Last week, we endured the eighth anniversary of my Mam’s passing. She passed away three days shy of my Dad’s third anniversary. It’s a week I dread every year. Anniversaries are a strange business, I don’t miss my Mam more on those days because it’s not possible to physically miss her anymore than I already miss her. But anniversaries have a horrible way of moving very slowly and it’s difficult to not watch the clock turning through the day and remembering each and every event that happened during the worst day of your life. My Mam passed away very suddenly the week before Mother’s Day, I was living in Edinburgh and had bought the gift to post over, sheepskin lined slippers; slippers my flat mate had to return to the shop for me when I flew home. Consumed with grief, I flew home for good not long after.
While browsing through Nigella Lawson’s ‘Feast’ this morning I came across this paragraph which summed the feeling of grief up perfectly: ‘It takes time even to begin to accept someone’s becoming part of a memory bank rather than a living-breathing person: the immediate loss is entirely shockingly physical; their smell, the feel of them. They are not in the next room: they are gone.”
Do you use Instagram? I have to admit I’m slightly obsessed with it; one of the first things I do on a weekend morning is to browse through my feed on Instagram. I love it for providing inspiration for meals cooked at home and for recommendations on good places to eat out, although some people think it’s bad behaviour to snap photos of food in restaurants with some restaurants banning it, spoilsports!
A few Sundays ago, I was browsing through Instagram and came across a beautiful photo posted by Ariel House; which is a wonderful guesthouse in Dublin that serves delicious breakfasts and home baked afternoon teas. The photo in question was of a huge pile of apple and cinnamon scones dusted in icing sugar and immediately I had such a longing for a freshly baked scone that I just couldn’t resist it. Often I find myself baking on a Sunday morning still in pyjamas and there is really nothing nicer than being able to actually sit down with a coffee with the smell of something delicious baking in the oven rather than the usual speed eating of weetabix before running out the door during the week. I didn’t have any apples to hand but there was a tin of pears and some chocolate in the press, and a very delicious addition to scone they were too. Enjoy these scones warm with raspberry jam or to be even more indulgent, Nutella.
I had wanted to make something else entirely for Chub’s birthday but he decided that coconut and lime cake would be the only cake that could mark his thirty-third year. Three coconut sponge layers infused with lime zest, cream cheese icing and sweetened shredded coconut. A cake that tastes of sunshine. Just what is needed in dreary January.
Although it’s February now, so you can tell I’m late in posting this! And February is the start of Spring, a promise of better things to come; longer evenings, milder temperatures, blue skies; a girl can dream can’t she?
I don’t know about your house but we are still weighed down under the Christmas treat mountain that refuses to budge no matter how hard we work on it! Well sometimes it moves but only to my hips! We ended up with 3 tins of Quality Street, a Christmas cake, 2 puddings, numerous tubs of custard, selection boxes, After Eights (if you have some leftover, I definitely recommend this) along with tins of biscuits and I haven’t even mentioned half of the calorific treats that passed through our doors. It was all very nice at the time but January should be a time of restraint and detox, shouldn’t it? Maybe that can start in February this year!
This is so simple, there’s hardly a recipe. If you can melt chocolate and bash up a few candy canes then you are away with it! We enjoyed a lovely holiday in New York this time last year and I was very excited about visiting Trader Joes to stock up on some American goodies. On the shelves I spotted a curious bag of chocolate and candy cane pieces that I couldn’t resist bringing home and this is my take on it. Wrap chunks of it in cellophane bags to give as gifts or chop finely to add to generous scoops of ice-cream. What ever takes your fancy!
I have used a amateur-ish way of tempering the dark chocolate but feel free to melt all the chocolate at once if it seems a bit faffy – although this recipe is so easy it’s hard to consider it faffy-ish!
Hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas. x
Well it’s safe to say I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. We’re a week away from Christmas now and everyone else seems to have a whole lot more done than me. Why is the rest of the world organised and not me? I haven’t managed to send any cards yet, or wrap any presents, but I have made a list; I want to check it twice but I really don’t have the time. All this is going on and my husband is blissfully unaware that anything out of the ordinary is happening. I think women find Christmas a lot more stressful than the male species.
And what is with the question “Are you all set for Christmas?” It needs to be outlawed. I find only organised people ask this, just to see me squirm.
We are staying at home for Christmas this year, so we journeyed to Scotland at the weekend to see our Scottish family and friends. I love having a reason to visit my favourite city but I would love it even more if all of our friends and family lived in the one country so we could see them all, all of the time. It’s hard to be away from those you love to spend time with.
As a rule we have morning rolls fresh from the local bakery for lunch and Chub has to have a Scotch pie with brown sauce.
We raided Mum Outlaws always well stocked biscuit tin.
Hello people! Wasn’t it just yesterday that I last posted? It feels like it, but it was 6 weeks ago! Seriously! How fast did that go? I’ve had a lot on my plate recently and sadly food or being creative were not priorities. Seriously being an adult is definitely not all it’s cracked up to be, yes I could buy all the chocolate I want but will it make me as happy as I thought it would when I was 6 years old?
Anyway during my “non creative” time, I didn’t do very much baking; I made a Halloween barmbrack for the outlaws, Little Sister became a brack mule and brought it to Scotland with her in her little suitcase. My Outlaws are of course Scottish and not just living in Scotland and had never heard of a barmbrack, cue much mirth when I explained the tradition of the inclusion of a ring wrapped in baking paper. My Mum Outlaw declared it and Donal Skehan “very nice”. I also tried, and loved the very famous melting moments from Australian Masterchef 2012. Have you been watching this years series? What did you think of it?
The Autumn evenings are so much cooler and the leaves crisp on the ground and pumpkin season is well and truly here. I sent Chub out to buy me a pumpkin a couple of weeks ago and he came back with a whopping 5kg specimen from Lidl; I did spot smaller ones in Tesco at the weekend though, which would be also perfect to cook with although it is important to hold one back to carve. I love searching the internet to find an unusual pattern to carve my Halloween pumpkin in and I think this year Pinterest is going to prove very useful indeed. Last year, I told you how Chub carved lanterns out of turnips for trick or treating, which I had never heard of before; it must be a Scottish thing, but it’s surprising how many people end up finding my blog by searching ‘how to carve a turnip’ God love them, it’s hard enough to peel a turnip let alone carve a face into it!
My first time cooking with pumpkin was only about 5 years ago, when I made this ‘cauldron’ or chicken casserole and it has become a firm favourite in our house. Thanks to the whopper size of our pumpkin, it made lifting the cauldron in and out of the oven a little tricky (remember left from the legs – we don’t want any back injuries around here) But on the plus side, I ended up with lots of extra pumpkin puree from the shell walls that I will use to make a bumper amount of pumpkin soup with hardly any work.
Hands up who’s a fancy coffee lover! Me me ME! You can take your boring old instant coffees and americanos, I want lattes and cappuccinos and frappucinos too if the weather is kind. At this time of year, I am ready to warm up on sweet gingerbread lattes and my absolute favourite the egg nog latte, although I don’t think I’m allowed to speak of that flavour profile yet until closer to the C word.
I had great success making a gingerbread syrup with the following recipe and it saves me loads from shelling out 5 euros to fuel my addiction. Place 110g dark brown sugar in a small saucepan with 3tbsp of pumpkin puree (from a can), 1/2 tsp of mixed spice and 240ml water. Bring to the boil and stir until all ingredients have dissolved, about 2 or 3 mins. Store syrup in a sterilised jar.