Hedgehog Hill Coffee Cake

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As you can see we are under a blanket of snow at Hedgehog Hill. We had a green Christmas and New Years then a week of streamers off the lake that swirled around the house and yard. This means long dark nights and bitter cold days. When it has been nice enough to venture outside I caught a few images of the drifts.

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Snow is so hard to capture in a photo, it remains stubbornly flat and one-dimensional. Yet I marvel at all of the shapes and drifts it forms.

The overhang in the first picture has continued to grow for over a week, how does it just hang there?

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The winds have been fierce at times.

Earlier today I was dreaming of warmer times in the garden and remembered that I still have a lot of lovely produce frozen that should get used up before the next harvest.

Maybe it was all the swirling, but I got to thinking about a layer of sweet black raspberries in a golden, rich cake.

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See the resemblance? Is it piles of cake and drifts of raspberries? Or is it lashings of sweetness between crumbly goodness?

I posted a picture on Instagram (you can link to my account over on the side bar or simply search for Mrs Murfin) and someone – @katkommentary asked for the recipe. It is a bt long for instagram so I decided to finally dust off the blog again.

On a side note I was happy to find I could drag and drop photos….has that option always been there???

Back to the recipe. Since I did not plan ahead I don’t have cake-in-progress photos so you will have to just read about it.

First I took a healthy cup – a cup and a half of frozen black raspberries from the freezer. Any fruit will do really, or you can make the same coffee cake with just nuts and cinnamon.

I put the berries in a pot with about half a cup of white sugar and a teaspoon and a half of cornstarch. I mixed them together and put them on a medium heat, melting the sugar in and thickening as they came to a gentle boil. I turned them down and let the mix bubble for a few minutes until they were a runny jam consistency. I took them off the heat to cool. Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.

I make this cake in a ring pan, but there is no reason you can’t make it in a 9 X 13″ cake pan. It rises quite a bit so make sure whatever pan you use has room for it. I do grease and flour the pan…I hate it when things stick.

Meanwhile I made my favourite sour cream coffee cake batter. I have a real phobia about running out of sour cream at Christmas. Something about having guests in the house, I MUST have sour cream! Never mind that I am the only one who eats it most of the time. Anyway I somehow ended up with 3 – yes 3 – tubs in the fridge. This is a great way to use up the end of the tub. (I did throw out one tub that was fresh dated to last September…..yikes!) So measure out 1 cup of sour cream and set aside.

Cream 1/2 cup of soft butter with 1 cup of white sugar and 2 eggs with a mixer. In a separate bowl combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, and a 1/4 tsp of salt.

Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture alternately with the cup of sour cream. This is where a stand mixer is really nice, or help in the kitchen because other wise you need three hands.

I like to give it a good beating so it gets nice and fluffy,and thick.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread around. It doesn’t look like there is enough, but there is. It will rise and bulk up so don’t panic, just spread it out.

If you are making a plain cinnamon nut coffee cake you can sprinkle half of it over the batter now. For that I mix 1/4 cup of white sugar, 1/4 cup of chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans), and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

I decide to add that today along with the raspberries but it could be optional.

Pour the cooled raspberries over the batter and spread a little gently with a spoon.

Drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the top and spread as best you can. Again it will spread as it bakes. Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar and nut mixture.

Bake at 350 F for 35 – 45 minutes. You really have to do a poke test to see if there is any goopy batter before you pull it out.

Cool and enjoy.

I think I will make some Birds custard tomorrow to pour over and make it even more decadent.

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test post from free wifi

One of the reasons this site has been silent is because the wifi at Hedgehog Hill is so slow, posting is painful. I am testing the wifi at the local library today and this seems like a good solution. More to come…

Book Review The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

So let’s talk books shall we? All my intentions of getting a crafty blog written this weekend fell away after my visit to the bookstore on Friday. I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket and there is no better gift to me than a book.

Or several.

Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

I had been waiting eagerly for the next installment of the Flavia de Luce tale. I could hardly wait to crack the cover of The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. The titles alone make these books intriguing.

The previous book in the series, Speaking From Among the Bones, had left the reader hanging on the final words. Exciting and frustrating at the same time, when forced to wait a year for the action to move on.

To be clear, I have not been asked to write this review, I am doing so because I just love this series and I wish everyone could read and enjoy the adventures of the 11-soon-to-be-12 year old Flavia. I will also attempt to not give any spoilers.

This is a series that you simply must read right from the start. It opens with the first book; The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, in the dawning of 1950’s England and introduces you to young Flavia as she cheerfully navigates the murky waters of that space between child and woman.  I am continually astounded that the author, Alan Bradley, can capture the essence of an eleven year old girl so well. As I read I am transported back to my own tween years and find myself saying – yes I remember feeling exactly that way. She is both wise and naive in equal measure, incredibly brave, possibly because she is young enough to not see her adventures as dangerous, and she is as resourceful, as she is fearless.

The books move along with fast-paced plots and have a wonderful set of characters that you come to cherish quickly. The immediate mysteries are resolved with Flavia’s determined, though unsolicited, help thanks to her remarkably well equipped laboratory, love of chemistry (particularly poisons), and her ever steadfast bicycle – Gladys.

The entire series of six books is spread over a transitional year for Flavia and you see her grow. While each book has a satisfying puzzle of its own, there is also an underlying mystery of what really happened to Flavia’s long lost Mother. Here lies the tricky landscape of spoilers. This most recent book answers many of Flavia’s questions and lays a path for her future. I am not sure if Mr Bradley will continue the series, I sincerely hope he does, but even as a standalone series of six, these books are not to be missed.

There has been talk of a TV series and I heard someone from the wonderful Call the Midwife is involved. This gives me great hope that it will be well done. It is essential that characters so well drawn be cast with care so as to not disappoint the legion of Flavia fans.

One of my measures of a good book is how often I notice something in my world and wonder how it would be viewed through the eyes of a favourite character. Flavia continues to live in my heart.

Some of my copies are pictured below, not in order or a complete set.

Author : Alan Bradley

Series in order:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s bag

A Red Herring Without Mustard

I Am Half Sick of Shadows

Speaking From Among the Bones

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

Alan Bradley books

More snow, and more snow.

Narnia

“Meanwhile,’ said Mr Tumnus, ‘it is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long, and we shall both catch cold if we stand here talking in the snow.  Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”
―     C.S. Lewis,     The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

fir tree

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Don’t mind the dust

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 My my it is more than a bit dusty in here don’t you think? What!  Almost a year and no posts? I think it is time Mrs Murfin puts her pinny back on, cleans up the place and writes something. I have been doing a lot of sewing, and a lot of knitting and crochet too, so it’s not like I don’t have stuff to show you. The weather has been nasty and I have cabin fever. So let’s warm this place up a bit. Don’ you love this divided fabric basket? Pattern by Noodlehead . I’ll make some tea and be back in a flash or in a day or two.

The Magnolia

After waiting so long to see her bloom, she did not disappoint. And a week of beautiful weather helped her to keep her dress onBuds

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Spring blooms

You may remember that last spring was a bit of disaster for blooms. My heart broke when my much-anticipated magnolia was frosted.

Thankfully this year we did not get summer in March and had a traditionally cruel April with lots of hints at spring warmth, but very little actual sun.

May has dawned and we are into full summer – bang –  just like that. The forsythia is shinning and you can smell it all over the yard.Forsythia

Inside I have a lovely bunch of Daffies to brighten the fireplace wall.

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And look! Buds on the magnolia! Stay tuned!!!

Magnolia buds

A new look for Spring

I thought it was about time to have a little spruce up. There are hundreds of themes you can choose for a blog and while I liked the one I had it was a bit starkly white.

I like this one for the slightly retro, country feel. The pictures seem to stand out better and it looks more …finished.

Comments are welcome!

Teacup Tuesday

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Isn’t that a lovely thought? A cup of tea and a stack of magazines… what could better on a sunny Winter afternoon?

This little beauty is a thrift shop find. Only cost me a couple of dollars. I was drawn to the sweet picture of people skating on the mill-pond.

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I don’t think it is particularly old. It may be a reproduction of a popular older pattern. Wm Adams & Sons did a lot of transferware. I am in love with transferware.  Such a nice clean interior. The edge is a very odd green-grey. Not a colour you see a lot.

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Let’s look at the couple skating up close.

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Perfect for an afternoon cuppa’

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The cat post

It had to happen sooner or later.

If you own a cat, and you write a blog, sooner or later you will write about the wonders of your beloved and spoiled kitty.

Crookshanks speaks english. At least she comprehends what we are saying and responds appropriately. She is also polite. As you let her out she offers a brief “mew” in thanks and the same when you let her in. She doesn’t mew very often otherwise, just “Hi and thanks for opening the door, it’s bloody cold out there” all in one short “mew”.

I also know cats speak sign language. If you open the door and it is very cold or there is snow they will shake their front paw just once. Work with me here, she is a genius of a cat.

She also likes to go for walks. If we head out in the back yard for a stroll around the property she will tag along like a dog. Galloping ahead, and following when you go somewhere new. Today I headed out to grab some shots while there was brief sun, and sure enough she came along.

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She scratches each tree like a dog might lift a leg.

When I am lining up a shot to get some snow on a rock….

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then out of nowhere….PHOTOBOMB

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I am belly down in the snow to get a level shot of the stream and …

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There she is again. She was in a posing mood today.

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So we did an arty shot to please her. She wants to call it “Cat Among Trees”

I did get a couple of nice shots with out her.

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But really today was all about the princess.

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