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….


Barnaby Festival (I may even wear a Hat) Treacle Market!!

It’s been a fabulous start to the Summer with Barnaby Festival kicking off in Macclesfield these last few weeks! There’s still an awful lot of things to see & do before the amazing festival closes on Sunday Night! Highlights so far have been the brilliant ‘Industry’ Parade on Saturday; amazing floats, toetapping music, visionary costumes & masses & masses of happy Parading folk (including me!)! It’s rumoured to have been The Biggest Parade ever! I like that!

Treacle Market Paraders! Thanks to Macclesfield Physio Pilates for use of this Excellent photo!
Treacle Market Paraders!
Thanks to Macclesfield Physio Pilates for use of this Excellent photo!

Other highlights have been Morella, Passages from a Gothic Opera at the hauntingly beautiful King Edward St Chapel, it was phenomenal! Given this is essentially a working project it really was fantastic & I cannot wait to see this again & possibly again! Tim Peaks Diner was great too, live music, great food & incredible atmosphere, & then there was Acoustic Sanctuary,  intimate, yet astounding gig with Tim Burgess (The Charlatans) & Stephen Morris (New Order – Macclesfield born & bred no less!) or so I’m told, sadly I didn’t get to go to this….The less said the better … Moving on.. So the Big Weekend was truly Big! I fear I may run out of superlatives to describe how amazing it actually was! I felt like I was on holiday, the sun shone, the atmosphere all over town was perfectly brilliant & I am in awe of the team who have created such a fantastic, fun filled, phenomenal festival! Hats off to you all!

Luckily for us all, there’s still a lot more to be packed into this weekend with the Music Fringe kicking off around town in all the superb pubs & bars – who needs Glastonbury! And then there’s Treacle Market, perfectly positioned & timed for you to forage & gather all the your favourite Treacle Treat to round off an truly spectacular fortnight of cultural fun!  Baskets, bags & Treacle Carts at the ready!!

Treacle Market!
Treacle Market!

Which invariably & inevitably brings your attention to Cake!! particularly CocoaNoko Cake of course! I shall be shamelessly tempting you with my wares on Castle St, who can resist!! See you on Sunday!

First Up gets the cake – only crumbs if you’re late!!’

You can order in advance if you wish so as not to miss out, just email me on cocoanokos@hotmail.co.uk (BEFORE 5pm SATURDAY) , detailing what you’d like!

All Fairy Cakes are priced at £1.50 each or the special Treacle Market Box Price of 4 for £5.00. 


WIMBLY WOMBLES – Fresh British Strawberry & Vanilla sponge with lashings of Vanilla Buttercream topped with delicious Strawbs!

RASPBERRY RUMBLES – Raspberry & white chocolate sponge with White chocolate buttercream, dark chocolate & raspberry drizzle

LEMON QUEENIES – Lush lemon sponge Mini Vicki Sponage, with Lemon Curd & lemon Buttercream – Lemon Heaven

BLACK FORESTY – Deliciously Chocolaty sponge with Morello Cherry centre, rich Vanilla buttercream topped with dark choc & a cherry!

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


Gluten Free Simples – Wonderfully Moist Chocolate Sponge with voluptuous Vanilla Buttercream – Gluten Free Perfection!

Double Trouble – Divinely moist Chocolate Sponge with rich chocolate buttercream with a top of sprinkles & chocolate stuff!


Crazy Caramel – Delicious rich Caramel Sponge with home made caramel buttercream, with drizzles of dark chocolate & caramel

Silly Vanilly – Simply the simplest flavour there is but oh so yummy, Vanilla Sponge topped with the whippiest lightest Vanilla Buttercream ever

Sticky Toffee – Sticky toffee sponge with oodles of dates, liberally swirled with crunchy brown sugar, toffee buttercream

Luscious Lemon – Lovely Luscious Lemon Sponge with zesty lemon buttercream – Lemon Lovers Heaven!

Double Trouble Chocolate – Divinely moist Chocolate Sponge with rich chocolate buttercream with a top of sprinkles & chocolate stuff

Lemony Ginger – Zesty, spicy Lemony Ginger sponge with equally yummy buttercream, topped with a cute as button Gingerbread

FlutterBy Choc – Delicious Chocolate Butterfly Sponge with raspberry jam secret centre & fluffy vanilla buttercream

Deepest Darkest Chocolate – Divinely moist chocolate sponge with serious dark chocolate ganache! Only seriously chocoholics need apply!

ChoccyCaramel Flutterby – Gorgeous chocolate sponge with lashings of caramel buttercream

Simon’s Coffee Cake – Rich Coffee layer cake, with a tiny hint of Vanilla topped with wonderful Coffee Buttercream & chocolate coated coffee beans!

Fairy Cakes Galore!
Fairy Cakes Galore!


£1.50 per slice (or 4 slices for £5.00 Deal)

Lemon Drizzle – The Infamous & Legendary Luscious Lemon Drizzle, one slice is never enough!

Victorious Sponge – layers of gorgeously light Victoria sponge & raspberry jam, dusted with golden caster sugar!

Sticky Treacle Cake – Delectably sticky ginger & treacle cake, with bursts of tangy orange!

Batty Battenburg – Lovely almond sponge quartered by lush raspberry jam, carefully wrapped in marzipan!

Infamous  & Luscious Lemon Drizzle
Infamous & Luscious Lemon Drizzle


Coconut Macaroons – Utterly Moist & seriously flavourful Macaroons, liberally draped in Dark Belgian Chocolate! £1.50 (or 4 for £5.00 Deal)

I Should Coconut Macaroons!
I Should Coconut Macaroons!


Gingerbread – Secret Recipe Gingerbread, extensively taste tested as only the best will do!

Please feel free to sample the specially created Treacle Market Gingerbread Hearts that will only be available while stocks last!!

Buttons, Moustaches, & Crowns 

Hearts & Flowers Lollies

(All Gingerbread are priced individually)

It's all about the buttons in Macclesfield!
It’s all about the buttons at Blue Buttons!


The Wreath is Up – not many sleeps to Christmas now!

The Christmas Wreath has been made, it has been glamorously attached to the front door with the aid of Gaffer Tape and BluTak! It looks lovely, a biased opinion I can assure you, but it does look nice! It’s a little on the large size and you may have to squeeze carefully past it to enter the house and so not to be impaled yourself on the holly but I loves it!

Lovingly made from the greenery and foliage that is in abundance in my garden, from the of-cuts from this years Christmas Tree generously donated or else it wouldn’t fit in it’s pot! Some not so natural but other wise gorgeous and richly coloured berries carefully placed and a quick raid of the carefully collected, stored and possibly quite vintage ribbon drawer and there you have it. This years Christmas Wreath, carefully, lovingly constructed without a wire or glue gun in sight. One is a happy, satisfied and contented CocoaNoko… For that precise moment anyway, I now need to clear up the mess…!

Christmas – has it arrived too early this year?

SO Christmas is here… already… And has been for at least a week in Sainsbury’s give or take a few days. Lakeland have launched their Christmas range for 2012, getting in there at the beginning before all the rest I imagine and who can resist a Lakeland Christmas! Then there’s the seamless appearance of all the Christmas cards in those wonderful Charity shops but I can’t help thinking that it’s all a wee bit early this year…

It’s a weird thing to say from my point of view – I ADORE Christmas! I drive my entire family nuts and a fair few of my friends with my August playing of cheesy Christmas songs, planning and plotting the festive frivolities; I’ve often wondered what Christmas would be like all the year round! I gleefully welcome the onslaught of the Season of Good Cheer but this year I think it’s all just a little bit early, a little bit heartless, a whole lot commercial and just a little bit lost…

There are those who feel Christmas should stay in December and only December, but I just think that’s just a bit late by then, but I can see their point. In merchandising terms, it used to be that Christmas kicked off on Bonfire Night, that was the deadline for shops and stores to be ready – which is over a month away from now! These days we’re drip fed Christmas from late August, to the point that when stores do jazz up their shop windows, hang up their decorations to dazzle us we’re all a little bit indifferent, a little bit worn down and a little bit fatigued by the season of good will. We’ve already bought our festive short breads and After Eight mints way back in late summer when they were on offer, and possibly again in October because we were feeling a bit peckish one night and there wasn’t anything else…

So it seems to be me that no matter how traditional our Christmas’s appear, no matter how personal we make it, we’re governed by commercialism, by marketing stratagems and forecasts, by clever psychological shopping tricks that actually entice us to shop early, to shop for 2, 3 or even 4 Christmas’s in one year. More to the point are we actually happy, have our spirits been lifted, have we shown good will to all men (whilst fighting over the last turkey crown in Sainsbury’s because you always forget something!) The answer is probably no…

So this Christmas, the one in December, the only one in this year of Glorious 2012, have a little think about whose in charge of your Christmas. Yes the shops may have festive biscuits on their shelves, those cards may be sparkling at you at eye height but you don’t have to buy them just yet, you don’t have to buy anything at all, in fact you could instead, just for a change buy from a quirky, nothing is too much trouble, local independent shop or you could always, even more special & worthwhile, make it yourself…