The Arrival of Roboleg and Cake

I’m easily pleased. Give me a leg that bends within normal angles and a 4 layer sponge with buttercream icing and I’m pretty darned happy.

After the fun and games of the past few months of my knees giving way as I walk up stairs because they bend backwards (oh yes, freaky bendy knees), Roboleg arrived today!

I’m going to try a full leg brace to see if knee popping (which leads to hip popping, which leads to back popping, which leads to me laying in bed rattling with painkillers that don’t kill pain, but do make me stoned enough not to care) can be brought into check. Or at the very least stop deteriorating at the current rate of knots that we are doing. The plan is to try one leg. If that works, try with two. Basically, anything to avoid the option of stand with a stick in blinding pain or sit in a wheelchair in less pain but can’t do my job.

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Roboleg has been attached to my right side as that has slipped out so many times I’ve lost count. It’s also the one that fully dislocates rather than my left that is just clicky and loose. The right is also the side that my hip pops out & where my SI sends the majority of its pain. I have to say, my left is fairing much better – less clicky, less damage, bigger boob…

It’s not as clunky as I expected which is nice. Once I’m strapped in, my ability to stand up is really impressive. I stood and baked without falling or resting my torso on the counter to give my hips/knees a break. It made a real difference to the levels of pain. I really hope this isn’t a placebo effect! (And if it is, bring on the pain reducing placebos!)

Anyway, here’s the cake that was created with thanks in part to Roboleg.

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The cake was good.

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I’m in Bake Off!

Actually, I’m not. But one of the happier things of cohabiting with your parents is my Dad’s flights of household fancy. In recent weeks this has been a K Mix food mixer (note: this isn’t a funded post!). This is the same one as seen in Bake Off, because by owning this our cooking will become as good as theirs…. logic 😉 

Actually, we do cook quite a lot including baking, making bread and pasta, so it’s not that extravagant. And I’m going to keep repeating that.

So the item most prized in the world arrived yesterday in a great fanfare. And today I decided to actually use it. I’m making the most of my final day before school starts and the relative comfort that the knee braces are giving me to potter about the kitchen.

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Not biscuits,  but hot cross buns. Without the cross. Seriously, no one likes the cross.

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Let’s get this baby going!

We used the recipe from Baking Mad which has a nice baking mode to cook along to in clear steps.

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In went all the stuff (yes, that’s a technical term) and off went the kneading attachment for 5 mins. I did another 5 mins by hand as I like stretching out the dough.

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TinyPants was fascinated watching the magic happen… or at least I think that’s what that face means.

After an hour of trying not to look, the yeast had done it’s thing. Time to make buns!

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And into the oven they went!

So, there you have it. The first use of the much coveted mixing machine.

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And the bake is good.

There’s Something About Sunday… It’s the Yorkshire puddings.

There really is something about Sunday that makes it realistically essential to my sanity. This stems from a mixture of time to sort out my life & food.

I got up late this morning after LSH let me lay in until 9.30 (bliss!) as I’d been up half the night coughing like a plague victim. I needed sleep. I needed my body to just get on and heal itself.

So at 9.30 I dragged myself downstairs to drink the final cup of coffee from the machine and commence on the standard Sunday morning homework marathon (them doing it, me marking it!). I find this quite relaxing now as they know Sunday is homework day – there’s no arguments, just get on with it. And now beanpole likes her teacher, she’s throwing herself into her tasks!

LSH took the girls over to his mum & dads at around 11, leaving me at home due to the evil germs that I really don’t want to share around. So, I carried on with various prep & marking bits until 2 then put away some laundry until they got home.

Our afternoon was spent with TinyPants drawing, making dens and playing strange computer games whilst Beanpole and I made a start on her take home task (like homework, but long term) which she’s chosen to do on dinosaurs (huge surprise)… The task is to chose a time and place in history that you would like to travel back to & make a scrapbook about what went on there. She’s throwing herself into this one!

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The best bit about Sundays is that we have time to cook. Traditionally, it’s a roast, and today we’ve got roast chicken with all the bits. Especially Yorkshire puddings.

These are my domain & today’s are sage & onions yorkshires.

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They start off looking a bit weird, but then I sit in front of the oven threatening to maim anyone who dares to open the oven as they start to rise….

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Wow, my oven needs cleaning… Well that’s on the list!

After this stage, it’s basically witchcraft to get them to this stage….

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Cue one big family dinner, bath time all round and ready for another week at school 🙂

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Some Days Blueberry Muffins Are An Acceptable Breakfast Food

Some idiot in sheer desperation to make my children sleep last night, promised them blueberry muffins for breakfast. We don’t have any blueberry muffins. And as LSH is working in Oxford all week, neither do we have a spare parent to run out at short notice to the shops.

What we did have was frozen blueberries (meant for LSH’s quick breakfast protein shakes to make them taste less like arse), flour, sugar and other baking stuff.

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I’m not really one for weighing stuff out because I’m a lazy baker and learnt from an ‘about that much’ approach of my elderly relatives (and having seen how some of my mum’s carefully weighed recipes have turned out, I know that careful weighing a good cake does not make). I’ll give you some close approximations:

Makes about 18ish.

4 oz self raising flour
4 oz granulated sugar
2 oz butter (yes butter, not that nasty plastic margarine stuff)
2 eggs.
A bit of vanilla essence
Enough milk to make the batter pliable but still stiffish (think melted chocolate texture)
The blueberries you have left in the freezer (I guess about 300g?)

Melt the butter a bit in the microwave (for about 30 seconds) and stick this in a big bowl with the sugar, vanilla and eggs. Bash it with a wooden spoon until it’s ‘creamed’ which looks like a paste. Then slowly add in the flour and milk until you have a batter which forms soft peaks (I don’t know what that means either, but it does sound cheffy! Basically, when you take the spoon out, the shapes you leave should soften, but you can still see them).

Now stir in the blueberries so you get a purple swirly effect (this works the same for other berries like the raspberry ones I made this week).

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Put some cake cases into a muffin tray (or two as this makes around 18), and spoon in the mixture until it reaches the top of the case. Stop eating the mixture. Seriously, you’ll not have enough to make a muffin at this rate. This bit is important if you want that muffin top look. The big domey effect is just the cake rising over the edge if the case, so make sure your cases have enough mixture.

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Bake these in an oven set to 180C for about 25ish minutes, or until they are nicely browned and when you stick a wooden skewer in it comes out clean. Raw cakes are nasty.
It’s useful to pre-heat the oven so the cakes go into an nice hot oven. One day, I shall win the lottery and have an Aga to cook these in. Until then, I have an ancient fan oven that makes weird noises.

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These require no frosting. Please don’t frost these. Ew ew ew!

Leave them as long as possible to cool and then stuff your face 🙂

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Coconut Oil Tropical Flapjacks

This is right up there on the noms list.

porridge oats 160g
Coconut oil 100g
Dried tropical fruit lots? (I’m using around 200g)
Golden syrup 3 big tbsp

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Set the oven to heat at about 180 C.

Melt the oil and syrup together in a pan on a low heat (coconut oil doesn’t need much heating).
This smells amazing. You’ll need to stir this gently to mix it.

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It’s also recommended to actually brush your hair during the holidays, but just try telling that to beanpole!

Once it’s all melty…

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Let the last few lumps go, then mix in the oats. This should give you a lumpy oaty mixture (if it’s gooey, you need more oats. Finally, add in your dried fruit – this packet had massive lumps of dried tropical fruit and I had to negotiate with the kids to get them in the mixture rather than noshing them straight from the packet!

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Once it’s in the pan, just shove it in the oven for 20 minutes where it will go a pale brown (not as golden as the butter ones as the coconut oil is clear, not yellow).

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It will still be gooey when it comes out and will harden when it’s cooled, so after about 5 minutes create some ‘score’ lines in the flapjack so it can be broken into individual pieces.

It doesn’t have that creamy taste that butter flapjacks have, but what it lacks in butter, it makes up for with taste and lower cholesterol.

Coconut Oil Cupcakes

It’s half term and the kids are out having fun with Nanny and Grandad. I could go to the gym (unlikely), I could soak in the bath, I could clean the house (I’ve done some laundry – that’s quite enough of that). Instead, knowing that my little monsters will be home later wanting tea and sandwiches I’ve made some coconut cupcakes.

These are quite useful for those with a dairy intolerance as they need no butter, and avoid the cholesterol inducing margarine. If anything, coconut oil actually lowers cholesterol and is full of the good fats that avacardo has (don’t put avacardo in cupcakes).

I make one statement here before comments appear below, I am taking the word dairy at its literal meaning. Dairy is anything that comes out of a breast, be that human or cow. These cakes contain eggs – eggs are ovums from a chicken, not created by breasts, and therefore not dairy in the true sense.

For mine, I choose to stick with cane sugar as the sweetener alternatives are hugely processed and actually send my kids far nuttier than a bit of sugar, and I do a half iced / half plain batch just in case they decide to go for the non-frosted variety (and I despise frosting on cake, unlike my sweet-toothed offspring).

If you’ve not worked with coconut oil before, you substitute the same amount for the butter in a recipe. I like to melt mine first (coconut oil has a higher melting temperature than normal room temp so will be solid when its in the pot unless you’re in a hot climate).

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Don’t be tempted to microwave it, remember this is oil, and frankly expensive oil. Put it in the bowl where you intend to make your mixture and put the bowl into hot water. I do this in the sink, but you can be far more posh about it and place it in a saucepan of hot water, or Bain Marie (the sink works just fine).

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Now add in the other ingredients. For standard sponge cake you’ll need:

4oz coconut oil
4oz sugar
2 eggs
8oz self raising flour

I prefer to add the eggs and sugar and mix in to make a paste, then add the flour. I also add some extra milk (or soya milk / water if dairy free) to make the cake batter smooth. It needs a good stir which can be achieved in a food processor (be that an electric one, or child with a wooden spoon).

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Divide the mixture into cupcake cases in an appropriate tin (about a tablespoon in each case) then bake them at 180 deg C for 25ish minutes. Interestingly, when using coconut oil instead of butter, the cakes come out blonde and take a little longer to bake.

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The smell that wafts from my kitchen when making these is brilliant. I like coconut as it is, but combine it with cake and knowing that it’s minutely more healthy than the usual cakes makes me a happy bunny.

Now all I have to do is ice them and not eat them before the kids get home…. Maybe just one to make sure though…..

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