Coconut Lemon Fairy-Cakes

I thought, since fairy-cakes is where any beginner baker begins (or ought to, given the simplicity of the recipe), I thought I’d begin my vegan baking journey there too. That and I had a recipe to hand.

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Since we all know I’m lazy, I don’t intend to overly complicate my vegan baking experience by using recipes that contain tens of ingredients, most of which can only be found online or in Holland & Barrett. I’m going to be working on a simple substitution basis. So the results might be a little, um, mixed.

I will admit, though, to being quite pleasantly surprised by how well this throw-it-together-and-hope-for-the-best recipe worked, given my lack of experience baking like this. They turned out to be very tasty little fairy-cakes, although I think in future the icing requires more lemon. But anyway.

Ingredients:

100g each of coconut oil, sugar and flour (either self-raising or plain + 1 heaped tsp baking powder)

1 large, ripe banana, mashed

a splash of milk of your preferred variety (I used a rice/coconut combination)

1 tsp vanilla extract

(opt.) candied peel, lightly dusted in flour

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and line a twelve-hole cake baking tray with fairy-cake cases.

Cream together the coconut oil and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the mashed banana. Stir well, then fold in the flour and candied peel. Add the vanilla and milk until it has a proper cake-batter consistency (it should fall easily, but not run, off a spoon). I do wonder whether Malibu might work as well, in place of the milk. A later test, I feel!

Spoon into the prepared cake-cases and pop in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

The icing is a simple glace icing with lemon flavouring.

These did not last very long. I was feeling quite cake-starved and just couldn’t stop myself from eating them…

Dressing for Summer

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┬áNow that we’re nearly in March and I’m hopeful of warmer, sunnier weather, I can start looking for summer-dresses.

I don’t particularly like the trousers or tights I need for Winter, or the need for socks, so I look forward to when I can go barefoot again.

My only problem is that I don’t very often like the dresses on offer in High Street stores, so my wardrobe is full of ancient things I’ve owned for years. This year, though, I’m going to start making my own clothes, from these patterns and from my own ideas of how I want my dress.

The Six Sisters series – M C Beaton

I was suggested this series by a friend who shares my love of all things Heyer. This series is Beaton’s attempt at a Regency romance, being better known for the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth murder mysteries. Black humour, which I enjoy. I was unaware of the Regency romances, until my kind friend mentioned them, and sent me copies.

The Six Sisters series follow the six daughters of Reverend Armitage of Hopeworth as they make their respective debuts into Society and thus marry into wealth and position.

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For the most part, the girls and their heroes are perfectly well-behaved, which I like; I’m not keen on all the Regency romances where the heroes can’t control themselves or the women have no concern for their reputations. And I like the Reverend and the woman who brings out the girls, a Lady Godolphin who has unfortunate tendencies to Malapropism.

However, and while these books are quite entertaining for an hour or two, I’m unlikely to be re-reading these, which is really, the true test of a good book. There isn’t really an awful lot to these books. I can cope with thin story-lines, but my main problem is that these just don’t feel like a Regency romance. It’s quite obvious that the writer is from Our Time, because of little explanations of how society works and whose in charge and explaining bits of slang, which really aren’t necessary.

To sum up: fun, but trying too hard.

“Cash for Access” Scams

I try not to comment too much on politics and political news. Too fraught with strong opinions and, honestly, I don’t want the hassle.

But, this week has brought yet more scandal about “cash for access” to Parliament and MPs being paid to lobby for whatever. I will stress the alleged nature of these accusations against the two MPs in question (one Labour, one Tory – nice to see it so balanced!) and how there’s no real evidence that wrong-doing has occurred (time of writing: 18:10, 23rd Feb. ’15) – or so the Beeb’s 6 o’clock Radio 4 news has just said. So, you know. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t.

The story goes that they were caught in stings by undercover journalists for the Daily Telegraph and Channel 5, looking for British politicians to join the advisory board of a made-up Chinese firm. Of the twelve apparently approached, two senior, long-standing MPs began preliminary discussions and were filmed apparently talking about how they’d been paid previously for lobbying on behalf of companies.

I’m sorry, what? How many stories like this have we had?

When will these people learn? Do they not research – you know, with Google – the people who pop up and say, “Hi, I work for so-and-so, and I’ve got a proposition for you poor underpaid public servants”? Credit where credit’s due, most of the twelve approached either ignored or did investigate this company.

But you’d think the senior politicians might know better and be on their guard against such scams. It’s not like we haven’t had quite a few over the years.

And as to the “investigative” journalists, well! Creating a scandal isn’t quite the same as investigating allegations of a scandal.

And I’m not sure that banning MPs from having second jobs is the answer. Surely then they’d be more likely to accept money with strings attached if they can’t manage for whatever reason on an MP’s salary? Especially as it’s not likely the public would appreciate them having another pay-rise…

The Beginning is the Easy Bit

I don’t know about you, but I always find the first few days of a shiny new project to be the easiest. Those are the days when I have the most energy and enthusiasm for whatever it is I’m excited about, even when I don’t know much about it. Actually, that’s the fun part: the finding out and researching.

So these first few days of Lent have been quite easy. I haven’t craved anything; my food is still tasty and filling; there’s a plethora of yummy-sounding recipes out there, just waiting to be discovered.

Two Potato and Leek Soup, with a fresh bread roll

Two Potato and Leek Soup, with a fresh bread roll

I feel hungry sometimes, of course I do. Usually about four or five hours after a meal, which is about right and the same as before. I don’t really trust all those diets which claim to make you never feel hungry again. Hunger isn’t something to be afraid of. You won’t starve by waiting an extra hour or so before your next meal. In fact, you should feel hungry at meal-times, otherwise you won’t enjoy your food.

And the wonderful thing about this plant-based eating is: I get to eat lots because it’s mostly all vegetables. Fruit for breakfast, veg for supper.

It’ll be interesting to see if it continues to be as easy…

Simple Vegan Flapjack

We all know I’m a lazy so-and-so when it comes to cooking. I’m a throw-it-in-the-pot-and-see-what-happens kind of a girl. And it’s honestly just effort to change my ways just because I’m cutting out dairy, eggs and meat.

So I’m just going to be taking my ordinary recipes, and substituting, and seeing what happens.

What I believe to be vegan flapjack; recipe next week

Apricot Treacle Flapjack

This week, as promised last Sunday, is the recipe for a Simple Vegan Flapjack.

You won’t need a long list of outlandish ingredients, or fancy-pants equipment: just a big saucepan and a baking tray. If you’re feeling up to it, a set of scales to take ratios from your preferred flapjack recipe. I tend to guesstimate when I’m making flapjack.

Ingredients:

Oats

Treacle, several tablespoons (Tate & Lyle assure me theirs is vegan; I looked it up and everything!)

Coconut oil, a couple of tablespoons

Chopped apricots (or dried fruit of your preference)

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients – from any good supermarket – it’s simply a question of a normal flapjack-making practice. Heat the treacle and coconut oil until the oil’s molten and stirred into the treacle. Pour into a bowl with the oats and apricots. Mix well. Turn onto a baking tray and bake at about 200C for about ten-fifteen minutes.

See, simple substitution of coconut oil for butter. (And treacle for syrup, but if you’d prefer to use syrup, go ahead. I still have yet to stock my cupboards with any and the treacle needs using up.)

Next up, I’m going to experiment with fairy-cakes and substitutions.

Sunshine and Daffodils

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And further to my comment last time I wrote about the hedge-pig about my lost green threads, I rootled around the bottom of my sewing basket for matching greens. I had lost two shades, you see: one “dark green” and one “green”.

The dark green proved no problem. I matched it in one go.

The green, though! Goodness! Would you believe that amongst my half-dozen or so different green shades, I have not one which matches the “green” of this kit?! Eventually I had to make do with an almost-match from a section of variegated floss.

Let that be a lesson to me not to lose my threads in future!