Category: Recipies

Geo Bake Off – Geologist Despair (by )

Sisters and their epic geo-cake

I mentioned the Geological Society's Bake Off to Jean - this is the result - she's been planning it for weeks!

cake top view complete with zome in sections

The girls are seriously proud of this 7 cake monstrocity.

Cakes all bakes for the geo bake off

They have certainly enjoyed eating it 🙂

Mary eating geology cake

Jean eating geology cake

There is a lot of hidden stuff that went into this cake.

One of the themes was mud which is why there is chocolate orange mud flows 🙂

The chocolate mud flow on volcano cake adding chocolate mud flows to volc cake

But there were all sorts of challenges and Jeany decided she wanted to try and complete as many as possible.

So within the river valley there is structure for a cross section.

The river valley complete with internal cross section

And then she just got plan creative - with the structure of the cake and I believe some youtube research.

Within are the mazi-bones

These are the marzi-bones fossil human ancestors or related species buried in a cash by volcanic ash - they may or may not have already been dead when this happened some more excavation will have to occur to find out!

What's within the mud close up cake

The top layer of the Mud Tower is a chocolate gravel lens between a sandy mud and a volcanic ash.

chocolate gravel lense between the sandy mud stone and volc ash

You can see the colour difference really well in this photo.

Mud tower with slice talen out

Here is Jean cutting open mud tower to reveal whats within.

Jean cutting into the mud tower cake

Spoiler... the chocolate gravel lense.

chocolate gravel bed hidden between two layers of cake mix

Here's the river valley with birds foot delta - at this stage the volcano is dormant or extinct.

River valley cake close up

This is the main part of the cake with Mud Tower and the ammonite loaf as zoomed in bits and the past hidden behind the lush "hill".

cake top view complete with zome in sections

Of course there is a hidden volcano and... erm Jurassic Park toilet death scene...

icing lava and Jurassic Park toilet death scene with t-rex

Making the dude out of icing

The geologist hammer was another challenge - but being Jean it is a geo-thor hammer so is the wrong shape (to be honest she sneaked a time travel train into it so I was amazed there was no tardis). I did the writing.

Geo-Thor hammer made of icing

Within there is an ammonite - this one was completely and utterly Jean's own idea and it worked and she is soooo happy she is taking it into school tomorrow 🙂

The ammonite within cake loaf

This was the tense moment of cutting in and finding out if the idea had worked. It's a bit flatter than intended but we agreed it's had metamorphic stuff happen to it thanks to the volcanos proximity.

Jean cutting her hidden fossil cake

The cake did kind of over flow but that's not surprising - here's how it was made...

bottom layer of cake mix for hidden fossile cake swiss roll ammonite in you go ammonite loaf ready to bake hidden amaonite cake splurged

icing hammer before writing Jean's hidden fossil load with icing hammer

Did I mention that she called this cake collective - Geologist Despair.

Geologist Despair Cake

Geologist Despair the cake that rocks

Volcano before lava.

volcano cake before lava

She did try to put structure inside the volcano but it didn't work that well.

Strips within the voclano cake didn't really work Inturnal structure of the voclano cake

The volcano was fun to put together - she remembered Dino-Mountian I'd made her for her 5th? Birthday 🙂

Marshmallow fluff cake glue Filling the volcano cake with chocolate frosting

How the river valley was put together...

creating the internal structure for a hopeful cross section valley cake four types of rock ready to bake! River valley cake with ash and mud inclinded layers chocolate butter icing from different angle chocolate orange butter icing for mud base grass for the hills added to the river valley cake River valley cake with birds foot delta

One time travel train and it's in a tunnel - the tunnel was the challenge 🙂

Time travel train coming out of icing tunnel between the two time zones of voclano cake

And before the tunnel, infact she did a lot of icing moderling for this.

Train added to cake sans tunnel making lava moulding the icing decorations for the cake

Of course Mary pulled her weight too 🙂 Mainly with rolling out icing and smearing chocolate everywhere!

Mary rolling icing for the cake

She did most of the Mud Tower by herself 🙂

chocolate coating the geo-cake

Stack of cake Choclate flop Mary coating mud tower in chocolate Mary adding the chocolate gravel Cake stake chocolated Marzipan tree Mud crack cake

Mary put chocolate gravel leaking out of an erroded side and some other bits including sticking out marzi-bones 🙂

Mud tower with grit and boulders and bubbles and cracks

Mud cracks were a challenge - Jean went with the existing cake cracks and made the lonely tree which was another of the challenges.

Look at those mud cracks and the lonely tree cake

Lonely tree... did I mention the lonely tree?

Lonely mazipan tree

Other general cakey making pics...

Jean and Mary sorting cake tins for geo bake off Alaric and Jean sieving flour Jean putting cake battery into bee hive tin to make a volcano cake adding the chocolate fragments mixer hard at work food colouring and choc powder for different types of mud

Creating the Marzi-Bones...

icing sugar in mould ready to make cake decs marzi bones are go agglomerate possibly glacial deposit created with chocolate and spongue cake Ring cake with chocolate inclusions etc Jean adding the bone cash to the cake Surprise marzipan remains can see the colours of the mud tower bottom cakes better and therefore the strucuter

maripan skull

I really love this idea 🙂

The marzi bones

Creating T-Rex...

mixing green and white icing for t-rex icing t-rex needs a trim

icing t-rex ready to go

This has been EPIC - it took 3 days to make the cakes - Alaric is taking Mud Tower into work tomorrow etc... Both girls have enjoyed it so much and of course we used home grown eggs. The cakes themselves range from chocolate orange to mint to vanilla and strawberry in flavour. There are three icings and marzipan involved and some of the cake is me friendly ie gluten free (the volcano) and some is Mary friendly and so on.

Jean was a little sad as she had meant to put Mary Anning in and a geological map too but she forgot and just don't ask her about how atomically correct her loo death scene is ok.

Tangling it All: Make, Bake, Create (by )

Chillies on the window sill close up

It's March and as I am not a hardy gardener, March is the beginning of my growing year. Which means that we have been along to the allotment and I've (yes me!!!) dug a bed over and harvested a load of leeks and so on but mainly I've been potting seeds up and transferring things into bigger pots with the two girls.

Jean and Mary potting up

They both love this - but Mary most of all - I took over the dinning table for three days and she spent hours each day filling plant pots for me 🙂

Mary taking care that she gets the soil in the plant pot Really? Mummy you want me to play with the mud? Mary in dispair over gardening Mary looking into the plant pot Mary filling the pots with compost

She also loves watering them all, as does Jean so I have to be careful not to end up with little "floods". Mary also thinks that watering can is a musical instrument - she is not wrong and I am glad I don't use it for any fertalisers or anything!

(photo)

This weekend was heavy on the garden stuff - I sorted out the chicken run so that we could use the old flooring as stuff to dig into the allotment. This is quiet heavy work and I also have to sort out the wormeries and see how much compost I have ready to go in them. The answer was several bucket loads! I also had to fix two of the sumps which is a bit ick as they are by nescesity under all the liquid that settles at the bottom of the wormeries. This stuff is basically liquid plant food which is why I collect it and my tones of tomatoes last year proves that it works!

Chillies on the window sill

And though I now have new funky plant pots on the window sill in the dining area I also have various pots that have been painted either by me or the girls. This for me is an interesting cross over of the craft and the gardening. I even have two that I painted back when I was a Ranger (top section of Guiding).

Space invaders plant pot

Painted plant pot Squid Side Painted plant pot jelly fish side Painted plant pot Turtle side

That was not the only craft cross over either - I'm having a finishing projects month and though not a project that was already started - I have had this idea for ages (years) so we went ahead and did it 🙂

Knife herb markers

We made plant or seed markers out of knives by dipping them into metal paint we have left over from Alaric making his ladder. We also did some spoons to make Easter Eggs for plant pots decorations and the garden.

Knife markers in place

Alaric and Jean set up a drying rack by using an old kitchen tidy and a length of metal and clamps. Clingfilm was placed beneath to catch drips.

Alaric and Jean setting up the drying rack

He then showed Jean how to dip the spoons.

Jean being shown how to coat the spoons in metal paint

She then had a go and was very careful and patient.

Jean dipping the spoons in the metal paint

She did all the spoons and knives and Mary helped Daddy find the right size dog clips to pin them all up to the drying rack.

Jean carefully painting the spoons

The paint is supposed to be touch dry in an hour but it was on quiet thickly so we left it over night.

Painted Spoons drying

The next day we took sharpies and took to decorating the spoons as easter eggs and the knives as seed markers (ok so I did all the knives but we all did the eggs including Alaric and Mary).

Decorated spoons drying

I'm not sure how well this will work and this first lot are going out without varnish, the sharpie pics we did on the chair at the allotment have faded but that maybe due to the under laying paint flaking - we will see - it's an EXPERIMENT!!!! mwhahahahahahahaha

Jean decorating the spoons with Sharpies

Jean spent ages on decorating her ones.

Painted knife seed markers

I am very very happy with the seed markers 🙂

Close up of painted seed markers made of knives

Infact we are going to have to do a couple more batches as I have a lot more stuff planned for the growing!

Close up 2 of painted knife seed markers

I coloured the inside of my Easter Egg spoon with a chick - Mary decided she had to do one too and demanded the colours "ellow, norange and black" and then with a stroke of genius announced that the back of her chick needed to be fluffy yellow as it was already crick crack hatched!

Easter Chick spoon garden ornaments

Well I was impressed - I was equally impressed by Jean's sheep and tree 🙂

Insides of the spoons

I love these Easter Egg Spoons 🙂

Easter Egg Spoon garden ornaments

I don't think you can tell which one of us did which egg to be honest 🙂

Close up of Easter Spoons

The only issue is that you can't let them touch each other or various plastics as they stick.

Close up 2 of Easter Spoons

Mary is most pleased with her flower pot 🙂

Easter Spoon pot decorations

And it is great fun to mix the crafts in with the gardening, things like bird scariers and wind chimes are fun to make and practical too. But this weekend kind of had the cake and the icing and the eating 🙂 For a start CHICKENS that lay stoopid numbers of eggs which always equals cake but second...

Dairy, Gluten, Soy, meat free curry made with home grown veg

I grubbed up some potatoes that I've been growing in the big bags we used to move with three years ago. This is the third year of potatoes in the garden. They are lovely new tatties so small and firm and Alaric being the whizz that was whipped them up into a gorgous curry that was dairy, gluten and soya free and found naan breads I could eat too! There were even star anises in the top 🙂

Purple Chillie

And this? This is my purple chilli 🙂

Purple Chillie close up

I basically grew the chilli plants from seed all the way through the winter and autumn and I had chillies in Feb! And as promised by the packet they are all different colours 🙂

I am so excited about this, I have never managed them from seed before!

Basically this weekend we managed to do gardening, craft and cooking and the boundaries between them were blurred and in truth there was DIY too which crossed over very nicely too 🙂

p.s. we also took Jean to two different sporting clubs and a sleep over.

Cheese and Soap and Skillz (by )

At the beginning of the year when we were setting down our New Year Resolutions, me and Alaric realised that we were still stuck with exactly the same stitches for kniting and crochet that we started with three years ago. All our projects have been variants on a theme.

We also wanted to move forward with the home stedding stuff, having added chickens and allotment since moving house. So here is my first cheese - it is a soft spreadable thing but I am very proud of it - I might also have accidently made a butter but that's cool too and is being used 🙂

Our first yogurt cheese formed into a pyramid

The other skill we've been meaning to try has been soap making and we thought this would tie in really well with the yarn craft side of things. So the easiest way of learning the stitches is to knit or crochet squares but I have to be making something or else it wont happen - I've never been good at practice - learning yes but practice no!

Anyway we are basically knitting and crocheting flannels or face/wash cloths to go with the soaps. Here is my first crochet attempt - I think it is double with single as the edging - it is lumpy and bumpy and miss shappen but I am so happy - of course it took me like a month to create.

double crochet flannel

This is the current one - a single crochet - lets hope I can remember how to carry on with it now Mum's gone home - I really struggled with the double when she wasn't about.

The beginnings of a single crochet flannel

I have also added on four different rag rug making techniques to the skillz I haz, recently, plus improvisational comedy and sketch writing so I am feeling quiet chuffed. I am also nerviously awaiting proof copies of a book which is more painful than I would have thought!

Cheese and Yogurt Making (by )

yogurt and cheese making supplies

Last year our yogurt maker broke - in truth it had been not quiet right for a while plus only Jean and Al could eat it. But then I saw that the thermos had been reduced and decided to buy another one - after all the first one had lasted 10 yrs!

With everything settling down health wise as well I thought I'd see how I handled yogurt and seemed to be ok with it. So I put a batch order in taking advantage of sales and what not. I had wanted to get warm bath type yogurt maker but they are really expensive 🙁

I also picked up a soft cheese maker which is basically a strainer and something I could have improvised but I figured I was more likely to get around to the actual cheese making with a special thing to help. I also added vegan rennet to the shop as I want to make proper cheese that is Alaric friendly and also Mary safe cheese!

This year is going to be about the cheese making 🙂

What A Lot of Allotment…. (by )

This week we made it too the allotment twice during the evenings and Saturday we were there from lunch time until the night was closing in and as I think that was the longest day that is saying something!

beans and med veg

During the week I also used up the produce we had harvested last weekend - namely the raspberries and the broad beans - the raspberries are the main reason we are going during the evenings as there are more ripe ones every few days. We have already gotten to the point of making smoothies and stuff 🙂

Raspberry and Banana smoothy

We also got to try out are roof rack for the first - I told my Dad that we needed a chair for the allotment or a bench or something and that I had been trying on Freecycle to get one for ages - we talked about making one from the spare decking and old table that is lurking around our garden. But what happened is when he went home he restored a chair frame he'd been given for fire wood and made a seat for it and painted it so it would last outside and sent it down with my brother. I kind of didn't believe it was for the allotment but it was! So it got tied on the roof rack.

The white chair

We picked up some coloured sharpies on route so the girls could decorate it.

Jean and Mary decorating the allotment chair

Jeany did get a bit frustrated with her sister as she kept scribbling over bits Jean was trying to do nicely but it all worked out well including decorations from Alaric such as a castle and rocket and snake that he and Jean did together.

One decorated chair

There is still more to be done on it but that is fine as we can just keep taking the sharpies with us 🙂 Jean also made sure we all knew what the seat was for 🙂

SIt on Me says the seat

Whilst there I did so much weeding I lost count - I know I did at least 7 buckets full and filled up the new composter we had to buy on Friday (or rather Al bought whilst I was walking Jeany to her drama group). To be fair the first of the buckets only was weeds and all - the others were damage limitation (ie cutting the tops of the thistles that wouldn't pull nicely) but the last two buckets where veg bed weeding and I even managed to do some hoeing and raking whilst Al was off getting shopping.

Jean collected a bag of lemon grass, a bag of hay and a bag of dandelions as well as harvesting the raspberries 🙂 She was most excited about dandelion stalks that were as tall as she was 🙂

I have crowned her Jean Bean the Allotment Queen 😀

Jean Bean the Allotment Queen

We were also gifted some french bean plants by one of the other allotment holders which we planted along with the spare tomato plants and the runner beans I got fro Prinknash Abby last weekend. These are in were the sweetcorn has failed to come up. Radishes and spring onions are doing well and we are quiet happy with it though there is still a lot of work to do to get the site maintainable. Alaric brought dinner back to the allotment which was great 😀

We were also given a load of peas and half our fridge was full of home produce - this is the way we like it 😀

Sunday morning I cleaned the chickens out and made pancakes with home grown eggs, I picked the strawberries in the garden - unfortunately breaking our bench chest that the neighbours gave us. And I made a coolie from some of the raspberries 🙂 We also used the neighbours home made cherry syrup and it was fab 😀

Home grown breakfast

Lilly - Jean's chicken is sadly still ill and sadly producing soft shells again - she is the only one of the four rescue hens not to have grown all her feathers back. I found the rabbit eating the soft shells so we decided he had to come back out of the run which is unfortunate as they provide him with company, but with Lilly sick as well we just thought it was best.

Jean and her chicken Lilly

Of course the hutch which was origonally Blacky's now has no doors so we've bought him a little run thing for now whilst we build him a run that is big enough for him and a friend and he is being let out for supervised time to hope around the whole garden.

Bunnies tempery new home

(it's just as well we are growing lots of food as it cost our weekly food/domestic shop budget!)

ALso we have discovered that we have corn and wheat and stuff growing in the garden where we used to feed the chickens and rabbit before their new run was built!

What and Barley and Rye

corn

Apart from that we didn't get the tip run done though we did build a mount for the festival trolly to go on the roof of the car (on the roof rack) and we found Elmo and a funky car.

vintage green sports car number 5

Lovely old style green sports car

Elmo

Of course I also cried because a) the pedometer and stuff shows I am active even though it hurts and long walks are with a stick and the calorie counting shows I am eating 2/3 what I am supposed to as a woman and I am still expanding round the waist :/ and b) Jean wanted a hamster and I am so broody that though I said no I really wanted it so when I didn't get my coffee I cried but it wasn't really about coffee - sigh. But mostly all fab at the moment.

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