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Getting into the spirit of the moment

No, I’ve not been at the sherry bottle… yet.

It’s empty and in need of filling up before the Christmas season really gets under way. However, I have been at the brandy decanter. At least I think it’s brandy. If it’s not brandy then it’s whisky (note spelling – Scottish spirit in this house!) Not that it really matters, as long as I keep using the same decanter between now and Christmas Day.

No, I’m not going on a 55 day drinking spree either. So what the heck am I up to?

I’m celebrating Samhain in my own style.

I have beautifully scented candles with crackling wicks burning. One for all those souls I know who are close to crossing over and the other for all those souls already there.

My little altar is decorated with autumn leaves from my garden in remembrance of nature’s abundance this year. It’s nothing huge. In fact it is a small rectangular tea-tray sitting on my office window sill. It’s just big enough to hold a small wooden picture of the Madonna and Child, a small Buddha from my travels in Sri Lanka, various shells and pebbles from Cornwall and a little wooden incense holder. M D loving refers to it as my “hippy bollocks corner”! Charming!

So far so alcohol-free.

In addition to decorating my altar, I decided to further honour nature’s abundance by baking bread and preparing dried fruit for this year’s Christmas cake – hence the need for spirits.

Over the years I’ve used rum, brandy and whisky in my Christmas cakes. Not all at the same time. That sounds vile, not to mention the possibility of failing a drink-drive test on just one slice! No, just one spirit per cake.

My very old recipe calls for some prep work before the actual baking day, soaking the fruit for just 24 hours and in the tiniest, in my opinion, smidge of brandy (or alcohol of choice). Given that 800g of dried fruit go into this cake, I’m not sure how 100ml of brandy is supposed to plump up those raisins, currants, and sultanas. That’s a lot of fruit in need of a serious drink. Years of experience with this recipe has lead me to use a little more than that. In fact I have no idea how much I put it in as I do this bit by pure intuition. All that’s required is to upend the decanter over the fruits and keep pouring until I feel ready to stop, give them a good stir and leave in a covered bowl for at least 48 hrs.

The fruit gets more time to plump up and more time to fill the kitchen with a delicious fruity smell. Everyone in the house is tasked with stirring the contents at least once during this delicate stage. It’s a winning combination which always gives a lovely moist cake with good distribution of fruit. My long-departed Granny would have been proud of me. Mind you, I get the feeling she might have tested the brandy/whisky/rum before she started, just to make sure it was good enough for her cake.

Maybe I should test it before baking day, you know, just in case…

Happy Friday Eve everyone xx

Blog Posts

One-liner Wednesday … getting my bake on!

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“If chocolate cake makes Monday easier, imagine what it can do to Wednesday!” – me, watching the Great British Bake Off last night and getting the urge to BAKE!


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Join in the mid-week merriment by clicking here to find out how to participate

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Ah! That’s better.

The calm after the storm is all the sweeter for having weathered the storm. I think the heady combination of multiple celebrations back to back and the lunar eclipse had quite a disruptive effect on me over the past few days.

Fortunately I’ve learned that these storms do pass. Sometimes you have to ride them out, and other times you need to give yourself a good talking to. Today was ‘talking to’ time.

Pup was hitched up to her lead earlier than usual. She looked at me as if to say

“What’s up Mum? We’re headed out way earlier than usual and you have a ‘look’ that says this is going to be a speed march!”

“It’ll do us both good, pup. I need to have a strong word with myself, and your walk route is the best place for it. Nobody to overhear me.”

An hour later, my move target on my Apple Watch completely smashed, we trooped back in, hot and bothered but happier. Well at least I was. Pup was thirsty and gave me a bit of a reproachful look.

Filled with a renewed sense of purpose and energy, I decided to bake bread without using my mixer. Normally I chuck everything into the bowl, attach the dough hook, and let it do the work. Not today. I was on a mission. There’s nothing quite so much fun as getting your hands into the flour, fingers in a claw shape, and giving everything a good squish. Tactile fun with the added bonus of decent bread at the end.

Next was the kneading… the bit I’m usually happy to leave to the machine. I’d forgotten how tiring it can be. It was almost a full upper body workout! In the past I used to pretend that the dough was a person who’d annoyed me. Great for getting you through the tiring muscle bit. Not today. Today I wanted my bread filled with renewed energy, love, and happiness, so that’s what I focused on as I thumped the poor defenceless dough into shape.

With the weather still warm, the warming wasn’t needed, just a disposable shower cap over my mixing bowl and time.

What to do while I waited?

Listen to a Deepak Chopra talk followed by a pedicure. With everyone one out of the house I had the peace and quiet I needed to listen to the talk. I did not do anything else at the same time… just listened. I used to pride myself on my ninja multitasking skills. Now I see that as not paying attention to what I’m doing. At last I was a human simply being, in the listening state.

It was a great eye-opener… lots of ‘aha’ moments as well as being timely (thank you again, universe).

Then I dug out an unused Christmas pressy… a pedicure kit. An hour later my tootsies were smooth, trimmed, and Barbie pink and my bread dough was ready for knocking back and shaping.

After another Hay House talk the dough was ready for the oven. It would seem that a good talking too was just what I needed.

By the way, the bread turned out delicious.

Wishing you all a terrific Tuesday xxx

Blog Posts

If at first you don’t succeed…

Attempt number 1

… have another go. Which I did.

I’m sure you will agree the second attempt looks more acceptable.

Attempt number 2

I hope it tastes as good… I’ll know soon. The seeded bloomer will be sliced and served up with tonight’s meal.

Wish me luck!!

Cath (Kitchen Witch extraordinaire)

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Unexpected bonus!

My couch to 5K challenge has not only encouraged me to get my butt in gear and move, it has also forced me to take a critical look at my food intake.

Being menopausal means I can no longer eat the way I used to and expect my body to function well. She needs a different fuel mix to stay healthy and mobile. Wave bye-bye to refined carbs and hello to wholegrain pasta and rice (in moderation) and home-baked seeded bread.

Speaking of moving (sorry, I couldn’t stop myself!) … here’s another of my smoothie recipes to keep the innards working like clockwork.

Cath’s Green Gut Blaster

  • 1/2 avocado
  • fistful of chopped carrot
  • fistful spinach
  • fistful kale
  • tbs milled seeds (same mix as yesterday’s smoothie)
  • 1 portion protein powder (see the pack for portion size)
  • 4 chopped prunes (you may need to alter the portion size if the effects are a little too strong!)
  • Water, enough to make the smoothie pourable

And here’s the unexpected bonus… my hair, skin and nails are in top condition according to my beauty therapist.Healthy inside and out.

Happy Friday Eve everyone xx

Blog Posts

Scrumptious bread? Possibly not – #JusJoJan

Pop over to Judy E Martin , supplier of today’s word “scrumptious” and have a wander around, leave a comment, just say “Hi!”

Scrumptious is such a great word to say out loud. Said with feeling, you can really infuse the word with every last particle of deliciousness if you have just tasted something sublime.

I wish I could report that the results of yesterday’s kitchen magic experiment were scrumptious but I can’t. I made a small but major error in the loaf tin preparation. It’s an old tin and has long since lost its non-stickness. In my defence, I did grease the tin liberally, but forgot to line it with baking parchment.

I blame puppy. She was bouncing around under my feet as I was shaping the dough, ready for the second prove in the tin. I wouldn’t have put it past her to make a swipe at it and race off into the garden! She has an unerring instinct for pinching the very thing you need at that particular moment.

Anyway, back to the bread. Nicely shaped, I quickly popped it into the tin, safely out of puppy’s reach, and covered it to let it do one last prove before baking. I still hadn’t realised my mistake at this point. In fact, I didn’t notice until 5 minutes before it was due out from baking! The clue was lying on the worktop… there lay the baking parchment, folded and ready for use.

Buggrit!

I hoped that perhaps, this time, the greasing had been enough on its own, but I already knew the outcome, my hand reaching for the flexible knife. Once out of the oven I could see there was no hope. The loaf was not going to come out easily. It was welded to the tin! Not willing to give up on several hours of work (mostly waiting patiently for the dough to rise), I set about it with the knife. I’m pleased to say I won the eviction battle, but at a cost. My poor loaf looked a little the worse for wear. A little quick thinking, turning it upside down, I reshaped it and stuck it back in the oven.

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Ah well… it will make great toast … or a lot of bread and butter pudding.

Have a tremendous Tuesday everyone xx


Here are the general rules to follow for Just Jot it January:

1. Just Jot It January starts January 1st, but it’s never too late to join in! Here, we run on the honour system; the “jot it” part of JusJoJan means that anything you jot down, anywhere (it doesn’t have to be a post, it can even be a grocery list) counts as a “Jot.” If it makes it to your blog that day, great! If it waits a week to get from a sticky note to your screen, no problem!

2. I’ll post the daily prompts at 2am my time (GMT -5), every day except for Saturday’s Stream of Consciousness (SoCS) prompt–you’ll find that one on Friday morning at 9:30am. That daily post (i.e. this one) will be where you leave your link for others to find in the comment section. There will be a prompt for every day except Wednesday, when the prompt is simply my One-Liner Wednesday.

3. As long as your blog is on WordPress, you’ll be able to link via pingback. To execute a pingback, just copy the URL from the daily prompt post, and paste it anywhere in your post. Check to make sure your link shows up where you want it to, and go back occasionally to see other bloggers’ entries – the more you visit others, the more they’ll visit you! If you’re participating from another blogging host, just drop a link into the comment section. Note: The newest pingbacks and comments will appear at the top.

4. Tag your post JusJoJan and/or #JusJoJan.

5. Write anything! Any length will do! It can even be a photo or a drawing – you’re going to title it, right? There’s your jot!

6. The prompts are here both to remind you and to inspire you to write. However, you don’t have to use the prompt word of the day. You can link any kind of jot back here. Note: If it’s 18+ content, please say so in a comment with your link or close to your pingback.

7. If you’d like to, use the JusJoJan badge so that others can find your post more easily.

8. Have fun!

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Working my own version of kitchen magic – #JusJoJan

“Fantastic” – what a great word for today’s prompt. As luck would have it, I was listening to the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” film score by James Newton Howard. My favourite part is the scene in the kitchen where a delicious meal is created in truly fantastic way in both senses of the word. The strudel looks mouth-wateringly magnificent, but the whole meal is conjured up in a manner improbable for us mere Muggles/No-maj. I’d love to be able to rustle up a meal like that.

I will content myself with my own version of kitchen magic, bread baking. There’s a delicious smell of baking bread emanating from my kitchen right now – I hope the wholemeal, seeded loaf turns out fantastic. I’ll know soon.

Have a magnificent Monday xx

 


Pop on over to J-Dubs Grin and Bear It , purveyor of today’s word – Fantastic, and Linda G Hill, host of #JusJoJan.

Here are the guidelines for taking part –

1. Just Jot It January starts January 1st, but it’s never too late to join in! Here, we run on the honour system; the “jot it” part of JusJoJan means that anything you jot down, anywhere (it doesn’t have to be a post, it can even be a grocery list) counts as a “Jot.” If it makes it to your blog that day, great! If it waits a week to get from a sticky note to your screen, no problem!

2. I’ll post the daily prompts at 2am my time (GMT -5), every day except for Saturday’s Stream of Consciousness (SoCS) prompt–you’ll find that one on Friday morning at 9:30am. That daily post (i.e. this one) will be where you leave your link for others to find in the comment section. There will be a prompt for every day except Wednesday, when the prompt is simply my One-Liner Wednesday.

3. As long as your blog is on WordPress, you’ll be able to link via pingback. To execute a pingback, just copy the URL from the daily prompt post, and paste it anywhere in your post. Check to make sure your link shows up where you want it to, and go back occasionally to see other bloggers’ entries – the more you visit others, the more they’ll visit you! If you’re participating from another blogging host, just drop a link into the comment section. Note: The newest pingbacks and comments will appear at the top.

4. Tag your post JusJoJan and/or #JusJoJan.

5. Write anything! Any length will do! It can even be a photo or a drawing – you’re going to title it, right? There’s your jot!

6. The prompts are here both to remind you and to inspire you to write. However, you don’t have to use the prompt word of the day. You can link any kind of jot back here. Note: If it’s 18+ content, please say so in a comment with your link or close to your pingback.

7. If you’d like to, use the JusJoJan badge so that others can find your post more easily.

8. Have fun!