Growing your own fruit and veg is fantastic and I can't recommend it enough. It's a lot easier than you think it's ever going to be, and there's nothing (and I mean nothing) that can beat the taste of your own veg cooked straight from the garden.
However, on the downside is the fact that you might end up with too much of a good thing. In my case, it's rhubarb. Our rhubarb plant is the gift that keeps on giving. It just doesn't stop. I took about one third of it off yesterday and now the freezer is almost full of stewed rhubarb. Just the job for cold autumn and winter's days when a bit of fruit from a summer's garden is just what's needed.
One of my favourite recipes was given to me by my sister in law and it's for rhubarb crumble cupcakes. It's a great way of using some of the rhubarb from the garden. The cakes are moist, light and amazingly gorgeous, they really do melt in the mouth. The crumble bit of the cupcake is optional, I don't use it in the ones I make but I'll include it in the recipe so that you can choose whether to include it or not. I've also made these little cakes with roasted chopped apples (from the garden), fresh strawberries, fresh raspberries and fresh blueberries (from the garden). My favourite by far is the rhubarb because of the contrast between the tartness of the fruit and the sugar in the cake.
Here's the recipe with my step by step pictures, taken today. The house still smells gorgeous from baking the cakes.
Rhubarb crumble cupcakes. Makes 12.
The recipe calls for 9oz (275g) fresh rhubarb. I always use more because I love it so much. Today I used 15oz which was these 5 stalks.
Chop the rhubarb into small bits.
Lightly brush a foil-lined baking tray with oil, scatter with the rhubarb and add 1oz muscovado sugar. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 mins, gas mark 6 (200oC or 400oF).
Here's the rhubarb going into the oven.
And here it is 20 minutes later. Notice how much it shrinks.
In a bowl put all these ingredients in together:
5oz (150g) muscovado sugar; 5oz (150g) butter; 6oz (175g) self-raising flour; 1 teaspoon baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 3 eggs.
Here's everything in the bowl ready to get mixed.
Whisk with an electric hand whisk for 1 minute.
Here's what it looks like after 1 minute of whisking.
Line a cake tray with 12 cake liners. You now have the cooked rhubarb and the cake mix.
Put a teaspoon of cake mix in each case. No need to be precise.
Throw in some cooked rhubarb into each one. No need to be precise.
Layer it and add cake mix, rhubarb, cake mix until all of the mix and rhubarb has been used.
Optional: If you want to add the crumble bit on top, here's what to do:
Rub together 1oz butter and 1oz self-raising flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add 1oz muscovado sugar. Scatter mixture over the tops of all the cakes.
Optional: You could also add porridge oats to the crumble topping and/or flaked almonds.
Put into the oven at gas mark 4 (180oC / 350oF) for 20 minutes until golden brown.
20 minutes later here they are out of the oven and on a cooling rack. Enjoy them!
To a talk on Art Deco Sunderland by Michael Johnson as part of Local History Month. Much was made of the old Regal cinema (which became the Odeon) on Holmeside. It's now a bingo hall but the art deco interior, Michael told us, was one of the best preserved in the country.
Also this week to see The Producers on stage. It was the second time I've seen the show and it was as funny as ever. Shame about all the empty seats in the theatre. Sunderland Empire really need to look again at their pricing of tickets to entice folk in. I'm no fan of Jason Manford but have to admit he was very good in the lead role here, he can act and sing.
David Bedella played the role of Roger de Bris but I remember him as being the Best Frank-n-Furter that the Rocky Horror Show has ever had on stage.
To see, for the third time, Matthew Bourne's production of The Car Man. As sizzling hot as ever.
I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since
1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here This week on Corrie, Steve got a new bitch. ______ I'm on twitter @flaming_nora
Today I went on a walking tour of Sunderland's East End. It's where Sunderland first started, down by the docks, the muck and the water, the river and the ships. There are still a lot of old buildings down there and it's definitely worth a look around.
The walk was organised as part of Local History Month in Sunderland. It started at Holy Trinity Church, an amazing old church full of curiosities:
This plaque commemorates the birthplace of Sunderland hero Jack Crawford. It's from his heroic actions at the Battle of Camperdown that the term 'nail your colours to the mast' originates. Read all about it here.
Some wonderfully camp and kitsch artwork on the walls of the church.
This thrills me enormously. Not just the antiquity and symmetry of the switches in the church, but the fact that they all have their original labels on them.
Faces watch you at every turn in the church...
...making sure that you don't nick whatever's in the box.
The walk left the church and down to Trafalgar Square Almshouses, passing one of many blue plaques on the Old Sunderland Heritage Trail. This is the site of the old workhouse, an unforgiving place I'd imagine.
Trafalgar Square Almshouses, now a peaceful little gem tucked away.
Ooh! What's that sign say?
The walk then meandered behind the church where there was a good contrast between the old and the new styles of buildings.
I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since
1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here This week on Corrie, Sally and Tim have been an absolute joy.
______ I'm on twitter @flaming_nora