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Three children *** Two dogs *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That's us!

We've been blogging since January 2010.

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Just a thought….

"A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe."

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Life

Thank you….

  • Louise Houghton Fantastic. I often am in a state of indecision regarding our black refuse bag. We always burn a lot in the winter in the Rayburn... 23 Apr
  • Kim Carberry Ahh! How lovely! It sounds like you have had a fab week. That church looks fantastic. Well done x #WotW 21 Apr
  • Anne How lovely that you have had time to re-charge. It sounds like you've had a lovely week. I love your daughters church, very creative. #wotw 21 Apr
  • The Reading Residence Your analogy about recharging is so true and I've never really thought of it like that before. Food for thought. I love looking round old... 21 Apr
  • Stephanie Robinson What a fabulous post - and a gorgeous quilt - and yes hindsight, it gets us every time but great advice in this post -... 20 Apr
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

I’ve been featured by

baking muffins in the aga

Raspberries, please.

There has been an alarming increase in the height of my children recently. It always happens in the spring. They seem to shoot up, as soon as the sun hits. The Teen is near enough my height now, and her sister seems able to look me in the eye a little bit more easily, than I’d care to admit.

And as for the Boy, well he is taking on the appearance of someone who has begun to stretch. Looking just as willowy as his sisters. Watch any of them for long enough, and I swear you can see them growing.

Now, they are not managing this on meal times alone.

The most likely form of extra nourishment, are the homemade goodies I make. The theory is that if I make them, I can keep the snacks on the healthy side. Also there is a limit to how much I can bake/grate/chop.

A big favourite at the moment is raspberry and chocolate chip muffins. Each muffin is practically half raspberries, half muffin. Not overly sweet. Rather yummy, if I say so myself. Our supply of homegrown raspberries has long since run out, so I often find “frozen raspberries” written on my shopping list. Not in my handwriting. A subtle hint to make more.

The good news is that they are incredibly quick to make and bake. I have my muffin making kit piled up ready in the cupboard. I use a cup measure as it’s so much quicker to scoop the ingredients. Speed is of the essence. Especially when you have three children who take it in turns to check if the muffins are ready yet. (Seriously, do they have a rota for who goes in next to scout for muffins?)

Apart from the milk and raspberries, the rest of the ingredients are near by in another cupboard. I reckon I can have these muffins ready to eat within 20 minutes, if not less. I win “best Mama” points if they can smell them baking as they walk up the drive after school. You cannot beat a warm muffin after a hard day chatting with your friends studying.

So here’s how we make them (when I say we, I mean me):

Ingredients

In first bowl, mix the:

2 cups of self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of caster sugar
1 cup of frozen raspberries
1/2 cup of semi-sweetened chocolate chips

In second bowl, mix the:

100ml oil
200ml milk
2 tsp of vanilla essence or lemon extract

Also need a muffin tin, lined with 12 paper muffin cases

What to do:

1. Pour the contents of the second bowl into the first, until it is just mixed. Do not over mix.
2. Divide the combined mixture between the 12 muffin cases.
3. For a 2 oven Aga, bake on the third shelf down in the top oven, for about 12-15 minutes, turning the muffin tray around halfway through. For other ovens, bake at 200°c/400°f/ Gas 6 for 15-20 minutes. The muffins are ready when they are golden brown and risen.
4. Take out of the oven. Move the muffins from the tray onto a wire rack to cool.

These muffins never make it beyond the day they are made. I live in hope of putting a batch in the freezer for another day. In all fairness, they are so quick to make, that it’s not a big problem.

More of a challenge is having enough raspberries available, which explains the added request for frozen raspberries to my shopping lists.

My solution is to plant more raspberry canes. I’m aiming to have a row of raspberries this summer. I miss my fruit cage and may have to make a new one. When the Teen was a toddler she used to be pushed disappear in there, after meals,  and feast on all the soft fruit. No need to serve up a pudding. Nothing beats fruit straight from the plant.

Yes. I need to work on my raspberry production.

Grow little raspberry plant. Grow. I have three children waiting for muffins.

PoCoLo
Sharing. Good idea.

Dragonflies and Muffins

I have a new favourite muffin. Or maybe I should call it a small cake. Whichever, it is my newest favourite. Move over blueberry muffins, there is a new little cake in town.

Today was one of those baking sessions when I had not quite the right ingredients, so I improvised. A few days ago, I saw Rattling On’s raspberry and almond cake. I couldn’t help wondering how I had forgotten the wonderful combination of almonds and raspberries. I thought about it enough to remember to pick up a small container of fresh raspberries whilst out shopping. I like buying local and in season produce, which these were not, but my urge to combine these two flavours was so strong.

Turns out that I didn’t have nearly enough ground almonds or any vanilla extract, so I turned to my muffin recipes. Turned out I didn’t have muffin cases, so I pulled out my little cake cases. I had no light oil, but I did have olive oil. I had raspberries and flaked almonds, so I was still on a roll. I even found a small bottle of almond extract.  The need for an extra shopping trip had been averted. Yeh! Baking commenced and these yummies turned out just fine.

I’m sharing the recipe, in the spirit of friendship, and also it would be unfair, after all the Yehs! and Yummys!, to leave you dry. Also I have to share a little story from today. TF had taken his favourite book, of the moment, into school for show and tell. The teacher didn’t have time to read it, but asked if it was OK if she kept it at school to read to the class tomorrow, as she liked it.

“Oh yes.” My little son said. “My Mummy loves to share. She won’t mind.”

I was so surprised when he told me about this conversation. He was pleased with himself for saying it. He knew he had done good! I can’t think of a better principle than sharing for my 4 year old to pick up on, but he has obviously taken it on board and understood.  I was genuinely amazed. There is hope for my parenting skills (shoe buying and haircuts aside)!

So, seeing as I apparently love to share, here is the recipe. Usual method of muffin making – dry ingredients in one bowl and wet stuff in another. This makes 24 small cakes or 12 muffins.

  1. Mix in first bowl – 50g of ground almonds, 290g self raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 150g caster sugar
  2. Mix in second bowl – 2 eggs, 225ml milk, 100ml olive oil, 1 tsp of almond extract
  3. Add contents of second bowl to first and gently mix until just mixed. (Muffins refuse to rise if you over mix.)
  4. Line or grease two 12 bun trays. Half fill each case with mixture. Pop in two or three raspberries and cover the raspberries with more mixture until the case is almost full.
  5. Sprinkle flaked almonds on the top.
  6. I popped it on to the third shelf down in the Aga baking oven for 10-15 mins, turning half way through. Based on similar recipes, it looks like 200c/400f/Gas 6 for 10-15 mins for other ovens, but please check. Cakes should be golden brown on top.
  7. When ready remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Yum! The smell is amazing. My cakes are ready for our Friday craft group get together tomorrow. I hope they like them.

While I’m sharing, I thought I’d show you my finished dragonflies from our house sign. I’m no painter or sign writer, so the sign is basic and fun. I’ll leave the masterpieces to the artists among us.

Difficult to see the glitter on the wings in these photos. I’m hoping it will come into its own when the car headlights shine on it at night or if the sunlight catches it. We’ll see.

The name of the house is just below the three dragonflies and is the bit that people should see from the road. Hopefully the dragonflies will add interest as visitors open the gate.

Can you tell that I had fun with the wings?

The sign is just waiting for a lull in the rain and it will be fixed in place. In the meantime, I think just one more of those cakes in celebration of an actual finished project. Yeh!

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Sharing. Good idea.

Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

Copyright notice:

All my words and photos are copyrighted to me. They cannot be used for commercial benefit by anyone else. If you would like to use any of them, then please ask me first and don't just take. Written permission only. Don't pass my words, photos or ideas off as your own. It's not nice.