I love the changing seasons here in New England. No matter what time of year it is, beauty and scenery are plentiful. The longest and most difficult season for me, however, is winter. Don't get me wrong, I love the first snow of the year and I can't imagine Christmas without hot chocolate, a lit fireplace and a chill in the air.
Yet, winter after mid-January seems interminable to me. The days are short and dark, getting from point A to point B becomes a challenge - without fail I get sick. The lack of light and the restricted movement always wears me down. Not this year.
This year the New England winter is on track to be the second warmest on record with the lowest snowfall in recorded history. I don't ever remember having it so easy during wintertime. New Years Day we walked on the beach. This week, temperatures are supposed to hit nearly 70 degrees (21c). The result? Spring is early.
While I enjoy the warmer weather, I'm deeply concerned about the impact of climate change. After all, the cold days of winter help along our autumn leaves, our apples, our cranberries, our maple syrup and our incredibly rich soil for planting. I'd much rather endure winter than risk losing the essence of New England to ever increasing temperatures.
For fun, I walked around photographing some signs of early spring. Half of the pictures you see on this blog post were taken on March 9, 2012. The other half were taken on April 15, 2011. The position of the light, the colors, the flowers - the same. Incredible. Have you noticed any changes where you are?
For now, I'm enjoying the easy, warmer weather. As I write this, I'm sitting on the porch with a cup of darjeeling tea and a slice of raspberry almond cake. Delicious.
Raspberry Almond Cake
250 g (18 tbs) unsalted butter, softened
150 g sugar (3/4 c)
50 g coconut palm sugar (1/4 cup)
4 large eggs
4 g (1 tsp) vanilla extract
200 g (1 1/3 c) almond flour
100 g (3/4 c) flour
10 g (2 tsp) baking powder
1 box/ pint fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 7X9 baking pan or similar size baking pan. Alternatively, you can line a muffin pan with muffin cups).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flours. Pour mixture into buttered pan and smooth with an offset spatula. Insert berries into the batter in rows. (If using muffin cups, insert one berry per muffin cup)
Bake for 30-40 minutes depending upon pan size and oven. Remove when inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
(Notes: You can eliminate the coconut palm sugar and use all white sugar. I happen to like the extra richness the coconut palm sugar provides which is why I include it. I have also made this recipe without the baking powder and without the raspberries. It makes a buttery dense and more European tasting cake that's lovely with whipped cream, fruit and/ or a cup of tea.)
Also, congratulations to Allison at A Tasteful Garden - for winning the chocolate giveaway. Let us know which flavor you like best.