Tag Archives: Cooking

Recipe – Cinnamon and Carrot Cake

I got this lovely recipe out of “Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen”, a book I bought seriously years ago. It has been languishing in the drawer in the kitchen for a while (most of my recipe books, are actually taking up a cupboard’s floor space (and some) in my bedroom…) and I decided last week to try something a little bit different instead of coffee & walnut cake, and this was one of them.

Ingredients

  • ½lb (225g) Plain Flour (this can be normal, wheatmeal or wholemeal)
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • ½ tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 4oz (110g) Butter (or Margarine)
  • 4oz (110g) Honey
  • 4oz (110g) Sugar
  • ½lb (225g) Carrots, peeled and finely grated

Method

  • Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3 (325°F, 170°C, 150° (Fan));
  • Grease a 1lb (450g) Loaf Tin;
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl (flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder);
  • Put the butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan and melt over a low heat;
  • Pour this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well until everything is combined;
  • Stir in the finely grated carrots;
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and pop in the oven;
  • Cook for 60-80 minutes until the mixture feels firm to the touch and a skewer, when inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean;
  • Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, the turn out onto a cooling rack;
  • Enjoy!

What happened when I did it!

  • Well, the first thing, is I clearly didn’t read the recipe clearly enough (must use my glasses more often) as I only added ½ teaspoon of baking powder, not ½ tablespoon – that could be the reason it felt very ‘heavy’!
  • I also always use light brown sugar instead of caster sugar. I also think that if you want to use fruit sugar, it would work just as well just remember to only use 2/3 of the amount).
  • I didn’t have any nutmeg in the cupboard – or rather I did but it was seriously out-of-date, so it got binned – so I replaced this with 1 teaspoon of ginger.
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon does make for a very heavily spiced cake – so if cinnamon is not a particular favourite, you could always use half the cinnamon and replace the remainder with mixed spice, or ginger! Cinnamon does have an enormous range of health benefits, so this could be said to be a ‘healthy cake’ – would one of those really exist?
  • An alternative – which is the route I took – was to top the cake with an orange buttercream frosting (recipe below). This actually helped to cool down the spiciness of the cinnamon, and it tasted great 😉

Orange Buttercream Frosting

  • 35g Butter (or margarine)
  • 20ml Milk
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract (or orange juice)
  • 166g Icing Sugar

These are approximate guidelines, as I reduced a recipe by a third!

Chuck everything into a bowl and mix with an electric beater – or a spoon, until smooth and creamy 😉

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Macaroni & the Highway Code

Why is macaroni the only pasta that sticks to the bottom of the pan?

I can cook all manner of pastas without a problem, but macaroni…every time I cook it – irrespective of whether I stand over it and constantly stir it for the entirety of the cooking time, or just stir occasionally as per the instructions – it sticks to the bottom of the saucepan.

I just don’t get it!

Also, why do car drivers forget their Highway Code when it comes to parked cars along the road.

I was of the opinion that if you are driving along the road in one direction and there are cars parked on the opposite side of the road to you, then you have right of way over on-coming traffic.

Not so, where I live.

You get rude gestures, shouted at, barged out of the way and all manner of niceties if you try and obey the correct procedure.

I ended up feeling rather insecure about my opinion that I sought confirmation from a friendly policeman and was advised that I was correct after all.

So maybe it’s just the age we live in where people are in so much of a hurry, or are just plain rude, that they ignore all the rules of the road…

… or maybe it’s just where I live!

 

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Cut and Come Again Cake Recipe

When I need my stress levels reduced…I bake.baking

When I feel stressed, worried, anxious, a bit low, or any combination of these and others I find it helps to bake a cake.

Or in the case of today 3!

Wow!

I have a lot on my mind at the moment!

Anyway – I more than replenished the cake supply, so hopefully there should be no grumblings in this house for a while!

But I digress.

I made a simple fruit cake – called a “Cut and Come Again” cake.

I had had this years ago at a friend’s house and she gave me the recipe which I long since lost, but today I thought I would try something different to cupcakes and managed to find a recipe posted onto Saint Delia Smith’s website by someone – it is not a Delia recipe.

It was seriously easy to make, smells amazing and tastes fab 😉

So, here you go recipe for “Cut and Come Again” cake:

Ingredients

  • 12oz (340g) Self-Raising Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Mixed Spice
  • 6oz (170g) Soft Margarine
  • 6oz (170g) Caster Sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 6oz (170g) Sultanas
  • 4oz (113g) Currants (or chopped nuts if you prefer)
  • 4oz (113g) Raisins
  • 3 tablespoons Milk

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C (Fan) / Gas Mark 4 / 350°F
  • Grease and line a 20cm/8inch round cake tin
  • Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl, or food mixer
  • Beat well until thoroughly mixed
  • Pour mixture into tin and level the top
  • Bake for about 1-1¼ hours (until skewer comes out clean)
  • Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off paper and cool on a wire rack.
  • Make a cup of tea and enjoy!

My Findings on Making the Cake

  1. This was a seriously easy cake to make – anyone can do it – from measuring out the ingredients to pouring into the cake tin literally took less than 10 minutes!
  2. I never use Caster Sugar in baking I always use soft brown sugar – only because I believe it is less refined and therefore slightly healthier – big emphasis on the slightly, after all it is still sugar! (I have tried fruit sugar alternative when I made cupcakes, total disaster, but that might work better with this recipe as well)
  3. I mixed all the ingredients, EXCEPT the fruit, first with my electric whisk for about 3/4 minutes, and then I added the fruit and mixed for a further minute – for me this seemed more logical, as you can see that everything has been mixed easier than if you have small dried fruit bits floating about!
  4. I put the cake in for 1 hour initially, then checked with the skewer, then I cooked for a further 5 minutes and the skewer came out clean. Everyone’s ovens are different and I would advise 1 hour first and then 5 minute intervals. For those that don’t know about the skewer test, it is purely to see if the cake is cooked – put a clean skewer into the middle of the cake, down to the bottom – if the skewer comes out with cake mixture on you can see that the mixture is still not quite cooked, if it comes out clean your cake is ready.
  5. This cake tastes extremely good when you are sat down with your feet up and a large mug of tea 😉

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Introducing the World’s Messiest Cook…

…Um, that would be me!cooking

I love cooking

However, like my life it seems, whenever I cook I leave a trail of chaos and destruction behind me.

Not that I’m a terrible cook, or that I burn everything to a cinder crisp.

No, I am just so incredibly messy.

Mr Messy has nothing on me when I get cooking.

Although, unlike Mr Messy, I do clear up after myself.

Take today, for example.

I thought I would do fish pie – well my variation anyway, and it’s something I can sneak vegetables into so SC doesn’t know he’s eating them (mother’s can be very good at that!)

Anyway, I managed to use 3 medium-sized saucepans.

The potatoes, as always, over-spilled onto the hob – I blame the hob 😉

Making the sauce I managed to splash it out of the saucepan onto the hob – thank goodness my mum has ceramic.

Then when I was putting it all together, I realised I had made slightly too much for one of my mum’s dishes, so I transferred it all to another one, which still wasn’t big enough. So, 2 dishes down, I transferred some back into the first one and put the remainder into a freezer container.

Once it was totally assembled, I put it in the oven, on a tray, of course, and turned round to survey the carnage.

O!M!G!

Then I speedily turned into Mr Clean & Mr Tidy, all rolled into one, and I stacked, soaked, washed, rinsed, dried, put away, cleaned the hob, cleaned work surfaces, emptied the bins, swept the floor, waved my magic wand, etc..

You would never have known I’d been anywhere near that kitchen …

… well, until the dinner came out of the oven – all I can say is that I’m glad I used a tray 😉

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Top 3 Childhood Memories

What are the things that you fondly remember from your childhood?childhood memories

The thought struck me the other day as I was in the supermarket and saw Soreen Malt Toastie Loaf. Total flashback. I loved this as a child and remember how always, no matter how long you’d kept the loaf in the fridge or bread bin, that when you went to cut a slice the loaf squeezed down to a nanomillimetre square!

So my first childhood memory has to be Soreen Malt Loaf spread with butter. Yes, butter, none of that terribly healthy and good for your cholesterol low-fat spread.

My second memory was helping my mum making cakes and then being able to lick the spoon with the remnants of the unmade cake mixture.

Did it matter one iota that it had a raw egg in? No. The egg scare hadn’t happened then. I wonder what would happen today if children were allowed to do that?

But my favourite childhood memory has to be that of my beloved grandfather’s carrots.

He was a nursery-man and had a garden as long as a football pitch (not as wide though) and every inch of it was dedicated to growing vegetables. You name it, he grew it!

He kept onions in tights in his shed, along with sackfuls of potatoes. Cabbages, cauliflowers and other staple vegetables were plentiful. Picked, cooked and served when required.

But the best thing was always going over and helping him dig carrots out of the ground, washing them under some water and then eating them. Nothing will ever come close to beating that taste.

My dad, has not inherited the gardening genes, and carrots grown in our vegetable plot tend to be very tiny! SC and I on the other hand love getting grubby in the garden and have decided that this year we will take on the vegetable patch and I hope that the gardening genes have only skipped 1 generation!

In this day and age of technology it saddens me to think that some children will not have innocent happy childhood memories to look back on, but I hope I can make some for SC 😉

 

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Cooking Pasta

It’s supposed to be the simplest thing in the world to cook, so why does my pasta always take longer than the cooking time indicated on the packet?

It’s not that I’m an atrocious cook – I take pride in being able to whip up a 3-course meal, but this just beats me every single time!

Pasta the other day said “cooks in 5 minutes.”

I followed the instructions to the letter, and lo 5 minutes later the pasta was still far too ‘al dente’, it was like eating chewy toffee but without the stickiness, just the chewiness. 15 minutes later and it was just passable.

What state is one supposed to eat pasta in?  Chewy toffee state, mush state, or some happy medium in between?

Someone said that I could be cooking the pasta too fast! With a 5 minute cooking time and instructions to bring water to boil, add pasta and keep boiling for 5 minutes, what part of that would be cooking it too fast?

Also, why whenever I cook pasta and replace the lid when cooking does the water always bubble up and spill over so I literally am sitting watching a pot boil (as opposed to a kettle)?

If anyone has any hidden gems about these matter they would be gratefully received.

Maybe it’s the pasta I buy, maybe it’s just me 😉

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Top 5 Quirks

You already know that I worry about absolutely everything to my washing shrinking to work and all kinds of stuff in between – but that’s me. I should learn to not sweat over the small stuff, but I have a small obsessive perfectionist gene that sometimes just won’t let me!

Tough to live with – not really, hugs work pretty much most of the time 😉

So, I’ve thought about some more of my quirky ways and here are those that made the top 5 (in no particular order):

1. I find ironing very therapeutic, bizarrely, especially when I have Frank Sinatra playing – although generally need a lower back massage afterwards (all that standing seizes the muscles up)

2. I love decorating (Matt Monro is my painting music) and gardening – could spend hours designing inside and out – one of my tasks on my bucket list is to do up a house … one day;

3. I can be messy – when I say messy, I actually just have piles of organised chaos, but I know where everything is! Filing is not one of my strong points and I’m definitely a messy cook though;

4. I am extremely scatty – to the point I always have to double-check I’ve locked the door, and it has been known for me to drive 100 yards down the road, turn round just to check again;

5. I don’t like clocks – I don’t wear a watch, if I want to know the time I’ll check my phone but that’s the extent of it. My parents have a clock in the kitchen and a grandmother clock and it freaks me out when all I can hear is tick-tick.

and I’m not even afraid of house spiders 😉

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