Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Oestara 2017

I normally post on Sundays or Mondays but I had computer problems recently, so I'm posting today instead. :)

Last Monday was Oestara aka the Spring Equinox. I celebrated by making sugar cookie bars. As I mentioned in my Oestara/Spring Equinox Celebration Ideas post I first made them in 2015 and while I liked them, I think they could have come out better. This time I used a different recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction (I pinned to it my Recipes To Make board on Pinterest a while ago). Here's the link: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/04/08/frosted-sugar-cookie-bars/

I did like them but I was a bit disappinted again. They seem to come out more like cake but maybe they are meant to be thicker. Never mind!


I'd originally intended to dye all the buttercream but I was in a bit of a rush that day because I had a belly dance workshop and I ended up forgetting to put the food colouring in! lol. So I used some plain buttercream and then put the colouring in when I got back. I used green and yellow for spring colours. I also put Cadbury Mini Eggs on top. Here's a picture from before I put the Mini Eggs on (I forgot about them too at first!):



Sunday, 19 March 2017

Oestara/Spring Equinox Celebration Ideas



Tomorrow is Oestara/Ostara aka the Spring Eqinox. (Or you're in the Southern Hemisphere it's your Autumn Equinox. Happy Madron!). I thought it would be good to do a post with some ideas for celebrating :)

Here are some links to inspire you:

http://modern-witch.es/enchanted-living/22-ways-to-celebrate-the-spring-equinox

http://tesswhitehurst.com/5-ways-to-celebrate-ostara-in-5-minutes-or-less-2/

http://www.pennilesspagan.com/2016/03/ten-ways-celebrate-ostara-spring.html

https://wildwoodandsage.blog/celebrate-the-spring-equinox/


I've done No 3 on Tess Whitehurst's list (Bless chocoate eggs). I used one of the mini chocolate eggs I got from Marks & Spencer recently. This time of year is great if you like chocolate because of all the Easter choc in the shops! I've been really into Cadbury solid chocolate mini eggs lately, lol.

I usually celebrate the sabbats by making some food and/or drink and this year I've decided to make sugar cookie bars for Oestara and put Mini Eggs on top. I first made them two years ago and they didn't come out so well. At the time I'd never made them before so had no idea how they were supposed to be. I think mine came out too thick but I still liked them. Now I have an idea what they should be like and also I'm using a different recipe. I'll do a post next week about it. :)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Energy Bites

I've been into energy bites again recently. In the past couple of weeks I've made 3 lots, lol. The ones I made are based on a recipe for Chocolate Protein Bites from Butler, Party of 4. Here's the link: http://www.butlerpartyof4.com/2014/09/chocolate-protein-bites-how-i-started.html

Mine were slightly different because I didn't use protein powder or seeds, I just used what I had in the house at the time. I didn't have a lot of peanut butter so I added Nutella as well. The chocolate chips I used were Tesco's milk chocolate ones. You microwave them and they're nice to eat warm, as Danielle says in her post!

The first time they came out quite nice. I made them again a couple of days later and used peanut butter this time, but they weren't so good. I think the problem was that I didn't have enough of the wet mixture, so I added more peanut butter and Nutella and put them back in the microwave quickly which ended up overdoing them a bit.They had a really funny taste! lol.  Last Thursday I made some more and they were much better. I think they taste better with more Nutella. The first two times I halved the recipe because I wasn't sure what they would come out like but the last time I made the full one. It makes about 14.

Here's a picture of the third lot:



Sunday, 5 February 2017

Imbolg 2017

For New Year I got the Llewellyn Sabbats Almanc 2017 which has ideas for celebrating the sabbats. (In my family we also give a couple of presents at New Year, usually things like calenders and diaries). It started at Samhain 2016 but Imbolg was the first sabbat coming up after I celebrated. In the lead-up to it I did some acticivities suggested in the book, such as learning about chakras and lighting a candle. I got a Yankee Home Winter Season candle for Christmas, so I burnt that since Imbolg signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

Then on the day itself  (last Thursday) I made pancakes like I usually do. As I mentioned in my last post I had a lemonade/lemon drink that I got before Christmas and hadn't got round to drinking, so I saved that for Imbolg. It was a lemon and mint. (I also got a back-up drink in case I didn't like it, but I did, lol).

I made English pancakes (the bigger, thinner ones which are known as crepes in some countries). I don't make them that often so I'm not that good, lol. I did two and they didn't come out that well but never mind! Last year's were better.

Here's a picture from this year:


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Baking- Cookies + Cake

I've been doing some baking recently so thought I would do a baking post. :)


Oatmeal Cookies

The other week I made oatmeal cookies. The recipe is from my new book Magical Housekeeping by Tess Whitehurst. It's actually an oatmeal cookie ritual for abundance and luck but you can make them without doing the ritual. :)

The recipe is adapted from a book called The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer. I'm not vegan, so I made some substitutions. I can't actually copy the recipe on here but here are a couple of other vegan cookie recipes:

http://minimalistbaker.com/5-ingredient-vegan-gluten-free-cookies/

http://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/2016/09/08/vegan-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-cookies/


The cookies have tofu in them. I'd never cooked with tofu before. I used the Toofoo brands which I bought from Tesco. I used white flour and ordinary white sugar and vegetable oil instead of canola oil. The recipe has agave nectar or maple syrup in it but I decided to use golden syrup with a bit of maple.

I wasn't sure what they would be like but they came out quite nice. The only thing was I think they could have done with being baked a bit longer, because some of them were a bit soft in the middle and the tofu was a bit chewy. But I was worried about burning them! They taste different to ordinary cookies but still yummy. Here's a pic:




Monday, 9 January 2017

Hot Chocolate

I'm into hot chocolate and cocoa at the moment! It's especially good to have during winter evenings. My favourite at the moment is Bournville cocoa but I also recently got some Cadbury's drinking chocolate. The other night I made crock pot hot chocolate, using a recipe from the blog Nashville Wife: http://www.nashvillewife.com/2017/01/crock-pot-hot-chocolate-recipe.html

I don't have a crock pot or a slow cooker but my mum suggested I use a Pyrex dish on top of a saucepan of water (I put the chocolate mix in the dish and covered it with foil, then put it on top of the pan) and it worked. A couple years or so ago I made white hot chocolate which was meant to be done in a slow cooker but I just did it in the pan with no covering and I think it could have come our better. Maybe I should try it again using the method I used for this hot chocolate.

This one came out nice. It uses whipping cream and condensed milk, so had a rich, creamier taste and was thicker than ordinary hot chocolate. Here's a pic:



It takes a couple of hours but it's worth it. :)

If you're into a hot chocolate here's a post I did in 2014 about Sam's Stern's hot chocolate (I also made his chocolate milkshake but that didn't come out so well!): http://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/chocolate-drinks.html



Hope you're keeping warm if it's cold where you are! :)

Monday, 2 January 2017

Christmas and New Year 2016/2017

For Christmas this year I made a frosted vanilla cookie cake. It was adapted from this recipe: http://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/2015/11/19/baileys-frosted-vanilla-cookie-layer-cake/

The original recipe uses Bailey's coffee creamer (Frosted Vanilla Cookie flavour). While I do like Bailey's (although I haven't had it for ages) I wasn't keen on having it in a cake and I'm also not sure if we can get that flavour coffee creamer in the UK. In the end I used some creamer from Sainsbury's. I don't have creamer often but I used it the other year when I made an iced coffee. I realised afterwards that the Bailey's creamer seems to be a powder whereas the one I got was liquid, but it worked out ok. :)

The original cake has 3 layers but I cut it down to 2 so it was less complicated! lol. The recipe uses shortening which is vegetable fat, I think. My mum suggested I use lard but the only one we had was pork fat and we decided I shouldn't use it because she made a birthday cake for my 7th birthday with lard in the icing which was horrible! lol. In the end I used Stork which I had already in the house and that worked. Shortening is sold under Trex, Flora White and Cooken here, so maybe another time I'll try one of those. Probably Flora White.

The filling is made of sugar cookie crumbs.  For Oestara 2015 made my own sugar cookie bars but I couldn't be bothered to make them on top of the cake! lol. The nearest I could find in the shops were Sainsbury's shortbread rounds (I wanted something soft and sweet). The creamer goes in the filling as well as the cake and it's also in the frosting.

I wasn't sure how the cake would come out because I substituted ingredients but it was nice. Because it only used egg whites (I think this type of cake is called a "white cake" in America, although maybe not exactly because it had all purpose flour aka plain flour, not cake flour in), it made a fluffier, lighter sponge. I cut up some biscuits and put them on top of the cake with sprinkles.


Here are a couple of pictures:

Outside of the cake