A Day of Celebration …

It’s been a while but I think I’m rediscovering my creative ‘mojo’, certainly in the kitchen anyway. We had family for lunch yesterday to help celebrate a range of birthdays which are all really close together. It’s something we do every year but couldn’t last year due to my dad’s ill health. It was wonderful to have him there yesterday alongside my mum and both of my parents-in-law, as well as my husband and boys.
I really enjoyed getting everything ready – we’ve had our roof re-done and the scaffolding only came down on Saturday, luckily the sun shone and we were able to open the doors from the dining room onto the garden:
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So far as the food was concerned, I made a mac ‘n’ cheese with red peppers and chorizo, buffalo inspired chicken, a potato salad and green beans. I made the mac ‘n’ cheese first thing in the morning which freed me up later on to concentrate on other things. These were the food choices of my 2 boys as one has just had his birthday and the other will be celebrating in just a few weeks time.
Desert came in the form of cake and plenty of it. We had rocky road cupcakes – even the buttercream icing contained melted marshmallow!

Rocky Road Cupcakes

Alongside the cupcakes we had freshly made doughnuts. I used a Mary Berry recipe and although it was originally intended for filled jam doughnuts, it worked really well for ring doughnuts too:

Rocky Road Cupcakes and doughnuts

To finish off we had some delicious rhubarb vodka which I bought a few weeks ago at the Abergavenny Food Festival – nobody else liked it quite as much as I did but then that’s no bad thing as there’s plenty left for me to enjoy!

Cake, Découpage and Quilting …

I’ve not posted for a while for various reasons but mainly because I started a fantastic new job at the beginning of September and more importantly, my Dad was taken seriously ill a few weeks ago and whilst it’s been a huge roller coaster of emotions and worry, there are some hopeful signs. Needless to say, I’ve not really been feeling particularly creative.

Over the past week though, I have had a go at my very first quilt and whilst some of the stitching is somewhat random, I am quite pleased with it as a first attempt:

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Whilst trying to take a decent photo of it, someone decided to ‘help’:

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I’d really like to make a large quilt for our bed but think I need to practice on some more smaller projects first.

Baking has not featured much here recently apart from the cakes made for my sons’ birthdays – they are just over 3 weeks apart, with mine thrown in the middle for good measure! My younger son loves cheesecake and he chose a raspberry ripple cheesecake as his birthday cake:

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My older son’s cakes are coming in 2 batches, the first were salted caramel cupcakes, he chose these because he was out on the evening of his birthday and is away this weekend, we will have the last 4 when he comes home later today. The 2nd/proper cake will be made next week when we are all home to enjoy it:

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I’m finally posting about our découpage fireplace. I did this way back at the end of the summer holidays, it took me over 5 hours and it was one of those things where I really wasn’t sure whether it was going to turn out ok or not. Originally, the tiles were a green/grey muddy colour and looked horrible, having lived with them for 13+ years, I decided to do something about them. At first, I was going to spray paint the whole fireplace purple, fortunately, I decided against this and went for découpage instead. I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste but I love it. The fireplace looks so much better now, we never have a fire in there – it’s in our dining room and anyone sitting next to it at the table would severely overheat !! The fireplace now looks like a proper focal point of the room:

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A Trio of Temptation …

When we were in France on holiday, we took my aunt and uncle out for a meal. The food was absolutely amazing – it was a fantastic choice of restaurant. Each mouthful was a real taste sensation. I took photos of all courses but somehow forgot the final coffee course. Coffee was served alongside a plate of the most delicate looking cakes I have ever seen. There were Madeleines, Rose Meringues and Chocolate Brownies. I’m the first to admit that I’m not great at making ‘delicate’ cakes but as soon as I realised that we had eaten these without me having photographed them, I promised to make them once we had returned home.
Last week, when a friend came for dinner seemed like the perfect opportunity to make good on my promise:

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My boys informed me that these were ‘just as good’ as those that we had in France – a real compliment I think. We have long since finished the meringues and the brownies but the madeleines are still going strong, a full week later.

Here are the others courses from this delicious meal:

First we had an apéritif, this was a shot glass of beetroot purée mixed with cream, served with the tiniest piece of toast, mackerel pâté, celery and tomato:

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As a starter myself my aunt and my boys had ‘salmon three ways’, smoked salmon, salmon mousse and salmon tartare. My favourite of these was the salmon tartare, it tasted amazing:

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My uncle, a real fan of seafood, had the oysters:

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My husband had the snail soup! What was even more amazing was that my boys each had a snail and they all said that they were ‘surprisingly ok!’ I’m not sure any of them would order snails again but they did like the soup:

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Now, onto the main course. Some of us had the veal which was meltingly delicious:

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The rest had the duck:

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For desert we had the crème brûlées:

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I had these little pots of deliciousness and whilst they were all real tasty, I’m still not quite convinced about the middle one which was green and minty – it was a bit like eating toothpaste!! The other two more than made up for it though.

The raspberry crumble proved really popular:

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My aunt’s soufflé was the largest I have ever seen:

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Last but my no means least, my son’s apple desert both looked and tasted amazing – apple, caramel, ice cream and the lightest puff pastry was a winning combination:

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All in all this was an incredible meal and it was the perfect way of thanking my aunt and uncle for putting us up during our holiday.

Five photos of fancy food for fab friends …

Sorry, went a bit mad on the alliterative front there. Had some lovely friends round for a long lunch today. Here are some of the foodie photos:

I served the steamed salmon with some asparagus spears, roast potatoes, steamed broccoli and some home made mayonnaise:

 

To follow, we had a trio of baked goods: Viennese Whirls, Chocolate Brownies and Lemon Butterfly Cakes. Fresh raspberries and cream were optional extras:

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, I won’t be needing any tea!

Here goes …

This is a blog for anyone who considers themselves creative but who has to really work at it! My main ‘creativity’ has shown itself through my cooking and cake making:

9th Birthday cake for Hatboy

 
This was the cake I made recently for my youngest’s 9th birthday. He’s known as Hatboy as he’s rarely seen without it!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Batsford Books

 
I made this cake recently for my father-in-law’s 80th birthday. I was really pleased with how the ‘painting’ of the icing worked – it was creating this cake that made me wonder about whether I could paint with water colour.
 
 
 
 
 

Happy horses!

 
I loved creating this cake, it was so much fun!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have made many cakes over the years and they are always a pleasure to create and eat. I reached the point however, where I wanted to create something less temporary.