Tuesday 30 November 2010

Sumptuous Sticky Toffee Pudding

I've been working on this post since the 12th...because good things need to be lingered over...
*[In the M&S voice ]*
A delicious, soft, moist date sponge, oozing with delicious, buttery toffee sauce, that literally melts into a wondrously gorgeous state of affairs as soon as it hits the tongue ....
This is not just sticky toffee pud - well, actually, that's a lie. It is just Sticky Toffee Pudding. However, it is also one of my all time favourite desserts and a delicacy of the area I'm currently living in.

Thus, I have a perfectly reasonable excuse to try as many as I want.

Problem is, this tends to leave a rather massive hole in my near non-existent budget.

So, being the thrifty, dessert loving gal that I am, I endeavoured to learn how to make it!

I think my recipe is just as delicious as the ones in the restaurants....maybe even better!

Prep Time: 20 minutes (including weighing)
Baking Time: 20 - 45 minutes
Difficulty?: Easy - even if you mess up the sauce, it still tastes great!


For the date sponge: -
200g (1 cup) of dates, pitted and roughly chopped
300ml ( 1 and 1/4 cups) of boiling hot water
1 tsp of baking soda
50g (1/4 cup) butter
175g (3/4 cup) sugar
2 eggs
175g (1 and 3/4 cup) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

For the toffee sauce: -
50g (1/4 cup) butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
50g (1/4 cup) sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) of milk
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/160 Degrees Celsius/325 Degrees Fahrenheit if you're using a 9 x 9 inch tin and anything bigger.

However if, like me, you decide to use an inappropriate 7 inch diameter cake tin in a fan assisted oven, turn it down to 150 Degrees Celsius and put it on the bottom rack.

Grease whichever tin you're using.

If you haven't pitted and chopped the dates, you probably need to do that now.

This will take a while, and you will end up with it all over your fingers.

You will come to truly understand where the 'sticky' aspect of this dessert truly comes from.

There's no pictures of this phenomenon since - well, I was too busy eating it off my fingers to take pictures.
When it is done, put it into a bowl and then pour the boiling hot water all over them - this helps them swell up and become even juicier!

Add the teaspoon of baking soda and put it to one side to do....uh, date and soda-y things.

In a big mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.

Till it makes a lovely, squishy mixture.

Beat in the eggs. You can do them one at a time, reeeally making sure the first one is completely made a part of the mix, before adding the second one.
Or you could just dump them both in at the same time.

When you've finished, you should have quite a smooth mixture.

Then gently, and slowly, fold the flour and baking powder into the cake mix.

You'll be looking at it now, like "There is no way in heck that this is going to tun out moist."

What, did you forget about the dates and water already?

Gradually add in the dates/water/soda mix, mixing until the entire mix is well combined after each addition.

Pour into the pre-greased tin.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes (if you've used a big tin. If, like me, you've used an inappropriately sized tin, you will have to wait 45 minutes. Sorry, loves!)

Then pop it into the oven and turn your attention to the sauce...the sinfully delectable sauce.

Melt the butter and sugar over a low heat. Then gradually pour in the milk, and sprinkle on the flour.

You have to keep stirring frequently at least every 10 seconds, because the flour is the thickener. And the first time I made it, I put the spoon down for 30 seconds while I went to change the song on my computer.

And I ended up with lumps.

So no pictures of this process, to avoid the lumps.

They were tasty lumps, but lumps nonetheless. So please. Keep stirring.

When the sauce has thickened considerably (it takes about 10 minutes from beginning to end), add the vanilla extract and then take it off the heat.

Check on the sponge. If a fork inserted in the centre comes out with some delectable crumbs hanging on desperately onto it, then it's done.

Basically, as long it's no longer molten.

Take the pudding out of the oven and gently run a spatula around the edge, before turning it out onto it's final serving place.

Turn it right way around and then poke it all over with a fork. Then pour the sauce over the pudding, making sure that a lot of it goes into where the fork has poked though.

And then enjoy. With custard, or ice cream, or by its stunning self.

Because, like Slinkys, that's what it was made for - enjoyment.

It's so....it's just....you know what, I'm running out of words to use to describe this pudding.

No wait. One more.


Monday 29 November 2010

Monday Mission - Give Thanks

I know this one is a bit of an obvious one, what with it having been Thanksgiving in the U.S last week, but I don't celebrate it, so I need reminding, so there.

Sometimes, when it's a bad day, it's so easy to forget about the good stuff in our lives, which is a shame, because that's usually when we need to remember the most.

A Simple Thing: I am thankful to my God for all he has given me:

I am thankful for all the wonderful people in my life: -

For my family, who love and encourage and support me in their unique way. They're amazing.

For the Wonder Thing, who is continually patient and also continually crazy. He leaves me speechless.

For my friends, especially Lady V and The Fae, who are lovely and bonkers. I fit right in. They're fantastic.

For my amazing tutors, who continue to push and encourage me and open my eyes to options I never thought possible. They're inspiring.

For my body - it works! And it wears orange and yellow quite well. It's distinctive.

For my health, especially in this weather. It could definitely be a lot worse. It's improving.

For my growth as a person; my burgeoning courage; my ridiculous confidence; the sound of laughter on the regular. It's heart-warming.

For the joy I have, due to all of the above, and the continual grace and mercy I receive on a daily basis from all avenue. It's magnificient.

I am eternally grateful.

Saturday 27 November 2010

A Letter to Jack Frost

Dear Mr Frost,

You must've known we'd hear the weather report.

That we'd get our hopes up.

Hopes of being snowed in and unable to make it to class/work/the library.

Hopes of reverting to our childhood (well, admittedly, some of us never left) and being able to have snow ball fights, make angelic shapes and have sleigh rides, along with other snow related delights.

I mean, some people, on the same island as me, even managed to make snow people.

So what's up with this?

What, by the time you came around to my area, your little snow elves got a bit tired?

Had run out of snow or something?! So you got them to go to the supermarket and get some odd icing sugar/baby powder mix and throw it everywhere on the ground, and you thought we wouldn't notice?

Mr Frost. This is not acceptable. I demand frosty frolics! Soft Snowflakes! Snow so thick one must wade through it! I'm wearing so much mismatched winter wear that I'm waddling about - and I kinda need a reason for it, you know?

Don't make me get out the pencil and draw a protest. Nobody wants it to have to go that far.


A Disappointedly, Only Mildly, Snow Sprinkled Thing

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Pippy Ponytail and Twists

This morning, I woke up and literally had about five minutes to get ready for my seminar. And I hadn't prepped it at all the night before. So I went back to secondary (high) school for inspiration -that, and Pippy Longstocking. Hence, the name.
So I separated it into two different sections horizontally and then pulled the top half into a ponytail. The bottom half I vertically separated into another two sections, and then braided each section.

My braids suck.

So I took them out and did twists instead.

I was going to leave them down but I had a busy day, and I didn't want them to start sticking up at right angles.

See the little bit trying to rebel behind the clip?

So I folded the ends back up and tied them down with a band and attached the flower clips to the bands.


Finished product, including the ponytail (it's a bit close):

Yellow Winter

I know it's winter and I've said before that I'm not too big on fashion and clothes and stuff.

But I saw this dress over on Natural Belle's blog and...wow. Just WOW. I would rock that colour whatever the weather.

I especially love the skirt.

(P.S I adore Belle's blog - she posts pictures of extreme pretty on a daily basis. If anyone was going to get me to turn onto the fashion scene, it would be this lady).

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Bantu-out Bangs and Buns

I got a bit bored with my usual side fringe (or bangs). So I decided to bantu knot them up!
I did them yesterday night, to allow them time to dry. I slicked on a little bit of moisturiser and oil and then twisted the roots of the bantu knots before twisting - if I don't do this, the volume of the roots contrasts oddly with the thinness of the knot out. But I don't twist all the way down, since I didn't want too slim curls.

I have to admit, usually, I don't like the way bantu knot outs look on me. I think I look like Dot from 'A Bug's Life'. Cute as she is, she is not my style icon (any more).

Here are the bantu knots when they're in...so tiny!

And then after I took them out this morning.

And after pulling/puffing/fluffing...

I did the usual thing and pinned them down, but I really like the way it looked with my colour, even after it got a bit messy at the end of the day.

And because the set made it look massive and curly, I found I used less tension when pining my fringe down and let it do it's thing a lot more.

I'm wearing the bun I've been wearing for the last couple of days...which you guys haven't really had a look at. Which is maybe why I should blog regularly and not lose my USB cord T_T
I got excited because I think I worked out how to do a bun.

It was really similar to this method, though I wasn't at all bothered about my edges. I like the bun too for it's simplicity, but I think doing the same thing every morning may be straining my hair a little. If I take it out of the band, I end up with a lovely dent in my hair.

Monday 22 November 2010

Monday Mission - Pep Up!

A Simple Thing - Todays one said:

Pep Talk: Babyface, you have every reason to be happy, so why not spunk up? With your natural gifts and likability, you have a lot to smile about. Show the world how much you enjoy being you.

Today remind yourself: I show my happiness.

She knows me so well. Bwhaha! Sorry if you feel short changed - I'm working on a lot more descriptive ones for the next couple of weeks and they're taking me a while -__-

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Posting delay

I'm having a couple of technical problems (read: I lost my phone USB, so can't upload photos), so I've ordered a new one off eBay, which was only 99p! What a win!
This win is negated by the fact that I can't even upload drawings of me failing, since I don't know how to draw in paint.
I will hopefully will start trying to catch up on the backlog this weekend.

I have a serious sexy dessert coming up (mmm, sibilance), a couple of hair updates and a magically lit up phone fail.

Stay tuned. I know you're excited.

While I'm sitting here, twiddling my thumbs, you might want to go and check out this post at 'The Natural Girl's Guide to Beauty'. I thought it was interesting and you may want to add your 2 pence to the discussion.

Monday 15 November 2010

Monday Mission - Smile and Take It

Okay, first of all, let's practise:

Step 1): Smile

Step 2): Say "Thank you!"

That is one way to graciously accept a compliment. So if you get a compliment, try accepting it in two easy steps!

A Simple Thing:
And if that's not enough for you, here's the guilt trip - in a metaphorical sense, a compliment is like a gift. By refuting it, it's the same as giving a gift back, which is rude (and crazy).
In a literal sense, if you deny the compliment, it's kind of like saying the person who gave you the compliment is lying.
Plus, the compliment was probably true. So just take it and bask in your awesomeness!

Friday 12 November 2010

Winter Regime-y-ma-bob

Winter has arrived. Where I am it's windy, it's so rainy it borders on flooding and mildly cold. Or maybe it's really cold. I wouldn't know, I'm currently wearing 5 layers of clothing.
So, I'm not usually one for sticking to regimes and stuffs. Because I'm not great at remembering things, and run out of product and never re-stock, so they tend to fall apart.

But I'm going to try it this winter. For my hair's sake. If I can make it to lectures and seminars on time, I can remember to co-wash weekly.
These products I'm using aren't necessarily stuff I'm in love with. They're just stuff that I have on hand and am kind of testing out.

  • Pre-Shampoo treatment of Coconut milk, Coconut Oil and Castor Oil
  • Clarify with Cleansing Hibiscus Hair Gloss
  • Oil Rinse
Twice Monthly:
  • Deep Condition with either Caramel Moisturising Hair Treatment or Protein treatment
Weekly :
  • Co-Wash with a mix of Inecto Conditioner, and TRESemmé Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner
  • Moisturise with Bee Mine Luscious Balanced Cream Moisturiser
  • Sealing with My Honey Child Type 4 Hair Creme and Vatika Oil

Obviously, I won't follow this exactly since
1) My life has an interesting habit of constantly disrupting my best laid of plans
2) I am lazy when it comes to my hair. I like my hair to be an aspect of my life, not
the centre of it.
3) Sometimes, it won't feel like it needs washing. So I won't washing. I like to do
things on a necessity only basis. Keeps things simple.

I'm also going to be styling my hair .... well, whenever I feel like it. When I style,
I'll de-tangle before hand on dry hair with Aubrey's Organics Honeysuckle Rose
Conditioner. And I'll be wearing a satin scarf at night (tied down, because I seem
to like doing some weird sleep-aerobics that includes throwing my scarf across
my room). Since I've got colour in my fringe, obviously that will get more protein
as well, which I'm getting by leaving in Original Source White Pear and Avocado
Conditioner the night before a co-wash, since my hair has low porosity.

Everything I mentioned in this post I bought with my pocket monies. Please
remember that what I'm using now may not work for everyone - heck, I'm
not sure if it'll work for me!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Those are some Twisted Buns...

After a comment from JC, I thought that ponytails on my twists would be a nice idea to make my twists a little more interesting - after all, I love wearing them when I'm loose.

Unfortunately, due to haphazard self-trimming, all my twists are different lengths, and they stuck out in a manner that was reminiscent of a squished spider.
So instead, I kind of rough bunned them. And when I say 'rough bunned' them, I mean 'squidged the edges around and in under my hair band and then pinned them there.'

I thought that they were a little plain and would like nice with a headband. However, I don't own any, so I used a scarf instead.

I love the big gaudy bow look. I had some bigger, gaudier bows, but I forgot to take pictures.

Note to self - get some headbands! Also, stop wearing the same scarf in all the pictures!

Apple and Carrot Muffins

For some reason, I've been obsessed with finding an apple and carrot muffin recipe.
Maybe because I have a ridiculous amount of muffin tins, and carrots.

There was one on Year of Veggies blog (Written by Katie of HappyGirlHair) but unfortunately, she closed it down and I couldn't find one I liked enough.

So I did like I usually do and made it up got creative! They were really nice, though I put too much cinnamon in, so I rectified it on this recipe. Also, I feel they would be lovely as cupcakes with some sort of cream cheese frosting/icing. And I hate cheese.


3 medium eggs
3/4 cup/180ml vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1.5 cup/190g of flour
1.25 cup/225g sugar (I used golden caster sugar)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
0.5 teaspoon salt
0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1.5 cups/225g sultanas/raisins
2 cups/4 medium carrots, grated
2 apples, grated or chopped
Lemon juice (optional)

Quick note: If you chop the apples before they're needed, they may go brown. To prevent this, you can put the in the fridge or squeeze some lemon juice over them. I don't think it'll affect the taste too much.

You will also need muffin cases and a deep, 12-muffin tin. None of those shallow fairy cake tins that like to pretend they are muffin cases having a bit of a lie down please.

Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees Celsius/400 Degrees Fahrenheit/Gas Mark 6

Then, break the eggs into a bowl and then beat/whip/whisk them.

Then add the oil and the vanilla essence...

And beat/whip/whisk them too!

Mix in the sugar, then fold (read: gently mix) in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

It should be quite thick by now - but not stodgey.
Then, in goes the grated carrot ...
and the apples and the raisins!
Stir it in, stiiir it in!

Whoa. Dude. What kinda angle did I take that picture from? What was I doing?
Anyways, incredibly impossible gymnastics aside, you need to equally divide the mixture between the muffin cases evenly. Make sure they don't reach the top of the case or you will end up with a Mega Marauding Muffin of...er, Mushrooming Madness.
Then bake in the lovely, already hot oven for 25-30 minutes.

Take out, and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
Or eat whilst still roastingly hot and make various innuendos about 'hot muffins'.

Don't let your friends steal your last muffin, no matter how much carrot they grated.
Oi! I said paws off!
Gollum voice: Mmm....my precious, precious, muffin!

Monday 8 November 2010

Monday Mission - Shake it up!

"Whoever is happy will make others happy, too" - Mark Twain

The first Monday mission. And I think it’s pretty easy. I know a lot of people have good intentions towards others but have a hard time showing it, because they're scared of rejection and mockery. So, today it's going to be a bit selfish - and it's all about you. And your power anthems.

Also, there are a lot of people who claim not to be able to sing or dance. Think of it as a kind of practise. Just because you (think you) aren't good at something doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. I mean, I still blog. And Wagner still sings....

Just enjoy yourself!

The Task:
Make a playlist of 7 songs that you absolutely cannot sit down to – songs that just make you want to get up and dance and/or sing to the lyrics as loud and gleefully as you can. And then try and play one of them everyday this week. If you’ve got neighbours you're trying to be considerate of, use earphones. If you have children, or younger siblings, or just someone else in your house (who you would gladly karaoke with) get them to join in, because enthusiasm is infectious!

A Simple Thing:

My list is:

Jai Ho (You are my Destiny)’ - Pussy Cat Dolls

Déjà vu’ - Beyoncé feat Jay-Z

Walk Away’ - Kelly Clarkson

Hips Don’t Lie’ - Shakira

Dance with Somebody’ - Whitney Houston

Barbara Streisand’ – Duck Sauce

All Star’ – Smash Mouth

Friday 5 November 2010

Babyliss Bust...

So over this last week, I've spent quite a lot of money on toiletries (read: stuff for my hair). One of the things I bought were Babyliss brand hair-pins from Boots because, as per usual, I'd lost all of mine and reckoned I could, you know, try out the Southern Tease Bun on twists.
That'd be awesome, right?

Except I managed to pick up the flimsiest hair-pins in the entire history of hair styling ¬_¬

Look at it.

This hair-pins suck thiiiiiiiis much!

My hair isn't even that heavy! But the hair-pins just split apart like soft butter *downcast*.

I doubt these would work on my hair even if it wasn't in twists.

Oh well. The bobby-pins are currently faring a lot better (£2.50 from Boots).

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Faerie Hair

I haven't talked about my hair much, since I haven't done much to it.

I took the twists out that my Aunt did. The tangling was major. It took me an entire day, as in from 7am in the morning until 5pm in the evening, to sort it out. I was so annoyed because, despite what the media says, as a student, I do actually have work that I could have been doing instead. Blast my vanity!

You: Oh, I didn't know you put locks in!
Me: I didn't.

I washed with the Hibiscus Hair Gloss (I'm working on it, so there's no link) and conditioned and stuffs. Then my friend, whom I dub 'The Faerie' helped me twist half of my head. Bless her, it took her 3 hours to do all of my head, because she was twisting them so tight (as in, shrinkage was non-existent for a week, despite the amount of water I put in/on it). She'd never done twists before and was looking forward to the chance to mucking about with my hair.
After three hours, I think she was done with my hair entirely and forever.

So it was up to me to finish it up.

I think I was pretending to be an emo.
Yeah. Pretending...

According to my camera, I've had them in since the 22nd/23rd of October, which is only two weeks.
I've been incredibly imaginative since then, and wearing them in...

Ponytails! Eyyy!

And now shrinkage has set in, and I look like a 90's boy band member with my hair down, so I'm stuck with them for the time being.

Monday 1 November 2010

Monday Mission - Spread a little happiness

So this is going to be a kind of new series thing that I'm doing, and I'm not sure how long it'll last. The older I get and the more people I meet, the more I realise that there are a lot of lovely people out there.

So why is it we only ever hear about people who throw cats in bins or something equally profoundly stupid?

People don't tend to hear about the great stuff people do, like the couple who gave away nearly 11 million dollars or the guy who started the free hugs campaign.
Is it because we don't want to hear about it? Because we think it's not realistic to expect this sort of positive behaviour in everyday life?

Why not?
Are we really that sceptical of our fellow human beings? Of ourselves?
Hopefully not.
So then, what's stopping us?

The posts in this series will generally be vague, since everyone's situation is different, and interpretation is subjective. I'm totally open to suggestions and new ideas as well. Since Mondays have the rep of being the Day people like the least, I thought it'd be appropriate if the posts concerning this little campaign of mine came up on a Monday. You know, start your week off right. Do something genuinely positive for someone - even if it's just yourself!

Spread a little happiness.