So today morning, while helping my beautiful Mummy with some errands, something happened. I kept running into friends and neighbours telling me how much they enjoy reading my blog and about the recipes they like. Neighbourhoods change, but visiting my parents feels like going back home. People there are mainly very friendly and many of them know me from when I was a child. I love feedback, and before you roll your eyes at me (I can see you) I appreciate all kinds. Done properly. You know what I mean. I love writing on here. I don’t get too personal, mostly because I don’t want to make my friends and family uncomfortable or make them feel uneasy in any way. I want people to talk to me at the end of the day!
Before I move on to another recipe, I would like to thank everyone who sent me messages after the post about Androuet and their beautiful book. I couldn’t have written that without the never-ending support of my lovely readers and friends so I want you to know how much I appreciate that. Thank you!
And now let’s move on to some food – it’s a cake, and it’s chocolate. I have noticed that for the past couple of years I consistently post a chocolate recipe. Not only am I constantly searching for that perfect chocolate cake, but also I know that the simpler and quicker that recipe is, the more inclined I am to making it. Plus at this time of year there’s enough running around and trying to catch up with preparations for Christmas lunch and/or dinner, which ever one is traditional for you.
The other day I posted one of my favourite entries in C&T on my Facebook page. It was an assignment for a Blogging University course (which has now ended) that included a quote. I remember not knowing what quote to choose, but being a creature of habit, and thus feeling like a hobbit most of the time, I decided to go for one from Tolkien’s masterpieces. I got loads of positive feedback for that piece and the recipe I included in it is one that I make again and again. I’m sure you’ll agree that a walnut and banana loaf cake is one of the most comforting bakes around. That and a scrumptious cup of thick hot chocolate.
So you won’t find many recipes on this blog that venture too much out of my comfort zone. C&T started out, and still is I think, a place to share what I cook at home, primarily in a small kitchen, as the ones I had back in the UK. Now I have a somewhat larger room to play in. I am lucky and I like the space, though it wasn’t easy to adjust to it.
I have been meaning to post this recipe for quite a while and I guess there’s no time like the present. It was almost not going to happen, and as I’m writing this it didn’t happen yet. The people upstairs are blasting away at the wall installing their aircon, and now I’ve got Celine Dion blasting in my ears in turn. Thank goodness for noise-reducing headphones! There’s a solution for everything…well, almost. But now I’m back in the game baby and it feels good.
This morning has been rough. I woke up in a tizzy (is that expression still used today?) after taking for ever to sleep, downed some hot chocolate (not a good idea in this heat) before I changed into something other than my pyjamas to visit my mum. A few trips to the grocery store, veggie truck and other errands, and I was knackered. So if you see a typo or two today, please be kind!
It’s been warm this week. Warm enough to say something like “I give up on baking until the end of December!” I’ve been busy. Busy means good by the way, although I’m already tired and it’s not the weekend yet.
It’s Wednesday and I keep insisting it’s Thursday. Take no notice of me, please! On the positive side though I can finally say that our guest bedroom is almost done, just in time for our friend’s arrival on Sunday. I am happy.
Spring has not quite arrived in the UK. I’m not going to say anything else about this – I’m really afraid I might jinx it, but I must post this before the weather becomes warmer. Two weeks ago it snowed here. OK. Stop. But in case you’re wondering, that’s why we’re still drinking mulled wine in April.
In general I think it’s best to go for a fruity full-bodied red, but this depends on personal taste. If you like to drink the wine you choose on its own, then you will like it when it’s mulled. This is J’s simple recipe which always worked for us. The roles were reversed this time: he was by the stove, I was taking the photos. Except the one with the glasses. (Was going to forget that! He wouldn’t have minded but I said it for the sake of completeness.) I don’t really need to say this but If you’re in Malta, forget about this until December!
We started to use this recipe with these quantities while in Michigan; that’s why I have also given cup measures. The equivalent ml measures are an approximation, but still valid. A slight variation will not make much of a difference here.
- 2 cups/500ml water
- ½ cup/100g caster sugar
- 1 stick cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- 2 small star anise
- 2 large oranges, cut in slices
- 1 bottle of red wine
Place the water, caster sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and star anise in a deep pot, on medium heat, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat. Steep the sliced oranges into the syrup mixture for around 15 minutes. Pour in 1 bottle of red wine (the deeper, the better).
Reheat the wine and fruity syrup mixture, but do not boil. Strain the wine, using a sieve and serve hot.
The recipe is here, ready for the cold weather, whenever that hits you! You guys in Oz – are you next? Enjoy.