Raspberry & Bergamot White Chocolate Tray Bake Blondie things

After posting a pic of these fresh from the oven on social media, I got a few requests for the recipe.  Have to admit it has taken me a while to sit down and do this, as it feels a little like exposing yourself, it is very personal to me.  I love to cook and bake for family and friends, and most are the result of having ingredients to use up then making a recipe I know, my own.

So into the fire I will jump, gooey blondies here we come:

The Ingredients:

150g – 170g of Raspberry & Bergamot White Chocolate ThingyMeJigs (or just plain white chocolate chopped will do, either add some Bergamot zest or not – up to you)

125 g Unsalted Butter (it really should be butter, marg just won’t cut it)

150 g – Caster Sugar

200 g  – Plain Flour

2 eggs (lightly beaten)

1 tsp Vanilla extract (there or there abouts lol)

pinch of salt

2 good handfuls of raspberries (approx 60 g) You could use frozen

60g ish of chopped pecans (optional)

Method:

Turn oven onto 170’c to warm up, line either a 20 cm x 20 cm square baking tin or a 18 cm x 23 cm rectangular tin with baking paper. No bigger as they will be too thin to be gooey – we want gooey.

My favorite method to line a tin is to measure out the piece I need, then scrunch it up into a ball. Open it back out and use to line your tin, folding over the edges it makes it easier somehow. I personally don’t grease the tin, your choice.

Next job is to gently melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water (emphasis on the gently there :D). Be patient, do not stir or it will go grainy. Just take a moment or 2 to inhale the smell of warm chocolate, and simply be. It’s not often we take time out in this busy, busy world so enjoy this chance to pause.

raspberry bergamot thingymejigs melt

Just breathe

Carefully remove from the heat, and give it just a minute or 2 to cool a little. Add the sugar and stir in until completely mixed.

raspberry bergamot sugar add

Let the yumminess begin

Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring!! It will look as though it has curdled.

raspberry bergamot curdled mix

Don’t panic!

The magic happens when you add the eggs with the vanilla extract and stir, no beating required. Mix until combined and the mixture will be smooth again, and all is right with the world.

raspberry bergamot smooth mix

Don’t you just want to dive in?!

Next add the flour and salt , stir until combined and smooth. (I forgot to take a pic of this stage – oops, I am learning).

Stir in the pecans and raspberries carefully so not to break them up. If using frozen raspberries, work fast but gentle as the choc will start to harden.

Spoon/pour into your lined tin and bake for approx 35-40 mins.  I start checking at about 30 mins as every oven is different.  You are looking for a nicely browned top, with a slight wobble to the centre. If you stick a skewer in it some mixture should still be sticking to it. If it comes out clean, doesn’t matter you will have a lovely white chocolate traybake instead, just not gooey blondies.  Either is goooooood.

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Allow to cool in the tin, and then cut into 12 squares.  Be warned these won’t hang around long, they tend to go very quickly in our house.

raspberry bergamot bake

They make a lovely pudding served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and an extra drizzle of raspberry sauce ;).

I hope you enjoy them.

Kath x

PS The original recipe I used for the first time I ever made blondies was from The Hummingbird Bakery Book.  Then as usual I took a recipe and made it my own, the rapsberries added a nice sharp fruitiness to stop then being sickly.  You should experiment yourselves and have fun x

 

 

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Sausage Kebabs

Well there was a strange thing spotted in the sky over Kegworth and Sutton Bonington last week – the sun!! It was lovely and warm, and we were spending our family day outside in the garden.  The child piped up that he wanted a BBQ for tea (he would eat outside in the snow if he could) “you know mum those things on sticks”. Able to translate “Leon”, I was able to comprehend that he wanted kebabs for tea. Slight panic, I had already got sausages out of the freezer for later.

A quick rummage round the fridge and freezer and the idea for sausage kebabs was born.

You will need:

Either metal skewers or wooden ones soaked in warm water for a few hours

A selection of veg suitable for grilling.  We used onions, peppers and tomatoes, because that is what we had in. Struggling for ideas? Think, mushrooms, courgettes, aubergines, squash, pineapple (ok that’s a fruit but it works), chunks of corn on the cob.

6 x Oaklands Pork Sausages or your favourtie sausages.

Method:

Cut your sausages into 4 pieces each.  Chop your veg into similar size pieces.

sausage kebabs to be assembled

Veg and Leon’s fave sausages from Oaklands Butchers

Alternate threading the ingredients onto the skewers.

sausage kebabs ready for grill

Doesn’t need to be perfect

Hand to husband to brush with a little oil (we use a local cold pressed rapeseed oil) and grill on the BBQ, until cooked through. Meanwhile I prepared some home made coleslaw, a chopped salad and some pitta breads.

sausage kebabs grilled

Man! Fire!

Devour kebabs while sat in the garden.

sausage kebabs cooked

Ta daaa! Sausage kebabs

A quick, simple get-out-of-jail recipe for keeping my child happy, and the husband. These went down well.

 

Kath x

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day

I just wanted to acknowledge/thank those ladies in my life past & present who have inspired me to push on/keep going/reach for the stars. I’m not talking about celebrities in the glossy magazines, or the heroines of sport, or even those that have overcome major adversity. There is no denying that plenty of people aspire to, or are inspired, by these glorious women that are held up to the sun by the many strains of media. I am talking about my everyday heroes, that I see/think of/hold in my heart every day of the week, every week of the year. You, my dears, are the lifeblood of this sister.

I am gong to mention some here, more as examples of (sainthood – hahahahahaha). No no more as demonstration of those strengths I glean from you.

Mother (Mumsie) – for proving growing up just means accepting your responsibility, not giving up the things you enjoy. Disney film anyone?

Aunt Joy – being on your own never stopped you doing anything. From going to the cinema to watch the film you wanted, to travelling halfway round the world.

Barbara (our Bobsie) – proof that happiness is about wanting what you have, not having what you want. Although I’m still hankering for my own home brew bar like Vernon lol.

Sam (Sister in Law) – for doing things your way, and not apologising for being you.

Marie (my warrior queen) – I will forever be your wingman, following you into battle, fighting by your side. As long as we don’t drop the ball hahahahahaha.

Ladies of Preston Grasshoppers RUFC – for the laughs, the work ethic and the hope you gave.

Caroline & Amy – our prize fighters. Taking the fight to the world, changing perceptions and refusing to give in.

Angela – crashing on regardless, making your own path in the world, just as we are. It’s completely normal the way we do things.

Caroline – you are as mad as me!

Linda – the most amazingly patient, plain talking horsewoman and fount of all knowledge (well for me anyway)

There are others I know and admire for their battles and triumphs, there are those I observe surviving each days little trials life likes to throw at us. I take strength and encouragement from you all. What makes us great? Not getting it right first time every time, but the willingness to try, try and try again. Always wanting to do better.

While we are at it – I would also like to give a shout out to all the amazing women I know working in their own businesses, changing the world slowly but surely one day at a time. You may be tired, question what you are doing, feel on your own – you are not. We are all doing the same mind whirling thing everyday, but every day we get up and do it our way.

Caroline & Amy – Harmless and The Tomorrow Project

Angela – Bonington’s Tearoom & Soar Valley Garden Railway

Debs, Holly & Abby – Oakland’s Butchers

Hayley – HM Beauty

Bernie – Detta Textiles

Ceri Anne – The Treatment Room

Lou – The Cap & Stocking

Caroline – The Kings Head

Claire – Wild Thyme

Helen – Gastall Dog Grooming

Julie – One Kegworth & Folwells Pre-ser-ve’d

Fred – Flowers by Fredrika

Sally – Long Lane Equestrian

As much as I like the #thisgirlcan campaign, stuff that!! We are strong, we are invincible, we are women! #thesewomendo #thiswomancan.

Here’s the original song:

I Am Woman
I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman
You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

As I say to Leon everyday
“Go learn, go take on the world!”
Kath xx

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

As I say to Leon everyday
“Go learn, go take on the world!”
Kath xx

As I say to Leon everyday
“Go learn, go take on the world!”
Kath xx
Kath xx

Winter Feeding for Garden Birds

During Autumn and Winter, food and water should be put out on a regular basis in order to give our garden birds the best chance of survival. If possible, feed birds twice daily in very severe weather and make sure to break any ice the water.

Throughout autumn, feeding sunflower hearts means that the birds have to use less effort to remove the husks like they would with whole seeds. See what wildlife is doing this Autumn with AutumnWatch

During the winter weather that is due this weekend following Storm Caroline , especially when birds rely on their fat reserves to cope with frosty nights and snowy days, we should be feeding high energy food.

Over winter, the following foods are ideal for birds as they are high in energy:

  • Peanuts
  • Nyjer seed
  • Sunflower hearts/black sunflower seeds
  • Fat balls
  • Suet logs/blocks/balls
  • Mealworms

Tiggi x

‘X’ marks the spot

Well I have been back riding officially for a few months now, and what an eventful few months it has been!

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Me after working hard

The ‘walking sofa’ Mickey, was a perfect gent for me the first couple of lessons.  Then we started to have some “fun”, for want of a better word.  Mickey was getting fitter, at a faster rate than me. With his greater fitness he seemed to become more “alive” and was looking for a reason to spook, as they do. Well this post sums it up:

“Another lesson on Mickey this aft, which included a stylish dismount! Yes I fell off. I got asked what did I land on – er the floor! I did get back on and ride him, it had been my fault after all. It hurt a bit, but not as bad as I feared. Aching now tho. ffs.”

From that moment on Mickey and I became at odds.  I felt not ready for a horse as strong as that, and Mikey needed someone confident on him as we were starting to spook at electric gates, bikes, motorbikes accelerating (that was a fun one cos we accelerated too – but I stayed on that time), horse boxes blah blah blah.  Thankfully, all while in the outdoor school, he hacks out brilliantly though.

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Mickey & me

We tried numerous tactics to address my faults and his cheekiness. However, after a particular lesson where we started to make some progress, but then developed a tendency to buck I finally said to Lisa my instructor, enough was enough.  Mickey and I were just winding each other up and it was becoming ever decreasing circles.  As Lisa said “If it isn’t fun, it isn’t right”.  We were supposed to be building my confidence back up and rehabilitation after injury.  A new plan was hatched.

Meet my ginger knight in shining armour – Jack.  An ex race horse who I have found I can give my trust too, and is very forgiving.

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A couple of aids like toe stops ( I had one fall where I slipped forward and struggled to get my foot out of the stirrups) to lend me confidence and we are up and running.

Between Lisa and this gentle, very patient horse I am now back cantering lots, and jumping.  Only small jumps but hey it’s a start and my smile is back.

Tiggi x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the Hedgehog rescue!

A few years ago, I rescued a hedgehog who got stuck in our fencing.  Fast forward to now and “Pog the hog” is a regular visitor to our garden, plus he’s brilliant for our veg patch as he allows us to organically garden thanks to his love for pests.  I did, however, trip over him taking the recycling out of the garden to which he snuffled his disgust rather loudly!


So, what do you do if you’ve found a poorly hedgehog?

Do:

  • Leave them a small shallow bowl of fresh water
  • Put some meaty food out for them, such as wet cat food or hedgehog food
  • Pick a poorly hedgehog up with gardening gloves
  • Place the hedgehog in a box with very high sides and air holes so they can breathe
  • Put an old towel or fleece in the bottom so the hedgehog can hide if it desires
  • Fill a hot water bottle, wrap it in an old towel and place it in the box
  • Ensure the water bottle stays warm

Do not:

  • Give them milk- hedgehogs are lactose intolerant!
  • Put them in a small box e.g. shoe box, as they are strong and could push the lid off
  • Leave a cold hot water bottle in the box as it can do more harm
  • Fail to call an expert. Always get advice on your rescued hedgehog

It is important to call an expert as soon as possible to ask for their advice.
We recommend calling the British Hedgehog Preservation Society as they can find you the most local place to find help for your rescued hedgehog.

Tiggi x

Summer Holiday Activities with a Family Business

Summer is here and school is out!  I have to admit to looking forward to having my “baby” back, and getting off the treadmill that is the school run.  God it just felt relentless towards the end of term.  Admittedly the first two days were testing as Leon adjusted and wound down, poor little man was sooooo tired and overwhelmed, so we just had a couple of days at home pottering and cycling round the village. (Plus ate some yummy comfort food)

Summer holiday activities with a family business

French Toast for breakfast

Delivery Time ending at the park

As usual, we have to juggle the needs of our business with the needs of our family and Friday was delivery day. Being summer holidays, Leon is with either his Dad or me.  We packed up the truck with essentials for the park and loaded the feed deliveries into the back.  A bit of planning resulted in our last delivery of the day happening right next to one of Leon’s favourite park – Rushcliffe Country Park.  We had some happy Leon & Mummy time until the rain came in.  Then it was home for a brew and treats.

Muddy night at Leicester Speedway

We have managed some family time with a great (and dramatic) evening out to Leicester Speedway.  I didn’t expect to enjoy the event as much as I did, but we all loved it.  Such a great family atmosphere, competitive riding, dramatic finish and friendly fans willing to explain and show you the ropes.  It was muddy though.  The husband said we may get “a little dirty”, not splattered from head to toe!  Leon and I laughed our socks off, and I was very impressed with my skilled reaction to keep the flying mud out of my beer, and no spillage!

Trraditional Skegness Pub Trip!

To finish our first week off together, (Daddy has now taken over), we had a little two night stay in Skegness.  This has become a bit of a tradition since we first joined the local pub day trip to the seaside 3 years ago.  Now Nanna has a caravan there we grab a couple nights away and spend the days on the beach – no matter what the weather.  This year we had two complete opposite days – one glorious sunshine and warm, the next grey, wet & cold.  It didn’t stop us, nor did my oddly patched sun burn.  Sometimes it can only happen to me.

Balancing Act

Leon is now having adventures with Daddy for a week, then it will be swapsies again.  This is how we manage our childcare and business throughout the holidays.  Maybe not ideal, and sometimes combining the business with family is very difficult, but this way Leon always has one of us around at least.  Plus we are getting better at eking out time for family adventures.  How do you balance family and work life when running your own business? Hope you all have a great summer.

 

Tiggi x

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day Stick Float

Yesterday saw the Husband (aka Stick Float) very busy in the shop as the river season had started.  Meanwhile, I took Leon to a lovely birthday party and did the usual Saturday jobs.  The result of which meant that we hadn’t seen each other all day, on top of what had already been a busy week.  As Stick Float was going off to finish marking the pegs for today’s match on the River Soar, Little Man and I decided to join him for the evening along the bank.

It soon turned out that I had made a rookies error in wearing inappropriate footwear.

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Oops not great for rambling along the river bank in

However, lagging behind father & son allowed me to watch and capture them together.

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Like Father, like son spotting the fish jumping

It was worth the scrambling, slipping and grass stuck in feet as the River Soar was beautiful last night.

 

Stick Float and Little man are fishing today in a competition, a bit of Daddy & son time. I made the mistake again of wrong footwear to drop off Little Man’s forgotten boots.

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Will I never learn?!

 

I hope they have a great day together, love this pair so much.  Grabbing moments like this are what it is all about.

Tiggi x

Back in the saddle

It has been over 12 months since I last rode a horse and that day Rupert was an absolute gentleman.  However, since little man arrived over 5 years ago my time on horse back has been very sporadic indeed, sadly.

There are two problems that I have to over come, one is childcare while I ride, the other has been to finally admit that due to the two back problems I have which were aggravated by carrying a child (my physio described what pregnancy does to the body as barbaric??!!), that I needed to find a quiet, walking sofa basically.  I just did not have the core strength to be able to support my back enough.

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And that’s what worries me!

Gone are the days of working a highland pony through his tendency to buck, or riding a 17h thoroughbred who was rather strong on the reins and getting down hurt so much.  It was time to admit that I needed a horse that could help me, not potentially hurt me more.  I had this conversation with Linda, a horse woman I have the up most respect for, and she said “I have the perfect match for you – meet Mikey”.  It was love at first sight!

Mikey has a calm and cuddly kind of personality.  Our first meeting involved 30 mins of me scratching where he asked me to, and me being snuffled and groomed in return.  The answer to the question “So Mikey do you do kisses?” was a resounding yes as he stuffed his nose in my face for a kiss lol.  Needless to say deliveries took a little longer that day as I had plenty of cuddles.

Now I maybe daft, but I am not stupid (although according to some this is still up for debate!).  I didn’t decide to just get straight back on a horse, a little work was required first.  Just some gentle stretching of the lower back everyday and some very basic fitness work, e.g cycling everywhere with my son.  However, patience is often a virtue I lack and within a few weeks it was Mother’s Day and part of my “me time” was going to be my first ride on Mikey.

The day arrived and I faced my first problem – could I still fit into my freshly washed jodhpurs? I wouldn’t say they slipped on, but I didn’t have to fold and tuck myself into them either, or do the funny jumping wriggle dance to squeeze in – come on we’ve all been there.  It was a pleasant surprise to find that I could wear my pre pregnancy jods.  Although I didn’t dare breath too much hahahahaha.

I found myself getting quite nervous on the short drive to the stables.  I was feeling excited, nervous, stiff and in a little pain.  There was no way I was taking any tablets before riding, couldn’t risk not being able to assess how I was physically coping.  When I saw him, it was love at first sight all over again – although I could swear he had grown since I last saw him.  Bless that horse, he stood so patiently while I groomed him and fumbled about getting him ready. It was good for me though as it started to settle my nerves.

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Quick brush and a scratch

Then the time came to walk him up to the little indoor school and the nerves began to build again.  I was about to ride, who to me, was a unknown horse not knowing how my back would react.  Mikey plodded up and stood perfectly still at the mounting block, while I unceremoniously climbed up the steps (ok crawled).  Before I knew it I was on the back of a very patient walking sofa, trying to remember how to ride.  There’s a short video here.  It wasn’t pretty, or perfect but I was back!! Yes, yes, yes – the smile on my face said it all.

I’m back and I’m riding twice a week. Never too old.

Tiggi x

 

Mother’s Day Treat

17553838_1499829613412580_6635011570557394199_nNot sure that the hubby has quite got this Mothering Sunday thing down to a tee yet.  He suggested that we close the shop for the day, the first time ever since the shop opened.  How lovely I thought, I might get a lie in.  No such luck.  At an ungodly hour the alarm went off and Scott was up and out of the house to go fishing. I told him “I Love you, but you are mad to get up at this time – have fun”.

 

16387287_1177014752418703_4806954421200112916_nThe plan had been to go back to sleep for a few more hours.  It was Leon who had other plans this time.  He had heard the Landy leave and as there was light in the sky, according to little man it was time to get up.  I was going to need a lot of coffee, so thought I would treat myself to an ‘Uncle Pat’s’ coffee, or two (Ok so I overdosed on coffee).  No breakfast in bed for me, there were jobs to do.

We had my mum, my mother in law and grandmother in law coming for lunch, so there was tidying, cleaning and table setting to be done.  Thankfully I had planned ahead.  The menu for the day was Cheese stuffed pasta shells from The Pioneer Woman, homemade tear and share garlic bread, and a green salad, followed by Brownie Cheesecake (a recipe I had spied in Tesco magazine) and raspberries.  All of it, bar the bread, was already prepped as I had started on Friday evening.  Therefore, I spent the morning of Mother’s Day making bread (which I love to do), entertaining the child, preparing the house and drinking lots of coffee.

The husband returned from his morning out just in time for guests arriving and to get the drinks poured.  Have to admit the meal was delish, even if I do say so myself.  Though everybody else did agree as they tucked in, there was clean plates all round, always a good sign.  I forgot to photo the cheesecake – oops.  The meal and conversation was in full flow, just didn’t think to pick my phone up.  We have been eating the cheesecake up for last two nights, it is sooooooooooo good he he he he.

The hubby did redeem himself later.  There were no flowers or chocolates for me, but a new book to read.  Not one I had hinted at, but a carefully chosen one by my boys, all about food and set in Scotland. 10/10 for this one for this one Scott, I am really enjoying it.  The best was yet to come as the following morning had been set aside for me to go riding for the first time in about 12 months. Happy Days

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Thank you Scott & Leon, love you both lots.

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Tiggi x