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cook*create*read: February 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Apple cake with honey icing

So, my first recipe for my week of Hungry? ...

Apple cake with honey icing
This is a wonderfully fragrant hug in a cake.  All my favourite flavours are in here (well, apart from chips with salt and vinegar, but that would be decidedly odd!) ... vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, apple.  It is delicious and light, slightly crunchy around the edges.  I think it would be superb with some whipped cream in the middle, just to cut through the sweetness slightly. 

Serves 8
For the cake
250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
200ml olive oil
seeds from 1 vanilla pod (I used 1tsp vanilla essence)
zest of 1 lemon
1 whole egg
1 egg white
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
For the icing
200g icing sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice (I used 1 lemon)
4 tablespoons runny honey (I only used 2 tablespoons - misread the recipe!)

  • Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/gas mark 4.  Grease and line two 23cm cake tins.
  • Mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, vanilla seeds (or essence) and lemon zest.  Then whisk in one of the eggs, and mix in the apples.  Gradually add the flour, mixing as you got, until you have a smooth, quite thick batter.  Set this aside.
  • In a third bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff peaks form.  Carefully fold this into the batter mixture, keeping it as airy as possible.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined cake tins and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Once golden and cooked, allow to cool on a rack.
  • Sieve the icing sugar (I must admit, I didn't bother to sieve it!) into a mixing bowl.  Gradually add the lemon juice, followed by the honey.  The icing should be quite runny.  Taste the icing now!  Taste a little bit odd?  Don't fret, it won't once it's on the cake!
  • Once the cake is cool, sandwich to the two together with half the icing.  Drizzle the rest of the icing over the top, allowing it to run down the sides of the cake.  Enjoy!
(adapted from Hungry? - a book by innocent)

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

I haven't ...

picked up a paintbrush in over a week.  This makes me feel sad.  Not sure what the problem is, but it probably has something to do with there not being enough hours in the day!  Hopefully later today my hands will get painty and inky ...

This week I have a plan.  I want to cook more, for two reasons - I love to cook proper food and I don't do it enough, and I want my family to eat better food.  Also I have a groaning bookcase full of cookery books.  (Well, they're not actually in a bookcase, but if they were, it would be groaning!).  Whenever I sit down to plan a weekly menu I just get overwhelmed with all the books I have and all the different recipes I want to cook and end up getting nowhere.  So I have decided to concentrate on one book a week and cook as many meals as I can from that book!

To kick off this week, I will be using Hungry? - a book by innocent.


The recipes I'll be trying are:  Banana and Bran Flake Muffins, Surfer's Pancakes, Frog-in-a-Ditch, Fail Safe Spag Bol, One Mean, Green Fish Pie, Slow Cooked Beef Stew, Mexican Chicken Fajitas, Veggie Burgers and Chips, and kicking off today with ... The Best Roast Chicken and Stuffing Ever!

I'll also be attempting one or more of the following baked goods!  Apple Cake with Honey Icing, Bronte's Amazing Carrot Cake and Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies!

We'll see how far I actually get :D


Monday, February 20, 2012

It's Monday, what are you reading?

Thought I'd join in with this while I'm in the mood!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
I'm going through an escapist phase, it would seem!  I'm currently reading Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy.

I used to love her books and read them all up to Nights of Rain and Stars, which I didn't like.  But Minding Frankie is ok so far ... not riveting, but just right for my fragile brain at the moment!

The latest copy of newbooks magazine has just plopped through my letterbox, so I shall be reading that today too!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Undergoing construction!

Please excuse the mess ...

Dusting off the cobwebs!

So it's been quite some time since the last post in here! Not really sure why that is. Anyway, let's try and revive this ...   I've decided to merge my two blogs together ... there might be more chance of a regular update if I just have one to update!

A couple of short, quick reviews to blow out the cobwebs ...

A recent trip to the library resulted in these two reads ... one which I'd been dying to read for ages and one which appealed to my need to escape reality for a little while!

From lovereading.co.uk
Tally lives in a world where your sixteenth birthday brings aesthetic perfection: an operation which erases all your flaws, transforming you from an 'Ugly' into a 'Pretty'. She is on the eve of this important event, and cannot wait for her life to change. As well as guaranteeing supermodel looks, life as a Pretty seems to revolve around having a good time. But then she meets Shay, who is also fifteen - but with a very different outlook on life. Shay isn't sure she wants to be Pretty and plans to escape to a community in the forest - the Rusty Ruins - where Uglies go to escape ' turning'. Tally won't be persuaded to join her, as this would involve sacrificing everything she's ever wanted for a lot of uncertainty. When she is taken in for questioning on her birthday, however, Tally gets sent to the Ruins anyway - against her will. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she could ever imagine: find her friend Shay and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. What she discovers in the Ruins reveals that there is nothing 'pretty' about the transformations...And the choice Tally makes will change her world forever.

Uglies is a book I'd heard a lot about ... one of those with rave reviews that I was expecting huge things from. I wanted it to be like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (I absolutely cannot wait for that film to be released!). But sadly it did not live up to expectations (you'd think I'd learn not to have such high expectations by now!). I found the characters to be thoroughly unlikable with very few redeeming features (maybe this was the point, but I do like to have some kind of affinity with the characters). The storyline was predictable and the plot seemed to take a long time to go anywhere, and when it got there it wasn't all that exciting. I guess this is one YA book that is not for me, and sadly I doubt I'll be bothering with the rest of the series.

My rating: 2/5

And now for something completely different!

From lovereading.co.uk
Suzy fell for Harry the moment she showed him her husband's sperm sample. It didn't really belong to her husband, though, because she wasn't married. It wasn't a sperm sample either, it was a drinks carton containing the dregs of her milkshake. But when you're trying to get off a speeding charge you just have to improvise, don't you? And it wasn't actually love at first sight. Still, it was undeniably a healthy attack of lust...

This book turned out to be exactly what I needed! 500 pages of shameless fun. Amusing (if sometimes a little annoying) characters, a twisty turny (if a little predictable) plot and not too much thought required to follow the story. If you're looking for a book to lose yourself in and forget about the real world for a while, this is the book for you! This is the second Jill Mansell book I've read, and it definitely won't be the last!

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book of Days catch up!

I have been keeping more or less up to date with my Book of Days ... just haven't been uploading the pages here!  So here's a mega catch up for your viewing pleasure! (I joke!!)

In no particular order:

This one clearly needs something added to it ...

I'm really loving how this book is turning out - it will be a great record of the year!  I decided to keep up with this one instead of the calendar challenge (where you do a little square every day) as, although this one takes a lot more time and work, it will be a lot more meaningful in years to come!  I'm surprised at how much actual journalling I've done, as I'm usually not one to write a lot ... but I guess some things need writing about! (and hiding!  There are hidden bits of journalling throughout this book, in pockets, etc.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Gotta share this!

The song for Scrapping the Music this week is AWESOME!!  I have to share it :)

Working on my page today ...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I baked!

So I was out shopping with hubby and son and they'd wandered off to a sporting goods supplier *snore* and I found myself in Waterstones ... (nothing new there!).  I happened upon Marian Keyes' new baking book, Saved By Cake

and as I still had some vouchers left from Christmas, I decided to treat myself.  I paged through the book when I got home, as is my wont with a new cookery book, and wanted to make every recipe in the book!  I settled on the Blondie Cupcake recipe - it sounded like something the non-adventurous family members (i.e. those other than me!) would go for.  I trudged through the ice (yes, we still have ice) to the Co-op to purchase missing ingredients ... no macadamia nuts there! Nor any hazelnuts, Marian's suggested alternative, so I opted for cashews instead.  I purloined the last three bars of white chocolate on the shelf, only to discover on my return home that it had crispies in it!  Oh well, they'll add a bit of crunch I thought, and baked on!

Here is the result:

UTTERLY GORGEOUS!!! And EVERYONE AGREED!  Seriously, if the other recipes in this book are half as good as this one, I shall be the size of a block of flats by the summer!

Go forth and buy this book!!!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

More Music Scrappage!

Amazingly, the lovely ladies at Scrapping The Music chose my page to hang in their Hall of Fame!  This made me blush :D

Their next challenge is up, and I really love this week's song!

Here's my page ...

and ...... here's a video to go with it!  This one's not quite so speeded up, but for some reason it's not in HD quality.  I don't know why!!!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Scrapping the Music

So I've been following the Scrapping the Music challenge blog for forever, but for some reason I've never actually done one the challenges.  I don't know why, coz the whole thing is very inspiring, and music is one of my passions, so the two should marry together really easily!  Anyway, today I managed to do a page for this week's challenge :)  I did record the process too, and actually spoke on the video, but it ended up around 50 minutes long and I just think it's too long - no-one wants to watch/listen to me waffling on for that long!  So I have decided not to upload it ... Maybe I will at some point, I don't know.  (On the plus side, I did find out how to upload videos of more than 10 minutes! I just had to verify my account, which was peasy).

Anyway, here's the page:

It's nothing special, really simple, but I like it :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


My page for the second prompt for A Year in the Life of an Art Journal:

ie: what's in your imagination or where do you imagine yourself
THE STUFF: Pictures or words from magazines/newspapers etc - CHECK
ie: Words, letters or images that develop your idea
THE TEChNIQUE: mask/stencils - CHECK
ie: can be anything from flowers, letters, rubberbands or professional mask or stencils

I made a video of how I made this page :)

January in Numbers!

I thought I might have a go at this in 2012!  We'll see how far I get!

40 = the number of years I have been on the planet.  My mummy cooked me a lovely roast dinner, just like she's done for probably 38 of those years!

2 = the number of bones sister-in-law Angie broke in her leg.  Ouch.
6/10 = the rating I gave to The Hangover II.  Funny, but not as funny as I.
60 minutes = the length of time I had to get dressed and clean the house before a visit from Jenny and Andy!  They bought me a gorgeous bunch of pink tulips for my birthday - my favouritest flower in the world.  

£142 = spent on an "essentials" Tesco shop
4 = books behind the bedroom radiator, including a Dinosaur Encyclopedia!  Why? and how?
2900 = pounds for heating to be fixed.  Ugh.  But we are now warm.
5 = bags of rubbish spewed out from the cupboard of death - yay!
31 = number of photography prompts I've posted for the 365+1 challenge
30 = number of photographs I've taken for January (missed one day :()

27 = total number of cups of tea made for the boiler boys
Natasha turned 13 on the 10th - the photos are all on her camera!  She celebrated with a lunch out at Cosmos and a sleepover.
Freddie turned 10 on the 10th.  He didn't want a party.  He did want a guitar.
3 family birthdays in total on the 10th - Treena turned 40 too!
17 = art journal pages completed - I've just added this up and I'm amazed at how productive I've been this month!  This is mostly due to The Book of Days! Thank you Effy!