Parkin


From Wednesday evening 8th November 2017

I’m making Parkin. It reality I should at this point be finishing the last crumbs of some  Parkin I made earlier rather just getting round to it now but beggars can’t be chooser, so here we are. Bit of a spur of the moment thing, I really should be making tea, we’ll be having beans on toast now instead of toad in the hole, I really haven’t thought this through… 

You can tell by the way I’ve gone about it too. No military operation, no careful & organised collection of ingredients & equipment, each put in their proper place, it’s utter chaos, (well it is for me). There’s stuff everywhere & I’m not even wearing an apron. I will have nightmares about this for days… Or rather my OCD will.

And I’ve actually chosen a recipe & completely & utterly stuck to it. No deviations, no adaptions, no little tweaks as I go along. An unheard of occurrence, I NEVER do that – ever!!! I always change recipes, always. There’s definitely something in the air…. I may need a lie down…. Mind you, it does come from a rather excellent recipe book (Cakes – Regional & Tradional) so I am hopeful. Julie Duff is the author & if you want a fount of all knowledge when it comes the traditions of British cake baking then she is the lady in the know. So let’s hope she knows. I’m sure she does. 

It also turns out the 7″ square tin I bought some years ago & have never used is actually 9″… It’s obviously been an invaluable buy. Thank goodness for that awkward but equally useful square multi pan thing from lAlan Silverwood, now that was an excellent investment.  Unlike the 9″ tin, one for eBay perhaps.

It’s beginning to smell rather delicious with its spicy autumnal overtones, the very definition of devine especially at this time of year. Nothing is more lovely that warm cosy mugs of deeply rich hot chocolate & decadent spicy morsels, warming your insides, calming the soul & filling your entire self with happiness. Unless of course you can’t stand ginger or cinnamon or worse still, are allergic…  So sad but then all the more me.

Twenty minutes to go & then a week under wraps, Parkin is a torturous cake. Tempting you with its promises of sticky gorgeousness but waiting is worth it, if it’s made right. Let’s hope so.

It’s a fairly Northern cake you know, Celtic in origin & called Thor, Tharf or Thar cake which I really rather like. Makes it sound all the more delicious  & possibly a super food in its own right I shouldn’t wonder.  Just as well its traditionally only eaten on Bonfire Night, we’d all be superhuman which really wouldn’t do.

Ten minutes to go, I’d best clear up the mess. Everything back where it belongs, all filed neatly in its place, pots & pans in dishwasher for a good scrub, treacle gets everywhere. I really should’ve worn an apron..

Beep beep beep! Done. It’s out! Well I don’t know about you but that looks OK to me, not bad at all. Of course the proof is in the tasting & so we wait… Although I’m really not sure I can.

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Tales of the Freezer


I don’t know about you guys but I do a fair bit of batch cooking to help with our busy life. Nothing worse than coming home after a sailing event than having to then start preparing a hearty meal or even a light snack if we’re quite late back (Weymouth is a long way!) so in the freezer I normally have lots of homemade soup, chilli, the inevitable spagbol, curries, casseroles you name it!

The freezer is running quite low so today I’m making chilli using both beef & turkey mince & then a turkey korma. I’m learning to cook all over again, what having to feed an athlete now! Protein this & protein that!!!!! It’s been a sharp learning curve since Christmas & good job we all like turkey, what with being turkey being bursting with protein….

We’ve gone even more brown & wholewheat than we were before, which no bad thing, just need to remember brown rice takes that little bit longer to cook. Well the brown rice hasn’t gone down as well as other things but there’s no alternative in the house so it’s tough!

And then there’s lentils… One step too far that one, you really can’t disguise them. Unlike broccoli –  ‘it’s just green herbs’! Although with a spagbol I did recently I hadn’t mashed up the broccoli quite enough & there were complaints, outrage ran high & I thought ah well, that’s fair enough – he’s missed the mushrooms so you can’t win them all.

I’ve taken batch cooking to new level this year, one must always strive (Yes I know – must get out more – it’s on my list) I’ve addressed portion size, especially with soup, to make up individual sized portions, given that at any one time we have soup, we’ll all have different flavours. I know, I can hear you rolling you’re eyes at this one. But the world goes round that bit smoother, sparks don’t fly out the chimney, so it’s ok really…..

My next objective to address is plastic or more precisely, plastic freezer packaging. I use good ole Sainsburys freezer boxes, which you can pop in the freezer no problem. But I don’t have an endless supply of these, so once frozen I’ll remove the food from the boxes, placing them in a freezer bag labelled with the what & the when. Which when empty will end up in the bin. Recyclable yes, but I’d rather use something over & over.  I’m a bit of filer at heart, my cupboards are precision filed, the rest of the house however, is very much a different story, I just need more cupboards. Dilemmas, dilemmas!Maybe I should wash out the bags & reuse them too. I’m sure you all have you own methods, so if you have the perfect solution, share the wealth!

Right back to the domestic, Sailors Mum grind stone.  I though I’d also make some jam….

Curveballs…


As life throws you curveballs every now & again, adjustments in that life are inevitable. Life goes on but in different directions, not always how you envision.  
But there are always silver lining, little rays of sunshine, new opportunities, new skills explored. For me, cake & baking was my world & now it’s not. It’s ok, I miss my stall at Treacle Market, I miss making luscious cupcakes & gingerbread for Plums Kitchen, but it’s ok. Life goes on, new adventures, new opportunities, new perspective.  

I miss tempting you all with the treats I made, of the kitchen messes & disasters, of stuff. I like writing about stuff & I LOVE taking photos of things, so I’m going to bring it here, share with you the things I like, things I think you’ll find interesting, stuff that’s useful – or not! Gardens, flowers, cake, pie, absolutely no cat videos under any circumstances, & cake. Maybe chocolate, for medical reasons & the odd obscure brew, & sailing or the view I get of sailing which if I’m honest isn’t as much fun as you’d think, but it’s gets you out & about. 

So new adventure…… With cake…. Anyone up for that??


So Long GBBO, Thanks for the Memories


I’m genuinely sad The Great British Bake Off has finished now. It does irritate me sometimes & I don’t think I’m alone in that, but at the end of the day there’s a prolific love of baking oozing from this programme, which I personally love. You can’t beat a lovely well executed home made Victoria Sponge with or without buttercream, so much better than supermarket bought.

I think though it’s left the BBC on such a high, inspiring us all to bake more, bake better & be creative, which I think is a fabulous legacy!

This all sounds very final, & I know it’s not but without Mel, Mary & Sue, it’s just going to be a collapsed pavlova…

Perhaps it will be fine when it goes to Channel 4, it will definitely be different, no question there…. But it won’t be the same.

Let’s just wait & see what the BBC will bake up for us next. We all surely need new branded bakeware.

Well, enough sadness, I’ve a crate load of apples To bake into something! Apples pies, apple crumble, apple sauce, apple filling for apple pies & apple crumble. I may just need another freezer…

Bake me something with Apples


My story starts with apples & some very unexpected pears.

I have in my garden a somewhat misshapen apple tree, variety unknown. Possibly, maybe Pink Sparkle? The apples it produces are very special, they have pink & red speckled flesh & every year, as Autumn approaches I get excessively excited at the prospect of their harvest. I’m not alone in this, it’s a family thing now, when it’s time to harvest, sheds are clambered on, squirrels are dueled with to get every single last one of these beauties. And there’s a waiting list of people wanting them… Hmmm…

This year to add to the excited, the pear tree has put forth some joyous bounty, something so rare, it’s only ever happened once since we became custodians of this miniature orchard. There were 8 at last count. but curiously there seems to be a few missing. More curious still was finding the very top & stem of a pear outside my French doors one day last week. I’ve either got squirrels with a twisted sense of humour (which would not surprise me) or invaders of the more human variety, either way, pear scrumpers! How very dare they!

There’s been a steady stream of windfalls this week, although some are beyond help, given they’ve bounced off the shed, the wall, possibly the back of the Mini, maybe the back of the house & then unceremoniously smashed onto the path, not even the squirrels want them. The rest have used for cake.

The problem I had though was which recipe.

I have I would say, the best part of 50 cook books, this is not a confession by any means, one should never feel the need to confess to owning large numbers of books in my humble opinion, especially in areas of interest. I feel the same about shoes too but that’s a whole different story! Getting back to cook books, I know I had a recipe for apple cake, for an 8″ tin, with sultans & wholemeal flour but could I find it? Well no…

I looked through my favourite – go to books , you know , Mary, the WI, Julia Duff, a few recipes but not the one I was looking for.

I looked through the files of my own recipes … Nothing

I even looked at Delia…. Zilch

We needed Apple Cake so I settled for a Dorset Apple cake recipe, very nice I’m sure but not the one I knew I had. Got distracted, had to make tea, apples were tucked up for the night.

But in the morning, something very odd happened.

I’ve been extensively sorting out cupboards (which boardly speaking covers the entire house). I was looking through a load of paper work, all sorts of stuff, pirate maps, children’s painting, drawings, birthday cards, coloured in table clothes, you know the usual stuff & there right at the back was a recipe I’d written years ago, for Apple cake.in the back of a box I hadn’t looked at in years. It was the one I was looking for… Spooky…

It was a sign, well a recipe, so I made it!

Really need to read through new/old recipes before I make something, although some of my greatest mistakes have some of best discoveries, but perhaps not this time…

Windfall apples for some reason tend to be on the small side at the moment, & complete buggers to peel, de-seed & chop. Note to self, maybe wait for larger apples. No just make the cake, MAKE THE BLINKIN CAKE!!!!

 

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Gathering of ingredients
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Pink Sparkle flesh chopped
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All battered up & ready to pop in the oven
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A very tense & impatient 2 hours later…

And the we wait… for what seems like ages…

So whilst we wait a little natter. Something that has happened a fair bit over all the time I’ve been baking is people asking for my recipes.  I must admit it’s not something I normally do, although I am always surprised & deeply flattered.

There’s lots of reasons why I don’t.  And you can ask any baker who has spent time developing their recipes, sometimes for months, sometimes years, that it’s very precious to them, something they have worked hard to create, to improve upon time & time again, to ultimately to perfect. I feel a little bit like that. I’m extraordinarily proud of the recipes I’ve developed over the years, my lovely lemon drizzle, my delicious chocolate sponge, & particularly my gingerbread recipe. I do get laughed at because they’re top secret & believe me they are! Especially the gingerbread but there is an other reason.

What if I’ve not written it right, what if I do something I’ve not written down, what if it ALL GOES WRONG!!! Now that, that is quite a scary prospect for me.

So for the time being, unless I write a book, of course, it will all remain quite secret! Well the bit I can remember because that’s how secret some of my recipes are, even to me!!!

Anyway, on with the cake. It’s cooled enough to cut, well not quite but I’ve waited long enough! I do my usual ‘hmmm, not quite right, needs more this, less of that, not quite sure it’s perfect’ make notes, eat another slice (bakers privilege) to just be sure.

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Morish, & moist!
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Just one more slice

Make another tomorrow.

And just to clarify & again in no way is this a confession but 50 cook books was a little on the slim side of things… Roughly.. er.. 128…

My name is Nokomis, I am CocoaNoko & I AM addicted to books!

 

Sparklie new things!


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My nice jugs

Now I have a bit of a weakness for baking equipment & glass plate stands & Christmas, & maybe a few other things, it is all perfectly normal. Honest…

I do struggle when companies launch their new ranges for all the above & much more, this next few months is going being very testing indeed, I can tell you! To start with the new baking range from Marks & Spencer. Some of it is very nice you know, very nice indeed, with a bit of a vintage theme going on. in particular some very nice spoons! I do love interesting measuring spoons, I do have my favourites to actually use because some are more novelty than useful but visually lovely & what with there being 20% of at the moment, I’m going to find it tricky to resist!

http://www.marksandspencer.com/4-vintage-style-measuring-spoons/p/p22418558?prevPage=plp&pdpredirect

And those bundt tins look very nice. And you can never have enough cake tins, because you just never know when you’ll need them of course. (Do I sound convincing?) Bundt tins are always beautiful things to own & make the most fantastic cakes, every cake baker should have one (or two) think!

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A few of my tins…

Looking forward to seeing what new ranges that will be up for grasps in the next few months from other companies, I must resist!!! I must ….. resist…….

 

Waters New



I’ve not posted here since Christmas sadly. There’s been a lot less baking going on since then too unfortunately but I’ve been busy – sort of!

To document this new busyness I’ve started a new blog – Tales from a Sailors Mum just for fun like but you never know where words will take in my experience.

So please take a look, you may just be mildly amused! 

https://talesfromasailorsmum.wordpress.com/about/

Happy New Year!


imageWell that’s it, 2015 is almost over, 2016 beckons…

Apparently this last year has been one of warmest on record, December certainly has been very warm, one small hint of my beloved snow & I wasn’t even here to see it happen, oh the irony! It’s exceptionally windy & tipping down with rain as I write this, & warm, feels more like September than the end of the year… It’s not normal!!!!

Anyways, I’m still hopeful for some snow, persitant stuff, at least a foot deep, I’m not interested in a paltry dusting you understand, it lacks effort in my opinion. You can’t knock the effort this wind & rain is making though can you , it’s definitely caught our attention. Anyways, enough of the weather, on to cake things & gingerbread, & baked treats that sazzle your senses & tickle those tastebuds & well, other things!

2015 has been extradinarily quiet for me to be honest, I have genuinely only made one batch of cupcakes in the  whole year, can you believe it, I’ve been taking the imposed rest & recuperation quite seriously & I’m pleased to say, tentatively that things are looking up. I’m looking forward to 2016 with a degree of optimism, nothing is definite but I have everything crossed for a return to baking for you all at some point in 2016, now wouldn’t that be nice!  Nothing is certain these days of course but a positive outlook is always good to have!

2016 holds so many things to look forward to, plenty of Treacle Markets, the great & wonderful Barnaby Festival of course, brilliant new independent shops opening, visits to the countryside, snow, sunshine, lazy hazy summer days, first blossom, cake, apples, rhubarb, strawberries, the buzzing of happy bees , profiteroles, gingerbread buttons – lots to look forward to – I can’t wait!

I’ve come to realise over this last year though, that the love, understanding, patience, care, resilience & steadfastness, of those who I hold close in my life are the most cherished treasures a girl could ever wish for, well that & chocolate, & sparkly glass cake plates & gingerbread of course, it’s all about balance!

So I wish you, on the cusp of the New Year – Health, Wealth & Happiness, may your deepest wishes come true, may your resolution be rewarded, may positivity fill your world, may your hard work ,determination & resilience reap what you sow & always, always love & be loved & eat cake!!

Happy New Year Dearest All, see you next year!

Anyone for a Wimbly Womble!
Anyone for a Wimbly Womble!

 

 

 

Farewell 2014….


Well Hello 2015!
Well Hello 2015!

I’ve completely lost track of the days as you do over the Christmas holidays, so it came as a bit of a surprise to find out it’s New Years Eve already & Wednesday.  I have slept for most of the holidays if I’m honest, I was really quite exhausted by Christmas Eve & then came down with an epic cold as you do. So I’d love to say I’ve planned an epic night of partying, with heaps of friends, ridiculous drinking games, endless quaffing & general New Year bawdiness but alas not for me, those partying days of old, of dressing up in quirky, eye catching fancy dress which took days to plan, with no regard to the freezing temperatures are definitely over!  I’m more likely to be snuggled up on the sofa with a hot chocolate & marshmallows, well it is New Year,  in my onesie & elf slippers, wondering when it would be polite to go to bed – Oh how sensible & boring I’ve become! I fear (& hope) I’m not the only one, yes, please someone tell me this is their life too… please…? Or…..  I could just throw caution to the wind, let loose the pink fizz & just get absolutely trollied & have done with it, I’m even sure I spotted a bottle of Baileys in the cupboard!!! I guess I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Anyways, enough of the not even drunk ramblings, as is customary at this time of year, lets have a look back at the High Lights from the year that was! It’s mostly of cake can you believe it, & heaps of it too!

So many high lights, so much cake & gingerbread made & here’s hoping lots, lots more in 2015!

2014 has been a tough year for lots of reasons, but despite all the hurdles I feel I have achieved such a lot, but I really couldn’t have done without the love, kindness, patience, understanding & support from my most wonderful Family & Friends.  I am one very lucky Little Baker!

So to you all, I wish as 2014 comes to a close, that 2015 brings you Happiness & Health, that you love & are loved & All your Dreams come true! May 2015 be everything you wish for!

Happy New Year!!!