Saturday, 25 April 2015

Come on in, the water’s *HOT*

As a child I grew up watching the Super Friends. What child of the 70s and 80s didn’t? We were all watching the Justice League of America fight crime every Saturday morning. I mean they had Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Then in 1977 they introduced the Wonder Twins and their pet monkey Gleek.
Wonder Twins.jpg

The Wonder Twins had special powers (Zan can transform into water at any state--liquid, gas, solid like ice--and Jayna can transform into any animal--real or mythological) but it requires them to touch each other and speak the magic words, “Wonder twins power activate!”

I spent a lot of time trying to fist bump other kids whilst saying those magic words. This was mostly followed by a withering stare as apparently the Wonder Twins weren’t cool enough. I recall once saying to one of these naysayers “Wonder twins power activate! Form of : ICE. I will freeze you with my magic powers!” and then was promptly scooped up and put into the nearest bin on the playground.

Sigh….this happened a lot with me.
File:1) Aquaman.jpg

So I  turned my attention to the “real” Super Friends. But even then I seem to have gotten it wrong. I picked Aquaman. I mean, he was the King of Atlantis and could communicate telepathically with fish!

Most kids laughed at Aquaman. They joked about what good are crime fighting skills UNDER WATER? I mean, how many under water banks are there? Even if there were, why would anyone try to rob them?

Even today people pick on him for his lack of “good” superpowers.

I may have given up on the Wonder Twins, but I never gave up on Aquaman.

I have always been fascinated by Atlantis (despite being terrified of sharks and refusing to go in the sea after seeing Jaws at the cinema.) Thanks Mum and Dad. When I was a wee girl I used to be the last child to be dropped off from my yellow school bus and I sat right behind the friendly bus driver Mr McLaren and told him stories about an undersea race of people who lived in a glass bubble. All my ideas were pinched from a book about Atlantis I had read, but I pretended they were my own original creation. I often wonder now what he thought of the tiny girl who sat behind him and chirpily talked non-stop. He was an excellent listener.

In high school I found a pair of Aquaman Underoos (remember those? “Underoos are fun to wear, yeah something super new in underwear!” Basically underwear and a  t-shirt to make you look like a superhero) at a garage sale and I bought them and had them pinned on the wall of my bedroom.

I have remained an Aquaman fan girl all my life and it has finally paid off. Now everyone will know what I have always known. Aquaman is cool. He is a bad-ass.

Look at these pictures of Jason Momoa as Aquaman in the upcoming 2016 Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

OMG. Be still my beating heart.

The dreadlocks.

The Polynesian tattoos.

The muscles.

Now everyone can finally agree--Aquaman is the best.

You’ll always be my underwater hero! *Swoon*

Friday, 24 April 2015

The Tiger Who Came To Tea….and ate all the Jaffa cakes

Do you know the children’s book The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr? One morning there is a knock at the door and Sophie and her Mummy are surprised to find an enormous tiger who asks very politely if he can come in for tea as he is very hungry. He does and then proceeds to eat up all the food, drink all the tea (straight from the spout of the teapot) and then drink up all the water from the tap. He drinks so much there isn’t enough water left for Sophie to have her bath. After he has eaten them out of house and home he leaves. The father comes home from work, hears the tale and sees that there is no food in the house and suggests they go out to a cafĂ©. Sophie and her Mummy go shopping to replenish all the food in the house and buy a big box of tiger food but the mysterious tiger is never seen again.


Going with my theme of feeding animals from famous children’s books some cake and using up the marmalade (the last cake was a marmalade tea loaf for Paddington) I thought I would have a go at a tiger-y looking cake (orange and brown) and fulfil my desire for a Jaffa cake flavour--chocolate and orange. 
The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
For the Tiger Who Came To Tea Cake, I made a regular cake and stirred in 4 TB marmalade and frosted it with a chocolate icing. I used to always just mix the sugar with the dry ingredients and then add the liquid and oil but I went with the technique of creaming the oil with the sugar and then adding the liquid to it and it really made in a difference in my humble opinion. The cake was sooo light and fluffy. It rose beautifully and did not sink (like sometimes happens with spelt flour due to the lower gluten content) and was melt in your mouth tender. The chocolate frosting was a new thing I had never tried before--it is more like a layer of whippy chocolate pudding on top instead of getting hard like icing does. It is made with pureed dates and is delicious.
The Tiger who Came To Tea drinking from tea pot

The Tiger Who Came To Tea Cake


Make your frosting first as it needs to chill for a minimum of three hours in the fridge to firm up. Adapted from:

Put into your blender:

1 cup boiling water

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Blend well being careful about the steam. Then add:

1 ½ cups pitted dates (I used cheap, rather dry dates I got from Poundland and it worked fine)

Pinch salt

½ tsp vanilla

Then blend like heck until a thick glossy smooth paste forms. YUM! Then scrape into a container and let chill in the fridge for at least three hours. It will never get as firm as frosting made with sugar but this tastes *amazing*--thick and fudgy like a pudding. In fact you could eat it as a pudding! Or spread it on crackers for a dessert treat (which we will as I didn’t use it all on the cake. Leftover frosting=yum!) 

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F

Grease an 8x8 square pan

Sift together:

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (I used wholemeal spelt)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

In another bowl cream together

½ cup Demerara sugar

¼ cup oil 

When thoroughly mixed add:

¾ cup orange juice

4 TB marmalade

1 tsp vanilla

Shake cinnamon

Mix liquid ingredients well and then slowly add in dry ingredients until just mixed (don’t over mix)

Pour into greased pan and lightly tap pan to eliminate air bubbles. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool completely and then frost with the chocolate frosting. It’s like pudding on top of cake!

Can I just say….this was…..amazing. The marmalade tasted sooooo good inside the cake. I prefer it to the Paddington cake with marmalade on top. Spiderman was partial to the dense texture of the Paddy cake as all the glaze had dripped through the cake but I liked the light, fluffiness of the Tiger cake--plus it has chocolate frosting! What’s not to love?

Luckily we still have some marmalade left so we can both have more cake. Mmmm….cake. 

Try this and you will not be disappointed.

 And if a tiger should happen to come to tea, you will be ready

Monday, 20 April 2015

Playing “Paddy” cake

Are you overly fond of marmalade sandwiches? Are you from darkest Peru? Were you named after the train station you were found in? Were you wearing a tag that said,


Please look after this bear.

Thank you


Then this cake may be for you, Paddington.

We were recently gifted with a jar of homemade marmalade. I like marmalade but don’t eat it as often as I do other types of fruity spready things. Mostly we eat jam with peanut butter to make PB&Js and PB&M just somehow aren’t a good combination.

I fear not even Paddington would eat a peanut butter and marmalade sandwich.

So I was looking for a way to use up some more of the marmalade. I thought a cake would be  a way to go. So I scoured the internet and cobbled together several ideas until I had one that worked. My first idea was a chocolate cake with a marmalade glaze so it would taste like a Jaffa cake.
Delicious Jaffa Cake Image
Mmmmm….Jaffa cakes. Sadly, Jaffa cakes are not vegan and so I haven’t had one since 2006, but I remember well the sponge cake with orange filling and chocolate-y coating. But then if the marmalade glaze was ofnadw (Welsh for terrible) I didn’t want to waste a perfectly good chocolate cake on it. Know what I mean?

So I decided to try an orange tea loaf with marmalade glaze.

I found a website called Veg Recipes of India.  The recipes use cold water or in this case cold orange juice instead of milk and are eggless. I had a work colleague back in England who was a Hindu and was a vegetarian who didn’t eat eggs but did eat lots of cheese. We often shared egg free baking tips. This website also used whole wheat flour so it was used to being made with brown flour not refined white. Always a good sign as sometimes recipes designed to be made with white flour can be a bit heavy with brown flour.

Adapted from

Paddington’s tea cake

Preheat oven to 180C/350F

 Lightly grease and line a loaf tin with parchment paper for easy removal.


Sift together in a bowl

1 cup whole wheat flour (I used 1 cup plus 2TB wholemeal spelt)

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

A pinch of salt

1 TB cornstarch (cornflour to my British peeps) or eggless custard powder if you have some on hand. I didn’t. Used cornstarch.

In another bowl mix together:

½ cup Demerara sugar

¼ cup oil (I used 2 TB oil and 2 TB plain soy yogurt as we had a last spoonful of yogurt hanging out in the fridge that needed to get used up)

Beat this until well mixed and creamy.

 Add 1 cup cold orange juice.

She used freshly squeezed but to get enough oranges to do that would have cost me £1.80 this week and a carton of not from concentrate OJ from Lidl was 99p. Guess which one I used?

Stir very well until sugar has dissolved. Slowly mix dry into wet until well mixed. Whisk to remove lumps.

Note: My batter was a bit on the runny side but I just cooked it anyway. Maybe in hindsight should of added a bit more flour but it turned out fine.

Pour into your loaf pan and tap to remove air bubbles. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when you poke it through the middle. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes then carefully remove onto a cooling rack with the help of your trusty parchment paper.

 Note: Maybe because my batter was a tad on the runny side it took 45 minutes to bake.

When cool make the glaze.

Heat in a small pan:

3-4 TB marmalade

2-3 TB icing sugar

Pinch cinnamon

2 TB water or rum (I bet rum would have been fab but we had to use water)

Heat until bubbling then carefully poke lots of holes in the top of the cake with a fork. Pour the hot glaze on top and the liquid will run into the cake making it all yum and sticky and gooey inside and the shreds will stay on top.

Lightly sand the top with a pinch of Demerara sugar for extra crunch. (optional but nice)

 Let cool, eat some and declare it insanely good and then store the rest in the fridge!

Now invite a friendly bear over for tea! Or if you are not partial to bears how about the Tiger Who Came to Tea?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The circle of peanut butter

JIF Creamy Peanut Butter, 16 oz - Dollar General
Growing up I was a JIF peanut butter girl all the way. After all the adverts said “Choosy mothers choose Jif.” My dad and I were big PB eaters. My mum not so much. He and I liked to eat the Elvis sandwich--peanut butter, bananas and greasy microwave bacon (I know….but it was the 80s before we knew better) and he loved to eat peanut butter, mayonnaise and pickle a.k.a. the PPM (Peter, Paul and Mary)

Yeah, I drew the line on that one. Blech.

But we *always* ate Jif.

In 1990, when Spiderman and I went on the life changing LC/MC overseas experience where we were exchange students we ate a bought lunch every day (often McDonalds I am sad to say, but it was cheap) and then had PB&J sandwiches and a piece of fruit and a chocolate bar for our evening meal. The only kind of peanut butter we could find was “natural” where the oil separated to the top. Every bloomin’ night we had to stir that oil back in and every night I cursed and swore and cried out for the comforts of Jif where it was smooth and creamy and never oily on the top. This natural PB was all gritty and did not spread like Jif.

I *hated* it.

I went home from that trip and resumed my old ways. I never bothered to look at the ingredients as I didn’t care much about nutrition back then. I only cared about if it tasted good.

Fast forward to 2004. We immigrated to the UK and were new vegetarians. I was just beginning to notice the effects of healthy foods on my body. I was overweight and had lots of health issues like fatigue and joint pain. Nutritional eating was helping me to lose weight and I could feel aches and pains that I had all my life going away. Living in the UK you couldn’t buy many American brands back then so we started buying more natural PB.

And you know what? I liked it. We started buying  brands that were “whole peanuts roasted in their skins” and it gave a real depth of flavour, a richness to the peanut butter. Then we became concerned about the devastating effects of palm oil production on the habitats of Orang-utans and we stopped buying brands with palm oil.
Meridian Peanut Butter | Meridian Peanut Butter 1kg

We started buying Meridian brand PB which has one ingredient--peanuts. Seriously that is it. Yes, it has oil on top but if you leave it upside down a few days before you open it it is *much* easier to re-mix the oil. It tastes really good and I buy 1kg at a time for £5.99 and when Holland and Barrett has a buy-one-get-one-half-price sale, we stock up. I also just read that it is made in North Wales--woohoo! 

Recently, when our friends came to stay at Easter they brought some Jif so we could make PB&J sammiches for our picnics and I was shocked at the ingredients. Sugar is the second ingredient and it is two kinds of fully hydrogenated oil. I know fully hydrogenated oil is better than partially hydrogenated oil, but just the word hydrogenated gives me the shivers. At least it didn’t have High Fructose Corn Syrup.

But we tried it as it was open from making sammiches and I can’t bear food to go to waste. It is technically vegan so we are determined to finish it. But the weird thing is….I kinda like it.

It is sooooooo smooth and creamy and spreadable and it doesn’t feel oily despite the fully hydrogenated oil. But it lacks a depth a depth of flavour. It is like eating peanut flavoured Crisco (Or Trex to my British peeps) and I am surprised how much I still like it.

I won’t buy anymore after the jar is finished as I think nutritionally speaking and taste wise the natural PB is miles better.

But I think I will miss not having to stir in all that oil every time. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em

Who has the best Mum in the world?

Me! It’s me!

Other people may want posh pressies but we want some good old fashioned down home stuff you can’t buy locally.

Namely GRITS.

I have written about my love for instant GRITS before and this is no exception.

Mmmmmm GRITS. Four boxes (that’s 48 packets!!!!) of gritty goodness.

But she excelled herself as she also sent four (count ‘em four!) bottles of Liquid Smoke.

Mmmmmm smoky flavour. Two kinds of smoky flavour--mesquite and hickory. Double yum.

We used to buy liquid smoke at Whole Foods in London but we ain’t near London no more baby. We could have ordered it off of Amazon, but as I am still unemployed we are a bit short of cash. So Mum to the rescue again!

Liquid smoke is great ingredient for adding that lovely depth of flavour to food. Because Spiderman and I agree, it is not meat we miss but that smoky, salty flavour. Add smoky, salty flavour to food and it ticks all the boxes of taste without anyone having to suffer and die. Same for cheese. What we miss is fatty, salty, creamy. Add those same flavours to a meal and it gives you the mouth-feel of dairy but without having to take someone’s baby away and steal their milk.


Thank you Mum for sending us a parcel of delights!  Diolch yn fawr, cariad!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A rubbish sort of Scooby Doo ghost

This is so embarrassing.

I scared myself the other night.

In my defence, it was late. Way past my bedtime. I was bleary-eyed with fatigue. I made my way to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth whilst Spiderman got into bed. I took off my glasses which rendered me virtually blind (I am 20/200 in one eye) and I started to massage olive oil onto my face and around my eyes to remove my makeup. This rendered me temporarily blurry. 

Then it happened.

I was bleary and blind and blurry when I turned on the hot tap. Then  I heard a noise.

It was like a rubbish ghost on Scooby Doo and it sounded like, “WhhhhoooOOOOOooo”

I thought it was Spiderman who had snuck in behind me and was trying to wind me up. So I whipped around to tell him to “Sod off” and even in my bleary/blind/blurry state I could see there was no one behind me.

It happened again. “WhhhhooooOOOOOOooooo.” This time louder and more convincing. Not Scooby Doo fake at all, but bone chillingly real. I whipped back around and caught sight of a person standing right behind me.

So I did what any normal freaked out person would do.
The Scream.jpg
I let out a little scream. Then turned around to run away and promptly tripped over the bucket we use to wash clothes that was still in the bathroom.

Spiderman leapt out of bed and was calling to me “Are you ok?”  and it was only getting up from the floor that I realised that the spooky sound was somehow coming from the water pipes and had occurred when I had turned on the hot water.

As for the person standing behind me… was own reflection. But having been tired and without my spectacles and with olive oil around my eyes I hadn’t recognised myself.

Oh dear.

I finished washing my face and then had to sheepishly crawl into bed. I tried to tell Spiderman what had happened and how I had managed to get frightened of the hot water tap and myself but it was too silly to explain. I was laughing so hard I could not even make the “WhhooooOOOOoooo” noise properly.

Upon waking up it seemed even funnier. How could I have been so easily duped?

So you honour, I present my defence.

I was bleary, blind and blurry at the time.

Case dismissed.  

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The (day) has come upon me cried……

……the Lady of Cymru.

Yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of the death of my beloved father. Fifteen years since we have made each other laugh or had a serious discussion about world events. Fifteen years since we sat side by side on the sofa watching old westerns or building something outside with his power tools. Fifteen years since we talked about the books we were reading or he was giving me advice. Fifteen years since he thoughtfully bought treats like tiny pumpkins or plastic spider rings for my whole class. He loved those kids because I loved those kids.  Fifteen years since I  held his hand. We were always holding hands.

And I almost missed it.

I am shocked by the fact that the date came upon me so suddenly. How could I not have felt this milestone coming on? In some ways this is actually a sign of progress. For YEARS after he died, a black fog would strangle my heart and lead me into a sluggish despair for a month starting on the day he entered hospice (March the 17th) until the day he died. The feeling was one of moving through treacle, in slow motion and with growing sense of dread. The loneliness of missing his was so overwhelming that it coloured my whole life. I could not concentrate or complete projects. I cried easily ands frequently. And then, the day would arrive and on the 15th of April…it would be gone.

Until the next year.

Oh yes there were pockets of grief here and there throughout the year. When I saw a box of men’s handkerchiefs on sale in a shop or when I thought of something I would have loved to share with him. A fact. A cartoon. A sunset. But it hit me hardest during the month that he died because he really did take a month. He slowly gave up walking then eating and drinking then speaking and finally breathing.

Fifteen years ago yesterday he died in my arms with my Mum holding him on the other side.

And somehow I almost didn’t remember.

We woke up like a normal day. We had a bit of a cuddle and then got dressed and leisurely went to the shops, came home for lunch and ran a few more errands. Spiderman is still on Easter holidays and so didn’t need to be at work last night and so he surfed the net while I wrote my pen pal  and about 3:15 we decided to take a walk. We had a lovely brisk walk in the rather warm spring air for about an hour and a half and then toddled home. I sat down to check my blog feed and saw my friend Karen had had a birthday. Something inside me went DING! and I suddenly realised it was the 14th.

It was just like the poem by Tennyson:

Out flew the web and floated wide

The mirror crack’d from side to side.

“The curse has come upon me!” cried

The Lady of Shalott.   

I was shocked and stunned that I had somehow not realised. Then strangely relieved that I didn’t spend a month of my life in mental agony.

I have been thinking of him so much lately as we have a General Election coming up--the big one that determines who our next Prime Minister will be. I would love to be talking to him about the candidates. I have just learned the animal rights stance of all the main parties (conservative, as you would expect, is pro-fox hunting and battery cages for pheasants and for enlarging the badger cull even though it is scientifically proven that badgers are NOT spreading bovine TB--factory farming is.) and I would love to be discussing this with him.

I would love to be discussing anything with him.

I miss him. God, I miss him. But I know he is with me. When I (to quote the Ninja Turtles) “Stand for what [I] believe in and find the strength to do what’s right” I know he is with me. 

So last night we ate a vegan version of a favourite meal of his. He was always a big meat and potatoes man (things like chicken fried steak and milk gravy) and then after the advent of delivery pizza he was a pepperoni pizza guy and I often wonder what he would make of my veganism. I think he would be proud that I had strong convictions and I was living them and that I was speaking up for those who have no voice and making the world better through compassion. He would have still been a meat eater, but he would have respected my ideals.

We had “sausage” mushrooms (button mushrooms cooked in sausage-y spices like fennel seed) --adapted from this recipe from the PPK and mashed potatoes, peas and carrots and lashings of onion gravy. Plus a little bit of leftover Anadama bread to stand in for Texas Toast. 

It was very good. He would have liked it.

I would love for him to be here to share it. To share everything. So much has happened in our lives since he died. I mean, we have lived in two other countries --England and Wales--since then. We have had so many adventures.

So even if the date no longer stabs my heart, I think of you and remember.

I remember everything.

I love you with all my heart,
Your Chaunkie-Chaunk

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Our Daily Bread

Back when I still could tolerate wheat we had a bread machine and my favourite bread to make was Anadama bread.  traditional New England bread and the (apocryphal) legend says that Anna was a fisherman’s wife who regularly fed her husband cornmeal mush flavoured with molasses. One day, the story goes, he got sick of this meal and added some flour and yeast and turned it into bread all the while muttering, “Anna--damn her.”

Basically it was mostly flour, a bit of cornmeal and molasses. 

What it was was freakin’ delicious.

Ever had that amazing dark bread at Outback Steak House? It is kinda like that. I haven’t been to one of those in years--the clue is in the name--STEAK HOUSE. But I remember that bread fondly. I could have made a whole meal of it.

So I looked at some Anadama recipes on line and adapted one to suit our loaf tin. I also wanted a quick bread as I didn’t want to faff about with yeast. I am willing to deal with yeast for pizza dough, but have no patience for a loaf of bread.

You don’t need yeast for this rich, flavoursome loaf.

Anadama Bread

 Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Lightly grease a loaf pan and then put a bit of parchment in there so you can remove it easily after baking. The oil helps the paper not to shift around when you are spooning in batter.

 First sour your milk. We are making buttermilk here to give the bread a bit of tang.

1 cup plant based milk (we used Oatly, but soya milk would also do nicely)

1 TB lemon juice

Add the lemon juice to the milk and let it curdle for a few minutes.

Stir in 1 ½ TB blackstrap molasses with a fork until dissolved in the buttermilk.

1 ¾ cups wholemeal spelt flour, sifted (whole wheat would work as well)

¼ cup cornmeal

1 tsp salt

1tsp baking SODA

Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Add  your buttermilk molasses mixture and stir until just combined.

Spoon into your parchment lined loaf tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Lift out and let cool on a wire rack for as long as you can stand it before slicing it.

This was *just* like I remembered it being. Moist, dense, lightly sweet, a little crunchy from the cornmeal and just plain delicious. Despite the fact that molasses is a sweetener, the bread is rather savoury.

Anna, whoever you were….bless you.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Bread of Life

When my stomach rebelled over the protein in wheat known as gluten I felt extremely sorry for myself and spent lots of time moping about bakeries and bemoaning my lot to anyone who would listen.

I thought I would never get decent bread again.

Several years later after much experimentation, I have successfully made brownies and all manner of tray bakes gluten free as well as perfected a flatbread that works like naan bread. But loaves….not so much.

Since our arrival in Cymru I have experimented with adding spelt back into my life. Spelt is an ancient form of what with *considerably* less gluten--it has a completely different genetic structure than wheat which my tummy seems to tolerate. I still bake gluten free (as a matter of fact we had gluten free brownies last weekend) but I have been experimenting with putting spelt bread back into my life.

It started with the Lemon Poppy Seed Bread. I had this loaf pan just calling out to be used so I did a bit of research..

I found this recipe  and since it was actually meant to be made with spelt (which having less gluten can rise less that wheat) so adapting a wheat recipe to spelt can sometimes not work quite as well)  I thought it would be safe to try.




Bread is back on the menu, baby.

Spelt Oat Sunflower Bread

 Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Lightly grease a loaf pan and then put a bit of parchment in there so you can remove it easily after baking. The oil helps the paper not to shift around when you are spooning in batter.

 First sour your milk. We are making buttermilk here to give the bread a bit of tang.

1 cup plant based milk (we used Oatly, but soya milk would also do nicely)

1 TB lemon juice

Add the lemon juice to the milk and let it curdle.

1 ½ cups wholemeal spelt flour, sifted (could use whole wheat flour)

½ cup oats

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking SODA

¼ cup sunflower seeds, divided

Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl  reserving 1 TB sunflower seeds.

Add  your buttermilk and stir until just combined.

Spoon into your parchment lined loaf tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining TB sunflower seeds evenly on top.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Lift out and let cool on a wire rack for as long as you can stand it before slicing it.

This was *amazing* The buttermilk really gave it a lovely sourdough feel.

We had it with a rustic potato and roasted garlic soup. We meant to eat the rest of the loaf the next day but it was sooooo freakin’ good we kept going back to nibble on it throughout the evening.

It tastes very good with jam.

 I am conscious of not overdoing spelt for fear of developing an intolerance but there was just one more type of bread I was dying to try.

Stay tuned for the Our Daily Bread.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Easter happenings

We have been so blessed to have two sets of friends be willing to drive all the way to Wales to spend a weekend with us. Each group has brought us treats and taken us out for a meal and we have felt so loved and overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity.

We were lucky enough to have some old friends come to stay with us for Easter weekend. Cindy was my first roommate in college and Matt was Spiderman's roommate on our overseas exchange programme in 1990 that set us on the path to living in the UK. I was also a bridesmaid in their wedding. We were also really lucky to have their 15 year old son Addison come along. If you need any help with technology, you only need to ask a teenager.

They are American, but Matt is in the navy and stationed near London. It was a rather long drive for them as it was Easter weekend and everyone else seemed to share the idea of driving somewhere. They arrived, slightly weary on Friday night bearing an enormous box of food. All kinds of treats and snacks we could use for picnicking over the weekend. What a blessing!

We ate chilli and cornbread and then retired to the living room to chat and catch up. Addison and I had a very interesting conversation about dubstep ( a type of electronic music) and we spent the weekend with me listening to recommended selections and discussing them. It was fascinating and his passion for it really made me listen with different ears. Previously I might have dismissed it as noisy and bleepy but with his guidance I could hear and understand the "science" behind it.

We were also blessed with *gorgeous* weather all weekend. Saturday we drove to the nearby Botanic gardens and had a lovely walk around. We ate a delicious picnic and then hiked in the woods to see a manmade waterfall that was breath-taking. The best bit for me was the fact that an episode of Doctor Who was filmed there (The Waters of Mars with David Tennant as the Doctor)

the bio-dome
I resisted the urge to become a possessed water monster and drool water in a creepy way.

There was also a cool snake-y water feature that ran down the path.
Saturday night we went out to our favourite Chinese restaurant for a meal. They were very generous and paid and we were very grateful--especially as the food gave us enough to take home and have for another meal. Thank you guys!
Easter Sunday we went out to Llansteffan and walked along the beach as the tide went out spying all sorts of crabs and other sea beasties and beautiful shells. Thank goodness for wearing my old black trainers as the sand was quite squishy and I nearly lost a shoe! Plugging up the hole with glue seems to have worked and now I have a pair of "messy" shoes. Hoorah!
Then we hiked up an extremely steep hill and ate yet another delicious picnic in the shade of an old Norman castle. Again, the weather was gorgeous and we were all rather hot and sweaty and puffed out by the time we carried the food up the hill.  Spring is definitely here!

We came back home and I cooked us soup and homemade bread (they raved about the bread and you will too. Stay tuned for the recipe) and we watched lots of silly videos of guys blowing up stuff on youtube.
Lastly, they tried to teach us how to Skype! Again, call a teenager when you need help with electronic stuff. Addison showed us how to set up an account but he thinks we need a lamp as our camera is not great on the tablet and we come out very dark. Like a shadowy, sinister Bond villain. But hopefully soon we will have it up and running and be able to do it.
They skyped their son John who is at University in Texas and it was bloody amazing. You know when you were little and you thought Captain Kangaroo was REAL and LIVED in your television and you could see him and he could see you? (maybe that was just me) but it was like that. Seriously.
I was hoping Addison would be able to help me with my camera skills, but alas we ran out of time due to learning to Skype. There is always next time!

It was a terrific weekend of catching up on old times and getting to know an interesting teenager with sun and warm weather and wearing purple tissue crowns and sharing dreadful jokes.
Plus they left us some food--a huge jar of peanut butter and some blue corn crisps and salsa and a huge jug of apple juice.  Hoorah!
Thank you friends for coming all this way, and driving back on a bank holiday Monday when everyone else was coming back from their holiday and clogging up the roads making your journey extra long.
Diolch o gallon! (heartfelt thanks!)