Do you make your own Christmas cake?

I have once. It was a right faff. Totally worth it though in terms of how smug I felt come Christmas day, presenting the cake I’d been liberally soaking in brandy for what felt like about two years. Plus once I’d trimmed off the burnt bits and covered it all in marzipan and icing, it tasted pretty good too.

It went nicely with my display of intricately decorated Christmas gingerbread cookies:

Christmas gingerbread cookies

Haha! Not really. Can you even imagine?!

Still, when you think about it, it’s cake plus alcohol, so what’s not to like about that, regardless of how it looks?

Christmas of course is not just about cake and booze.

(Seriously?! That’s disappointing.) View Post

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unicorn poo cupcakesAs you may have picked up in the seven or so years that I’ve been blogging, I don’t have what you’d call a passion for housework. My ideal way of spending less time ironing is simply to not do it, and instead to wear stretchy clothes where the creases get sort of pulled flat.

Or, to get out of ironing other people’s clothes, you could try the method I accidentally employed on an ex-boyfriend. I was trying to be helpful and was ironing a few shirts. I was doing his favourite white shirt when Bee showed me a picture of a baby doing something cute. I can’t remember what exactly – it was dressed up as a lobster or something like that I think.

I laughed and dropped the iron on the floor. 

Whoops.

I figured that if I just picked it up really quickly and carried on, that no one would notice. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the large amount of carpet that had melted onto the iron and which I then proceeded to iron onto the back of the shirt.

I wasn’t hugely popular when the boyfriend got home to find a patch of carpet missing. Even less popular when he discovered the missing patch had found a new home on his shirt.

Double whoops.

I do appreciate though that neither of these approaches are an effective long term strategy, and that ironing is one of those things that you just have to do, both for everyday things and more special occasions. Like last week when I bought new curtains for the two windows in our bedroom. Seriously, it felt like I was ironing those curtains for about two days. View Post

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I was a massive fan of Roald Dahl stories when I was little. I know, who isn’t? But I loved them. I had a tape of Fantastic Mr Fox that I listened to again and again and again, and my favourite books were probably The Witches, Danny Champion of the World and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (The latter was a particular favourite as it had a character in it called Josephine. Which is my name, in case you didn’t know.)

With Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it was never really the idea of a lifetime’s supply of chocolate that did it for me, it was always the factory itself. I desperately wanted to try the chewing gum that was a three course meal. As I read it, I would try to imagine the warm tomato soup trickling down the back of my throat, morphing into roast beef and gravy. I’m doing it now as I type.

I wanted to be there, seeing how things were made, seeing inventions come to life.

A couple of weeks ago I got about as close as I am ever likely to get when I went to visit the Thorntons chocolate factory. (Although I don’t remember them wearing sexy hair nets in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)

Thorntons chocolate factory tour View Post

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This year Uncle Ben’s pioneered the first ever Cook With Your Kids Day as part of their Ben’s Beginners initiative. The idea behind Ben’s Beginners and Cook With Your Kids Day, which is on October 15th, is that we’re a bit rubbish when it comes to teaching our kids the basics of food preparation. Okay, so ‘a bit rubbish’ is maybe a little harsh, but you know what I mean. We get so focussed on academic teaching – SATS and spellings and reading levels – that we loose sight of key skills like cooking.

I’ve always been pretty good at cooking with my own kids when it comes to baking, but that’s really just because I want them to be able to cook me treats. I’m a bit less on the ball when it comes to actual meals.

(To be honest, I’ve never been good at actual meals generally. I hate food shopping, and will normally leave Sainsbury’s with a collection of random items like ice cream cones and radishes rather than useful ingredients for things.)

It wasn’t long ago for example that I had a text message from Bee in London. Bee is an expert baker, but clearly I’ve not taught her so well on the savoury front.

‘How do you make stir-fry?’ her text read.

I wasn’t sure how to answer that.

‘Well, the clue is sort of in the name…’

This week though Belle and I made chicken curry. With actual spices! And vegetables! Fancy. 

easy chicken curry recipe View Post

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I have to confess that I’ve not spectacularly leapt onto the ‘clean eating’ bandwagon. To me, clean eating means putting your toast and chocolate spread onto a plate from the cupboard rather than just brushing the crumbs off a plate you find next to the sink.

I don’t think that’s the standard definition though.

Clean eating is actually about eating as much ‘real’ food as possible – food that it is in its natural state, unprocessed and unrefined. It’s not about cutting out food groups or stuffing your face with supplements, it’s essentially just about going back to basics, and eating more as nature intended. I think. Although it probably helps with the general ethos of things to have a clean plate as well.

As you can probably imagine, clean eating is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m much more likely to buy myself a pack of Boots sushi than whip myself up a salad of beansprouts and fresh tuna first thing in the morning. (Which reminds me, I had another dream about tuna last night. In this one, someone had cooked me a massive tuna steak, and someone else came along and ripped off half of it to share with me. it wasn’t like the dream where I turned people into cans of tuna with my eyes. Still, it’s a weird theme to reoccur.)

Recognising my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to food preparation, I’ve been trying out a new food delivery scheme from a company called Everdine

Now, you might think that clean eating wouldn’t really fit with frozen, microwavable meals, but you’d be wrong. Freezing is actually a really wholesome way to keep food fresh, as it cuts out the need for loads of artificial preservatives. Microwaving too is one of the most nutrient-preserving ways of heating up your food, plus I have a microwave at work, so it’s really quick and easy for me to bung a few Everdine meals in the freezer for my lunches during the week.

Everdine clean eating View Post

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