So it’s been a while. And I had gotten myself into the blogging pickle of “it’s been a long time since I posted anything”, panic! Where do I begin? I knew I had been busy but didn’t have a sense of actually doing anything. The kids had been on holiday for Easter (that’s two weeks in Ireland!!!), routine was out of whack, there were visitors to the house, we visited relatives, and all the while there was copious amounts of entertainig the children,
When the kids went back to school I took a look at my photos that I had been snapping along the way. And here is a montage what we got up to.
In the last week of March we had some unseasonably hot weather, normally the winter woolies are still being layered on at this time of year however, we were getting temperatures of 22 degrees celsius. We count ourselves lucky if we get temperatures like that in July, and the pattern for the past few years in this country has been that our weather has peaked too early in the year leaving us with a soggy Irish summer. So I’ve been hoping and praying that our summer has not been and gone. Still, being a firm believer in carpe diem we packed a picnic and headed to Castletown beach in Wexford where my husband spent many a childhood summer. It’s truly beautiful and still very unpopulated. Our eldest son decided it was time for a swim! And although the weather was beautiful, the sea was Siberian. I knew it would be, so I packed a hot water bottle and a flask of hot chocolate, both of which were hugely appreciated when he emerged (blue) from the sea. But I think you’ll agree, the water does look very inviting.
After that weekend, the weather went back to seasonal chills and we could stop pretending it was summer.
After a few days of visitors we went visiting my aunt Claire in Raheny, North Dublin, for her birthday. Another beautiful sunny day, this time however it was about 10 degrees cooler than our day on the beach. So well wrapped up, we headed to St Anne’s Park, a beautiful municipal park, especially in the summer when the rose garden is in full bloom. This day however, I came across an amazing sculpture, which was a new addition since my last visit.
Easter weekend saw us welcoming a new member to the family, not a baby, but a new dog called Sam that my Dad had adopted, and you have to agree, he is a handsome chap. He was recused by the Cork Dog Welfare Action Group (DAWG) which is an organisation founded and run mostly by a network of volunteers concerned with the welfare of abandoned, abused and ill-treated dogs. This little guy is amazing and is already best buddies with my Dad.
Back home to Wicklow and we managed to get a couple of day trips under our belt! Killruddery House and Gardens being the first port of call which has been home to the Brabazon Family (the Earls of Meath) since 1618. Conveniently located three minutes drive from our house and ashamedly in the seven years we have lived in Wicklow, we’ve never been to visit!! As it was early in the season, the house was not open for tours however, the gardens were and are spectacular. There was a lot to explore for both us parents and kids. In addition Killruddery also provide an extensive annual program of events which has everything from Falconry to Bees, the Dawn Chorus to outdoor concerts, picnic and kids events plus the launch of the Walled Garden. We were hoping to meet the famous Killruddery pigs while meandering through the gardens, unfortunately we didn’t but we did manage to meet these very cheeky chickens.
This chicken on the right was not impressed with me taking photos and tried several times to peck me!!
There was also a spectacular crop of wild garlic, the smell was amazing and as soon as I got home I looked up some recipes for wild garlic pesto, so watch this space as I try my hand at this.
As the weather became inclement, we moved activities indoors and visited Sea Life our national aquarium. And as with all Sea Life aquariums, there main strategy is to teach people how to protect our seas and all who dwell in them. They are currently running a Stingray breeding program and have 12 babies in the nursery tanks at our local facility. This little fella caught my eye. Isn’t he/she amazing? We saw so many fascinating sea creatures, here are just a few. Flash photography was not permitted at the Octopus tank as the bright light hurts their eyes, however, it didn’t stop him posing for the camera.
So lots of activity was had over the Easter break and surprisingly enough not a lot of baking! :O( That said I did mention a marble cake and I am getting to that recipe but felt I needed to share with you the reason for my long absence. Before I jump to the recipe I just want to mention that I also did a cake decorating course in Cooks Academy but that’s a post for another day however, here’s a wee pic of my finished cake. It was a lot tougher than I expected and I was totally out of my comfort zone. Fondant is not the easiest to work with and I spent an inordinate amount of time smoothing out the cracks! Story of my life it would seem!
Anyway to the recipe:
Chocolate Marble Cake
This is a recipe from the old faithful BBC Good Food magazine. In the April edition there was a free supplement of 30+ Brilliant Bakes. My kids came across this Marble Cake and so I thought “wouldn’t it be nice to bake something with my children?” So take one control freak mother, two head strong boys, a generous sprinkling of sibling rivalry and what do you get, utter chaos!! That said we did manage to produce a mighty fine cake and all arguments were forgotten once we started eating ;O)
- 225g/8oz butter, softened
- 225g/8oz caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 225g/8oz self raising flour
- 3 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
Pre-heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4. Butter and line a 20cm cake tin with parchment paper.
For an easy life put all the ingredients except the cocoa powder into a food processor and whizz together for about 1 – 2 minutes until smooth. I chose this option as the row over who would crack the eggs pushed me over the edge!
Divide the mixture between two bowls, stir the cocoa powder into one. Take 2 spoons and use them to dollop the chocolate and vanilla mixtures into the tin alternately. When all the mixture has been used up, tap the tin gently on the work surface to ensure that there aren’t any air bubbles.
Take a skewer and and swirl it around a few times in the mixture to create a marble effect.
Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool. This keeps well in an airtight tin for 3 days. I cut mine in two and froze half, this worked really well.
The recipe does not require you to decorate the finished cake but the boys insisted using their peanut MMs and I have to say it was a nice addition as was the dollop of ice cream!