Ripening Plums

My Weekly Smile this week just has to be the sheer delight on my husband’s face to actually be picking fat juicy plums daily from his own plum tree! I grew up with a plum tree growing in my mum and dad’s garden so I guess I just don’t share the same novelty factor of having an over-abundance of fresh plums available on the doorstep. We’ve already had a yummy plum crumble made with the first batch, as well as just eating the plums au naturel of course! Plenty more where they came from… I’m sure we’ll both be sick of the sight of them before long, but luckily we have plenty of family who have offerred to help eat as many as we can spare 🙂

Starting September – One, Two, Three, Go!

Seriously, I need to sort out my eating.

Comfort eating, emotional eating, over-eating – whatever I choose to call it, I do far too much of it far too often and have done my whole life, and lately it’s really beginning to worry me. I already have far too many niggly ongoing health issues with my digestive system these days to let it continue – high cholesterol, gall stones, fatty liver, and reflux.

I have three months until I turn 57, so have decided that for all of September, October and November I’m going to try to break a few bad habits of a lifetime by changing the way I eat. Three months, and then I’ll see how I feel about it all. Some things I need to cut out completely, others I need to cut down on, but whatever it takes I really do need to do it, and I mean it.

It’s no longer just about vanity, about wanting to look better (although that would be good too), but about looking after my internal health because I need to start to feel better in myself. I know I’m overweight and unhealthy and it’s time to admit I feel really crap, both about myself and within myself. So I have a list of things I’m saying goodbye to, starting tomorrow (but with an initial trial run today)…

No more chocolate, sweets, ice cream, crisps, chips, or takeaways – no exceptions. Less processed food, pre-prepared food, packet food – stuff with too many hidden ingredients. Minimal alcohol (none at all is not realistic for me). More fresh food cooked from scratch, more fruit and vegetables . It’s not rocket science, it’s basic common sense and I’m too old to mess around any longer – my future health depends on it.

I’m hoping above hope I’ll soon start to feel more energetic, that my weight will maybe start to drop slowly but surely, that my skin and hair will improve condition and I’ll simply feel less of an unhealthy slob as time progresses. I know I’ll never look or feel young again, that ship sailed a long time ago, but I can perhaps start to age more gracefully.

I’ve no idea how much I weigh and have no bathroom scales (nor do I wish to own any), so it’s not going to be about numbers but more about how I feel internally, including in my aching joints. So watch this space, because for the next three months I seriously need to sort out my eating once and for all, starting September – one, two, three, go!

Fandango’s Dog days of August: Plans for September

Tea and Cake

What better way to cheer myself up on a restful, rainy summer afternoon off than enjoying a refreshing cup of tea and a freshly baked fairy cake, light and fluffy and only an hour out the oven… And the icing on the cake is that the kitchen still smells of warm, sweet vanilla – Yum! 🙂

Weekly Smile

Consumable Cakes

To be honest I’m not a huge cake fan, and I’m certainly not at all keen on those ultra-fancy minimum sponge, maximum icing (frosting) constructions that seem to be so fashionable just now. So my top five cakes tend to be the more traditional types, preferably home made and for me the simpler they are decorated the better. Here they are in no particular order, as my favourite flavour depends so much on my mood at the time 🙂

Cheesecake – My favourite recipe uses limes rather than lemons, and has a crunchy ginger biscuit base – I like to serve it with sliced kiwi fruit and blueberries on top… Mmmm…

Gingerbread – Rich and treacly, sticky and scrumptious, gingery and cinnamony… Melt wet ingredients, add dry ingredients, mix well and bake…

Carrot Cake – Moist and light with the softest scrape of cream-cheese frosting on top…

Lemon Drizzle Cake – Tangy and zingy, the lemon-syrup-drizzlier the better…

Fairy Cakes – Mini vanilla sponge cup cakes in individual paper cases topped with a blob of white glace icing and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands… A real taste of childhood ❤

Salted Caramel: Five Special Occasion Cakes

Half-Baked Idea

With respect to purchasing ready-made food items that turn out to be disappointingly unpleasant to the palette, exactly what kind of half-baked idea is a ‘soft-bake’ cookie?

Supermarkets here in the UK regularly bake different flavoured cookies in-store and bag them up in fours or whatever to sell fresh, but whereas they used to be properly cooked through, crisp and crunchy on the outside and only just slightly chewy in the middle, nowadays what they call ‘soft-bake’ always seems to be the preferred option.

And I truly don’t understand where that idea came from because soft-baked, in my book, simply means half-baked, and the resulting pale, insipid, limp sad excuse for cookies taste decidedly underdone. All too often these pallorific cookie weaklings can’t even support their own weight when held up, sagging most unbecomingly through lack of structural support.

And while I’m in rant-mode since when did cookie dough become a flavour to crave, semi-raw and solid indigestible chunks – yuk! Selling cookie dough flavoured anything as a finished product is about as appetising as selling raw cake batter as a tasty snack. Nice enough when licked off a spoon in small quantities at home, but not when swallowed in bulk as a staple food source.

So anyway, on the rare occasions I buy any supermarket in-store bakery cookies these days, I always find I basically have to finish baking them off in a nice hot oven for at least five minutes or so until they become a structurally sound golden brown and able to hold their own, and only after cooling again on a wire rack do they become in the least bit edible… Grrr… 🙂

Monday Peeve

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Apropos

Mango and Ginger Cake Dessert

After a week of warm sunny weather, it’s much cooler today and we’ve had nothing but rain all day today. Bummer. Good for the garden though.

I was sitting on the sofa tonight watching TV and I fancied something sweet to eat. I checked the fridge, but found nothing tempting there. I looked in the larder cupboard, and found nothing there to fit the bill either. So I decided to make something using store-cupboard ingredients.

I took a tin of mango in juice and chopped the fruit into bite-size chunks, laying them in the bottom of a Pyrex dish. I quickly mixed up some basic cake mixture and flavoured it with ginger powder, vanilla essence and a little of the mango juice from the tin. I poured the batter over the fruit and stuck it into the oven.

While the cake was baking, I boiled up the remaining juice from the mango tin with a slug of apple juice, a dash of sugar and some more ginger powder and reduced it until it made a thickish syrup. Once the cake came out of the oven I pricked it all over with a skewer, and poured the syrup over the top and left it to cool a little.

I didn’t leave it for too long though, and was soon tucking in to a substantial portion warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… and it was yum! Guess who has a big contented smile on her face now, as well as something sweet in her belly.

Nice yummy surprise for my husband when he gets home from work at 10pm too! 🙂

Weekly Smile

Freshly Baked Cakes

These little cakes fresh from the oven probably couldn’t look any more beige-brown boring if they tried, but oh, the warm and comforting sweet smell of cinnamon and vanilla fills the kitchen with the most wonderful aroma. As soon as they cool enough to eat, I’m going to have one with a steaming hot cup of coffee – and that’s another lovely smell to add to my day at home! 🙂

Cee’s Fun Foto: Sense of Smell

Chicken Soup for Lunch

Today I want soup for lunch, so here it is in the making.

Being an old-fashioned sort, I always have a bag of chicken bones squirreled away in the freezer, added to bit by bit as I go along until I have enough of a collection to boil up for a big pot of stock. And in turn the resulting chicken stock makes whatever I fancy at the time. Usually the base for soup, but sometimes a hearty stew or a risotto.

But as today I want soup, I’ve added a handful of oatmeal for thickening, a handful of pearl barley because I love the creamy conststency it makes, chopped garlic, onion, carrot and sweet potato, and seasoning to taste. For me today that means black pepper, a shake of chilli powder, and a good dose of mixed dried herbs, parsely, and of course bayleaf.

My soup needs to simmer gently for a couple of hours, and then about half an hour before I want to eat it, I’ll add a decent portion of frozen sweetcorn kernels to cook through – and then after warming through some crusty bread to go with it, we’ll enjoy some yummy soup for lunch! 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Want

Cee’s Fun Foto: Sense of Taste