Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dancing flowers, rowan berries and a new friend catching rays before Irene!

All along the roadsides in Maine right now are swathes of Queen Anne's Lace dancing and bobbing...when the wind catches them they look like plates spinning on poles - just like you used to see in old fashioned circuses and variety shows (showing my age now aren't I?)

 Close up the flower head of the Queen Anne's is made of many teeny tiny flowers
And when the flowers die the flower head curls in upon itself and starts to form the seeds
...ever so pretty too

 And suddenly the rowan trees are heavy with berries...I never notice the berries coming on - they are just suddenly covering the trees with their glorious bright red berries. When I was growing up my Mum always said if there was a heavy crop of berries on the trees then we were going to have a bad winter as the trees knew the birds and little creatures would be needing more food.
A nice dense cluster of Rowan berries...also known as the Mountain Ash
 And then who do we have here...
 Yesterday afternoon I espied this tiny little frog - I'll bet he wasn't even an inch long- catching some rays in the daylillies...isn't he cute?
 He was very patient as I took his photograph from many angles...
Does anyone know what kind of frog he is? Later in the day he had a reprieve from the sunshine as the pistils of the daylillies gave him a little shade. he was still on the flower late last night but is gone today...hopefully somewhere safe from the storm. 
Thanks for visiting froggy - hope to see you again soon! 

For everyone in the path of Hurricane Irene - be safe and we'll be seeing you on the other side
of the storm. Do eat lots of will be a comfort to you when the electricity goes out!
Cheers, Patricia

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Now THIS is a blackberry and a Bramble Shaker Quaker Pudding!!

Isn't this a thing of beauty? A truly ripe blackberry waiting to be picked in my neighbours garden across the street. The last time I had blackberries this good was when I was about 11 years old and went blackberrying with my friend, Helen, near the Twelve Pins Mountains in Galway, Ireland. We wandered through the hedgerows for hours covering ourselves with burs and bites and the juice from a thousand delicious blackberries. We then brought our bounty back to the caravan where we were staying and attempted to make jam...I say attempted because I don't think we knew what we were doing other than attracting huge amounts of wasps and annoying my poor Mother by covering everything in sight with blackberry stickiness....ah - those were wonderful days!!

There is a great fondness for blackberries in the UK not only as something delicious to eat but also as an object to be replicated in charming illustrations and my friend Valerie Greeley certainly does know how to illustrate blackberries as evidenced by the beautiful images below.
"Bunny and Blackberries" by Valerie Greeley
"Dormouse and Blackberries" by Valerie Greeley

"Jellies and British Puddings" by Valerie Greeley
and on that note should we indulge in a dessert made with blackberries (although I have to be absolutely honest here and say if your blackberries are as good as my neighbours eat them plain as nothing on earth can improve them!)...but if you must perhaps you'd like to indulge in Bramble Shaker-Quaker....a simple little ditty, a Yorkshire speciality batter pudding with blackberries. After I had made it I realized it is just a puffy version of the divine French Cherry Clafouti...maybe we should call it Blackberry ClaPOUFi.

So simple: Pre heat your oven to 375F
1. Heavily butter a shallow gratin type dish. I used 4 of the size above.
2. Scatter your berries as ye will notice I added a couple of gorgeous cherries to mine because I happened to have them on hand.
3. Avail yourself of the following ingredients:
3 room temperature eggs separated
2oz / 1/4 cup sugar
2oz /1/3 cup flour
1 3/4 cups/14 fluid ounces whole milk
4. Beat egg yolks lightly with a fork.
5. Mix yolks with milk.
7. Mix flour and sugar together in a bowl.
8. Put liquid into a blender, add dry ingredients and whizz until smooth batter emerges.
9. Whisk egg whites to fluffy peaks.
10. Pour blender ingredients gently into whisked whites and blend timidly until well not worry too much if there are some lumpy bits...better to not deflate than overmix.
11. Pour batter over blackberries and then spoon floaty egg whitey stuff over any holes where fruit is peaking through - see below.
Now pop into your nice hot oven and bake for about 35 minutes until beautifully browned as below
The recipe (from an old British Country Living favourite magazine EVER) says to eat hot or warm...I actually preferred it cool for when it's hot it's HOT...those blackberries hold the heat!! You can put a dollop of cream or vanilla ice cream on there and I really
don't think it would hurt!!

And now for a bit of blackberry frivolity:
Available at my CafePress store
and a charming and very funny English video that involves said fruit.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A pictorial ode to a humble flower.

“He is happiest who hath power to gather wisdom from a flower.”

The Clover...small, unassuming, sweet and so very pretty close up. It is one of the main nectar sources for honeybees..... 
Here is a link to "Clover-Blossom" a poem by Louisa May Alcott
...........about clover and a humble little worm....awwwww....