Switchblade review

Jess was given the opportunity to write a review of Airhogs Switchblade. Which she was uber excited about until it came to the actual writing bit! so you will to make do with mine. Sooooo……


This little beauty arrived a while ago and I managed to get Jess to wait while it charged up for its first flight. I have to say that it was a total delight that you can charge this via a phone charger cable. I have found with other helicopters and cars we’ve had, that charging them from the batteries in the handset makes it costly.

I haven’t got any photos of it flying as I was busy trying to avoid being hit by it. which she obviously found hilarious! However it flysheet smoothly and we were able to get it to change directions. 

This has proved to be a popular addition to our multitude of remote control objects.

I can highly recommend the Airhogs Switchblade for anyone’s Christmas list. 

TFL

Barb x

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Palmiers

I’ve recently started a full time job so I haven’t managed to join in yet this year with the Great Bloggers Bake Off. Semi-final and here I am….finally. I was going to make a savarin buuuuttt I knew I needed to make something fairly quickly and easy as I am very pushed for time at the weekends. I have used bought puff pastry as I have many more things I can do with those precious hours, and if it’s good enough for Mary Berry then it’s good enough for me!

So I decided to go for palmiers and I’m going home one step further and using a recipe I stole from my sister! I really like this recipe it’s a quick mix, slap, roll and bake. Hey presto palmiers. And to make it even better…..”how?” I hear you ask. Well by adding courgettes I can get an extra vegetable into the child without them knowing. So here is my pilfered recipe (I’m fairly sure she won’t mind me sharing it!)

Hey Pesto Palmiers

1 packet of puff pastry

1 courgette, grated

Red Pesto

Cheese, grated

  • Dry off the grated courgette slightly
  • Add half the jar of Pesto
  • Mix in the cheese, as much as you like (within reason!)

  • Smooth the mixture all over the puff pastry and roll one side into the middle and then the other side.

  • Pop this into the fridge for 30 minutes
  • Now cut the palmiers into slices about half an inch thick.
  • Bake at Gas 6/180°fan for 15-20 minutes until cooked through
  • Eat!!

I couldn’t bring myself to make two different savoury palmiers. So I made biscoff spread ones. It sounds a bit odd but wow they are gooood.

Biscoff Palmiers

1 packet of puff pastry 

Jar of biscoff spread

  • Spread the biscoff onto the pastry
  • Roll up as above and pop them into the fridge for 30 minutes
  • Slice and bake at Gas 6/180°fan for 15-20 minutes until cooked and golden *be careful the filling is very hot!*
  • Enjoy

These ones didn’t turn out very good but they were yummy.

I was given the opportunity to work with tesco for this bake. They have a variety of fantastic recipes on their website.

It’s not too late to join the Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016. 

School holiday baking part 1

Today we had to wait in for my beautiful HUGE new bed to be delivered. Jess was harassing me, which is totally normal during school holidays, to “do” something.

We said to her Grandad yesterday that we would make some honeycomb for him. So out came the biggest pan I could find and I spent ages finding a recipe that seemed to make sense – I had looked through a few and I don’t want to know what other people are doing when they make it, I want a tried and tested recipe. I found one, yay, and apart from a little freaking out when it started to puff up when the bicarbonate of soda was added it looks as it should do. 

Honeycomb 

375g caster sugar

225g golden syrup

125ml water

15g bicarbonate of soda

The largest pan you have!

• Prepare your baking tray with a double layer of greaseproof paper, lightly oiled

• In your saucepan put the water, sugar and syrup in and gently heat until you the sugar has dissolved

• When this has dissolved, turn up the heat until you have a good boil going. Then if, like me, you don’t have a sugar thermometer, set a timer for 10 minutes. This allows for a gorgeous caramel colour.

• Remove from the heat and quickly whisk the bicarb in. It will fizz up and you will think it’s going to go over the edge. It shouldn’t (which is why you need a large pan!)

• Pour onto the tray you prepared and leave it to set. 

• Break it into pieces

Tips- if you are a fiddler take the spoon out when the mix starts to boil. I will be covering mine in melted chocolate when it’s finished.

Random Acts of Unkindness

I’m really excited about reading this book. I love Karen Rose and Angela Marsons so this sounds like a perfect read for me. I think there is nothing nicer in the summer than sitting outside enjoying the last bit of sunshine with a good book and a glass of wine.

Look out for my review of this book in the next few weeks!

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How far would you go to find your child?

DS Jan Pearce has a big problem. Her fifteen year old son, Aiden, is missing. Jan draws together the threads of missing person cases spanning fifty years and finds tragic connections and unsolved questions.

Bessy Swain, an elderly woman that Jan finds dead on her search for Aiden, and whose own son, Thomas, was also missing, may have the answers.

Jan uses Bessy’s information and her own skills and instinct to track down the missing boys. But is it too late for Aiden?

Set in the North West of England, with the notorious Saddleworth Moor as a backdrop, Random Acts of Unkindness is a story about motherhood, love and loss and how families of missing people suffer the consequences of major crimes involving their loved ones.

Random Acts of Unkindness is the first in the DS Jan Pearce series of novels.

If youd like to read it then you can buy it from Amazon.

About the Author

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Jacqueline Ward writes short stories, novels and screenplays. She has been writing seriously since 2007 and has had short stories published in anthologies and magazines. Jacqueline won Kindle Scout in 2016 and her crime novel, Random Acts of Unkindness, will be published by Amazon Publishing imprint Kindle Press. Her novel SmartYellowTM was published by Elsewhen Press in 2015 and was nominated for the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2016. Jacqueline is a Chartered psychologist who specializes in narrative psychology, gaining a PhD in narrative and storytelling in 2007. She lives in Oldham, near Manchester, with her partner and their dog.

Dying Matters

I’m not sure how to start or what to say which isn’t like me in the slightest.

Last month, at work, there was a “Dying Matters” week advertised and they were asking people to join in the Big Conversation, which was all about making sure that people know what you want to happen to you when you die. This made me think about writing this as any of us could be taken at any time. It’s not a nice thing to talk about with your loved ones but it is such an important thing that needs to be discussed.

The people that know me, know that this last year has been the worst year of my life. It’s been hard and we’ve all felt desperate, heart broken and unable to process what happened.

It has been nearly a year since Lily died. She had an untreatable form neuro endocrine cancer that had, by the time that had found it, infected virtually every organ of my beautiful 21 year old niece’s body.

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Lily

We have struggled to comprehend how quickly she was taken. And I’m so angry with people that say that she was only my niece so I shouldn’t be so affected by this. But I have always loved Lily and her sister, Amber, as though they are my own children. And I never expect to meet anyone like Lily again. She was easy to love, as proved by everyone that met her.

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She had managed to do many things in her short life, yet somehow not enough. She was an amazing artist, loved acting, taught art to children and even wrote a children’s book(unpublished at the moment so if anyone is reading this that knows how to get this done please shout up). She was a bit kooky (aren’t we all in some way?) but sweet. She started her own business, called the Octopode Factory when she left school selling her artwork digitally and became famous within the world of mixed media crafters. I’m proud to say I have her first watercolour painting which she painted with me.

Having had this happen to my family recently it has brought forward so many questions about death and what we would like to happen to us when we die. I know that I’ve struggled to talk about this. One of the things that remember debating with my sister when we were told Lily was terminally ill was that she had no idea how to approach Lily and ask her what she wanted to happen to her when she had gone. She was too young to have even thought about it. And she was too ill to have a full discussion.

I’ve had to answer all sorts of questions from medical ones to a simple “why?”. I say simple, but it’s one of the hardest questions to answer when it’s a child trying to understand the death of a loved one. She still doesn’t understand why Lily has been taken. She worries about what will happen to her if either of her parents die. And she worries about dying herself. At 10 years old she is far too young to discuss her choices about cremation or burial. But it is something that I will be discussing with her when she’s ready.

I have had my “big conversation” and made sure that I have made my final wishes known. I urge you all to do the same.

Lily passed away on 9th July 2015.

I walk past people that helped to care for Lily on the different wards she was in. Most days are difficult if not excruciatingly painful. It hasn’t lessened my emptiness. I still miss her every single day.

Make the most of every day you have with the people you love.

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Lily and Amber

Great British Bake Off – The Final!!

This is the last post for this years Great British Bake Off and I’ve taken indecision to a whole new level.

I’ve thought back to every cake I’ve ever made and at all the cakes I want to make. And I decided that I would create a new recipe (and some new naughty words when I was working on it too!)

Blimey I have no idea how people create new recipes all the time. And maybe this wasn’t the best time for me to be starting. So I made a list of classic British cakes and then decided that I didn’t want to do any of them. Then I decided to steal the idea of turning a British pudding into a cake. I decide to get everything out to make an apple crumble and spent some time thinking about the kind of texture I wanted. And this is what I came up with…

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Apple Crumble and Custard Cake

Cake
225g butter
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self raising flour
50g chopped walnuts
50g sultanas (optional)
3 apples peeled cored and sliced thinly
Brown sugar
Cinnamon

Crumble topping
185g plain flour
100g butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
25g chopped walnuts

• Preheat the oven to 160°fan/Gas 4
• Cream the butter and sugar together
• Add the eggs one at a time beating well between
• Put the walnuts and sultanas into the flour and add this to the mixture and fold in until no flour is left
• Split the mixture into two greased and lined tins
• On one cake lay the sliced apples and sprinkle with some cinnamon and brown sugar
• Make the crumble topping by rubbing the butter and plain flour together until it resembles breadcrumbs
• Add the walnuts and brown sugar, spread over the top of the other cake.
• Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin then move to a wire rack.

At this point you can fill with anything you like. I chose custard.

Custard
350ml milk
Vanilla
10g cornflour
10g plain flour
4 egg yolks
65g caster sugar

• Heat milk and vanilla to simmering
• Whisk the egg yolks with the flours and sugar
• When the milk is simmering pour gently into the egg mix ensuring you whisk quickly, or you’ll have scrambled eggs
• Pour this back into the pan and stir continuously over a medium heat until the custard has thickened
• Cool this quickly and cover with cling film so a skin doesn’t form
• When the has cooled completely fill the cake and serve.

(I have melted some toffees and added a tiny bit of cream to make a quick drizzle for the top)

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**I have to say a big thank you to Stork for providing me with tubs of Stork with butter for this bake**

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Another huge thank you has to go to Jenny and all the others that have organised this year’s Bloggers Bake Off and all the bloggers that have made it another exceptional series. If you’d like to join in next time you can find out more info here.

Mummy Mishaps

Great Bloggers Bake Off Patisserie Week

Well its come to patisserie week and I haven’t managed to join in as much as I would have liked. I love choux pastry so I knew I was all in this week. I would have liked to have made the tower of éclairs but there was no way I’d manage it.

I have been lucky enough to be contacted by Tesco again, with an offer to support my bake with a voucher towards the items I need for patisserie week.

I was going to make two different fillings for my éclairs, this has allowed me to go a bit further with the flavour choices I could make.

I would like to present my éclairs with chocolate and caramel plus vanilla mascapone cream.

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Basic Choux Pastry (makes 12)

65g plain flour, sifted onto a piece of greaseproof paper
50g unsalted butter
Pinch salt
120ml water
2 eggs, beaten

• Grease baking trays with butter and preheat the oven to 190C fan/Gas 6
• In a pan put the water salt and butter and melt over a low heat until melted
• Bring to the boil, then add the flour in one go and mix off the heat
• Put back on the heat and beat with a spoon until the mixture forms a smooth ball
• Put in a bowl and leave to cool
• When cooled, beat in the egg a little at a time until the mixture drops off the spoon when shaken slightly
• Put mix into a piping bag with a round nozzle. Pipe a 10cm/4in line onto the baking sheet
• Bake for 15 minutes then turn the oven down (don’t open the door!) to 150C/Gas 3 and bake for a further 10 minutes
• Make a hole in the side of pastry and place bake in the oven for about 3 minutes to crisp up
• When cooked leave to cool and fill with your choice of filling

I’ve used these two

Chocolate Creme Patissiere

300ml milk
3 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
10g plain flour
10g cornflour
50g chocolate
Vanilla

• Heat the milk, add the chocolate and melt
• Mix the egg yolks and the other ingredients except the vanilla into a paste
• Pour the milk/chocolate onto the egg mix and stir quickly (or you will have chocolate scrambled eggs!)
• Return this mix back to the pan and bring to the boil
• Cook for 2 minutes over a low heat and add the vanilla
• Cover the creme patissiere with cling film on the surface so it doesn’t develop a skin and leave to cool

To these ones when I filled the choux pastry I added a spoonful of Carnation caramel (it made it a bit sickly so I won’t be doing that again!)

Vanilla Mascapone Cream

150ml double cream
3tbsp icing sugar
125g mascapone
Vanilla extract

• Whisk the cream with the icing sugar to soft peaks
• Beat in the mascapone and vanilla

Fill the éclairs well – no one wants a mouth full of empty choux pastry.

Melt some chocolate and dip the tops of the éclairs in and leave to set.

They don’t keep for long so eat them quickly!

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The Bloggers Bake Off can be found here

And I would like to say thank you to Tesco for their help but all views here and the recipe is my own. For more ideas please look here at Tesco’s recipes.

Mummy Mishaps