Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 according to You'll get what you're given!

Inspired by Betty Bee and her new year post I thought I'd do a little 2011 round up.

This has been a year of new experiences and learning new things. It started in January when we started looking for a new house and approached the bank about getting a mortgage, those felt like scary times but it turned out we had nothing to worry about!  I also passed my first aid course in January and had a great night out with Emma and Dee!

By February we had decided on the house we wanted put an offer in and it was accepted! I was so excited! I also went to see Roddy Woomble in Wales.

I also went to see Jonny at the Harley.

March was a crazy one at work but going to see Elbow at Sheffield Arena more than made up for that!

In April my Sister, her boyfriend and my Mum all went to see the Jim Jones Revue at the Plug in Sheffield, the gig was great rock and roll fun.

This was also the month when I went to my first Steel City Roller Girls bout, they lost but I was hooked! It was also the month when I went with my Mum and sister to Amsterdam for a week.  I hadn't been before but I enjoyed every minute of it... well nearly I got stuck on a tram once and got left behind on the tram platform another time... but other than that it was great!

In May I started practising for a bellydancing show and spent a lot of my free time trying to sort out arrangements for buying the house. June, however was slightly more interesting! In June my poor old Micra started to die and I ended up buying my Corsa for myself as a birthday present.  I also danced in my first and possibly only bellydancing show, as I got half the moves wrong.  It was great fun though! We ended the week with a road trip in the new car down to Bristol to see our friends and then to Cornwall to see The Flaming Lips play the Eden Project.
Then in July I started writing this blog, went to another roller derby bout, watched Dylan Moran, me and my boyfriend signed the contract for our house! I also went to Nottingham to celebrate my sister's birthday and caught a few bands at Tramlines! To round off the month we finally got the keys to our first house.

August was then mainly spent packing up our flat, getting the electrics sorted in the house and doing the odd bit of decorating. We finally moved in early September and then celebrated watching the Kat Jackson Group play The Plug and then the next week we went to the Leadmill to watch Slow Club.

I also had my first taste of Nottingham's cake club in September and hope to go again at some point next year!

I didn't go to any gigs in October but I did go to my first Spa! I went with one of my friends for her birthday and then followed it up with mini burgers at Bungalows and Bears. Yummy! The next week myself and my partner celebrated our 7 year anniversary with a trip to The Bay of Bengal Indian Restaurant which did great food.
November was mainly a month of staying in and trying to do NaNoWriMo.  It was my first attempt at writing a novel so I decided to jump in at the deep end! By the end of the month I managed to write 47,000 words which is the most I've ever managed.  As well as trying to write a novel I also had one of my friends visit and we went to see Bellowhead at the Leadmill.

I wasn't entierly sure what to expect beforehand but was pleasantly surprised!

Last but not least December! This month of preparing for Christmas whilst also looking into the New Year, despite all that I found time to sing Carols at The Greystones and take my dad to see the Lancashire Hotpots!

It was a good laugh!

Now December is almost done but I'm going to try and get just one more gig in! Wish me luck!

I hope 2011 treated you all well and that 2012 is even better for you! Happy New Year from You'll Get What You're Given!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Festive frivolities!

This year I put a few precautions in place to ensure that Christmas and the procuring of presents wasn't too stressful, yet despite my monthly reminders starting in September it seemed to sneak up on me again.

Somehow starting my Christmas shopping on the 14th wasn't the worst idea in the world! My spreadsheet stood me in good stead to finish my shopping before Christmas eve (unlike the year before!). Finding a new Christmas tree seemed to be more difficult than buying presents in the end.

The last one was destroyed by my furry familiars last year when they were kittens. Now they still don't quite get it but they haven't completely knocked it over!

It's also been the first Christmas in our new house, that called for lots of hot chocolate & mulled wine!
We also welcomed our families in and made our first Christmas dinner from scratch including roasting a massive turkey!

It was a bit of a learning curve but we don't appear to have food poisoned anyone!
This year was also the first year I made a Christmas cake without the help of my Mum but it did come from a ready weighed packet.

(Me and Paul have been working out way through this since Monday...) As well as my first attempt to make Rocky Road with the help of my Step Mum Adele.

It's lovely because it tastes of chocolate and ammareto!  We were also lucky to have lots of generous friends and family.

They provided me with, (amongst other things) four more cook books to experiment with and enjoy!

One of them even came with accessories/ spices!

Thanks: Mum, Ian, Siobhan, Andy, Amanda, Gemma and Luke for these! Expect to see recipes from these books appearing on this blog in the coming weeks!

Now I'm just going to settle down with a cuppa and some cake to decide what to make next! Hope you all enjoyed Christmas as much as we did!

Friday, 23 December 2011

52 Recipe Challenge - Week 25.

So weeks 23 and 24 seemed to fly by and before I know it I’m sat here once more writing about why I’ve neglected the blog for what seems like the fifth or sixth time. It might not be new year yet but keeping up with the blog is high on my resolution list! Worry not I have done a recipe this week!

Whilst I’ve been away from the blog I have been out and about sampling the hot chocolate and chocolate cake in the Blue Moon cafe as well as the cocktails at The Wick at Both Ends.

They are as good as they look in the picture! I’ve also watched The Lancashire Hotpots with my Dad, panic bought Christmas presents and started trying to sort out my house for Christmas.

This week I decided to make some cupcakes which have intrigued me for a while the Malted Cupcakes in the: Cupcakes from the PrimroseBakery book. I decided to make these partly because they looked nice and partly because I had some Fluff, an American make which is a kind of marshmallow stuff you can get in jars; which looked like it would work as a topping.

To make this you need:

110g butter
120g light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
185g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g Ovaltine
125ml semi skimmed milk (the recipe says at room temperature but I’m not sure why.)
½ teaspoon vanilla flavouring
1 tablespoon sour cream
The remainder of a jar of fluff or according to the recipe a batch of marshmallow or chocolate buttercream icing.

To start off I turned on my oven to preheat and then got out my muffin tin and lined it.
Next I measured out my dry ingredients the flour, baking powder and ovaltine and then sifted them into my mixing bowl.

Whilst doing this Frankenstein the cat came along to see what I was doing.
I stopped to tell him that the cakes weren’t for cats before measuring my caster sugar then the soft brown sugar, once I did this I weighed the butter and put the lot in the food processor.

Then I then mixed them together.
As the sugar and butter were mixing I got the bottle of milk out and poured 125ml into  the measuring jug and then returned the rest of the bottle to the fridge. When I did this I stopped the sugar and butter mixing then checked the mix before scooping the stray bits down with a spatula.  When it the butter and sugar seemed creamed together enough I added the first egg, mixed that in then I added the other one and finished mixing it. After I did this I double checked the recipe and reduced the oven heat from the top heat down to: 180c/ Gas mark 4.

Next I got the sour cream from the fridge and spooned the remnants of the tub into the milk, (I had eaten the rest with nachos the night before) and then added the vanilla flavouring before stirring it all together as best I could. When I checked the measuring jug I realised that the fluid in the measuring jug had gone up too much and that I couldn’t add it all in to the mix.

Once I mixed the milk, sour cream and vanilla flavouring together I took this along with the flour mix to the food processor. I started off by pouring a little flour to the mix about a third as the recipe suggested and stirred it together in the food processor.

When that was combined I added a  bit of the milk and sour cream and stirred it up.  The recipe said to add a third of the milk mix too but I thought this wasn’t the best idea when I had too much liquid.

Then I repeated this process until I had no flour and 50ml of the milk and sour cream mix left and all the ingredients were combined, when this was done I used a tablespoon to spoon the mix into my muffin cases and put them in the oven. After I put this batch in the oven I set the timer to 25 minutes and looked at my food processor mixing bowl and saw that I still had loads left so I got out my bun tin, lined that and filled those too.

When the timer went off I checked on my muffin sized cupcakes and as they were ok took them out of the oven and swapped them with the buns.  When all of the cupcakes were cooked I put them on the side to cool.

Then I  smeared Mashmallow Fluff on top of most of them as icing until it ran out.  I then delved into my cupboards, pulled out my stash of Malteasers and crunched a few of them up on top of the iced cupcakes then finished them off by putting a whole Malteaser on each of them.

These cupcakes took a bit more faffing to make that most of my baking and I think I like things you can just throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thogether the best; however, they did go down well with the people most of the people I shared them with. Which is great because this recipe made loads!

That's partly because the recipe assumes you have a 12 hole muffin tin which I don't so I ended up with 18 cupcakes, 6 large & 12 bun sized but as they were very tasty I think they may have to be made again for a special occasion in the future.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Friday Favourites - Leek and Potato Soup.

This is one of mine and my boyfriends favourite recipes.  It's best eaten with some freshly made and buttered bread but also works well to bring some or the warmth of home to lunchtime at the office.  I guess that's why he's always stealing it!

Leek and Potato Soup Recipe

2 Table spoons of butter
2 cloves of garlic
4 leeks
500g potatoes
2 Table spoons of parsley
1 Table spoon of oregano
1 vegetable stock cube and 800ml of boiling water.
300Ml Single cream/ Creme Fraiche
100g Cheese (grated)
Salt and Pepper

It's best to get the food chopped up in the order of garlic, leeks then potatos to start off with, then get you some butter and put it in your pan.

Turn on the heat and add the chopped up garlic cloves.

Stir the garlic for a minute then add the leeks. 

After you’ve cooked the leeks and garlic for a few minutes put the potatoes, herbs, salt, pepper, stock cube and boiling water in. 
Give it a stir then whack the heat up until the mixture starts to boil, then let it simmer for 25 minutes.

 After it has simmered  turn off the heat and leave the soup to cool for 10 minutes, then use a hand mixer/ blender to make it smooth or as smooth as you want it.

 Once it has been blended add the cream and stir this into the mixture before heating on a low heat and adjusting the seasonings to suit your tastes.Take the soup off the hob then dish it into bowls and place the grated cheese on top to finish it off.  If you are being thrifty this is the point where you put the soup into containers, let the soup cool down and then put them in the freezer for lunch on another day.
Then you can defrost it at will and then consume whenever you feel like it.
Nothing better than lovely warm home made soup to chase the winter gloom away!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

52 Recipe Challenge - Week 22.

I was debating if this blog post could technically be classed as week 21 but after some deliberation have decided that I'd have to write off week 21. Last week was the last week of the NaNoWriMo challenge and I tried writing for hours to reach my goal of 50,000 words on my novel by the end of November but I had to admit defeat at 11 on the 30th when I had reached 47,365 words.  This is a good 46,000 words more than I wrote last month and probably three times as much as i had written in the last three or four years so I'm pleased to have got that far.

Doing NaNoWriMo has been fun but it has been time consuming and has made me neglect doing new recipes for the blog so I decided it's about time I get back to my cooking and baking!

This week I decided to try the: Apple, Pear and Honey Cake by Daniel in the Bristol Community Cake Book.

To make this you need:

200g Plain Flour
100g Caster Sugar
150g butter/ margarine
3 Eggs
30g Honey
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 small Apple
4 small Pears
A bit of apple juice
200g Icing Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Granulated sugar.

To start off I turned the oven on to full whack as I measured the flour and then sifted it into the mixing bowl.

Then I turned it down to the recommended 180c/ gas mark 4 and added the caster sugar, baking powder, butter, eggs and honey.

Once I had put all of these in the bowl I mixed it all together until it was combined and then put the mixture to one side as I greased and lined my cake tins.

When the cake tins were lined I gave the mix a quick stir again before peeling 1 apple and 1 pear then trying to core the apple. I didn’t do too well at this so the apple broke in half... I ended up chopping bits of core out of the apple and then slicing the remnants of the apple thinly.

Once I finished chopping the apple I put it in the mixing bowl. After the apple disaster I decided against trying to core the pear and sliced it up thinly until I reached the core then stopped, then as with the apple I put the sliced up pear in the mixing bowl.

Following the instructions in the recipe I gently folded the fruit in being careful not to break it.  Once the fruit was mixed in I put the mixture in the waiting cake tins and then put them in the oven for 20 – 25 mins.

After my 20 minute timer went off I checked on the cakes and one of the looked down but the other didn’t so I took the one which looked done out and swapped it for the one which needed more time.  I tested the cake I took out of the oven with a metal kebab skewer to be on the safe side and then checked the other cake out a few minutes later.  The second cake sponge looked out and seemed to meet the kebab skewer test but when I turned it over it looked anaemic so I put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes until it was golden brown all over.

Whilst the second sponge was in the oven I set about making a pear puree to use in the middle of the cake and to ice the top.  To do this I peeled and chopped up three more pears and put them in some apple juice in a small saucepan until they were soft.  Once they were all cooked and soft I put them in my blender and blitzed them but when I finished blitzing I realised I’d made a smoothie.... so I put the mix back in the sauce pan and reduced it down to a puree consistency.

Whilst the puree mix was simmering I peeled attempted to core and tried to slice an apple into thin rings.  I was marginally successful at this... i put these rings on to a greased and lined baking tray.

Once I had done this the puree mix was now a puree consistency so I poured it from the pan into a bowl and tried to add icing sugar to make it into pear icing but it kept soaking up the sugar.  Eventually it seemed to start becoming a bit icing like so I decided that was good enough for me and used it to sandwich together the sponges.
After doing this I turned the oven on to grill mode and sprinkled the apple rings and bits with sugar and put them under the grill.  I tried to faff with the icing a little more but realised I needed to focus on the apple rings so they didn’t all burn.  I got the apple rings out and threw the burnt bits, then I put a bit more icing on the cake and tried to arrange the apple pieces appetisingly. I looked at the picture in my book and then at my cake which didn’t look like that and despaired a little.

Then I showed it to my boyfriend and family who said it looked nice, then that it tasted nice.

So it goes to show, don’t always judge your baking or cooking against the pictures in the recipe books!