Boredom is the enemy as far as I’m concerned, so yesterday, I decided the time was right to give my plants an autumn makeover. I grow a few ivy plants above my kitchen cabinets, and I climbed up to take away the dead leaves.
It occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to decorate for Halloween, so I started draping cobwebs across my plants. (I had to get rid of all the real cobwebs first, of course!!) Then, creativity got the better of me, and I stretched the cobwebs from one end of the room to the other.
It wasn’t long until the kitchen resembled a scene from Great Expectations, and, according to my son, I didn’t look unlike Miss Havisham either!
At least I know who I’ll be dressing up as this year! Happy Halloween!
I’m looking forward to displaying my hand made glass at this weekend’s Taste of Monaghan festival. It’s a chance to combine my two great passions… my glass work, and of course, food!
I don’t know about you, but I know my own childhood memories are peppered with food associations. Any other Dubs out there (that is, people from Dublin, Ireland), at least those of a certain vintage, will remember Gur Cake. The name supposedly comes from the slang word ‘gurrier’ – a young Dublin rascal! In fact, Gur Cake is the same as Chester Cake or Fruit Slice.
It was created long ago, and is cheap and easy to make. I suspect it was developed to make something sweet and satisfying out of leftovers… with our current economic status, maybe this is the perfect time to bring it back, although it may never have gone away!
It’s hard to be specific with a recipe, as every bakery, and family, had their own take on Gur Cake. At its simplest, it is a mixture of bread and fruit, baked in a roasting dish, between two layers of pastry. When cool, it is cut into generous slabs, and is filling and satisfying! Here’s how to go about it… experiment and find a recipe to suit yourselves!
Break up a small white loaf (or cake or brioche), stale is fine, in a bowl. Add enough liquid to bind. I used about a quarter pint of milk… but think of tea, espresso, perhaps a dollop of brandy, or Irish whisky! Add a beaten egg, 500g dried fruit, a cup of caster sugar, the grated rind and juice of a lemon, a teaspoon of mixed spice, a spoonful of treacle to give it its traditional dark colour, and mix it all up.
Roll out enough shortcrust pastry to cover the base of a deep, square baking dish, or roasting tray. Spoon the gur filling on top, and cover with another layer of shortcrust pastry. Prick the top with a fork, brush with beaten egg, and bake in a moderate oven (about 180C) for about 40 minutes.
When cool, dust with icing sugar if you’d like, cut into squares… and enjoy! Serve it up to a Dub near you, and listen to them reminisce!