Wednesday, 1 September 2010

In brief

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

For my lovely blogging friend Miss Whistle in California: the recipe for the soda bread is here, and here. I play around with it all the time, although I think it important to keep within the purity of the original Irish version. When I read of the addition of raisins or sugar or other horrors, I feel quite ill. Currently, I am experimenting with using an initial blast of very high heat, to improve the crust; start off for ten minutes at 220, and then go back to 180 for the final twenty minutes.

There is the first tint of autumn about the place, as if nature is setting its watch, and knows August has gone. I went out this afternoon and caught the scent of smoke in the air. As usual, we did not have much of a summer up here. I do not mind so very much; I find too much bright sunshine rather vulgar and disconcerting. It must be my Celtic blood. The sun most often dazzles in Scotland in the spring and autumn, so I am excited about a glorious September. I like the sense of going back to school. Soon Parliament will be back, and all the political programmes to which I am addicted shall saunter back into the Radio Four schedule, and the newspapers will stop running idiot stories about how to get a 'bikini body'. I can start dreaming of stews and root vegetables.

A few memories of summer:

The garden, facing west, in the afternoon light, with the apple blossom still out:


The flowers on the rowan trees:


The pink geraniums:


The even pinker peony:


Some extremely elegant ladies, basking in the July sunshine:


The wild grass in the meadow:


The blowsy old oriental poppy, like an Edwardian mistress in her pomp:


The surprisingly exotic chive flower:


My favourite fat lavender:


And the glorious night sky:


I am still a little out of routine after the guests' five day visit, so please forgive me for not replying to all your enchanting comments of the last couple of days. You know I love them all. A few of my favourite bloggers have been having trouble lately with unkind and anonymous comments, so I am acutely aware of how lucky I am to have such kind and polite and encouraging and interesting readers. Happy September to you all.


  1. Hello - I have been enjoying your blog very much, and feel rather jealous of your beautiful poppy. I'm a great devotee of soda bread too - Tim Allen has a great recipe in the Ballymaloe Bread Book. My kids always request it over bought bread, which makes me feel - against absolutely ALL the odds - rather domestic-goddessy. A rare feeling! We moved from the UK to Dublin three weeks ago so it feels even more fitting to be making it. I love the fact that you care so much about the books in the guest room.
    with best wishes, Sarah

  2. A lovely post - made me both wistful for the summer just (almost) gone and giddy for the comforts of autumn.

  3. A lovely photo of one of the dogs, laughing in the sun!

    I love the colours of trees in the early autumn. The fresh green of May has gone, and the blue of the trees in June, and the darker green of July, and now we have wonderful warm yellow and brown greens beginning.

  4. I have just started visiting and am enjoying my stay!

    I am sad to farewell Winter however Spring does present its own sweet characteristics.

  5. Thanks for the link to the recipe Tania. Do you think it would work with Greek yoghurt? I'm lactose intolerant so this is about the only recipe I've seen that I stand any chance of being able to make - too much buttermilk or sour milk in all the others.

  6. Sarah - how lovely to think of you in Dublin. I spent much of my dissolute twenties there, drinking bullshots in the Shelbourne with irresponsible gentlemen. People tell me the Horseshoe bar is all changed now, which makes me a little sad, but I bet the city is as glorious as it ever was.

    Salty - am very much in that exact frame of mind.

    Vivien - so very kind of you to admire the laughing dogs.

    HilluponHill - Welcome. I am always terribly excited when I get new readers. I hope you will keep coming back.

    Alex - actually, although I know the real recipe calls for buttermilk, I never use it, but always use either natural or Greek yoghurt. You do need it, otherwise the thing will not rise properly, but a mere tablespoon will do.

  7. Thank you so much Tania for the soda bread links. If it weren't going to be so infernally hot here this weekend, I'd make some. But I shall wait for next week and levity (no pun intended).

    Meanwhile, I don't think I've ever seen mint or a chive flower look quite so beautiful.


    Miss W

  8. I love Autumn. It is my favorite season of the year. I live in a place where the trees all turn different colors and it is absolutely amazing. I may have to break out my dusty camera. Wonderful post and wonderful blog. I may have to pick up your book.

  9. Miss W - oh, do not envy you the mad heat. Noticed that my two soda bread recipes are slightly different. Currently, I think half white flour, quarter fine oatmeal, quarter wholemeal flour gives the best crumb, but you might want to play around with it. Am sure the celebrated pastry chef might be helpful!

    Grace - I love autumn too. So hope you do get the book. (Very good value on Amazon in paperback.)


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