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Birthday cake and jelly

(You probably already know that when Brits say jelly they mean jello. But I thought I’d mention it just in case anyone is reading this hoping for a jam-type jelly recipe.)


So yes, we made birthday jellies and birthday cake. Mainly because I really wanted to try out our new jelly mold/muffin tins. And I also wanted a birthday cake, of course. We made Cranham Honey Cake, which involves glacé cherries. I love glacé cherries.

For the jelly we used strawberry jelly with chopped pears – which Froglet said looked like tea when liquid – and then lemon jelly made up with milk, so it looked like custard, and topped it with whipped cream to serve.
Here is a transcript of Froglet telling The Engineer how we made it:

We, um, put the tea in with the hot jelly in and then,
we, um, put the yellow jelly in and um, and it made custard – which is not very good…
and then we… it had to go in the fridge, and we let it (sit) still for hours…
and then we took it out and, um, put the yellow jelly in!

What about the pears?

Um, and we also put the pears in. I said that before we did the yellow jelly.

Did you?

Yeah. And then… we ate it! *laughs and takes a mouthful* Mmmmm.

I’m not sure why he said custard wasn’t good. It all tasted great anyway!
And here is the cake recipe, adapted slightly from a lovely little book called English Teatime Recipes:

5 oz margarine
2.5 oz caster sugar
3 generous tbslp thick honey
2 eggs, beaten
8 oz self-raising flour (or plain and 3 tsp baking powder)
Grated rind of one lemon
100 g glacé cherries
pinch of salt
1/4 cup of milk (4 tblsp)

Set oven to 375 F (190 C) – as we have a fan-assisted oven we put it to 175 C.
Grease and flour a 7-inch round cake tin.
Cream the marge, sugar and honey.
Beat in the eggs.
Fold in the flour, salt, cherries and lemon rind.
Add the milk and mix well
Pour into tin and bake for one hour (approx 45 minutes fan-assisted), until golden brown.
Allow to cool in tin before turning out onto rack.

This always comes out nearly black on top when I make it! Just the very top, and it’s still edible, doesn’t taste burnt, just a terribly dark colour. This time it also came out soggy in the middle and it occurred to me that making it in a gugelhupf tin might be a good idea next time, then it would cook through before scorching.

Everyone loved it anyway. The Engineer didn’t even want any jelly, just extra cake!

Check out what everyone else made for Simply Made Sunday this week here.


Blue impossible pie

Today Froglet and I decided to use up some leftover coconut by making impossible pie. And since ABC&123 are looking for blue or brown activities, we decided to make it blue. Hopefully they’ve not beaten me to posting this time! *laughs*

When I say we decided, I mean I decided. Because I, and not my son, am the boss, despite his apparent disagreement. Just because you are steadfast in your belief does not mean that you are right, Froglet.

Impossible pie, in case you’ve not come across it before, is named thus because it’s a self-cruster. My recipe asked for a 10 inch pie dish (25 cm), but mine was 11 inch (28 cm). How is that possible? Or should I have measured the base rather than the rim? Anyway, we also have tiny pie dishes so I halved the recipe and used five of those, although I think six would have been better.

The halved recipe runs as follows:

2 eggs
25 g (1 oz) margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt (1/8 tsp!)

and blue food colouring, of course. We added the blue colouring to the milk, and then added some more when it was all blended because it looked more green than blue.

My cup measure is 250 ml, in case you’re using different cups.

Blend all together, pour into greased pie dishes (4 inches/10 cm), bake at 160 C for about 40 minutes (fan assisted oven). The original recipe said 175 C for 1 hour, but that was for the full recipe in a large pie dish so I adjusted. You may need to fiddle with this a bit for your oven.

When it was all cooked, the coconut was supposed to end up on top, the eggy bit in the middle and the crust on the bottom… and it did! Very thin crust, but I think it was always thin.

I will have these pieces, and two of that one, Mummy.

I’m happy to say it met with approval!

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Baking this week: Nussheckli, or Swiss nut cookies

I happened across these on the internet and the author asks not to be reproduced without permission so if you want the exact recipe please visit her own blog. She has a photo too, so you can compare!

I’ll just say that the basic ingredients are nuts, sugar, eggs and flour. These seem to be the main ingredients in a lot of Swiss recipes! These cookies caught my eye because they claim to be native to our canton. I’ve never seen them or heard of them but that means nothing as we have few local Swiss friends – most are immigrants from other cantons. So Froglet and I thought we’d make a half-quantity in case we didn’t like them…

Mixing – Pretty round and heart-shaped balls – Um…???

We don’t think they were supposed to all run together like that. Maybe we should have spaced them further apart, or most likely my measuring was at fault. Swiss recipes seem to need precision – well they are Swiss after all! As we don’t own a weighing scale, and I seldom have all the ingredients that I need, my baking usually goes something like “100 g – let’s say a cup – of flour or sugar. 100 g – roughly half a cup – of butter. Chopped nuts? We’ve got ground nuts, that’ll do. Eggs can be replaced with bananas*…” and so on. I did not replace the eggs in this recipe though – pretty sure that wouldn’t work!

The finished product:

Not quite how they’re meant to look! But still tasty.

*A vegan friend taught us this. The ratio is one well-mashed banana for two eggs, if the eggs are mainly being used to bind rather than to raise (and you don’t mind the taste of bananas, of course). Try making banana bread or chocolate cake with this substitution, it’s yummy! Excellent way of using up those going-black bananas that no one wants to eat. You can also use apple sauce, I think it’s 1/4 cup for one egg, but I prefer banana.

Edited to add: We are linking up this post to Simply Made Sunday retrospectively. Click the button to find out all about it!



Muffin Tin Monday

I have seen posts relating to the MTM blog carnival in several places, but most recently at Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile, one of the blogs I follow. The idea is simple – serve a themed meal in a muffin tin, then post a link to the blog entry concerning it at Her Cup Overfloweth if you want to be part of the carnival. I don’t know whether this is meant to be just a fun thing to do or whether it’s to try and encourage children to eat.

Froglet always has trouble staying in one place long enough to finish a meal (or even get halfway through it), so today I thought we might give MTM a try. This week was Choose Your Own Theme, rather fortuitously as it was such a last-minute decision to do it and I haven’t done the weekly shop yet! So the theme I’ve picked is: Homemade.

Our muffin tin contains both Froglets meal and my own, as it’s rather a large tin. Homemade brown bread with nuts in, homemade kumquat marmalade from our little tree, homemade snickerdoodle cookies – rolled in cinnamon sugar by Froglet – and homegrown salad: cress, baby nasturtium leaves (because the nasturtiums are still tiny), marjoram and oregano. Like I said, it was a last-minute thing!

Surprisingly, the salad was Froglet’s favourite item. He wolfed down the marjoram, oregano and nasturtiums, exclaiming”these taste funny!”, then asked for more. I had to explain that we couldn’t take any more leaves off the nasturtiums as it might stress them too much, if they aren’t already stressed. I only took one leaf off each plant.

As a method of getting him to concentrate and eat, it was unsuccessful, but he certainly enjoyed seeing all the things we had made and grown ourselves on his “plate”. We will be doing this again, and if you have little ones maybe you’d like to join in too!

For lots of different themes, pop over to Her Cup Overfloweth and see what other mums have done.


Water play

Today Froglet decided he would like to play with water on the balcony. I found him some water and various cups and pots, and then thought of giving him a paintbrush too, as I have read about painting walls with water on several other blogs recently.
After a while, he asked if he could paint the windows too. My first response was of course no, but then I remembered the old squeegee that lives in our shower… one sponge and some soapy water later, hey presto, free window cleaning.

Not very successful in terms of the result, but the process was greatly enjoyed and gave me some time to have an adult conversation with our visiting friend. I think we might do some more window-cleaning tomorrow!

In other news, I have discovered that when you don’t own a mixer, you should not try to hand-mix two loaves-worth of bread dough. It does not work with a fork (my usual implement), and if you resort to using your hands it makes them so sticky that you can’t do anything and have to get your husband to scrape the dough off them with a spatula. Which doesn’t really work either.
Still, the loaves look nice enough. I do love baking. It beats cleaning hands-down.



Apparently I haven’t said anything at all since the 17th. Can’t think what I’ve been doing but clearly too busy to post here.

Let’s see. Well I’ve finished reading my book – the Bondage Breaker – which I highly recommend to any Christians who feel like they’re not getting anywhere with God. So now I’ve started on my next read – Waking the Dead. I’ve read it already but need to see it all again. This one is also on my highly-recommended list – in fact it’s top of the list.
Brief synopsis

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Chocolate cake for my LJ friends

From Norts:

If there is someone on your Friends List who makes your world a better place just because that person exists and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the internet, then post this same sentence in your journal.

Several in fact.

Froglet was a little horror yesterday but at least I’ve slept enough to deal with him now. And it’s nearly the weekend and that means it’s nearly The Engineer’s holiday. 🙂

I’m thankful that Christianity is about freedom, not rules
I’m thankful for internet access
And I’m thankful for the friends who gave us this chocolate cake recipe:

Neve Cake
4 eggs
125 g butter/marge (just over 1/2 cup)
200 g sugar (2 cups)
3 tblsp plain flour
200 g black chocolate
a little milk.

Line a 9 inch round tin with greaseproof paper.
Separate eggs and beat eggwhite until it makes soft peaks.
Heat oven to 100 C.
Melt chocolate together with milk, then add all ingredients including egg yolks and mix well.
Fold in egg whites carefully.
Pour into tin. Put in oven and turn oven up to 180 C.
Bake for one hour approx.

Instructions are for a normal oven i.e. not fan-assisted. I make it 160 C for 45-50 minutes with fan assisted. Cake is crispy almost like meringue on outside and top and squidgy inside (degree of squidginess seems to vary from one time to the next). I’ve made this cake several times over the last month even though I have to beat the whites by hand which I dislike doing – that’s how good it is!

Hope someone enjoys it.

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Today I made an experimental loaf. I bought several kumara this week because I like it – but Daniel doesn’t so I’m the only one eating it. So I thought today I would make bread with it. I figured it would replace banana in banana bread. First I thought I’d microwave it and then mash it up like you’d mash the banana, then I decided it’d be easier just to grate it directly. Of course then the mixture was less runny than it should have been so I added a bit more oil and a quarter of an avocado, mashed up. Left the sugar out and baked it for 45 minutes…
well it’s come out pretty good actually. A bit too cakey and not bready enough perhaps, and there’s definitely too much kumara in, it tastes much like a large piece of mashed potato. Next time only one kumara instead of two, and I might ditch the egg too.

Things I’m thankful for today:
I had grapefruit and chocolate cake for breakfast. 🙂
Froglet is being very good.
Sunshine! (after several days of snow and rain)

Speaking of Froglet, he has discovered his feet. Yesterday he grabbed one of them, pulled it up to his mouth and actually got his toe in before realising that someone was trying to eat his foot and withdrawing it quickly. It was funny. We got a bit on video later on, where he was pulling his foot towards his mouth, and holding his mouth wide open as if to encourage the foot to approach. It really made us laugh. Mind you it doesn’t take much to make us laugh, we must be tired. At the weekend we sang “Old MacDonald had a farm” to the baby, replacing the words “farm” with “glass”, and “[animal]” with “beer”, and the sound the animal made with “Leffe” (that’s a very good Belgian beer for those who don’t know). With a Leffe-Leffe here and a Leffe-Leffe there – here a Leffe, there a Leffe, everywhere a Leffe, Leffe… we giggled quite a bit. And no, we hadn’t drunk any alcohol at all!

Froglet is lying on his side on his mat, staring at the bookcase and diligently sucking his thumb so I suppose I should check if he wants the rest of his milk now. He doesn’t seem to mind being left over there as long as there’s some music on for him to listen to.

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Some baking, some cross-stitch

Coming back to my previous entry:
The empanadas worked out quite nicely.
The quantities I used made four Cornish pasty-sized empanadas, I think I’d do a smaller quantity next time. Also there was slightly too much filling for the pastry. The red wine made the pastry go a funny blotchy colour but you couldn’t really see it once it was cooked. I used a little less wine than the recipe I posted says, but next time I think I’d go for the whole quantity as the pastry was quite dry in the end (it was actually rather like Cornish pasty pastry!) And I would leave out the baking powder.

I’ve finally completely finished my big cross-stitch. It measures about 40 cm by 20, but the stitches are quite small and it’s taken me nearly ten years to do. A picture of it – for anyone who’s interested – can be found at:

It’s actually brighter than that, the flash has whited the colours out a bit.
Now I just need to handwash and iron it, we already have a frame.

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