Monday, March 30, 2009

Lovely raindrops


How gorgeous is the lovely Aquilegia (otherwise known as Granny's Bonnet) unfurling its leaves like a little flower, to get filled up with raindrops?

I can almost see the reflection of my arms holding the camera in this little pearly raindrop.


Bringing even more joy to the garden is the fabulous knitted banana, inspired by Felix's amazing creation of the same fruit in stitch form.
Hooray for the knitted banana!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lough Crew and bread.

I went to the visit the cairns at Lough Crew with my mother and a friend at the weekend. On both equinoxes (whatever the plural for that is) the sun rises into the cairn. Unfortunately for us, after getting up at 5am to go there, it was so misty you could barely see 20 foot in front of you. But there were plenty of people up there, a festive atmosphere and someone playing the whistle. The cairns were open and we got to go inside and see all the carvings in the chamber. Its like a smaller and much nicer version of Newgrange. Here's a view of the cairn - it looks very small in this picture:


Some of the carvings near the door.

The carvings inside are much less weathered - they looked as if they had been made the day before.

And a view in the passage.

Incidentally all these pictures were taken the week before - when you could actually see, and also when I still had a functioning camera. (Now regretfully smashed up from falling on the kitchen floor...)


There are loads of stone cairns around it - I have to find out more about the site. But it is incredibly beautiful up there, stunning views of several counties around.


On the morning itself, we managed to see a tiny glimpse of an orange dusty sun through the mist at one stage, reminding us all to imagine the incredible event engineered thousands of years ago. Even though imagining was as close as we got to seeing the sun's rays illuminate the passage, the whole morning was very moving and special.

Meanwhile, the bread-making continues apace, with some new books helping along. Pictured below is the basic white bread from the River Cottage bread-making book which I am really enjoying as quite a simple and straightforward reference guide. This basic recipe has 2tsp yeast, 2 tsp salt, 1kg flour of any type and 650ml water. Its very simple and you can change it as much as you like. And it makes three nice sized loaves.


mmmm....

Also gracing my shelves is Bread Matters - an incredibly interesting book on the process of making bread, how shit it has become and why homemade and artisan bread is fantastic. It is quite a tome though and a little hard to remember where all the information is in it. And doesn't have enough pictures! But full of interesting facts about how yeast or natural yeasts make bread more digestible and nutrients more accessible.

Both books are making me realise how I have been using far too much yeast in my bread.
So I have made a sourdough starter - using nothing but flour and water. It has been bubbling away merrily for the last week, and has gone from smelling totally rancid to pleasantly sour. More bread experiments will ensue anon!

Thursday, March 5, 2009