Friday, 26 August 2016


My poor sad neglected blog. I'm not sure I'll every return to the days when I blogged two or three times a week, with posts about a variety of subjects that were not just cakes and puppies... Although to be fair, cakes have always featured pretty regularly right from day one.

It seems absolutely ages since I last did a post about what I've been reading but I don't seem to be reading as much over the last few weeks, so that's probably why! My favourite time to read is first thing in the morning with a cuppa in bed but lately I've been getting straight up to walk Hector. Stewart bought me The Past by Tessa Hadley and The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks for my birthday last month. I started with The Past, a story about a family of four siblings getting together in their grandparents' house for one last holiday. I liked the style, I liked the characters and read eagerly thinking something momentous was going to happen because it had that sort of build up... but it never did. So although I enjoyed it I was left feeling disappointed. I had heard good things about The Shepherd's Life but after a few chapters in I didn't think I could take much more about sheep! However, I persevered and ended up really enjoying this autobiographical tale of the life of a Lakeland shepherd despite some poor editing and a fair bit of repetition!

Currently I am reading two books, although have almost finished both of them. I recently read Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard which I enjoyed so much that I ordered her previous book Lunch in Paris. The format is similar, autobiographical with two or three recipes at the end of each chapter but I haven't enjoyed this nearly as much... perhaps the lifestyle in Provence is more appealing than the thought of living in Paris. So in between chapters I've also been reading the classic, The Periodic Table by Primo Levi as this was our bookclub read for August. After three pages in I thought I was going to hate it, I just couldn't get to grips with it at all. So instead I listened to a few chapters of the recent dramatisation on the BBC iPlayer and gradually it drew me in. Each chapter is based around an element from the periodic table, some fiction but mostly autobiography, written with great insight, humanity and humour as Levi writes about his life as a chemist spanning the years of the second world war. I've almost finished it now with only about three chapters to go but for some reason, I'm struggling to get to the end. Equally I don't want to leave it unfinished because I have actually enjoyed it.

It wouldn't be a blog post from me without at least a little bit of cake and this week I've been inspired by the return of the Great British Bake Off, which I absolutely love. The signature bakes were drizzle cakes so I made some gooseberry and elderflower drizzle cakes for the Farm Shop this week... mostly because I had some homemade gooseberry and elderflower jam which I stirred into the batter before baking. The drizzle was elderflower cordial.

Then this morning I thought I'd give the technical challenge a try and made Jaffa Cakes... it hadn't even occured to me this was a cake I might make at home. I think my jelly blobs were too big but this was smallest round cutter I had! It was all going so well at this stage... but spreading the chocolate proved tricky. After one or two disasterous attempts I gave up trying to mark a pattern on the chocolate... as soon as I started to drag a fork across the surface it started to pull the chocolate off the jelly so I just spread it on the top. Despite looking a little rough they have been given a big thumbs up from my tasters.

Just a pity I don't like Jaffa Cakes really!

*Update* I've just discovered there is a whole Bloggers Bake Off going on hosted by Jenny Paulin of Mummy Mishaps. It would be rude not to join in really, wouldn't it. So this week I'm entering my Jaffa Cakes! Biscuit week next week!

Mummy Mishaps


  1. I thought of you whilst watching GBBO and always think you should be in that tent! The Periodic Table was mentioned to me earlier in the year in a workshop so I bought a copy and it remains on the pile waiting for me to start it. After reading your thoughts I'm not sure whether to promote to the top or push it further down the stack.... maybe I'll go to iplayer first and see!

  2. I'm waiting on The Shepherd's Life to come in at the library. I usually try before I buy with books these days.
    Love the look of those cakes.

  3. I'm not sure I can be bothered to blog anymore either. Love the little cakes draped with net curtains - so pretty!

  4. I am not surprised you don't have time to blog with all the other commitments that you have, but they your posts are still interesting and that is what counts. Quality - not quantity!
    The books sound interesting too but since spreading my limited energy so thinly while my husband is recovering from his illness, I find I am re-reading favourite books as I don't have the mental energy to cope with anything challenging.

  5. I heard some of Radio4's adaptation of Tge Oeriodic Table and it prompted me to take Cliff's copy off the bookshelf with the intention of reading it - though I didn't want to take it on holiday in case I lost it, so it remains unread.
    Why would anyone want to make their own Jaffa Cakes? As I don't like any fruit/chocolate combo I'm not the one to judge. I'll stick with lemon drizzle or yellow courgette cake ;-)
    C xx

  6. I love jaffa cakes but it seems an awful lot of effort for small cakes although yours do look good GIna, I think I'll continue to buy mine, Cadburys are good and no gelatine involved !
    V x

  7. Thanks, Gina. I do enjoy your book lists which often cross over with what I've been thinking about or have read. Tessa Hadley's Clever Girl was well liked by our book group, though with some reservations on my part. Well done for persevering with Primo Levi. I listened to the dramatisations and really enjoyed them too.

    Interested in your comment about need for editing. I find that in so many autobiographical works. It drives me nuts! We just read Helena Atlee's The Land where Lemons Grow. What can I say? Lovely cover...

    Great idea to take on some of the GBBO challenges. It's easy to underestimate the level of expertise required. Just a little too hot to be baking just now though!

  8. I love Jaffa cakes but it never occurred to me to make them at home either though it does seem a bit of a faff! Well done on giving them a go and I must say yours look better than any on the bake off!

  9. Gina, thanks for the info about your current reading. Coincidentally, I've been holding on to an August 15 issue of The New Yorker, because I want to read Tessa Hadley's "Dido's Lament" short story that's in the issue. Perhaps it is excerpted from The Past? I've read and enjoyed just about all her prior books.
    I take The New Yorker with me for reading on the bus or subway...much lighter than a hardback book.
    I'm about half-way through Pat Barker's Regeneration, and have several other library books awaiting my attention...when I'm not knitting or ... blogging!
    Ohhh, those cakes look good. I'll have one of each, please. xo

  10. By my standards, you're reading quite a lot! I've been working on two books this summer ... TWO! Mind you they're each over 700 pages of small print, but I feel a bit ashamed at the slow progress. The jaffa cakes & drizzle loaves look delicious! If the jaffa cakes are what I think they are, I love 'em (are they similar to the Pims orange chocolate covered biscuits?). And where, may I ask, are the puppy shots?!

  11. The gooseberry and elderflower cakes are so pretty :) #GBBOBloggers2016

  12. those mini gooseberry and elderflower cakes look so pretty i bet they sold well in your farm shop. Shame you don't like jaffa cakes, i love them so i would have happily helped you eat yours
    thank you for linking up to #GBBOBloggers2016 x

  13. WOHOOOO!!! I am so glad you decided to join in.. it's so much fun and the great thing is, no one gets kick out of our blogger tent! :)

  14. I listened to the Primo Levi on the radio but it didn't impinge upon my conciousness one iota, so shan't get the book. I liked the James Rebank, with the same reservations as you had. I have recently read the Cazalet Chronicles and have now three more E J Howard books to read. Also read a Stella Gibbons (love her work) and two Richmal Crompton books for adults (as in - not a Williamm book). Lots and lots of reading this August which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

    Rarely any cake here...


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