bad chocolate cheesecake and a letter from the queen.

The other day when I was sifting through the post, there was an envelope to Chloe.  It was good paper.  I opened it just in case Chloe had somehow come into millions of pounds.  Turns out she hasn’t.  But it was still very very cool. 

It was from Queen.  Well not exactly from the queen, it was from one of her ladies in waiting.

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Back in the Spring Chloe wrote a letter to the queen in celebration of the Jubilee.  This letter was thanking Chloe for writing.  That is pretty cool, right?

The changes I’ve made to my eating habits is taking some getting used to.  The meals are fine – I’m not going hungry.  But I’m seriously craving sugar.  Chocolate.  Sweets.  Cake. I didn’t realise how much sugar I was consuming until I had to cut right down. 

Cadbury’s Curywurlies are a lifesaver but there are only so many so can eat over time…! I browsed through all of Slimming Worlds recipes online and bookmarked a load of promising recipes that might curb these cravings.

The first one I tried was a chocolate cheese cake.  The ‘syns’ (extras you’re allowed) were well within a day’s allocation and it looked amazing.  Surely it was too good to be true!  I gathered all the ingredients together and gave it a go.

 

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It looks way better than it tasted.  I needed to add more margarine to make the biscuit base stick together, and there was a ridiculous amount of cocoa power in it, making it way too bitter.  there is potential and I’m going to play around with it – I’m determined to make it work!  Next on the list is a cupcake recipe.  A girl needs her cake!

I lost 1.5lb the first week, and I’ve just been to get weighed and I’ve lost another 2lb this last week.  Slowly but surely, I’m heading towards a healthier weight.  Why do I put that out there?  Accountability.  If I keep this stuff to myself it would be way easier to just let myself go, one cream cake at a time.  I want to be a stone down before Christmas so that means pulling out all the stops, until I can start to exercise again.

Yeah.  I never ever thought I’d be chomping at the bit to exercise.  What is this world coming to?

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rock buns

My mum’s been over to ours helping out with the girls while The Husband has been off gallivanting on the Isle of Man.  When I chat with my mum conversation often jumps all about the place – and somehow, I really can’t work out the conversation trail that lead up to it, we got onto talking about rock buns. 

These are not my rock buns – I’m way too lazy to go downstairs to get my camera and upload my photos.  image source: www.goodtoknow.co.uk

I’ve not made Rock buns since I was in high school.  It was about the only thing they taught us to make in food tech apart from a sandwich.  I kid you not.  I remember making a couple of batches at home too.  But then life happened and I forgot all about those little pieces of heaven.  Until yesterday when chatting with my mum!  So of course we had to make some just to see if they were as yummy scrummy as we remembered.  And indeed they were.

Rock buns, I think, are a mix of cake and biscuit – not as fluffy and light as a cake but not as crunchy/chewy as a biscuit.  On of the best things about them is that they are so so so easy to make.  The intentional shape of them lends itself perfectly to little hands, where uneven and messy ‘clumps’ of batter/dough on the baking sheet is not just acceptable but required.

The original recipe calls for raisins in the rock buns.  I replaced them with chocolate chips.

I used the Be-Ro recipe (you can find it at http://www.be-ro.com/recipe/showrec5.html) and for that you’ll need:

225 g (8 oz) Self Raising Flour

pinch salt

100 g (4 oz) margarine

75 g (3 oz) mixed dried fruit (I used chocolate chips – and I reckon they’d be amazing with nuts in too!)

25 g (1 oz) mixed peel (I didn’t use this)

50 g (2 oz) caster sugar

1 medium egg

milk to mix

 

Heat oven to 200ºC, 400ºF, Gas Mark 6. Grease two baking trays.

Mix the flour and salt, rub in the margarine.

Stir in the dried fruit, mixed peel and sugar.

Mix to a stiff dough with egg and milk.

Place in rough heaps on the baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Warning/Disclaimer – Please be aware that once you try this recipe your family, friends and your own taste buds will hound you for more, so do so at your own risk.  I take no responsibility for the financial cost of having to buy ingredients over and over again, nor will I take responsibility for weight gain caused by eating the rock buns by the batch when your loved ones are not looking.

 

 

 

 

 

choices choices.

Saturday afternoon The Husband took the girls to a soft play so he could get some work done and they’d be happy.  That left me with a couple hours to myself.  I know that sounds a bit weird because I have had a ton of time to myself over the last six months.  It makes me laugh that before October one of my aims to hit before I turn thirty was tohave a whole morning or afternoon to myself.  Little did I know.  But that vast majority of these past six months I’ve been in so much pain  the painkillers have made me really drowsy.  And it’s not much fun enfoying some time to yourself when you’re out of it.

But saturday afternoon I was feeling good (I have been having a couple good days since seeing a new osteopath). I wondered what I could do.

I had not one but two new magazines to peruse and enjoy.

I had a hem to sew on a skirt for Chloe and some bias binding to sew on another little surprise.

I had a million and one things things to organise.  I’m a list person.  A lot of lists needed to be made while it was quiet and I could concentrate.

Or I could just bake.

Actually, the sewing won out, but almost as soon as I started the machine started playing up and for the life of me I dont know what was wrong with it.  I didn’t dare try and fix it so for now it’s out of action.

So with no sewing to be done, it had to be the baking.  I’m not sure this is a wise choice because I’m always left with a mess to clear up and wanting a nice sit down afterwards.  I did try something new though and I baked a Bakewell tart.  Get Me!  No photo yet, I’ll try to grab one before it’s all eaten up.

jubilee.

I’m an ideas person.   They fall into my brain at a crazy speed but only a few stick around long enough to materialise.  I should walk around with a notepad around my neck.  Too often I  have a great Idea well ahead of time then life takes over and before I know it the reason for the ideas has past and gone.  This time I have over three months to make an idea happen.

In June we will be celebrating the Queen’s diamond jubilee with a bank holiday.  I want to do something so quinessentially English that it borders on the ridiculous.  Think gingham, think afternoon tea, think lovely (and very probably mismatching) china.  There’s something very special about miniature sandwhiches, scones and cream cakes that even though it doesn’t completely fill up the tummy, you feel it has been on accasion.

My idea has not progressed to any practicalities yet because it keeps roaming around how pretty it could be.  But I have time….I just need to actually do something about it before the end of May.  And because I’ve written it down and put it out there I couldn’t possibly fail to make something of it.  Eek.

 

The Therapy of baking: Fudge

I recently bumbled on about the splendid TV entertainment that is The Great British bakeoff. I love it! I wouldn’t take part in it for a squillion quid, way too much pressure, but I love to sit on my pressure-free sofa and watch it. It made me want to try and bake everything they were baking. They made it look so easy. Ish.

I have loved to bake since I was little. When I was a young teenager, my parents would often come into the kitchen and find a cake resting on the cooling rack. I can’t say I’m a tidy baker. On the contrary. I openly confess I am incredibly messy in the kitchen. Drives the husband potty. But he gets yummy treats to eat so it all balances out.

So, inspired by The Bakeoff I was. And since I’ve been most comfortable standing recently, thanks to my stupid sciatic nerve, it’s been a pretty good way to pass the time. And so far, (possibly speaking too soon) I’ve not had any culinary disasters. So this week I’m going to share some yummy and easy recipes.

First up….Fudge.

I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been a massive fan of fudge. When I thought of fudge I’d think of that rubbery sickly stuff that tastes of artificial nothingness. But this stuff….Oh this stuff. It’s crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth, gotta-have-another-piece delicious. Honestly, try it and then I’ll be your hero for bringing it into your life.

You’ll need:
397g can Carnation Condensed Milk
150ml (¼pt) milk
450g (1lb) demerara sugar
115g (4oz) butter

A few things first. I used Condensed milk light. Therefore I consider this fudge pretty much a health food. It is also important to use proper butter, not the low fat spread rubbish. And it’s totally ok because you used Carnation light. Here’s how I make it.

1. Choose a good CD and have it to hand.

2. Bung all the ingredients in a pan and put a dead low heat on. Stir. Keep stirring. You don’t want any sugar to stick to the bottom and burn. That would make for awful fudge.

3. After a few minutes the sugar should have dissolved. You know when it has because it looks all smooth and glossy. Keep stirring. Turn the heat up a titchy bit. Are you still stirring?

3. At this point you might be a bit fed up of stirring. Put your CD on and have a bop to your selected tunes. But the dancing must involve stirring. STIR! The mixture will start bubbling soon.

4. Let the mixture bubble away for about ten minutes. Is your arm aching yet? it should be. But don’t think the worst is done, they is way more stirring to come.

5. When the fudge mixture has started to look like frothy lava, give it another couple of minutes and then do this cool test, which should tell you when it’s cooked enough. Drop a bit of it into a glass of dead cold water. If it forms a soft ball, you’re onto a winner. If it kind of flops to the bottom of the glass in a mess, keep it on the heat for a little while longer and then try again.

6. Take the pan off the heat. Now go mental beating the life out of the mixture. Seriously, make it therapuetic. Missed the gym this week? Give it welly with a wooden spoon. When you think you can’t possibly stir it anymore, you need to stir it for about five minutes after that.

7. The mixture will turn from a shiny runny liquid, to a matt, almost paste-like consitency. If you can pour it into the tray, You’ve not beaten it enough. What you’ll get is a really smooth fudge that doesn’t quite set properly. And you don’t want smooth. You want crumbly.

8. Oh yeah, you’ll need a tray. Cover it in baking paper. Jobs a good’n.

9. Spoon the fudge into the lined tray, and pat it down nice and even. Let it cool and when it is cool, bob it in the fridge.

10. After half an hour or so, take out the tray, slice up the fudge and try not to eat it all in one sitting.

Voila!

I’d have put a photo of the fudge up but it didn’t last long enough to get my camera out.

The canny thing about this fidge is, you can totally put your own stamp on it, when you take it off the heat and beat it to within an inch of its life, you can add all kinds of wonderful yummies. Raisins, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, nuts. For christmas I’m going to make a load of Baileys Fudge. I’m salivating already.

patience is a virtue???

I’ve spent the last 28 years taking my bum for granted. I never fully appreciated what it’s like to sit down pain-free. I now vow to cherish my padded posterior to the end of my days.

The cocktail of medication has finally started to work, so hopefully I’m on the mend. The past two weeks I have kept myself sane by:

1. Watching two box sets of Desperate Housewives. How did this show slip through my fingers this past decade??? Those women have made a lifelong friend in me. Yes, I know it’s not real…

2. Baking cakes and cookies and fresh bread and icecream. I’ve not been eating much at all so the extra calories won’t do much harm, right?

3. enjoying (prescription!) drug induced sleep.

Now I’m a little better my mind has returned to getting a puppy, leaving my family despairingly with their head in their hands. But I’m nothing if not determined when I get my mind on something. Sure, I can be impulsive…But in my defense I have taken my time looking into different breeds and trawling the internet. I thought I had struck gold with a ridiculously cheap puppy. Having corresponded with the breeder and read the information she has given, I have a feeling I have only gone and touched base with a very suspect puppy farm. Oh dear.

Since then, I found a King charles spaniel breeder in Blackpool who have some puppies now, but they are more than we can afford, so it’s back to the drawing board and time to get saving. I’m not very patient, but I guess the only way to practice patience is having to wait. Or I could just nag and nag and nag until I get my own way.

diets, cupcakes and stacey solomon.

JimmyJams on.

Tucked up in bed.

8pm.

Great British BakeOff Final.

Need I say More?

No. But I will.

The last two days of work have thrown me into the middle of the week before I could say Bob’s your uncle. But I’ve loved it. I adore loving on those tiny tots at the Nursery when I get to do some work in there, and I have to keep pinching myself that I get to earn my keep doing what I was doing in my ‘spare’ time. I love my young people. They might just be the best young people in the world.

Being busy and knackered means I find my mornings at home an indulgent luxury. Even if I’m tiding up or sorting through the dirty washing.

I think I’ll renew my gym membership tomorrow. Then I can eat cake and not feel guilty. I could even bake cakes and then eat them and not feel guilty.

I love the bakeoff. Have I ever mentioned that? I love it. It makes me want to bake. After I watched it last week I went into the kitchen and tried out a new fangledangle recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery. I covered the place in flour and egg shells and ended up with very mediocre cupcakes. Next time I’ll stick with my simple vanilla sponge recipe. If it aint’ broke…

The cupcakesweren’t for me I must add. Oh no no no. I’m on a diet don’t you know. They were for a friends’ birthday. We had the young people hide in the kitchen in the dark and jump out at Tommy when he came in, only I got overexcited and jumped back, stepping into the dog’s water bowl. I recovered well and hobbled away, don’t think anyone saw.

Bakeoff’s finished. Well done Jo, you were a trooper. And you sound like Stacey Solomon and that makes you extra endearing.