Saturday, 24 October 2015

Raspberry and Amaretti Crunch Cake

Oh my this is good cake! It's a ridiculous thing to have made as I'm home alone this weekend and the dog doesn't like raspberries. My excuse is I'm testing it to see how long it remains nice to eat. It makes up very quickly, just whizz up some flour, eggs, sugar, ground almonds and butter then layer in a cake tin with raspberries and amaretti biscuits but be warned, it cooks low and slow. If you search for it on the BBC Good Food website (use the name from the title above) it will tell you to bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Mine took 1 hour 40 but it filled the kitchen with the welcoming smell of baking after a long wet afternoon walk. As I was sampling a slice, I got around to a little project I've seen a lot of on Pinterest.
I've seen a lot of mini hoops with embroidered christmas motifs. So, I bought some threads in smokey blue and silvery colours and drew a little design. I'll let you know how it goes. I managed to buy the threads because today for the first time, I abandoned the dog for 3 hours and went to town. It was lovely but I won't lie, there was guilt. During the week, I work upstairs in a little back office so the puppy knows I'm around even though I might ignore him for 2 hours. I hadn't actually left the house until this morning. He has a crate, loads of toys, water and the run of the kitchen so although my sensible brain knew he had all he needed, my puppy brain was beating me up about it. He was fine but I was greeted with....
Thank goodness you're home! Someone has eaten all the fluffy off the tennis ball.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Stotties, good blogs and hygge

I read somewhere that dogs don't like the smell of citrus and since Buster's current hobby is chewing everything except his chew toys, I thought I'd test the theory using the power of lemons.
Dog v Lemon
Dog 0 - Lemon 1
I think I may have found the way to save our entire house. We will live in a lemon scented non-chewed world. But enough of dogs. Many of my interests follow the seasons, so in spring it's sewing and needle felting, in summer it's camping, in autumn it's baking, baking and baking. As we move into winter and Christmas, it's everything! I love this time of year and without realising there was a word for it, I have been practising Hygge most of my life. Pronounced "hooga", it's a Danish word and concept which translates roughly as cosiness and is what the Danes credit with getting them though the dark winter months. Hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good, simple things in life so the warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Sharing coffee and cake with friends and family is hygge, as is curling up on the sofa under a blanket to read through a good blog. I'd been catching up with having just bought Jill's latest book....
...and got distracted by some links and landed at a wonderful foody website with a recipe for stotties, a bread from north east England I'd enjoyed many years ago while working in that area. This fabby bread only needs to prove once and is simply rolled flat before being baked for 15 mins. Then turn the oven off, let the bread sit in the cooling oven for about 30 mins and it's ready to munch. The recipe is courtesy of and both the bread and blog are well worth trying. I split the dough in two and we ate them warm from the oven with some butter. That's hygge!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Puppy Love

I need to ask you to excuse the photos.  My iphone decided it didn't want to automatically upload pics to picassa anymore.  So I've had a fun time searching the internet for a) the right way to describe what was wrong in order to b) invite the correct answer then c) understand the answer and d) put it into practice then e) discover I couldn't edit pics.  It's been a sweary few weeks in my house.  
 So here are some rubbish pics of autumn scenes round our way.
 We've been visiting our favourite foraging sites waiting for the blackberries, cob nuts and sloes to ripen ready for picking.
And as ever it's been very nice.  We've had some lovely chilly, crispy days with a little leftover summer sun.
And our sunflowers finally opened so the bees had a good time too.  So far, so normal....
Then this happened...
In our rural village it is compulsory to own either a tractor or a dog and since we don't have the space for a tractor we'd been thinking about having a dog for nearly a year.  A change in circumstances means I currently work from home and that opened up a puppy sized window of opportunity and slightly to our surprise, we took it.
 Meet Buster, a mischievous Parson Russell Terrier from north Devon.  He was about 8 weeks old when these pics were taken. 
The first 72 hours of puppy parenthood were a nightmare and I seriously wondered if we had just made a massive mistake.  We didn't speak Dog, he didn't speak English, we were house trained, he wasn't, we thought he needed quiet time on his own being silent, he thought otherwise. Over a week we got used to each other and once he'd had his vaccinations and we were no longer house bound, he endeared himself to everyone and became The Cutest Thing in the Village.  I've spoken to more people in the past 5 weeks than the past 8 years.  Socialising a puppy is a very sociable thing! 

 At first we took local walks round the churchyard to get him used to the big world and its interesting smells.  This weekend we went further and took the Park and Ride bus into Bath.  The bus was loaded up with adults who petted, took photo's and generally coo'ed over Buster, much to his approval.
 Buster about town.  Posing in front of Bath Abbey.
 It took an age to walk down to a pet shop I wanted to visit because we were stopped every few feet with someone wanting to say hello to Buster (also known as BusterNO and BusterSIT) and of course he was on his best cute behaviour.  Naturally the girls in the pet shop got all soppy about him and dressed him up in a Frankenstein's Monster outfit. I wish I'd taken a pic!  I resisted buying that outfit and opted for something visible now it's getting darker.  We're going back for a Santa outfit in December.  Don't judge me.
Buster is now 13 weeks old so we're entering our 6th week of puppy ownership and are still learning how to look after each other.  He has doubled in size (and weight!) and can do sit, stay, give paw, ring a bell to go outside for toilet time, quiet woof on command, half roll over, touch with his nose and fetch and drop.  He can also terrorise the other dogs at puppy training, eat bird poop, ignore all his commands, worry horses and entice an otherwise sensible vet to urge me to dress him up as a pumpkin for Halloween and take a photo for her.  I. Must. Resist.