Baking projects

Hello all, I hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

I spent a bit of time baking:

I made the peanut butter brownies from Sweet Vegan .

They were for Sunday tea and they were very popular. So gooey and yummy.

I also made some scones for my parents as they are finally back from their travels. These turned out better than I had hoped- I wanted to use the recipe from The Great British Bake off book , but then (too late) realised I had no eggs. I used Orgran egg replacer, and they turned out fine. Duh, I know it is called egg replacer for a reason, but it still impressed me!

I have also started to make some starter dough for some sour dough bread. I am following this recipe (after seeing it on the TV)- I read loads of my baking books but none of them had a real sourdough recipe (e.g. no added yeast).

You have to “feed” the dough with more flour and water every day, so that is what I have been doing so far, and the above pic was from this morning. It is actually bubbling (although you cannot probably see because I tipped the flour on top) which is amazing as there was no added yeast. I am still on step 1 though, it is a long project!

Baking is pretty good for me because once I have weighed everything out I can sit at the table and get on with it- no heavy lifting either! But I need people to give all the baking too! 🙂 I have a friend visiting tomorrow so I will make something for her too. I have ordered myself some fabric squares and I am going to start (once they arrive) sewing them together to make a patchwork quilt. Or maybe just sew them together and then use it as a duster? Just kidding! Anyway that will keep me occupied.

Today I was very lucky as my parents invited me over, so I got to have breakfast and lunch with them, and lots of company in the day time 🙂

I got to see all their photos (they went to New Zealand), and as a prize for looking at them all (they always do that!) they gave me this really pretty necklace which is apparently a good luck charm (I need one at the moment!) and some mammoth chocolate bars.

What sort of souvenirs do you bring back from holidays?  (For yourself or as gifts). I used to collect mugs/ cups, but we ran out of space a long time ago, and I never like getting rid of them so have an abundance of pen holders (e.g. cups in the living room etc), so now we try to buy a magnet from each place we visit. But I find it hard to choose nice presents for my parents/ other people.

Raisin, coconut and cinnamon bread

Happy Saturday all.

I made the most of Andy being home to make us some lovely bread for lunch (I don’t think it lasts that well and in the week I would not eat it all by myself!).

I used pretty much the same recipe as the cinnamon and raisin bread that I have posted on here before.

I like to activate the dry yeast first- most recipes say it is not neccessary but I find it gets better results. So first up I put around 90/100ml warm water in a cup, and add in a handful (15-25g) raisins and a tsp yeast. Leave it to bubble a bit, for around ten mins. I like to soak the raisins first because then they plump up, and also are less likely to catch in the oven I find.

In another bowl weigh out 150g strong plain bread flour (I did half white and half wholemeal) and add in your spices. I used cinnamon, cloves and mixed spice.  Tip in the yeast mixture and stir for a bit, then put into a board and knead for 5-10 mins. It might be craggy at first but it will come together.

Then put back in the bowl and cover- leave for an hour. I would usually use some rapeseed oil in the bowl to stop it sticking, but I had run out, so I melted a tsp coconut oil and used that instead.

Once it has doubled in size, tip it back out and knead for a bit- at this stage I added in some shredded coconut (not much, maybe 15g?) and some pumpkin seeds for crunch. Again, maybe 10/15g. Once it is all incorporated in the dough, put it in the loaf tin. It needs to be left for another hour, so it will rise again.

Preheat the oven to 200C, and then bake for 35 mins.

Leave to cool for a bit before slicing, otherwise it won’t cut very well.

Then spread with whatever you love the most and enjoy. I had one with rainforest nut butter, and one with a little coconut oil and some apple and mango jam. Delish.

Next time I would use more coconut, but I had hardly any left in the packet!

Bread making always gets bad press I think, but I never find it that much work. The worst bit it all the waiting around while it rises (makes it harder to make if you are at work, although I have made the dough in the evening and left in the fridge overnight as it really slows down the yeast, and means that if you get it out of the fridge and put it in the loaf tin as soon as you get home from work, it is ready to be baked about an hour later (so enough time for a run/ gym class etc).  So, give it a go 🙂

Anyway, today for the waiting I alternated between watching some football and reading this book:

The lovely Lara sent it to me- it is getting me all enthusiastic about running- there will be no stopping me once I am better. I feel like I will be back to square one (eg one min run, one min walk) once I am well enough to run again, and I know I did it once so I should be able to do it again, but this book is helping me see that I will make it again. Plus it is giving me a lot to giggle about 🙂 So thanks Lara. 🙂

I have also been enjoying lots of cups of tea, including this tasty drink:

Raspberry and strawberry rooibos tea. Because it is loose leaf tea I get to use my tea infuser thing too. 🙂

Also I found this photo on my camera- so enjoy. It was a lunch from in the week- I think I suddenly realised I was hungry and so it was shoved together with the things I could find the quickest- sunflower ryvitas with baby avocado/ rocket and caramelised onion hummus (the hardest thing to eat!), cucumber, grapes, apple.

And this is a random question- (if you drink tea) do you take the teabag out before you drink it? Laura mentioned that she leaves the teabag in, but the idea of having the teabag accidently touch my teeth/ lips really freaks me out. Often on TV shows now (often Modern Family) the people will be drinking tea, and they like to show it is tea by having the label hanging out of the cup, but I hate that idea. Even if I get a tea in Starbucks or somewhere I will take the bag out (but I suppose with black tea if you leave it in too long you get that “stewed” taste). Andy always laughs at me for this (at home he would take it out, but out and about he would not be bothered so leaves it in which is fine unless we share a cup!). So- teabag in or out?

PS Now I have the hokey cokey in my head.

“Eleven things”

Earlier in the week the lovely Laura tagged me with a little blog quiz. As you all know I have loads of time on my hands so this was perfect! Thanks Laura.

Here are the quiz “rules”:

1: You must post these rules.
2: Each person must post 11 things about themselves on their blog.
3: Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.

So, first up, 11 things about me. I apologise if I have mentioned these things before- see point number 1. Also it is going to be a loooooong post.

1- I have a terrible memory. It is something of a joke now because it is so bad. I also “remember” things that did not actually happen. I will explain- when I was little (maybe 6) I went on a school trip to Kew Gardens. I vividly remember seeing a massive tree with a trunk so enormous that it had little tunnel through the centre of the trunk, and I remember my friends and I playing and running around it. Skip forward 20 years and during one freezing February half term Andy and I went to Kew Gardens. We walked all over looking for the tree. I looked on the map, and asked someone who worked there. No, apparently I dreamt the tree and have somehow remembered it as real. This sort of thing has happened many a time.

2- (This is real, not a pretend memory!)- when I was five we went to live in Denmark for 6 months. My Dad was a teacher and took part in a teacher exchange, so we swapped houses with the Danish family. We lived on a little island called Bornholm, and I went to the Kindergarten there.

3-I always loved singing as a child and for several years I was in a district choir. I had to audition, and I chose to sing The Bare Necessities. See point 4.

4- I love Disney films, but not the princess films so much. When I was little I loved The Little Mermaid, and now one of my favourite films is Lilo & Stitch . The art work is beautiful (they used watercolours), it is set in Hawaii, it has Elvis for the soundtrack and the story is just lovely too.

I got this poster from Disneyland Paris and it is in our bathroom. 

5- I have been to Disney World quite a few times but only as an adult (it’s wasted on the children anyway!). I first went in my final year of uni with Andy’s family, brother and his girlfriend, Aunt, Uncle and cousin in a big house. We had an amazing time and I loved it so much and we have been there several times since (once again with his family).

6- I hate rollercoasters. I hate that feeling of being dropped. A friend had a birthday party at Thorpe park (I think I was 9 or 10), and she persuaded me to go on some kind of log ride. It was awful and when we got to the end of the ride the person let us go around again and I did not have time to get out.

7- I have been a bridesmaid once, and that was for my Nan. She re-married when I was about 6, and my Mum made the dresses for me and my little sister to wear.

8- I love painting and drawing, and when I was in Infant school I won a painting competition. I painted my friend (who had broken her leg) in her wheelchair with one leg up in the air. The judges at first thought it was a bit strange- they didn’t realise what it was until they read my very original title “Emma in a wheelchair”. I won a massive box of watercolour paints, but my teacher put them in her cupboard and forgot to give them back to me (and I was scared to ask for them probably!). My parents framed the painting and at the moment it is in my cupboard at work as I showed it to my class. Now I only get to paint/ draw at work in art lessons, but one day I might start again at home.

9- I never do any ironing. I just hang up clothes so they dry flat. Andy irons his own work shirts 🙂

10- I love reading. I like travel books (eg Michael Palin/ Bill Bryson), crime type books (Peter James, Michael Connelly, Henning Mankell, John Grisham, Stieg Larsson, Carl Hiaasen) but nothing with a pastel front cover!

11- I collect US quarters. I noticed on one holiday that some quarters have a boring back, but some had a state and a picture – see the close ups here. Whenever anyone we know goes to the USA they have been keeping an eye out for any missing ones, and I finally had one of each a few years ago. But now they are releasing more for the national parks!

I got these books from a supermarket when I was in America once- they have a space for 2 of each but I mostly have one of each.

Phew that was a long ramble of 11 things.

Here are Laura’s questions and my answers:

What is your dream travel destination?

When going on holiday, I like to see sights, whether they are amazing natural views or impressive buildings. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii and New Zealand- I think they have the most stunning views and varied scenery so would make perfect road trip destinations.

If you were throwing a party for yourself what would be your theme?

An afternoon tea party. 🙂

Favourite TV show?

Oh that is a hard one. My favourite reality TV type show is The Amazing Race (it really is amazing)- we don’t get it over here in the UK that much but I love the travel element to the show. I love TV shows that have you gripped- I loved most of the 24 series, and things like Dexter.

How would you describe your taste in music?

Brilliant. Of course I would. Hmm, I suppose my music is rock/ indie (remember indie music from the 90’s?). My Dad really introduced me to music- he always used to buy Q magazine and we have been to several gigs together. Some of my fave bands for you: Ash, A, Foo Fighters, Muse, 3 Colours Red, Reef, Wilt, Blur, Bush, Hard Fi, Maroon 5, Kasabian, Green Day, Radiohead (well mainly The Bends), Badly Drawn Boy, Snow Patrol, but also some older stuff like The Beatles, and I have a love for certain types of cheesy music (eg Summer of ’69, Build me up Buttercup, A Little Respect…).

If they made a film of your life, which actress would play you?

Probably Jessica Stevenson from Spaced (and I just found out she is now called Jessica Hynes now). She is funny (I like to think I am funny) and I think pretty “normal” looking if that makes sense.

If you could have any super power what would it be?

I would love to fly. I used to dream about flying too, but for some reason I know that those were dreams and not real life.

Tea or Coffee?

Tea! All the tea. Said in the style of Peter Griffin. I found a clip but the sound is awful on my computer.

Sum yourself up in 5 words…

Indecisive, friendly, helpful, cheerful, busy.

If you could go back in time, which time period would you visit?

I don’t think I would want to go back in time. all the history I ever learnt about was horrible (especially for women anyway). Maybe I am reading too much into it. I wonder who is friendly. Perhaps the Mayans were friendly and I could watch them build their impressive temples and also drink hot chocolate.

Who would be invited to your dream dinner party?

I get very tongue tied when meeting famous people. I include Mickey Mouse in that category, so no Jonny Depp for me.  I think I would choose Michael Palin. I love all his travel books, and when watching the shows you see what a friendly person he is. Plus I love hearing about peoples’ holidays, and he has had a few.

Name one thing that you collect…

Magnets. I never used to, but in the last few years (well 5 years maybe) we have started buying magnets from places we have been to on holiday. It used to be cups but they take up more space, and then I don’t want to get rid of them because they remind me of the holiday…

We might need a bigger fridge!

Right, here are the people I am going to tag (sorry if you have been tagged already).

Tegan @ Tegan Running

Rachel @ Runner’s Tales

Lucy @ Porridge and Parsnips

Ffion @ Chocolate and Raspberries

and YOU! Yes you.

(Because I am getting muddled at looking to see who has been tagged).

So, my 11 questions are:

1-What is your favourite/ most visited website?

2-What is your favourite shop (online or “real”)?

3-Where would you go for the best holiday?

4-What is your favourite warm drink?

5-What types of books do you like to read?

6-Would you ever like to live in another country, and if so where and why?

7-If you could start your own business, what would it be?

8-What is your least favourite household job?

9- Do you have anything you consider to be a lucky item?

10- What did you want to be when you were little?

11- What is the best thing about reading/ writing a blog?


Thanks! Have a good weekend everyone. And if I didn’t tag you, pick a question and answer it here 🙂

PS- There is a running book free on Kindle at the moment- The Ultimate Beginners Running Guide- look here if anyone is interested.

WIAW- feeling nervous

Hello all. This week I remembered to take photos yesterday (Tuesday) and this morning I had my hospital appointment, so I spent all of yesterday (and all last night) feeling very nervous. More on that later- onto the food.


Muesli, apple, oat milk.

Plus mint tea.


Tomato soup, ryvita chilli crackers, caramelised onion hummus, clementines.

Afternoon warm-up:

Rooibos tea from Storm teas.

I had a little walk in the afternoon, then made some more mexican casserole for dinner.


Mexican casserole topped with cheese, rocket, mashed avocado with lemon juice and some salsa.


Some mandarin and ginger tea (yum) and a mint slice.

I made these on Monday as Andy’s family were coming around to watch the football. They are from Sweet Vegan (the recipe on the front cover- look here ) and they are amazing! Basically a brownie base, topped with a minty filling and then topped with melted chocolate.

Covering the brownie in the mint filling. I was very impressed with how the brownie turned out- not sure if I have ever made vegan brownies before (I had no eggs so had to make a vegan recipe) but the brownies were still moist and very rich and I think would be lovely on their own.

Then covered in melted chocolate (it was meant to be dark chocolate but I had none!).

Plus I got to use my cake stand 🙂 The recipe made loads so we sent his parents and brother home with a tub each too! It was very popular and I would make it again for sure- I love mint and chocolate together.

If you fancy having a peep at other people’s food, then be sure to check out Jenn’s blog.

So onto my hospital appointment. I was very nervous (I get very nervous before any appointments and have had to have my blood pressure monitored several times because it gets so high when I go to the doctors) and somehow convinced myself I would be having more of the horrible examinations- plus Andy was going to work from home and take me, but he had to go in for a meeting so I had to drive myself (which is fine) -finding where the parking was just added to my general panic. I did not even have breakfast before I went- just a mint tea as I was feeling very nervous indeed, so I packed a clif bar but never ended up having it. Anyway, my appointment was for 8.30am, with the consultant. I got there with time to spare but it turned out the consultant was not there, and they could not get hold of him either. Blah blah in the end after waiting ages I saw a different doctor/ registrar (I really am not sure what the titles mean), as well as a nurse. At least I am on the waiting list now (no date yet), but the bad news is that they will probably not be able to do the keyhole surgery as the cyst is just too big. They will try (and I have signed to say that is OK) but he thought it more than likely that I would need the open surgery. Pants. I only just got back to my car before the 2 hour pay and display limit ran out (seriously- why on earth do hospitals still have pay and display???) and I did feel very teary (I think a combination of the nervous energy, being hungry, having to sign forms about possibly needing blood transfusions and my general panic about the thought of being cut open). But I just have to get on with it. I came home (and suddenly felt really hungry) so made some pancakes as it was brunch time, and chatted to Andy on the phone which made me feel much better. Thanks for all your comments too- they of course make me feel better, and don’t worry, I am not getting down- I just want to be back to normal.
How are you with things like doctors appointments? I just get so nervous, even if they are just routine appointments, and I don’t really know why. 

My routine, and a guest post (sort of)

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

This is my routine at the moment (went to the docs last week- was signed off for 3 more weeks and told there would be no way I will be back at work until after the op, whenever that will be).

I still get up when Andy gets ready for work. Have breakfast and a big mug of mint tea (I have been feeling dehydrated in the mornings recently).

It turned out that life is too short to remove the stones from cherries, so I chopped them in half, put the stone-free half in my muesli and ate the other half right away.

Potter around at home- maybe put a wash on or something if I am feeling OK, listen to the radio (often a 5 live phone in until I get annoyed with it). Or watch Top Chef. I love Top Chef.

Go on a little walk with my mp3 player for company. I have been getting through the massive amount of marathon talks that I have missed since December as well as other podcasts. Today my choice was The Food Programme (very interesting, about the Olympics and the sponsorships and feeding the athletes, work a look (listen) here). I walk pretty slowly, but I enjoy the fresh air. Normally after 15 mins I am feeling good, and then wonder why on earth I just can’t go back to work, and decide I might add another loop on the end. Then after about 25 mins the pain gets worse and I realise why, and just wish I was a little closer to home! Sit down for a rest once I get home.

Make some lunch plus some nice tea. Check emails/ internet- this can easily waste 2 hours!

Listen to the radio (I quite like radio 5 from 2-4pm), do a suduko, tidy out a drawer, read a magazine…

Have a snack or another warm drink.

A delicious afternoon snack- a big smoothie with frozen banana, cherries, maca powder, coconut powder and almond milk, topped with some Graze frangipane mix.

A delicious hot chocolate- warm almond milk with some montezuma’s minted hot chocolate, which is basically flakes of dark chocolate with mint oil, all frothed up and then dusted with cocoa powder to see if I can get the star shape right.

I tried some Cococardio the other day, after getting a free sample in my last i-herb order. I am not a fan- it was too bitter for me. Ah well, if you don’t try, you never know.

Then watch Top Chef (if I didn’t watch it in the morning), and see Andy when he gets home.

Hooray, then I have some company!

I made some bread for dinner the other day- 1/2 white and 1/2 wholewheat flour with some munchy seeds and rosemary mixed in. Yum, I love seeds or nuts in bread.

We have dinner together, and at the moment are getting a bit addicted to The Killing (only the first series- we are behind the times with this one!). Exciting daily routine indeed!

I feel like getting outside and some fresh air is really helping with my sanity, and even a small change of scenery helps. I have my hospital appointment on Wednesday, and while I am glad that it has finally come around, I am also getting very nervous about what I am going to be told. It means that my operation will be closer too, which of course is good, but I am very very scared about having an operation, having general anaesthetic and so on, and so in a way this will be the start of the more scary stuff. I know it is not super serious or anything like that, but I know that I almost have to get worse before I can get properly better which is a bit strange.

Anyway, I promised a guest post. Andy actually said to me yesterday ” I suppose you don’t have much to blog about any more do you?” (thanks!) and so I asked him to tell me about his run.

I went out the door, ran for a bit, had to stop to cross the road. Ran a bit more, didn’t really see anyone. Oh, I think the new Next will be opening pretty soon. Saw a few runners in Welwyn. Saw some people in a field doing some shooting.” I asked if he saw any rabbits: “Well, only if there were ones in that field with the shooters“. OK- maybe I should not have asked.

 Any other Top Chef fans out there? At the moment I am re-watching the Vegas series (with chefs way ahead of any of the other series I think)- it is one of my fave reality TV shows I think. Or your favourite reality TV show? We have just discovered Storage Wars on netflix and that is rather addictive too!