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    Education, Food, Kids stuff, Play, Residence

    Chocolate Soreen Baked Alaska

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    I have been wanting to make Baked Alaska since I got chatting to Emma at Science Sparks about science in cooking. I’ve been meaning to follow lovely Kerry of Science Spark’s recipe, the picture of her holding beaten egg whites over her head makes me smile. Then I found this recipe for Chocolate Soreen baked Alaska, I had to give it a go. But do check out Science Sparks for the Science bit, as this is such a genius recipe to cook with kids!

    buy propecia online forum Chocolate Soreen is only available for a limited time. Chocolate Loaf is in Asda now, in Morrisons from 20th May for 3 weeks and Sainsbury’s from 23rd May for 3 weeks. Continue reading

    Creativity

    5 easy forest craft activities

    http://www.porttalbotwheelers.co.uk/?kisko=trading-truffa&40d=cb

    Since we moved to Nottingham 6 years ago, I have been trying to work out where the forest that Robin Hood roamed in could be. Sadly much of it has been chopped down, you can see the 800 year old Major Oak, but it doesn’t quite give you the feeling of being an outlaw I was looking for, because the forest no longer feels boundless.

    I did get something of that awe inspiring outlaw feeling however, when we were invited to a blogger forest activities day out at Sherwood Pines, the East Midlands largest forest open to the public. It must be something to do with the sheer size and number of the trees, but the feeling of being overpowered by nature hits you the minute you leave the car. Continue reading

    Food

    Simnel Cake, perfect for ailing souls

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    http://beachgroupcommercial.com/?kachalka=guadagnare-online-con-banner-pubblicitari&b6c=d8 Bunny Burner. Still tastes awesome, even though I somehow read 6 minutes instead of 3 under the grill.

    http://talkinginthedark.com/r Good Friday I was feeling, ‘meh’, burnt out, tired and unable to face the mess from a busy week or even worse the prospect of building even more mess over the Easter holidays. But Mr A volunteered to take the kids food and ingredient shopping, so I cleaned the kitchen and prepared for some baking therapy.

    http://rainierinspections.com/173uu8eRtx27_804/14237pMP-adW-vjW Simnel cakes have been around since medieval times as a sweet treat, it was the Victorians who decided to decorate them with 11 balls to represent the disciples minus Judas. My interpretation, as a ‘heathen’, as Mr A affectionately refers to me, is all about Spring. I am a firm believer we need festivals to see us through the seasons.
    Continue reading

    Food, Kids stuff, Play, Residence

    Easy Chocolate Brownies

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    These went down really well as Christmas presents for teachers, and we also took some as presents when we went to stay with my brother’s family. This recipe which I picked up from one of my visits to the Panasonic Ideas Kitchen, makes loads, at least 30 small squares, and is so easy. We make them in our Panasonic Combination oven which cuts the cooking time, but I have included conventional oven timings too.

    Ingredients

    • 250 g plain chocolate
    • 250 g unsalted butter
    • 4 large eggs
    • 310 g caster sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla essence
    • 180 g plain flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 75 g hazelnuts
    • 75 g white chocolate chips
    • 75 g milk chocolate chips

    1. Put the plain chocolate and butter in a large bowl. Place on glass turntable and cook on HIGH MICROWAVE for 3 mins. Leave to cool slightly.

    2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.

    3. Stir the sugar into the Chocolate. Add the eggs and vanilla essence.
    Fold in the flour, nuts and Chocolate.

    4. Pour the Chocolate mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place on tray and cook on COMBINATION: CONVECTION 180°C and SIMMER MICROWAVE for 18 mins. Or Gas 4/180 C for 25-30 minutes.

    The middle should feel soft when cooked. Allow to cool in the tin. Remove the brownies from the tin and cut into squares.

    Food

    My favourite Nut Roast recipe and Vegetarian Gravy recipe

    This is the gorgeous nut roast we have pretty much always had at Christmas, but it is lovely for Sunday lunch or any special occasion. It has a layer of tomatoes and parsley in the middle which makes it attractive, extra special and a little bit festive too. The meat eaters always have some as stuffing and since I discovered this gravy it has been the only one we ever make, for veggies and meat eaters alike. Continue reading

    Home, Memory Book, Nostalgic, Reviews

    Creating the perfect spot in the garden

    perfect spot in the garden

    Creating the perfect spot in the garden, photo by Arno Smit

    Do you have a favourite spot in the garden? What makes it special?  Is it the furniture you sit on ? The view? The plants that surround you?  The feeling of escaping?

    My attitude to gardens was shaped hugely by my grandparent’s garden.  They lived in a two up two down semi-detached pebble-dashed house in Staffordshire, but the garden was huge. It was long and sloped, the first section rows of rose bushes and chrysanthemums which my Granddad would enter in shows, surrounded by three neat paths through the edges and middle of the garden.

    A washing pole marked the start of a lawned section of garden where there was a bench under some trees and next to this some giant rhubarb leaves.  I think you could look out over the greenhouse at the bottom of the lawn to see the fields beyond.  It was always a peaceful spot where we would play as kids, and the grown ups would join us to drink tea while taking a break from the garden.

    More moss lined paths wound round the greenhouse and shed, past our secret den to an apple tree you could climb in, another big black shed we weren’t allowed in and a huge vegetable patch where we planted peas, carrots, potatoes.

    The house I did most of my growing up in had a small yard, but the most stunning view of the Peak District. At the end of the yard Dad placed a sea worn plank he found on the beach at Harlech and that was our garden bench.  I can see Mum sitting on it in the Summer, laughing with the neighbours who went to Italy every year, as they handed round Limencello and Amaretto.

    Years ago, the Summer when Mr A and I bumped into each each other again in town while visiting our parents, we would stagger back from the pub and sit on that bench talking into the night. That bench has memories.

    We had a garden table and chairs, now we have 3 chairs.. But I can’t settle on them. I come out of the back door, step on the decking, shuffle them and sit maybe for a minute at a time. So I guess I am coming to the conclusion that what my next garden needs is a bench. I like the idea of a fixed spot I can keep coming back to.

    I also remember lying in a hammock with my mum, strung between two apple trees, the smell of lavender wafting by at my mum’s college friend’s house in a Cotswolds village. My brother must have been about three and he was pretending to be a dentist and inspecting mum’s teeth. Sigh. A hammock would be amazing.

    What garden furniture do you have or lust after?

    Creativity, Residence

    My day of photography tuition

    I love looking back at this post, I think I’ve learnt so much since 2011! The picture above is 2017…I wrote this is 2011.

    When my son was born we bought a Nikon SLR camera to try to keep up to speed with our children.  It’s been on autofocus since we bought it, brought out on occasions when we feel we should have a photo. The first shot is of me on the operating table, about to have a c-section.  There’s about 700 more shots, all of them lovely memories, but none of them particularly stunning photographs.
    Hopefully that is set to change.  Back in May my dad bought me a day’s photography tuition with Jon Cruttenden for my birthday. Dad, who takes great photos himself, stumbled upon Jon and his stunning photographs at the local market.

    I finally redeemed my voucher this week.  The morning was spent gently filling my brain with theory and familiarising myself with the creative zone of my camera, the world beyond autofocus. Jon is a really patient tutor and had some great analogies to explain the technical bits.  He also provided me with an excellent set of notes to refer to afterwards.

    After lunch Jon, a herd of cows, and I spent a sunny afternoon photographing White Nancy.  This strange bottle shaped summer house was built to commemorate victory at the Battle of Waterloo. I can’t tell you how lovely it is to spend time on a proper hill (how I miss Cheshire) in the realms of my youth (I could see a handful of old school friends houses from this vantage point) without kids (I’m tired/hungry/bored) and armed with a camera (creative me time).

    I had no idea how many decisions go into taking one shot.  As we climbed up the steep hill and I focussed on not losing my flip flops or landing in a cow pat, Jon was already narrating me through his thought processes as a photographer.  Would you like to be let in on some of mine?

    So this is me procrastinating, taking pictures of Jon taking pictures, that old photograph the photographer cliche.

    Jon pointed out that there’s a kind of moody rock band look about a herd of cows which I came close to capturing here.  Would they co-operate and all look at the camera though?  I’m most annoyed with that grey one looking at the other one’s bottom.

    Turns out individual cows are easier subjects to practice on, they don’t giggle, run off or blink.

    I just love the way they stare at each other.  If White Nancy was just a bit more to the right, and the half a cow behind it pushed off.  Of course what I really wanted was a comedy shot with one cow’s bottom and another’s head poking out, but would they cooperate?

    I got the head poking out, now would the other two push off?  I was starting to feel like they were talking about me now.

    I like the cow curving round White Nancy.   The light is almost Mediterranean, and this is the 3rd of October.  But… the ahem ‘white balance’ isn’t right, White Nancy is a bit pink.

    ‘Yeah I know the rule of thirds’, she said, ‘I used to teach film’.  So why did I keep shoving White Nancy bang in the middle?  It would look so much better a third of the way over.

    But, someone wasn’t letting me retake that shot.  But do you notice how the shadow, on the right of White Nancy, emphasises its curve?

    As a media teacher, I’m still more comfortable de constructing shots than constructing them.  There is an incredible amount you can ponder in every shot and I’m still juggling all that theory with controlling the camera itself and reacting to my surroundings.  But I can’t recommend doing this enough.  I’m really excited about photography, the day totally changed the way I see it.

    It’s no longer just a case of dutifully documenting our lives.  I want to make time to create some great photographs.  Photographing something other than my children was very liberating, but still gave me plenty of ideas to practice on them. Although I kind of like the idea of hanging out on hillsides with cows.

    Jon covers Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire and offers tuition as well as photography. Spending a day with someone who is passionate about their art, able to explain it and willing to let others into their artistic processes is a rare and inspiring treat.

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