April

apple blossom buds
Apple blossom buds appear…

April with her sweet showers is supposed to pierce the drought of March to the root – well it hasn’t done that so far. It has been the driest March for years here. On the plus side it means clean dogs when you come back from a walk, remarkably few snails and slugs, on the minus side the fruit trees blossom time has been exceptionally short, though very sweet.

…three days later the apples are in full bloom, humming with bees

There are blizzards of falling magnolia and cherry petals on the paving stones of Bristol;  Zeb has been coming in from the garden looking like he has been on a film set with fake snow in his curls.

crab apple
The crab apple is presented at court

Last weekend saw the temperatures soar well above the norm and the English jumped into their hot pants, dug out their BBQs, dug their gardens and allotments, walked their dogs, pulled muscles if you were me,  and generally got into the swing of a sudden change in season, dusting off their summer clothes and thinking about holidays, opening up their caravans, hastily sowing seeds, dividing perennials, greeting the plants that have survived the winter and so on. We didn’t get as far as BBQs, I dragged all the chairs out, Brian mended the parasol and we had a Gardeners’ lunch instead, sitting squinting into the bright new Spring sunshine!

Gardeners Lunch

In the raised veg bed some plants with feathery tops have been resolutely growing all through the winter. I vaguely thought they were chervil or something from a packet of mixed salad seeds. Brian dug them up and to our surprise found they were a clump of carrots that had somehow survived the frost. Our elation turned to disappointment very quckly as they were woody and inedible, so they have been added to our compost maker.

The most inedible carrots in the world

I owe you a bread post, and it’s almost ready, but as Zeb says, sometimes it’s just nice to snooze in the sun.

Zeb Bakes
Where’s the hurry?

23 thoughts on “April

  1. miskmask

    Oooh, look at sweet Zeb. So lovely sleeping in the warm April sun. Molly is being coaxed away from broad sections of our garden for a few days as we’ve just re-seeded the lawn, and it needs a few paw and pee-free days to settle. We’ve also enjoyed a nearly slug and snail free month, and I’m wondering when they’ll appear in their numbers starving to death. Lovely photos, too. I’m just an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny bit glaring at that bottle of Cardini’s. You make your own bread, grow your own veg and fruit, pack bags of compost on your hip like brickie, and yet you don’t make your own salad dressing? Tsk. :)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I do make salad dressings, all sorts, lemon and yoghurt, balsamic and evo, garlic and garden herbs, infused this that and the other, elderberry pontack sauce, – and I guess I could whip up something broadly similar to Cardini’s too. I do have a soft spot for it though! It’s delicious with a bacon avocado sandwich. There’s home made chutney and piccallili on the table. I really don’t grow most of my own veg or fruit, though I would love to be able to do that. We’ve scarified the lawn and we might reseed but then we might just let the daisies take over, they’re doing a pretty good job at the moment :D

      1. miskmask

        Perhaps one day you’ll extend this blog to include salad dressings. I love Cardini’s also, but at 600+kcal per 100ml it’s not kind to waist. And I refuse to use the low-fat version, preferring to reduce the quantity rather than the quality.

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          I have never calorie counted salad dressings, could explain a lot! In fact my calorie counting skills are very poor. I doubt that my home made ones are far behind, well maybe the yoghurt and lemon one is. Usually I make a basic vinaigrette with a tsp of french mustard, the tarragon sort if you can get it, dissolved in balsamic or red wine vinegar, emulsified with olive oil, salt and pepper, crushed garlic if in the mood. Isn’t that the sort of thing you do? I went through a phase of being enamoured with walnut and hazelnut oils, but I think I read that they were very rich, so I have stopped doing that for now. I tried that hemp oil, which is supposed to be so good for you, but found that it was so thick and viscous that I couldn’t get it to emulsify well. The Cardinis, (honest, not protesting too much here) is a rare purchase and I am tempted to say was requested by the guy who likes mayonnaise with chips, but as I eat it if it’s there, I can’t really blame him for this as well :D

          1. miskmask

            I love mayonnaise with chips, garlic mayo is even better. Cooking for a diabetic means counting calories, watching fats (good or bad) and carbs, in other words anything that converts to energy (meaning sugars) too quickly. The trick is to find calories that burn slowly so his glucose level remain stable. It’s an education. Salad dressing: 1 part acid to 3 parts oil, usually lemon juice with Light & Mild olive oil as it’s flavour doesn’t over-power small additions or the salad. I add dijon mustard, finely chopped shallots, sometimes garlic grated, fresh basil or tarragon or oregano. Occasionally I’ll add an egg yolk with the lemon juice and mustard to help emulsify the oil. A hint of anchovies does wonders too, actually dissolves into the acid component and adds saltiness without sodium. :)

            1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

              Of course it does. Silly me! Did I mention I have an awesomely bad memory. Twitter. The quick cheese bread, it’s all coming back to me and I searched through Twitter at the weekend thinking who was that, because I wanted to say to you, except I thought it was someone else, (diggin self into / out of small hole here) did you see Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s savoury cakes on Saturday. Slow burning foods, is that like low GI foods? My sister uses that phrase a lot. New potatoes are low GI and old potatoes are high GI or something? I didn’t know the egg yolk trick though and anchovies are delicious in all sorts of surprising places. Gill uses anchovies with her roast lamb dish. I think you can buy an anchovy paste in Waitrose, I’m sure I’ve seen one. I will try your egg yolk method. It sounds great!

              1. miskmask

                Exactly right; low GI, and correct on the potatoes, too. Carrots in moderation and peas are lethal – might as well suck on a boiled sweet. Anchovy paste is even available at Tesco, so it’s not a new concept. Mix the egg yolk well into the acidic ingredient, mustard, garlic, anchovy paste, and then slowly add the oil in a steady stream whisking until you need to scream because your arm is killing you. It shouldn’t get to a mayonnaise stage – if it does, use hot water to thin it out.

                Thanks for the link. I think the ham and olive loaf would make ‘him’ happy.

  2. Mariana

    What a lovely spring stroll through April. Your gardener’s lunch looks so earthy and pretty and a couple of preserves in those jars look interesting. It sounds like you need some sunglasses Joanna. Happy squinting.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      It’s like living in a speeded up film here, one day a bud, the next cascading blossoms. I want a little juidcious rain – the sort that falls neatly between 2 and 4 am each night, softly pattering away…. :)

  3. Amanda

    Gorgeous photo’s of the blossom, Joanna. It just seems like yesterday that our trees were looking like that.
    Not now, though. Other end of the seasons here and leaves are changing colour and beginning to drop – just as lovely, really, but chillier.

  4. Franr

    The photos are superb as always. Zeb is so photogenic see he is soaking up the sun. It is my birthday today so off to enjoy the April sunshine. A day of pleasure no work bliss. April is a glorious month. Spring is here!

    Fran

  5. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Zeb’s got the right idea I think. That sunny spot would be calling me too. Right after I had invited myself over to feast on your gardeners lunch. Yes, a little lie down in the sun would be lovely :-)

  6. jan trounce

    What glorious blossoms Joanna – lunch, blossom, bees and a pooch snoozing in the sunshine. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I love this time of year, longer days, milder nights, it all adds up to great enjoyment. Brian has been out taking photos of bluebells and flowering garlic this morning on a quick dog stroll round the woods.

  7. Jeannette

    What lovely pictures! We were doing the same things this last weekend, I suppose most people were in this country, looking at the new plants coming up and pulling out weeds, scarifying the lawn etc. Like you say, it would be nice if the rain fell in the wee small hours and left the days for us to enjoy in the sun, we’ll just have to take advantage of the good weather while we have it. Looking forward to your next bread post, I have some sourdough on the go as I write.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I want to see more of your bread pics Jeannette as I was so impressed by your Pain de Campagne. It’s a great time of year to make sourdough isn’t it?

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      The hairy carrots excited us terribly till we tried to eat them :( How hot is hot? I remember Cordoba being very hot in November the one time I was there. I’m waiting for that post on the Mezquite…[ taps nails impatiently….]

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