Notes on 2015

For the sake of keeping this blog alive I am making notes on some of my activities in 2015. Edmund de Waal's The White Road: A Pilgrimage of Sorts appears to be a collection of notes made as he strove to uncover the origins of porcelain while at the same time exploring the creative process. Not that I am claiming to uncover the origins of soup-making.

2015 was not a year for breaking soup-making records. I made six soups from The Soup Book: wild salmon chowder (3rd January), brandied lobster chowder (17th January), beef chilli (31st August), soupe de poissons (3rd October), chunky turkey (26th December) and minted pea and ham (28th December). 

Baking Log

I continued to bake frequently for fetes and other fund-raising events, baking being an activity that soothes me and the results of which bring pleasure to others. 

From Martha Day's Baking

  • Cherry marmalade muffins (15th January) 
  • Orange cake (14th February)
  • Toffee bars (16th March, 28th March and at least one other occasion; they're delicious but watch out for the butter)
  • Apricot specials (25th April)
  • Blueberry muffins (22nd May)
  • Raspberry crumble buns (30th May)
  • Chocolate chip cookies (27th June) 
  • Pear and sultana tea bread (3rd July)
  • Dried fruit loaf (date?)
  • Cheese muffins (17th August and for the Hospice Coffee Morning in September)
  • Maple pecan muffins (27th November) 
  • Rich sticky gingerbread (3rd December)

From Good Housekeeping's Step-by-Step Baking

  • Pamperato (14th January) 
  • Cherry and apple streusel cake (17th January, 15th March and 31st October) 
  • Lemon and hazelnut cake (18th January) 
  • Apple strudel with maple fudge sauce (Christmas Day) 
  • Spiced nut strudel (Christmas Day) 

From Gill MacLennan's Chocolate

  • Rich chocolate yogurt cake (5th April) 
  • Sticky chocolate cupcakes (25th June) 
  • Stem ginger shortbreads with dark chocolate cloaks (3rd July; for a local horticultural show)
  • Chocolate orange truffle cheesecake (30th October) 

  • Pecan toffee shortbread (7th March & at least one other occasion; from Complete Comfort Food)
  • Pineapple shortbread (25th and 27th June; from Successful Cooking: Slices published by Index) 
  • Pecan cake (17th August; from Complete Comfort Food)
  • Malteser and Mars Bar fudge
  • Fudge (5th December) 
  • Panforte (5th December) 
  • Festival cake (from a recipe cut out of Woman in the mid 1980s)
  • Chocolate biscuit cake (18th December; no baking involved; from a card I found in a local book shop) 
  • Fig and apple cake (18th December; from a recipe cut out of Good Housekeeping in 2008) 
  • Oat and sultana cookies (December - for the local scout troop; from a recipe cut out of Good Housekeeping in 2006) 

Many years ago I used to knit a lot, inflicting jumpers and cardigans on my family. In 2015 I got my needles out in order to make things for local fund-raising events. Three sheep and two snowmen and now I'm ready to start on throws and bedspreads. 

Bees in Books

My favourite novel of 2015 was The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota. Heart-breaking. 
A short walk up the path, a gap in the hedgerow revealed a secluded little garden: primrose, thistle, yellow jacobinia, more roses, and, in large clay pots guarded by bees, virgin-white rajanigandha twined with ice plants of the most intimate pink. 

Patrick Gale is one of my favourite novelists and I came across A Perfectly Good Man somewhat belatedly. I was not disappointed. 
People - people and bad films - assumed that one hid in a village behind a mask of prettiness, roses round the door, gingham at the windows, bees in the lavender, but he hid in plain sight in a bungalow so undistinguished people's eyes skated over it as they passed. 

Further on I came across the following: 
They arrived at back at the house's rear, where a fulsome red rose had been painstakingly trained across the tawny stonework. The three of them stood before it breathing in the scent and watching bees reel from flower to velvet flower. 

I have resisted reading Anne Enright's books but the group decided upon The Green Road. Despite a couple of reservations, I enjoyed the novel. There is one reference to bees: "Tough little succulents behind the marram called the bees through the salt air by their surprising, sweet perfume." 

In contrast with the references to bees going about their pollen-carrying business, I found this instance of a bee protecting itself in We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler: 
A few days back, I'd put my foot down in the grass and felt a sharp pain shoot up my leg. When I lifted my foot, screaming, there was a stinger in the arch, the bee still attached by a thread, jerking at the end of its tether and buzzing as it died. Mom had pulled the stinger, with me still screaming, and carried me inside, where she soaked my foot and wrapped it in a a baking-soda poultice. Id' been queen bee of the household ever since, ...

In Terry Hayes' I am Pilgrim there was a passing reference to bee-stung lips. Definitions for the term range from the flattering full and sensuous to the less complimentary puffy. 

Irish Pollinator Initiative 

I still listen and look out for conservation projects concerning bees. Find out more about the Irish Pollinator Initiative here

All the best in 2016. 



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