The Liebster Award

This week I received a lovely notification; that a fellow blogger had nominated me for a Liebster Award!

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So a big thank you is in order to Emma, over at teapots and twine, for nominating me for the award. If you don’t know Emma or her blog, you have to go over for a visit, it’s just lovely. My favourite of Emma’s posts are about the best places to find vintage-y shabby chic items for the home – I really want to go and have a wander in some of the shops! Emma and I both studied English at Exeter Uni and share a love of Jane Austen, vintage furniture and home cooking.

I’d not heard of the award before so I did some research and found that the Liebster Award is given to those blog writers with fewer than 200 blog followers by people who enjoy reading their posts and want to help share each others’ work. It seems like such a nice idea and a great way to get introduced to other members of the blogging community!

So, the rules are as follows:

You must thank the person who nominated you

Answer the 11 questions posed by your nominator (see below)

Pass on the award to 11 new recipients

Pose 11 new questions to your bloggers

These were Emma’s questions for me:

1. What is your favourite blog and why?

One of my favourite blogs is Foodimentary – National Food Holidays. Every day I get an update on which tasty food holiday it is, always accompanied by delicious-looking photos. The posts also come with food history which is really interesting for a foody blogger like myself!

2. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I love blogging because it’s an opportunity to be creative; whether it’s cooking, craft, writing, photography; and you can then so easily share your thoughts, cakes, photos, with the whole world. And then in turn, you are opened up to a whole new world of blogs, and the blogging community, who are just this huge bunch of people all wanting to share and learn and enjoy. It’s also a nice way for me to switch off when I get in from a busy day at work and get creative.

3. If you could interview any famous person in relation to the subjects you blog about who would you pick?

I would like to interview Paul Hollywood, and before you all say it’s because he’s such a silver fox (!), it’s actually because bread is probably the thing I’ve struggled most with since I started learning to bake. I would love to get some pointers on where I’m going wrong and how to improve the dough that I make. It’s just a plus that he’s got such lovely blue eyes….!

4. What is your favourite home comfort?

Eating butter and marmite on toast, preferably from a freshly made loaf, snuggled up on the sofa with a good old Sunday afternoon film

5. If you could become an expert at something what would you want it to be?

I’d love to become an expert at patisserie – some of the cakes and pastries out there are so intricate and gorgeous to look at, it would be amazing to know how to create something like that

6. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting a blog?

Go for it, most definitely. Don’t hesitate, just get stuck in. You can blog about anything, I’ve come across such a huge range of blogs, covering such a wide range of topics that really the world is your oyster! And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, the blogging community is so friendly and welcoming, it’s like a big family!

7. Describe your perfect day?

My perfect day would be to go to Borough Market with Tom, buy some delicious food, and go for a walk and a picnic in the sunshine and just spend a lazy day eating and relaxing with him

8. What would you like to be doing in five years time?

In five years’ time I would like to be baking in my own home, with Tom off somewhere in the house playing his music, and either still working in the marketing industry in some creative form or working towards owning my own cafe/deli/bakery!

9. Who would you love to see start a blog?

I’d love to see my sister start a blog – she’s so creative, her photography is beautiful, that I’d love a chance to see more of her work – especially as I don’t live at home anymore so I don’t get to see her or her photos as often as I used to

10. Who would you least like to be trapped in a lift with?

Hmm there’s probably quite a few people, but someone i would find it difficult to be trapped in a lift with is Keith Lemon, from Celebrity Juice!

11. What is your motto for life?

My motto for life….well I don’t really have a life motto, but a good one would be “Keep calm, and eat cake!”

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Now it’s my turn to nominate 11 bloggers, and I’ve chosen the following lovely people (the majority of my 11 are foodie bloggers). These lovely people have been wonderful enough to visit my blog, like my posts and start to follow me on my blogging journey so I would like to share the Liebster love and award them with nominations:

Scarletscorchdroppers

Edibles & Travels

Rosamund over at The Daily Muse

Cooking with Charl

Pud Bakes

Soup du journalism

A Small Insight

So, hear me

House of Herby

Edible Substance

The Suburban Cook

My questions to you all are:

What made you start blogging in the first place?

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

Where is your favourite place you’ve ever travelled to?

If you could choose only one, which would you keep: bread, pasta or potatoes?

Are you a sweet or a savoury kind of person?

What is your favourite book?

What is your favourite film?

Which is your favourite cuisine from around the world and why?

If you could have anyone over for dinner who would it be and what would you cook as your signature dish?

What have you learned since you started blogging – any tips that you would pass on to other bloggers or people thinking about starting a blog?

Which famous person would you love to meet and why?

Have fun everyone!

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Thank Goodness for Old Reliable

My second lot of baking for the charity cake sale last week was going to be red velvet whoopie pies – sadly this just wasn’t meant to be! I couldn’t find any red food colouring to start with and then for some reason when I made the plain chocolate pies they turned into chocolate brownie type cookies! They were tasty but not what I’d planned at all!

Just in case anything went wrong with the whoopie pies, I’d also bought ingredients to make my favourite Victoria Sponge. I reckon all bakers have one cake or recipe that they can rely on to always turn out well and my old reliable, trusted, and tasty vicky sponge is my fallback. It always goes down well and the recipe I use from The Great British Bake Off cookbook works every time.

The cake sale, raffle and pub quiz at work raised £750 for Comic Relief which is great! We have so many talented bakers in the team it was amazing to see all the cakes, brownies, muffins and cheesecakes that everyone brought in.

Oh, and eating the leftover cake batter is probably the best thing about baking!

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Chewy, Oaty, Raisin Crunchies

This week we’re holding a bake sale at work to raise money for Comic Relief and I’ve been recruited to help out. Baking for a great cause, what could be better?

I’ve decided to make chewy, oaty, raisin crunchies – bit like a cross between a cookie and a shortbread biscuit – and red velvet whoopie pies – neither of which I’ve made before but hey ho, why not add a challenge to the mix?!

Baking after work, to take in for the next day, always makes me a little frantic (Tom would say a lot frantic!), and when I’m baking for an occasion it’s always the time when things seem to go wrong, so I decided to space my baking out this week and be as calm a baker as possible. Tonight it’s biscuit time and tomorrow I’ll attempt the red velvet whoopies!

I found a recipe which had really good reviews and comments so i decided to try it out, and the biscuits are so tasty! I’m so glad I used this recipe and will definitely be using it again. I used raisins and some granola cereal we had in the cupboard to give the biscuits their crunch and fruitiness. You could use the same recipe but use chocolate chips with the raisins instead, or soe chewy cranberry and white chocolate chunks.

Hopefully they’ll go down a treat at the bake sale on Thursday!

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Bacon and Comté Salad

Tom and I have been doing the Hairy Bikers’ diet for just over two months now and it’s been so effective and easy for us to stick to. Between us we’ve lost 2 and a half stone and I feel so much better: more healthy and happy with my body. Tom was really pleased when he had to go out and buy new trousers as all his old pairs are far too big now!

We haven’t been perfect on the diet, but I think there’s always going to be a day when you can’t help eating something a bit unhealthy, especially for Tom – he has a lot of corporate lunches and evening drinks to go to with work – but generally the diet has been really good and the food is delicious!

Last week Tom made us a really tasty bacon salad and used some of the delicious Comté cheese we bought at Borough Market. I love salad, you can just throw in whatever you have in the fridge, building up all the lettuce, cucumber, spinach leaves etc and then top it with whatever boost of flavour you fancy – chicken, bacon, ham, toasted pine nuts, torn up chunks of bread, olives, cheeses etc – easy, delicious and healthy!

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Hairy Bikers’ Low-Calorie Cupcakes

It was my friend Alpa’s birthday this week so I decided to try out the low-calorie cupcakes from the Hairy Bikers cookbook as I’ve been interested to see how they turn out! Now, everyone at work liked the cakes, they went down well, but I am standing firm on the point that truly delicious, fluffy, moist cupcakes need butter. I am a butter advocate, I can’t be doing with low-fat spreads and I just don’t think they’re right for baking cakes. But I’m glad I tried out the recipe as I’ve been curious for a while. I’ve decided that while Tom and I are on this healthy eating plan I’d rather treat myself, very rarely, to a slice of proper, full-fat, full-blown Victoria sponge or a chocolatey, gooey brownie and enjoy the naughtiness of it!

The main thing is though that Alpa liked them 🙂 and next week I get to treat myself to a whoopie pie as I’ve been recruited to bake for the Comic Relief cake sale at work! On the menu, red velvet whoopie pies and white chocolate cookies!

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Chewy, gooey, choc-chip cookies

While looking through my baking drawer this afternoon I discovered I had a full packet of chocolate chips just sitting there, which was perfect as I suddenly had a craving to bake some chocolate chip cookies!

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Usually I use caster sugar when making cookies or biscuits but I only had a small amount so I also added dark soft sugar to the butter – turns out this makes the cookies extra rich and gooey! I was a bit of a lazy baker this afternoon, I didn’t really measure any of the ingredients just judged by sight the amounts and although I think I used slightly too much butter they’ve turned out pretty well! Tom was very appreciative of them anyway and he’s not often a cookie-kind-of person!

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Supporting our local food producers

This weekend has become a total food-fest for me and Tom: we discovered Forest Hill were holding a mini food market in the station car park so we popped down the road for a little look-see and it was well worth the visit. We enjoyed an anchovy, caper and olive wood-fired pizza made in the back of an adorable little pizza-oven-van and I treated myself to a carrot-cake cupcake. We tried some wine produced in Forest Hill and some homemade damson jam which was delicious!

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We also decided to go and take a look at The Horniman Museum which is amazing, it’s a local museum with acres of gardens and fruit and veg patches tucked away in Forest Hill. We wandered around the gardens looking at all the food they’re growing and enjoying the amazing views across the whole of London. I’m so excited we’ve found a local garden, it will be such a nice spot for walks in the summer!

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Foodie Heaven

We had blue skies and sunshine in London today, albeit the temperatures were still a bit nippy, but it was a perfect day for a trip to one of mine and Tom’s favourite London places – Borough Market. It’s foodie heaven, and although on a Saturday it’s a huge tourist spot, I love it! You can get pretty much anything you want at Borough, be it artisan bread, guinea fowl, Belgian beers, fresh fruit and veg or the biggest blocks of chocolate you’ve ever seen – it caters for anyone! Tom and I like to go to Borough most weekends, it’s so nice to have such a great source of food so close to our flat and it’s a nice place just for a wander.

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Today we got there fairly late on in the day but got stuck straight in trying different cheeses, chorizos and hams, olive oils and dips. For lunch we had Boston Sausage hot dogs sitting in the sunshine by the Cathedral and I had a cup of hot apple, pear and elderflower which was delicious, especially in the cold weather!

This weekend we bought Comté cheese, garlic stuffed olives, kalamata olives, some fresh crusty bread, an artisan sausage roll, strawberries, rhubarb, some beer and elderflower wine. I could have bought so much more, the chocolate brownies and salted caramel ice cream always take my fancy but I controlled myself – I’m sure it won’t be long until we visit again!

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