Eggnog Truffles

The quintessential Christmas drink! Eggnog or “Snowball” was the only drink me and my sister were aloud at Christmas. Every year we used to beg and plead for dad to make us a Snowball. We’d sit with our big girl glass filled with what looks like exploding custard and pretend to be adults. Then every year after about 5 sips we’d say Daddy, I don’t want anymore, can you drink it?

I can tell you that 20 years later nothing’s changed! I still get excited about drinking a Snowball and I still every time think ‘I can’t finish this, it’s not as nice as I remember’.

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I was a little sceptical when I tried to make these, I’m not a huge fan of putting alcohol in chocolate, chocolate is perfect all on it’s own. However, because it’s Christmas and because they look so divine I thought I’d give them a go!

I can’t take credit, I found this recipe in my favourite mag however I can confirm they are much nicer than Eggnog!

Eggnog Truffles

Ingredients

  • 75ml double cream
  • 300g white chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 20g butter
  • 2 tbsp brandy or spiced rum
  • 1/2 tsp vanillia extract
  • A generous grating of nutmeg

Method

  1. Put the double cream, 200g chocolate and butter into a large heatproof bowl, set over a pan of barely simmering water. Heat gently until melted.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy, vanilla extract and the nutmeg.
  3. Leave to cool and refrigerate overnight until firm.
  4. Great the remaining chocolate.
  5. Using a teaspoon, spoon out the mixture into small balls and roll through the grated chocolate,  place in small paper or foils.

Enjoy!

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Written with love
Brooke
x

Our Junk Shop Christmas

One mans trash is another mans treasure!

This year I’ve convinced my family to try a new challenge with me. Instead of buying brand new presents we’re buying our gifts second hand!

Christmas is a teeny weeny bit of consumer driven madness don’t you think?. I mean I love it, I really really do, but there just always seems to be for me anyway a big ugly Christmas hangover. Not just from the alcohol and sugar but from the mindless buying. Last year all that was left after the turkey, chocolate and wine was a deep sense of guilt. Guilt that everything our family bought wasn’t really needed. Guilt that my savings had taken a hit and guilt that my parents and sister had spent their money on stuff for me that I didn’t really need. 

I thought I’d write a little guide as to how it works just in case you fancied going second hand sifting this year too! Here’s my why’s, how’s and where’s of Christmas bargain bagging.

Why shop second-hand?

  • Used items are nearly always cheaper.
  • You can find some high quality stuff.
  • The carbon footprint is nearly zero considering it’s already been consumed.
  • It’s amazing how many items you find in charity shops with the label still attached!
  • If buying from a charity shop your money has gone to a better place! I mean who wants to line the pockets of Phillip Green?
  • Your items have a story. They’ve already been of use to someone else before they’ve met you. What a helpful item!
  • The gift hunt is quite fun! You never know what you’re going to find!

 

Where to shop second-hand?

  • Charity shops – My sneaky top tip with charity shopping is to head to where the money is! Who wants second-hand Primarni from the local heart foundation when you can make a weekend of it and head to Harrogate for some used L.K.Bennet? Do not despair if you’ve only got time for the local high street. There are plenty of hidden gems in most charity shops.
  • Facebook – Keep your eyes peeled for things popping up on Facebook Marketplace. It’s best to search locally and don’t be specific on items, you never know what you’ll find.
  • eBay, Gumtree etc. These are useful if you’re looking for something specific. They can be more expensive than the local charity shops and the rush of eBay bidding is highly addictive! (Last year after a £250 Paypal bill later and a room full of used stuff from The White Company I realised I needed to curb the Ebay fun.)
  • Antiques shops – Not for the faint hearted, items can be rather pricey. There are some pretty good ones out there you just have to find them.

How to shop second-hand?

  • What to do if you don’t like a second hand gift you’ve received or it doesn’t fit? Donate it back to charity! Both you and the buyer have done a nice thing that you can feel good about.
  • Never head out with a specific item in mind. You’ll only be disappointed
  • Be willing to give things a spruce up.
  • Wash and clean whatever you bring home.
  • Be prepared to find loads of things for yourself! Especially if you’re looking for gifts for others. Sod’s law.
  • If you’ve got size 8 feet like me you won’t find many shoes, likewise trousers can be tricky if you’re tall, small or oddly shaped.
  • Stick to jumpers, tops and coats if you’re buying for others and can’t try on.
  • I’m sorry but it is never acceptable to buy second hand bedding or underwear! Somethings you have to buy new!

Here’s an example of this weeks bargains! I’d like my family’s treasure to be  a surprise and there’s a very small chance they’ll read this so I won’t reveal what I’ve bought them. However, I found more than plenty for myself which I can share with you…

Crochet Cushion £5

Mugs £2 Each

Suitcase £20 Jumpers £3 Each

I’m on a quest to find the best second-hand spots in Yorkshire! If you’re a used item lover too then watch this space!

Written with love

Brooke

x

Lest we forget – Apple Batter Pudding.

There’s nothing I can write in this blog post that can convey how much both me, my family, and everyone else in this country owes the generations alive in 1918. From the brave men who gave their lives, to the grieving loved ones at home who lost Sons, Husbands, Fathers, Uncles, Nephews and still managed to carry on. We owe them everything.

I can’t possibly imagine what the suffering and cold must have felt like, or how much courage it must have taken to climb those mud walls and run head on into barbed wire and whistling bullets. I can’t imagine the courage of the women at home who received that dreaded telegram and still managed to work the land. I can’t imagine living in a Britain full to the brim of sweat and grief. We owe them everything.

It’s been 100 years to the day and If I can’t possibly imagine how they lived through that time, then I guess the least I can do is learn and remember. I need to learn as much about those dreadful years and remember so I can pass it on to future generations.

I haven’t always thought like this. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been rather ignorant of The Great War. We covered it a little in school, I knew they battled in the trenches and I’d dutifully stand in silence every November at 11am. For a whole two minutes every year those brave soldiers had my full attention. But, if i’m honest it really didn’t take long until I’d forget and get back on with everyday life.

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Our New Tradition
This year I acknowledged my ignorance and made more effort to learn what World War 1 was all about, why it happened and what it was like for the brave people who sacrificed their lives so we can live ours. (Dan Snow’s BBC Podcast is brilliant by the way! I’ll link it at the bottom.) I’m still pretty ignorant, I’m sure I can learn much more but at least to help me and Nick appreciate the sacrifice made for all of us I want to start a little new tradition in our house. In addition to buying a poppy (which I admittedly usually lose or wash or just completely forget to put on in the morning), I want to do something that will bring a little bit of 1914-1918 into our home.

Every year on the night before Rememberance Day, I hope to bake or cook something that would have been eaten by our torn and grieving nation during The Great War.

This year I’ve started the tradition with…

Apple Batter Pudding.
Using only 1 egg and two tablespoons of flour this recipe was a creative way to sustain the hardworking nation during the food shortage. This is how they would have eaten it back then but Tesco do have a modern recipe online, i’ll provide a link at the bottom.

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Ingredients…

  • Some apples
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • A little sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 3/4 pint of milk
  • 1 egg beaten

Method…

Peel, core and slice apples, place in a pie dish…
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Pour over a little lemon juice and sugar.
Mix together milk, egg and flour in a separate jug and pour mixture over the apples.
Bake in a hot oven for 1.5 hours.
Serve, enjoy and REMEMBER!

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This tasted surprisingly delicious! And because the apples were from a garden tree it cost us pittance.

Next year i’ll share the ingredients and recipe earlier so other people can join in if they wish.

Written with love
Brooke

Links…

Voices of the First World War

Tesco’s delicious looking modern recipe

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Grandmas Chocolate Concrete

Also known as Chocolate Crunch…

I’ll be honest there’s not much I remember from school. I’ve retained maybe 4 French words at the most, I think I’ve still got the basic rules of Pythagoras theorem, a2+b2 = c2? And of course, the wonderful memory of warm Chocolate Concrete served with pink custard. It was delicious!

The one thing about our school was that they took the word concrete quite literal. Don’t get me wrong, some days you’d be lucky, the consistency was just right and your spoon would slice through the slab beautifully. The custard would just soften it enough to eat, It was divine! The other days however, I remember you’d have to put your whole body weight into your cutlery to chop it into manageable mouthfuls. This for me usually resulted in my pudding shooting off the table one way and my plate the other. Que the obligatory claps and cries of “Wheyyy” coming from everyone in the dinner hall while I scrape my pudding off the floor in misery. Even so, embarrassment aside it was worth it! – I liked Chocolate Concrete.

Happily for me Grandma used to be a school cook, and not at my school! The pupils at my Grandmas school will have enjoyed Chocolate Concrete at it’s finest. When Grandma makes it, it’s never too hard. I’ve even made it myself and although it’s not made with her magic baking fingers it still slices marvellously! So, I thought I’d share it…

Grandmas Chocolate Concrete

Ingredients

  • 8oz – 226g Butter
  • 8oz – 226g sugar
  • 10oz – 284g S.R flour
  • 1 1/4oz – 36g cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • Sugar for sprinkling

Method

Place all ingredients but the egg into a bowl and rub together with your hands. Crack the egg into a cup, whisk and fold into the mixture to bind it.

Spread mixture into a greased tin (a Swiss roll tin according to Grandma, I don’t have one so I used a sandwich tin)

Bake in the oven for 20 mins, Gas mark 7, 180•c

Sprinkle with sugar and stand for 10 mins,

Cover and keep warm.

Serve with warm custard.

I’d say even Otis wants some but he will actually eat anything. He looks longingly at me like this even when I take multi-vitamins because he thinks he’s missing out.

Hope you enjoy

Written with love

Brooke x

P.s. I’d love to hear what your memories of school dinners are? And if this happened to you? Or was it just me? 🙈

Gardening Journal – Autumn flowers.

img_4885It’s fair to say that I’ve neglected the garden recently, I’ve been way too busy doing silly inappropriate tasks that rank far higher in my list of priorities than they should. Things like sewing a new dog bed or typing out recipes using my typewriter because well I just like using it. After a quiet word with myself I’ve come to the conclusion that arranging books on my coffee table to take pretty pictures is just a form of procrastination. What I really need to be doing is tackling the daily jobs before my house is stacked to the rafters with laundry and the weeds are tickling my ears. So that’s what I did, I went out into the garden and weeded for half an hour …

Before getting distracted by all the pretty flowers, bringing them inside and arranging them to take more pictures.

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Having neglected the garden for quite a while it really surprised me when I paid attention to what was still flowering. I associate autumn with oranges, browns and reds, I never would have thought that nearly into November you can make a pretty flower arrangement like this just from the garden.

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This gave me this idea for a post, I’d like to document what flowers are in bloom this time of year and a little information on each so I can take better care of them next year.

From Left to right

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Salvia – I think this is a Salvia? It wasn’t planted by me so I’m not 100% sure, I’m hoping a gardening guru will read this and correct me. I think this salvia is called Marcus, I could be wrong. A herbaceous perennial (disappears and comes back each year) and to prolong blooming cut off faded stems. Mulch in spring.

Osteospurmum – African daisy ‘Stardust’ An evergreen perennial which means it should provide bushy ground cover all winter however it might not survive frosts so overwinter under glass. Deadhead to prolong flowering.

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Astrantia – A herbaceous Perennial,  Astrantia likes moisture so a good 3-4 inches of mulch will help retain water, deadhead to prolong blooming. Prefers light to partial shade, needs to be protected from harsh midday sun.

Sambucus nigra – ‘Black lace’. A deciduous shrub, this bloomed much earlier in the year but I noticed the berries and thought they were very pretty. I can’t believe this but apparently for the best colour leaves i’m to prune right down to the ground in early spring. I’ll let you know how that goes.

img_4876-1Catnip – A herb, part of the mint family it can be used in herbal teas. Very easy to keep, cats love it, it’s a shame nobody near us has cats. Ignore it unless it hasn’t rained in a long time, then by all means, water it.

Rudbeckia – A herbaceous perennial. Apply liquid plant food every few weeks over the flowering period to produce bigger and better flowers. keep moderately watered over late spring, summer and autumn. Deadhead by cutting back faded stems to encourage new flowers.

 

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Peacock Orchids – These are annual bulbs, they were £2 in morrisons so I grabbed a bag, we planted them out in late May after the last frost, it felt like winter 2018 was never going to end. We’ve pretty much left them to it and they’ve been beautiful. I’m going to do the same next year to see if it was just a 2018 fluke.

Cyclamen – A tuberous perennial. These are meant to flower in autumn and winter but ours have been out since July, I’m convinced our climate here on the East Yorkshire coast is colder than most of the UK. Don’t over water in summer and mulch with leaf mould or bark chippings.

Hopefully this will serve as a little reminder of what to do next spring, summer and autumn to ensure my plants flower right through to November next year and hopefully, if we’re lucky and I stop taking pictures and actually start gardening we’ll get way more flowers than we have this year.

Written with love

Brooke