Sunday, 4 September 2011

Rabbit catching, blackberries and courgette cake for tea

There was a point during this afternoon's foray out for blackberries where I looked in front of me down the lane to see the dog lolloping ahead of the husband, followed in turn by blue and pink holding hands and singing. The sun was shining, a gentle breeze whispered through the hedgerows and the birds were tweeting. A rural idyll. Or not.

Despite a long walk earlier in the day, the dog was intent on exhausting himself and us. I should have known that he would not be naturally suited to blackberry picking. He made it virtually impossible for me to pick anything while he was still on the lead, as he kept winding his lead around my legs then trying to leg it after whatever he had spied in the bushes. Once we'd got off the road and into the green lane, he was clearly in rabbit-mode (rabbit chasing mode, that is). He raced like a demon up and down by the hedgerow, stopping every now and again to shove his head deep into the thicket to the point where you would just see his tail and behind furiously wagging from side to side. After a few seconds of bum waggling, he would leap back out again, tongue hanging out, panting madly, with a deranged look in his eye and covered in ever increasing burrs, fuzz balls and other debris, only to race off again after more invisible (to us at least) wildlife. Fortunately I'd managed to let him off the lead, so he wasn't dragging me behind him...

Meanwhile, we tried to pick blackberries. Unfortunately, our chosen spot was not as prolific as previous years with most of the blackberries high up and protected by 2 feet of nettles. The husband and I are now tingling from the knees down from the stings, and the children gave up early and concentrated on eating the ones they could reach. Pink was particularly interested in the concept of gathering free food. "Is this like poor people do?" she asked. Every few minutes, I had to check for the mad dog who was thoroughly beside himself with excitement and kept disappearing.

We were turning back, having gathered a respectable tub-full (turns out we got a kilo), when Fred decided that he too wanted to contribute to the foraging. After whistling to call him from which ever undergrowth he was investigating, he appeared, looking very pleased with himself, with something in his mouth. Those of you with a nervous disposition, look away now.

"He's got a rabbit" shouted blue.

It took a couple of minutes to prise the still twitching bunny from his jaws. He trotted up and sat down clearly seeking praise, but refused to give up the prize, so I was forced to step in. The husband did the decent thing. The poor bun was 'mixi' anyway, and for that I have mixed feelings. Obviously, I feel sorry for the bunny, being dead and all, at the hands of the dog, but had it not been mixi, the title of this blog would have included rabbit pie...

 Thankfully (!) as rabbit pie wasn't on the menu, I could do some much less carnivorous baking today. What with all those courgettes, and getting a bit fed up of using them as veg, I decided to remind myself what Nigella's courgette cake tastes like. Pink is not a fan or courgette and kept asking if she would be able to taste it in the cake, but when she became involved in the cake baking process she was much happier. The cakes themselves are quite light, and are sandwiched together with lime curd (the recipe is also in Domestic Goddess) and topped with a cream cheese icing. Even though the curd is very sharp, I think topping it with the cream cheese icing makes it possibly a little too sickly, but I am sure I will have a few more slices just to make sure. Blue liked the creamcheese and the cake but not the curd, while pink hoovered he whole lot up. The dog won't get a look in - I had to spend 20 minutes (I timed them) brushing the burrs out of his ears when we got back from the walk so he is not in the good books...

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