A GREAT GIFT FOR ANY TEA, CAKE AND CHOCOLATE DEVOTEE…

I have just published my book ‘A Little Book on Tea Cake & Chocolatewhich would make a great gift for anyone who loves tea, cake and chocolate. 

This little book on tea and cake is a guide about one of our favourite beverages. It explains tea pairings, tea and chocolate, tea and health, tea and sandwiches, fascinating tea facts, buying the right tea, tea to help you sleep and tea cozies and teapots. It also features over one hundred tips on baking cakes and has some recipes for delicious loaf cakes. It finishes with several lovely tea quotes.

A great book for any tea devotee. It’s available on Amazon for £2.99

Over the last three months of spending hours after hours and days after days at the hospital, where my Dad was,  I started making notes of some of my posts on tea, cake and chocolate as I felt sure I could use it in a book.

There are nineteen chapters which cover all the tea topics I have mentioned above plus tips on how to make the best cake, pastry, and more. I also cover baking apps and recipe books old and new.

I finally finished it at the weekend and it is now available to buy as a paperback and hopefully as a kindle read soon. I would love some feedback if any readers bought the book.

 

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GROWING YOUR OWN TEA…

We are not talking about herbal teas either, but real tea: Camellia sinensis. You don’t need a large garden to grow your own tea, a planter on a balcony would work just fine.

‘You could try growing Camellia sinensis in a greenhouse, or in a pot that you can bring indoors during cold winters.

The Camellia sinensis plant is a small shrub about 1-2 meters in height, though it will grow taller if you don’t prune it. In the fall, your tea shrub will flower with small white blossoms that have a delightful scent. These plants are often grown as ornamentals. For planting, Camellia sinensis likes well-drained and sandy soil that is on the acidic side. If you are going to grow your tea in a container, add some sphagnum moss to the potting mix. You’ll need some patience, too. Your plant should be around 3 years old before you start harvesting leaves.

A great site with all the details on growing your own tea is ‘Guide to Growing Tea’, and you might be able to get seeds at your local nursery or try online at Amazon.

From that plant, you could make black, green or oolong tea. Fascinating stuff and for all us tea lovers, its another thing we can try growing in the garden.

PUMPKIN LOAF CAKE FOR HALLOWEEN…

This is a great recipe for Pumpkin Loaf Cake for Halloween which I found on the Oakhillhomestead site…

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp mace
1/8 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
3 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups of fresh pumpkin or 16 oz of canned pumpkin
1/2 cup water if pumpkin is fresh or frozen OR 2/3 cup water if pumpkin is canned
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the flour, soda, salt, spices and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In another large bowl, combine eggs, water, oil and pumpkin; stir until blended. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, add nuts if you’re using them and mix well. Lightly grease the bottoms of two 9×5″ loaf pans and pour in the batter. Bake for one hour. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the loaves; the toothpick should come out clean. Cool slightly and take out of the pans to cool completely on a rack.

MY MOST POPULAR SEPTEMBER POST WAS ALL ABOUT SOUPS…

The most popular post I wrote in September was all about soups, Five Reasons Why Soup is the Ultimate Comfort Food. 

I am sure it was so popular due to the change in the seasons at the moment with Autumn on our doorstep and feeling more like a lovely warm soup rather than a salad seems to tempt us.

Nowadays you could just about make any type of soup in a matter of minutes but and you can find an abundance of recipes on the internet but how many of you have a soup maker to cook it in and if so which is your favourite?

My husband adores making soup and we have gone through a number of soup makers but one he bought recently was the Tefal Easy Soup Maker which we bought on Amazon. It can create different soup texture combinations, also, creates compote and blends without heat and comes with a manual and with a 1 year warranty. 

We had a Morphy Richards soup maker before for a few years and used it regularly but just fancied a change of dealer this time. Theirs had a 2 year warranty and does all the usual a soup maker does including a motorised blending blade in the lid and was a doddle to clean. 

To get the best reviews on soup makers head directly to the Soup Makers Reviews website.which has their 2018 top 10 soup makers table. They have ranked them based on value for money, so if money is no object for you, you’re likely to want to head over to our premium soup maker section for the best of the best. Their number one choice, funnily enough, is the Morphy Richard’s one which I have just written about.

 

 

 

FIVE REASONS WHY SOUP IS THE ULTIMATE COMFORT FOOD…

Now Autumn is well and truly kicking in, the nights are starting to draw in and the mercury is on a slow downward slope, our bodies start to crave the warmth of comfort food. But instead of opting for stodgy, carb-based staples that will comprise all the salads you ate during the summer, discover afresh the ultimate cold weather comfort food – soup. Quick and easy to prepare, extremely versatile, nourishing and healthful, it’s a great comfort food to turn to when it gets chilly outside. There are so many great qualities that mean soup deserves to be your new best friend this autumn…

1. PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME…

Modern life seems to be a constant rush, so it’s little wonder that we see an inexorable rise in the popularity of convenience foods and takeaways. One of the great benefits of soup is that it can be made in advance, frozen easily and reheated quickly. Or you can simply pop your ingredients into a soup-maker and enjoy fresh food ready for when you come in in the evening – check out a few of the best soup makers.

2. A SATISFYING MEAL…

Another problem with junk food is that it’s a lot of empty calories – you may fill yourself up with unhealthy treats only to find that you’re hungry again an hour later. Soup can be made as hearty as you like – try bulking it out with potatoes and pearl barley for a traditional Scotch broth, lentils and beans for a spicy Mexican flavour, pasta in a Minestrone or noodles in Asian-style udon. The possibilities are endless – you could even make deluxe cheesy croutons on top of a French onion soup. Soup has a large water content, which means it keeps you hydrated as well – people often confuse hunger with being dehydrated. Studies have even cited soup as a diet aid for this reason, as being hydrated means that you’ll feel satisfied for longer and are less likely to reach for calorie-laden snacks.

3. SOUP IS A HEALTH AID…

It’s a fact that most cooking methods reduce the amount of vitamins and minerals in a vegetable. Making soup is the only method that doesn’t, due to all the vitamin-packed cooking water becoming part of the broth. Homemade chicken soup has also been proven to help alleviate colds and flu due to its ability to clear mucus and act as an anti-inflammatory to soothe aching muscles.

4. IT HELPS YOU EAT MORE VEGETABLES…

If you are trying to achieve your five a day, soup is a great way to get more vegetables in easily. Try adding peppers and onions to homemade tomato soup, or coming up with great tasting new combinations, such as butternut squash, leek and shallot. The only limit is your imagination. Plus, if you have children who are fussy about eating greens, it’s a great way to sneak extra nutrients in!

5. IT’S SUPER EASY TO MAKE…

Even if your culinary skills leave a lot to be desired, soup is easy to make. You can experiment by adding in any ingredients you like, and the whole thing is very hard to mess up. You can even vary a recipe by making a batch of soup and then adding something new for the following night.

 

BEAUTIFUL DANISH PASTRY IN SKAGEN, DENMARK…

We had a recent one week’s cruise to Bruges in Brussels, Copenhagen and Skagen in Denmark and Oslo in Sweden. The weather was beautiful apart from in Oslo where it was dull and damp but that certainly didn’t spoil our visit.

Our first port of call was Bruges where we could easily walk to from the ship and where we were determined to have some of their famous moules frites.

Our second port of call was Copenhagen where we were told before we embarked that eating a meal in Copenhagen was very very expensive so we decided to just have a drink then go back to the ship for lunch. We had a lovely boat ride around Copenhagen, which was stunning.

Our third port of call was Skagen also in Denmark where we were taken to a little village with lots and lots and lots of little coffee shops and restaurants but this time we decided we would have a Danish Pastry and a cup of tea.

It was the nicest, lightest danish I had ever had and was worth every penny to pay for it. I loved Skagen and it’s quirky interior shops. Our final port of call was Oslo, the home of the troll which was another expensive stop but well worth walking around the town and the views as we left Oslo were something I will never forget. It seemed to go on for ages with little island after little island and yellow painted houses and ski lifts. I would love to make a visit back to Oslo as I felt out of all three it would make a great place for a weekend break.

THE DAIRY BOX OF HOME COOKERY…

The Dairy Box of Home Cookery by Emily Anderson is a special anniversary edition of this book celebrating 50 years of this classic cookbook, featuring 950 classic recipes including 50 new recipes sure to become firm family favourites.

The Dairy Dairy website has lots of gift ideas around this famous book with recipes and competitions to enter. The legendary Dairy Book of Home Cookery is the perfect reference book for both novice and experienced cooks. It’s cited as one of the most trusted recipe books of all time and is revered by all those who own a copy.

It has extensive cook’s information and over 900 recipes from soups to desserts, baking to confectionery, this is the one cookbook you’ll return to time after time. This new edition contains all the favourites from the original book along with new British classics.

Its photography has been updated to create a stunning, attractive and invaluable book. Over 3 million sold! 18 chapters 900+ recipes & variations Triple-tested recipes Nutritional facts per recipe Ribbon page marker Easy-to-follow instructions Essential cooking techniques Hints & tips for success.