Cake of the Month ~ Date and Walnut Loaf


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Just in the nick of time here is November's cake.

I had a yearning for an old-fashioned tea bread, something moist, that could be sliced and spread with butter, something plenty of fruit in it and perhaps a bit of crunch too. Tea breads seem right for late autumn with their brown crusts and their spicy fruit hinting at Christmas mince pies to come.

While stocking up on ingredients for the florentines I make at Christmas I noticed bags of mixed dates and walnuts and decided a date and walnut loaf  would be just the kind of cake I was looking for.

I was sure I must have a recipe in one of my many cookbooks, but no, nothing quite fit the bill. A google took me straight to the Whitworths recipe page. Their recipe for date and walnut loaf made use of the very bag of mixed dates and walnuts I had just purchased. Problem solved.

Here is the recipe. The only change I made was to use orange juice from a carton because I had no oranges. I used 70 ml which is roughly the amount of juice in one orange. Of course you don't have to use a bag of Whitworth's dates and walnuts. I won't next time because there aren't enough walnuts for my liking. The cake is also very crumbly which wasn't quite what I was looking for, but that said it still tasted delicious.

2012's November cake also included walnuts and is here.

Something else I almost forgot to do this month was to show you my socks which I finished a while ago. Love them.

Today is Advent Sunday and I have dusted off our now decidedly tatty handmade advent calendar. I was all for retiring it this year but Katie has vetoed that idea. We also have our simple white candle which we light each Sunday in advent and then each day from Christmas Day until it's gone. 

And lastly here is November's sampler and a reminder that all 58 (!) of my monthly samplers can be found on the black bar under my blog title at the top of the page.

Blogging Manifesto


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

I've been promising to get a new blog list up for ages and here it is at last, on my sidebar. I decided it was time to reinstate the old rolling blog list instead of a simple list of blogs on a separate page. I think it's more user friendly, more friendly in fact. My old favourites are on it, my friends real and cyber and also some new discoveries. They are a mixed bunch covering a wide range of interests and opinions, they are funny, thought-provoking, inspiring and all completely brilliant in their different ways.

Sadly several of my favourite bloggers have stopped blogging altogether and although I have found some lovely new blogs they aren't as many as I would wish. I'm sure twitter and instagram have a lot to do with it. I do love instagram but it's no substitute for blogging. Is blogging starting to seem old-fashioned now?  There certainly seems to be a move to a more professional approach to blogging, to building a bloggy empire; book deals, monetising, product reviews etc. I thought for a while of getting into that sort of thing myself but have firmly decided against it now, I'm too lazy for one thing. I also thought I would try to approach my blog in a more professional way by having a posting schedule and planning my posts. I wrote about it here. My book full of ideas has remained unconsulted. They were too prescriptive, too like magazine articles. My blog is not a magazine, it's place to connect with others. So I have replaced my blogging notebook with this simple and personal blogging manifesto ~

Blog when you like as often as you like.

Blog about whatever you like.

Ignore the stats, they make no difference to anything.

Have at least one photo in every post (whether it has anything to do with the post's subject or not).

Keep it real.

In My Kitchen


Friday, 21 November 2014

In my kitchen this week this month the last few weeks. 

These salmon parcels with oven fried potatoes (chips) and minty mushy peas.

These chewy cocoa brownies.

This  tasty lentil cottage pie with cheesy mash.

This supper onion pie from How to be a Domestic Goddess. Simple and cheap and delicious.

These leftovers. Spaghetti with courgettes, cream and parmesan,

Made into a frittata with some bacon.

These olive toasts. Roughly chopped olives, anchovies, capers, garlic and parsley mixed with lemon juice and olive oil.

These crusty white loaves.

And this mincemeat.

What's been happening in your kitchen lately?

These I Have Liked


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

 Sitting with the silence turning the heel on a sock.

George's Christmas list. He would like a bicycle pannier and a large map of Middle Earth. I ask him if he is planning a bike trip to The Lonely Mountain to find Smaug's treasure and if so would he like me to make him some lembas bread?

Tom's beard-in-progress (BIP?). His hair is already down to his shoulders. I think he may end up looking something like this. I secretly hope that he will.

A leek and bacon tart the custard part of which was made from two eggs plus the leftover cheesy-creamy-cidery sauce which I served with chicken joints on Sunday. It was extra delicious because good use had been made of leftovers.

Working out the cost of baking. This slightly weird, nerdy behaviour is actually quite empowering. Knowing flour, for example, costs 2p an ounce, butter 12p, granulated sugar 2p, demerara sugar 7p and an egg 20p makes you realise just how much money you can save by baking from scratch. I made a batch of twelve rolls yesterday and worked out that they cost 7p each. A loaf of bread costs me 40p in ingredients and 5p in electricity (I bake 4 loaves at a time).

Katie and Tom have been perfecting their cinnamon toast making skills. Katie has long since been an expert cocoa maker and mastery of cinnamon toast will set her up nicely for winter.

I very much liked Detectorists on BBC4 and was sorry when it finished last week. It has been the only thing worth watching on telly lately.

My copy of Jane Kenyon's collected poems finally arrived from Philadelphia after a long wait. I am indebted to Megan for introducing me to her, blog friends share wonderful things.

Yesterday was the last garden waste collection day of the year, so of course today is the day I decide to fill my garden waste bin with spent michaelmas daisies, goldenrod and an accidental rose. There they will stay for the next five months quietly composting until the collections start up again. Meanwhile I have four sodden November roses on my windowsill and they are pleasing me greatly.

The Year In Books ~ This Boy by Alan Johnson


Friday, 7 November 2014

Better late than never here I am with my November read for The Year in Books. This Boy by Alan Johnson is just the sort of book I am unlikely to read. I hardly ever read autobiographies, I dislike tales of grim childhoods and I never ever read books by politicians, even ones I agree with. However, I read Jane's post  and was persuaded to try it. I am so glad I did. An immensely readable memoir of growing up very poor in 1950s London. Recommended.

As for October's read that has been consigned to my 'must finish one day' pile. A shockingly large pile I have to say.

So, what else has been happening around here? Well, as you may have noticed I am still failing to take photos of food hence the lack of 'In My Kitchen' posts. Sorry about that. 

I have been knitting but again failing to take photos of said knitting. I finished a sock. Must knit another one I suppose. 

My mum has requested some fingerless mitts for her arthriticky old hands so I must get on with those when I can pin her down to a yarn choice.

George came home unexpectedly last weekend for a visit which was nice. I'd forgotten how much space he takes up. He seems to be enjoying student life.

Halloween was very low key this year. Katie carved a pumpkin and I made it into soup and cake.
Guy Fawkes has become less important too although it is a useful reminder that it must be time to make my Christmas cake.

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