With super efficient speed, the BBKA sent my Adopt a Beehive pack (it arrived the very next day) and here are some of the goodies that came with it:
There's even a photo of the bees that I've 'adopted' (you can just about see it on the right of the picture) - I seem to have got a free beekeeper into the bargain - he's called Phil.
Now, you will also notice that I got a pot of honey in the pack, so I've been thinking of something I can make to spread the honey on. It's been a bit of a manic week, and next week's not looking much better, so I'm thinking soda bread.
We once spent a very exciting week in a cottage on a farm in Dumfries and Galloway. Exciting mostly because the farm caught fire on the first night we were there (yeah, see? Told you it was exciting), and MrB was forced to be all manly and go and help the farmer try to contain the fire until the emergency services arrived. You can probably imagine the bitter disappointment of two small boys waking up to discover that they had not only slept through a FIRE, but also through the arrival of a giant red fire engine. They've never quite forgiven us for not waking them up.
Anyway, the upshot of all this excitement was that the fire knocked out the electricity in our cottage for a couple of days, but the lovely farmer's wife kindly kept us supplied with fresh eggs, and soda bread which she'd baked in her Aga. I always associate soda bread with rural living (the Irish connection, I expect), so it seemed very fitting to be handed a lovely warm loaf all wrapped up in a clean tea towel each morning. It really needs to be eaten fresh, so supermarket soda bread is always horribly dry in my experience, and not worth buying. It is, however, an absolute cinch to make, because it doesn't contain yeast, so there's no sitting around waiting for the dough to prove. On the contrary, in fact. Because the bicarbonate of soda (which is what makes it rise) starts to react as soon as the wet ingredients are added, it's best to form the dough and get it into the oven as quickly as you can. So, if you have never made bread, then I urge you to try this.
I fancied a slight twist on a normal soda bread, so I used oats in mine. This is Dan Lepard's recipe from Short and Sweet, as featured in The Guardian. Just the thing for breakfast, with butter and honey, or for lunch with a big chunk of good cheese and a pint, or a bowl of soup, or some smoked fish. The possibilities are endless!
Oh, and by the way, and nothing at all to do with soda bread or honey, I've also just taken delivery of these two handsome fellows, beautifully packaged in little boxes (I'm coming over all Dr Seuss with the foxes and the boxes...) from Mrs Fox's. I can hardly wait to get the Christmas tree now! Their online Christmas shop on Folksy is just lovely - really worth a look.