Category Archives: Personal Stories

Spiced coffee and chocolate wholewheat shortbread

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When I found out about the Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I thought it was one of the best ideas I’d ever heard: bake cookies, send them to 3 food bloggers, receive 3 dozen cookies in return.

That’s my kind of fun :)

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What’s even better about it? It’s not just another reason for food bloggers to bake, the purpose is to raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. We’ve managed to raise over $13,000 so far this year thanks to the expert organisation from Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen.

The cookies I made (recipe below) combined some of my favourite things in the world – coffee, chocolate and festive spices.

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Baking these cookies during December is the perfect way to prepare for the Christmas season, as is gifting them to people you don’t know.

I actually knew of two of the three people I sent cookies to – Kate (The Little Loaf) and Iris (Whatever Gets You Through The Day) are two of my favourite UK bloggers (which made me extra nervous!).

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Once my cookies had been carefully packaged and posted, I had the excitement of waiting for my cookie gifts. Poor Shake had to stare at the packages each day until I returned home from work to open them (not convinced I could have waited if I had been in his shoes…).

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Our first treats were addictive heart-shaped cinnamon sandwich cookies (with cinnamon icing inside!) from Lucy. Thank goodness we love cinnamon in this house, but honestly they were so delicious and perfect with a cup of tea.

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The following day we received two deliveries – sour cherry and almond shortbreads from Jennie and coconut oatmeal cookies from Jen. Both were incredible and we were thrilled to have a real variety of flavours and textures. You should really check out their blogs for the recipe details, I recommend all of them wholeheartedly!

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My recipients sent some lovely feedback about the cookies, and I’ve been itching to share them with you, but the rule was we all post our recipes today! So, without further ado here you go:

Spiced coffee and chocolate wholewheat shortbread
makes approximately 36 small shortbreads

Ingredients

220g unsalted butter – at room temperature
100g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds of 1/3 vanilla pod
1 teaspoon four spice (mine was from France and included cloves, nutmeg, black pepper (!) and cinnamon)
2 teaspoons finely ground fresh coffee (you could substitute 2 tbsp instant espresso, but it won’t be quite the same)
220g plain flour – I used wholewheat, because I prefer it
100g dark chocolate chips/chunks

Don’t preheat the oven just yet – the dough needs to chill before baking.

In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar for at least a few minutes, until thoroughly combined.

Add the vanilla, spices and coffee and mix again for a further minute or two so that the mixture is evenly speckled with coffee and spices.

Now add the flour and mix slowly, only until it has disappeared into the dough but has formed a ball – you don’t want to overwork it.

Lastly, stir through the chocolate chunks.

Lay a large piece of clingfilm on a flat surface and turn out the dough. Top the dough with another large sheet of clingfilm and start working with the rolling pin.

I warn you, the dough is sticky (but delicious).

Roll out the dough until it is approximately 1/4inch thick and relatively rectangular. Transfer to large dish or tray and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Once refrigerated, preheat the oven to 170degC.

Use a sharp knife to cut out your shortbreads. Mine were approximately 2inch by 1inch rectangles. I’m not especially good at being consistent, so some were larger than others ;)

Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 8 – 12 minutes, depending on size and shape made. You want slight colour around the edges.

Don’t panic if they are still very soft, the shortbread hardens as it cools.

Enjoy :)

Bake
xoxo

 

Our everyday life: week 49

Sending goodies to my brother in the Navy – hoping that chocolate won’t melt!

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C’s Grandpa came to visit – he loved it, especially the late night cuddle/stroll home after dinner out together.

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These days almost all our photos are blurry. Cousins in a boat, escaping the shark (that was me ;) )

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What is it about Accountants who like to bake? Who knows, but I’m happy to eat whatever my colleagues make :)

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So many leaves in our garden…but thankfully we have a dedicated gardener.

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Although every now and then he sneaks off…

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Friday night at The Maltings seeing the incredible Martin Harley. Very civilised sit-down gig, apart from the drunk man who stroked me!

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LOVE this little man!

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Wishing you a happy and healthy week!

Come back on Wednesday if you like cookies…

Bake

xoxo

Our everyday life: week 48

We sure aren’t quiet when we go to the library! One of our local library’s has this awesome kiddy den chair!

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After three weeks of being really under the weather I forced myself to go to the doctor. Their advice? Wait another week and see if you feel better.Baaaah!

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C and his pal E causing trouble by the river. We joke that they will be up to similar tricks in 15 years…

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Friday night, girls’ night. Nachos for three. Next time I’m not being polite, I’ll eat pudding on my own if I have to ;)

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Although he is fast asleep (at long last) he isn’t letting go of Pig!

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It sends a shiver down my spine each time we go to this babygroup – it’s held in the exam hall for my ACA exams!! Doesn’t bother C though!

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Trying to let C explore boundaries without shouting “careful! watch out!” the whole time. Hard, at times like these…

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Shake and C watching me complete my tax return. Exciting times this week!

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Ginger love heart.

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I decided to take part in Food Blogger Cooke Swap this year – recipe up next week! – here’s a glimpse into what I made for 3 other bloggers…

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…and here they are packaged and ready to go!

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Shake decided to bake this week and I honestly can’t stop thinking about (and eating) this cake. Another Ottolenghi winner! He used rum though, because I love it :)

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Wishing you a happy and healthy week!

Bake

xoxo

Our everyday life: week 47

This past week we have continued to be sick, everything has felt like a blur, so this photo sums us up pretty well :)

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I can’t tell you how excited C was to see the lights going up on the High Street. Christmas is coming…

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Speaking of excited, I found this In The Night Garden craft book (brand new!) in Oxfam for 99p! Hours of entertainment :)

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Saw Jack’s post about homemade pop tarts and knew exactly what to do with my leftover scraps of pastry…

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C and I went with our friends to the beach during the week. Crazy, perhaps? Logan had the most fun I think :)

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It was a little cold…

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…but quiet, at least…

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…we couldn’t believe people we actually going in the water…

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When it started hailing we quickly found somewhere to eat lunch! The boys dismantled the display – and practiced using the word “heavy” a lot ;)

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On Sunday we spent about 10 minutes pretending to be cultural at the British Museum. C hadn’t napped so we didn’t want to push it…

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There was a teeny, tiny, exhibit on the Wise Men of Persia. Like our very own C :)

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C couldn’t make up his mind on which fruit to eat after dinner, so he simply had a bit of everything…yes, lemon included.

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Wishing you a happy and healthy week (we need it!)

Bake

xoxo

Our everyday life: week 46

Very few photos this week as we have basically been sick with nasty colds and haven’t been that busy! We did look to buy a house, but it had sold (within 4 days!) before we could make an offer. Sad!

First gingerbread man? Not sure which limb to munch first ;)

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C has a notebook which we draw in together. On each page there is at least one lorry, obsessed!

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New smile! I think it’s adorable :)

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Our one trip out this week was one we couldn’t cancel! A work charity quiz night, which was actually quite good fun. To top it off, we came 3rd out of 25 teams – my big boss was there too, phew! They served a ploughmans meal halfway through whilst we tried to identify random celebrities.

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Nanny knitted C a new cardigan – it fits!

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Pink Panther paid C a flying visit (thanks to Daddy ;) )

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Hope you have a happy and healthy week – we need one too!!

Bake

xoxo

Our everyday life: week 45

It’s amazing what young C finds on his travels around the house…

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…he absolutely did Mess with Texas though, sorry Chucky!

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Fighting some bugs = smoothie for dinner.

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I love that he built this tower without us realising – really growing up tooooooo fast.

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Work dinner and drinks on Friday – expensive, but fun! My friend tagged along too ;)

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…2 for £8 before 9pm…sensible accountants stocked up just in time ;) Yummy.

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Made a random crumble with leftover roasted butternut – not bad, not bad!

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Best way to spend the (early) mornings :)

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“Girl” likes to spend her time reading books about baking, apparently.

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A good spot to be when it’s raining miserably!

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We really miss having chickens. They would have happily gobbled this all up for us. I wouldn’t have told them that these veggies went in chicken pie, though.

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Lessons in piano part 1. Volume detected.

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Wishing you a happy and healthy week!

Bake

xoxo

Our everyday life: week 44

Learning all about Connect 4 with his Uncle and Aunt.

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Bake n Shake date night! This marked C’s first night away from us, waaah! We went out for a quick dinner and then saw The Duck House (before it’s West End debut). Really funny play, go see it if you can!

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Making play-dough animals – horse, right?

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Halloween week – so many children celebrating down our road. It was pretty special! Oh, and spot the figs?

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“UH OH”.

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I HATE this slide. C LOVES to watch the big kids on it. It’s only a matter of time…p.s. beautiful day.

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Feeding time at the pond :)

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So sweet to spend time with my little man watching the ducks. Lucky mama.

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Wishing you a happy and healthy week.

Bake

xoxo

Our everyday life: week 43

It was a lovely morning for a trip to the park, until it started raining (understatement!).

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Instead, we went to a lovely café, drank coffee, ate blueberry cake, read “Where the wild things are” and barked at dogs (C, not me ;))

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These poor ducks needed rescuing from the sandpit.

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Lovely colour on a gloomy day(s).

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Oops, look what I found. Sorry C&C, we did mean to take better care of these tomatoes…

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More rainy park-time.

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After a few days of C basically eating nothing, I was over the moon when he demolished lasagne!

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Circle bongo session!

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Fig cake in the making.

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With Shake away for the weekend, I spent my evenings in my PJs, eating toasted brioche with speculoos, knitting and watching trash (Grey’s Anatomy, I love it!).

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Wishing you all a happy and healthy week!

Bake

xoxo

Our everyday life: week 42

So Shake baked this week! Joy’s sweet potato chocolate chip cookies. No one could guess there was a vegetable in there! Insanely good.

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C is getting artsy at nursery!

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Although he would rather suck the straw…

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Sugar free (ish - you can see the dark chocolate chips!) banana granola bars. Yummy!

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Shake is studying to finish (after, uh, seven years?) his OU degree so is waking at 5am EVERY DAY to study before C and I get up. As his reward, he bought a coffee machine and makes me a latte when I eventually get up (at 6am, I’m not that lazy!).

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Morning coffee with a serenade from C.

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At least someone appreciates rain. PUDDLES (and cute new coat – thank you non-god parents)

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One of my very oldest friends sent me a dvd completely out of the blue from when we were 8. 1992. I feel OLD!

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Shake and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary this week! I couldn’t be luckier. X

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We shared a couple of treats :)

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C found a tape measure (don’t ask!) and I found him measuring things around the house. Adorable.

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Knitting for my dear friend’s baby girl – she is outgrowing the booties I made last year!

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Something for my cousin – a little Dutch treat for when she visits us :)

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Wishing you a happy and healthy week!

Bake
xoxo

Our everyday life: week 40 & week 41

We haven’t completely disappeared from the face of the earth, honest!!

Anyway, here we go:

Autumn has definitely arrived, but we are still enjoying some outdoor snack time

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Dinner out with my boys, Daddy Pig and lots of colouring pencils. Giraffe is so family friendly!20131005_180842
Another cousin has moved to London! Another reason to visit some new places, parks included. Fulham did well :)
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Last week we visited my parents in France. Whilst C didn’t have as many toys there as he would at home, he seemed perfectly amused playing with walnuts ;) Crazy child!
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An awesome vintage cookbook my mum found in her village. I especially loved seeing old photographs, postcards etc. tucked inside (just as we do with our own cookbooks).
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A return trip to this café – much grumpier child this time, but still lovely to check it out again. We also bought a delicious apple tart for dinner.
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Reading some of our favourite childhood stories to our own child – surreal.
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LORRY! LORRY! LORRY!
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My mum is a truly fab cook and I was pretty jealous of the guests of hers who enjoyed her plum tart!
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C amazingly charmed all the gentlemen of the village. I only wish I had a photo of them pretending to be ballerinas ;)
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I baked traditional scones and a Victoria sponge for a typical English tea party for friends of my parents. Together with cucumber sandwiches, homemade jam and lots of tea, the French seemed pretty impressed :)
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Such lovely weather for October!
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We love Plane trees. Don’t you think they are pretty?
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One of the closest playgrounds to us in France. C had a blast!!
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Last meal in France before flying home. Terrible, aren’t we?
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Someone didn’t want us to leave…
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Toulouse airport – teeny tiny coloured lights between these wooden slats. Funky.
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Wishing you a happy and healthy week!

Bake
xoxo