Apple Bread

Apple bread cooling
Apple bread cooling

For Lisa:

I use a cup to measure.

This makes two loaves.

First I make apple puree. This is made by chopping the windfall apples and then cooking gently in a very small amount of butter till they are fluffy. I do it in a saucepan. I add honey if the apples are under-ripe. I usually add 4 cloves. Count them and make sure you remove 4 when it is cool.


  • 6 cups of spelt flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • handful of chopped walnuts (optional)
  • handful of dried fruit or dates (optional)
  • 2 cups of apple puree
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup of milk (could use cold, strong, black tea or roobosh)

You need two loaf pans. I use non-stick so no need to grease.

Warm the oven. (180 C on my fan assisted electric oven, Gas mark 6ish)

Mix the spelt flour and the sieved baking powder.

Stir in the nuts & dried fruit

Add the apple, chop it in & mix it with a knife. Bits are OK but it needs to be mixed right through. Should look a bit like breadcrumbs by the time you are finished. Work fairly fast.

In the middle of the mix make a well. Add the eggs & half the milk. Give it a stir then gradually combine it with the rest. Add enough of the rest of the milk to make a sticky dough. It should stick to your hands. Yep, I usually end up doing the last bit of mixing with my hand, just to make sure all the flour is mixed through.

Divide between the two pans.

Place in oven – 30 minutes at 180, 30 ish at 160. When it is done the apple bread will stop singing. If you take it out and you hear any noise from the tin pop it back in for 5 minutes.

Tip it out on a rack to cool.

Nice with butter and a cup of tea. Makes excellent toast!

My Hats

my winter hat
My winter hat

Welcome to my collection of hats,
There are so many.
Here are my every day hats,
Carelessly thrown down in a corner,
Ready to grab on my way out or stuff in a pocket.
The cosy woollen one, made with love and friendship,
The linen sun hat that protects me from the glare of the world.
Others are not so comfortable,
This one is stiff and a little too tight,
A teacher’s hat, it no longer quite fits and I long to be rid of it.
Still it sits on the shelf, ready for the days when I have to wear it.
These two in pretty hat boxes are old and precious,
Put away,
Wrapped in tissue paper and tears.

(Found this poem from last year’s journal and decided I still like it.)

Bara Brith – my quick version

Bara Brith – Welsh tea bread, my quick, simple version so I don’t lose it again! Better version used yeast but takes longer.

  • 2 1/2 tea cups mixed fruit of your choice
  • 2 tablsp sugar (unrefined  is best)
  • 1 cup of tea, no milk! (try a spicy chai roobosh for a change)
  • 2  tea cups spelt flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice (optional)
  • 1 beaten egg


This is the kind of tin I mean (Amazon link)

Soak fruit & sugar in hot tea overnight

Heat oven to gas 5, 375 F, 190 C

Prepare a loaf tin

Sieve flour, baking powder & spice. Keep any bran & pop it back in the bowl.

Add fruit and egg and mix. Should be a bit sloppy

Bake for about 2 hours ish. ( Fan Oven see update below!)Test from about 1:30ish with knitting needle in centre – should come out clean.

Try not to eat the same day, if possible as it gets better! Don’t feel too bad if not possible as very easy & quick it make! 😉

Photo tomorrow when it is baked!

Update: Trial and error with a fan oven means bake at 180 for 15 mins drop to 160 and test after 45 minutes.


Negative spaces

Negative space
Negative space experiment -graphite pencil on cartridge paper


Sunday’s creative experiment comes from New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook: Guided Practice in the Five Basic Skills of Drawing Being a terrible old hippy I remember spending hours trying to perfect the technique of ‘seeing the spaces between things’. Too much Carlos Casteneda at an impressionable age, I’m afraid! Now where did I put my ‘flying hat’? 😉

When I first tried this in the workbook I found it very hard indeed. Then yesterday I was watching the play of shadows from the rowan tree on the wall in our bedroom and something shifted and clicked. An ‘aha moment’ I suppose but not a verbal one. I dived off to grab a sketch pad and when I got back- gone! The sun had shifted too! I tried to capture something of what I’d learned by drawing the negative spaces in the plants of the bedroom terrarium.

P1050297When you do the workbook version of this exercise you use a cunning trick to help you. The book comes with a sheet of acetate in a cardboard frame. It’s a bit flimsy so you really have to put more card behind it. Once you have this you place it in front of the thing you are going to draw and trace the basic outlines on with a dry wipe pen.

Once you have your basic outline you use the guidelines to help you transfer it to paper. The pages in the book already have printed guidelines so that makes it fairly straightforward. The outline on the acetate can be quickly wiped off with a bit of kitchen towel.

I used this method for the hand I blogged the other day and for some of the other suggestions in the book but I got really stuck when I got to the negative space bit. I just couldn’t seem to get my head round it. Oh, right, another ‘aha’ I was like this about the optical illusion too. These must be related to my way of seeing, maybe even to my mild dyslexia. Doh!

There are a few of us on the 30 Minutes 30 Days Creativity Challenge Facebook group who are going to work through the exercises in this book each Sunday.

Creative bits and bobs – Day 12ish

A couple of creative bits today. The hand was a Drawing on the Right side of the Brain exercise that I finally finished. The watercolour is from my journal, might be an eye or the tail of a mermaid? I enjoyed making it anyway 🙂 The sketch of Andy is just from a scrap of notepaper. I did it the other day and I was quite pleased he actually recognised himself!

For the  30 Minutes 30 Days Creativity Challenge. This is days 11 and 12 I think 🙂 I’m not being too picky about it.

The Beach

The Beach

When I was a kid staying at my Nana’s house for the summer, often a load of my cousins would be staying too. Sometimes 4 generations of the family were all there together. My grandparents had 12 children, my Mum was the next to youngest, so I have 32 full cousins and quite a few second cousins too! With all the aunts and uncles that adds up to quite a houseful.

There were a lot of us! On hot days we’d all pile into various uncles’ cars and head for The Beach. There was sand, and sea, and rocks for rock pooling. There were even great places to explore when the tide was out, like The Needles Eye, The Boggie Hole, and Piper’s Cove. There were adders on the rocks and dangerous tides that could trap you. Every year my Nana warned us of the terrible agonised death suffered by some poor wee girl who’d trodden on an adder or the group of children who’d been caught the wrong side of the beach as the tide came in and been “…drooned, deid, aye, it’s a sair fecht.” My Nana had a host of these stories to cover just about any situation and she told them with spine chilling relish!

These warnings ringing in our ears, the uncles would revert to being ‘the boys’ and take us kids out and round the rocks as the tide went out. Only sissies might be scared by Nana’s stories and prefer to stay safe behind and that, of course, was unthinkable!  I trusted them to make sure we got back safe with time to spare. In later years I occasionally tried to stay behind with a book but was always chased off by my aunties. These expeditions gave ‘the lassies’ time to stop being our mothers, revert to sisterhood, sunbathe, fight and gossip without being overheard.

There were men fishing for salmon with nets strung out into the sea. There was one ice cream van where, if you were prepared to queue for long enough you could get a Mivi.

This is ‘the beach’ the one where I nearly got sunstroke, the one with a fresh water spring whose water tasted better than lemonade. The. Beach. All others since are judged against it and very few stand the comparison!

The photo is of the beach at Sandyhills. They have a lovely Facebook page, do give them a Like if you enjoy beach photos, red squirrels, badgers or you just remember your ‘beach’.

So where was yours anyway?