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Playing For You From Our Scented Cottage


Spring is when life is alive in everything.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Upside Down Blueberry Cake...

I LOVE blueberries and always have them on hand. If you're also a blueberry lover, try this recipe for teatime or dessert.


1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 cups blueberries
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In heavy, oven-proof skillet (10 inch..I use cast iron but you can also use a baking pan for this recipe), melt butter. Add brown sugar, then blueberries. Pour into skillet.

 Beat eggs well. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add milk, then dry ingredients; beat well.

Pour into skillet, completely covering berries. Bake about 45 minutes until berry juice bubbles around edges. When done, cover with serving plate and invert. Scrape any remaining berries or sugar mixture from pan. Best served warm.

Put a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream on la la!


When working outside in the garden, or around the house, I always find myself bumping in to something that causes scrapes or bruises.

In the Victorian Era most people could not afford a doctor. Instead, they had household handbooks, which came complete with home remedies. The remedies had worked for centuries, having been passed down from mother to daughter.

One of the remedies for bruising to prevent the area from discoloring is to brew a tea from one large tablespoon of oregano and and a cup of boiling water. Let it set for 10 minutes and then strain it. Wrap the wet oregano in a piece of cloth and apply it to the bruise. Save the liquid and refresh the oregano leaves as needed.

Another tip from 1890 states: The best treatment of bruises is the application of water, of such temperature as is most agreeable. The degree of temperature varies with the temperature of the weather and the vigor of the circulation. On a hot day, use cool or cold water. If the circulation is low, use warm water. The bruised parts may be immersed in a pail of water, and gently pressed or manipulated with the hand or soft cloth for ten minutes, or even longer in severe cases. Then wrap up the parts in cloths wet with cold water, and keep quiet. This treatment keeps down the inflammation, and in nine cases out of ten proves a speedy cure.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Emerald...The May Birthstone

The emerald is both the modern and traditional birthstone for May. It is also listed as a birthstone for the Zodiac signs for Taurus and Cancer, as the Planetary stone for Taurus, and the Talismanic stone for Gemini. Emerald is the only stone, besides Topaz, that is listed in all of the ancient birthstone tables. This gem is suggested as an anniversary gift for the 20th and 35th anniversaries, and as an alternate stone for the 55th wedding anniversary.

The emerald is also the sacred stone of the goddess Venus. It was thought to preserve love and has long been the symbol of hope. It's considered by many to be the stone of prophecy, and for some, the emerald acts as a tranquilizer for a troubled mind. It is said the emerald brings the wearer reason and wisdom. The strongest time for the powers of the emerald is said to be spring.

In ancient times, emeralds were used as amulets to ward off epilepsy in children and thought to cure diseases of the eye. Folklore suggests that these stones will improve memory, intelligence, and enhance clairvoyance, thus helping to predict future events. They are also worn to enhance love and contentment. Cleopatra prized emeralds above all other gems.

If You See A Fairy Ring...

Fairy Rings abound in Ireland. A fairy ring, also known as fairy circle, elf circle or pixie ring, is a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms or raised mounds where fairies dance at night. The rings may grow over 32 feet in diameter and become stable over time as the fungus grows and seeks food underground. They are found mainly in forested areas, but also appear in grasslands or rangelands.

If you are near a ring when the fairies are dancing, you'll be drawn to it. Be careful, for if you enter, you will dance with the fairies, unable to stop. It may feel like only minutes, but in reality, it will be 7 years. You will find no way to get out unless someone comes after you and pulls you out while keeping one foot outside of the circle.

If you walk nine times around a fairy rath at the full of the moon you will find the entrance to the Sifra; but if you enter, beware of eating fairy food or drinking fairy wine. If you do, you will never be the same again.

Warning: Since fairies are passionately fond of music; it is dangerous for young girls to sing alone by the lake, for the spirits will draw her down to them to sing to them in the fairy palace under the waves, and her people will see her no more.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Do You Love Fairies?

Come with me on a virtual fairy watching tour to a land where fairies abound... Ireland! Click here and we will visit a place in Tipperary where a webcam is hidden in an enchanted area. There is fairy ring close-by and you may see leprechauns and other Irish fairies such as pookas, banshees and merrows. Because the Leprechaun Watch is in the countryside, in a remote part of Ireland, there is only natural light and there will be little or nothing to see after dark and before dawn. Shhhh...we must be quiet...let us go there now...

What's A Girl To Do...

When she's tired of eating Clementines? Use them in cookies, of course! Normally I would use navel oranges for these wonderful tea cookies, but the clementines worked wonderfully! Double the batch like I did or you'll be sorry, they will go quickly!

Orange Marmalade Thumbprint Cookies

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter cubes)
2/3 cups sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange marmalade (maybe a little less depending on the size of your thumbprint)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk with fork to blend and set aside.

In a large bowl combine butter and sugar. Beat at medium speed until light and creamy. Add egg yolks, zest, juice and vanilla, beating to combine.
Add flour mixture a little at a time until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place about 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Using a floured finger or back of a teaspoon, make a depression in the center of each ball.
Drop a bit of marmalade in each thumbprint (about 1/2 teaspoon each).

Bake until golden brown about 15-18 minutes. Cool completely before tasting, the marmalade is hot! (The roof of my mouth can vouch for that!)

May Produce Calendar..What's in season?

What's in season, at peak of season, and winding down in May for fresh produce? Here's what you can look forward to in May:

(n = newly in season; p = peak of season; w = winding down)

artichokes w
beans, fava p
beans, green n
broccoli w
cabbages w
cauliflower w
celery w
celeriac/celery root w
chard w
corn n
fennel w
garlic, green w
greens including arugula,dandelion, fiddlehead fern, lettuces, mizuna, mustard
kale w
mushrooms, morels w
onions, fresh/spring w
onions, sweet: Vidalia p
peas, edible pods p
peas, English/shelling p
potatoes, new n
radish w
ramps p
salad mix w
sorrel p
spinach w
squash, zucchini n

apricots n
peaches n
rhubarb, field w
cherries n
grapefruit w
blackberries n
raspberries n
cantaloupe n
honeydew n
watermelon n

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Love Fresh Strawberry Jam? This Is Quick And Easy!

If you love fresh jams but don't love canning, try this recipe. It's especially wonderful this time of year, when it's chilly outside and you have the scent of summer wafting through your cottage. If you have fresh (or frozen) whole strawberries, blackberries or raspberries, sugar and 15 - 20 minutes, you can make a jar of jam! This recipe does not use pectin, other than what's already in the fruit, so you have to make sure to refrigerate it after it cools and eat it within a couple weeks. Usually this is no problem in our cottage, it's so good it doesn't last long! You can use blueberries as well. Also, if you want to make a smaller batch, just use the same amount of berries to sugar. So easy!

2 cups crushed strawberries (leave large chunks if that's what you like, thaw frozen berries if using)
2 cups sugar

Jar or glass container ( I used a 16 oz. jar and it fills that to the rim plus a small glass bowl)

Crush your berries to the consistency you like in a jam. Place in pot and add the 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil on the stove, stir often to make sure it doesn't burn or scorch. Boil for approx 15 minutes. It will thicken but will still appear runny. Not to worry, it will thicken as it cools and even more after it refrigerates.

Ladle into your clean jar or container. I leave the lid off for about 20 minutes so it can cool a bit. Then I cap the jar and put in refrigerator. Enjoy!

The Hawk In Celtic Lore

Like many birds, the hawk is considered to be a messenger between the physical and spiritual worlds. The hawk is a keen hunter and symbolizes skill, boldness, strength (for one's size), clarity of purpose, decisiveness and nobility. To be compared to a hawk is the highest of compliments. Celtic oral tradition lists the oldest animal as the Hawk of Achill. If you hear a hawk cry during a journey, be alert to upcoming situations that need boldness and decisiveness to keep from being thrown off balance.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Spiced Soda Bread

I love the smell of bread baking in the oven. This soda bread is wonderful and perfect for breakfast or tea, and it's what you'll find scenting our cottage today!

A tip when making Irish soda bread, don't over knead the dough as it will produce bread which Irish mums call "hard as the hobs of hell."

3 cups raisins
2 cups water
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup liquid from soaking raisins

In a saucepan, combine raisins and water; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes; drain and reserve 1 cup of liquid (if not enough liquid left, add a little water to make 1 cup).
Set raisins and reserved liquid aside.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and allspice.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar; add eggs and the raisin liquid and mix until well blended.
Stir in dry ingredients until blended; add raisins.
Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool soda bread in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Stop by again soon!