Belle and I have got into the habit of mocking the trend in dupe videos. You know how supermarkets or budget brands bring out versions of more expensive products and call them dupes? Our habit started though because Belle saw a video of someone making a recipe for what they SAID was a dupe, but it was actually just a recipe. I can’t even remember what it was, but it was along the lines of ‘SPONGE CAKE DUPE!’ but then was just an actual sponge cake recipe.
To really get into it, you also have to say ‘dupe’ as DOOP! Loudly and in a high pitched voice. Imagine me picking an apple from a tree and holding it aloft and shouting ‘Tesco bag of apples DOOP!’
You get the picture. We are very funny etc etc.
I recently made my own DOOP, which was very exciting and made me feel like a Millenial. It was a DOOP for an amazing Black Forest pastry I got from Lidl a couple of weeks ago when I was having one of those weeks where you feel like pastries are the answer. Cherry and chocolate is one of my favourite combinations, and the Lidl pastries are excellent, so this was a 10/10 for me.
This is the Lidl version:
To make my DOOP I bought a roll of ready made puff pastry, cut it into squares, blobbed on some Bonne Maman cherry jam and folded over the corners. Pop them in the oven at about 200 degrees and pace about a bit while you wait. About five minutes before they were cooked I chucked in a couple of squares of basic dark chocolate, so there was time for it to melt but not long enough for it to burn. You can watch the process in a short Instagram video I made.
And here it is, my Lidl pastry DOOP! Obviously it looks better as I styled the picture to make it look FANCY and didn’t just dump it onto one of my rusty old baking trays, but even so, I was pretty pleased with it.
You are very welcome.
Deck the halls with boughs of pumpkins, fa-la-la-la-la etc etc!
I am feeling especially seasonal today as I wore an ACTUAL JUMPER walking the dog this morning at about 7.30am and my hands were even a tiny bit cold! Can you imagine? It was lovely. What with that and having my first pumpkin spice latte of the year, it’s all very jolly and cosy and the perfect opportunity for an autumn themed episode of It’s Five O’clock Somewhere. (My podcast. Ooh!)
In every episode of the podcast, my cohost Gill and I drink a cocktail and to annoy Gill, who is convinced there is a Big Cinnamon conspiracy, I decided to make a pumpkin spice martini.
By pumpkin spice martini I don’t just mean slugging a bit of vodka into a Starbucks latte, which I have been known to do for the podcast before, I mean an actual fancy drink in a martini glass and everything. The recipe, if you can call it that, is very simple indeed. It’s half vodka and half this Mozart pumpkin spice cream liqueur. Shake it all up with some ice, pour into a nice glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick if you have one. To be honest, Belle said my cinnamon stick just looked like an old twig, so I’m not sure it really adds anything.
Take a look and see what you think for yourself.
It does look quite like a stick.
It tastes EXCELLENT and I can guarantee that it gets you drunk nice and quickly too. I can testify to this because after I made this one for the photo, I saved it to drink before I went out for dinner with friends later that evening. Unfortunately I forgot about it until I was leaving and had to knock it back in one go. I say ‘had to’.. food waste and all that.
It was the responsible thing to do.
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Why would you have boring old plain toast when you could have RAINBOW TOAST?? It’s easy to make as long as you’ve got a few food colourings and it makes for a fabulous activity for either:
- Middle-aged perimenopausal women with too much time on their hands, who have been parents for so long that they’re not even sure what they like anymore and are concerned that death is imminent and that there’s no time left to start anything new
Can you guess which category I fall into?
It’s about four years ago now that I first wrote about my midlife unravelling. It had been creeping up on me for a long time and it was a while before I mustered the enthusiasm to question it, but when I finally did and started HRT, it did help to put things back together a little bit. I’m not saying I’m full of Zest For Life, but nowadays I can open my laptop without crying and don’t spend large chunks of the day staring out the window, so that’s good. I still cry at films but it’s reassuring to know I wasn’t just having a complete mental breakdown.
What I’ve really noticed though since the unravelling is that I’m much more conscious of DEATH. Sometimes I can be driving the car and I will imagine crashing and dying and I realise that would be FOREVER and it is terrifying. When you die, life STOPS. Isn’t that scary?? When I’m not having these brief but intense existential crises, I swing the opposite way and paint bread in the colours of the rainbow, because honestly why the hell not. We’re all going to die anyway etc etc, might as well paint stuff pretty colours in the meantime eh?
Following on from Friday’s pumpkin spice latte extravaganza, I thought I’d roll with the vibe and do a spot of autumnal baking. I found some apples near my mum’s house and went rummaging in the bushes for blackberries and set about making some of the cutest apple and blackberry pies you’re going to see all autumn.
Take a look if you don’t believe me:
WHAT DID I TELL YOU?
I had a very lovely time indeed fiddling about making leaves and what not, ignoring the fact that we are actually having a heat wave and it was 26 degrees outside. It’s September dammit! I had a pumpkin spice latte! I should be in tights by now.
Anyway, if you want to get into the autumnal vibe with me, here’s what you need:
- One medium cooking apple (can be found near my mum’s house)
- A good large handful of blackberries (I collected mine in a dog poop bag. Optional.)
- A blob of honey
- A generous sprinkle of cinnamon
- A sheet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
- A beaten egg for brushing
If you’re on Instagram, you can watch a video of me making them here. Otherwise you’ll have to follow my instructions and use your imagination. View Post
I’ve heard that you’re meant to include interesting seasonal content on a blog and it doesn’t get much more seasonal than a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Everyone knows that as soon as the PSL comes out you’re allowed to start wearing tights and humming Jingle Bells under your breath.
September 1st then, and off we went to the Starbucks drive-thru. I used to believe that my role as ‘parent’ would be pretty much done by the time my kids turned 18, but here they are, now 21 and 28, and neither of them can drive, so anything that involves driving through something is still my parental responsibility.
‘Bee says we can drive through Starbucks tomorrow for pumpkin spice lattes,’ Belle informed me last night.
‘That’s generous of her,’ I said, or something equally sarcastic. In Bee’s defence, I imagine what she actually said was much more along the lines of ‘ask mum if she’ll drive us through Starbucks’ and something got lost in translation. The sarcasm wasn’t even warranted as I didn’t mind at all – who doesn’t like a little autumnal themed Friday evening excursion? I’ve been on a strict budget lately as apparently everything in the world now costs a million pounds, and it turns out that when you do stuff less, it becomes more exciting, so that’s one perk at least of being Quite Poor.*
I picked up baby Joey from nursery, (the ‘baby’ who is now four years old and about to start school and WEAR A TIE of all things), and then Bee from work, and we set off. The seasonal tension in the car was palpable. All talk was of the pumpkin spice. I was ready to pull over and start Googling pumpkin patches so that we could recreate this epic pumpkin based scene.
I’m going to be straight with you here. As excited as I was for the outing and the autumn vibes, I was in two minds about the actual pumpkin spice latte. The last couple of years I’ve found it a little heavy on the spice and not really NICE, which does take the edge of the whole thing. I was putting on a brave face though. A little too brave probably, verging on manic.
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‘If I make some chocolate pancakes with a peanut butter sauce,’ I asked Belle, ‘will you eat them?’
‘Will I eat some chocolate pancakes,’ she said, looking like she might have misunderstood the question, ‘if you make them for me right now?’
‘Yes,’ I said.
‘Well yes,’ she said, ‘obviously.’
And so I did.
I pretty much only drink oat milk nowadays as it’s nicer in coffee and kinder on my stomach, and oat milk works really well in recipes too. Yeah yeah, I know you all know this, but did you also know that Modern Milkman can deliver oat milk to your door in the proper glass bottles? I didn’t. They also do kefir in glass bottles for the true millennials amongst you. Or strawberry milkshake for the 45 year old toddlers like me. All this as part of your regular dairy delivery. How very modern.
How to make dairy free chocolate pancakes
Modern Milkman has some plant-based milk recipes over on their website, or you can hang out here with me and the pancakes. For my dairy free pancakes you’ll need: View Post
Happy Pride Month!
To show my support I thought I’d do what I do best and make a drink and laze about in the garden with it. Huzzah! Obviously it’s a rainbow themed drink – a rainbow paradise cocktail in fact – because what kind of ally would I be otherwise?
The ‘effort versus impressing your friends’ ratio is excellent, it honestly hardly takes any time at all, which is perfect if you’re a lazy bones like me – all the more time for lounging in the sun scrolling through Instagram and doing word puzzles.
To make your own rainbow cocktail for Pride Month here’s what you need to do:
- Pour a splosh of grenadine into the bottom of a large glass
- Add a big handful of ice
- Fill half the remaining glass with a mix of white rum and pineapple juice (and pretend you’re 19 again)
- Top up with a mix of half and half water and blue curacao. You might want to pour this in carefully over the back of a spoon
- Garnish with something suitably jazzy
Ideally you’ll have just painted your garden walls half white and half yellow and with a set of three swirly pink stripes as this will really set your rainbow cocktail off in the sunshine.
Oh wait, what now? I just happen to have done exactly that?? Well, almost, I have about half of the darkest pink stripe left to paint because the cats have adopted one particular flowerbed as their litter tray and the smell was too repulsive to stand next to for too long. I’m very pleased with it though, as is the little girl next door who has been climbing up to look over my fence at regular intervals to check on my progress.
‘Hello Jo!’ she said today, appearing over the fence as I took in the washing. ‘Your painting looks beautiful! Have you finished? Mummy told me not to bother you.’
(If you are reading this Mummy then I honestly don’t mind at all, it’s nice to be appreciated.)
Rainbow cocktails are fun, but this post is really a reminder to support and celebrate all of your LGBTQ+ friends, colleagues, and anyone else for that matter, not just for Pride Month but for always. Whether it’s making changes at work to create a more supportive environment, getting involved in campaigning or even just putting a sticker in the window of your car, here are some ways to Take Pride in supporting LGBTQ+ rights.
Cheers to that.
I am very much the sort of person who takes pleasure in the small things. I will often go to bed and find myself actively looking forward to having a coffee in the garden the next morning, I spot and look at buds on tree branches, I love it when the dog wags her tail in her sleep – that’s the sort of level we’re talking here. It’s one of the things I love about myself as it means I’m very easily pleased and basically a cheap date, which is no bad thing what with the cost of living crisis.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised how many of my small pleasures revolve around food and drink, especially coffee. As a nation we’ve definitely embraced the ‘coffee as a treat’ phenomenon, which is why I think coffee would make an excellent gift this Easter instead of boring old chocolate.
I’m not suggesting just handing over a jar of Tesco’s finest freeze-dried, I’m talking about something a little bit special from The Brew Company.
The Brew Company make premium, speciality coffee, with a focus on sustainability, provenance and an authentic connection with coffee farmers. They choose specialty coffee beans from small independent farm-holders from all over the globe, hand-roasting and slow-crafting them in small batches in their artisan micro-roastery in Middelfart, Denmark.
(And yes, I admit I laughed at the name Middelfart, because Small Pleasures remember.)
The great thing about coffee from The Brew Company is that you can take it anywhere. Their premium coffees come in individual coffeebrewers – patented, portable bags that make your coffee for you, creating an experience somewhere between a cafetiere and a French press. All you have to do is pour hot water into the bag, and bish bash bosh, give it a few minutes for your coffee to brew and you’ve got a premium coffee wherever you happen to be, whether that’s at work or in the middle of a field.
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If you’ve ever watched Death in Paradise, chances are you’ve longed to spend a tropical evening on the edge of the water at Catherine’s Bar, gazing out over the sands and sipping a cold beer. Sure, if you were in Death in Paradise you’d also be looking over the case files from a baffling murder in a locked room but let’s be honest, that’s only going to add to it isn’t it?
Well, without wanting to make you too jealous, take a look at me, just this week…
Right?? It’s basically Guadeloupe. Except that it’s actually the River Shack at Stoke Gabriel, near Totnes, in Devon. I know, isn’t it gorgeous? We were even sat on a shack style patio. I just needed Catherine to saunter over in one of her long dresses and big hoop earrings and offer me a rum and I could have been there, about to crack the case.
I’d never been to Stoke Gabriel before but I’d been doing some research into dog friendly restaurants in Devon and was lured by the River Shack photos and also the promise of an ancient tree in the village churchyard that can grant wishes if you walk backwards around it seven times. View Post
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This week Joey came round for the afternoon to do some baking. He turned three last month, and although I wasn’t entirely sure how good he would be at concentrating, I thought it was worth a try as cooking with kids is one of my favourite things to do. I always volunteer for the cooking activities at Brownies because they just love it so much and there’s always at least one who tries something they thought they didn’t like.
Initially Joey was sceptical about standing on the chair and seemed more interested in putting a yellow football in and out of the shed and saying he was going on holiday, but as soon as I got him in front of the pastry and he realised there was jam to spread he was 100% invested.
We were making a recipe from Joey’s new personalised recipe book from Sammy Satsuma. The concept behind Sammy Satsuma is simple – cooking is fundamental in teaching children about food and nutrition and getting kids involved in cooking means they’re more likely to try new foods. Being part of the cooking process gives them a sense of pride and investment in their food, which makes it a totally different experience from just having a meal plonked down in front of them. View Post
Looking for plastic free Easter eggs this year? Or maybe you want a vegan Easter egg? I’ve picked out five of my favourites so you can enjoy your Easter treats guilt free.
Happy nearly Easter!
I’m not in anyway religious, but I’m happy to jump on the bandwagon of any religious festival that requires the eating of chocolate eggs. Judge me if you will but there we are.
One thing that has always annoyed me though about Easter and Easter eggs in particular is all the waste that goes with them – all those chocolate eggs in huge plastic shells, just waiting for the wrappers to be torn off so that the plastic can get chucked in a lake and eaten by a pregnant dolphin, or whatever it is that happens to it. It’s definitely something like that. But then of course the fishing industry does more damage to fish than plastic, so perhaps veganism is really the answer. Not that Easter eggs normally have fish in them, but still, the principle is sound.
One really easy change you can make this Easter is simply to look out for plastic free or vegan Easter eggs, or ideally both! I’ve picked out five of my favourite options for you, plus if this has got you feeling the vegan Easter vibe why not have a go at making my vegan hot cross bun recipe?
Much scientific research has shown* that drinking a hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow cloud can increase overall happiness rates by up to 47%. If the marshmallow cloud has a face that happiness boost increases by eight percentage points.
In fact, some research** has even concluded that simply looking at a picture of a homemade marshmallow cloud with a smiley face can trigger the release of serotonin and boost feelings of contentment for up to 90 minutes. It’s very similar to petting a particularly fluffy dog you meet in the street or getting an unexpected rebate on your electricity bill.
Let’s try it shall we?
How do you feel? You feel better than you felt three minutes ago right? I knew it.
If you want to scale up the good feelings and recreate these marshmallow clouds at home, where you can see AND eat them, then here’s what you need: View Post