Monday, 1 December 2014

Take 5

1) It was Venetia's birthday at the weekend, and one of her presents was the yellow doily dress/nightgown. I decided to just give it to her without 'labeling' it in any way and see what she made of it. It seems to be most definitely a dress, there has been no thought of nightwear at all, and she was extremely disbelieving that it was something that I had made and wasn't in fact shop bought - I'm taking that as a compliment! Stupidly I didn't think to take any photos till we'd just lost the sun, but I was very happy to see that it fits her perfectly. 

2) Still on the subject of her birthday, I'll move on to the cake. And if you're expecting a beautiful, stylish photo here then you're going to be disappointed again! I had 'help' with this one, and we had a slight accident getting it out of the tin!

But, it is a delicious, though extremely unhealthy, recipe, and an old favourite of my Mum's. Definitely worth sharing...

Chocolate Fudge Cake

6oz plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
2oz of cocoa
7 1/2 fl oz cold water
4 oz butter
10oz sugar
2 eggs

Beat the sugar and butter (yes, there's loads of sugar!). Blend cocoa with water. Add egg, flour,/baking powder/bicarb and cocoa/water alternatively (it's quite a sloppy mixture). Divide between two 8 inch cake tins and cook at 350F, Gas Mark 4, 180C, for 30-35 mins, till a skewer comes away clean from the centre of the cake. Leave to cool then sandwich together and top with the Fudge Icing.

Chocolate Fudge Icing
1lb sugar
1/2 pint water
1 tbsp golden syrup
2oz unsalted butter
2oz cocoa

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan, blend together and dissolve the sugar over gentle heat. Once dissolved do not stir, draw a wooden spoon through it to prevent it from sticking if need be. Bring to boil and cook to 238 degrees F, on a sugar thermometer or until the fudge forms a soft ball when a drop is plopped into some cold water. Remove from heat, leave the mixture to cool till it thickens enough to hold its shape.

It's one of the first recipes I ever wrote in a Recipe Journal I was given as a child, and we gave Venetia one of these for her birthday and it's the very first recipe she's written into hers.

3) I always seem to share extremely unhealthy recipes with you; we do actually eat quite healthily most of the time, so just to try and redress the balance in this space I thought I'd share a healthy recipe here too for a change! At the moment we're loving the seasonal fruits in our shops - particularly Spanish oranges and pomegranates. Generally they just get consumed raw and plain, in vast quantities, by the children (and me too I have to say!). But I did go looking for salad ideas for them too, and found this gorgeous salad - orange and pomegranate salad. And I completely forgot to take any photos of my version for this, so you do get to see a beautiful, stylish and colourful photo for this one - from the original source (mine did look just as good of course!).

Even apart from the taste, I think there's something amazing about food this beautiful and colourful, how could it not taste nice! (And since this is supposed to be a healthy food segment, I'd better not mention the recipes for orange and pomegranate cheesecake and orange and pomegranate bread that I also spotted which we haven't yet tried!)

4) Another use of doilies - one more robin block for the quilt to be:

It seemed about time I had a flying robin.
5) And last, but not least, we're into Advent - hurray! I have to admit, the girls have both got a shop-bought, chocolate Advent calendar (we have got an old, home made one with pockets for goodies, but 'Frozen' trumped that this year!). Obviously we also have our tree, though we're still a bit short on ornaments, November seems to have whizzed by with not enough made yet, it's a work in progress and I'm OK with that. But I do always love our Advent tradition of wrapping up 24 Christmas books, one to be opened and read each day.

Mainly specifically Christmas books, but there are a few more general Wintry favourites. We haven't read Stick Man for far too long so that had to go in there.

Generally the girls can take a lucky dip each day, but I have kept 'The Night Before Christmas' till Christmas Eve, and we started off with the good, old 'Elf on the Shelf' today.

And another Advent tradition that I love is that every day the children and I each write down a little note of something that's made us happy that day, or something we're thankful for, and we stick it into a jar. Then we read them all on Christmas Eve. It feels as much an antidote to the bought chocolate Advent calendar as the salad does to the cake!

Have you got any Advent traditions you love?



  1. So happy she likes her "dress" It looks lovely on her.

    Enjoy the holiday season.

  2. Your tradition of writing down things that make you happy every day sounds so lovely. So happy Venetia loves her dress; she looks wonderful!

  3. The yellow dress looks fantastic! Lovely advent tradition, we have calendars, one chocolate, one pictures, and on 1st Dec out come the Christmas cups, plates and tea towels! X

  4. I have to agree with your daughter, too pretty of dress to be worn in bed! :-) Happy birthday to her and Mama day to you!

    Ah! Making with kitchen accidents. I always say "it will all end up in our tummies anyway! :-)

    What a lovely stack of winter/Christmas books. We are slowly building our library. We added 4 new books this year bring us to almost a dozen. We always have the public library (thank goodness) for the missing spots.

    Happy Advent to you dear friend! xoxo

  5. Happy Birthday, Venetia! Such a lovely dress and that cake looks yum! I am a chocoholic!

  6. Happy birthday, Venetia! What a wonderful birthday and beautiful dress.

  7. Oh she looks lovely in her dress - and once you see it on it's definitely a dress! Happy Birthday Venetia and many more happy ones to come :)


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