Saturday, 20 February 2010

Every day should be a chocolate Sunday!

With my birthday followed quickly by Valentine's day we had been eating at almost Christmas proportions and there was no let up as Pancake day arrived two days later! I have to admit that Pancake day is one of the highlights of the year as far as I'm concerned. Despite making pumpkin and banana "pancakes" throughout the year, I only ever make "crepe" pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. It is a special treat and a dish to savour.

As it happens I was born on Ash Wednesday, my mother tossing pancakes for my dad and brother whilst deep breathing through labour pains... or so the story goes. Having missed out that particular year I have made a point of not missing a pancake since. I was brought up with lemon and sugar pancakes and, despite tasting other flavours over the years, I would eat nothing else on Shrove Tuesday. My girls, on the other hand, until recently were rather adverse to the taste of lemon so we have tried a variety of different flavours for them. This year we filled their pancakes with fruit salad and chocolate sauce, although I'm pleased to say my eldest tried lemon and sugar too again this year and may now be converted to this particular religion.

Chocolate Sauce

100g milk chocolate
10g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Place the bowl over a pan of boiling water and stir until melted. Use immediately or decant into an airtight container and refrigerate to use later. Microwave for a few seconds to soften again before use.

Having made a portion of chocolate sauce we were then in the unfortunate position of having to eat it up! So the next day I bought a fresh pineapple and we had pineapple, vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce for dessert two nights in a row. Then we moved on to creating sundaes with a mixture of different fruits, a variety of homemade ice-creams and, of course, chocolate sauce. By thawing out a few raspberries and using up homemade ice-cream I continue to slowly chip away at the contents of my freezer.

Talking of freezing... I spent this morning thinking long and hard about the next 6 weeks of gardening club at school. We take a break from Christmas till February half-term holiday because the weather doesn't really allow much gardening but now we are back and ready for the spring. Having spent the morning day-dreaming about what plants we would grow I sat down to lunch in a very sunny conservatory. It all seemed so lovely that I felt a strong urge to get on and plant something after lunch. Steve had bought several bags of compost from the DIY shop last weekend and they sat there on the patio just asking to be used. I made up my mind to sow a tray of leeks and a few broad beans in pots to go in the coldframe but after cutting open a bag of compost I discovered it wad frozen! When the potting compost is frozen you know it's too cold to start sowing seeds.

I admitted defeat (temporarily I'm sure) and headed round to the allotment just to empty the kitchen compost caddy into the compost bin. But the sun was shining and away from shadows of our north-facing garden it was a beautiful day so I pottered about, tidying away some remains of last year's crops. We always leave a few leeks to flower because they are beautiful purple pom pom flowers and now the dead flower heads stood there full of plump, damp black seeds. I broke a couple of heads off and stuck them upsidesown in an old compost-filled flower pot. If I can't sow leek seeds the proper way I can at least get these going.

All around there are signs of spring - snow drops, the first croci, buds, germinating sycamore keys (arghh!!! A terrible weed!). Everything is just starting to get going... everything except the kitchen gardener that is!

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