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Round about this time last year, we were beginning to wonder if winter was ever going to end.  Snow and freezing winds had the garden feeling a long way from the warmth of spring – the few flowers that did brave the cold weather were dusted with snow rather than bathed in sunshine.  This time around, the papers are reporting that parts of the UK will be warmer than Greece at the weekend.  And with bumblebees, primroses, violets and butterflies all making appearances in the garden, it really must be that spring starts in March this year rather than June.

Violet

The crocus are looking especially good.  Whether it’s first thing in the morning when they’re still dripping with overnight raindrops…

Crocus with raindrops

Or later in the day, with tepals thrown open in a brazen attempt to lure passing insects to the flowers, they’re just beautiful.

Crocus 2

There’s been some research which showed that the shape of the crocus flower traps incoming heat making the inside of the flower up to 7oC warmer than the external temperature.  And purple flowers warm more than white or yellow, because they absorb more of the heat energy… no complaints that you never learn anything here please!

Crocus

Sunny, blue sky days are good, but they tend to be followed by colder nights.  As soon as the sun goes down, temperatures fall and there have been a few frosts since March began – probably more than during the rest of the winter.  On these colder evenings, it’s still nice to have a warming pudding after tea.  I’ve been working on a vegan crumble topping, although technically it’s probably more like granola than crumble.  Whatever it should be called, it tastes very good baked on top of small dish frozen summer berries… we’re still finishing off the raspberries, blackcurrants and blackberries from last year’s bumper harvest.  The only problem I’ve yet to solve is what to use in place of cream or ice cream to keep these little crumbles completely vegan – any ideas?Spoon

While I’m here, I should say that I haven’t been ignoring all the lovely blogs that I usually read and leave (often incoherent, rambling) comments on.  Changes are afoot and I’ve been really busy away from the laptop… with luck we should return to relative normality soon.

Berry crumbles

For each individual crumble –

3 tbsp oats

1 tbsp flaked almonds

about ½ tsp freshly grated lime zest

a little freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp maple syrup

½ cup mixed frozen berries

Preheat the oven to 180oC, 350F, gas 4.

Put all the ingredients except the berries into a bowl.  Stir to coat the oats and almonds with maple syrup and distribute the lime zest and nutmeg through the mixture.  Put the berries in the bottom of a ramekin dish.  Top with the crumble mix and bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated oven.  On a cold evening these are best eaten still warm from the oven.

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