Delia Smith’s Dark Jamaican Gingerbread

delia smith ginger cake

You can always rely on Delia to come up with the goods.
The husband asked for a ginger cake to serve up at Cake Club (it’s a sorry tale, come back and read on when you’ve caught up!)
But not any old ginger cake he said. It had to be like a ‘real’ version of those cakes you buy from the supermarket; dark and spicy and smells like the inside of a Jamaica mama’s kitchen.
It had to be sticky and rich and look Caribbean.

This is most definitely the black and sticky version that tastes like burnt sugar and is even better if you wrap it in foil and leave it for a few days.
I added a drizzle of lemon icing sugar on top to give a tangy contrast but you can leave it plain if you prefer.

ginger cake ingredients

Ingredients
175g plain flour
1 level tbsp ground ginger
1 level dsp ground cinnamon
pinch of grated nutmeg
half level tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp milk
75g black treacle
75g golden syrup
75g dark brown soft sugar
75g butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Method
1. Heat the oven to 170 degrees C (gas mark 3). Line a 2lb loaf tin with a loaf liner.

2. Measure out the flour and the spices into a large bowl and set aside.

2. Measure out the treacle, syrup, sugar, butter and 75ml of water into a small saucepan. Heat gently until thoroughly melted. Keep stirring and never let it come anywhere near to the boil.

3. Add the syrup mixture to the flour mixture and beat vigorously until smooth.

4. Beat in the egg a little at a time then add the milk and bicarb mixture.

5. Pour the mixture into the lined loaf tin. Bake in the bottom half of the oven (so the top of the tin is aligned with the centre of the oven) for 1¼ to 1½ hours until well risen and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out.

6. As an extra you can add a touch of lemon icing (just mix a tablespoon of fresh lemon with 3 tablespoons of icing sugar) to give it a zingy extra.

* Recipe from Delia Smith’s Cakes.

Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The British Red Cross, their vital new app and cute rapping babies

I’m one of those parents who spent quite a bit of time pacing the waiting room at A&E when my son was little.
Thank heavens he didn’t actually ever do anything that required major intervention from a doctor, but as an active and very curious little man we troubled the staff at our local hospital with enough giant egg-shaped bruises to the head to turn me into a nervous parent.
That’s when I knew I should get myself some first aid training, because honestly I couldn’t cope with the stress of it all! Learning how to deal with emergencies – however small – are a vital part of your parenting arsenal.

Because here’s the thing; sure accidents can happen when they’re babies, when they start to crawl, when they learn that ooooo if I put this TV remote in my mouth it tastes kind of nice . . .
But what about when they’re older and want to climb trees, test what’s in that interesting bottle of liquid, run everywhere, try to fit ALL the sweets in their mouth at the same time?
Then all that knowledge you learned when they were tiny, or even while you were still pregnant, has gone. First aid is not like riding a bike, you need to keep learning, keep up the knowledge. Just in case.

Would YOU know what to do if you walked in on your child licking at a bottle of bleach? Or had an asthma attack? Or if they burnt themselves badly?
I’m writing this in conjunction with the British Red Cross because they are keen to let parents know the importance of keeping up with your first aid knowledge.
In a recent survey, they found that sleepless nights and knowing what to do in an emergency first aid situation are the two skills parents wish they had learned before having kids.
And so to that end they have produced a fantastic free app under the banner of the #rappedup campaign, which means you are only ever a few clicks away from knowing exactly what to do if something happens and you need help straight away. Now THAT is an app you need to have. And that is an app I am delighted to have on my phone.

British Red Cross app

It’s free, it’s packed with useful videos, information and animations and at the heart of it, it provides simple and easy to follow advice. The British Red Cross Baby & Child First Aid app is available for iPhone and Android.
Plus you get to watch this adorable video which helps to bring the message home. In rap form :-) Take it away babies . . .

This sponsored post has been written in conjunction with the British Red Cross.

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The Photo Gallery 239: Home Comforts

Things in the home that make life more comfortable.
Or in my case, because I like to be a bit different, things in the garden that make life more sparkly :-)
The husband and I have just spent a large chunk of time (and money) on dragging our garden back to life; pruning back the overgrown bushes which were taking over the flower beds, replacing the fence panels that were on the verge of collapse, removing the border edging that was so dilapidated and useless for purpose, the garden’s unwanted creatures (slugs, snails be gone) assumed we put it there for them and have taken up residence in it.

We are delighted with all we’ve achieved (with a huge chunk of muscle and inspiration coming from my mother and her other half who set the ball in motion) and it now looks like it was actually designed rather than a whole bunch of plants and trees just fell in there and organised themselves.

BUT here’s the thing; at the bottom of our garden is this lovely children’s playhouse that has given both of my children years of fun. And they no longer use it. Well they use it to store various cricket bats, hola hoops, balls, shuttlecocks and water guns in. Which seems like a terrible waste.
So I would like to make it my new ‘home comfort’ in the garden – but what? What can I convert it into?
There have already been some corking suggestions over on Instagram – from giving it over to chickens to converting it into a ‘she-shack’ (there is also a she-shack hashtag, can you believe it?!)

This post is for week 239 of The Photo Gallery. The theme is: Home Comforts.

Now it’s your turn to link up your post and join in. If you’re new here and want to know what the Photo Gallery feature is, go and read all about it, and then come right back and join in!

Here’s how to join in

Take a photo using the theme I’ve given as your inspiration. There are no rules and you can interpret the theme any way you like. Write a blog post or caption. You can write as many or as few words as you like. You don’t even need to use a new photo; just a photo you think represents the prompt.

 Add the Photo Gallery badge (and the foot of this post) to your post so other readers can find the other entries.

 Use the linky tool at the bottom of this post to link up your post so readers can find you. The linky stays open until Tuesday so you have plenty of time to join in.

➤ Tweet me with the hashtag #thegallery and I will retweet and share your entry (you can find me on Twitter @Tara_Cain). Or you can  use the hashtag #thegallery on Instagram (I’m over there as TaraLara) and I will share and comment on your photos there.

Now go visit as many of the other entries as you can. Leave a comment, discover new blogs, discover new ways of taking photos and maybe share any tips you have.

The Photo Gallery isn’t about taking technically brilliant photos. You can take them on your phone, your point and shoot or your fancy pants camera. It’s about having a passion for photos, wanting to better yourself and discovering what other bloggers are doing.

 You can also find the Photo Gallery on  Pinterest and Google +

Follow Tara Cain’s board The Photo Gallery on Pinterest.

To ensure you don’t miss a prompt, you can subscribe to the Sticky Fingers feed to have them delivered directly to your inbox every Friday.

 PLEASE don’t link dump – this is not that sort of linky!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/the-photo-gallery" title="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery"><img src="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Gallery-e1372717730880.png" alt="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
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The Photo Gallery is open for absolutely ANYONE to join in – be you on blog, Instagram, Flickr or any platform where you an host a photo.

See you over there x

Posted in The Gallery | 5 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 239

Gallery logoHello and welcome to week 239 of The Photo Gallery.

It has been a glorious weekend here in the UK. Glorious.
I’ve shunned any social media in favour of reading my book, drinking cider, playing tennis in the garden with the kids and partaking of a touch of barbecuing at friends’ houses. We’ve also done a spot of sitting in front of the chimnea as the sun goes down, warming our toes in front of the hypnotic fire!

So, for this week’s Photo Gallery theme I have chosen: Home Comforts.
What are your home comforts? What can’t you live without? Your log burner, your ‘special’ wine glass, your favourite slippers, your bench at the bottom of the garden?
As usual, interpret the theme any way you like.

I’ll see you back here on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

NEW HERE? NOT SURE HOW TO ENTER THE GALLERY?

If you’re new here, here’s a post to tell you all about what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to the Sticky Fingers blog and get all prompts delivered directly to your in box.
Go on, clicky click away, you know you want to …

If you want to join in with The Gallery and showcase your photos, come back on Wednesday and when my Gallery post goes live, add a link to your post on the Linky below mine.
The link stays open until the following Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to join in.
And ANYONE can join in.

Posted in The Gallery Themes | Tagged | Leave a comment

Blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and chia breakfast smoothie

Blueberry blackberry and flaxseed smoothie

If there is one thing I adore about the summer it’s all the fabulously jewel-coloured fruit available.
Visiting a pick your own fruit farm for me is pure heaven (and hell, because I want to scoff them all as I’m going around picking and popping them into the punnet).

And just look at the colour of this breakfast smoothie – it looks like it should be something you’re only allowed once a month because it’s packed with naughties.
But it’s not, it’s packed with things that are really good for you and if you indulge you can wear a halo all day. AND it’s really filling with the protein from the chia and peanut butter so you shouldn’t be tempted to reach for a snack the minute you’ve left the kitchen.

Ingredients
Small handful of blueberries
small handful of blackberries
small handful of frozen raspberries
half a banana
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1 dessertspoonful chia seeds
1 heaped teaspoon peanut butter
150ml milk of your choice

Blitz the lot until smooth.
If you like your smoothie with more of a thick dessert texture then don’t add as much milk. But if you prefer your smoothie to be more like a milkshake, add a touch more milk.

Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Photo Gallery 238: Time

Time

A time before children. When I was carefree and travelled a lot and had so much time on my hands.
Obviously I didn’t think so at the time; I thought I was so very busy and so very tired.
I would like to step into this photograph, take myself by the shoulders and explain I have literally no clue what being tired and not being able to fit everything in feels like. And when I do it will hit me like a freight train that shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. So for heaven’s sake, enjoy every minute of it.

These days I shun online shopping in exchange for walking around the supermarket propped up by a trolley because it means at least an hour of time all to myself.
I lock myself in the toilet when I don’t need to use it because I can get a minute to myself.
I’m pretty confident the Tara in this photo didn’t see those parenting highs coming.

But then I’m also pretty sure that the Tara in this photo didn’t see what a high parenting would be and that actually, all that time given over to your children is time well spent.

This post is for week 238 of The Photo Gallery. The theme is: Time.

Now it’s your turn to link up your post and join in. If you’re new here and want to know what the Photo Gallery feature is, go and read all about it, and then come right back and join in!

Here’s how to join in

Take a photo using the theme I’ve given as your inspiration. There are no rules and you can interpret the theme any way you like. Write a blog post or caption. You can write as many or as few words as you like. You don’t even need to use a new photo; just a photo you think represents the prompt.

 Add the Photo Gallery badge (and the foot of this post) to your post so other readers can find the other entries.

 Use the linky tool at the bottom of this post to link up your post so readers can find you. The linky stays open until Tuesday so you have plenty of time to join in.

➤ Tweet me with the hashtag #thegallery and I will retweet and share your entry (you can find me on Twitter @Tara_Cain). Or you can  use the hashtag #thegallery on Instagram (I’m over there as TaraLara) and I will share and comment on your photos there.

Now go visit as many of the other entries as you can. Leave a comment, discover new blogs, discover new ways of taking photos and maybe share any tips you have.

The Photo Gallery isn’t about taking technically brilliant photos. You can take them on your phone, your point and shoot or your fancy pants camera. It’s about having a passion for photos, wanting to better yourself and discovering what other bloggers are doing.

 You can also find the Photo Gallery on  Pinterest and Google +

Follow Tara Cain’s board The Photo Gallery on Pinterest.

To ensure you don’t miss a prompt, you can subscribe to the Sticky Fingers feed to have them delivered directly to your inbox every Friday.

 PLEASE don’t link dump – this is not that sort of linky!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/the-photo-gallery" title="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery"><img src="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Gallery-e1372717730880.png" alt="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
 Loading InLinkz ...

The Photo Gallery is open for absolutely ANYONE to join in – be you on blog, Instagram, Flickr or any platform where you an host a photo.

See you over there x

Posted in The Gallery | 7 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 238

Gallery logoHello and welcome to week 238 of The Photo Gallery.

I had a little bloggy/Gallery wobble last week and am just going to go right ahead and pretend it didn’t happen because to be honest I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to ponder on it.

Since going back to work in an office I am wiped out. All the time. I’m waiting for that moment when my body catches up with the differences and stops trying to make to nod off at about 3pm but it’s not happening.

On top of that there is all the ferrying around once I’m home. My kids are so damn busy! Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy. I love my job; I love being back amongst actual people and not talking to my imaginary friend in my office at home.
But it is an adjustment and I’m not quite there yet.

So, to this week’s theme for the Photo Gallery: To reflect the above I have chosen: Time.

As usual, interpret the theme any way you like. And let’s face it, the theme is so broad you can interpret it in a million different ways!

I’ll see you back here on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

NEW HERE? NOT SURE HOW TO ENTER THE GALLERY?

If you’re new here, here’s a post to tell you all about what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to the Sticky Fingers blog and get all prompts delivered directly to your in box.
Go on, clicky click away, you know you want to …

If you want to join in with The Gallery and showcase your photos, come back on Wednesday and when my Gallery post goes live, add a link to your post on the Linky below mine.
The link stays open until the following Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to join in.
And ANYONE can join in.

Posted in The Gallery Themes | 1 Comment

The Photo Gallery 237: Where I Live


I think this photograph pretty much sums up where I live.
Just a five minute walk or drive in any direction and you come across beautiful countryside. Wild flowers, butterflies, bees going about their daily duties.
I’m not a city dweller. I’m just not. I can feel myself physically and mentally relax once I’m amongst trees. I find the scent of a forest intoxicating.
And now I sound like some weird hippy.

I like living in the centre of England; feels a bit zen :-)

This post is for week 237 of The Photo Gallery. The theme is: Where I Live (sorry I got a bit ranty, anti-linky over there. I’m having a moment).

Now it’s your turn to link up your post and join in. If you’re new here and want to know what the Photo Gallery feature is, go and read all about it, and then come right back and join in!

Here’s how to join in

Take a photo using the theme I’ve given as your inspiration. There are no rules and you can interpret the theme any way you like. Write a blog post or caption. You can write as many or as few words as you like. You don’t even need to use a new photo; just a photo you think represents the prompt.

 Add the Photo Gallery badge (and the foot of this post) to your post so other readers can find the other entries.

 Use the linky tool at the bottom of this post to link up your post so readers can find you. The linky stays open until Tuesday so you have plenty of time to join in.

➤ Tweet me with the hashtag #thegallery and I will retweet and share your entry (you can find me on Twitter @Tara_Cain). Or you can  use the hashtag #thegallery on Instagram (I’m over there as TaraLara) and I will share and comment on your photos there.

Now go visit as many of the other entries as you can. Leave a comment, discover new blogs, discover new ways of taking photos and maybe share any tips you have.

The Photo Gallery isn’t about taking technically brilliant photos. You can take them on your phone, your point and shoot or your fancy pants camera. It’s about having a passion for photos, wanting to better yourself and discovering what other bloggers are doing.

 You can also find the Photo Gallery on  Pinterest and Google +

Follow Tara Cain’s board The Photo Gallery on Pinterest.

To ensure you don’t miss a prompt, you can subscribe to the Sticky Fingers feed to have them delivered directly to your inbox every Friday.

 PLEASE don’t link dump – this is not that sort of linky!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/the-photo-gallery" title="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery"><img src="http://www.thestickyfingersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Gallery-e1372717730880.png" alt="Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
 Loading InLinkz ...

The Photo Gallery is open for absolutely ANYONE to join in – be you on blog, Instagram, Flickr or any platform where you an host a photo.

See you over there x

Posted in The Gallery | 8 Comments

How do you deal with nightmares?

sleepWhen Dan was about four he had night terrors.
I think the ‘terror’ of the title was aimed at describing the parents rather than the child because I found them totally and utterly horrific.
The first time it happened I had absolutely no idea what to do so I did all the wrong things. After that I read up on them, realised I’d done all the wrong things and armed myself with all the knowledge.
The next one happened and I fell apart; they are just the most horrid things for you to witness you child going through.

Fast forward four years and we then hit the Nightmare Years.
Imagination starts to kick in, he discovers Doctor Who and suddenly bedtime is a battleground again.
However I had a powerful weapon in my night time arsenal; I remember reading about Monster Spray and how you should just keep a plain bottle of water in a spray bottle and attach a stick onto it which read ‘Monster Spray’ and you would explain that it kept monsters out of their room if you sprayed it around their doors and windows.
I didn’t need that for Dan. I recall years and years ago reading how you should never tell children that monsters don’t exist because they totally and utterly believe it to be true and you could somehow make them trust you that little bit less if you dismiss their fears.
So I would sit with Dan and say “no monsters will come in this room; even in this house. They are too scared. Because I told them I am your mother and there is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect you and if they dared to enter they would face a mother’s rage”.
Totally and utterly worked with the added bonus he thought I was really rather cool.

Of course it doesn’t work now he’s 12! He still watches Doctor Who and he still gets a little wary but we haven’t had any nightmares to speak of.

As one of the Slumberdown Ambassadors I have been asked to share our experiences of nightmares in the hope it could just help another family.
Night terrors are awful, but you aren’t alone; many many people go through them and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to them.
Nightmares are also normal as your little one’s imagination starts to flourish and they start to see and hear things which will start to play on their mind. It’s just part of growing up.

So when you’re being woken at 3am you have to tell yourself it’s a. a phase and b. you’re the best person to help. Oh and c. you probably did it to your parents too :-)

But nightmares aren’t just confined to the kids. My husband is terrible for waking in the night with a start or sitting bolt upright in bed, or even waking with an ‘URGH’ while staring at the bedroom door and scaring the bejesus out of me.

Slumberdown carried out a survey recently to determine which TV shows and movies give adults the heebie jeebies. Pretty much all the shows on my husband’s watch list including The Walking Dead, Luther, anything with Hannibal Lecter – the usual suspects.

So, what do you watch before bed that you shouldn’t – and more importantly, how do you ‘manage’ your nightmares (I’m pretty sure Monster Spray isn’t going to cut it).
For me the very worst I’ve watched before bed was the very excellent Luther. Do not go there.
Also some Doctor Who episodes – it’s supposed to be for KIDS!

Posted in Family Life, Sponsored | 2 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 237

Gallery logoHello and welcome to week 237 of The Photo Gallery.

I have a confession; I have fallen completely out of love with linkys. They have lost their lustre for me. I do a bit of an eyeroll when I see yet another one launched. When I think there can’t possibly be any subject left uncovered, up pops another.
Don’t get me wrong, I think a linky with authenticity behind it is a wonderful thing. A linky where the owner is genuinely passionate about the subject matter and is collating entries for the benefit of others is fab. And that benefit isn’t just driving traffic in a one-way exchange.
For here is what I really dislike about linkys now; they’ve become a bit of a dumping ground. Link up and bugger off. Move on to the next linky. No heart in it.
Where has the passion gone? Where has the community gone?

I guess the old days have gone now (yes I know I’m showing my blogging age). But I love my Photo Gallery linky. Love it. Loved watching people grow and change and get excited about how their photography improved and matured.
And I just find it harder and harder to love it as much as I used to. My baby. For the Photo Gallery really has been my bloggy baby over the years. And I’m not sure how I feel about her any more.

I could wake up tomorrow and be ‘what the HELL was I talking about’ and find a renewed vigour, so pretend this all didn’t happen, right?!
So for now, here is the new theme for this week’s Photo Gallery is: Where I Live.

As usual, interpret the theme any way you like but make sure you share a little bit of what you love about your neck of the woods, as they say!

I’ll see you back here on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

NEW HERE? NOT SURE HOW TO ENTER THE GALLERY?

If you’re new here, here’s a post to tell you all about what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to the Sticky Fingers blog and get all prompts delivered directly to your in box.
Go on, clicky click away, you know you want to …

If you want to join in with The Gallery and showcase your photos, come back on Wednesday and when my Gallery post goes live, add a link to your post on the Linky below mine.
The link stays open until the following Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to join in.
And ANYONE can join in.

Posted in The Gallery Themes | 10 Comments