Cutty Sark Tea and blueberry almond scone recipe

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend. I managed to get out for another run this morning- I have it in my head to do 3 runs a week at the moment, so now I have. Again I did the 3 mile route, with 5 min run and 1 min walk. It went well, and I was feeling pretty good- I feel like I can get into more of a rhythm now and I am not desperate for the walk breaks like I was in previous weeks. Next week the idea is 8 min run, 1 min walk so we shall see how that goes.

Last week I was kindly sent some Twinings tea, to celebrate the relaunch of the Cutty Sark. Following years of renovation, the Cutty Sark (the fastest tea clipper) is now open again. They have some Cutty Sark Twinings tea caddies to celebrate- with either gunpowder green tea or black tea. They sent me the black tea, which is a blend of black teas from China. I love the tea caddy, first of all- the design is fab with the ship and all sorts of equipment (anchors, telescopes, light-houses etc) all over it. Plus I much prefer loose-leaf tea to teabags and I can re-use it once it is empty.

The tea is great too- nice and strong, and perfect with something sweet!

Today I had some with a blueberry almond scone (and lemon curd)- perfect.

There is information about the history of the Cutty Sark here– it is very interesting (I love the picture of the old map on the page)- my favourite fact is that when it arrived it contained 1450 tonnes of tea! More than in my tea cupboard! And of course you can buy the Cutty Sark tea on their website.

And onto the scones:

The recipe I found was here, and I changed it a teeny bit, making them vegan (well of course until you cover them with lemon curd). I weighed out the ingredients to make it easier next time, but you can use the cups measurements too.

Blueberry almond scones (vegan)

Ingredients:

2 cups plain flour (270g)

3 tsp baking powder

3 tbs caster sugar (45g)

1/2 tsp mixed spice and cinnamon

5 tsb softened pure spread (55g)

1/2 cup almond milk (110g- 110ml?)

1 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (80g)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 220C, and grease a baking tray.

Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and spices in a bowl, and stir to combine.

Add the spread and rub in until it forms breadcrumbs.

Put the almond extract into the milk. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, and pour in the milk. Stir to combine briefly, then pour on the blueberries. Mix until it forms a soft dough. I added a splash more milk to mine, but you might not need to.

Pat it into a round, and then cut into wedges. Mine made 8.

Place on the greased tray, brush with a little more almond milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15-20 mins, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

The dough being shaped.

Fresh from the oven.

Cooling on the rack.

And finally being enjoyed with some lemon curd. Yum. Seriously these were pretty easy to make, don’t need any unusual ingredients, and are so tasty too. You could probably grate in some lemon zest to add to the flavour too.

I have been craving scones for ages, and these hit the spot! What is your favourite treat to go alongside tea? 

Surprise birthday trip!

Hello peeps! I hope everyone had a lovely long weekend. Mine was eventful!

On Wednesday (my birthday) Andy gave me a card which said I would have to wait for the weekend for my birthday. I was thinking it was something coming in the post! He later told me we were going away for the weekend, but would not say where. I guessed that it was the Lake District, as we have fancied it for ages and now have our National Trust membership. I had planned to meet some friends at the waffle house on Friday after work, but he said that was OK, and that we would leave later in the evening.

He said to pack for weather similar to here, and comfy clothes (which again helped me with my conclusions). Anyway, we packed up, drove away and ended up at Heathrow! We had a hotel there for the night, as we had an early flight the next morning (but I still didn’t know where we were going). It was all rather exciting, but a bit nerve-racking too. I am not a nervous flyer, but I like to pack ages in advance and know what I am packing for! I was guessing still- my main guess was Norway as we have fancied there for ages too.

Anyway, we checked in for our flight (just after 5am! The airport hotel was a good idea) and it turned out we were going to Paris! I had discounted Paris because I thought the Eurostar was easier (but no availability for the bank holiday weekend).

I have trouble keeping my eyes open in photos- this was the best one I think!

Anyway, once we landed we got the train into the centre of Paris, left our bag in the luggage locker at the station and went for a long walk! We went to the Arc De Triomphe, then to the Eiffel tower (but not up it- I am not keen on heights and have done it once, plus there was a 2 hour queue!), then back to the Champs-Elysees, all the way down it, to the Louvre, and then finally to the train station. At one point we bought sandwiches (I had a lovely Avocado salad one) and sat in the park for a bit. By the Eiffel tower there was a couple in wedding clothes, and tourists were going up and having their photos taken with the wedding couple! How strange.

I knew that our hotel was not in Paris, but I only worked it out once we went to get a train in the evening and saw the signs for Disneyland Paris! We stayed in a hotel one stop along from the parks (and it had a bus that went there too) and had two lovely days in the park. Although Andy did tell me it was going to be a relaxing weekend- not quite!

We were really lucky with the weather. Saturday was quite warm in the end, Sunday was more overcast, but dry (lucky as we stayed at the park until 10.30 for the fireworks show) and then Monday was so warm!

I bought some macaroons (they are mini ones)- fruit flavours like mango, raspberry, orange and coconut- for ideas on flavours of course.

So cute! We bought lovely french bread to take for lunch in the parks (the parks claimed that all eateries have a vegetarian suggestion, but in most places it was a salad with lettuce and grated carrot, lots of them had parmeasan cheese, and one place the suggestion was a salmon dish!) and also went to the Earl of Sandwich, (have only seen them in the US before and they do lovely fresh sandwiches and wraps) and in fact I didn’t eat any of the macaroons while I was there. I did however get treated to a crepe with nutella- mmmm.

I also got a replacement cup (remember when my Minnie mug broke?) and a bowl to match! The original cup was from there- me and Andy went for a few days one Christmas just after we had our offer accepted on our house, so they were our house-warming gifts to each other so it was sad when it broke for sentimental reasons.  Anyway, I was pleased to get replacements, even though ours no longer match.

Coming home turned out to be a bit stressful! Andy had booked a TGV from Disney to the airport, but it was running an hour late with nothing sooner, so we knew at that point we would miss our flight(a taxi would have taken too long as well as we looked into it). We had to get the airlines’ number from the tourist information, rang up and managed to get on a later flight, for the price difference of 500 Euros! Anyway, while I rang the airline, Andy rang the insurance company and they think we are covered- phew! I did have to get the TGV lady to write it on some headed notepaper for the insurance company though- luckily her English was much better than my French! The flight back was so quick- and it took us ten minutes to get through passport control and get our bag- and the bus for the parking was right there! Phew!

When I got home I remembered the macaroons in the suitcase- I managed to salvage some, but the rest were crumbs! Oops!

It is strange to think that this time yesterday I was wandering around a theme park, and today I have been to work as normal! Anyway it was a fun weekend, and a great birthday present. Back to reality now!

How was your weekend?

A lovely birthday (and a little more running)

Well I had a lovely day yesterday. It started with a trip to the post office on my way to work- I had missed a parcel on Tuesday, but I was not sure what it was.

I opened it on the way back to the car, and was so excited and surprised to find it was a birthday parcel from the lovely Lucy! Tea + chocolate = birthdays! Those chocolate pies are in the fridge and ready! I had the cinnamon, cardamom and ginger tea last night and it was delicious, and I tried the chocolate with stevia today (despite saying that when I was in the US last summer I had some iced tea with stevia and it had a funny aftertaste)- anyway the chocolate was yummy- I loved the little bits of freeze-dried berries in it. So thanks Lucy! 🙂

When I got to work I was so surprised to see a bag on my chair with some gifts in it too from some friends at work- how lovely.

I put all the macaroons and brownies in the staffroom and I think they got pretty positive reviews!

I left work pretty quickly, and decided to have a short run (as a birthday treat!)- this week I have done 4 min run, 1 min walk, and have upped the length of the route to about 3 miles now. It is still going OK, although I am a little paranoid about doing damage still. I keep getting stitches, which is unlike me, and the trouble is the stitch pain is right where my actual stitches were (where my scars are) but anyway I have my hospital scan too and I am sure everything will be fine. I did have a moment of sadness (or frustration, or something else) when I realised that last year for my birthday we went to the peak district, and I did that 20 mile race in preparation for the marathon. I mean running for half an hour non-stop is unattainable at the moment, yet one year ago I ran for 4 hours without stopping. But then the sensible voice told me to just get on with it.

After some Earl Grey tea (made my Andy while I had a shower) I opened my cards- I had a lovely message from my parents which summed up how I was feeling- my Mum had written than I have had a year of ups and downs, but it was a fantastic achievement that myself and Andy ran a marathon last summer, and even though I have been unwell I am finally on the mend now. I also had a card from some relatives who mentioned that they will see me on the start line of the Great North Run (I have a charity place for a charity that they are very involved in- they run it for the charity each year)- that made me panic a bit about getting up to the distance. But again I am telling myself off and just taking it a week at a time.

I got to open some presents too- some lovely baking tins (which I am going to use to store my baking equipment in as they are too nice to use), cupcake cases, cookery books, a lovely address book, plus a bag of Lush goodies and a posh chopping board set. I have to wait until the weekend for my present from Andy- and keep the days free so I am quite excited to find out what we are doing 🙂 (Fingers crossed for a tea room visit 😉 )

Also, I treated myself this week to some running tops from Thoosa. I got a racer back vest and also a couple of scoop vests. Anyway I got an email and as they were voted best women’s running clothes by Runners World, if you enter the code RW before 7th May you get 30% off, which is not to be sniffed at. The fabric is sweat wicking, but they are cut in a looser style, so I think they will be lovely in the heat of the summer, plus they are more flattering. And the vest does not have an “inbuilt bra” (which what is the point of anyway? Who would just have that and not an exercise bra???)- so easier to put on! Anyway, it did say to share the email, so I have 🙂

Have you treated yourself to anything recently? 

And thanks again Lucy- that was so kind of you 🙂

Tea problem

I have heard that the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem.

Well, I have a problem. Now, I did actually admit this a long time ago in my hoarding post. This was way back in June of last year, and I think since admitting it my problem has got worse.

The problem is buying more and more flavours of tea.

The trouble is, since that post, I have discovered that I love even more types of tea.

These are the new additions to my tea family (Clipper Earl Grey, Apple and Ginger, Coconut and Orange, Twinnings peppermint and Green tea with lemon, Celestial Apple and Cinnamon, and Bengal Spice, Cinnamon and Licorice, Spiced rooibos, Caffeine free chocolate, Rooibos with strawberry and raspberry, rooibos with orange and cinnamon…). I think I am just going to embrace it and not try to fight it any more.

The thing is, I don’t have “normal” (black) tea very much any more. I had cut it out completely while I had the cyst still because caffeine made it uncomfortable, but even before then I only had one cup per day anyway. And I like variety. At the moment I have a bit of a “tea routine”. Mint for breakfast, Earl Grey for lunch, rooibos in the afternoon (or something in my teapot using loose leaf tea), ginger after dinner, and then licorice in the evening.  Although my routine changes all the time- I have even had some iced tea when it has been hot.

So please enjoy some pictures of tea. I wish I could make it play the music from the Hart Beat art show. So just sing it in your head.

Earl grey with a (delicious) peanut butter pretzel bar.

Loose leaf mint tea in my little teapot alongside a (burnt) teacake and pear. I love my little teapot.

Cinnamon Apple tea with an apple nut loaf.

Mint tea and carrot cake from Brighton. (That is where I bought the loose leaf mint tea from as it was amazing).

Licorice and cinnamon tea.

Iced lemon green tea.

I am actually more surprised when I don’t buy more tea at the moment 🙂

I got an email from Twinings the other day saying that they are going to be bringing out loose-leaf teas for the Jubilee! How exciting! And sent a very pretty picture of some tea:

Loose tea

I think you will agree it is much nicer than my pictures!

And (hint hint) of course there is always more room in my tea cupboard for new types of tea, or of course teapots! 🙂

Are you a tea fan? If so, which flavours do you particularly like? I think if it has the word “cinnamon” somewhere on the packet then I am sold right away!

What do you hoard away in your cupboards?

PS- I am going to make a loaf cake later on- any guesses for the secret ingredient 😉

Chocolate

Hello

A week or so ago, I was listening to The Food Programme from radio 4 (on a podcast- you can get it here) and it was all about chocolate. It was very interesting; discussing why chocolate was getting more pricey, and looking at the growing number of artisan chocolate producers. I would recommend it, and it does make you think about where the cocoa comes from, the conditions and payment for the farmers, and so on.

I also watched a programme on BBC about supermarket foods. I could go into the pros and cons of this show (maybe later)- it was interesting but I am not sure I would trust the “science”. For example, they wanted to prove that cows milk was the best recovery drink for athletes. They used a rugby team, analysed their blood etc, but they tested milk against a sports drink, which looked to me to be lucozade (not meant as a recovery drink but as an energy boost before and during sports)- anyway containing only carbohydrates versus the protein and carbohydrates present in milk. Of course milk fared better. But anyway, I digress. One of the features was about whether chocolate was addictive or not. They found that when they scanned people’s brains, the same part of the brain was activated whether you looked at pictures, or actually tasted the chocolate. The concluded it is down to marketing that makes us think we are addictive. So anyway, next time you get a chocolate craving just look at some pictures instead.

And here are some pictures for you. I am quite a fan of Seed and Bean chocolate (I am a fan of all chocolate, to be fair)- they have some lovely  unusual flavours in my local Holland and Barrett. Anyway they kindly sent me some flavours for a review.

Fine Dark chocolate, White chocolate with Lemon and Poppy Seeds, and Dark with Espresso coffee.

This went well with the Dark chocolate with Mandarin and Ginger, and the Milk chocolate with Tangerine that I had picked up previously. I told you I loved chocolate.

All the chocolate was lovely. The dark chocolate is rich, but still quite sweet (not too bitter like some extra dark ones can be).

I quite liked the espresso one, even though I am not a fan of coffee generally. It had a hint of coffee which almost made it more chocolatey. It was sort of crunchy with the espresso in there too, which gave it a different texture. Andy loved it, as he is a coffee lover anyway.

Of course, chocolate goes perfectly well with tea!

The lemon and poppy seed one was a brilliant surprise- I was not sure how lemon would go, but it tasted like lemon cheesecake. I loved it!

I have since picked up another unusual flavour (extra dark with lavender) and some more of the milk chocolate tangerine, because I love it.

What I love, as well as the unusual range of flavours (I have seen dark chocolate with coconut and raspberry, and dark chocolate with pumpkin seeds and hemp oil on their website) and that their chocolate is made in the UK, is how ethical the company are.

On their homepage they scored 100% for the UK’s ethical comparison shopping guide in 2011 (the only chocolate producer to score that high). You can look here for the little table of results.

All their chocolates are vegetarian, and a lot are vegan too, so something for everyone. I love the range of flavours- something for everyone yet again.

Both listening to The Food Programme, and looking on the Seed and Bean website has made me think more about my choices when I buy chocolate. When I was a teenager I was in love with Cadbury’s, but now I cannot remember the last time I bought or even ate some of their chocolate. Now I tend to buy brands that I think are more ethical- Montezuma’s, Hotel Chocolat (in the sale!), Green and Blacks, but I do also buy cheaper chocolate for when I bake, because it seems a waste to use really nice chocolate in cookies or something. I did notice that Aldi have Fairtrade chocolate, so perhaps I will have to switch to that for my baking. Something to consider anyway.

Do you think about where your chocolate comes from? What is your favourite flavour combination for a chocolate bar? What bar would you invent if you could?