Monday 15 February 2021

Monday 15th February - Nearly Lent

 Tomorrow I shall make pancakes, or rather drop scones, also known as Scotch pancakes, which I much prefer to the Crepe style ones. We shall consume a quantity of real maple syrup from the carefully hoarded supplies brought over from Canada several years ago.

Most of the recipes I see use eggs (I don't) and skip the butter (I don't).

I usually use the standard scone recipe - 2 oz butter rubbed into half a pound of SR flour along with a tablespoon of sugar, and enough milk to make the right consistency - about half a pint, but don't put it all in at once in case you wish you had used less. (Scones only need a quarter of a pint of milk). Hey, ounces, pounds, and pints! I've had this recipe a long time, so it's a good job my electronic scales are bilingual.

I'm wondering whether to try the American 2-ingredient biscuit recipe (1 pot yogurt, 1 pot SR flour) and just add enough milk to turn it into a drop scone consistency. Or the 3-ingredient scone recipe (1 pot fizzy lemonade, 1 pot cream, 3 pots SR flour). But I don't think we have any cream, so standard scone or 2-ingredient biscuit it will be. Experimentation might be the order of the day.


I've been working on a sort of year-book - what else could one call it? I enjoy reading books that go through the year, so that one reads a chapter every month, taking one's time. I am currently reading 'One Woman's Year' by Stella Martin Currey (Persephone Books) which I like better than the '2020 Almanac; 'A Seasonal Guide to 2020' by Lia Leendertz which I read last year. I started  'The Cloister Walk' by Kathleen Norris in September 2019, which is more of a journal of Christian spirituality through a year. And then there is Miss Read's 'Village Diary' which is a novel telling the events in a small village back in the 1950s from the point of view of the Village School Teacher. 

It was 'The Cloister Walk' which alerted me to the pleasures of following a year through a book; the writing was 'as full of meat as a pudding' and I didn't want to read it too quickly. I found the Almanac to full of information that didn't interest me; tide tables and sunrise and set tables and nature notes of the hedgerows, and only a few of the recipes leapt off the page and say 'cook me, cook me'.

'One Woman's Year', published in 1953, is nearly perfect; six topics a month consisting of a diary-style essay, a recipe (excuse me if I agree so entirely with her description of the 'Pancake Pagoda Recipe' as a 'recipe of despair' that I have decided to read it as a work of fiction and not attempt!), a description of an excursion, the most loved, and most hated jobs for the month, and a very short anthology. And woodcuts. I love woodcut and lino print pictures.


I have refrained from reading ahead, and instead am putting together my own Year-Book-Companion. Following the example above, at the moment I plan to include any, or some, or all, of 

  1. a diary entry, 
  2. a poem,
  3. a recipe, 
  4. a cake, 
  5. something to make, 
  6. an excursion (not that I am going anywhere at the moment), 
  7. something about nature/flowers/trees/gardening (of which I am mostly ignorant but since when has ignorance ever stopped anyone?) 
  8. a Task for The Month, 
  9. things taken from my commonplace notebooks,
  10. A non-fiction item,
  11. an evening prayer.   
I had hoped to make the list up to 12 items - then there would be a gross (that's 144 in old money), as my only disappointment so far with 'One Woman's year is that I would like there to be more in each chapter. And possibly the Pagoda Pancake recipe.

However my progress through January's chapter has slowed because I discovered this morning that I appear not to have saved yesterday's work. They say that re-writing is a major part of writing, so that's what I did.


A 'nature' comment for this month could be my pleasure at discovering that the clematis is not just a tangle of dead brown vines, but has green shoots. 

The layer of soil that James-the-garden-expert put on the flowerbeds seems to have encouraged the two clematis plants. One of my specifications for the garden when James sorted it out was that I wanted to have something new to discover every month; if nothing else happens in the garden in February the clematis shoots will have been enough.

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