12.3.06

Lazy Sunday

Despite the bitter cold, it must be spring. I know this because not only have I seen fat frogs merrily mating in puddles, but I am sat here alone tonight with 'only' a bottle of Fiddlers' Elbow for company; cricket practice (nets) has started. Andy has headed off into the chill night to practice his bat and balling. He will doubtless return complaining at how out of practice he is and having strained something. Somewhere. This is a time honoured tradition, followed up the next morning by bewailing the soreness of his muscles. But the promise of sitting in the sun kind-of-watching village cricket and chewing the fat with female friends almost makes me forget how cold my hands are. Almost. And my tomato seeds, planted in February, have been brave enough to poke their heads above ground.


...they need pinching out though...

Last week was spent catching up on the many artworks and roughs for the two books, and I don't feel quite as guilty and behind with it all as I have been. So today has been a proper Sunday, the bleak, grey afternoon spent sat by the wood burner trawling through the weekend papers with copious amounts of tea, surrounded by dozing cats.

Mousie stretching out her 'gammy' leg.

Although I did bake a rather nice cake as well. Since learning that basically any cake will work so long as the sugar/butter/flour ratios are equal, I've taken to throwing them together and hoping for the best. So, here is a nice recipe for -

Sultana, almond and apple cake

6oz butter/marg 6 oz flour 1 teaspoon baking powder
6oz castor sugar 2 eggs 3-4 oz sultanas
3oz ground almonds 1 medium cooking apple 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
flaked almonds (enough for sprinkling) milk to mix

Preheat oven to a low-medium heat, it's about 160 on our horrid little electric oven. Grease a 7 inch square tin (or similar shallow tin) and LINE THE BOTTOM with grease proof paper. This is important. I will explain why later.
Beat together fat and sugar, add the eggs gradually (I use a simple handheld mixer for all this and it works brilliantly). Add flour, ground almonds, cinnamon and baking powder, then sultanas and chopped/cored apple. (I don't peel. You may wish to). The mix may be a bit stiff, so bring to dropping consistency by adding a slug of milk. Pour into tin, level off and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bung in oven. It is better to bake this longer and lower, as it is more of a batter. You can never cook a cake at too low a temp; it will always get there in the end. But if the heat is too high, you can very easily cook the outer too quickly and have a soggy inside. I think mine took about 1 and a half hours to do. The reason for the paper lining, is that it is a very moist, crumby cake. Andy was getting twitchy as soon as he knew there was cake in the offing, so I tried to upend it before it had set properly. Almost a disaster as I hadn't LINED THE BOTTOM and the damper bits stuck to the tin. I scooped them out and served them to him in a bowl with a spoon...it could have done with custard, but I left my halo on its hook today. The rest managed to stay together and is vanishing rapidly...

Latest addition to our 'remains of creatures' collection - a piece of barn owl wing, taken from a found corpse in the woods. Andy found this a couple of weeks ago and hid it. I had hoped for a skull, but when he returned, the body had been dragged away.



The illustration forums are buzzing with the case of a ninth grade art teacher who has been suspended (after a single parental complaint) for suggesting that some of his pupils would benefit from attending life drawing classes. As I was lucky enough to have a wonderful life drawing tutor who turned my drawing round, teaching me most of everything I know, I am outraged at this retrograde step; it seems almost beyond belief in its ignorance of the need for basic art training. Once you know how a body moves and falls into position, it becomes easier to develop characters. Even my toys are drawn from those first principles taught me all those years ago. So I have signed the online petition to re-instate Pete Panse - I urge any artist reading this to do so as well.

Nearly spring...but not quite.

13 comments:

Gail said...

I signed the petition - I can't believe how this world is becoming so ... well ... strange (for want of a better word). You learn so much from figure drawing - it's the basis of all art (IMHO)...

tlc illustration said...

Me too. Unfathomable... I think I will post a link as well.

Joanna said...

Your cake sounds yummy I will have to try it. The problem when I make a cake is I end up eating too much. Its been so cold maybe we deserve to eat some nice cake. Its good to see the signs of spring the moor hens here have been very busy building a nest. I can't wait to see the daffodills out.

Stuntmother said...

I am thinking that making a cake will go a long way towards making things better here. There are things that matter and things that don't and frankly (although I can't remember this for more than three minutes in a row) first grade doesn't matter. What does matter are happy homes with good smells and bright colors and crayons to use and dirt in the backyard to "poke holes in" as Helena says.

PG said...

Making a cake ALWAYS makes things better, and a home made cake is virtually guilt free (Joanna!) as it contains only basic ingredients and not huge amounts of sugar. In fact, with this one you could half the sugar and bump up the ground almond cake (it would just be a bit squidgier). (I think...)
The smell of warm appley spicey goodness floating through the house is comfort itself. (as well as holes and bright colours and crayons).

Donna said...

Fat frogs merrily mating in puddles? They are game aren't they? Surely it's too cold for that?!!!

Mmmm cake sounds yummy Gretel and I think you are right to stay in with your fiddlers elbow and warm yourself by the fire.

CAS said...

I've signed the petition, too. There's this really worrying wave of puritanism encroaching on the world at the moment ... doing unspeakable things 'with God on your side'.

Cathy xxx

PG said...

I wouldn't worry about the frogs Dons, they were keeping themselves warm with plenty of exercise! ;)

The petition is growing by the day, hopefully the sane outcome will be realised...or is that too much to hope?

Joanna said...

The cakes in the oven! Going to take it with us for a cold weekend in the lake district. Hopefully we will have a nice slice on top of some hill after a scramble. It will give me a chance to recover from wearing crampons. Thankyou for a lovely receipe

PG said...

Hope it turned out ok...I'm worried now in case I put down the wrong quantities! I have to say, no amount of cake or money would get me in the Lakes at most times of the year, especially not in crampon weather! (Had a Bad Camping experience at Waswater once...)

Excellent Walker said...

I can't believe that Peter Panse case! It's not even as if he himself ran a life-drawing class, though for serious art students that shouldn't be objectionable anyway. Merely suggesting they go to a community college to take one gets you suspended? How are we still having these arguments in the 21st century?

Joanna said...

Don't worry cake was wonderful. Was a big hit with my boyfriend too. I ran out of milk so had to use water but it was fine and kept the energy levels up plodding through the snow.

Aaron Paquette said...

I've been looking for the perfect spice cake for ages! This one sounds pretty good....any other ideas?