Warning! Trillions of calories…

The clocks have gone back, nights are drawing in, you have to spend ten minutes in a morning de-frosting your car (that was a shock this week) and all thoughts of having salad for dinner have been replaced with pie and mash. And it’s that time of year when there are events in the calendar that mean we HAVE to eat sweets, chocolates and nice treats.

tin-of-treatsIt kicked off this week with Halloween – our first here in Suffolk and it didn’t disappoint. Even the weather was on our side, it kept dry and it was misty. Perfect setting for ‘trick or treat’. Amelie dressed up as a very glam witch and as we were off ‘trick or treating’ ourselves we left a little something for fellow ‘trickers’ outside with our three pumpkins. One of which is ‘Stuart’ the Minion (a traditional Halloween character!).

As we are the newbies in our lane we were kindly invited into neighbours houses when we knocked on doors and wished them “Trick or Treat” which is code for “Hand over the sweets”. I hoped nobody actually said “trick” as I’d have had to have improvised as we hadn’t come prepared for that! Thankfully everyone took one look at Amelie looking cute (and scary) and handed over fistfuls of sweet treats. See, as well as getting use of the parent and child parking spaces at the supermarket, your cute kid also wins you lots of sweets. Those are two reasons to have kids right there! And if like Amelie they suffer from Coeliac disease, you must check the sweets are gluten-free, because if they aren’t Mummy sacrifices her body (yet again) and scoffs them on her behalf.

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And then there is Bonfire night this weekend which is another excuse to eat comfort food, sweet treats like toffee apples or scrummy honeycomb chocolate fudge which I made for the school firework cake sale this afternoon. I found the recipe on Pinterest (I flipping love Pinterest!) but adding a secret ingredient to make it more in-keeping with Bonfire night – Popping candy. I added it to the mixture and also sprinkled it on top. Being the kind-hearted person I am, I tried some last night to make sure it was OK for the school to sell this afternoon. It’s delicious, but the only downside is there are about a TRILLION calories per chunk! Better get back on the cross-trainer…

Bag of fudge.jpgI bagged up the chunks and tied them with a little gold ribbon and took them into school today, worried that maybe I hadn’t done enough and I should have made the bonfire cupcakes as well. Only to find a lone bag of BOUGHT donuts on the table in the school hall and then in the village shop a parent bought a couple of packs of biscuits to donate. (Us parents have to buy back the goodies this afternoon at the cake sale). So panic over, I think I’ve done enough. Give the recipe a try as it is scrummy. I’ve promised Mr G that I’ll make it again at Christmas. Ooh Christmas. I love Christmas and will introduce you to ‘Dave’ and the newcomer – ‘Bob’ very soon. Happy bonfire weekend.

 

 

“I’m singing in church and I need to take veg”

In our garden we have an apple tree (cooking apples, no idea what sort!) which, when we first moved here we thought was charming. I had thoughts of baking my own apple pie in my country kitchen, filing the house with the aroma of apples and cinnamon. And apple pie is the perfect excuse for custard (I LOVE custard). In this dream-like state I imagined baking it in the Rayburn oven but as of yet I haven’t been brave enough to use it. It just sits there in the heart of the kitchen making odd noises and basically saying “Come on, give me a go if you’re brave enough”. I’m not.

As it’s autumn, the apples have started to drop from the tree. All three of us were very excited by this and Amelie was in charge of collecting the apples (in a cute little basket). Amelie thought this was the best job ever. (Needless to say the novelty has since worn off for Amelie). apples.jpg

And now I have so many apples I don’t know what to do with them. I literally can’t give them away! My lovely neighbour up the road generously gave me some of her Bantam hen eggs, so I suggested we swop the eggs for some cooking apples from our tree. She politely declined. Arghhhhh!

An aside – I have never seen apples so big! Some could pass for mini pumpkins and if they fell on your head they would probably knock you out. And yet, we have made a rope swing for Amelie in the apple tree. Hmmm, don’t think I’ll be getting the ‘Mum of the year’ trophy this year. 

I have to own up and admit that I’ve never made either apple pie or apple crumble before (hangs head in shame) so although I was excited about using our very own apples, I was also a little daunted. We are in the country, we have our own cooking apples – I MUST make a good job of this! The pressure was on. Oh and to throw another thing into the mix; my daughter Amelie is Coeliac so it also had to be gluten free. Gluten free (GF) baking isn’t easy, but that is another story. I’d never even heard of ‘Xantham gum’ before Amelie was diagnosed. I will share the delights of GF baking another day.

I decided to make an apple crumble, as that is far easier than trying to make GF pastry. I took the recipe from Doves web site and took note of the comments from others attempting the recipe and replaced some of the flour with ground almonds and didn’t add all of the butter (and felt SO virtuous by doing so).

By some miracle the apple crumble was a success (Hooray!) and Mr G was suitably impressed, telling me I can “make it again anytime”. Lucky me! Amelie liked the topping but being a kid didn’t like the healthier part – the apples. Mind you, any slither of healthiness in this pud was totally obliterated with the gallons of custard we had with it. Oops.

rope-swingA couple of days later, Amelie announced to me as she came out of school today that she is going to be singing in church next week and “we have to take some veg”. Eh? Is this a village tradition that churchgoers sit there with a butternut squash on the pew beside them? Is this the sort of carry-on that happens in Suffolk villages? But then it clicked and I asked Amelie if she meant it was for Harvest Festival. Thankfully she said yes.

So come Harvest Festival day I generously packed Amelie off to school with a good couple of tonnes of our apples. I know, I know – I’m all heart.