A Special Message

This post is dedicated to my lovely friends. Over the past few weeks some of you have graduated from university, got into medical school, won awards, found jobs, and just generally been awesome.

This post is also for my friends who are having a bit of a rough time at the moment, whether you’ve been having a hard time at work or uni, you’ve been rejected for a job, or you’ve recently broken up with someone.

This message also goes to all my lovely readers – yes, you – and it is:

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Devil’s food cake, fluffy chocolate frosting and bronze sprinkles. Go for it. You deserve it. You’re awesome.

TREAT.

YO.

SELF.

(if you don’t know what I’m on about)

Sadly I wasn’t the first to come up with this, I got the idea here

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Traveling on my stomach

You may have noticed I’ve been a little quiet on the blog lately. That is because, aside from getting a new job (yay!), I was on holiday to Canada for two weeks. I went to university in Vancouver, at UBC, so I took a trip back over to see friends and generally get away from it all. I also ate a lot. Like, seriously, a lot.

Top of the list was brunch, so on the first Saturday after I arrived we headed to Jethro’s, a favourite of ours, for an enormous and delicious meal.

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Later in the week, I also had a donut for the first time in years – it was delicious!

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Lucky’s glazed donut

we also had plenty of drinks, including bellinis, bellinis, and more bellinis!

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I’m  a firm believer that more drinks should come with gummy worms

I’m not really one to sit in a restaurant and take photos of my food though, so instead I collect business cards. Here are some I picked up in Vancouver:

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not to mention Vancouver favourites like Japadog, Granville Island public market, independent cafes, and lots of sushi! I’m a little sad I didn’t make it to Memphis Blues though!

I also took a side trip to Portland with my friend Linda for a couple of days. We couch-surfed with a lovely couple who lived in the cutest building ever:

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Once again, much food and drink was had! Here is a selection of the things we had and the places we had it:

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So, so much food. I also seem to have broken a dam, donut-wise, as I had another one and a half from Blue Star donuts in Portland.

I had such a great time, it was so good to see my friends again, and I think I put on about half a stone in those two weeks. It was worth it though!

Wilsoooooooooon!

Today I thought I’d share one of my recent bakes with you. Although I don’t have too many photos of the cake, I thought it was pretty fun and worth sharing!

A couple of weeks ago was my sister’s birthday, and she requested a cake for her Tom Hanks-themed birthday party (don’t ask). After lots of pestering on my behalf, she finally came up with an idea for it – she wanted a Wilson cake.

If you don’t know, Wilson is a “character” in the movie Castaway, a volleyball that becomes one of Tom Hanks’ companions on the desert island he is washed up on.

I have to say that I was terrified at first, and continued to be worried until I’d finally finished with it. The only way I could think to do it was to bake a cake in a bowl and then cover it with fondant icing, and I’d not had much luck with that before. My sister and quite a few of her friends work as costume designers, ie. are artistic, work with their hands and pay great attention to detail. It felt like a lot of pressure to get the cake to look right.

The cake was a chocolate-Malteaser cake with white chocolate icing. I baked the cake in advance and froze it, as we were going on holiday and getting home on the day before the party. When I was ready to decorate it, I sliced the cake into layers, filled and coated it, trying to get the buttercream into a hemisphere. I then chilled it, covered it with the fondant, and got to decorating.

Unfortunately my camera was out of action that day, so I only have phone photos.

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I then decided to add blue royal icing to make it look as if he was floating in water. I don’t have a good photo of that, unfortunately. Here’s a photo of poor Wilson during the party though.

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Catch-up Post

Hi everyone! I haven’t been active for a while, but I’m still here. It’s been a tough few months for my family, and very busy, so I haven’t had much time or energy to blog. Time is moving on though, and we need to get back to living, as we are now.

In better news, I have also been busy with a new addition: meet my puppy, Digger!

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I have been baking, though less so after Christmas as I was working through all my chocolatey presents! Here are a couple of things I have made since I last posted.

I’ve also been doing some crafting, so hopefully I should have some “makes” posts on the way!

Bonfire Night Bakes

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Guy Fawkes’ is one of my favourite nights of the year.  There is nothing like standing out in the cold, all wrapped up, with a sparkler in one hand as you watch fireworks. The smells are incredible, of bonfires, gunpowder, frost and wet leaves – I always spend the time taking deep breaths through my nose. Then of course there is the food – a flask of hot soup, a jacket potato cooked in the bonfire, bangers, toffee apples and spiced cakes. It’s a peculiarly British sort of celebration, I remember once trying to explain it to a very confused French conversation teacher (“you burn… people?!”). If you aren’t familiar with it, here is the wikipedia explanation.

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When I was in Canada, I would always get very homesick around Bonfire Night, and since this is my first one since I came back to the UK, I want to make it as good as possible. Unfortunately we won’t be having fireworks, but we will definitely have a bonfire and some sparklers, I am sure of that! It’s pretty busy around here at the moment so I won’t be able to make my bonfire night food until the day of, so instead I’m going to give a few ideas of recipes to try.

This parkin by James Martin is traditionally cooked for Bonfire Night in and around Yorkshire. It is spicy and sticky, and gets better with age! Serve it with or without the stewed fruit, it’s good either way

Why not nibble on some cinder toffee as you stand by the bonfire?

Mushroom soup is good and warming when you come back inside.

If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with bangers and mash!

Turning, Turning

The swallows are gathering, the robins are singing, the first winter depression is rushing in from the North Atlantic. All signs point to Autumn!

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We already have mists and mellow fruitfulness, and a bumper harvest of many of our fruit and vegetables.

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I have gluts like this to deal with at the moment, so over the next few weeks I’ll let you know how I get on, and post some recipes to make the best of the new produce.