Archive | January, 2015

Foodie Penpals January reveal!

30 Jan

As mentioned earlier this month, the boyfriend and I ventured into the world of Foodie Penpals this month.

It’s something I’ve been looking at for a while and, after mentioning the idea to the boyfriend, he was keen to give it a try.

At the beginning of the month, we got an email with a spreadsheet containing our penpals – one match to send the parcel to and one match telling us who we would be receiving the parcel from.

I got straight in touch with our penpal, Erica. She said she liked a mixture of healthy and sweet items, loves peanut butter, lavender and mint, but dislikes coconut shavings. Off we strutted into Newcastle to find some goodies…

It was surprisingly difficult to find goodies! I really wanted to find local produce but it wasn’t as easy as I hoped (being new to the area doesn’t help as I still don’t fully know where to find stuff!) on top of this, we were posting to Ireland and were therefore concerned about how much we sent and what we were allowed to send!

In the end we settled on a naughty and nice box: some lavender tea, yoghurt coated fruit, chocolate mints, a few other bits and pieces and treats from my favourite place in Newcastle – the Brownie Bar! We packed a peanut butter brownie and a jar of salted caramel. Yum!

Our box was heavy and therefore postage cost a fair bit, meaning we went slightly over budget. It was well worth it though, we really enjoyed ourselves and Erica sent us a lovely thank you email 😊

A week later it was our turn.

Our penpal, Teresa, packed us a lovely box of treats with something for both of us. There was some spicy stuff for the boyfriend, some chocolate, fruit tea, dried fruit mix, some baking bits, including jaggery – something I had never heard of but have been intrigued by ever since – dried lemongrass (didn’t know this existed either!) and even a recipe for flatbreads after she’d seen we’d tried making naan breads.

I haven’t had chance to try out my jaggery, lemongrass or the recipe yet but can’t wait to have a go. If you happen to have a recipe using jaggery, id love to hear from you!!

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Healthy (ish) January baking

18 Jan

My work colleagues have been demanding cake and I’m not one to disappoint.

Having said that, it’s January – a time to be healthy.

It therefore made sense to make a healthy (ish) cake. What better way than to bake with a vegetable?!

The Good Food website has a lovely carrot, raisin and orange cake, which I’ve made a few times. In fact it’s called Yummy Scrummy carrot cake. And it’s not lying!

Back to my beautiful new ceramic mixing bowl 😊

Mix together light muscavado sugar, sunflower oil, eggs, self raising flour, bicarb, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange zest and carrots and you have a taste sensation!

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After being baked in the oven for 40 minutes, it comes out looking something like this…

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I’ve made this a few times but think it was possibly the best I’ve made. Everyone at work enjoyed it too πŸ˜ƒ

Friday baking – but naan as you know it

9 Jan

So it’s January and, like everyone, the boyfriend and I are truly skint.

We don’t fancy giving up our weekend treats though so we set about making our own takeaway.

We cheated by using boil in the bag rice and a packet sauce for our chicken curry but we saved some cash by making our own naans. This was where I came in.

After finding an easy looking recipe on Good Food I set to work on my first ever attempt at naan breads. I couldn’t wait to make use of my new ceramic bowl from Santa 😊

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I ended up needing quite a lot more flour than the recipe said as my mixture was quite wet and I think kneading definitely needs more work but I felt quite chuffed setting my little bundle aside to proof.

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Sadly I don’t have anywhere warm to prove so it didn’t go too well…
Still, they looked pretty nice after I rolled them (like the rolling pin?!)

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I found myself doing a bake-off style oven watch, making sure to turn them regularly, but sadly it soon became clear that they were a baking miss. They didn’t look like any naan I’ve ever seen…

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They didn’t taste like your average naan either! But they WERE edible and actually we both quite fancied another when we were done so I’m taking that as a positive!

Have you ever made naan? I’d love to hear your secrets!

The 2015 reading challenge

6 Jan

When I first set out on this blogging lark I didn’t intend for it to be all about baking, it just kind of went that way.

This year though I’m changing that. It’s all about the things I love.

One of my biggest loves is reading. I’m obsessed by books! Always have been.

So when I discovered Pop Sugar’s 2015 reading challenge on Pinterest I couldn’t wait to get started.

Can I read 52 books in a year? Who knows! (Probably not actually but I’m going to give it a shot!)

I must warn you, I’m not a fast reader. My chances of failure are therefore quite high but I’m an optimist, plus I was already 3/4 of my way through a book on January 1 so I’m considering that my first conquest.

Challenge 1 complete – A book by a female author.

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Ok so hardly an award winning start but a start nonetheless πŸ™‚

Funny bedtime reading with a bit of drama in the middle. Found it cheap in a supermarket. If you come across it and it’s cheap, is recommend it. You won’t feel smarter for reading it but it will make you feel nice.

Challenge 2 is a book that became a movie – I’m reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. After reading about her in a magazine and learning that the film version would be coming out in January, I bought the book immediately and intend on finishing it before the film leaves the cinema.

Wish me luck!

Happy New Year

3 Jan

Welcome to 2015 everyone! Hope you’re all sufficiently stuffed to the brim and ready to keep up those New Year resolutions πŸ™‚

I don’t really do resolutions, although I do set myself goals. This year I will aim to be more organised and better with money.

There will also be no excuses for not blogging this year. As a way of sticking to this one, I’ve signed the boyfriend and I up to Foodie penpals.

In terms of what I’ve been up to since lastΒ posted, I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking using my new Bake Off book, bought for me by the boyfriend as an early Christmas present (he gave me it in November so I could make him things in the run up to and during Christmas!

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I’m not always great with recipe books. I’m one of those ‘flick through and aim to make everything but never get round to it’ types but with this book I was inspired to make loads of the goodies inside.

First on the list was pork, apple and cider sausage rolls, made for a savoury bake sale at work. They were pretty easy to make (helped by the fact I cheated by using ready made pastry!) and tasted delicious. I even had some leftover which I froze and used as stuffing for my Christmas dinner!

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Stupidly, I forgot to take pictures of anything else that I made but favourites included frangipan mince pies and ham and parsley pie.

Obviously Christmas is over now but it’s well worth buying yourself a copy ready for next year!

That’s me for now. Hopefully my next post will be my penpals update…