Blueberry Bundt Cake

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When I made this cake it was for our annual street party, which was a happy, sunny event on a Friday evening, even if Little BB did try to scooter down our road/hill on a borrowed scooter several sizes to big for him. I even used blueberries picked from our very own blueberry bush (singular, one of them died) in our very own (patio) garden. Supplemented by some from Ocado – 250g is a lot of blueberries I soon discovered. Then at the weekend I made the mistake of reading an article about Japanese Knotweed, a plant so awful even the Royal Horticultural Society describes it as a thug, and ever since I have been obsessed by it, to the exclusion of almost all else. I see it everywhere. And I am afraid; very afraid. I have taken to inspecting our garden almost hourly to ensure it hasn’t crept in to destroy all the equity in our house and my dreams of one day moving to somewhere with two bathrooms. I scan hedgerows and paving slabs for sign of its insidious tentacles, lest they should spread towards my front door whilst I am sleeping. I know this is not normal, but I simply can’t be stopped. Much like the plant.

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Raspberry Ripple Mini Meringues

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My belief that IKEA truly is the seventh circle of Hell, was borne out today when I spent 20 minutes waiting in a queue, indeed the queue, whilst the poor beleagured checkout operator was forced to manually enter the barcodes of all the customers’ items because the scanner had broken. Only on this till, mind. The other tills were all working perfectly, as was amply demonstrated when after 20 minutes someone had the bright idea of actually opening them. Aarggh! Every time I go I swear it will be the last time, and then they suck you in with their reasonably priced flat-pack furniture (reasonably priced that is, until you factor in the cost to your relationship/sanity of attempting to assemble it) and their crazy Scandawegian foodstuffs (miniature Elk sausages!) and somehow despite only going for one or two items that absolutely cannot be sourced elsewhere, you end up leaving having spent a minimum of £100. It is physically impossible to spend less than this in IKEA. Fact.

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Lime and Coconut Tray Bake

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This super simple and tasty cake was very nearly ‘emergency chocolate button traybake’ (utilising the jar of chocolate buttons purchased for Little BB’s potty training bribes) because of a basic baking error on my part; namely a failure to ensure that I had all of the ingredients before starting. Somehow it never occurred to me that desiccated coconut might not be a staple of every mini supermarket and 24-hour convenience store in Bristol. Poor Mr. BB is yet to recover from my frantic (and quite shouty) directives for him to scour the city centre for the stuff.  Fortunately, however, it happened that my lovely friend B had some in her cupboard and was able to bring it over when she brought her daughter for a play date with Mini BB (by far the most popular member of the BB family at present) thus very much saving the day.

The moral of this (frankly quite dull) story, is therefore, check that you have everything, or can get everything you need for your recipe, before deciding to make it. Especially if it features desiccated coconut.

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Carrot Cake

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For those of you living under a rock, this past weekend was Glastonbury weekend; aka the Festival of Mud. Generally speaking it is possible to predict the weather for the last weekend of June based on the fact that it pretty much always rains at Glastonbury (and indeed Wimbledon), and this year looked to be no exception, with a glorious spell of summer sunshine set to end in a spectacular thunderstorm just in time for the festival. And yet I was forced to put my schadenfreude on hold when the sun shone and the rains stayed (mostly) away and everyone looked to be having a very lovely time indeed. Still, there’s always next year.

And so I stayed home with the little people (as I would in fact have done absent the little people. As well as mud, I hate massive crowds, sleeping (or not) in tents and very loud music not of my choosing. All in all not a festival match made in heaven you’ll agree) and made this cake for a friend of Mr. BB’s 50th birthday. As the cake is made with oil not butter it keeps well in the fridge, which given our recent lovely weather is just as well. I can’t vouch for how it would do under canvas, however.

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Chocolate Pecan Pie

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I had been intending to make this as a 4th July celebration cake for my American friend, but impatience got the better of me, and as it turns out they don’t really eat Pecan Pie in July anyway. Apparently it’s a Thanksgiving dish. They also don’t put chocolate chunks in it, which surprises me given that America is the country where more is more, but I can’t see how you can go wrong adding chocolate to what is essentially a heart attack on a plate.

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Ricotta Hotcakes

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Mini BB is 5 months now, and fast approaching the time when weaning (off breast and onto food) will begin. I had been looking forward to this, convinced it would somehow, magically, see the him sleeping through the night and conveniently forgetting, until my friend reminded me, that in fact you end up doing nothing but feeding them ALL DAY LONG (and all night too if you’re particularly unlucky). It feels like you’ve regressed to the newborn stage, only with worse nappies, in a routine that goes roughly: milk/breakfast/milk/lunch/milk/dinner/milk and overnight feeds. Hmmm.

To add to this I will have to fit in Little BB’s three-meals a day plus endless snacks, and that’s before I’ve even begun potty training him, which I have brilliantly scheduled to begin at roughly the same time as the weaning. Oh joy. For all these reasons I suspect that Baby Led Weaning will feature more prominently in Mini BB’s life experience than it did in LBB’s. Not that I’m against pureeing endless batches of butternut squash/carrots/peas etc and freezing them in miniscule containers. Oh no. What a wonderful time that was for all concerned. Anyway, whilst I still have some time on my hands (ha ha) I have opted to try varying LBB’s diet with food I can also shortly give to Mini BB; hence ricotta pancakes. The addition of the cheese makes it into a balanced meal as far as I’m concerned, and if you can smuggle in some grated veg (carrots, courgettes etc) so much the better.

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Chocolate Cream Cakes

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I am in mourning. Little BB (“LBB”) is in the (fractious, unpredictable) process of dropping his afternoon nap, and lunchtimes chez BB will never be the same again. Life with a toddler is, as I may have mentioned on occasion, relentless, and there have been many a day when only the thought of the 2hr lunchtime nap got me through from a 5.30am start without totally losing it. But now that (exceedingly hard won) respite from the mini Tudor Monarch is under serious threat. Something which is particularly galling as Mini BB is only now beginning to adapt to a daily lunchtime nap at the same time as LBB’s used to be. And, apart from the obvious absence of peace and quiet for those two hours, not to mention any possibility of making up some much needed sleep in the day, I am quite at a loss for how to occupy LBB for this time.

We can’t really go out, or at least not every day, because of Mini BB’s aforesaid nap and also because LBB is still actually quite tired (and emotional, oh so emotional), even if he refuses to admit it, and I can foresee meltdowns of epic proportions if I attempt all-day activities with no break; not least from me. Equally I am loathe to simply stick him in front of the TV, though ask me again in a week or two, as I can’t quite shake the feeling that this will lead to a lifetime of delinquency, even if he’s only watching David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series. Anyone who has been there/done that/got the no-napping t-shirt, please feel free to share your thoughts/pain.

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Peanut Butter Fudge

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Sometimes I find that I perform a parenting fail of such epic proportions that there is simply no way back and the only option is to plough on regardless, well aware that I am merely digging myself further and further into the mire. Today was one such occasion, and ironically happened barely an hour after witnessing a far less epic parenting fail in the playground this morning. (I’m sure there’s a French or German phrase to cover this situation but I can’t think of one).

The cause of the Epic Parenting Fail (“EPF”) was a small grey rabbit. Not just any small grey rabbit, however. No, this small grey rabbit is Derek the dummy rabbit, the cause of seemingly endless whining and screaming. Several times a day the house reverberates to the high pitched hollers of ‘I want Derek’, which increase in ferocity until the rabbit is delivered. It wasn’t always like this of course. In the beginning Derek brought peace and harmony to our home and was welcomed with open arms, even as I swore I would not be one of those mothers whose toddlers still have a dummy. Ha ha. That was before I discovered just how precious a commodity sleep was, such that you would sell your first, second and third born children and those of your nearest and dearest (especially those of your nearest and dearest) to have just a few minutes more. Behaviour much like that of a crack addict then, only marginally more socially acceptable to bang on about.

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Spiced Fruit and Seed Bars

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I’ve lived in Bristol for almost six years now, but it’s fair to say that I have never really embraced the whole country aspect of living in the West Country; concentrating more on the West-ness of my locale. So I’ve been to the Mendips and to the Quantocks (though not yet to Exmoor – shame on me) and I buy my organic-free-range-responsibly-sourced-grass-fed meat from the local farmer’s market, but really I’m living in a city and that’s the way I like it. However, this past Bank Holiday Monday I spent the morning wandering round muddy fields with not a ley line, joss stick or indie band in sight. Yes, that’s right, I was at a country show. Specifically the North Somerset Agricultrual Show or, as I now think of it, the Tractor Show. For what the fields lacked in music they made up for with tractors. And then some. There were tractors old and new, tractors big and small, tractors shiny and bright and dirty and frankly a bit rubbish. In fact if you can imagine a tractor of any description it was probably there.  I may never understand the point of tractor pulling competitions so long as I live, but it really didn’t matter as Little Bristol Bakestress was happy in the way that only two year old boys can be when faced with a field of tractors some of which they can actually climb and a tent full of food. Oh and there were animals: pigs and cows and sheep and llamas(?!?!) but mostly it was all about the tractors.

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Chuck It All In Chocolate Tray Bake

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Unlike apparently the majority of the UK population between the ages of 35 and 70, I have never seen an episode of Cold Feet. Not one, not ever. But I am aware that Fay Ripley starred in it and that it was apparently the British answer to Thirtysomething, which I have seen a lot of, despite the fact that I can’t have been into double figures when it aired (and this was way before Tivo and the internet). I’m not sure what Ms Ripley has been doing tv-wise with the intervening decade f it doesn’t involve a preschooler and a non-verbal duck or come in a box-set I won’t have seen it), but I do know she has been busy in the kitchen. Or having pictures taken of her looking busy in the kitchen, which I think we call agree often amount sto the same thing.

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