Friday, 18 March 2011

Little Owl in my tiny garden

Yesterday morning, I hear D calling out to me and telling me to look out of our flat window at our wind battered garden fence. I couldn't quite see what he was pointing out at, squinting my eyes and trying to follow his directions and then I suddenly my eyes did - Wow - it was one big bird, about 8 inches tall. First we assumed it was the Sparrow Hawk as we've had them in the garden before, then on closer look with our binoculars we saw that it was actually an Owl. Yes an Owl. Whilst I was admiring its feathers, getting annoyed that a passing commuter train would come by and startle it, but even when a train did pass by, the owl sat patiently. D ran to fetch one of our bird watching books. From the feathering, colours and size we confidently identified it as a Little Owl. Later in the evening, D rang one of his avid bird watching friends to boast about the Little Owl in our garden on the edge of Glasgow. His mate, would not believe him saying 'you sure it wasn't a Little eared owl?!' No Sir, we are positive it was a Little Owl. We regret not taking a photograph of the Little Owl, but we were both just too excited and humbled that our garden continues to be an attractive location for birds passing by. The image is taken from a 1960s copy of the Readers Digest Book of British Birds.
We polished of the last this 'Lemon Blueberry Polenta cake'. Last week, whilst catching up with my blog reads, I was tempted by two good looking Polenta cakes. The first was the Kitchen Maids Berry Polenta cake. Kitchen Maid wrote that the polenta in the cake gave the 'cake a fantastically gritty texture'. I liked the sound of that, plus I had quick cooking polenta and frozen berries in the freezer to use up. Then I visited Cake in the Community and saw this zingy Lemon polenta cake. Chocolategirl64 wrote 'if you try to imagine what lemon curd would taste like in cake form, this would be it'. Lemon is a flavour my husband loves, so I was I was torn between the two recipes. So I sort of combined the recipes: Lemon from one and frozen (blue) berries from the other.
Its not the most well presented cake, but this Lemon Blueberry polenta cake had a splendid gritty texture from the polenta and almonds, sweetness and flavour from the zingy lemon and zappy blueberries. It was delicious.
Lemon Blueberry Polenta cake
Serves 6 - 8
200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
100g quick cook polenta
1½ teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
Zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
100g frozen blueberries
For the lemon syrup
Juice of 2 lemons
125g icing sugar
Preheat your oven to Gas 4. Line and grease the base and sides of a 9in/23cm spring form cake tin.
Blend the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
In another bowls, mix together the flour, almonds, baking powder and polenta.
Gently stir in the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, along with one egg and mix well
repeat this for reaming eggs. Stir in the lemon zest and blueberries and gently spoon into the baking tin.
Bake for about 45 minutes or under the skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
For the lemon syrup
Gently heat both the lemon juice and icing sugar until dissolved.
Pierce the top of your cake with a cake tester or BBQ skewer, then evenly drizzle on the syrup.
Leave to cool before taking out of the tin and serving.


  1. An owl! So cute! I love owls! The polenta cake looks yummy!

  2. Thank you so much Alessandra.
    The polenta cake was yummy :)

  3. That looks lovely Mangocheeks. I am ashamed to say I have had no experience of polenta so far.

    Cooper would go crazy if he saw your little owl in our garden :)

  4. We saw a little owl in our garden once years was magic! You're lucky!

  5. Jacqueline,
    I'm not surprised as Cooper is still rather tiny himself.
    RE the polenta, I've eaten it many times in savoury dishes, but not so many in sweet, so it ws a lovely change.

    Thank you Sooz.
    It was a rather magical experience, even in our rather cranky garden.

  6. Oh wow, that's a very special visit, how wonderful. I rarely see owls, and it's always a little piece of pleasure when I do.

    Well done for having an owl friendly haven :)


  7. Lovely story and cake, Mangocheeks...Puts in mind the first time I ever saw a woodpecker high in a tree in the back garden of one of my childhood homes. Previous to that, I had only ever encountered a woodpecker in the cartoon character of Woody on television and it took my mother to convince me that woodpeckers were indeed real birds...

  8. Thanks Ali.
    I don't think my garden is a haven for owls, as its very unlikely I'll see it again. This partiuclar owl was def. on the hunt, and my garden is full of little birds as we feed them. Still very good to see it, whatever its reason.

    Thank you e.
    Thanks for sharing yours, made me smile. We've seen a woodpecker in our garden too, once! pecking at our apple tree - Sadly Never again.

  9. Glad you enjoyed this rare experience its a big thrill when it happens, the heart really skips a beat doesn't it.

  10. wOw the cake looks lush:
    now I want it with raspberries:
    my Nanny {89 years young} loves owls:
    they auspice the safe keeping of money apparently:

  11. Thank you Captain Shagrat.
    Lovely to hear from you.
    Your right its a big thrill and Yes, my heart did skip a beat.

    Thank you chocolategirl64.
    Lovely to read, lets hope its true.

  12. Oh how exciting to see an owl and actually identify it, because I am hopeless at that most of the time. I wonder if he/she might be looking to nest at this time of year. Keep that camera close)))))

    Cake looks delicious, especially at this time of year when we are thinking of fruits and berries that will be coming on in the garden.

  13. Fantastic to see the Little Owl!
    And "zappy" is my new favourite adjective - love it.

  14. Thanks Gardeningbren.
    We are hoping it will come by again, but doubt it very much. We're both not v. good at identifying birds, hence the book. I dont know if if was looking to nest, looked more like it was hunting.

    Your right about the berries. Must be thankful for those in the freezer.

    Thanks Louise.
    It really was Fantastic to see the Little Owl!
    You've made me smile by liking the word "zappy".

  15. I have always been interested in making cake with something other than flour, this looks great!x

  16. Thank you Zoe.
    Polenta is an acquired taste. If you haven't tried it, please do.


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