My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

Life is a lot like a garden


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The Sunshine Blogger Award

screen-shot-2018-02-07-at-4-26-28-pmToday, we stayed indoors because of heavy rain. Small lakes formed in the paddocks as water breached the stream banks. While the ducks paddled and the Pukeko splashed, and to our relief, our dodgy internet sprang back to life and beamed a ray of sunshine into the house. Ann Marie Bryant had left a message to let me know she had nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger Award.

Please check out her site, Ann Marie Bryant, and read her Tales of Family: Finding My Way Home. Having an active interest in genealogy myself, I find her stories of her ancestors make interesting reading. 

The questions Ann Marie Bryant asked me

  1. What inspired you to start blogging?

Knowing I like to write, my tech-savvy son challenged me to start a blog using the scribblings in my garden diaries as prompts. Hence the blog title, showing a distinct lack of originality, My Garden. Writing a blog is quite different to my diary notes where I write for myself.  I have noticed an evolution in my writing style and the ideas I write about. I tend to think of My Garden as a metaphor for my everyday life. It is taking me some time to free up my style and to move on from the formal academic and functional professional writing formats so ingrained over the years. Reading other bloggers’ posts is the best. The breadth of expression and dialogue is enriching. 

  1.  What is your favorite article on your blog?

Mmmmm! My favourite article. Plural perhaps. Anything I write about respecting nature such as how I love that the Totara trees stand in silent witness and about protecting our stream water. And watching the living creatures that act out their antics in our rural lifestyle backyard.  But then I surprised myself with the WordPress prompt, Loophole, and had fun with the memes I read at the gym.

  1. What is one thing about you that surprises people?

I have been caving. Not the tourist type activity. I faced my fear of being in tight crawl spaces. The fun bit was black water rafting.

  1. Who is your hero?

Two women actually. My New Zealand-born great-grandmothers lived during harsh colonial times. One, Pakeha, was widowed at a young age with seven children to care for. The other, Maori, petitioned the government against the unjust confiscation of ancestral land after military conflict. Both women were among the first adult women in the world to vote in New Zealand’s general election in 1893. Voting is a privilege and a civic duty that can be taken for granted. Both these women’s right to vote was too hard-earned to forget. I always vote.

  1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you be?

Hard one for a patriotic New Zealander to answer. I loved living in Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. I love its ancient history. I love the people. I love the food and the culture. Yes. Al Ain it would have to be.

  1. What is your favorite possession?

My wedding ring.

  1. What is the craziest thing you have ever done all in the name of love?

So long ago. Probably defying my Dad to go out on my first date.

My Nominations

 My Questions for You

1. Who inspires you and why?

2. Where is the most relaxing place you have been?

3. What song/music puts you in a good mood?

4. What kind of weather do you like the most?

5. Do you have a favourite quote that you like to share?

 

Sunshine Blogger Award Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them  new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.


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Date and Apple Scones

My mother had a tried and true everyday scone recipe, based on that in the Edmonds Cookery Book, that won her prizes at the farming district’s local Flower Show in the 1950s. The aroma of date scones for afternoon tea fresh out of the hot oven wafted from the house as we four children walked from the school bus across the paddock to the house. Dad always had afternoon tea before milking the cows. No leftovers.

The scones were made with pure New Zealand butter cut into six cups of white flour, Edmonds “sure to rise” baking powder, salt and sugar using a knife then mixed with creamy unpasteurised farm milk. Chopped dried dates were layered on half the dough that was folded over before being cut into large squares before being brushed with milk and sprinkled with cinnamon flavoured white sugar. Mum taught my sister and I to have a light touch with the dough and to not over-mix the ingredients. Our measurements were approximate and remain so to this day.

My own scone making has evolved through the years. With a type-2 diabetic in the family, ingredient adjustments to tried and true recipes are necessary. Himself loves home baked goodies.He has found it useful to be able to grab a scone from the freezer for an after-gym-workout snack when his sugar level tends to get low. Hence I make a double quantity.

Date and Apple scones

Hot scones fresh from the oven

Essentially I still start with six cups of flour, which could be a mix of white with buckwheat or wholemeal flours, and baking powder. I  add spices such as cardamom or cinnamon and no longer add salt or sugar to the scone dough. A rice bran spread with no palm oil is cut into the flour. Chopped succulent Medjool dates and grated apple are mixed with fresh orange juice before being added with buttermilk to the dry ingredients. I cut the dough into smaller shapes than in the past. The top of the dough is brushed with milk and finished with a light sprinkling of cinnamon  mixed with raw sugar before being baked in a hot oven.

I like to think Mum would be pleased how her date scone recipe has evolved. Simple everyday baking, a fresh scone with a cup of tea or coffee is hard to beat.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of white flour
  • 1 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 12 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 150 grams rice bran spread
  • 2 cups buttermilk – about
  • ¾ cup chopped medjool dates and ½ grated apple with skin on, soaked in juice of 1 orange
  • cinnamon mixed with raw sugar

Method

  • Sift the dry ingredients.
  • Cut the spread into the flour until it is like breadcrumbs.
  • Mix buttermilk and fruit mixture to form a soft dough.
  • Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly
  • Line an oven with baking paper.
  • Cut dough into shapes and place on tray.
  • Brush tops with milk.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  • Makes about 15-18 depending on size.
  • Bake at 220°C for about 10 minutes.