I had it in my head that come my blogs second birthday I would try to create something special. I was thinking I still had a couple of weeks left but it turns out my blog turned two last month *Happy Birthday to Me!* How did I miss this? 2 years have flown by. I feel I have come a long way since my first blog post (and I cringe at that photo)! But I am currently struggling to find time to create and share with my dear readers. I read this post recently and it completely sums up my feelings about blogging. I love blogging and the opportunities it brings me, but I feel so much pressure to put all my time and energy into it if I want to make it ‘big’. Trying to juggle a full-time job and a blog is HARD, unless you want to sacrifice any leisure time you do have. I wanna hang with my friends, I wanna laze on the sofa at the weekend, I want to explore the land on these short winter days. I don’t always want to plan my day around daylight hours and how much time I have to get a photo in the perfect light. Posts will still be coming, so bear with me, some may have one image, some may have seven. I think keeping things different is the key to a long, happy life. So here’s to slow blogging, slow living and a long life.
I know, I know, my last post was a pumpkin recipe. But remember how much I love Autumn, well I figured I would shower you with some more pumpkin love. Things have turned even chillier here in the UK, and the last few days have just been gorgeous. Nothing says Autumn like pumpkin, so when Sara from Cake Over Steak asked me if I’d like to participate in this years #virtualpumpkinparty – she had barely finished her sentence and I had agreed. Along with Sara and myself, a whole army of bloggers are joining in, with so many awesome creations. There are over 100 (!!!) talented lovelies taking party. See the full list below. Seriously, with all these gorgeous recipes, we can eat pumpkin forever! Hey, we might even turn into pumpkins, would that be such a bad thing?
I seem to have been a little presumptuous with the weather in my last post. Winter seems to be back with a bang. There was a thick frost again this morning. All those poor little snowdrops getting all confused, they’d been so excited to see the sunlight, only for it to smack them in the face with an icy frost. My tulips that were starting to bulb seemed to have hit the pause button, teasing me with an inch of their green stalks. Hovering above the soil in their pot, waiting for definite confirmation that spring is in fact, definitely on its way, and not just being a big old tease that is the British weather sometimes.
This is the first year in 4 years that I have been in the UK for the whole winter. I was not happy at the thought of that back in September. Wishing I was on a beach or in the mountains. However it has succeeded all my expectations, and I’m pretty happy we stayed put. British winters are glorious, and remind me of all the reasons why I love my country.
Plus, having a base here meant I found time to start Rough Measures. I’m so glad I did. It’s given me some focus, a bit of purpose too. I’ve met lots of new people since starting this blog, and I love hearing feedback from people about my recipes. It’s also opened up some new doors; writing reviews for websites, and working with local businesses.
I’m a big fan of buying local. We need to support our local businesses and farmers. I’ve recently teamed up with Luke Rich from Larkhall Farm Shop, to create some seasonal recipes. You can find these on display in the shop. They are having an open day this Saturday (7th March) if you are in Bath, do come down and say hello. There will be tasty treats on offer, and plenty of exciting fruit and veg to buy!
Blood oranges (or Sicilian oranges) are only in season for a short time. So get them quickly and get creative. They are slightly more tarte than their sister fruits, adding a different depth to a recipe.
I made this cake sugar-free, as I’m trying to cut right down on refined sugar for a while. However I have added maple syrup to the recipe below, to add a hint of sweetness if you desire it.
SUGAR FREE BLOOD ORANGE CAKE (V) (SF)
200g wholemeal self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
80ml extra virgin olive oil
7 blood oranges (+1 for slicing)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup – leave out if wanting completely sugar free
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180 C
First, zest one orange, leave the zest to one side and then boil the orange in hot water for an hour. Once cooked, leave to cool.
Grease and line a round baking tin. Thinly slice 1 orange and arrange the slices on the bottom of the tin, covering as much of the tin as possible.
Add the dry ingredients to a bowl, add in the zest of the boiled orange, plus more zest if desired. I added the zest of 3 oranges in total.
In a jug, squeeze the juice out of the oranges.
Scrape the pulp out of the cooked orange and add to the jug. Add oil and whisk wet ingredients together.
Combine the wet with the dry to form a batter. Pour into tin, over the slices.
Bake for 35 mins, or until a knife comes out clean.
Leave to cool for 10 mins, then turn cake onto a wire cooling rack.
When I am stressed, I bake. When I am worried, I bake. When it’s all getting a bit too much, I bake. I don’t know if I necessarily find it therapeutic, but it seems to be my go to thing when I’m having a dark-grey-cloud-over-my-head kinda day.
I try to live in the present, the now, the very moment. However it isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially when you have spent 26 years of your life worrying. Baking somehow manages to change my thought process. The focussing on the ingredients and method is almost like some kind of meditation for me. It just manages to push those worries and fears aside for a while, to re-adjust my blurry head, pushing the dark cloud away.
We are blessed that we live on the water, just seeing the ripples and reflections through the windows, even on a grey day, can help push the negativity away. There is nothing better than cooking with a view, to whip up something magical whilst looking out over the canal and to the fields beyond.
These muffins are not anything new, just a good old classic recipe spruced up a little. Spelt is such a lovely grain to use, I much prefer it’s slightly nuttier flavour, and better depth of colour. You can find it in any good supermarket or health food store. It has a much lower gluten content than regular flour too, meaning it won’t make you feel all sluggish.
Spelt Blueberry Chia Muffins
Makes 4-6 muffins
150g (1 cup) whole grain spelt flour
2 free range eggs
1 overly ripe banana (mashed)
2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
Handful of blueberries (fresh or frozen will work)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
Handful of nuts (I used flaked almonds)
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 3 / 160 C
Line a muffin tray with 6 muffin cases
Add the eggs to the mashed banana and mix well.
Pour in melted coconut oil (let it cool slightly first) and vanilla and stir to combine all wet ingredients.
Add your dry ingredients to your wet mixture and stir with a spoon until smooth.
Chuck in the blueberries and nuts, and fold them through the mixture.
Dollop spoonfuls of the muffin mixture into each muffin case, fill almost to the top.
Place in the oven and bake for approx. 20 mins, until lightly golden and a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and place muffins on a cooling rack.