November 17, 2012

Banana Cake

I guess you've all realised by now that I seem to be getting a bit carried away with baking! Still nothing complex or worthy of the Great British Bake Off, but definitely more than I've attempted before.

This week I thought I'd make my brother's favourite cake as he has been working really hard recently and totally deserved a treat. I found this simple banana cake recipe on Allrecipes and gave it a go.

It's such a simple recipe I couldn't really believe it. I made it in a 2lb silicone loaf mould and as with the lemon drizzle cake that I made last week it needed longer in the oven (almost 15 minutes more than recommended). I don't know if this is because of my oven or how much it has to do with the mould. My verdict... I don't think I've ever even tried a piece of banana cake before but this one was awesome (even if I do say so myself!). I'll definitely make it again!

What's your favourite recipe or cake? Please comment and post a link to your recipe if you've shared it online :)

November 13, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #3

Welcome to my third Wishlist Wednesday post for the awesome blog hop hosted by Dani at Pen to Paper

This week my wishlist book is Dualed by Elsie Chapman. This book hasn't been released yet and is totally different to my usual genre choice

Two of you exist.
Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate - a twin raised by another family - and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage - life.

Fifteen year old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic missstep shakes West's confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she's no longer certain that she's the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love... though both have the power to destroy her.

As I said this is totally different to my usual but it does sound like it has a good storyline. I'll keep it on my kindle wishlist and let you know if I venture off to buy it when it's released :)

Want to join in??
  • Follow Pen to Paper as the host
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get your hands on and read
  • Wrote a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post
  • Put a link back to Pen to Paper somewhere on your post with a note about the host
  • Visit the other blogs, follow and enjoy :)
Do you read this genre... if so what would you recommend that has already been released for me to start on? Please comment below and also share what's on your wishlist this week!

A Yummy Discovery

Last week I was lucky enough to go to Castle Howard for the preview of their Christmas Fair that raises money for the NSPCC

Photo from Castle Howard website

Castle Howard is a beautiful place to visit and this year the Christmas trees lining the drive are gorgeous. I enjoyed having a look around the stalls and was quite impressed that I managed to find several Christmas presents for my family.

Among the presents for other people was, of course, a little present-to-self (I was working very hard carrying around a large granite chopping board that my mum wanted for her Christmas present... I'd totally earned this).

These two cordials are made by a company called Country Cordials. These guys are based in Hovingham (North Yorkshire) and specialise in 'handmade cordial drinks made from the fruits and flowers of nature with nothing artificial added'. Their website says that their cordials are made by hand using traditional methods in small batches to finely tuned recipes. They use natural ingredients sourced locally and seasonally with just a little British sugar added.

The Winter Warmer is a lovely treat as these cold winter days are setting in. It's made of Apple, orange, lemon, lime, ginger and honey and is gorgeous as a hot drink (which is very welcome this week as we have no heating in the house while the builders are building). The other one I bought was Apple and Elderflower and is really refreshing when diluted with sparkling water.

These two cordials are really lovely and I'm happy to be supporting a local company. They have a lot of different juices to chose from and I'd really recommend treating yourself to some if you come across it

November 10, 2012

Awww puppy!!!

I just couldn't resist a quick post to introduce you to Betsy... my friend's 9 week old black labrador puppy

She is so beautiful and cheeky. She's gained her confidence even since I first saw her on Monday and is now into absolutely everything! 

So that's my puppy fix for today, I'll definitely be sure to post more pics as she grows into an awesome gundog! ♥

November 9, 2012

Baking Experiment #2!

Flush with success baking a Christmas cake I got all giddy and decided to try and make one of my favourite cakes; lemon drizzle cake.

Now I said the other day that I'm no expert in the kitchen but if I never try these things I'll never know! I had a quick search through t'interweb for a recipe. Firstly there is the original master of baking Mary Berry and her recipe . However I'd heard a rumour (potentially on the Great British Bake Off) that Paul Hollywood's was better but his recipe isn't readily available online. So for some random reason I opted for a Nigella recipe. Love her or hate her, everyone knows that Nigella makes sexy cakes! Plus I could find a copy of her recipe online with some helpful photos to give me some guidance!

And... tadaaaa!!....

My verdict: I absolutely loved making this. It didn't need a load of ingredients and was pretty fast and simple to make. I did it in one of those silicone squishy baking moulds and as a result had to bake it for just a few minutes more than the recipe called for. All in all it seems to have been another success so I'm feeling pretty proud of myself!

November 6, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #2

Welcome to my second Wishlist Wednesday post fro the awesome blog hop hosted by Dani at Pen to Paper

This week my wishlist book is Fatal Flaw by William Lashner. I had a look through my kindle wishlist and found several of this author's books on there though I have never read any of his before (and to be honest have no recollection of when I added them to the list!). This sounds just up my street as it's a legal drama. Here are the details...

Some victims deserve nothing less than the truth...  Ethically adventurous Philadelphia lawyer Victor Carl usally does the right thing, but often for the wrong reasons. When old law school classmate Guy Forrest is accused of murdering his beautiful lover, Hailey Prouix, in their Main Line love nest, Carl agrees to represent him while keeping silent about his own prior romantic involvement with the victim, and his present determination to see that his client is punished for the brutal crime. But once Carl sets the machinery of retribution in motion, it may be impossible to stop it, even after his certainty begins to crack. Now Victor Carl must race across the country to uncover shocking truths: Who, really, was Hailey Prouix? And why is a killer still waiting in her shadow?

Want to join in??
  • Follow Pen to Paper as the host
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get your hands on and read
  • Wrote a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of her post
  • Put a link back to Pen to Paper somewhere on your post with a note about the host
  • Visit the other blogs, follow and enjoy :)
Thanks for reading! Please comment below and tell me what's on your wishlist this week....

November 5, 2012

Mmm cake.....

Now you may or may not know that I love to cook. I'm not saying that I'm a pro or anything, but I think I do pretty well and I really enjoy it. Something I don't do a lot of though is baking, however it's got to that time of year ...*drum roll please*.....Christmas cake and Christmas pudding time!

There are two reasons that they have to be done now: Firstly, the Christmas pudding needs a bit of time to mature and the Christmas cake needs time to be fed plenty of booze (very important)! Secondly, building work begins on our house in a few days time and we won't have a kitchen (eek!)

So I thought I'd share some photos with you. The cake recipe was given to my mum by a friend (I think it was her family recipe) and we've used it ever since I was little. I'm a sucker for technology and having all my recipes on my iPad but there is something special about getting out that hand written recipe with all the marks on it from when we had to check each ingredient off when I was young.
The start of the process (above) and the end product (below). It has cracked a little but I'm hoping these might reduce in size as it cools (this photo was taken when it just came out of the oven)

I made Christmas pudding for the first time last year but it turned out SO well that I plan to make it one of my traditions and make one every year. The recipe I used was this great one by Delia Smith . This year I have made a few alterations regarding the type of fruit I've added though the recipe is amazing just as it is and is really simple to do.

It's currently resting overnight and I'll pack it in a bowl and steam it for 6 hours tomorrow. Then I'll just keep it in a cool place until it's time to steam it again on Christmas day.

Do you make Christmas cakes and/or puddings? Please feel free to comment and share some of your favourite combinations and traditions :)

November 2, 2012

Finding my Voice

Don't think I'm missing the irony of this title as I'm writing, I'm hardly able to speak a word thanks to what I fear may turn out to be a bout of tonsillitis.

Anyway I know where my real voice is and know it'll come back... my blogging voice however is still in limbo land. I've had a blog for a couple of years now but I found it easier with 2011 in 2011 as I had a clear focus. The aim of it was to update my progress of time vs mileage and keep people informed about my fitness and races as I raised money and ran a lot.

I started this blog after my 2011 challenge ended and feel like I have struggled to find my identity as a blogger. I don't feel qualified enough to speak purely about fitness, everything I've learned has been just my experience or research on the web. Similarly I love to crochet and read though I don't think I do enough of either to specialise in one particular subject, which leads to where I am.

I want to thank those of you that follow me... most of you have amazing blogs that really inspire me! In return I give you an extremely random collection of running stories, book reviews, quotes and crochet piccies!

So I'm interested to know... what do you do for inspiration and how did you find your voice? I'm contemplating doing something like the 30 day photo challenge to just give me a starting point each day.
Or is it like learning a foreign language that's challenging for a start but the more you do it, the easier it gets?

I'm interested to learn and hope you stick with me until I really find my blogging identity

Run Faster!!

I don't really blog about my runs often any more but tonight's was a bit of a breakthrough for me since my injury over 6 months ago. I went to Sweatshop for their usual Friday evening run only to find out they cancelled without telling anyone (boo). Thankfully there was one of the guys that I used to run with waiting outside for a few fellas that he'd arranged to run with. It turns out I knew them all from when they used to run at SRC but they meet separately now for reasons that I'm not really aware of and didn't think I should ask about. Anyway, they invited me along and I happily accepted.

'Just an easy 10k' was the description of the run as we left....

'easy' may be a word they need to define a little bit more clearly in future! We had Simon (aka Speedy Gonzales) running with us. I remember seeing him at the end of the Bridlington half marathon and him being disappointed with a sub 1.30 (eek!). Anyway, he set the pace pretty fast and as a result I was pushed more than I've been pushing myself recently. To be honest, I'm really pleased they did!

Tonight reminded me of when I first started and how much I improved by running with people of similar and better ability. Having people that can push you a little bit harder than the usual comfortable pace really improves your performance and quick! The lesson I remembered today... RUNNING WITH FASTER RUNNERS MAKES YOU FASTER!!

All in all it was a brilliant run though easy is the last thing I'd describe it as... I ran a personal best 10km time tonight - if only it'd been a race!
You are reading the blog of a very happy runner. If I ache tomorrow it'll be well earned.