Dear Handsome Prince,

 

For many years I have lain sleepless in my lonely bed with only spiders for pillow friends.

My pillow partner

My pillow partner

Maybe my being awake is the reason for your non-appearance to kiss me gently on the cheek before whisking me off to your enchanted palace.

I fear the gifts of beauty, wit, grace, dance, song, and music presented to me as an infant princess, by my fairy godmothers, are fading fast.

Last night I did manage three sleeps…. Rather a miracle for me, so perhaps you could tip toe in my direction tonight.

I do make good cakes and treats and chocolate truffles worthy of a prince.

At this stage my garden is so over grown that you may well have passed by thinking it was a setting for Game of Thrones, the Vikings or some other modern day TV epic!

I do realise that like me, age is catching up with you too. Yesterday and again today, I spent time in the wilderness of my garden clearing a narrow pathway of brambles to ease your journey to my bedside.

Clearing brambles

Clearing brambles

Yours hopefully!

Princess Grannymar

April Firsts

I know. I know!

It has been a full week since all those pranksters played their pesky practical jokes!

We in Northern Ireland have far more serious issues to concentrate on right now.

Our Easter Holidays finished last night. The remainder of the western world who mark this Chocolate Egg Eating marathon Christian festival, celebrate from Good Friday through Easter Monday.

Not Northern Ireland. We do things differently! Our official days of celebration are Easter Monday and Tuesday. So this morning many a weary worker is trudging back to sit behind their desks until next month when we will begin and end the month with Bank Holiday weekends!

Over the past few years. changes have been planned, sorted and finally set in motion. On 1st April 2015, a total of 26 different district councils have been reduced to 11. So time and MONEY has been spent in each of these areas, providing all forms of information to ease the path for all the residents. We have new council names, logos, colour schemes and up to the minute online Websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

There is absolutely no excuse to miss out on any dates for upcoming events.

For example when we begin the week with a holiday, the bin collection due, often happens one day later than normal. This chart below makes this change very clear!

Alteration to Bin collection dates

Alteration to Bin collection dates

Thanks to my friend Emily for pointing me in this direction.

Food Monday ~ Two for the price of one

 

I had a different post in mind for today, but I already wrote it last year.

So since I have not posted any recipes for quite some time, I will do so today in honour of the lady in the link above – Mammy.

I learned at my mother’s side, all those years ago….. that having a recipe sitting in front of you, does not mean the dish or cake will turn out as printed! ;)

His recipe for Cranberry Walnut Apple Cake was shared with us by Cecilia of THEKITCHENSGARDEN back at the end of last year. She described it as being very moist and soft in texture. I liked the sound of it and was anxious to try it. I made it, loved it and will do so again and again.

I was a little worried about the moisture level: sugar, oil, eggs and cranberries, especially if the fruit had been frozen. So using my carrot cake recipe for reference (it is made with oil), I began with one cup of muscavado sugar the only brown in my pantry that day. A whiz round and it still looked oily, so I added another tablespoonful of caster sugar. Happy with that I added the eggs and vanilla.

The dry ingredients were as listed, and added to the food processor. The mixture seemed heavy like soft toffee, but I continued and put the mixture in a large bowl before adding and mixing by hand, the remaining ingredients.

I used:

1. Whole fresh cranberries – well, as fresh as they can be after swimming across the pond, we do not grow them in these parts.
2. A diced Bramley apple – about 350g before the skin and core were removed.
3. Walnut pieces without further chopping.
4. Lemon zest.

I like to see what I am eating in a cake.

My next change was to use my holy tin savarin cake tin for more surface area and to prevent a soggy middle. The extra, I put in a one pound loaf tin. And baked them at 175°C/340°F. The small cake was ready after an hour and I covered the ring tin with greaseproof paper for another 30 minutes.

resting and cooling

resting and cooling

Once cooled, I cut the small cake. It was delicious and not too sweet, nicely moist, but inclined to crumble when sliced. I liked the fact that it was possible to taste each individual fruit and nut piece.

want a slice

want a slice

I did make it again, this time doubling the quantities and filled two 2lb and two 1lb loaf tins. I used a small on in the days leading up to the holidays, gifted the other one to a friend, I wanted a two pounder for my sister and wrapped and froze the last one. When I thawed that last loaf cake, it cut like a dream in perfect slices without crumbling and tasted perfect!

Cranberry Walnut Apple Cake
 THEKITCHENSGARDEN 

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar and
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Blend.
add 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla
Mix.
….
In separate bowl.

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp salt

stir then add

2 cups grated apple,
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 pound fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries
the zest of a lemon

Toss, coating fruit in flour mixture.

Add to oil mixture, stir – then into baking tin and bake at 350 for 50 -60 minutes. Or until the cake is coming away from the sides of the tin and firm to the touch.

§*§*§*§*§

On Saturday last, I was in the mood to bake so I set this recipe on the counter. Since fresh cranberries were not available, I decided to try a little variation of apples apricots, and pecans adding ground almonds and almond extract in place of the vanilla.

Apricot Pecan & Apple Cake
Preheat the oven to 175°C/340°F

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar and
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Blend.
add 3 eggs and 1 tsp almond extract
Mix.
….
In separate bowl.

2 cups flour
⅓ cup of ground almonds
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp salt

stir then add

2 cups diced apple,
1/2 cup roughly chopped Pecans
1/2 pound ready to eat apricots, quartered

Toss, coating fruit in flour mixture.

Add to oil mixture, stir – then into baking tin and bake for 50 -60 minutes. Or until the cake is coming away from the sides of the tin and firm to the touch.

This time I used a rectangular spring loaded tin and it worked perfectly and sliced like a dream.

Apricot Pecan & Apple Cake

Apricot Pecan & Apple Cake

Fancy a slice?

Fancy a slice?

Today I will enjoy a slice or two as I sing a quiet Happy 101st Birthday to Mammy!

UPDATE: Viv asked about converting weights and measures.  This graphic below may help her and anyone else who might be confused.

Weights and Measures

Weights and Measures

A page from an old magazine that I found years ago. You can zoom in on any section. I think it covers most of the FAQs to do with baking.

 

Art with my Needle ~ A change of purpose

It seems a long time since I wrote about any craft work. That does not mean I have given up completly. The long dreary short dark winter days with the addition of an eye problem, for which, I am still awaiting a call for surgery, meant that the time I spend working with needles of any kind has been greatly reduced. I do have several projects on the go, but only two were completed this week.

It is amazing the items you discover when clearing and decluttering cupboards!

Two bags and some purple lining

Two bags and some purple lining

Two bags that came as a gift, with the purchase of make-up, a couple of years ago. Some purple lining left over from bridesmaids outfits, from Elly’s wedding.

And a silver belt…

A silver belt

A silver belt

So I decide to have a little fun and make an internal divider with pockets,

Divider with pockets

Divider with pockets

Oops! That photo above is rather blurred, but it gives you the idea!

and home made bias binding

making bias binding

making bias binding

Then I altered the belt.

belt to bag handle

belt to bag handle

I stitched the smaller bag to the back of the larger one as an outside pocket. Then I removed the belt buckle and replaced it with a trinket (another discovery in a drawer!).

Buckle replaced with decoration

Buckle replaced with decoration

The finished bag:

finished product

To prove it works a peek inside…

proof it works

The pack of tissues can be moved to the other side of the divider and my mobile phone will then fit in the pocket.

I had a good reason for the long ribbon with the thingy on the end (anyone know the correct name ?)

Reason for the ribbon

Reason for the ribbon_

The thingy keeps my Moo cards, USB key, trolly token and little cards all in one place and easy to find without rummaging around in the bottom of my bag!

Coffee with a friend this morning… just the occasion to use it!

My arm

Tests

Last week I went to see the Vampire nurse.

My letter said ‘Fasting bloods’ and no mention of any other test. ;)

I brought my arm! :lol:

“Did you bring…..?” she began to ask.

“I didn’t. The letter never mentioned bring a sample, I checked.”

“Could you manage one for me now ?” She asks producing a syringe.

“Sorry” I said “You haven’t a hope. It will be at least lunchtime before I can manage a drop!”

“Well, take this home and put the filled syringe in the bag when you are finished, seal it, and return it to the clinic!”

I know you don’t believe me

Syringe for sample

Syringe for sample

On previous occasions we had little bottles for this purpose

Old and new styles

Old and new styles

The old style was easier to fill, this time I used a foil cupcake dish and drew the liquid into the syringe, replaced the cap,  put it in the bag with my details and returned it to the clinic.

Have you come across these syringes before?

One single cafetiere's worth

I like coffee

But not like that!

This end of my counter is not usually so cluttered* the photo is to show you the mess one single cafetiere can make when the beaker bursts! It happened suddenly and the liquid went everywhere. Over my trousers and my shoes, on the counter, across the floor, on the sides of the cooker and the washing machine beside it.

can you see the hole

can you see the hole

Can you see the hole at the bottom of the Bodum® cafetiere? It is just behind the upright bar with the name embossed on it.

rinsed for a clearer photo

rinsed for a clearer photo

I found the larger piece of glass on the floor at the side of my cooker when cleaning up the mess.

I have been a Bodum® customer for many years now. I have an Assam Tea press and cafetières in several sizes, that are in regular use. I am very careful with the glass and always wash & dry each one by hand, I do not have or ever possessed a dishwasher.

This break was spontaneous, and the first time it ever happened to me!  I decided to get in touch with Bodum®, explain my problem and I added photos for evidence purposes. I asked if there was a reason why this should happen when, instructions are followed to the letter?

I had an immediate reply!

It would seem to us that your question is answered in the photographs you have provided.  It would appear from the first to [sic] photographs that a metal spoon was being used.  In the third photograph the instructions for use are shown where it states that coffee should be stirred with plastic or wooden spoons not metal. 

By this stage my glass beaker was in the bin, so I immediately went to look at the larger sizes in my cupboard. They do not mention anything about metal cutlery, one way or the other.

I then went rummaging in the bin for the object of my complaint. The print on the glass is smaller and in a place close to the handle, so more difficult to read.

Why must the print of what is considered to be an important issue, be so small? 

I have taken another photo of three cafetieres. The tissue in each is to make the print more readable.

Bodum Cafetieres

Bodum Cafetieres

I did write back, admitting that I had not read the instructions, as I had been using the cafetieres successfully for many years and did not expect them to have changed.

I  did wonder if there has been a recent spate of problems and the small instruction about the non use of metal cutlery was to cover the company in these days of a compensation conscious culture. I made no suggestion of compensation. I was not burned. I only wanted to let them know of my disappointment.

“Metal cutlery should never be used with glass.”

I grew up in the days of china cups and fine glasswere. My mother taught me to use a metal spoon when pouring hot liquid into a glass or china cup, to diffuse the heat and prevent the glass/china cracking. I have done that for over fifty years without a problem, even with Bodum® cafetieres.

Now go back and take another look at the last photo. The single one with the broken glass has a metal frame, while the others are made of plastic. If it is not considered safe to use a metal spoon inside the glass, surely it is not a good idea to market them with a metal frame. 

With each purchase of a Bodum® cafetiere, I found a plastic measuring spoon in the pack. Perhaps it might me a helpful marketing idea for Bodum® to switch the measuring spoon for a long handled plastic spoon with the brand name on it!

What do you think?

* My Microwave had to be moved a couple of weeks ago, when water began dripping through my ceiling ( a story for another day).  It is now on the far end of the counter and I am waiting for help to set it back up on the wall brackets. My arms can no longer take the weight and lift it up onto the wall brackets, while standing on a step ladder. Grrr!