I’ve been spending my mornings inspecting my garden veg patch and I take delight in seeing my produce grow. This morning was no different apart from my poor tiny cucumber plant had been munched by some little critter (slugs I expect). So with a quick question to my Facebook gardening community, I got outside dug it out of its little space in the veg bed and re-potted it. Turna out it was far too early to be planting a cucumber outside anyway. Lesson learnt! It’s now safely inside the propagator/mini greenhouse with the hope it might survive it’s near death experience.
Lettuce, kale and radishes are doing pretty damn perfect in the veg bed. The peas are peeping, the carrots have started to sprout, rainbow chard is popping up left, right and centre too. Leeks are few and far between with only about 4 sprouting so far but beetroot looks good at the moment. My chillie plant on the other hand is inside on the kitchen windowsill and it is thriving. It makes me ridiculously happy to see it all doing so well.
Today had been awfully miserable weather wise. We’ve been tuck inside our four walls, jigsawing and baking. Dee and I made some fruit and cherry scones and some homemade jam. Bit of a use it up/budget bake to be honest but after just paying for our new kitchen (doing a little dance) which has used up our savings entirely we should be watching what we spend so it’s not a bad thing.
The jam was easy. Frozen mixed berries I used about 500g from the freezer along with sugar to taste (about 2 tbsp) boil the heck of it. Mash the berries together a little Take it right up to 105c and then pour it carefully into a pre-serialized jar. We like the seeds in but strain it if you dont, but please be careful as it’s like molton lava when its finished cooking. But yum, how easy!
I’ve been baking again. No surprise there if you know anything about me. Tried this beaut out today because I’m in short supply of icing sugar. I’ve even had to turn down customers because I just couldnt guarantee that I’d have my usual basic ingredients.
This recipe requires no icing sugar or butter and only uses 1 egg. It’s an amazing recipe for using up dried fruit you may have stuffed in your cupboard. I used raisins in my loaf cake but it will work with any dried fruit you have. I’ll be trying dried apricots and glace cherries when I have them in next, but with out further a do (knowing how frustrating it is to scroll through a life story before the recipe reveals itself) here is the recipe!
175g Dried Fruit (use any you like- I used raisins)
110g Caster Sugar
150ml Hot Strong Tea (again, use your preferred but I used normal black tea in this one)
150g Self Raising Flour (alternatively the same weight of plain with 1tsp of baking powder)
Zest of 1 lemon (or orange)
1 Egg (beaten)
Make some hot strong tea (I used two bags) and soak your fruit along with the sugar, preferably overnight but if you’re in a hurry to create this beauty 2 hours will do. My baking for my family is always a little off the cuff and unplanned so 2 hours did suffice in my case.
Once the fruit has had at least 2 hours, preheat the oven to a low temp, around 150 degrees. This is a low and slow cake. Line the tin with baking parchment, these measurements are suited to a 1lb loaf tin, just double the recipe if you have a 2lb tin. If you dont have a loaf tin, use what you have, but do line it regardless of the shape or size.
To the tea soaked fruit add the flour, beaten egg and Zest and mix well. That’s practically it. Tip it into your lined tin and bake for around 40 mins (double the time if your doubling the mixture) or until golden and when a skewer comes out of the loaf clean.
Cool for 10 mins before tipping out on to a cooling rack. Once cool, slice and serve with or without butter. If your a fruit cake and cheese kinda person, then I’m pretty sure that a slice of this with a tiny wedge of Wensleydale cheese would hit the spot.
Share with your household of course, then leave some with neighbours so you cant eat the lot.
I’m still playing with this recipe, and may do a marmalade take on it too; but I really hope you enjoy it. Dee scoffed a slice after her dinner and it got the cheesy grin of approval so happy days.
Making something seem the sweetest way to pass some abundant time during lockdown. If like me you’re totally sick of eating your baked good right now and do not want to put on another half pound, pound or hell even a stone, then might I suggest a treat for our four legged friends?
Dee and I make “Aro Doggie Biscuits”. Super simple, “easy squeezy peasy lemons” as Dee would say (then follow it up with “I’m a funny thing mummy” and a big cheesy grin on her darling face). There are only 4 ingredients (3 if you dont count water) and super great for little ones to help you out with or just take over till its time for popping them in the oven. I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found online, if I can find the link again I will post the original.
1 & 1/2 cups of Plain Flour
2 tbsp of peanut butter (optional)
Water enough to form a dough
You guessed it, combine all the dry ingredients till thoroughly combined. Add in the peanut butter and tablespoons of water until it forms a soft (but not sticky) dough. We used our hands but feel free to use a dough hook in a mixer or a fork or spoon or whatever is to hand. I ain’t prescriptive about these things.
Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and then use a cutter to make small shapes. If you have no cutter, just get creative, use your hands and make little shapes that way. On a lined tray, bake for around 12-15 minutes at about 180. Perfect little treats, made by you for your furry friends.
How simple right? A tiny activity to get on with in lockdown. That’ll take up at least half an hour (including the washing up).
I hope the majestic floof in your life enjoys as much as Aro Doggy does.
This is my plan for a mini spa evening. Little one will be in bed, I’ll be turning on the shower and getting my mini home made spa treatments going. I can not stress to you how important it is to take time out for yourself. Especially at the moment when there is an endless pile of washing up, clothes washing, cooking, cleaning, entertaining small ones and yourself. It is paramount. Give my little home spa treatments ago and invest some time on yourself.
First thing is first, grab everything you need and shut the bathroom door. No distractions, you deserve your full attention. Get the shower on; as hot as possible and create some steam. This will help open up your pores and let which ever products you use do their magic. My essentials for locking myself in my steamed up bathroom are; some icy water (add in some fruit or cucumber, mint if you have it), body brush, body scrub, razor, shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, face mask, hair brush or comb, body lotion/cream (your favourite, this is about what you like).
My recipe for body scrub is super simple and just below, but if you have your preferred which you use anyway, go with what makes you happy. First get your hair mask on. Give it enough time to soak up into your hair and do what it’s supposed to do. Time is the essence with this my lovelies. Spend the time on yourself, you owe yourself.
Let’s talk body brushing! I love my body brush. I aim to use it every time I shower or take a bath. Mainly on legs, but I’ve been using it over my entire body these days. The benefits of body brushing are endless, but to name a few; Exfoliation, getting rid of the dead skin cells that build up between showers is a really good idea if you want to have glowing skin. Dead skin cells make you skin look dull, and not one person I know wants that. Also supposed to be good for cellulite, I’m sceptical about this but it certainly dose promote blood flow to the area you are brushing. Ergo no downsides, in my opinion at least. Brush upwards, make you sure you are brushing towards your heart. Keep sipping that icy water.
Get your scrub on, but firstly turn down the shower. Hot water, as good as it feels aint all that for your hair; and that comes next so get prepared! Exfoliation is amazing, and with my DIY super simple body scrub you just have no excuse not to scrub your pins. The simplest recipe ever. 2 part granulated sugar to 1 part coconut oil. The coconut oil should be liquid form, I normally melt mine quickly but gently on the hob, but if you don’t have coconut oil, try olive oil its great for your skin. Mix thoroughly, and let cool. When you’re ready to use, slather your legs in it. Work it in to your skin in circular motions and then rinse off under a warm shower (not hot), before shaving your pins to leave them gloriously smooth.
Hair pep. Get under the warm (not hot, warm is better for your hair) shower and soak your hair and shampoo your roots, not your tips – just your roots. This will clean your scalp and save you drying out your ends. I’ve switched my products recently to a natural product. I’ve really enjoyed using it so far and its paraben and sulphate free. It’s good for the curly girl method which ive been doing for about 6 weeks now, it’s a work in progress but my hair seems to have improved in texture already, so my current method is based on my findings (if you like) so far. Remember, just your roots, not your lengths or tips. Same for conditioner. Use it like a wash, only on your roots and leave it in for the suggested time. When you rinse the product out the water will help work it through the rest of your hair, it is your scalp that needs the attention. While you’re waiting for the conditioner to do its thing use your fave body wash. Rinse that wash off and as you do use either a comb or your fingers to untangle your mane and rinse your conditioner out.
Before jumping out of the shower, when your hair is still sopping wet run a little leave in conditioner through your lengths and tips. Do not get close to your scalp, if you do you’ll most likely be oily before the drying process is out let alone the day. Squeeze out the water with your hands and t-shirt dry your hair. Yes, you read right, use an old t-shit. It is less harsh on your hair. Towels create frizz; they are simply too rough, and no matter your style -curly, straight, wavy or coiled no one wants the frizz. I ‘plop’ my hair at this point after some scrunching with curling creams and gels (curly girl method – post for another day), but get it off your face regardless of the method your using and apply your face mask. I’m using Garnier’s moisture bomb sheet mask at the moment which I have on subscription through amazon. I buy two a month, so aim to do one every other week. This one is really hydrating, but feel free to use your fave or get creative and make one.
Enjoy your face mask and as you do smother your body in lotion or body butter as soon as you can to lock in the moisture from your shower. When your face mask timer is up, rub in the remaining serum if there is any and get a toner on your skin; again to lock in the moisture. Running theme here, but skin hydration is a must.
Dry your hair in your own fashion, I’m avoiding heat when using the curly girl method meaning air drying for me. Get in your comfies et voilà. Basic spa evening completed, add in mani/pedi for extras. Most importantly, feel good and do this for yourself. Enjoy, you deserve it.
I spent yesterday being in a ridiculously grumpy mood. Everything was ticking me off, but then I suppose that’s nothing new a few days before the monthly visit from good old Aunt F. I needed to lift my mood, and I’d been seeing the twitter trend of gifting people others from their Amazon wishlist.
I gifted some small things and felt instantly better. Mood lifted slightly, now dont get me wrong ideas still stomping round the house like a mum-o-surus but I felt a bit more balance at least. I urge you to join in if you can. It is the sweetest way to brightens someones day, just a stranger making tiny wish come true.
If you’ve been keeping up with me on twitter you just know I’ve been trying out the curly girl method on my hair. I have nothing but love for this method. I’ll put a full update on my experience soon. But I would totally recommend from what I’ve experienced from my own journey with it so far. If your hair has ever been frizzy, I can’t think of anything I’d recommend more right now.
Talking of kindness, my husband brought home some flowers for me the day he went shopping. Beautiful spring tulips. Dee immediately ran over to daddy and says “oh daddy thank you. These flowers for me?” I mean how could he say no to that? She was beaming, totally full of smiles. He quickly told her they were for her and mummy, an answer she was very pleased with, especially when he said she could have some in her bedroom.
All the kindness, all the smile. What are you doing to make your loved ones smile? Are you doing a good deed for anyone? I’d love to hear your ideas and what your doing to stay happy and mentally healthy during this time
Get your hands in! Rub the butter into the flour until a breadcrumb consistency. We like a mixture of fine and larger breadcrumbs. Add the oats and sugar and mix it well.
For this particular crumble I peeled 5 small apples we had left over in the fruit bowl and 2 small pears. I sliced the apples and chopped the pear in to cubes, threw them in the old school enamel pie dish we inherited from Mans Nan (we lost her just before Christmas and we miss her so). I mixed in about 30g of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon because, well cinnamon and apple; enough said.
Cover it over with your crumble topping (great to mix in a handful of chopped pecans if you have them too) bake for about an hour until golden and crisp on top. I use a gas oven currently and I go medium to low heat for this one.
Enjoy your crumble – served with custard, ice cream, cream or your fave vegan alternative. I had a bit with alpro plain yogurt. Delish.
We’ve had an indoor/outdoor kind of day. We’re in week 3 of lock down and these days are merging into one. Don’t know what day it is most hours and the fact is, it could be three months of this. I’m hoping to utilise some of the time to plan and knock out some publishables in prep for post lock down days, back to work times and ‘normality’ (what ever that is). In the meantime, we will cook, bake, laugh, love, play, make a mess (constantly), clean up the messes, drink wine, write, create and just be in our home.
As always, I am grateful for all that I have right here. I am however missing my family and my friends. I miss nipping to mum’s for a cuppa and a 3 hour chat. I miss randomly getting together with my sister and brothers, my friends, and of course my Grandma who is more isolated than ever. I miss my sweet nieces and my nephew. And we have fully missed my mum’s and step dad’s Easter Gathering with all of that side of my family. The Easter Bake Off competition we do, which I’ve been band from by the way (untouchable skills you see), the kids Easter hunt and just being together; laughing and enjoying the company. Until we can, know we miss you the most, love you the most and cant wait to see you.
Finally the post I have been most excited to write. I couldn’t because it hadn’t happened yet, but now it has. We have now got a filled and set up veg plot. When I say plot I do mean raised bed. It maybe small but it has been highly anticipated in my household, well at least by me.
We started with some old decking that was plaguing the garden when we moved here last year. We cut it into 6ft and 2ft pieces and joined with extra long screws (very technical I know, but we were winging it and didn’t have too much to hand). We’ve lined it with pond liner tapped in with some small nails and made drainage holes in the bottom. I’ve layered in some torn up cardboard because I had read that somewhere (admittedly I cant remember where now), then the compost. Since we’ve been on covid-19 induced lock down, we’ve been sourcing everything we can as locally as we can. When I found out our local garden place was offering a delivery service I got super excited. I ordered what I thought were going to be seeds, picking tomatoes, chilies, kale, lettuce and mini cucumber. They arrived at my door and they were not seeds in small paper packets, but seedlings; growing already and perfectly ready for transplanting.
Dee, of course, helped out. Sticking her dirt covered fingers in to the soil over and over. She was loving every second. She’s a little bit rough with the seedlings and determined to water them – a lot. More especially when my grandma sent over a small watering can for her that she no longer used any more, Dee will certainly use it. All the time. She is already trying, I mean we just had to go out and water it all again before bedtime.
I’ve also planted some seeds, along side a kitchen scrap celery stalk. We’ve done some beets, radish and leeks. I am waiting for runner beans to arrive and a couple of other seeds. Feel like I’m starting a little late, but this is all about trial and error for us. I am seriously hoping that my Grandad is watching from where ever he may be now and is sending his wisdom about everything plant based. He passed just about a year ago this week, and my heart aches for him. I miss him dreadfully. I keep revisiting a post which I published last year close to him passing; My Grandad; Snippets from Charlie. I equally smile and cry when I think of him at the moment.
Watering (lightly) twice daily at the moment, results are anyone’s guess. I will however keep you updated. Keeping the little busy in between watering times feels like Easter exploded all over the downstairs of my house. We’ve been painting, sticking, making, baking, painting some more and of course eating our bakes. And that’s just been today. Please feel for all parents out there at the moment, not having the ability to take a walk to public park and let them kiddos run wild for an hour is a killer. Check on your parent friends, we are run ragged.
Off to sink some Gin, but I wish you all have the best Easter Weekend and stay as sane as humanly possible.