Sunday, 25 April 2010

Butterscotch Sauce and Barbed Wire

Harvested my first batch of rhubarb yesterday. Not from the traumatised plants cowering behind the shed after they were brutally propagated over the winter months - I'm leaving those to recover and develop a good strong root system this year before I start amputating their stalks. These ones are from a patch at the other end of the plot that I will probably dig up and relocate next winter.

I followed a recipe by Denis Cotter from The Cafe Paradiso Cookbook for Rhubarb Shortbread with Butterscotch Sauce, which I've wanted to make since January, but rather than buying forced rhubarb from a supermarket, I've waited patiently till my own was ready to harvest.

Here's what I was trying to make (just take a moment to look at & admire that beautiful clear smooth & glossy butterscotch sauce):

And here is my effort:
Obviously you don't get to see the first batch of slightly burnt bitter tasting shortbread biscuits - I was totally engrossed in the new episode of Dr Who on TV so they were in the oven just a little too long. Those biscuits have been edited out of history and into the bin - but a 2nd tray that were on a lower shelf in the oven were fine.

Have to say it would've been perfect if it wasn't for the iffy butterscotch sauce. Followed the recipe very carefully, but as everyone knows, if you boil cream in a sauce (as I was instructed by Denis to do) it separates and goes all weird & splodgey.

Other than that, it was very delicious, so I might get the tippex & black biro out and modify Mr Cotter's book with a recipe for a butterscotch sauce I can work with, and try that one again.

Not a great deal of lottie action this week. I took a few days off work mid-week, & it's been warm & sunny for several weeks so the earth is hard as concrete - it's taking on that cracked crazed look that I remember really clearly from the long hot summer of 1976. Too hard to dig, so have just been watering stuff. But we've had a bit of rain in the night & this morning, so heading up there later on today.

But did get out and about on the Sussex Downs. Came across this near Wolstonbury Hill:
Do trees feel pain? My head tells me no, but my instinct & my heart very firmly say yes, they do. It wasn't just this one tree being slowly garrotted by barbed wire, there were a number along the side of the path. Poor things - if I'd had a set of pliers and some spare lengths of wire on me, I would've cut the wire & re-fixed the fence with a bit of give in it. Even if some landowner had come barrelling over the hill with a furious look and a 2-bore shot-gun pointed in my general direction.

But on a lighter note, the woodlands & hedgerows were looking utterly glorious & bursting into life after this long cold winter.

Just heavenly.


  1. you are so brave to publish your cooking failures on the blog! I only put in the best stuff in, then when I am reading it later, I think, oh Kathryn, you are so clever! (pat pat pat myself on the back)....oh that poor tree!....

  2. It makes me cringe to see that tree, I would have cut the wire too. I think your baking efforts are really good, it's just the sauce which looks a little unappealing.

  3. if its any consolation - and i dont suppose its much - but your butterscotch sauce looks better than mine! the photo looks like blackthorn flowering, the hedges around here look gorgeous at this time of year...

  4. It looked delicious to me and looks aren't everything! Can you still get those rhubarb and custard boiled sweets in england? I used to love those even when they made my mouth hurt.
    Yep, I'm with you on the tree looks really painful...