Thursday, 30 May 2013

A Thrifty Way to Cheer Up Someone's Day

Coca Cola is currently being sold in cute 'enjoy a Coke with' bottles.

Why not cheer up someone's day with their name on a bottle?

Monday, 27 May 2013

Bank Holiday Bake Along: Chocolate Layer Cake

I'm making the most of this Bank Holiday Monday and using this rare opportunity to sneak into someone else's kitchen and make a cake. In the interest of making the most of the sunshine, I haven't been experimenting with a recipe, but instead baking along to this BBC Good Food recipe. I made a (slightly) less indulgent one with two layers and half of the quantity of icing, but the full quantities are below:

For the cake:
175g self-raising flour
3 tbsp 70% cocoa powder (my borrowed kitchen didn't have any cocoa powder, so the cake was a little lighter in colour and less rich, but still delicious)
1 tsp espresso powder
175g softened butter
175g golden caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1-2 tbsp milk 100g, 70% coca dark chocolate, melted

For the icing:
500g dark chocolate
500ml double cream

1. To make the icing break the chocolate into a bowl and heat the cream in a non-stick saucepan until simmering. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool whilst you prepare the cake.

2. Preheat the oven to 180℃/160℃ fan/Gas Mark 4. Then melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water and set aside to cool.

3. Measure out the dry ingredients, then add the egg and melted butter. Blitz with an electric whisk.

4. Add the metled chocolate to the mix and fold in.

5. Divide the mixture evenly between 2 greased cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before icing and giving to a glamorous assistant to model.

6. Enjoy!

Hope your Bank Holiday Monday is sunny and involves a tasty cake!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Happy Thrifty Camping

I am currently enjoying a few days away on a (rainy) thrifty camping trip in Germany:

This trip has reminded me of all the things the thrifty packer brings on a camping trip:

Snacks galore (my faves are: dried fruit, juice cartons, malt loaf, crisps, French stick and anything else that keeps well at different temperatures)- saves buying expensive service station snacks en route
Cereal- it's usually really expensive on the continent and there's not as much choice
Kitchen roll, wet wipes and tea towels for any spillages
Cooking equipment (stove and gas, saucepans, wooden spoon, tin opener, plates, bowls and cutlery) and a couple of sachets/tins of pasta/rice)- cooking a couple of nights rather than going out quickly adds up
Washing up bowl, liquid and sponge
Water carrier and a big bottle of water
Bin bags- just in case it pours and you need to waterproof things
Washing powder/liquid for washing emergencies
Wind up torch- no need to buy batteries or worry about them going flat
Hammer to get those tent pegs in firmly
Wellies- much easier to slip on and off and waterproof
Foldaway camping chairs
Mosquito spray, sun cream and a first aid kit
Citronella candle
Something to construct a washing line with or a small airer
Camping mats, sleeping bags and pillows
Disposable dehumidifier to keep the tent condensation-free

And the things that the savvy camper invests in for regular camping:

Air bed with electric pump
Cool bag and freezer blocks
Travel pillow for the occasional nap in the car
Portable hob cooker
Fold out picnic bench
Fast drying microfibre towel
Storm pegs for the tent, for when regular ones won't cut it!

Happy camping!