Spiced Chai Latte Cakes


I got a bit hooked on Chai Latte in Australia last year and have been looking for some over here for ages.  I managed to get Chai tea bags in M&S but have just found the latte powder in Sainsburys  – it’s the Drink Me Chai.

Well I like to experiment with my cooking and so I thought I’d adapt a cake recipe to add it in.

IMG_2461

Continue reading

‘Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable


There are days,

There are days when your life clouds over

and the world gets so dark

that all at once you can’t tell night from day.

There are times

when your heart cries ‘this isn’t happening’

but the truth is cold and real

and I know this storm won’t go away

‘It’s her or me’ from Miss Saigon, by Boublil and Schonberg

I’ve been quiet on here for the last few months.  I know some people have dropped by to see if anything has been written and I have tried to, but it’s been a difficult end to the year.

Not many people know, but I’ve been off sick from work for 2 and a bit months.  Mental health issues are still quite taboo in our society and I don’t really understand why.  It’s something that can affect anybody and yet still it’s not something we feel confident talking about.  I have depression, which I think is something that I’ve been battling with for a decade and it’s dreadful. This bout has definitely been the worse of the lot.  A stressful job, moving to a new area, not having much if a social life, various things that have happened in the past, lack of money all building together until I essentially cracked.  I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t go outside without having a panic attack and I couldn’t go to work.  It’s such a difficult thing to describe.  I get frustrated with myself because I can’t physically do things that I want or need to do.  I can’t get out of bed.  I can’t speak to people.  I don’t have any outward physical manifestation of this, there is just this mental block, a cloud, a haze that won’t let me through.  Then I spend time arguing with myself in my head – you know what you need to do, just get up, just get up, just move yourself, just stop wallowing in self pity and get up and do something.  But it’s no good.  There is some chemical imbalance at the moment.  There is something just stopping me whether I want to or not. Ruby Wax says it better than me, so here she is:

Continue reading

Chocolate Banana Cake with Caramel Sauce


Chocolate Banana Cake

I adapted this recipe from one I learnt in primary school. I decided to combine it with a caramel sauce and there are some optional extras you can add in if you want to.

Ingredients:

For the cake

• 250g/9oz plain flour

• 25g/1oz cocoa powder

• 1tsp baking powder

• ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

• Pinch of salt

• 200g/7oz golden caster sugar

• 2 or 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (if you like a very banana flavour add the third, otherwise stick to two)

• 2 eggs, beaten

• 125g/4 ½ oz butter, melted

Extras:

• 1 tsp cinnamon powder

• 75g milk chocolate chips.

For the caramel sauce

• 250g caster sugar

• 142ml double cream

• 50g butter

• 2tbsp water

 

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, grease and line a loaf tin.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon, if using, into a large bowl. Stir until well combined.

3. Mash the bananas in a separate bowl, stir in the beaten egg and melted butter.

4. Fold the bananas into the flour mixture until just combined. Spoon into a loaf tin.

5. Bake for 50-60 mins or until the cake is risen and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 mins.

6. Whilst the cake is baking begin to make the caramel. Tip the sugar into a heavy based pan, stir in the water and place over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

7. Turn up the heat and bubble for 4-5 mins until you have a caramel.

8. Remove from the heat, carefully stir in the cream and butter until you have a smooth sauce.

9. When the cake has cooled, pour the caramel sauce over the cake, serve warm.

You can take the girl out of the W.I. but she’ll not stop making cakes.


Ok, so technically I was never in the W.I., although I did intend on joining.

When I lived in Newcastle and broke up with my boyfriend I was sharing a one bedroom flat in a former convent with him and he was an alcoholic.   He was sleeping in the sitting room, I had the bedroom.  I didn’t feel like I could have friends round, as there was nowhere for them to sit and I didn’t want them to see him in that state.  Neither did I want to deal with the hours of talking that would inevitably follow over many, many days if someone came in and had upset his personal space.  We lived like this for 6 months before he moved out.

I had to find things to do to occupy my time.  working shifts as a careers adviser I couldn’t really commit to regular classes or activities in the evenings, unless you count the night shift activities of ‘Sing the lyrics of one song to the tune of another’ or ‘Read out song lyrics in a sort of Radio 4 voice for other people to guess’ or, my personal favourite, ‘How long can I try to talk like Reeves and Mortimer being Geordie Otis Reading and Marvin Gaye sitting on the dock of the bay before I begin to sound like Sarah Milllican?’.  They don’t really count as activities.  Fun, yes, getting me out of the house for something other than work, not so much.

Continue reading

Things.


Somewhere in my flat, a bat is hiding. It was crouching (presumably) behind our toilet when it was disturbed by my flatmate. She screamed and it flew somewhere in our flat.  I wasn’t, unfortunately, an eye witness to this event, I was downstairs eating chips with the other ladies of our flats.  But I can picture it quite vividly.  And now, we’re not entirely sure where it might be.

I’ve sewn my mosquito net to the frame a little bit more so that the middle isn’t hanging down so low that it’s claustrophobic and I’ve strung up the fairy lights I brought back from Wilkinsons.  Add into the mix my new bedding (Primark obviously) and it’s really quite cosy now.

I’ve stuck up some new pictures on my wall – I saw a fair few people when I was in England – and I’ve baked bread and chocolate orange brownies.  I’ve managed to decode my DVD player so that I can play my region 1 DVDs including Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Much Ado About Nothing (which I have watched again, it was needed.)

I’ve almost caught up with my class and I’ve begun planning an assembly.  I’ve taught two year 7 music classes and tomorrow I have year 8.  In the evening is a birthday party and at the weekend an international swimming gala.

I’ve been welcomed back, bought food and tea.  I’ve been given a replacement fridge for the one that broke whilst I was away and I’ve sworn mercilessly at my printer for not recognising the ink I bought for it. I’ve been bitten by mosquitos and something mysterious that has either bitten or stung my hand, but they aren’t as painful as last time.

I’ve almost got used to the noise, the early mornings, the inability to sleep, the temperamental internet and the children shouting at me in the street.  Many seem to be fascinated by the fact that my hair is red – I dyed it back from blonde just before Gaggy’s funeral and re-pierced my lip, another source of intrigue for the children.

It’s good to be back.  It’s warm, it’s sticky, it’s noisy, there’s always something happening, but I’m not fully back into it yet.  I feel like I’ve hit the ground running without a chance to pause and take a breath.  I also miss people back home and being able to talk to them whenever I want to.  Two hour time difference is just about manageable, but three seems much further away.  It’s hard to reach people on Skype and to wait for a text message to be replied to.  But I can book in at weekends and I’m probably going to be heading back in the summer.  Lots of things to look forward to both here and there, I just need to get into the right headspace first…

I’ll get there. In the meantime, I’m watching Homeland and going to bed.  Hopefully the bat won’t disturb me as I’m trying to get to sleep.