Sunday, September 22, 2013

West country Apple Spiced cake. Knockvicar Organic Gardens.

I was determined to make the best of the two apples that fell from the tree in the last wind, we could have had one each but I wanted to make them last, simple,
make a West country Apple Spiced Cake, now I come from Dorset where they are always called Dorset Apple cakes, Simon comes from the neighbouring county, Devon, and yes, there they are called Devon Apple cakes, so the compromise is West Country Apple cake,
our two apples made eight servings, who says eight into two won't go? We are down to half a cake, this will last us until  Tuesday with luck, then we will have to wait another year.
Yesterday was another beautiful day, a trip into Boyle for our weekly shop at the farmers market, it's so nice to have pork and bacon back on the menu. Knowing the conditions that pigs are kept in on commercial farms throughout Europe we will not buy meat that has been produced this way, pigs are highly intelligent animals, and to confine them in pens that they can barely turn round in is no way to treat them. So called bacon is sold just a day after the pig has been slaughtered , pumped full of chemicals and water, the process take little more than two hours, pig butchers, when asked will always deny this, but it is a fact.
 The bacon  and  ham that we buy  is dry cured, using nothing other than salt and sugar, when we cook the ham joint we end up with the same amount that we started with, not a load of water and grey gunge.
From the Farmers Market we had a quick trip into Ardcarne garden centre, I needed some seed trays, but the real reason was for a cup of coffee in their recently opened Café, it is truly the best coffee we have tasted in Ireland, it is on a par with the coffee that we got so used to in Spain and well worth visiting just for the coffee.
 From there we headed to the Knockvicar Organic gardens where Lazlo, the manager was hosting their annual Harvest Feast, everyone brought something that they had produced from their gardens,
we brought potatoes which were baked in the clay Pizza  oven, Lazlo had provided Pizza dough which the children had great fun with, rolling out and piling on the herbs and veg, then cooked in the clay oven. It was a lovely day and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
These gardens were set up fifteen years ago as a FAS scheme, these schemes were to give training to long term unemployed people, those people who were selected got an additional payment on top of their unemployment money.
At Knockvicar there was always a waiting list of people wishing to train there, nowadays I believe it is just a training centre,  in fact since Lazlo took over the gardens eleven years ago it seems to have gone from strength to strength
and now has ten tunnels,  a green house,
plus crops grown in the open, all this on less than an acre. Lazlo is a very dedicated and knowledgeable gardener, as well as a great human being.
Once again the weather is beautiful, so many butterflies,
today we had over a dozen on our Buddleia bush at one time, we also have a lot of wild honey bees maybe they are being attracted by the perfume of the wall flowers which for some reason have been blooming most of the summer,
I just hope we still get blossom in the spring but they look lovely mingling with the late summer flowers.  One strange thing is one of the Hollyhocks which has  multiple petals,
it is very pretty, a soft ivory colour and looks more like a Gardenia than a Hollyhock, the thing that is strange is this was saved seed from a friends garden in Spain, all her Hollyhocks were single petals. I just hope that it hasn't bloomed to late to set seed.
The Hubbard chicks are growing well, they are now fifty three days old and a quick weigh in tells us they are doing what they should with an average weight of 1.5kg hopefully they will be ready at ninety  days thereabouts, rather different from the supermarket chickens which are slaughtered at less than forty days.


  1. That apple spice cake looks wonderful, Anne! Here it is called German Spice Cake -- we live in an area of Pennsylvania settled by Germans. Love all the butterflies. P. x

  2. Yes that cake does look delicious! I still don't have an oven but I'd love the recipe! Great photos of the garden too, so colourful and so beautiful xxx

    1. You might have a problem with some of the ingredients, plain flour is hard to find and mixed spices you would have to improvise on. Will send you the recipe with suggestions of alternative ingredients.

  3. Knockvicar sure does look great much produce too. Did you know I did my 2 year course in Organic Horticulture there? Well I actually did 1 year there and 1 in Croghan. The cake looks just yummy!

    1. I didn't realise that Bridget, but it explains your vast knowledge, you learnt from the best, Lazlo is just about the most knowledgeable gardener we have known, and he never talks c--p unlike so many so called gardeners'.