Monday, July 27, 2009

Let me eat cake

I love cake. I make a lot of cakes, and I have to own up to eating my share of them. I prefer homemade cake to bought cake, which makes it easier to keep tabs on my cake habit. While I was on maternity leave, my sweet tooth increased, and the caking making grew to match. I found a couple of good new recipes that fitted my requirements for a general, everyday cake: not too expensive, not too much butter or eggs, preferably some fruit & quick to make. This one is the king of cheap, easy cakes. You can whip it up when someone drops around for a cup of tea (seriously, if you pretend you are a slow tea maker then you really can get it in the oven while they think you are making a pot), and have fresh cake in half an hour. Impressive. Its definately an eat on the day cake, although it makes a good pudding too, heated up with a little icecream. I always intend to make a caramelly sauce for it, but I never do and it doesn't seem to matter! I have no idea where the recipe came from, but here it is:
put 150g of chopped dates & 25g butter in a large bowl (to be super quick, buy the prechopped dates). Pour over 1c of boiling water, & wait until the butter has melted. Mix in 2 tbspn golden syrup, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp bicarb soda, 1 tsp vanilla essence & 2 cup SR flour. Stir until combined. Pour into a prepared tin & bake 30 - 35 min.
Thats it.
My suggestion is get your tin ready & oven hot first as the bicarb reacts quickly and starts making lots of lovely air bubbles, so you don't want to be mucking around at the end. Mmmmm.
I think I need to go make some cake.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Birch, Yew, Pachypodium. All spotted at Oxford Botanical Gardens.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bellissimo Sapone

I don't really like soap. Its nice enough, but I don't use it on my body, and prefer handwash to wash my hands with (I make my own with aqueous cream & essential oils. Bargainous & moisturising). However, I luuurve this soap. I first tried it in Tuscany when we were staying with friends in a villa for a week. And I was sadly resigned to never being able to buy any, until I discovered a large stash at the Oxford Botanical Gardens store!
It is deliciously scented, has beautiful wrappers, and comes in extra large, chunky blocks. And it feels beautiful when you use it. I'm not sure why it warrants a blog post, except to share my happiness at having found some, and the little bit of joy I get every time my hands are dirty in the kitchen. Small pleasures.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Best of the Weekend

Best of the allotment:

First pickings of curly kale with sea salt and delicious olive oil purchased this time last year in Baena, Spain.

Best time spent:
One hour of time this weekend = many delicious mornings of blackcurrant jelly on toast

Best hat:
Yes, its a 3month size squeezed onto an 8 month noggin for the purposes of photos, but its still cute. More about it here (Ravelry link). Pattern from Drops design

Best view:
This has been my view of the baby for most of today*. He's finally got the hang of it (and fast!) Right now, though, he's trying to catch the motes floating about in the sun through the window.
*not actually true. He also did lots of crawling towards me.
Edit: unfortunately, I can't claim the pants, they were a lovely (shopbought) gift. But they could easily be knitted (these ones are in cotton). I do love how the stripes match up though!!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fuschia fairies

Gardening is different in England. Its colder, there's less light for much of the year, and more for some of the year than I'm used to. Plants that I think of as perennial turn out to be annuals or biannuals. It makes for adventurous times in the garden. Last year, I had good fun growing sweet peas in pots. This year, I thought I would try some different potted colour.
When I was small, I had a book about a fuschia fairy - the child 'popped' the fuschia bud (as they are so tempting to do!) and the fairy fell out as she wasn't quite ready. She played with the child while her wings dried off and she flew away. My mum had (and possibly still has) a large fuschia with tiny pink flowers, and I loved to pop them. I always felt a delicious combination of fear and hope that I would disturb a fairy! I have really enjoyed the four that I've grown this year, although they are quite small as plants. They don't have the wow factor or the scent of the sweet peas, but they are very pretty. One of them is a trailing variety, but I didn't have a hanging basket so it isn't shown to best potential.
This is the highlight of my garden though - my neighbours garden! Our back gardens aren't fenced off, so while we take responsibility for looking after our own patches, we get the benefit of feeling like we have a much larger garden and enjoying each other's gardening successes (we got the better deal this year!)