Monday, October 23, 2017

Autumn Walks and a Barmbrack Recipe

Is there anything better than walking a trail on an Autumn morning?

 We've been hitting the trails early in search of birds. Most mornings, the grass is still wet with dew, so I've been wearing these very old leather boots. They're tall enough to protect my legs, waterproof, and so old and beat-up I don't care what happens to them.

My skirt is made of loden, which is largely water resistant, and dries quickly when it does manage to get wet. I find that useful when moving through brush. I also own a pair of loden trousers. I've had both pieces going on 30+ years and they're still holding up well. It was quite a splash out at the time, but I've more than got what I paid for.

The wool cardigan was something I purchased in London on a whim because it  was unexpectedly freezing. It has a few moth nibbles (it is a good 25 years old now) but I wear it for outdoor activities and chores at home. This cardigan was my go-to piece when we lived on the farm as it was warm, and long enough to keep most of my body warm. I know it will fall apart some day, but for the moment I am continuing to get use from it.
The garden in front of the library is dying off. Behind me, you can see the bank where in a few weeks a large, lighted Christmas tree will be erected making certain that everyone in the city can find 90th and Dodge in the dark! We live in the neighbourhood just behind the bank and it is a quick walk over to our library. It is an interesting corner of the city. Banks, the library, a college, two hospitals, medical offices, a supermarket, office buildings-all on good bus routes. I suppose that's what's so appealing about living here. After a dozen years on a remote farm, it is nice to grab a gallon of milk without getting in my car. I can walk to Walgreen's in five minutes. Most of the architecture reflects the times in which the city was expanding. Brutalist style buildings are the norm in this part of town, but I've come to appreciate them. There's continual discussion of tearing down our library branch and building another further west. To be fair, we do have another library not far from here up 90th street, but I would obviously not be able to walk there. More importantly, we'd lose a bit of 60's architecture that has helped shape the personality of the area.
(not my photo)

As Halloween is almost here, I thought this would be a good time to share my barmbrack recipe. I do a tea brack rather than a yeast risen, but it is still best made a few days in advance and stored before slicing. Sometimes I switch up the fruits I use (cranberries, apricots, sultanas, etc.) but the basic recipe is reliable as long as you keep the proportions the same.
(Photo from a few years ago)

If you add charms, I suggest poking them into the loaf after baking, and wrapping them in parchment so no one chokes on a coin.

You Will Need:

3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup sultanas
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup candied pineapple (or cherries)
Grated zest of an orange-or lemon
1 cup strong, hot black tea
1/4 cup spirits (I used some really strong cherry brandy)
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 3/4 cup self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice, or an aproximation of mixed spice

In a large bowl, combine everything except the eggs and dry ingredients. Let soak a few hours, or overnight. Add the egg, sugar, and flour. Don't overmix-just stir until everything is wet and combined.

I lined a loaf pan with parchment which made my life much easier. If you don't have parchment, grease and flour the pan generously.

Pour the batter into a large loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour and a half-but start testing at an hour. The cake may seem dry as it cools, but it will soften up over a couple days. To store, wrap tightly in wax paper and cling film. 

Oh I do really adore autumn. Hope Monday was nice for you.


Bibi Maizoon said...

That top photo of you birding is gorgeous! The colors, the pose, everything!
I was watching a TV show on Brutalist architecture the other day. Saw a lot of it in the rebuilt area of Berlin I lived in the late 80's for 6 months. I've only seen it in Los Angeles in my native California.
That barmbrack looks delish!

Goody said...

I think the classic building in the style is Gov't Center in Boston. Someone said it "Looked like the box Fanieul Hall came in!"

Melanie Folly Bird said...

I always love autumn walks, I love to spot fly agaric and see the ferns turning that gorgeous copper colour.

I really love the library building.

Mim said...

I had no idea loden was a fabric, I just thought it was a colour. (Your blog is very educational.) That first photo is fab.

I'm developing an appreciation for brutalist architecture, though it's still being pulled down in the UK, even the impressive stuff. Birmingham Central Library was the most recent stupid demolition. I hope they keep your library.

Vix said...

Claim to fame! I used to go out with the son of the architect who designed Birmingham Central Library. Price Charles was very scathing about it.
Love the first photo. My rustic rumbles are confined to taking the veg peeling to the compost bin up the garden but there's some ace 'shrooms growing on the wood pile. xxx

Polyester Princess said...

Like Bibi and Vix, I love that first photo! I am not a big fan of Loden but that skirt looks great on you. Autumn walks are the best, and the light is just fantastic this time of year. When there is light, that is. I really hope they won't tear down that library, which would be a shame. They wouldn't think twice here in Antwerp, though: they're notorious for tearing down things. xxx

Goody said...

Our nice weather is ending-they're predicting snow on Friday.

I is a teacher ;)

That's a cool claim to fame. I always wonder how architects must feel seeing their work demolished.

The building is so nice inside as well-I'll try to get some interior photos next time I visit.

Veronica Cooke said...

You look an incredibly elegant trail walker and library user....

Radostin said...

I enjoyed this little wander around your neighbourhood as well as your outfit!