I hadn't written my November/December update yet and I was also planning to write about the ginger poke cake I made for Christmas, so I decided to do a double post. (Rather than two weeks apart). Also did that last year). If you just want to read the update, scroll further down. :)
Christmas Ginger Poke Cake
For this Christmas (or Christmas 2020 now!) I decided to make a recipe based on a gingerbread poke cake. It's from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes: http://www.fantasticalsharing.com/2020/12/gingerbread-poke-cake.html
The recipe uses a cake mix which I thought was easier after a stressful year! I called it a "ginger poke cake" because I couldn't find an actual gingerbread cake mix. So, I used Wrights ginger cake mix.
I hadn't made a poke cake before but I've come across them online. I think they're more popular in America. You make the cake then poke holes in it with a wooden spoon, and pour condensed milk and caramel sauce over the top to soak in. I couldn't find a caramel sauce either, so I just used condensed milk.
The recipe uses Cool Whip but I don't think we have that in the UK. So, I made a cream cheese icing using a recipe from Nigella Lawson. It goes with her Guinness chocolate cake. (I haven't baked the cake but it looks very nice!). I previously used cream cheese frosting instead of Cool Whip when I made a gingerbread cake for Madron 2015. It was Betty Crocker's ready-made frosting in that case.
The cream cheese went well. The frosting from the James Martin Easter cake I like to make would be good too.
Here is the link to the Nigella Lawson frosting (part of the cake recipe): https://www.nigella.com/recipes/chocolate-guinness-cake
The recipe also has crushed ginger cookies on top. I used Tesco ginger biscuits. I made the cake on Christmas Eve and then iced it on Christmas Day. I usually do that because I find easier not to do it all on the day itself.
Hope everybody had a good Christmas or other festival if you celebrated. And a good New Year. Happy New Year! Hopefully 2021 will be a better one. :)
Time for the last two-month update of 2020! You can read the rest of the update posts at the links below:
March/April (+ Baking Inspiration): https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2020/05/marchapril-update-baking-inspiration.html
On 5th November we went into lockdown again in England, due to the coronavirus. There were similar lockdowns in other countries in the UK. This one lasted for about a month. I didn't find it hard as the first one because takeaways stayed open, and libraries were open for reserving and picking up books! It didn't seem quite as strict as the first lockdown.
Due to restrictions and lockdown, there were no firework displays this year. (It was actually Bonfire Night the day we went into lockdown!). That was a shame.
I kept up my regular park walks. Here are a couple of photos from the park:
|Buckingham Park, Shoreham-by-sea.|
During November I baked some chocolate zucchini (courgette) cupcakes. Here's the recipe: https://www.extrapetite.com/2020/04/moist-chocolate-zucchini-cake-recipe-dairy-free.html
They were quite nice. Here's a picture:
You could either make a cake or cupcakes, and I went with the cupcakes. I've baked with courgette before when I made these zucchini muffins with apples and carrots last April: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/zucchini-bread-muffins-apples-carrots/
I did like the muffins but I preferred the chocolate cupcakes. My muffins didn't rise as they should have done because I couldn't get any plain flour at the time (lockdown baking shortages!), so had to change the recipe. Also, I think the courgette goes better with chocolate. Or it's just that chocolate is my fave!
The frosting for the cupcakes is cream cheese. This recipe has a bit of lemon juice in. There are also options to make the cake/cupcakes dairy and egg free (so suitable for vegans and people with dairy allergies). The recipe lists coconut cream as an ingredient, but you can make your own buttermilk if you can eat dairy/prefer to. I used buttermilk. The recipe is listed at the bottom of the substitutions section and it's easy to make. You can also adapt the recipe to make a carrot cake.
I went to Haskins Roundstone garden centre in December (while we were in Tier 2) to look at the Christmas decorations and look for presents. I went to Starbucks afterwards and had a gingerbread frappuccino. (I normally have their gingerbread lattes, so it made a change!).
I celebrated Yule on 21st December. You can see my post about it here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2020/12/yule-2020.html
Then there was Christmas (see above for the cake I baked). On Christmas Eve I made the crockpot hot chocolate I've made the past couple of years. But just in a pan because I don't have a crockpot. You can see a pic here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2020/01/christmas-gingerbread-sheet-cake.html
As I mentioned, on Boxing Day (day after Christmas), we were moved into Tier 4: Stay at home. I don't normally go out for New Year anyway, so I watched a countdown on NYE and had a family meal the next day. I got a cookies and cream cake from Tesco but it was a bit disappointing!
Read: The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim (mindfulness non-fiction), The Witch's Kind by Louisa Morgan, In a Glass Darkly (short stories by Sheridan LeFanu), A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax (non-fiction; currently reading).
Links I found useful in Nov and Dec:
I Heart LOA post on how to feel grateful when times are hard: https://iheartloa.com/how-to-feel-grateful-even-when-times-are-hard/
Post about anxiety in everyday life: https://sequinsandsales.com/how-anxiety-affects-my-life/
So that's it for the two months at a time updates! In 2019 I did monthly updates, but decided to do them less often last year because I found it a bit harder fitting them in with the other seasonal posts. I liked writing about two months at a time throughout 2020, it was easier for me. I never expected (as none of us did) that I'd be writing the updates during a pandemic though!
However, while I do enjoy writing these posts, I think that this year I will do them less often, maybe quarterly updates or from season to season. And I might write more recipe posts instead. Thank you if you've read this (or any of the update posts), I know it was long! I also usually write mid-year reflection and year end posts over at my other blog Falling Petals.
So now we're in 2021. I hope that this year is better for everyone. Although it hasn't started off great with recent events. :( How are you doing? Hope everyone is alright and doing as well as they can be. :)
This time of year is quite bleak for me, especially so this year. There is a new variant of the virus. We just went into lockdown for the 3rd time in England and it's likely to last until at least mid-February, maybe March. They're in lockdown in Scotland too. At least we can still go out and exercise currently, and there is Imbolg coming up in February.
If you also find winter a struggle, check out these posts with winter inspiration:
Winter Round-up + Inspiration: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/12/winter-round-up-inspiration.html
More Winter Inspiration + Winter Tag: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2019/12/more-winter-inspiration-winter-tag.html
Also here are a couple more posts for coping with life during January/winter (current lockdown/quarantine rules or restritions permitting):
Living Simpler in January: https://www.littlehouseliving.com/living-simpler-january.html
6 Ways to Stay Sane and Avoid the Winter Blues: https://www.themostlysimplelife.com/simple-living/surviving-winter-5-ways-to-stay-sane-avoid-cabin-fever-this-winter/
And check out last year's December Update for a few more links about coping during January/winter: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2020/01/christmas-gingerbread-sheet-cake.html