were hiding alongside it, and I’m entirely satisfied that there was only one teabag present):

This is the fact of the matter: tea was served to us in a teapot containing five cupfuls, with only one teabag to share out amongst all 5 cups. But here’s the amazing truth, and I’m afraid to say I don’t know anything about Lichfields other than that they provide various items to the catering trade, but the tea in that pot was really good, and strong the way I like it when I have it with milk.

This experience has revolutionised my view of teabag sharing. I would never have believed it if I hadn’t witnessed it for myself, but we got 5 cups out of that pot, and they were 5 cups of very good, strong tasting, flavourful tea.

*national bus passes, allowing free travel within Scotland, are issued to any citizens who have managed to stay alive to the ripe old age of 60. If you like a wee joke against the Scots (who have a reputation for heavy drinking, deplorable diets and a subsequently short life expectancy) this scheme makes politicians look caring while costing them virtually nothing.

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