Mist and snow descended upon a gathering of knitwear swaddled eco-geeks on a February foray to the frozen North. Amongst wintery walks, snowballs and snow angels, aggressive birds tamed by DN the goose-whisperer, kitchen lounging and tea, duck lessons, board games and jigsaws, endless euphemisms involving back passages; there was time for some high quality badger impressions. Perched at the top of steep beech woodland behind my house we investigated the impressive ramparts, fresh spoil and snuffle holes of my local badger sett. It would seem however that some of these chaps are more like miners...
|Did they have pickaxes?!|
|We couldn't find the doorbell.|
|Lucky badger-hair for Isla.|
|It's pronounced 'pee-day'. Yes, really.|
285g strong plain flour
1 heaped tbsp dried instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
125ml warm water (may require more)
200g feta or other white cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp flat-leaved parsley, chopped
olive oil to drizzle
Preheat the oven as hot as it will go!
- In a food processor or large bowl knead the flour, yeast, salt and water until a soft, smooth dough. Leave in bowl until 10 mins before it is required.
- Divide into four, roll out thinly to a long flat strip, approx 8cm/3" wide.
- Place on baking tray and cover the middle of strip with cheese and sprinkle with parsley. Fold edges up and over to give a 1cm border all around (see picture).
- Bake until puffed and browned, drizzle with oil and serve immediately, whole or cut into diagonal pieces.
- If you fancy making it as a plain bread, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame and cumin or nigella seeds before baking.
March busied itself with shaking off winter, spring budding and bursting out all over, unfurling its foliage on sunny days. My first flying bat wheeled by my window on the 12th March, woodlands echoed with Woodpecker drumming and Hardcastle Crags' millponds quivered with fresh frogspawn by the 19th March. Walking by the river that day I watched two pairs of Dippers display, zipping up and down calling shrilly, before landing, bobbing and flexing their tails for a few seconds before taking off again. All this and the opportunity to make these sweet potato pancakes on a certain Tuesday.
|There was so much I couldn't count the clumps.|
|Eaten with honey and toasted walnuts.|
Amazingly, one of this exemplary bunch has leant me an actinic moth trap, so trapping has now commenced by the rockery in the garden - hooray! Some of the usual suspects have appeared, but I've also had Bombus terrestris and a huge, mite-laden Sexton beetle (Nicrophorus humator) waiting to be released in the morning.
|Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)|
|Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)|
That South Coast Sunday brought another shoreline beauty, the vivid purple leaves of Sea-kale (Crambe maritima) poking through shingle while slightly bleary-eyed geeks oohed and aaahed over its prettiness. Thus March adventures ended, and finally so can this post; with a promise of April amphibians and the first foraging frolics.