hi everyone, God it's cold today! I don't know about you but I am a little sick of the 's' word now, we don't have much left and hopefully it won't return. Yes it was pretty and lovely but it was also massively inconvenient for many, lethal for some and I personally was a stir crazy mummy by the end of last week as getting out with the Boo was very tricky! I know from reading some of your blogs the snow was inspirational and also had some of you literally trapped in your homes!
Anyhow, something that arrived yesterday to brighten up the grey skies were these beauties.
Aren't they lovely? They are made by a lovely woman called Victoria who lives in Scotland and sells here wares on etsy under the name of re:made. here is a link to her shop.
I came across her stuff when browsing etsy, looking for a Christmas gift for my sister and saw a pair very similar to these but in bright pink that were just the thing. When they arrived I was so taken with them I contacted and asked Victoria if she would make me a pair in red, should she come across the materials to do so - all her stuff is made from recycled jumpers and knitwear which she gently felts and turns into a whole range of stuff, brooches, teacosies, mug warmers, scarves and wrist warmers. Dom even bought me one of her cosies for Christmas which was also one of my favourite presents (oh the boy done good this year!)
Anyhow, true to her word, she found a red jumper and crafted these especially for me and I LOVE them. especially the flower details :-)
Apols for blurred photo here, trying to get snaps done with Jake grizzling in background (teething!) is not easy!
I also like the way she packages her stuff up - simple but effective!
What's really perfect about these is that when pram pushing but needing to answer my iphone with it's touch screen, fingered gloves don't work - the phone needs your finger to actually touch the screen, or so it seems, and by the time you get the phone out of pocket/ bag and hoick a glove off the caller has rung off - highly irritating! So these are just the thing. And soooo stylish too! I bet I never see another person wearing them which also satisfies me greatly! I did try to take a photo of me modeling a warmer but as you can imagine it was tricky and by the time Dom was back from work the light wasn't right at all.
So get yourself along to remade's shop on etsy and have a look, and maybe a wee purchase!
Anyhow, we are off to the cottage this weekend so I may well blog from my phone if I see anything I just have to share with you guys...
Someone asked me the other day what my favourite Christmas present was. I haven't been asked that for years! At first I thought of the marvelous pyjamas my sister bought me from Primarni. Helen must be a witch because I had seen a blog post from Jane about these pjs and a. wanted them and b. was going to buy them for Helen too - alas, when I went, Primarni had sold out of our sizes! Clever Helen however had beat me to it and so I unwrapped a pair of these beauties on Christmas morning, loving the sweet rose buds and nicer I have to say than anything Cath Kidston has to offer currently! (btw, is it just me or has CK gone a bit off the boil recently?)
Anyway I digress because I wanted to show you one of the best food related things I was bought this year, by my dear husband. Now some women get cross when the menfolk buy them kitchen stuff. Not me. And not when it looks this good!
(BTW the chair in the background is SUPPOSED to be chipped! It was professionally distressed!)
I had spotted this a few months back in Lakeland and said something like 'ooh ahh, isn't that lovely' and lo and behold it is now mine.
It always annoys me to get the scales out just to measure say some rice or oats but I know from experience that measuring quantities, baking aside, is essential if you want to stay the right side of porky. So this is fab as you can measure loads and loads of stuff in it very easily.
And as for the title of this post, well clearly he has! And sweetie, if you are reading this, it's my birthday soon...
Well I wouldn't blame you for thinking that this blogging was all a flash in the pan and I'd be off again for 5 months!
So you wanted to see the boy and here he is, a recent picture taken only this weekend just gone.
Isn't he the handsomest chap you ever saw? (Permission to disagree only if you have a little man of your own). This was taken in our fave cafe in Whitby, Becketts which I have blogged about before here
I think I was pausing from drinking my butterscotch steamer (yum!) when I saw the opportunity to take this little snap of my men. As my friend Helen at Busy Bee would say, GORGEOUS.
So what's new for 2010? Well back on with the cooking etc. I have been making some great things recently including some lovely gift food which alas I have not been sharing with you. Meany. But I will be back soon with a recipe. And some gift food as valentine's day is on the horizon...shhh... not a word.
In the meantime, have a revisit of this classic which I am making for dinner tonight. except with rice not naan as our oven has broken down. did I not mention? three days before Christmas dear reader, three days before the most important meal of the year... Luckily the hob still functioned (all praise dual fuel) and my sister and her fiance who were our guests live but two streets away, so much tooing and froing in the snow with stuffed capon, roasted vegetables and sausage rolls ensued :-) In the SNOW. and ICE. All was well though.
Toodle oo for now chicks and chaps and thanks for stopping by xxxx
Now, where was I? Oh yes, using up plums and waiting for a baby to arrive. And boy has he arrived! I have been away from this blog for over 4 months now, all fanciful hopes of having more time to blog were swept away by the demands of Jake and the huge learning curve that becoming a mother is.
I have to say I have been having the best time EVER and my little man is the most precious thing that ever was but I have been completely overtaken by the whole thing really and so, no blogging! However I have settled into it all now, the feeds are now every 4 hours not ever 2 and my nightimes wakening is generally down to just once so we are on a more even keel and have a little more energy.
And I have missed it and according to my web stats people are still visiting and reading old posts so, onwards! It's snowy here, the photo is our wee back yard which is quite sheltered so not really representing how much snow has fallen round these parts. More soon and I promise a photo or two of the wee fella :-) what you want one now? oh ok, how about this one?
ahh a bit sneaky as you can't really see him. Plus, this is way old, think he was about a month old at this point, maybe slightly less! So, more tomorrow, I promise!
I know, I know, I have been away from this blog for soo long that I probably have no-one left reading! Well being pregnant just sucks your life away, FACT. I have no idea what I have done in the last few months but time and energy have seemed in very short supply! I most certainly have not had a surfeit of those! I do however have a newly decorated house, a beautiful nursery, a freezer full of batch home cooking, a massive bump and a million baby related essentials :-)
Anyway, onwards, hopefully this is the start of many more posts :-) and I promise they won't all be about babies and pureed vegetables! In case you are wondering, no, he isn't here yet. he is due on the 20 August and so far no signs to speak of... watch this space!
I think I have mentioned, but my sister and her partner Mark have an allotment. Having popped down there the other sunday eve to lend a hand, Dominic arrived home, 4 hours later, hungry, and with a carrier bag full of plums. I mean full. I mean, I weighed them and there were 10 and a half pounds of them!
So, Wwe spend a pleasant hour sat at our table stoning them all, except for the ones required for what I am about to share with you next. I totally forgot about the finger staining properties of plums and we both looked like 40 a day smokers by the end of it! Anyway, it was quite good fun to be honest. I did them one at a time, whilst Dom did the cutting bit first of a few and them stoned them. ever the competitor he even timed us doing ten each at one point to see whose method was fastest! His was, but by about 2 seconds so really, do we care? No we don't!
So, wanna know what I made first?
Welcome to Spiced Plum Liqueur!
This is ridiculously easy, it literally takes 5 minutes.
1 lb of plums, washed and pricked all over with a pin (I was lazy and used a fork!)
6 oz caster sugar
A pint or so of spirits - I used 350ml vodka and 120ml of brandy (sorry for mixing imperial/ metric, I was born in the 1970s)
2 cinnamon sticks snapped in half
about 10 cloves
Place all in a litre kilner jar. Close tightly and shake up.
Keep in a dark place for 2 months, shaking every 3 days or so. Everything should act upon each other and the plums impart juice and colour into the booze.
The brilliant thing about this is that when it's ready, you decant the liquid bit into bottles as a drink (straining out the plums and spices) and then rebottle the plums in a light sugar syrup (maybe with more booze, a splash of ginger wine would be awesome) to eat as dessert with ice cream etc, so it's like two for the price of one! I am sure they would make EXCELLENT gifts for Christmas and the like. Unfortunately I am just not that nice! I intend to test the liqueur on bonfire night at the allotment (ok, I'll share it with those there!) and them keep the rest for Christmas, maybe take some to the cottage for our New Year break to sip in front of the fire... bliss! Can you imagine that boozy, spicy, plummy taste, slipping down very nicely... or the sodden, sweet plums with some cold cold vanilla ice or a dollop of clotted cream...
More plumminess soon... can't say when, ideally tomorrow but the baby might have other ideas!
I just realised that I forgot to say what kind of baby we are having. My memory is shot these days. Shall I tell you the one about where I booked a holiday in Andalucia at exactly the same time a dear friend was coming over to visit from Sri Lanka? Best not, I'll start hyperventilating again. Don't worry, it's all sorted, even though Easy Jet did partially remove my eyes for the privilege of changing our flights. Luckily the hotel were not so mercenary!
Anyway, here's a little something to help you guess...
What do you think?
Perhaps this might help?
Yup, it's a boy!!!
A boy who is very wriggly just now, constantly on the move - perhaps he is hyperactive!
I love this sign in particular and we have put it above the nursery door. When I say we, I really mean Dominic as I am hardly in a condition to be climbing on ladders etc! I bought it at Helen's spring open day and it seemed the perfect sentiment for our baby as to us, it is like a dream coming true. We have waited so long and had so many disappointments and setbacks in the last 2 years but we got there in the end and I have never felt so happy, or lucky, or blessed!
Right, we are off to bonnie Scotland for the weekend now, have lovely Easters one and all.
I love presents that just come out of the blue - so much better than those you know are to be given in a way - but on the other hand, I am not mad on surprises - so yes, contrary mary once again.
Anyway! I got an email last week from Vanessa at Do You Mind If I Knit If you haven't checked this blog out, do, because it's always a good read, she makes very beautiful things which she shares with us readers and also has two adorable dogs, Ellie and Douglas who quite often get a look in.
Anyway, the email. Goodness I am all over the place - combination of the hormones and the unexpected gift!
Vanessa and her lovely Hugo had just stayed at our cottage for the second time and had by all accounts had a marvelous time - see her blog for some great posts about the delights of North Yorkshire!
So the email. Again. Vanessa wanted me to know that a little something was winging it's way to us in the post. Excitement! What could it be? Excitement was delayed when i got one of those annoying red post office cards which meant I had to go to the depot to collect as it needed a signature blah blah..so off I went and then swiftly drove to my office where I ripped it open...
And see how I was rewarded for my trip? isn't this just lovely without even being opened?
and when I did...
no, it is not a hat, it is a tea cosy! More specifically, a tea cosy for the teapot in the cottage! And all handmade by Vanessa herself. What could be nicerer?
We had had some emails a while ago about me wanting to commissioned a tea cosy from her and I hadn't followed up on it, but clever girl that she is she remembered and knitted one which fits in with the whole Hideaway Cottage vibe perfectly!
And look at the sweet little tag she made!
So thank you SO much Vanessa. And in answer to your question, no I certainly do NOT mind if you knit!!
Oh look, she doesn't blog for ages and then does two at once! Well that's pregnancy for you, boundless energy one day, none the next so I am making hay whilst the sun shines :-)
We have been having a lot of fun recently and I just thought I would share some pictures I took last weekend on our jaunt to the Alnwick Garden.
This rather dramatic shot is of the central feature known as the cascade. The Alnwick Garden is the brainchild of the current Duchess of Northumberland who, with rather a lot of help I think! has created a beautiful garden and visitor attraction in part of the grounds of Alnwick Castle. It has lots to see and do in a very compact site so perfect for an popular with families and older people. There is a water sculpture garden, a poison garden (you can have a tour and find out all about some deadly plants) and a stunnu rose garden, sadly not yet in bloom but oh my! when it is it's one of the most glorious places in England.
They have also planted the world's largest cherry blossom tree orchard and that will be in bloom very soon.
If you want to find out more, have a look at their website it is a great place to visit if you are in the area.
Another brilliant place in Alnwick is Barter Books
I apologise for nicking this photo from their website as I totally forgot to take a photo as I entered or left that day.
Barter Books is one of the largest second hand book shops in the country with literally thousands of books for sale.
As you can see, it's a rather magical and lovely place, where you can while away a lot of time browsing books and just enjoying the restful, friendly atmosphere.
and when you need a little fortification and a browse through your purchases...
you can sit in the station waiting room with a cup of tea and a biccie
I adore this room and the colour of the tiles. It's fab. Everyone whispers too, like in libraries in the good old days.
There is another seating area near the front of the shop with a fire and an help yourself tea and biccie bit with an honesty box.
To find out more about this fascinating place and how it came about go to their website and find out amongst other things how it was they who brought back this rather famous poster into the public domain.
Which is currently the motto for my hectic and rapidly changing life! Dominic even bought me a mug with this printed on whilst we were there!
After a saturday of lashing rain and gale force winds, we in the north were treated to a perfect spring day today. you know one of those, good to be alive, blue sky, daffodils dancing, breezy, sunshiny days that just pop up out of nowhere?
So where better to go than to Busy Bee Studio for their spring open day!
Do you know my friend Helen who runs Busy Bee? No? Well she is gorgeous :-)
Busy Bee is many things, it's an online shop, it is a place that opens periodically for selling events and for all manner of craft workshops and most importantly it is a shabby chic haven and indeed a state of mind :-)
Excuse the photo quality but the damn sun wouldn't stop shining! This is a small selection of the things Helen had on display and for sale today.
The doorway in the background leads into her 'cowshed' which is where she runs her intimate workshops and also has even more gorgeous things for sale. If you'd like to see more, have a look at her website here and make sure to go on the virtual tours on the website as they show how heavenly the setting for the studio is - you will DIE when you see her swing...
She also writes a blog which is very funny and she will introduce you to her donkeys Bumble and Dylan who I didn't manage to snap as they were about a quarter of a mile away at the end of the field. But they are amazingly cute. She also has cats, dogs (including the inimitable Winston), geese, hens and lord knows what else.
But if you ever need a gift or a treat and you love shabby chic and all things countryfied Helen's your girl.
As it was such a nice day, a small portion of the garden was open to nosey parkers/ visitors! We decided to have a look. We came upon this sign...
and decided to head for the daffodil walk...
It was all so beautiful. If we didn't like Helen and her gorgeous husband John so much we would be very jealous indeed!
Of course it would have been rude not to make the odd purchase...
What do you think? I am going to fix it to the inside of our front door for the next few weeks. I love wreaths. If I were PM I would make them compulsory on everyone's door!
I also bought a couple of items for the baby which I will show you soon... the colour will give away the flavour of the baby :-)
Hope that you all had fun in the sun this weekend!
I am sorry I've been away so long, yikes, it has been well over a month. I see from my stats that people are still coming to read which is lovely and I hope that I haven't disappointed with the lack of posts!
But I have a good excuse. The fact is, I have been right off my food. So disinterested in the stuff which usually rules my life I found I had nothing to say! Nothing to blog about!
What could have caused such a strange turn of events I hear you say?
What could it be?
Well, does this give you a clue?
Yes! I have a bun in the oven :-) which is amazing. Wonderful. Heart skippingly fantastic. A very much longed for and anticipated event in our lives. But on the food front, oh boy have I been sick! And the little one steals all my vitamins and energy and often words so that, dear reader, is the reason for my absence.
I feel much better now, apart from the draining tiredness, but Yay! The appetite is back and I have stopped feeling sick and so faddy about what I want to eat. I am not ashamed to say that I have eaten Birds Eye Potato waffles on more than one occasion in the last few weeks! Baked beans, mashed potato and broccoli have also featured heavily. Bacon, lamb, curry, or anything rich tasting were firmly off the menu. Poor Dominic has been deprived! Thank goodness its all back to normal. Well except for the gazillion things the government tell you you can't eat, all of which I love, raw oysters, blue cheese (most nice cheese in fact), rare steak, dippy eggs, pate... sigh... the list goes on!
So, do you want to know if it's a boy or a girl?
Well you'll have to wait for the next post ha ha ha!
However, I want to announce something else, I think my blog is going to take a little departure from being just about food. That will of course still be very heavily featured, and I promise this will not turn into a pregnancy blog :-) but I have thought for a while about the blogs I love, like Lucy's atAttic24, Cherry Menlove's the two Janes at Posyand Yarnstorm, Alicia at Posy Gets Cosy. They write about a wider range of topics and I have so much to say about nature, home making, life's simple pleasures really that I feel restricted by writing about one of my passions, however overriding the passion is at times!
But for you foodies, I will leave you with a photo of something I cooked, photographed and never blogged about :-)
There are so many nice shop window displays! Here is the local bakers in Sleights. Not sure if you can see but this has a cute fireside scene and a wee polar bear. I just love the fact that they have made the effort ;-)
Aren't these little gifts sweet? I have made this chutney for a few years now, slightly varying ingredients sometimes, but keeping the same basic flavours which are very Christmassy, cranberries, cloves, cinnamon, orange. The house is heavy with scent of this which is generally made the first Sunday after bonfire night.
These two jars are going to two special homes; one to our next doors at the cottage, Dougie and Andrea, who are brilliant and perform all sorts if kindnesses through the year such as giving keys to guests who have forgotten there's and putting out bins when the guests didn't:-) We also swap books with them and covet their beautiful and slightly naughty dog Johnson. You haven't met him? Well I will rectify that at some point this holiday.
The last jar is for Julie at Becketts in Whitby, you may remember me blogging about Becketts, it's our favourite cafe in Whitby and the cakes are legendary. So this is a little thank you for all the cakey bakey pleasure this year!
Yesterday we went to York and there were any amount of gorgeous shops I could have photographed for you. However, there were so many people it was impossible to get a clear view!
Maybe today I will find one for you and I would love to hear about which shop display, grand or humble, has been your favourite of the season.
Hello there! I am now officially on holiday and in my favourite part if the world, north Yorkshire, more specifically near Whitby and at our Hideaway Cottage :-)
I am just back from a spot of shopping in Whitby itself, such a nice place to Christmas shop! It's full of Victorian charm, the smell of the sea and the sound of gulls. The festive lights are not flashy city centre types, but charming more gentille ones and the shops are beautifully calm with staff who aren't too busy to issue good service and a smile and even stop for a chat.
This picture is of one of my favourite shops in the town and a rare thing these days, an independent book shop, certainly in cities, and one that always takes a great deal of care over it's window displays, quite magical and of course designed to draw you right into the cosy store to look through it's selection of books, stationery and other gift items.
I love the fact it still has the old decorators sign up from years ago. Unfortunately due to the limitations of blogging on my iPhone I can only show one photo per post or they go really small and look a bit rubbish, otherwise I would have shown you a close up of the display, a sort of icy, twiggy wonderland with some gorgeous books, cards and calendars that look so bewitching. Maybe you'll just have to come to Whitby yourself and have a peek :-) it's on Church Street on the old side of the town. If you have ever seen You've Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, it's a little like The Shop Around The Corner.
And what am I doing later? Why, going to a candlelight carol concert at little St Marys Church in Sandsend with mulled wine and mince pies!
Anyone who is friends with me on facebook will be wondering why I didn't blog about this ages ago, such has been my confusion and annoyance!
Even though I am usually a bit suspicious of big corporate type organisations and favour independents where I can, Starbucks has somehow caught me in it's evil web. I think this is partially because their chai tea latte is the best hot drink EVER but also, I like the comfy seats, the cosy atmosphere, the soft easy listening type music and the fact that they are a great place to just go sit and read, write, do work on your laptop etc and you don't get bothered and it all feels quite safe and nice. (Although I did once have a very strange man in a bobble hat staring right at me for about 20 minutes once which was a wee bit creepy).
Anyway, one of the other things they have me crazy about it the whole red cups thing. Genius. Only a truly evil marketeer could have come up with a whole global festive campaign which is mainly based around the fact that in November and December, the take out cups go from white to RED. Cool huh? I have no idea really why this engenders so much excitement in me, and others, it just does. In fact, me and a fellow Starbucks addict, Kala actually met up in the first couple of days of red cups to celebrate the fact and to try out the new seasonal special drink, Dark Cherry Mocha.
And this is where the story really begins.
Every year, Starbucks have two seasonal drinks, Gingerbread latte (not bad) and, star of the show, Egg Nog Latte which frankly is bliss in a cup and I'll fight anyone to the death who says it is not so. Anyway! this year... dun dun durrrrr...NO EGG NOG LATTE! It has been usurped by the aforementioned Cherry Mocha and, wait for it, some toffee nut nonsense - what the buggery hell does toffee nut have to do with Christmas? NOTHING. The dark cherry mocha I could go with and as an addition to the existing already perfect duo, I would have been happy. But no egg nog latte? Outrage. I joined a Facebook group (the modern day version of organising a rally) for folk like me who are admittedly sad, have too much time on their hands and also have a passion of the ENL.
It seemed for a while that ENL was at an end. If you asked in store they said they weren't getting it this year (although one barrista told Kala that it was coming, but just not yet which just confused the hell out of me).
Calls were made to the Starbucks UK customer services team, even by myself to demand to know what was going on with the ENL. I realise as I write this I am sounding like a crazy woman but no matter. I know my faults. I was told that a small quantity would be released in early December, to selected stores, but it wouldn't be advertised and you had to ask for it - what the ??&*%!!
Sure enough, the day arrived and I walked into my usual branch and asked for an Egg Nog Latte - ever asked for something at a chain coffee store that isn't on the menu? it feels very weird. The girl behind the counter looked at me blankly and repeated my request back to me like I had spoken martian ... she then turned to a colleague who said quietly, "It's in the back of that top cupboard up there - make sure you put it at the back of the fridge when you're finished" - I mean, this is real cloak and dagger stuff for a milky, eggy, spicy drink!
No matter, I had my prize... and I settled down to enjoy it.
and look what I had in my bag to make the experience even nicerer?
But the whole ENL thing is just so curious. I can't decide whether;
a. it an evil viral marketing type thing to get people talking about Starbucks and the ENL and therefore driving sales (bit like when heinz said they were discontinuing Salad Cream).
b. they mistakenly thought it was time for a change, ditched it and have then had to quickly respond to customer outrage/ demand but don't have enough stock, hence the whole keeping it in the cupboard thing. (I happen to know they had it in the US all along, those sneaky Yanks :-) keep it for yourselves why dontcha!)
c. I just need to get a grip!
Have you had a red cup yet? I cannot try the toffee thing on principle and my desire to see it fail but the cherry mocha isn't bad at all. Hopefully next year ENL will be back where it belongs.
Hmm... that's a fair few of us who like pie AND curry.
fancy a spot of that fancy fusion cuisine?
Ladies and jellyspoons, may I present...
The CURRY PIE!!
OH. MY. curry pie.
This was something Dominic dreamed up a while ago. We both love pie and peas (as in mushy) but being fans of spicy food and with a serious addiction to tarka dahl, what could be better than a curry pie with a dollop of dahl?
If you wanted to make these it's really easy. Cook up a batch of your favourite curry - ours is a Madhur beef one with lots of roasted and ground coriander seeds and coconut milk - and the only tweaking involved adding some slaked cornflour near the end to thicken it up to a pie filling consistency.
Buy some ready made, chilled shortcrust pastry (make it easy on yourself!)and some foil pie tins.
Here they are sans lid.
what we do once the lids are cut out is we sprinkle mustard seeds and cumin seeds on top and gently press in with the rolling pin. Looking at my hand here I can totally sympathise with Lucy in her latest post!
Anyway, I digress...
So, the lids once on, look like this.
Don't forget to cut little slits for the steam!
We then freeze these - along with batches of dahl - again, a Madhur recipe, so that on cold winter days we can take out of the freezer in the morning, with nothing more to do but to shove in the oven when we get in after work. How satisfying.
There is something quite bizarre and utterly gorgeous about the short, crisp, buttery pastry and the rich, spicy filling that is just...mmmm...and with dahl on the side as a carb and to add extra comfort, what could be better on a horizontal raining day? I reckon these would go down a treat on bonfire night too :-)
I am trying to restock the freezer with batch cooked goodies at the moment and would love to hear what others cook up for their freezers.
If anyone would like the recipes for the curry and the dhal I am but an email click away :-)
As you know, I love Christmas and can't wait for it to get started each year! This year it begins today with the making of The Christmas Cake. I love Christmas cake and there was always a homemade one when I was younger and at home but I am surprised to say that I don't think I have EVER made one in my own home. Until now :-)
I decided to go for a fail safe recipe and turned to Delia, Saint Delia, patron saint of Christmas and more importantly of recipes that WORK. Apart from on the odd occasion which we will gloss over in the spirit of Christmas...
I won't give you the recipe, but a link to her website where you'll find it here . Delia first published this in 1978 so it's 30 this year and let's face it, it must work if she has never had occasion to tweak it. From the number of people who seem to use this recipe it would seem highly unlikely that anyone reading this would not have tasted it at some point, in someone's home, a cake shop or Christmas fete. Unless you don't like Christmas cake in which case don't bother reading any further cos today, it's all about the cake!
This is last night, as you have to add the brandy to the fruit so it can all mull overnight - aren't the colours outstanding? I love this bowl too, my friend Emma bought me it - it's actually a pasta serving bowl but it makes a great mixing bowl too. It's a pity this blog doesn't have a smell option as the combination of the gorgeous fruit and the kick of the rich scented brandy was wonderful.
It's not so much a fruit cake as some fruit with a bit of cake. As you can see from the picture below, it was totally packed with fruit and nuts. I actually did deviate from the recipe and used dark soft brown sugar rather than the paler kind - oh no! That means if it all goes wrong I can't even blame Delia! Ah well..
Another pretty bowl, this time courtesy of sister Helen :-)
The mixture was so full of fruit that it was actually really hard to stir and I strained my wrist a little - not joking!
I listened to Christmas carols as I made it (I know, a bit OTT) and it was fantastic, a little slice of Christmas in October!
mmmmm...!! There's something about greaseproof paper hanging over the edge of a cake tin that I love! Incidentally I had to buy a new tin as Delia was very firm on the point of size of tin and I didn't have a 7" square one. The only one I could find in town yesterday was in Fenwicks and cost £13.95. I nearly died.
After I heaved it into the tin I had to lick the spoon and the bowl, quelle chore and Dominic wasn't even here to help. Shame :-)
So do you want to see it, all cooked up?
GORGEOUS! Ahhhh... Christmas has truly begun. Dominic found it really dreadful that there was such a thing as baking that couldn't be eaten straight away - but a little lesson in delayed gratification is good for us all I reckon! So, once cooled, I pricked it all over and fed it some more brandy, then carefully wrapped it in baking parchment and a double layer of foil and stored it away. Only 63 days to go until I can legitimately cut into it :-) I made a square cake rather than a round one because a whole Christmas cake is a bit much for two, even two as greedy as us, so I wanted to divide it up to give some to Helen & Mark and also to Dougie and Andrea, our neighbours at the cottage where we are spending Christmas this year - bliss!
I think Sundays are the best days of the week and one of the best bits is having the luxury of time to make a special breakfast. Today we are at the cottage - bliss! And the sun is shining on pretty Iburndale so what better than blueberry pancakes in the garden! I always use Nigella's recipe for American pancakes. Don't get me wrong, I love ordinary shrove Tuesday kind of pancakes, but the thick, fluffy texture of these little gems is wonderful and I had blueberries and homemade blueberry jam in the fridge so... All that was required in addition was some creamy creme fraiche.
I find it best to make the batter in advance, because a. You can be extra lazy the morning of eating and b. The batter goes thicker, sort of doughy and sort of stretchy and makes a much better pancake. I think the baking powder reacts with the wet stuff and makes air bubbles which help the spongy texture along.
These are also lovely with crispy bacon and maple syrup.