Saturday, 28 February 2009



Snowy Snowdrops

Despite it having been the coldest and snowiest February for many years, the snowdrops in the grass-banking have somehow managed to show themselves. The rest of the garden though, is still sleeping, and it will be a while yet before I’m outside doing anything about the holes which have suddenly appeared in the middle of the lawn. It’s not the moles digging but our wee west-highland puppy, Ruby, who looks far too cute to be so very naughty!

Wee Ruby

During early February, three of our dear friends decided to celebrate their birthdays together with one big joint party. It was wonderful to socialise again after our ‘flu ridden exile over Christmas and January. A great night out was had by all!

Mid-month, we went along to an Old Time Musical Evening held in the village hall. The entertainment was truly fabulous. There were lots of talented local people, poets, and singers, dance troupes and pipers, all performing alongside world-class opera singers, accordion players and stand-up comedians, some of whom had travelled home to Scotland from far-flung places to support this important local charity event. All the money raised (in excess of £1500) was in aid of The Crossroads Orphanage in Matatiele, South Africa, a children’s home regularly supported by our village.

While coping with the cold and icy weather, I have been keeping a careful eye on the hens and watching for any signs of a chill. (If you have ever heard a hen sneeze it’s a funny wee sound!). The ‘girls’ have needed an extra feed around midday this month to keep their body temperatures up in these sub-zero conditions, and a generous daub of Vaseline on each of their little combs, (that’s the red wobbly bit on their heads) has helped to prevent frostbite. Unlike the dogs, Polly and Ruby, the hens don’t get to spend their evenings sitting next to the log fire!

The ‘girls’ need an extra feed…

While Polly and Ruby keep warm by the fire…

The landscape around the cottage in February has been so white with snow and the trees and branches so dark, that each morning, it has appeared as if the world has been presented to us in black and white. Beautiful in its contrast.

A snowy scene from the cottage in February

My recipe for February was inspired by the glut of eggs being laid by our industrious hens and the presence of several boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates left over from Christmas! I took this easy to make sweet dessert along as my contribution to the joint birthday party buffet table early on in the month (but not before I took a photo to show you the result) and everyone said it was both unusual and delicious.

Ferrero Rocher Roulade

6 eggs whites, whipped until stiff but not dry.
6 oz caster sugar
A handful of flaked almonds
8 Ferrero Rocher chocolates melted in a bowl over a pan of simmering water
Double cream or whipping cream, whipped.
Lightly grease a baking tray with baking parchment or use bako-glide.
Whisk the eggs until stiff but not dry. Add the sugar. Continue to whisk until all the sugar had been incorporated and the mixture is stiff and glossy.
Spoon the meringue into the lined tin and spread out.
Sprinkle the surface with the flaked almonds. This will be the outside of the roulade.
Bake in a preheated oven at 220 degrees C (425 degrees F, Gas 7) for about 8 minutes until the top is golden brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees C (325 degrees F, Gas 3, or use the warming oven on an Aga) and continue baking until the meringue is firm to the touch.
Remove the meringue from the oven and turn out onto a baking sheet with lining paper. Peel away the baking parchment/bako-glide from the meringue and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
During this time, take the Ferrero Rocher chocolates out of their wrappers and put into a small bowl over a pan of simmering water. Beat with a fork until melted.
Add the melted chocolate mix to the double whipped cream and beat together.
Spread the chocolate cream mix over the meringue and roll up carefully from the long end, using the lining paper to help lift it. Wrap the roulade up and leave to chill and firm up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Next month, in March, the days will be much longer. I’m hoping to see daffodils and some early springtime sunshine in the garden. I’ll be chitting potatoes ready for planting out and making plans about what else might grow in the vegetable patch this summer.

Outside the cottage, which is over two hundred years old, it is clear to us that the winter has ravaged the stone and paintwork rather more than previous years - so there will be much to do once the weather allows. Well, let’s see what March brings us…


NB All rights reserved. Extracts and photographs may not be reproduced in any form except with the permission of the author.