Strawberry Tragedy Cake

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Strawberry Tragedy Cake

Hi everyone,

I made this cake as a way of willing myself out of my feelings of despair on Saturday morning. I was upset because my Dad was back in Hospital having had a minor stroke. My flat mate wanted me to use up some strawberries he had forgotten about and this is what I made. Baking is my therapy.

INGREDIENTS

250g self raising flour

1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

200g punnet of strawberries – half diced, half sliced

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

135ml sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

100g soft brown sugar

 

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

Add the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to a mixing bowl, mix together

In another bowl add the eggs and sugar and then whisk to a fine batter

Add the cinnamon and vanilla bean paste, plus the oil and sour cream to the egg/sugar bowl and whisk all together again until combined

Add the wet mix to the dry mix and bring together

Add half the batter to a spring form lined (greased and lined) then add the diced strawberries

Add the other half of the batter, then on top place the sliced strawberries cut side down

Put on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for around 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean

Enjoy!

Banana Loaf Cake

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Banana Loaf Cake

Hi everybody,

I’ve finally given in to the call of lock down bingo and made banana bread.

I have jazzed mine up slightly, to make use of things expiring in my cupboards. This is always the way, I usually end up creating a recipe to make use of things I have in stock.

INGREDIENTS

225g self-raising flour

60g soft brown sugar

75ml rapeseed/vegetable oil

3 squishy bananas

50g coconut, ground

75g dates, chopped

A splash of water

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. mixed spice

2 tsp. baking powder

 

METHOD

Mix the dry ingredients – flour, spices, coconut, and baking powder – in a bowl.

Add the chopped dates to a pan with some water and heat up until it forms a paste.

Mash the bananas together, then add to the dates and add the oil.

Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.

Add to a lined and/or greased loaf tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees or until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool (if you can contain yourself) then eat!

 

Flo’s Nostalgia Jam Tarts

Hi everybody,

Lock down has made me appreciate a more frugal and old style way of life. I have been thinking about my grandparent’s generation a lot, they knew how to survive things. My last living grandparent is in his 90s. His kitchen is filled with old coffee jars that are used to store things like biscuits. He has a small larder which as a girl I thought was cool and as an adult I am deeply envious of.

I too reuse old coffee jars to store things. I currently have nuts, dried fruit, sugar and rice in old Kenco and Douwe Egberts jars. I find them delightful to look at and they always make me think of my Grandpa when I see them.

I first cooked with my Grandma. That’s not to say no other grandparent or parent played a part in my culinary journey, because they all did, but my earliest cooking related memory is making jam tarts with my Grandma.

This particular set of grandparents lived next door to me growing up. Now it is my Dad and Step Mum who live in my childhood home and my Grandpa is still next door. That reassures me during this time.

Since lock down started I have been craving making jam tarts. And to be clear, although I do like jam tarts from a taste point of view, my craving was to make them and remember my Grandma and my first cooking experiences.

This isn’t really a recipe, most people could make this and probably many people have a much more sophisticated recipe than me. But just in case you don’t here is mine.

INGREDIENTS

2 ‘Parts’ Plain Flour

1 ‘Part’ Butter

Jam

Flour for dusting

Butter for greasing

1 – 2 x Muffin Trays

Large circular cookie cutter

Iced/cold water

METHOD

So why parts? It is simply because you can scale up or down this recipe according to your needs. I used 130g Butter and 260g Plain Flour. This made about 17 jam tarts, though the 17th was a bit ‘rustic’ and cobbled together from scraps. If you want fewer jam tarts than half the recipe, if you want twice as many scale it up.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4

Mix the butter and flour together till it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add a tablespoon of cold water one at a time, mixing the breadcrumbs together each time. It is very easy to make the dough far too wet. About 5 tablespoons was all it took to bind my dough together.

Knead the dough, then roll out. If you don’t have a rolling pin, and I didn’t for ages, then use a wine bottle.

Cut out circles using the cookie cutter then line them in the greased muffin tray.

Place one heaped teaspoon of jam in each centre. You don’t need much.

Bake in the oven for around about 12-20 minutes until golden brown. Keep checking.

LEAVE TO COOL FIRST BEFORE EATING! – Hot jam is like lava in your mouth. Don’t do it.

 

 

Substitute Vegan Scones

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Hi everybody,

VE Day was a bank holiday in the UK and felt like the perfect day to make scones.

Well, it would have been, but I actually made them yesterday instead.

Oh well.

I call these the substitute scones because I didn’t have any self-raising flour, so I adapted my plain flour for this. The way you do that is by mixing 2 teaspoons of baking powder per 150g of plain flour. I used 350g of plain flour so I added 4.25 teaspoons of baking powder to it.

You add the plain flour and baking powder together and then sieve them together so they are all nice and mixed.

I also made a version of vegan clotted cream that wasn’t exactly the same as regular clotted cream, but did a nice job of trying.

INGREDIENTS

350g plain flour and 4.25 teaspoons of baking powder (or 350g of self-raising flour)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tsp baking powder

85g vitalite or other vegan butter/margarine

175ml oat milk

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Squeeze lemon juice

Optional – 3 table spoons of caster sugar

CLOTTED CREAM (not my recipe)

4-6 tablespoons of coconut cream (you can make this by placing a tin of coconut milk in the fridge for a couple of hours and just skim off the top once you open it), plus 50g vitalite and 75g icing sugar, all whisked together.

 

METHOD

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7/220 degrees/200 degrees fan assisted oven

Add the prepped plain flour and baking powder together and sieve into a bowl adding the salt and extra baking powder (or self-raising if you are using).

Add the sugar if using.

Gently heat up the milk so that it is warm but not boiling, add the vanilla and the lemon juice and set aside.

Place two baking trays in the oven to warm up.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to form a dough.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough and cut out 10 scones (more or less depending on size you want) with a round cutter.

Add to the baking tray, glaze with a little extra oat milk and cook for 10 minutes.

Prep the clotted cream as instructed above and serve the scones with that and jam.

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My Prep for the Week Ahead

Hi everyone,

It’s the end of the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK. I’ve had a nice weekend watching some films and TV shows.

I’ll level with you. It is a really strange time around the world for everyone at the moment. The world I started this blog in no longer exists, and I’m trying to keep up the spirit of being frugal, money conscious and looking to get debt free, but really those things don’t seem like that big of a deal when there is a killer virus travelling round the world.

So, I’m using this blog as an escape. That’s why I’ve gone back to it. It seems really crass to talk about a spending diary when people are losing their businesses, their jobs, their livelihoods, but it’s all I know to do to keep my mind off the pandemic.

So I’ll be clear, you’ve seen me through all sorts of struggles. High debt, insecure employment, being kicked out by my landlord and the lot, and now I’m in a really good position. And I do not take for granted even for a second that I am so lucky to have what I have.

Even though I’m in a really fortunate position, I’m still struggling with this pandemic. So this blog is my safe space. On here my concerns are saving money, being frugal, and maybe baking a cake or two.

Off here I’m panicked about Covid-19, about what’s going to happen next, and will my loved ones be ok.

I hope we’ve cleared that up.

Anyway…

I’m trying to go to the shops as little as possible. So I’ve done an inventory of all the cupboards in the kitchen and the fridge and freezer to see what I have to live on until Thursday when I would next like to go to the shops.

I am getting a delivery of long life oat milk on Wednesday, but I actually had a go at making my own oat milk today to tide me over. It wasn’t too bad, a bit watery, but much better than I thought it would be.

A rough inventory

Flours – self raising, plain, bread, cornflour

Pasta – spaghetti, lasagna sheets, penne

Noodles

Rice

Quinoa

Lentils

Sugars – honey, caster, golden syrup, maple syrup, treacle

Baking ingredients – raising agents, cocoa powder, vanilla paste

Yeast – dried, and a sourdough starter I’m working on

Tins – mackerel, sardines, pilchards, tuna

Tins – baked beans, black beans, chopped tomatoes, coconut milk

Nuts – peanut butter, cashew butter, pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds, coconut flakes

Spreads – jams, marmite

Oils – rapeseed, olive, extra virgin olive, sesame, coconut

Cereals – oats, bran flakes

Teas – just about everything imaginable

Spices – just about everything imaginable

Vinegars – balsamic, malt

Condiments – ketchup, vegan mayo, hot sauce

Fresh – onions, apples

Fridge – milks, cheese, eggs

Fridge – orange juice, beetroot juice

Fridge – cucumber, sauerkraut, olives, leftover hummus and falafel

Freezer – various vegetarian proteins

Freezer – sweetcorn, broccoli, spinach, peppers, peas, sprouts, onion rings, vegetable stock

Freezer – berries

From this I’ve devised this menu for the week

Monday

Lunch – beans on toast

Dinner – falafel, hummus, salad

Snacks – apple, beetroot juice, cake

Tuesday

Breakfast – overnight oats

Lunch – beans on toast

Dinner – pilchard puttanesca pasta

Snacks – apple, beetroot juice, cake

Wednesday

Breakfast – overnight oats

Lunch – beans on toast

Dinner – veggie chilli and quinoa (batch cooked)

Snacks – beetroot juice, apple, cake

Thursday

Breakfast – overnight oats

Lunch – beans on toast

Dinner – veggie chilli and quinoa

Snacks – beetroot juice, apple, cake

Friday

Breakfast – overnight oats

Lunch – beans on toast

Dinner – veggie chilli and quinoa

Snacks – beetroot juice, apple, cake

You keep seeing a cake being mentioned. Pictured below is the cake I made out of the leftover oat milk pulp from this morning. Nothing can be wasted.

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This menu for the week should give me 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day which I’m always eager to get and should use up the things that are going to go off soon like the hummus, cucumber and falafels.

Have a look through your cupboards and see what you can make with what you’ve got. I was reading ‘Better than Before’ by Gretchen Rubin and she talks about how people are either ‘finishers’ (those who love finishing up packets) or ‘openers’ (those who love opening new packets) and I’m definitely the former so I do like to run my stocks down from time to time, and I guess now is the time to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by Nigella ‘Chop Chop Earl Grey Muffins’ (Batch Cooking my Work Breakfasts)

I decided to watch Saturday Kitchen Live today on BBC 1, a show I surprisingly don’t normally watch, and my watching it today has absolutely nothing to do with my crush on a certain TV chef.

One of the segments of the show featured the widely known Nigella Lawson who was making Chai Breakfast Muffins. This got me really excited as I was sure I had a packet of chai tea in the tea cupboard (I have a Tea cupboard, well, a hot drinks cupboard, how British am I?).

I didn’t.

BUT I did have an unopened packet of Earl Grey tea which is (wait for it) at least 18 months old, so it was probably time to use that up.

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Before this year I was so lacking in confidence with cooking that if I saw a chef making something on TV, no matter how thorough the demonstration I would not be able to copy the recipe and would probably fork out for the cook book.

Now I am brave.

My recipe is very similar to Nigella’s, I will show you mine, but bear in mind Nigella’s is probably far superior. Mine is cheaper.

INGREDIENTS

300ml Soya Milk (Or any milk, I don’t mind)

3 Earl Grey Tea Bags

1.5 Tsp Cinnamon

115ml Vegetable Oil plus extra for greasing

2 large eggs, as a personal choice my eggs are always free range

400g Plain Flour

2.5 Tsp Baking Powder

50g Mixed Dried Fruit

50g Almonds

100g Sugar

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METHOD

First thing first. Put your milk in a saucepan, open up the three tea bags and pour them into the milk and add the cinnamon. Cook over a very, very low heat and do not boil, just bring to bubbling stage.

Leave to cool/thicken.

Now the ‘chop chop’ bit. On a chopping board place your dried fruit and almonds. Using a nice long sharp knife (or if you have a fancy pants blade thing like Nigella did then use that) go up and down and along the nuts and fruit in a ‘see saw’ motion until everything is nicely chopped.

Weigh out the flour, sugar and baking powder and lightly mix together. Add the dried fruit and nuts.

Add 2 beaten eggs and the oil to the cooled milk mixture and mix.

Add the wet mixture to the dried ingredients and mix but don’t over mix. Remember, lumpy batter = light muffins.

Grease your muffin tray with oil and spoon in your mixture.

Cook for 20 minutes on Gas mark 5, or until a skewer comes out clean.

If you want to overload on sugar then have a muffin with a little maple syrup.

Chocolate ‘Weetabix’ Brownies

I think when you start living away from home as a young ‘professional’ (or un-professional in my case) you may go through a few teething problems when it comes to the food shopping.

If you are half curious about cooking and a bit of a foodie you may find you end up with exotic ingredients like flavoured oils and sake which you later give away on OLIO on the basis you had them for a year and never opened them. That’s one example. You may also find that the way you lived your life when living at home or University is different to the way you live now.

For instance I buy porridge oats and supermarket own brand weetabix in a belief that a normal person has cereals for breakfast, when really because I work in a different country to the one I live in (I live in Wales, I work in England) I barely have time in the morning to brush my hair, let alone have a breakfast. And usually at the weekends I go several hours of the morning just on coffee.

So that is why I had two boxes of ‘weetabix’ leftover from last summer.

One box I steadily worked my way through, and then became convinced I would use the other in good time so opened it up and decanted it into my cereal container.

I think that was around March.

It has been untouched since.

Luckily it was a good container and they weren’t even a little bit stale.

So inspired by a recipe that became so popular on the Money Saving Expert website forum it was given it’s own thread, here is my interpretation of weetabix brownies.

INGREDIENTS

4-6 Wheat biscuits (Brand leaders Weetabix are a bit bigger so you will only need 4 whereas own brand ones are usually smaller)

170g Butter/Margarine

115g Demerara Sugar

115g Self Raising Flour

2 tbsp of Cocoa Powder

100g Chocolate chips/Chocolate cut into chunks

1 egg

METHOD

Place the wheat biscuits in a food processor and reduce to crumbs, or do by hand.

Add the wheat biscuits to a mixing bowl, then add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips.

Melt the butter/margarine, beat the egg and then add both to the dry mix and combine. It may be fairly stiff or sticky depending on how many biscuits you used, but this is fine, just adjust the cooking times. I had a fairly stiff dough and they still softened up and were deliciously moist when out of the oven.

Place in a greased baking dish and cook for 20 minutes on Gas Mark 4

Try to entice the boy out of bed by telling him you made weetabix brownies. When he is very confused because he didn’t think we had weetabix remind him you did. Lie when he asks if they were out of date.

The AAA Therapy Cake

Hi guys,

Today was a beautiful sunny day in the South West of England and South Wales, and I spent my morning at a Job Interview.

Naturally for someone who finds talking to their friend’s difficult enough at times, I find Job Interviews a wee bit scary and traumatic.

There was only one thing to do and that was bake my stress away.

This is probably why I am overweight.

Oh well.

The cake today was baked in order to use up two jars of apple sauce that were preventing my cupboard door from closing and had been for about 7 months ever since I first bought them.

I bought them to make a recipe called ‘Triple Apple Cake’ from a recipe book I have on my Kindle called ‘Insulin Resistance Diet Plan & Cookbook: 101 Vegan recipes’ by Patricia Karnowski which I bought in a panic one day when I was convinced I had PCOS. Turns out I only sort-of have it.

My recipe was ‘adapted’ from their recipe. In that it closely follows it and then I throw a whole bunch of things into the mix.

My recipe is crucially not Vegan, so if you want the vegan recipe I’ll explain where I deviated from the original recipe.

Also the recipe book uses Cups as measurements, so I have done similar. If you are adapting then make sure you check the measurements against liquid/dry.

THE AAA THERAPY CAKE

INGREDIENTS

(These ingredients all feature in the original recipe, but I used different amounts)

1 apple, sliced very thinly (you could use more, the original recipe uses three but my bowl was looking crowded)

1 Cup of dried apple rings cut into very small pieces.

1 1/2 Cups of apple sauce-here I used my two 185g jars of apple sauce which are from the Morrison’s Savers range as one jar equalled roughly 3/4 of a cup.

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 1/2 cups of oats – my oats were premixed with skimmed milk powder, which I do to make instant porridge ala Jack Monroe, this may or may not have had some factor on my end cake. I think you should be fine with just oats.

Vanilla – I used a very generous ‘splodge’ of vanilla bean paste

lots of cinnamon and a little bit of nutmeg. I personally think things can’t have enough cinnamon or vanilla and nutmeg, but use your own tastebuds.

THIS IS WHERE THE RECIPE DEVIATES

2 tablespoons of greek yoghurt

1 egg

1 cup of self raising flour

METHOD

Chop the apples (both dried and fresh)

Put all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Add the applesauce and the beaten egg and yoghurt. Mix until it all looks lumpy and sticky (this shouldn’t take too long)

Squish into a greased cake tin, I used a loose bottom big bad boy.

Put in the oven at gas mark 5 for about 40 minutes until you do the skewer test and it comes out clean.

Please don’t ask me what Gas Mark 5 is on a proper oven, I do not know 🙂

When it is ready try to contain your hunger and leave it to cool for 5 or so minutes on a wire rack. When it is still fairly warm cut yourself a piece, have a cup of tea, and add a squirt of that weird toffee sauce in your cupboard that you can’t even remember where it came from.

Take said cake into the living room where the Artist Boy is painting and say ‘Look! Whilst you were ‘creating’ so was I!’