Lavender & Black Bakes

Hot Puddings & Pies: Apple Pie

Is there anything that screams Autumn more than curling up on a Sunday evening under a blanket and tucking into a bowl full of warm apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream? No, I didn’t think so!

Obviously that is what this week’s bake was all about, and it seemed a fitting warm welcome to Autumn considering we are now entering the final days of Summer. Also here is a fun fact, I have never actually made nor have I ever eaten an apple pie. I’m not sure why as I was given this celebrated desert many times as a child but I always just sat pushing the bits of stewed, cooked apple around as if I was being force-fed an alien slug baby with a look of absolute horror on my face.

So my introduction to apple pie as an adult seen me bravely tuck into my Sunday evening desert and left me wondering why it has taken me so long to try this wonderful desert. Little legs on the other hand had the same look of disgust / horror ingrained on his face just like I did 20 years previous. Kids eh?

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This recipe was surprisingly easy, I made my own pastry from scratch and also completely by hand! Double gold star to me. I replaced the cloves with ground cinnamon and I even hunted out my cookie cutters from my sugar craft days past and attempted to make the top of the pie look cute (okay, yes you got me. It was mainly for the Instagram photos). My mam also said she would give this bake a gold star and that is better than any Hollywood handshake! So yes, I will attempt this bake again, however I think I am going to play with the recipe and tweak it slightly by adding a larger quantity of apples etc.

Next week Cranberry and Apricot Fruit Cake

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Lifestyle, Summer

10 things that have made me happy this week

As if it is this time of the week again! I can’t be the only one who feels like these past two weeks have whizzed past ridiculously fast, even more so with the return to school chaos. Anyway! Here are the top 10 things that have made me feel happy over the past 7 days and please don’t forget to let me know what made you happy this past week as well.

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  1. Reading – There is nothing better than getting lost in a good book and that is what I have been doing these past two weeks. I am currently reading two cute little books, first up is the one I mentioned last week (The Little Book of Hygge) and the other is The Danish way of Parenting, both of which I wish I had found years earlier if truth be told and I fully recommend them both.
  2. Podcasts – These aren’t something I usually listen to, but this week whilst getting ready for work I felt I needed some background noise and my usual music playlist just wasn’t cutting it.  I stumbled upon Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast and I am absolutely in love with the entire idea of breaking down the Harry Potter texts chapter by chapter under a different theme each time. It is safe to say that I am obsessed!IMG_20180907_193145_895
  3. Pub Lunches – Last Friday I managed to toddle up to my local pub on my own and I really enjoyed just being out of the house and being in my own company for a change. Not only that but I also got to eat the best fish and chips I have ever had on a wonderful rainy autumn day in the cutest pub ever, accompanied with a gin and tonic of course.
  4. Bake off – I know I mentioned this last week, but it is obvious that an adorable baking show set in a tent is going to make everyone happy, so it was clearly going to appear here more than once. I think my favourite this year is Rahul, Kim-Joy also amuses me with her little cat creations. Who is your current favourite?IMG_20180914_174634_716
  5. Lush hair care – This time last week my hair was knackered. I don’t mean looking bit dull and lifeless I mean a full-blown frizzy dead mess! I ended up in Lush and picked up the H’suan wen hua hair treatment and that alongside a tiny sample of avocado co-wash seems to have brought my hair back into the land of the living thank god!
  6. Walking – Sounds a bit daft, I mean who likes walking? Me I must admit. I always feel a lot happier and more content after I have been out and about for a stroll, especially now the weather is cooling down. On the way to the pub last week it was fun to jump in all the puddles in the park in my wellies and I have walked part way home from work this week to. I will admit being in a Fitbit challenge with my bestie is the main source of inspiration when it comes to the after-work walks, especially after the long days we have had this week.IMG_20180914_174318_116
  7. Apple Pie – Is there anything better on a chilly Sunday night then a warm apple pie and some vanilla ice cream? The answer is no, no there is not. This week’s bake was just that, and it was magical.
  8. Stew – I know food appears a lot, but that is because food truly makes me happy, due to me being a little pig. The first of the official slow cook meals started this week with my mam making us beef stew with carrots, potatoes and green beans. I brought home some crusty bread from the Grainger market which went down a treat with mopping up the gravy in our bowls afterwards.
  9.  Infinity war!! Oh my god I almost forgot about this one. Sounds silly but I haven’t been to the cinema since before I got a bit fuzzy, and during that time Infinity war was released and I was devastated that I didn’t have the courage to go out and see it. But on Saturday night we had family movie night and after months of avoiding ALL spoilers I finally got to see the movie in all its glory with a G&T in my hand.
  10. Summer house – Our little summer-house is coming along nicely in the garden and even though it is only 40% complete I love toddling down and sitting in the doorway with my cup of tea and just watching the world go by. It will be amazing once it is finished.
Autumn, Food, Food, Summer

BlackBerries: Picking and Jam

Did you know that it is currently the most wonderful time of year? No? Well it is true you see. Yes, we are quickly edging towards the end of summer however the beginning of the much longed after Autumn months are just around the corner. The weather isn’t too warm, nor is it too cold, the much wished for rain has returned in fits and starts and you will have seen all the trees, bushes and hedgerows bursting with ripe, juicy ready to be picked treats.

The one indicator that my favourite time of year is slowly approaching is the arrival of the blackberries. I see the little green fruits appear on the bushes everywhere, in my garden, at my local park, on the roads as I walk home, and I wait and wait until the little green berries start to change to a slight blushing red colour to the most juiciest dark purple / black colouring. And then I pounce.

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The reason I love them so much is mainly due to the childhood memories that they hold. I remember picking them in our garden as a small child from the cutting my grandad had given us from his own garden in London and eating the berries before twisting my face at how sour they were! I would then run back up towards the house with my bowl full of treasure for my mam to bake alongside apples in a pie. I also remember being sent to the back of my nannas garden when we were small as we could fit our little hands through the gaps in the fence and forage for berries from her neighbour’s garden, and again our haul was often added to some homemade bake.

So, a few weeks back in the scorching sunshine I decided that I would add to those memories by taking Little Legs to our local park where we stumbled upon the biggest blackberry gold mine I have ever come across! We spent a good hour wandering through the park looking for the biggest, the best and the juiciest looking blackberries we could find. We were also hot and itchy from the nettles and exhausted from our climb up the blackberry covered hill but excited, for our Tupperware box full of blackberries would soon be in a pan being turned into homemade jam!

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Now I have never made jam before in my life. I have watched my mam make strawberry jam on occasions where we have gone strawberry picking and got a little carried away with filling the little basket they give you, but that is the extent of my jam knowledge.

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I crazily decided that I would turn my hand towards my first attempt of jam making on the Saturday night after a long, tiring day at work. I put on a playlist inspired by The Four Seasons (I had just seen the show based about them at the theatre royal) and danced around the kitchen, Heineken in hand waiting for our little haul to boil down in the pan I had placed them in. They quickly did, and after deciding to make seedless jam I poured the contents of the pan into a muslin cloth over a bowl and squeezed all of the hot blackberry juice goodness out and after making the kitchen worktops, floor and my hands look like they wouldn’t be out of  place in a murder scene, I returned the blackberry juice back to the pan and added the sugar and lemon juice and brought the pan to a boil, and continued to follow the recipes instructions.

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I managed to get two good-sized jars of seedless jam from our blackberry pick, one which has almost already been devoured in the space of three weeks! So much for the two jars lasting me until next year’s haul. However! I have caught the jam making bug and I think rhubarb and ginger jam may be the next on my list to make seeing as we have two large rhubarb plants taking over the garden now! Let me know what jams your currently making or what ones I should add to my list to make.

 

Lavender & Black Bakes

Bread: Cheese & Celery Crown Loaf

As if it is that time of the week again! This weeks baking challenge see’s me enter into a new section of Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and to a recipe I have never heard of before in my life, a cheese and  celery crown loaf!

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According to the small description located on the page above the ingredients list and the method, this loaf is good with soup or a chessboard. I could definitely see it pairing well  with a bowl full of hot vegetable soup and tomorrow a huge chunk of this loaf will be heading into work with me to mop up all the leftover beef stew from last night, I actually can not wait!

Now, this loaf ended up being quite a pleasant surprise if I am honest, the idea of celery in bread left me feeling a little deflated (does anyone really like celery?), the lack of yeast had me worried about how the bread would rise and after combining the ingredients into something that hardly resembled a bread dough I didn’t really have high hopes for this loaf at all!

However, 20 minutes into cooking this crown loaf it was giving off a wonderful aroma and as soon as I removed it from the oven I tore off a wedge and tucked into the steaming hot cheesy bread and to my surprise the bread had a) risen perfectly and b) I could barely taste the celery despite it still being visible throughout the bread.

Now I will admit that this loaf actually reminds me more of a dumpling, but I think that adds to its charm if I’m honest as like I say I am rather looking forward to pairing it tomorrow with beef stew.

Would I bake this again? Yes, now that Autumn is almost upon us this loaf will be making more of an appearance in our household to accompany the hearty stews and soups during the colder months.

Next week? Classic Apple Pie!!!!!!

 

 

 

Lifestyle, Summer

10 things that have made me happy this week

I really enjoyed writing up the ’10 things that have made me happy post’ two weeks back, it seemed to take me from a negative place mentally to having a more positive outlook on my week and life in general. I also really enjoyed seeing all of the positive responses from everyone who took the time to comment either on the post itself or via my social media as well as seeing what made everybody else happy during that seven-day period.

So once again here is a list of the 10 things that have made me happy since I hit publish on that post two weeks ago.

  1. Knitwear! Within the past 14 days we have seen a dramatic change in the weather here in the North East of England and you can feel the chill slowly beginning to creep back in which means it has been time to dig out those Autumn jumpers as well as heading to Primark to buy some wooly cardigans. I even strayed from my trademark black and bought a mustard yellow cardigan that I am utterly in love with.
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  2. Soup! The cooling weather also means soup is slowly becoming the option of choice for dinner and I have batch cooked once again and added some sweet potato and coconut soup to the freezer for the upcoming month.
  3. The Great British Bake Off! That’s right this week we seen the return of the bake-off and I am beyond excited! This wonderful little tent of treats returning to our screens means that Autumn is well and truly on its way and cake, tea and blankets are once again weekly staple on a Tuesday evening.

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  4. Jam! I made jam for the first time in my life the other day and I am pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out considering I didn’t have the faintest idea what I was doing, I thought that two jars of sticky tangy blackberry jam would be enough to see me through until next year but we have already made our way through jar one and have just opened the second!
  5. Gardening! I know this post should really be titled 10 reason why Jenn is turning into an old lady rather than 10 things that have made me happy… HOWEVER I have always had an interest in gardening since I was tiny when I used to follow my dad around the vegetable patch in his jacket probably pulling up his plants moments after he planted them. This year I have asked my mam and dad once again to take me under their wing to show me the ropes as well as help me plant and look after some winter vegetables. So be warned this may be a recurring theme in these posts.

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  6. Books! I have always been an avid reader and get wrong for buying more books than I can handle, however I have just purchased ‘The little book of Hygge’ from Amazon which so far seems full of lovely little tit bits about the Danish way of life. Why was I drawn towards this book? The author of it is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and I was interested to see if this book would have any fun little tips to incorporate into my everyday life, plus the front cover is pretty cute.
  7. Pins! I have gone pin mad! I have always loved cute little brooches despite not having a clue how you wear them correctly but pins are now slowly taking over my accessory collection. My recent buys include this adorable Spyro pin from Ohayou!  (pictured below and also above with my mustard yellow cardigan) as well as a melt your heart cute Loki and Thor Pin.

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  8. Wax Melts! I have never in my life used a wax melt, but after buying my adorable little owl burner for £3.50 in my local Wilkos I went on a mission to find some wonderful smelling melts ready for when the dark nights and cold weather starts to really kick in.
  9. Disney films! There is nothing better than curling up with a good drink and some snacks and snuggling down to watch a DVD, even more so when that DVD is a  classic Disney one!
  10. Christmas! I know, I can’t believe I have just wrote that either howeverrr, this is the time of year where everyone starts to announce their Christmas events and I won’t lie it actually makes me feel a little bit warm and fuzzy inside! I live for the Christmas build up and I have already began eyeing up the amazing classes that Moth Studios is offering throughout the festive season, Christmas at Beamish  tickets also go on sale next week and I have obviously already emailed Jesmond Dene House about their festive afternoon tea.

 

And that is that! 🙂

 

Lavender & Black Bakes

Jumbles

Jumbles!

This recipe took a while to get around to, my original draft for this post was created on the 2nd of August however it has taken until the 26th of August to finally bake these tasty little treats, and they were well worth the wait.

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I was quite dubious about making Jumbles at first as they sounded a little strange if truth be told, lemon flavoured biscuits smothered in honey and sugar? I also wasn’t really a fan of fannying on and shaping them into S shapes as I assumed it would take an absolute age as well as being a disaster but in all honestly it really wasn’t!

The mixture took no time to make at all, you literally just pop all the ingredients into a mixer and turn it on for a few moments and wallah! Biscuit dough. Nice tasting biscuit dough in fact, I probably lost two jumbles straight away due to eating the raw mix, which I know is bad but here we are.

Anyway, after making the mixture you roll a tiny bit of the dough into a little thin sausage and then shape it into an S (or any shape you like from what I can gather) before chilling for 30 minutes in the fridge. After the 30 minutes is up you then transfer them to the oven on low setting until they are golden, however as you are nearing the end of the baking process you turn the heat up and smother the biscuits in honey and sugar before returning to the oven for a few more moments.

My worry about the honey turned out to be silly as in all honestly you can’t really taste the honey at all, in fact the lemon flavour really stands out in these biscuits and they remind me slightly of shortbread texture wise which obviously means they pair up perfectly with a good cup of tea. I think I will end up making these biscuits again in the future due to how quick and easy the process was, however rather than making S shapes I think next time I might make some nice circular biscuits or shortbread shaped biscuits instead.

Next week – Cheese and Celery Loaf.

Food, Summer

Burger Thursday: Meat Stack Yellowstone Burger

As I am sure I have said many times before, working in the Grainger Market often has its advantages and the main one this summer has been the opening of Meat Stack which is a burger joint that has taken residence on Alley 2, a good 40 second walk from where I work. Now, I pretty much get a portion of their chips at least once a week (sometimes at least twice a week, sorry waist line) and as much as I try to resist their burgers, their menu often gets the better of me and my portion of chips turns into a full-blown meal deal!

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Now the reason I have never taken off as a food blogger is because I am actually a little pig. Whenever food is put in front of me I eat half of it, or sometimes all of it before thinking ‘oh, maybe I should have taken a photo of this for my Instagram / blog / twitter’. So, here is a photo I took before I demolished my burger knowing the moment I opened that lid I will have inhaled at least half of the tasty treats inside.

Yellowstone is actually my favourite burger on the meat stack menu, and I am always passing their stall waiting for it to re-appear on the board. It is a double cheeseburger with fried onions, baconnaise, American cheese and a MOTHER FUCKING HASH BROWN. Not much can beat a hash brown in my books like, their little fried potato goodness goes with everything, but not even I had ever dared to combine it with a double cheeseburger but the lads in Meat Stack thankfully did, and for that I am forever grateful!

Find them on Ally two of the Grainger Market Newcastle or at No28 which is hidden away at the top of Nelson street just as your entering the Grainger Market, also find their link here: http://www.meat-stack.com

Lifestyle, Summer

10 things that have made me happy this week

This week I have pretty much been feeling the holiday and back to reality with a bang blues, which I have pretty much documented on every single one of my social media channels so sorry about that! So I thought I would write-up a 10 things that have made me happy this week themed post, which I can not take credit for idea wise as I was inspired by the wonderful Cider with Rosie series.

So let’s go!

  1. Home! Despite really enjoying my week away I am over the moon to finally be back home in my own bed with the ability to bake and read and play my Playstation as and when I would like to. Sometime’s having some time away from it all can really make you appreciate the little things, and this is one of them for me.cropped-img_20180817_1230531740.jpg
  2.  Blackberries! I am so excited that the blackberries are now appearing on the branches. We went out a few days ago to our local park and picked a whole load, and I am praying they are still okay and if so I will hopefully be turning them into yummy jam later today. Wish me luck!
  3. Postcards! I have this week sent my first ever post card off to my wonderful friend and I am so excited for her to receive it.
  4. Foundation! Not so much the foundation itself, even though the Kat Von D Lock It Tattoo Foundation is exceeding all my expectations so far, but more the fact that I was able to go after work and get my skin matched to my perfect shade at the Newcastle Debenhams branch. As silly as it sounds that is a big thing for me with my current struggle with anxiety, and it just shows how much better I have managed to become in just a few months. Also a good foundation gives you a wonderful confidence boost!IMG_20180805_154551_314.jpg
  5. De-cafe coffee! Okay so it may not be the real thing but sometimes it tastes just as good and is an instant warm hug in a cup.
  6. Glass Jars! With the hopes that my first attempt at jam making will be a success, I have purchased some super cute jam jars to hold all that sticky blackberry goodness in.
  7. Gardening! Over the Summer I had my own little herb garden going on in the back garden, which I had to look after and tend to. When we arrived home last Saturday one of the first things I did was cut back all of my poor overgrown herbs (it is amazing what a week of leaving your plants will do). I found 5 different types spiders and a caterpillar I named Parsley.IMG_20180817_094645_168.jpg
  8. Batch cooking! This week I made butternut squash and coconut curry and it was delicious. I managed to get four good portion sizes out of one pot worth and I took half to work with me and froze the other half to take at a later date. There’s something lovely about having a home cooked meal at work, especially when the colder months start creeping up.
  9. Inspiration! Okay, so I know I feel a little frazzled after being back at work for two days however I am over the moon to be inspired once again to write posts for this little blog. I have even managed to create a posting and content plan for Blogtober!
  10. Rain! As much as I have really enjoyed summer, I really do like rain at this time of year. It isn’t too cold yet so the rain always feels welcoming rather than harsh, plus the north-east keeps getting random rumbles of thunder and there is nothing better than a good thunderstorm.

 

Fashion, Summer

OOTD: Ebay Dungarees

This summer I have found myself living in these oversized dungarees and if truth be told every time I wear them I feel like I am staring in some cool 80s Rom Com movie! They seem to go with absolutely everything in my wardrobe, from just a basic t-shirt paired with my black and white vans as pictured here to my Floral Dr Marten boots, black and white baseball top and my backpack. No matter what I pair them with they always seem to make me look really cool, which is strange considering the lack of effort I tend to put into getting dressed at 8am before running out the front door for my bus to work.

Now that we are nearing the end of summer, I am excited to pair these dungarees with my oversized jumpers and fishnet tights. Who knows where the possibilities end, if I ever decide to become a social butterfly again I might even see how well they pair with a blazer and a pair of heels!

Find them here.

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Lavender & Black Bakes

Other Small Bakes: Blueberry Muffins

So this week I ended up continuing to bake from the chapter entitled Cupcakes and Other Small Bakes. I pulled recipe 48 – Blueberry Muffins from the pot a little while ago, and if truth be told I just could not find the time to put aside to bake, which I know defeats the point of this challenge but here we are. However after eventually pushing myself into making these muffins one Friday evening before a wonderful thunderstorm hit the North East (which I enjoyed watching with a cup of tea in the dark) I was shocked to discover that these muffins take 10 minutes tops to prepare, and 25 minutes to bake! For some reason in my head I was convinced I would need a good few hours to make these muffins and in reality they were made in a blink of an eye.

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I was incredibly worried when I was filling my muffin cases with the cake mix as it was incredibly wet. Wet as in, a little bit of flour mixed with a lot of milk! I re-read the recipe and ingredients list many times before popping the tray into the oven convinced I had missed out a step or a vital ingredient that would help to thicken the mixture but there was none. I honestly had no confidence that this mix would rise at all and that this week’s bake was a total disaster, however when I returned to the oven door 25 minutes later I was greeted by the sight of 12 golden and well raised little muffins all oozing blueberry jam goodness from their tops.

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From what I have been told these cakes were quite nice, however I HATE blueberries with a passion so I decided two days later to whip up another batch of these muffins but this time I replaced the blueberries with frozen raspberries instead. I was incredibly worried that the frozen raspberries would create a mixture that had too much liquid (once they began to defrost during cooking) but these muffins were perfect in everyway as well. All in all a good baking week!

Next week: Jumbles.