Sunday, 28 December 2014

Red Velvet Buche de Noel

I made a Red Velvet Buche de Noel for pudding on Christmas Day. Buche de Noel is the French name for a Yule log. This one is like a Red Velvet cake. The recipe is similar to the one for the chocolate Yule log I made for Yule but I found it easier, even though the other recipe was for kids! lol. The Yule log recipe was a fatless sponge but this has butter in it, so it was easier to mix.

The original buche had boozy cranberries but I wasn't bothered about the cranberries or the alcohol, so I left them out. The buttercream was made of white chocolate, cream cheese and marscapone (an Italian cheese). I got the recipe from Tesco magazine. Here's a link to the online version: http://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/red-velvet-buche-de-noel.html


This is the buche before I put the buttercream on:


And after:


Monday, 22 December 2014

Yule 2014

Yesterday I celebrated Yule by making a chocolate Yule log. It's celebrated around 21st December, I thought it was the 21st this year because that was the date on my personal and family calendars but some people celebrated it today. It doesn't really matter though if you celebrate actually on the day or around it. :)

A Yule log is traditional and while the last few years I've bought one from Sainsbury's this time I decided to make my own. I used a recipe from last year's Co-Op magazine. You can see the Sainsbury's one in last year's post: http://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/yule.html

It's quite tricky making a Yule log, (although I have done something similar last year when I made the Christmas vanilla roll cake for Christmas) rolling it up and that. I lost quite a bit of cake and ended up with too much buttercream but it tasted nice anyway! I think next year I might buy one though, lol.

Here's a picture of the Yule log before I put the buttercream on:




And with the buttercream:


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Bonfire Night

Last Wednesday it was Bonfire Night and I went to a fireworks display on Lancing Beach Green. Bonfire Night (also known as Guy Fawkes Night) is a mostly British event  (it is also celebrated in some other countries) where we have fireworks and bonfires. It takes place on or around 5th November. Other countries have similar Bonfire Night celebrations but in the UK ours is known as Guy Fawkes because it originated from Guy Fawkes being stopped from blowing up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1605. It was known as the Gunpowder Plot and came about because a group of Catholics were unhappy about the persecution of them by the Protestant king of England James I and planned to assassinate him. The plot was foiled when Guy Fawkes was caught and killed.

In the past people would burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire and kids would go round asking for a "Penny for the Guy". Nowadays Bonfire Night tends to be about having or attending firework displays and celebrating with friends and family but in some places it's still more political, such as the celebrations in Lewes. They have a big event and it would be fun to see but it can be difficult to attend because it's so busy, they shut the roads off for the processions and there are no parking facilities. I always thought they seem to  be trying to put you off going and this year they asked non Lewes residents not to attend. I think that is unfair but I see what they mean about the town not being able to handle large crowds. This year they were planning to burn an effigy of Alex Salmond and Nessie. I thought, "Nooo, not Nessie!" lol. Seriously, I don't really agree with burning either of them and they didn't in the end, which I think was a good thing. :)

For more info on Bonfire Night visit this link: http://www.bonfirenight.net/index.php

The Lancing event was good.. It's usually on a Wednesday and this year it was on Bonfire Night itself. There was a fair there and they provided the fireworks. Here are a few pictures I took:






Monday, 3 November 2014

Hallowe'en/Samhain 2014

Last Friday was Hallowe'en, which is one of my favourite festivals. 31st October is also the Wiccan/Pagan sabbat Samhain and Hallowe'en originated from that.

Samhain (pronunciations include "Sow-in" or "Sow-ain") is the witches' New Year and is the most important of the Major Sabbats. It is the last of the harvest festivals. There are 3 altogether, the others are Lammas and Madron. Samhain means "Summer's End" and it marks the proper onset of winter. While the days have been getting steadily shorter since Madron/the Autumn Equinox in September, we're now really entering into the darkest half of the year. The days will continue to get shorter and the nights longer until Yule (Midwinter/the Winter Solstice) in December. The Sun God "dies" during this time of year but will be reborn at Yule. Samhain is also the time when the veil between this world and the next are at their thinnest (similar to Beltane) and the dead are thought to come back to visit their loved ones.

31st October is New Year's Eve and 1st November is New Years day, so the festival is often celebrated on both days. The old traditions have evolved into modern day Hallowe'en. The practice of lighting a pumpkin is thought to have originated from the pagan ritual of lighting a candle to honour and welcome your ancestors and keep unwanted spirits away.

The colours of Samhain are dark red, purple, black, green and orange. Popular activities include divination and honouring your ancestors by lighting a white candle and setting a place for them at the table. Hallowe'en is very commercial nowadays (more so than when I was child in the 90s even) which is good because it means there are lots of things available in the shops and ideas of things to do. If you are a Wiccan or a pagan (or interested in those both beliefs) you can combine Wiccan/pagan and mainstream traditions but of course you don't have to be one to enjoy Hallowe'en because it's celebrated by lots of different people. :) Trick or treating is a popular activity that many non pagans take part in and people often have parties. I never went trick or treating when I was young because my mum didn't believe in it. (She didn't agree with the idea of knocking on strangers' doors!). If I have children in the future I would like to take them trick or treating.

This year I had some food (buffet type stuff) and drink to celebrate. I like to make a drink called Demon's Blood (I got the recipe from the book The Real Witches' Kitchen by Kate West). You can read more about Demon's Blood in this post: Hallowe'en drinks.

Last year I wasn't able to use green food colouring, so I used red instead. Visit last year's Hallowe'en post to see what it looked like: http://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/halloweensamhain.html

I bought some new green food colouring in plenty of time this year. I think it looks much better green, lol. Here's a picture of it along with the pumpkin giant cupcake I bought from Asda:



Monday, 20 October 2014

Energy Bites

The other week I wanted to make a healthier snack and I had a couple of No-Bake Energy Bites recipes pinned on Pintrest recipes board, so I looked at them. I didn't have some of the ingredients they needed in the house at the time though, so I had a look for some similar recipes and found one that only needed 4 ingredients (peanut butter, oatmeal, vanilla and honey). I added some golden syrup because I don't like honey that much and I couldn't use vanilla extract because mine had gone mouldy! lol. So I used peanut butter, oatmeal, honey and golden syrup.

 Here's a link to the recipe: http://www.ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com/2014/04/peanut-butter-and-oatmeal-energy-bites.html?m=1




They came out quite nice. I don't have a food processor so I just mixed them by hand. I'd like to make them again in the future with the vanilla this time! lol.

 I would recommend energy bites as a good snack because they don't take long to make and are healthier than other things. These are good in particular because they don't require hard to find ingredients. I'm planning to try more recipes in the future. :)

Monday, 29 September 2014

Madron

It was Madron last Tuesday (23rd September) and I celebrated by making a gingerbread cake. Madron (also known as Mabon) is the Autumn Equinox and of the Wiccan/pagan sabbats.

The date of Madron varies but it's celebrated around 21st September. Like Oestara/the Spring Equinox, at this time of year day and night are of equal length. Since Litha (Midsummer/the Summer Solstice) the days have been getting gradually shorter and the nights longer (although not as noticeably as in autumn and winter). At this point they are equal and from now on the days continue to get shorter and the nights longer until Yule (Midwinter/the Winter Solstice) in December. (In the southern hemisphere this is all reversed, so they have their Spring Equinox around this time). From this point on the difference will be more noticeable. My favourite time of year is summer and I also like autumn but I don't enjoy it when it  gets dark at 4pm in the winter! lol.

Like Lammas, Madron is a harvest festival. It's a time of balance, healing and letting go, a time to look back on what has gone before, forgive yourself for any mistakes you might have made and think about your future plans. Other themes are justice and releasing prisoners.

The past couple of years I've celebrated by making gingerbread (like I do for Lammas) but this year I wanted to do something slightly different, so I made a gingerbread cake. I found the recipe on Pinterest. The original recipe has a Creamy Gingerbread Frosting but since I wasn't sure if we had some of the ingredients for it in the UK (like vanilla instant pudding mix and frozen whipped topping) I decided to use Betty Crocker cream cheese icing instead.



Sunday, 14 September 2014

Chocolate Drinks

Last month I made a couple of chocolate drinks using recipes from Sam Stern's Student Cookbook. I made a chocolate milkshake and hot chocolate. I thought now was a good time to post about them both, since the weather has still been warm but it's getting colder at night, so you might feel like both kinds of drinks. :)

I made the chocolate milkshake first but I was disappointed with it, so I decided to make the hot chocolate a few days later, lol. I'll still include both on here though.


First here is the chocolate milkshake:





Chocolate Milk Shake (Power Drink for 1)


Ingredients

A few chunks good dark chocolate
250ml/9fl oz cold milk
2 scoops best chocolate ice cream or 1 choc and 1 vanilla


I don't have the recipe to link to but here's a similar recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-chocolate-milkshake/

And another one with melted chocolate in: http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2012/09/askinosie-chocolate-malt-milkshake.html

The problem with this was that because you're just putting hot melted chocolate straight into milk it goes hard straight away. So I ended up with hard bits of chocolate instead of it blending in properly! (That's a bit of chocolate on the top in the picture). I don't know if I was doing it wrong or what, lol. (My mum didn't know how to stop it doing that either). Maybe it works better if you have an actual blender but I don't, so I just mixed it in a bowl. Maybe it was because I didn't mix it in quick enough by hand? Never mind! You also can do this with drinking chocolate and I expect that works much better.

I used Tesco Plain Chocolate and I think both chocolate and vanilla ice cream.



And here's the hot chocolate:





Hot Chocolate Treat for 2


Ingredients

110g/4oz 70% cocoa solids chocolate
425ml/15fl oz any milk


This recipe isn't online here but here's a link to a similar one that involves melting chocolate: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/308/Hot-Chocolate


The hot chocolate came out a lot better because it was melted chocolate going into hot milk. I used some chocolate I had left.


Hope you enjoy them if you make them and that if you make the milkshake it comes out better for you! :)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Beach Pics

I went to the beach the other day and took some pictures as part of the Facets of Joy I Believe in Magic Summer Sampler. I thought I'd share a couple here. :) They were taken at Lancing Beach.




 


 
  

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Lammas

On Friday (1st August) I celebrated Lammas/ Lughnasadh (pronounced something like Loo-nass-a) which is another of the Wiccan/pagan sabbats. Lammas takes place around 1st August and is about marking and celebrating the first of the harvest. In the old days, this is the time when villagers would harvest their crops and then celebrate.

Lammas/Lughnasadh is the festival of the Celtic Sun God Lugh (pronounced Loo), who died and was resurrected (which sounds similar to Jesus). A central theme is sacrifice and people would make a Corn King out of corn and then slay him. If you prefer not to do that, a gingerbread man can also represent the Corn King! Also the Goddess has taken on her Mother aspect now and is pregnant with the next Sun God.

Lammas is also known as Loaf-mass and many people make a loaf to celebrate. The colours of Lammas are gold, yellow and orange (for the God) and red (for the Mother/Goddess) .

I made a loaf when I first started celebrating the sabbats in 2010 but I haven't for the past few years. I didn't this year but may have another go next Lammas. I've made Cornish pasties before and I made one again this year for my lunch. I've also made gingerbread the past couple of years and decided to do it this year as well. Cider is a popular drink now. I have had it at Lammas before but didn't this time.

Here's my Cornish pasty:




The recipe is from The Real Witches' Kitchen book by Kate West.


Cornish-Style Pasties

12oz finely cut steak
4oz peeled diced potato
1 finely chopped onion
Pinch salt
Black pepper
12oz shortcrust pastry

That's all I can copy out of the recipe but here are some links to more pasty recipes:

http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/396158/Hairy-Bikers--The-People-s-Cornish-pasty

http://britishfood.about.com/od/cakesandbaking/r/cornishpasty.htm


These recipes are for making the pastry as well but I used ready made (Jus' Roll). I also had carrot in mine and used salt and paprika.


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Litha

Yesterday (21st June) was Litha,  otherwise known as Midsummer, which is another of the sabbats. It's the Summer Solstice, the time of the longest day and shortest night and takes place around 21st June each year in the northern hemisphere. (In the southern Hemisphere it's reversed and yesterday was their Yule/Midwinter). :)

From now on the days will get shorter and the nights longer (although it won't be really noticeable for a few weeks yet) until Yule/the Winter Solstice (around 21st December) which is the shortest day of the year. After that the days will gradually get longer until we get to Litha again. (If you live in the northern hemisphere, it's the other way around, Yule is around 21st June and Litha around 21st December). :) Despite being called "Midsummer" which makes you think it's the middle of the season, Litha is seen as the first official day of summer. (Although Beltane marked the beginning of summer season). The Goddess is pregnant with the God after conceiving at Beltane. The Sun God is at the height of his power now. At Yule he will be born again. The colours for Litha are yellow, gold, blue and green.

As I mentioned in my Yule post, a Wiccan belief is that each half of the year is ruled over by the Holly King or the Oak King. Since Yule, the Oak King has ruled over the lighter half of the year and now he does battle again with the Holly King and loses. The Holly King now rules over the darkening year until Yule when they do battle again.

It's traditional for people to rise early to greet the sun at Litha and Stonehenge is very popular at this time of year! Also some Wiccans re-enact the battle between the Oak and Holly Kings. This is also a good season for picnics.

I had salad to celebrate Litha,  tomato, chopped up carrot sticks, cucumber and lettuce with some potato salad, coleslaw, chicken and hard boiled egg. Then afterwards I had some ice cream with crumbled up digestive biscuits (as suggested in The Real Witches' Kitchen book). The ice cream was a "No Churn one that I made a few weeks ago. I'm planning to do a post on ice cream in the future. Here's a link to the site where I found the recipe (I made the Funfetti Cake Batter one): http://www.thecomfortofcooking.com/2014/04/amazing-no-churn-ice-cream-6-flavors.html

I has some cloudy lemonade to drink. I thought afterwards it would have been good to make some lemonade myself, especially because I don't like the Tesco cloudy lemonade so much these days. I don't think it used to be no added sugar. Maybe next year I'll make some Hello Kitty lemonade which I've made in the past. :)



Salad

Monday, 16 June 2014

Nutella and Peanut Butter Flapjacks

A couple of weeks ago I felt like baking something so I made some flapjacks. They're based on Sam Stern's recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Flapjacks but I put Nutella in with the peanut butter and didn't put milk chocolate on the top. They came out quite nice although they got a bit burnt when cooking!



Before they were cut




The recipe was from Sam's Student Cookbook. Here's a link to a recipe for Jammy Flapjacks on his site which includes the chocolate peanut butter version: http://www.samstern.co.uk/recipe/jammy-flapjacks/

So if you want to make them with Nutella, just put it in with the main mix. :) (Think I put about a tablespoon in). I won't make the jam ones because I don't like jam but I know a lot of people do, lol. Hope you like whatever version you choose to make! :)

Monday, 26 May 2014

Hove Park in spring

It's time for the next instalment in the Hove Park photo project. Well, it's actually the last instalment because I've done posts for all the seasons now. I might continue to post pictures for each season though. :)


Here are a couple of pictures I took of the daffodils in March:






And a couple more from April:








Visit the rest of the posts here:

Summer

Autumn

Winter


Sunday, 18 May 2014

Beltane

It was Beltane at the beginning of the month. It's the festival of the fire god Bel and the second most important sabbat after Samhain. It's usually celebrated either on 30th April or 1st May and marks the beginning of the summer season. Beltane comes roughly between Oestara (the Spring Equinox) and Litha (Midsummer/the Summer Solstice) and is the second half of the Celtic/Wiccan year. Like Samhain, it's a day when the veil between the worlds (this world and the spirit world) are thin but it's more of a "trickster" time of year!

Some May Day traditions originated from the festival of Flora, a Roman goddess of flowers, spring and fertility. Beltane is also associated with Walpurgis Night, a festival celebrated in some European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Finland. For people in the southern hemisphere Beltane falls on 31st October/1st November.

It's also a fertility festival, since this is the time of year when the Goddess and God get married. Traditionally single men and women would go into the woods on May Day (1st May) with a partner and have sex. Other ways of celebrating including lighting fires and dancing round the Maypole. A May Queen and King would be chosen to rule together.

You can still see remnants of the old traditions in the celebration of May Day nowadays, with dancing round the Maypole, the May Queen and Morris Dancers. May Day isn't an actual holiday (unless it's a Monday, since the first Monday in May is a Bank Holiday) but there are often May fairs. I remember when I was at first school we went to a May Day event but I didn't actually get to dance round the Maypole because I was one of the May Queen's attendants!

The colour of Beltane is green (single people would wear green on the day). This is also a popular season for handfastings (Wiccan/pagan marriages).

I like to celebrate the sabbats by having/making food and drink. I made a chicken salad sandwich (with tomato and lettuce) and had it with some chicken fillets, carrots, potato salad, coleslaw and salsa dip. I also had a sparkling elderflower drink.

Sandwich and other food


Elderflower drink



For more on Beltane visit these links:

http://www.thewhitegoddess.co.uk/the_wheel_of_the_year/beltane.asp

http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/mayday.htm

http://www.squidoo.com/mayday

Monday, 28 April 2014

Easter Biscuits

Hope everyone had a great Easter! :) I celebrated on Easter Sunday (20th April) by making some biscuits and I got 3 eggs, Quality Street, Cadbury Buttons and Hello Kitty, lol. In my post  on Oestara I mentioned that I wanted to make something for Easter and was thinking of a cake but then I've had quite a lot of cakes lately, so I thought I might make something else for a change, like biscuits.  In the end I went for the biscuits and they were nice. :)

I based them on a recipe from The Co-Op magazine. I can't find the exact recipe online but it was similar to this one: http://www.co-operativefood.co.uk/food-and-drink/recipes/Easter-biscuits-recipe/

The biscuits were bunny shaped but I just used round cutters, lol. Then I decorated some of them with icing that I made up and the others with left over buttercream frosting from Moshi Monster cakes that my mum used to make a trifle. I also put sugar strands on top of some and more of the red, green and white sprinkles I used for the vanilla roll cake at Christmas on the rest, varying the combinations. I used the recipe on the back of the icing sugar packet for the normal icing (white in the pic).




They were a bit thicker than other biscuits I've had but I liked them. :) I've got a few biscuit/cookie recipes saved on my Pintrest board, so I plan to make more in the future. I pin way too many recipes though and there's not enough time to make them all! lol.




Sunday, 6 April 2014

Oestara

It was Oestara recently and I celebrated by making some fairy cakes. Oestara (also spelt Ostara) is one of the sabbats, it's the Spring Equinox and happens around 21st March in the northern hemisphere. (In the southern hemisphere it's reversed, so they have their Autumnal Equinox around this time).

 It was a precursor to the Christian festival of Easter, its name comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Oestara (also known as Eostar/Eostre/Ostara). She is the goddess of the dawn and fertility and her symbols are the egg and the hare (both of which are associated with the modern Easter). The Spring Equinox is when the days and nights are of equal length and from then on the days continue to get lighter and the nights shorter until Litha (Midsummer/ the Summer Solstice) which is around 21st June, when the days gradually get shorter again. (If you live in the southern hemisphere, just reverse it). :) The Persephone and Demeter Greek myth is also related to this time of year.

Now spring is coming and the world is waking up again. You can see the signs with the flowers coming out, trees blossoming and lambs being born.


Oestara was on the 20th this year. I made the fairy cakes (like cupcakes) and put Cadbury Mini Eggs on top!



Sorry the pic is sideways! lol


It's just a basic fairy cake recipe that I got from my mum. :) Here's the recipe:

Monday, 17 March 2014

White Hot Chocolate

Last month I made White Hot Chocolate using this recipe: http://whipperberry.com/white-hot-chocolate-recipe/

I liked it but it can taste a bit overpowering, maybe because of the cream, chocolate and vanilla all mixed together. Also I might have put too much vanilla in. It was nice to have for a change but I wouldn't drink it all the time. It will be spring officially this week when we have the Spring Equinox on 20th March* (I'll do a post on Oestara, the sabbat, later) and while the days are warmer it's still quite chilly at night, so I'd recommend trying the White Hot Chocolate if you feel like a hot drink. :)

Here's a picture of mine. I can't remember exactly why it came out a bit yellow but I think I might have heated it for too long. I didn't use a slow cooker because I don't have one, I used a saucepan instead. Maybe it tastes best if you use a slow cooker but it's still worth trying if you don't have one.





*In the northern hemisphere, in the southern hemisphere it's reversed so it will be their autumnal equinox.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Hove Park in winter

I've been longer posting this because I wasn't able to get to the park over much of the winter but then I was able to go again last month and take some pictures. So as part of the Hove Park project, here are a couple of photos taken during winter:




Sunday, 16 February 2014

Coca-Cola Chocolate Cake

I made a Coca-Cola Chocolate Cake the other day. I'd wanted to make it for ages. I first heard about a 7UP Cake (I think I read that Jada Pinkett Smith makes it) and thought it sounded interesting, then I heard about the Coke one and thought I would probably like it more because I like Coke and chocolate cake best! lol. I haven't made the 7UP one yet but I will later on.

I used this recipe: http://naturegirl7.squidoo.com/coca-cola-chocolate-cake

There are actually a few recipes on there, I made the Original, Official one. I also came across another recipe (I'd originally saved the first recipe but lost it, so I went looking and found the second one but then I found the Squidoo one again); it's similar except it doesn't have any marshmallows or vegetable oil. I might try making that one sometime. Here's a link if you'd like an alternative version: http://myblessedlife.net/2013/06/chocolate-cake.html

This cake was very nice. People said you couldn't really taste the Coke in it but I thought I could taste it a bit and it seemed to be a little bit "fizzy" just after I'd made it, lol.





Has anyone made 7Up cake?  What did you think of it?

Monday, 3 February 2014

Imbolg

It was Imbolg (also known as Imbolc and Candlemas) yesterday. It's a Wiccan/pagan sabbat that is celebrated around 2nd February and is also the feast of Bride (or Brighid, pronounced Breed) the Irish Fire Goddess. Imbolg is about 6 weeks after Yule and 6 weeks before the Spring Equinox (Oestara) and is the time when spring is starting to come again. It's the tail end of winter, moving into spring and a time when the Goddess is changing from Crone to Maiden.

I made some pancakes as suggested in The Real Witches' Kitchen book (last year I made pancakes and jelly) and had some Tesco Cloudy Lemonade. (Sparkling drinks like champagne, lemonade and mineral water are a good choice). You can also make your own lemonade, it's fun to make but this time I bought it, lol.

I used this recipe for the pancakes (found it on Pintrest): http://www.inspiredtaste.net/24593/essential-pancake-recipe/

They're American style pancakes (thicker). I liked them but they were a bit too salty for me. Afterwards I realised that I probably got the amount of salt wrong because the recipe used kosher salt and I used table salt! Never mind, lol.


Pancakes




Here are a couple of links about Imbolg:

http://www.thewhitegoddess.co.uk/the_wheel_of_the_year/imbolc.asp
http://www.earthwitchery.com/imbolg.html