Sunday, November 20, 2011

More crafting!

More hooded towels actually - a robot towel for Leo (still a work in progress - it needs something else on the hood and perhaps some 'hands' on the corners?)

and a Gruffalo towel for my brother-in-law's nephew

Leo is 2

My baby boy is 2 - well...not til Tuesday really, but we had a party for him on Saturday. I can't really believe how quickly the last 2 years have gone and Leo is a tremendous little boy. He's really into robots at the moment, so our creative inputs for this year are a crocheted robot from Leigh (now named Robert!) and I tried to make his birthday cake look like Robert...mostly successful. It took a surprisingly large amount of black food colouring to even get to this shade of grey - given my propensity for heavy-handedness when it comes to somewhat delicate cooking techniques I was very cautious adding the colouring, but it turns out I could have been much more slapdash and reached my desired colour a lot quicker!!!

Crunchy Raspberry Oat Slice

Another delicious recipe from Time to Cook Online – I think it’s quickly become one of Leigh’s favourites! I didn’t have any plain wholemeal at home and refused to buy a 1.5k bag just to try this recipe so we made it with half plain white flour and half wholemeal strong flour. Also we used pear and vanilla butter as filling the first time and damson cheese the second to use up some of our cupboard preserves. Delicious each time!

90g demerera sugar
125g wholemeal flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
125g rolled oats
125g butter
250g seedless raspberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan.
2. Grease a 20cm square cake tin or slice tin and line with baking parchment
3. Put all the ingredients except the jam into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the butter is incorporated and the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs. NB it is better to use the machine in a series of short bursts rather than letting the blades run for a minute or so to avoid over-mixing – you need to keep some texture.
4. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the cake tin.
5. Put the jam into a saucepan and warm gently. Pour the warmed jam over the base mixture and spread evenly.
6. Scatter the remaining oat mixture over the top of the jam and press lightly.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned.
8. Allow to cool before removing from tin and cutting into bars.

Friday, November 11, 2011


How wrong is this - I took my 3-year old son to his first school disco this week! I am getting so old!

It really took me back though and it was great. Zachary had a fab time and is quite the groover if I may say so myself - he even won a disco game they played (a bit like musical chairs but with mats). I didn't realise how competitive I was for started off easily with about 40 children playing so I wasn't too bothered the first few rounds. But as the number dwindled and then became less than 10 I began thinking he might just win it and got really nervous and competitive for him. And he won it! Amazing.

What I liked most though was watching 3,4 and 5 year olds dance without a care about who was looking or how cool they danced. The main dance move seemed to be jumping up and down - on your own or holding hands with a friend, male or female, no discrimination or embarassment here. A few boys were also trying a bit of break dancing (well...bending over, touching the floor and then attempting to spin round in a circle!) and the whole thing was actually rather lovely. It did bring home to me how fast Zachary is growing up though, and while that is a little sad, it's also exciting to think about what brilliant things (staying positive here!) lie in store for him over the next few years.

Men in tights...

Those of you with a nervous disposition (well about men in tutus anyway!) should look away now!

Leigh Mum is to be Lady Captain at her golf club for 2012 and Wednesday was her Drive-In event where she is welcomed as the Lady Captain after making a bit of an entrance and she makes the first tee-off from the first tee. Then there's general drinking, bit of golf and buffet later. Annie's chosen charity for her year in office is Breast Cancer Research and she thought that as her 'entrance' she'd do a Race for Life-type thing, running up from behind the tee with her entourage who were all to be men dressed as ladies (because Race for Life is a lady only thing). Cue much buying of pink costumes for all concerned and some rather tasty "ladies" joining in the Race. I helped out by making 100 mini muffins (to my surprise, only needed 5-egg mix to make this many!) decorated with the pink ribbon symbol. Here are some of the highlights


This is one of Leigh's bakes but it's so great I had to post about it! Leigh spotted a Kransekake pan for sale in Lakeland at the bargainous price of £9.99 and the cake itself looked a bit of a challenge to make but impressive so we thought we'd have a go. Kransekake is a traditional Norwegian cake made of rings stacked in a tower.

Leigh reports that the cake itself is actually quite easy to make - you make one lot of dough and then use that to make all the layers. The pan does a lot of the work because it works out all the sizes you need for the layers! But that's not to take anything away from Leigh - it is delicious!!!

So here we have...Leigh rolling out the dough to sausage shapes and fitting them in the pan

Handy helper number 1 who was greasing and flouring (well, semolinaing) the pans

More dough in pans

Handy helper number 2 who's main contribution was sitting nice and quietly eating a biscuit while all the work went on!

Dough ready to bake

Completed Kransekake!

Recipe :
1 lb / 454g ground almonds
4 egg whites (slightly beaten)
1 lb/ 454g icing sugar
plain flour/semolina for dusting

1. Add the ground almonds to a large bowl and then add 1 egg white to form a thick dough.

2. Sift in the icing sugar and add the remaining egg whites and mix.

3. Place the mixture in a pan and using a gentle heat warm the dough. Stir continually. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and store in a fridge until the next day.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 205C/Gas 6. Roll the dough into the thickness of fingers long enough to fill the tins. Thoroughly grease the forms with cake release (we used spray oil) and dust with flour or semolina.

5. Fill the rings with the dough, then butt and pinch the edges to form a perfect circle.

6. Place the forms onto a baking try and bake for 10 minutes.

7. Allow to cool completely and then remove the Kransekake from the forms.

To build the cake :
On a platter drizzle some icing and then place the largest ring onto the icing. Pipe icing in scallops (using a small round tip) onto the ring. Place the next largest ring on top of the icing and decorate in the same way. Continue to stack the rings in this way. The icing will help to hold the rings in place but to ensure that they are thoroughly secured, slide toothpicks between the layers.

Can decorate further with more icing sugar, glitter, sprinkles...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Hide and Seek

We were planning to put Leo into a big boy bed at around his second birthday (about 3 weeks away), however due to a small incident where I witnessed him climbing successfully onto the top of his cot, we brought it forward to last weekend!

Leo is having a little difficulty adjusting to the fact that he can now wander around at night in the bedroom, but we think we're making some progress getting him settled at night.

Picture the scene this morning though. Half 5, Zachary starts calling. He's had a bit of a cough all night so I decide to give him some medicine and go into the boys' bedroom to get it. I look over to Leo's bed, it's empty. He's not in Zachary's bed and I can't see him on the floor between the beds. Stop, listen. Okay, I can hear him breathing and follow the sound to find...Leo curled up fast asleep under Zachary's bed!!! He wasn't there when Leigh checked them at 10 last I think some mysteries may never be solved!!