Thursday 29 January 2009

Lemon Drizzle Cake...

This is my favourite cake of the moment...

It is EXTREMELY lemony...

And looks fantastic on my new cake plate (a very belated birthday present!)...

Want the recipe? It's from this book, but I leave out the poppy seeds because they are a no-no in this house, as my sister is allergic to them.

So, you need:
  • 115g softened, unsalted butter
  • 115g caster sugar

  • 4 large free-range eggs

  • 180g ground almonds

  • 30g poppy seeds ** Instead, I use the whole of a 200g bag of ground almonds

  • zest and juice of 2 lemons

  • 125g SR flour

for the syrup

  • 100g caster sugar

  • 3 1/2fl oz lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

for the lemon icing

  • 225g icing sugar

  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm/8" springform tin.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy.

Add the eggs one by one, beating each in well.

Fold in ground almonds, poppy seeds, lemon zest and juice and the flour.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40 minutes until lightly golden.

Meanwhile, make your lemon syrup by heating the sugar and lemon juice in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved. While your cake is warm, make lots of tiny holes in the top and pour the syrup over.

For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the lemon juice and zest, stirring until smooth. Pour over cake, starting in the middle to get the full drizzle effect.

I always think of this sketch from Little Britain when I think of Lemon Drizzle Cake...I nearly called this post 'have ye any nuts?'

Thursday 22 January 2009

What's on mine...

I have thoroughly enjoyed nosing about this week at the bedside tables around Blogland, so I thought I'd join in.

Mine seems to be dominated by my iLuv, which plays my iPod when I get the chance to have a lie-in or go to bed just to listen to some music. Both are quite rare occurrences at the moment. I have to tell you though, that for a digital clock it keeps appalling time and I can't bear the alarm noise. I'm bored of keep changing it, so keep my mobile beside me for both the time and my alarm now. But I do like the fact that you can dim the display right down so the light doesn't disturb you.

Tucked on the back corner is a little collection of 'stuff'. The camper van (I think it's Karrymore from Cars) was bought for me by my friend's little boys for my birthday last year. They know I want a real camper van and thought this one would tide me over. There is a piece of crystal, the name of which I've forgotten, but was given to me by a friend of a friend to help healing. The rose quartz heart is one of a pair. The other one is hidden underground here. The sea glass and shells were collected by No2 last summer in Wales and put next to my bed when I wasn't looking.

Bookwise, there is Dear Fatty by Dawn French - hilarious! And Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling - children's literature log reading. Then there is a basket of assorted creams for hands and feet of which I always say I will use religiously everynight to combat dry skin, but fail to miserably. Even leaving one out of the basket doesn't remind me - this one is Origins Reinventing the Heel.

On the shelf underneath are more books, both read and to be read. The drawer is a motley assortment of homeopathic remedies and notepads and pens pilfered from various hotels. Always handy for writing a shopping list at 3 in the morning...

Sunday 18 January 2009

My Week...

Do you ever have a week go by, that when you reach the end of it and look back, you just say WOW?

It doesn't often happen here, but it did this week. So, for a quick run-down...


Go back to uni. Have a short, sharp introductory lecture for our new creativity module. The creative juices start to flow. I have to make a Creative Log for this module, collecting anything that inspires me about Africa. Bizarrely, No2 got his paper aeroplane kit out and lurking in the pack were these papers - perfect! It is an excuse to relive a much-loved holiday in Kenya pre-children...


We have a day of all-things-Africa planned for us by our lecturers. My day begins with a story-telling workshop, hosted by the most beautiful Ugandan lady called Juliet. She mesmerises me with her gentle sing-song voice telling stories her grandmother told her when she was young. Her grandmother has 50 grandchildren. She teaches us how to carry a basket of fruit on our heads and how to tie a headdress from a length of cotton. She tells us how the mosquito got his waist. She tells us how she takes Europeans to Uganda during the summer months for a cultural tour. We sign up. Maybe summer 2011, after we graduate...

Next was a workshop about African artefacts. Our tutor was involved in some projects in The Gambia and had masses of artefacts for us to admire.

The finale was the African drumming workshop of afore-mentioned brain worm. It is so addictive - I have been practicing with my own djembe here at home. I say my djembe, its actually Tom's - he loved drumming.


Voice-coaching. Our coach was a charismatic German lady, who kept us entertained for 3 hours. Did you know that at some stage, 70% of teachers will be off sick with voice-related illnesses? Me neither, although I guess it stands to reason. We were taught how to project our voices, how to use body-language instead of loud voices. Here's a fact (allegedly!), your class will take more notice of you if you have lots of space around you and you're wearing a bright-coloured, three-quarter sleeved top (or your sleeves are pushed up). All stuff for my Teachers Toolkit.


Poetry workshop with Valerie Bloom. I once again found myself enthralled at this wonderful lady. Her poetry is wonderful and fun, she performed brilliantly. The room was filled with laughter and Jamaican patois. You can hear Valerie read her poems here. I've ordered some of her books from Amazon...and so my collection grows. Mid-session, we had a short lecture from our tutor about how to be a good poetry teacher and finally, another session with Valerie. She even got us writing a poem...


Just before Christmas, I was asked if I would attend a fund-raising dinner for, the hospice where I go for my bereavement group. It was held at The Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners and hosted by Jeremy Clarkson. I rubbed shoulders with celebrities at the champagne reception before dinner. We ate in The Great Hall.

In true blogger fashion, my camera came out as soon as my dinner was placed in front of me!

Jeremy was auctioneer after coffee had been served for some amazing donations. And guess what? Yay! I won a Wii and all the accessories in the raffle! My highlight of the evening was chatting to my comedy hero, Paul Whitehouse. He had me in stitches and obliged me with an autograph for No2, along with Harry Enfield.

So, all in all, A Great Week.

This weekend, I have been mostly relaxing. I needed it...

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Who wants to play this funky music...

The title of this post has absolutely nothing to do with its content. It is just the brain worm that I have at the moment. You see, yesterday at uni we had an introductory day to our creativity module, the theme of which is AFRICA. We did a session on African drumming and 'who wants to play this funky music' was our rhythm reminder... I can't get it out of my head!

To the point of this post...

My lovely scarf had been envied and so a request was made for a handmade Christmas present from my friend. Trouble is, I only posted it on Monday. I've been busy. I thought I said that...

This one is knitted in Rowan Cocoon, colour bilberry. It is the most beautiful smoky purple, not really done justice by my photos.

I hope it was worth the wait!

Come January, I find myself unable to resist the spring flowers that are for sale (and have been since about November) and so these are making me smile for the whole day on my fireplace in the kitchen.


Friday 9 January 2009

Changing tastes...

Until October last year, I was a devout follower of the coffee bean. My usual tipple of choice was always coffee. The coffee shop was my favourite place to hang out and a latte (grande) was usually in my mug.

If I was feeling frivolous, I would add a shot of hazelnut syrup to liven things up. I even bought a little whizzer thingy from Ikea (bargain, 99p) and made myself a latte at home. The thing is this: I'm a bit particular about my mugs. Coffee, at home, has to be in one of these ones. Is it because they are so wide at the top and therefore have more room for hot, frothy milk?

Then, suddenly, in October, I was in the Refectory at uni and with no warning, I fancied a cup of tea! I hadn't drunk tea in about 10 years; I don't know why, I just went off it. But there I was, craving a cuppa and a KitKat. Is it a student thing, I wonder? After a week or so of drinking it at uni, I went and bought a box of teabags and haven't stopped drinking it since. The coffee mug won't do, it has to be my favourite mug...which I share in my fondness for.

When No2 comes home from school and insists on doing some cooking, who am I to stop him from making the most delicious shortbread from his favourite cookery book?

It goes perfectly with a cup of tea in the afternoon...

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Dipping my toe back in...

Is it too late to say Happy New Year?

My New Year resolution? To get back to blogging, of course. I've missed it, but it just kept slipping to the back of the line.

As a quick catch-up, here's a list of what has kept me from posting over the last 5 or 6 (5 or 6???!!! oh, the shame...) weeks:

  • 2 more assignments...handed in...quite pleased with...Maths and English...handed back at the beginning of February.

  • first school placement...loved every minute...not scared of Year 6 anymore...will return in April for another 5 weeks.

  • Christmas! I was totally unprepared until the day I broke up from uni, but by some miracle, managed to pull it off and feed 20 for lunch on Christmas Day...don't ask!

  • The addictive nature of SingStar on PS3...I'll have you know, that I am the top score for Fernando...and I can't sing a note...more on this later...

  • A trip into town to see the lights...2 adults, 6 children...only one thing for Hollywood...(not too much wine, I am a responsible adult, after all!)

  • Cleaning...yuk!...copious amounts needed after taking down the decorations. Something that I have quietly neglected on any semblance of a regular basis since starting uni...something had to give, didn't it?

  • Yarn-love...I have managed to complete my third Syd rabbit. I don't think I posted about #2, it was way back in August, I think. But, #3 is for this new baby boy.

I start back at uni on Monday with 3 new modules to start - Enquiry through Science, Our World and Inspiring Creativity and Imagination. To say I can't wait is an understatement.

I won't go mad on this first post of 2009 for fear of early burn-out, but I'm glad to be back and let me assure you that I have been reading your blogs and will, I promise, get back into commenting.