Date, Apple and Coconut Cake

By Anna, 26 January, 2012 6:42 pm

Firstly, sorry. To say I have been absent from my own blog is putting it mildly. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it, or any readers still out there in the ether, but life got in the way. Rather, a change to my life.

You see, I’ve lost 3.5 stone (49lbs), dropped 4 dress sizes and from starting c25k in April, am preparing for my first half marathon in three week’s time.

Yeah. Crazy. I’m a running fool. Love it. Can’t be without it. Even better? Now that I have the thyroxine at the right level and do all this running, I can eat cake. And bread. And pasta.

I. Love. Running.

I can eat cake without gaining weight.

Is miracle.

Also, our computer monitor went majorly up the creek and getting the colour right has been a mission. If the photos look very dreadfully wrong, do let me know.

So enough about me, let’s talk about this here cake. I got the magazine – Country Homes and Interiors (October 2011) – fourth-hand. I’ll be honest, it was a bit depressing looking at these spectacular places in the countryside with their achingly cool interiors and shabby chicness flung around, so I turned to the recipe bit. You know where you are with recipes. Doesn’t require a lottery win either. Or a grubby fling with a millionaire.

I chose it because it looked easy, simple and, well, filling. Nourishing. Not airy-fairy or full of cool, but solid and hole-filling.

Turned out to be one of the most flavoursome and delightful cakes I’ve made. Can’t recommend it enough.

Isn’t it just lovely when that happens?


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Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

By Anna, 5 October, 2011 11:52 am

I’ll be honest, I made these on the spur of the moment and didn’t bother photographing the process because I thought, well, you know, how great can they be really? Answer, really great! Very flapjack-ish.

This is a recipe from Bill Granger’s ‘Every Day’; I’ve made them before and they were nice, but I made a couple of very minor changes and I preferred them this way. I haven’t been doing much in the way of baking recently, so maybe the reason behind the great response was more about the miracle of baked goods on a cooling rack than anything else. Leave them wanting more. I like my men grateful.

*Update* I made another batch and, bowing to chocolate pressure from child, used chocolate covered raisins. A big hit, so you might consider that too.

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Orangey Honey Buns

By Anna, 25 August, 2011 3:30 pm



Rum Babas, basically. No, no, no. So much more than that. So much more.
Rum babas should be as good as it gets, but these little morsels – from the brain of Valentine Warner, but improved, slightly adapted by me – are even better. Yes, they are!
Orange zested buns soaked in a syrup flavoured by orange, orange flower water, orange liqueur and honey. All this orange sounds like overload, but it remains incredibly subtle. It’s the layering of the orange that does it. It sneaks in from all angles, but quietly, politely. It’s neither harsh nor brazen.

There is the slightest waft of the exotic in the barely discernible, yet very present, orange flower water. The freshness of Triple Sec – the least cloying of all orange liqueurs – is always less predictable than rum. My addition of orange zest to the batter makes the flavour carry through more.

Then there’s the honey. Warm, sticky, rounded and familiar, increased in its intensity by the quantity of sugar backing it up. There’s nothing like a massive slug of sugar syrup to show honey for the complex substance it is.
If anything is worth baking in Summer, it is this. Provided you have no objection to the consumption of a minor quantity of alcohol being consumed by your/someone’s child, then I can assure you that kids, well, my kid, loves them. They’re a crowd pleaser and definitely something I would make for a picnic – especially as you store them in jars. How very cool, hip, lifestyle and Anthropologie.

- *pause for whittering* O.M.G., I heart Anthropologie. I have been gasping over their website for ever. Then I met my dearest friend Claire in London for the day, requested a trip there and she took me. She took me to Anthropologie. It was a moment that I will never forget. She even took my picture by the living wall. Thank God I had stopped squealing and hanging on to it.
I left my heart there. If I win the lottery, I’m off to Regent Street to empty my purse right there. Dump, clatter.
‘One of everything, please.’
‘Certainly Madam. I say! Are those sticky, honey, orange scented buns packed artistically, yet deceptively casually, into a kilner-type jar?’
‘Why, yes they are!’
‘Madam, you are one of us.’
‘I know, right? Totally fey and co-ol. Did you know I am wearing crocheted knickers with a lace trim?’
‘*gasp* Madam is perfect!’

- End of wittering, come on back in.

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Seaspinoodles (Seafood and Spinach Noodles)

By Anna, 22 July, 2011 4:48 pm

Seaspinoodles, or seafood and spinach noodles, if you prefer.

Or and excellent source of calcium, iron and zinc, if you prefer.

Or, a quick, easy, tasty and healthy meal if that’s more your thing.

I’m not sure this qualifies as a recipe as such, because it’s one of many variations on my standard noodles-with-something repertoire. Still, someone might find it helpful and I’m all about being helpful and accommodating. I know, right? Literally can’t help myself.

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Dr Oetker Giveaway – the results

By Anna, 20 July, 2011 6:22 pm

Here are the results:


Comment number 28 – that’s Isabel! Congratulations Isabel!

Comment number 45 – that’s Weesie Malarkey! Congratulations!

I have just e-mailed you both – be sure to e-mail your addresses so that I can get these in the post to you.

Thanks for playing y’all :)

A Dr Oetker Giveaway!

By Anna, 13 July, 2011 8:13 pm

A little treat :)

Those nice people at Dr Oetker were kind enough to send me some more of their new cake release spray to give away to two of you good people. Now if you live in the US, this might be a non-event, but those of us living in the UK, being able to lay your hands on cake release spray is something exciting.

Yes, really. It is exciting. I shall explain.

Why? Well, the US – Nordicware in particular – have seen fit to allow the slow, very pricey trickle of bundt tins into this country. We have tins shaped like trains and beehives and bugs and pirate ships; it’s too exciting for words. Other manufacturers are producing more and more intricate pans too. Flowers, bugs, cars, teddies, genitals. Well, maybe not genitals, but frankly it’s only a matter of time.

Diligently, thoroughly and painstakingly we brushed these pans with melted butter or white fat and then, gently, but being careful not to miss a millimetre of pan exposed, we dust with flour, pausing only to rap all the excess down the sink so as not to smudge the detail. And we fret. Gently, evenly spooning the mixture in so as not to wipe away this melted fat/flour combo. It’s all very alarming to the uninitiated.

To be honest, they are less exacting with their forensic techniques in CSI. Positively slapdash in comparison.

So when you happen to see some lucky-as-a-rabbit-with-all-its-feet American cook on TV, casually spraying a bundt pan with some fabled cake release spray in just a moment, well, it really irks. I did buy some of the stuff in a little cookshop once, but as it had been imported, it was the most outrageous price. Unrepeatably expensive, in fact.

So, congrats to Dr Oetker for seeing this gap in the market and filling it! Hoorah!

And hoorah for giveaways.

So, as I said, two lucky readers from the UK will each receive one bottle of Dr O’s Cake Release Spray. Just leave a comment on this post and I’ll put your name in the hat! (Sorry they can’t be sent overseas – airmail restrictions and all that) Don’t forget to provide an e-mail addy when you sign in to comment!

Winner’s names will be announced on Wednesday 20th July. Good luck!

Rice Stuffed Peppers

By Anna, 6 July, 2011 11:41 am

OK, I have to be honest and tell you that this is a really old set of photos from, well, the Winter. It seems like an age ago, but the poor quality of the photos can at least be explained by the complete lack of sunlight. You wouldn’t think that the South Coast of England could be so devoid of natural light in Winter but these craptastic shots are a testament to the dark truth.

This was a pretty common meal for us during our spasmodic Vegetarian periods. It tastily stands on its own two feet whether you eat meat or not, but it is substantial so I’m not sure that you’d really want a great slab of meat with it. Seems a bit over-ambitious to me. Unnecessary even? DH would not agree ;) Adding green veg to the plate elevates it even further to near Sainthood.


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A further update

By Anna, 15 June, 2011 6:18 pm

Hi all, thanks again for all the good wishes and for thinking about Mum and Dad whilst we chug on through.

Mum has been doing really, really well. Both surgical sites are healing well and she’s being the poster girl for post-operative exercises. Three times a day she has to wave her arms around in the air. Now that she’s fully in her stride with them, I’m considering sending her to various airports in the area. I feel she may have found another niche.

There is one fly in her Chardonnay, however.

Clue one:

Clue Two:

No? OK. She has a Seroma under her left arm. Muh Muh Muh My seroma!

A seroma is a large swelling that is full of serous fluid – the same fluid that’s in a blister, for example. Except it’s much bigger than a blister, it’s, well, really big actually.

Maybe not quite as big as SJP’s clutch or the two gentlemen’s bagpipes, but you take my point. Were it not for the fluid, (erm and the discomfort and weirdness) it would be a convenient storage area. I mean, I really struggled to find an armband thing to hold my MP3 player when I go running. I had no idea that the body could grow this type of thing so effectively – so relentlessly. I mean, really, stop growing already!

Anyway, she goes back for the pathology results on the lymph nodes tomorrow and they’ll look at it again then (she’s had it drained once already – that was a fun way to pass an hour).

In order not to be excluded,

the ginger high-maintenance dog has developed a limp.

She’ll be fine – lots of rest and hugely expensive anti-inflammatory medication should do the trick. Vet’s bills are never less than £50 eh? For a limp, I tell you. She nearly developed a limp on the other side as I staggered backwards when Mother paid the bill. She dodged just in time. The dog; not Mum.

Dad isn’t much better. He’s done two rounds of antibiotics and steroids to no avail. I blame witchcraft and curses, myself,

Oh, my mistake, it isn’t witchcraft and curses. (It isn’t TB either – they’re trying to identify the specific infection. this would be much easier if they didn’t lose the sample.). He’s horribly hoarse as well now, from all the coughing, so it’s mugs of honey and lemon for him all the way. The Pulmonary nurses are keeping in touch with him, so that’s great.

That’s it so far. Back for the results tomorrow – don’t know whether they’ll tell us more about when the radiotherapy starts, just keeping our fingers crossed that those lymph nodes are clear.


No cakes yet – I nearly made a banana cake today, but ran out of time. Maybe tomorrow :)

An update

By Anna, 2 June, 2011 10:57 am

Things are a bit hectic here and will be for a while, so my posts may be sporadic at best. I shall explain.
My Mum:

goes into hospital tomorrow to have a malignant breast lump and a couple of lymph nodes for good measure, removed (not the lamb – the lamb was NOT attached) and once she’s healed, will have three weeks of daily radiotherapy. Her BFF, Brenda, has taken her over to the breast care unit today to have a wire placed into the tumour ready for surgery tomorrow.

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Hugh’s Fish Fight – How to fillet a Whiting

Whiting. They look so, well, pedestrian until you really study them. Basically an orangey fish, but look at that lilac shimmer and golden glow on the face. You’d pay £s for cosmetics that impressive.

A white fish, it is part of the cod and pollack family, but far more delicately flaked and flavoured than the substantial cod. It’s less used than cod and I have no idea why; it’s delicious and abundant, indeed, according to my husband, downright suicidal in that it hurls itself at bait. Rather a drawback when that isn’t the species you’re after, but a whiting of a decent size is not to be sniffed at.

It has to be said, filleting a fish is filleting a fish.
This demonstration is no different from the how to fillet a mackerel post, but I know when you’re unsure about a new thing and when you’re specifically searching for ‘how to fillet a whiting’, what you want is pictures of someone filleting a whiting – not filleting a mackerel and saying “you can do this to whiting too, don’t you know?”
So here is the process of filleting a whiting. Same rules apply – say hi in the comments…pretty please?

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