There have been delightful signs of spring.
I thought, while I wait for the dried fruit, nuts and spices to gently simmer on the stove I would pop in and say hi. I can just about detect the first of the warm boiled fruit cake fragrance drift into the lounge. I'll check it in a while and probably make myself a mug of tea.
Any hoo, I'd been waiting for something interesting to land in my lap giving me something to waffle on about but life has bumbled along gently and quietly and I realised that if I waited for that amazing story - I might never write about anything! Life is more about the normal daily things than the unrealistic 'insta' moments which foster false reality.
I'd worked the Saturday and to be honest I was really tired after a fairly hard going week however I'd set my heart on a walk and Himself was more than happy to oblige (as was Moss). So we took to the hills and parked up behind Kettlewell, Upper Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales. Our route is one we have walked since before we were married and has many happy memories for us. Kettlewell is about 300 years old and is thought to be a derivative of the Anglo Saxon word - Chetele Welle meaning stream or river.
The path started in the village and crossed the river Wharfe and turned up towards Starbotton - a village that for years I thought was called 'Star Bottom' which is rather sweet but it is actually more likely to have evolved from 'The place where the stakes come from' - Stauerboten - in Old English.
The path gently follows the length of the river much to Moss' delight and despite the chilly temperatures she threw herself in to the water and grinned from tip of nose to end of tail. The valley is full of ancient fields with plenty of stiles and stone barns full of sweet smelling hay or old rusty tractors. I always try and peep in if I can - wondering at the stories these old walls could tell.
We stopped for lunch on a steeply wooded bank - the breeze was rather sharp and could cut right through our clothing so hunkering down in some mature trees was a relief. We ate cheese salad sarnies and sipped piping hot tea, swiftly followed by chunks of fruit cake - hence me baking more - we have run out and in this house that is a 'national disaster'!
There was a steady stream of walkers, mostly families or groups with dogs and on the whole everyone passed by with good humour. Occasionally we'd mutually have to call our dogs in and lead them up to prevent any silly dog behaviour.
At the furthest part of our path we'd reached Starbotton - a picturesque hamlet which can get very busy in the tourist season - I feel for the locals, probably they need and dislike the hordes of holiday makers in equal measure. We crossed through the village and headed back towards Kettlewell on the opposite of the valley.
On Sunday I filled our large baking tin with the sticky and succulent gingery squares of brownie goodness and took them with us as we met up with Youngest. The plan was to leave them in the van to come back to when we'd finished our walk and needed that much needed energy boost.
When we arrived at Youngest & GF they'd already made us mugs of tea and it seemed churlish to turn them down so Himself collected the tin of gingerbread brownies and we nibbled and slurped and chatted as they got themselves ready. Himself and Youngest seemed to eat a number of squares (at that point I hadn't noticed the wholesale scoffing) !
We set off and arrived in Silverdale - the gentle beautiful rolling landscape of the lower Southern Lake District. We loaded our bags and set off for our walk which was sublime.
So, on Monday when I was getting Himself's lunch ready for work - I was rather surprised as the lack of gingerbread brownies .... cue making more today.
I have reduced the quantities (I do query my wiseness seeing how they seem to vanish) and added more spices - so really although a Mary Berry original it has now morphed into ...
'Silverdale Gingerbread Brownies'
- 137gms syrup
- 137gms treacle
- 112gms light brown sugar
- 112gms butter
- 225gms self raising flour
- Heaped teaspoon ginger
- teaspoon mixed spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 large eggs
Temperature 160 deg C or 140 deg C for fan ovens
I used a brownie tin (approx 30cm x 20cm ish) can't measure it accurately as it is presently in the oven!
- Preheat oven
- in a microwavable bowl weigh out the syrup, treacle, sugar, butter and spices. Gently warm until the butter has softened enough to stir into the syrupy sugary gloop (alternatively use a pan on the stove to gently melt)
- mix well, add flour and beaten eggs and pour into the lightly buttered brownie tin
- bake for 30 - 40 minutes - I have a fan oven and I find that 30 minutes is enough. You will know your own ovens and may have to adjust accordingly - but do use a skewer or tooth pick and check if the batter is fully cooked.
- take out and cool.
Today is supposed to be 'Blue Monday' - which was created by a travel company to boost sales during a rather dull January ... there is - apparently - nothing medically or scientifically proven yet it is still touted as an actual 'thing' and looking out the window now, I wouldn't mind a bit of a BLUE sky to admire as it is rather dreary and grey out there. Any hoo.
I have been wandering around inside my head deliberating a theme for today's post. There are a number of stories that are rumbling around and I've been rerunning them to evaluate their 'story-ness' worth.
I have toyed with the one where the postmistress and I laughed conspiratorially together behind the curtain of the photobooth, where the rather boring and essential task of having an image taken for a driver's license turned into a moment of shared silliness with a stranger. However, when I tried to write it - it was not as funny and the act of typing it lost the spontaneity and immediacy of the situation.
So I wondered about our most enjoyable walk - the one we did yesterday with Youngest and his lovely GF. However, as beautiful the views were or how gently mild the weather - it was just a walk. Nothing outstanding. Nothing earthshattering. Just a gentle good humoured trundle around the hills, along the coastline and through a nature reserve with lovely people. One that leaves you with a happy heart but not necessarily a story.
On the baking front - I've tried something new, which I will share, just not right now.
The blanket is almost done, the border is the final push and then the last few ends to weave in.
Lots goes on, life rolls forward, days lengthen and clouds fill the sky.
Nothing really worth waffling on about.
And in the interest of 'eye candy' I took the blanket in the van yesterday as we drove up to the South Lakes and with the 'assistance' 😆(I use that word hesitantly!!) of Youngest - I took a photo of said blanket draped on a wall.
So if you'll excuse me I have a date with a crochet hook, a mug of tea and a blanket on the settee - speak to you soon xx
Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese
Simple and warming - I used the BBC good food version. However, I did my usual and adapted it slightly. The original recipe states to add all the cauliflower to the cheese sauce and blitz it to a silky smooth texture. I kept several of the larger florets to add to the pasta as we both like cauliflower to eat. The sauce does take on an elevated texture and taste and this is how I'll do from now on. I have made it about four times so far and it keeps well and rewarms nicely the next day. General consensus it is a keeper!
Out of 10? definitely a high 8 or even a 9!
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Now. Say goodbye to your waistline and hello to 'pass me another slice please'! The full size recipe is quite generous so I reduced the amount to two thirds. If you are using uk ingredients make sure you use this treacle - not promoting it but I have made it with a different product and it was not nearly as nice. If you are in the US - have a read of this regarding treacle.
I used the Mary Berry version and like the macaroni cheese I have repeated it several times, including turning in into 'brownies'. I made the sauce a little thicker, cooking it a bit longer than the recommended time to thicken it and instead of using pouring cream, I used double and dolloped on a generous amount just before serving. Youngest has served his brownies with ice cream instead of cream and confirmed that that too is rather delicious. They are best eaten warmed.
This particular recipe is vastly more simple than the usual varieties making a rather soft and light 'cake' which is absolutely delish!!
Out of 10? Certainly a 9 or may be a 10 due to it being easy and quick and oh so tasty indeed!
Cheese Toasties (For Sandy)
These vary from family to family and it is one of those recipes that you can put your own stamp on - ours tend to be a simple one with a couple of slices of red pepper, mushroom, tomato seasoned well then doused in grated cheese. I sometime spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the inside, Youngest often uses green pesto and Himself likes to add sweet chilli mango chutney - so you see - 'you make them your own'.
We also have under the grill toasties (aka cheese melts or open melts) which although contain very similar ingredients are quite different.
The bread is toasted on one side only. On the untoasted side, pile on your chosen ingredients and top with cheese, season well and place under the grill until all melted and golden.
Both these sandwiches make brilliant lunches and when eaten with a thick homemade vegetable soup is perfect for a wintery weekend meal.
Thanks to Youngest for the toastie and brownie photographs.
Silver skies and soft sunlight
Sitting by a crackling fire
Crocheting a warming blanket, the hook sliding through the yarn.
Making cheese toasties
Laughing at such a muddy face
Drinking more tea with shortbread biscuits
Baking a sticky toffee pudding
Gently sautéing onions for cauliflower macaroni cheese
Listening to the radio
Smelling the scent of a gingerbread spice soy candle
Not a bad day, gentle and restorative.
Hope your Sunday was good to you too xxx
I will post the macaroni cheese and sticky toffee pud recipes shortly - both worth it 😊
Our festive break seemed to slip by without hesitation then suddenly we landed on the last day. It was only fitting that we took ourselves for a walk - the first and last one of our holiday.