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 🙂

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

Foodie FUBAR

I’m generally quite a confident cook, so am always happy to play around and experiment with different ideas and just wait and see how things turn out. Luckily for me, whatever new concoction of ingredients I experiment with, my husband is always happy to give it a go and I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the absolute culinary disasters I’ve had over the last 20 years we’ve been together.

But it’s easy to tell my mind’s a bit preoccupied just now, because recently we almost had a foodie FUBAR incident with a normal everyday decidedly non-experimental basic sponge mixture for a quick-and-easy Eve’s pudding. (NB Eve’s pudding is like apple crumble but with a soft sponge on top rather than a dense and crunchy crumble.)

What happened was I was thinking about tons of other stuff while I was preparing everything. I peeled, cored and sliced the apples on autopilot, placed them in an oven-proof dish, sprinkled lemon juice and a little brown sugar and some cinnamon, and microwaved them for a minute or so to start to soften a little.

And while the apples were in the microwave, I got on with making the sponge mix – equal weights of butter, sugar, eggs, flour all beaten up together to a smooth thick batter consistency. Then I added some cinnamon powder and vanilla extract to flavour the mix and reached up to my spice rack to grab some ginger powder, giving it a good heaped-teaspoon-worth shake over the bowl to give the cake a little kick.

At this point, with the smell of cinammony apples coming from the microwave, my husband came through to see what I was making, and asked to taste the cake batter before I poured it over the apples and put it into the oven to bake. He took a taste on the tip of his finger, and pulled a puzzled face. He took another taste just to be sure…

Um… That tastes funny… Have you used curry powder instead of cinnamon, he asked? I picked up the tub in question – nope, definitely cinnamon. So I tasted it myself… yuk! That wasn’t ginger I was tasting… It was garlic! In my pre-occupied mind-state it seems I’d picked up the powdered garlic instead of the powdered ginger off the spice rack and had applied it liberally to the sweet cake mix without even noticing… Duh!

So the dodgy garlic-infused cake batter went in the bin and I started again, using ginger powder this time, and thankfully the resulting Eve’s pudding was as yummy as usual, eaten hot with cold vanilla ice-cream…Mmmm…!

However, the epilogue to this story is that my husband was doing something DIY-ish the other day and I reminded him to be careful. He looked at me with a grin and said – You know I’ve been doing stuff like this for years, I do know what to do… I mean, I don’t tell you how much garlic to put in a cake, do I?

Ha ha ha ha OMG will I ever live it down! 😀

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Experiment

Tonight’s Dinner

Fandango’s One Word Challenge prompt today is dinner, so I’ve taken it literally and am sharing a pic of my dinner with you tonight. We’ve got oven-baked scampi, petit pois, and cheese-and-onion-stuffed baked potato. And after a busy day out in the garden again we’re eating on a tray in front of the TV.

Last night I baked four potatoes and we ate two fresh from the oven with chilli salmon, tomatoes and coleslaw – yum!

So tonight I took the two leftover cold baked potatoes and halved them lengthways. I then took a dessert spoon and carefully scooped out most of the flesh, keeping a very small layer of potato over the skins to create a perfect potato skin bowl. I mashed the cold potato with grated cheese, pre-fried onions and seasoning to taste before heaping the well-mixed filling back into the potato skins and sticking them in the oven again to heat through and crisp up.

It’s a great way to use leftover baked potato, and I make it with cheese and onion, with cheese and mushroom, or with cheese and bacon – I really love it done this way so will often bake extra beforehand just so I have leftovers! PS The scampi and peas came straight from freezer to oven and microwave respectively 🙂