Monday, 16 December 2013

christmas craft (pinecone garland, coat hanger tree, wrapping paper)

As if the last time I posted was the end of November! What have I been doing all this time? COUNTING DOWN TO CHRISTMAS!

For this post I just thought I'd kinda suggest some christmas crafts since I haven't done any craft in ages because it's quite hard to write out the methods but these are kinda just ideas. I got lots more ideas on my Pinterest, I've kinda gone crazy with the festive pinning lately! And gift wrap too...... Anyhoo here's how to make a pinecone garland!

These pinecones reminded me of Icicles, plus they're covered in Glitter! And who doesn't love glitter!? Apart from the people who clean it up of course, so first of all you're gonna gave to find your pinecones!.......... I made this la'al video to show us finding them but it then escalated to me washing, drying, painting and hanging them! Enjoy :) 

 Once you've found and washed your pine cones leave them to dry, I was kinda impatient so I put them on newspaper on the back of our aga to dry quickly. I think if you might want to put them on a very low temperature in the oven because leaving them to dry naturally might mean they stay a little damp.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

honey, ginger and tea cake with poppyseed icing

I just kinda made this recipe up on the spot last night, it was absolutely delicious though so I thought I'd share it! Plus I want to cram in as many Christmas recipes as I can before it's over! I was pretty surprised that the photos came out at all because I was taking them at 4:30 and the sun had gone down and dark was setting in very quickly, twas very annoying indeed, anyhoo it is delicious.

So I was kinda thinking about gingerbread men to back but I couldn't be bothered with the fun yet pro-longed hastle of icing them all. I then thought about making tea bread and then though of mixing the two up and adding in some honey which hakes it sweeter but still not too sweet, it's also surprisingly light and the poppy seed icing has a really nice texture and just takes great with the ginger.

while making the cake I was thinking about putting in some dried fruit to make it more like tea bread, raisins, currents and dried cranberries would be SO delicious in it. But we had none. 
Secondly afterwards I thought it might be nice to substitute some of the honey for 2 tablespoons of molasses or black treacle to make it more like gingerbready and heavier.

honey, ginger and tea cake with poppyseed icing(makes one 2lb loaf

  • 225g unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar
  • 50g clear honey
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon on mixed spice
  • 150 ml strong tea
  • (see adaptations for extra ingredients) 
  • 125 grams of butter (room temp)
  • 225 grams of icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 50 grams of poppyseed
  1. preheat the oven to 160 oC/ 140 fan/ gas mark 3, grease and line a 2 lb loaf tin
  2. beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy before beating in the honey and eggs, add a few tablespoons of flour to stop it curdling
  3. fold in the flour, ginger and mixed spice, followed by the tea and pour into the tin
  4. put in the oven for 1 hour - 1hour 15 minutes depending on your oven
  5. leaf to cool while making the icing
  6. beat the butter and sugar together, add in the vanilla essence, beat again and finally the poppy seeds
  7. once the cake is cool spread on the icing
  8. grab a slice and store in an airtight container for 3-4 days

Monday, 25 November 2013

citrus, cinnamon and chocolate popcorn (crimbo approaching!)

I've had this post ready for about 2 months but never posted it cos I've needed the time! Plus there were a lot of photos to pick from and edit......

Today we got told the school has an OFSTED inspection (a test to see if our school is okay and is getting good results and stuff), you only get 24 hours warning so the school is in panic mode! Because of all this my french speaking exam has been cancelled which I was gonna spend the whole evening revising for........ so blogging is now the priority!


I got this cute Victorian sweet jar glass from a pound shop the other day.... I thought it was adorable

I think this popcorn was delicious because it made me feel all festive (even in September when I made it) and the orange reminds me of the Christingle where everyone has a orange with a red ribbon and a candle to represent the world, blood and Jesus. PLUS IT HAS CHOCOLATE IN IT. I also added in some cayenne pepper so it tasted kinda warming by spice and is the perfect pick-me-up snack as it lasts for at least 3 days in an air tight container and is tasty but light! (just what you need in the Christmas run up)

After I made the popcorn I decided to melt some dark chocolate before pouring it into a cake tin and sprinkling on chocolate and EDIBLE STARS!! The best decoration ever. I thought it would make a real homemade present for someone if you wrapped it up in cellophane.

citrus, cinnamon and chocolate popcorn(serves 6)


  • oil
  • 50 grams of popping corn
  • 5 tablespoons of finely grated dark chocolate 
  • 2 teaspoons of orange zest
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 100 grams of dark chocolate (optional)
  1.  pour some oil into a wide but shallow pan, you want enough to cover the bottom so no popcorn sticks, let it heat
  2. once hot add the popping corn and put the lid on straight way! Leave on for 5 - 10 minutes shaking every so often before you only hear a pop once every 10 seconds, be careful when checking on the pop corn as it will be very hot and could fly out and hit your face
  3. take off the heat and add in all the other ingredients except the optional dark chocolate
  4. shake the pan very quickly so all the ingredients get distributed and melt over all the freshly popped corn making Christmas in a pan
  5. either eat straight away with your friends or turn into a edible present for someone
  6. bring a pan of water to a boil before simmering, in a heatproof bowl break the chocolate into pieces and set over the simmering water
  7. stir occasionally and once melted take from the heat
  8. line a square cake tin with grease proof paper (mine was about 8inch x 8inch) pour in the melted chocolate and scatter with popcorn
  9. leave to cool 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

apple, honey and custard pie! (and a new arrival)

*blows cobwebs off keyboard*
 Hulloooo! Firstly I like you guys to meet the newest member to our home, this is Ruby the Sprollie! 

She's a springer spaniel crossed with a border collie and I haven't posted anything since we got her because she is a hyper active mess machine (as you can probably imagine, two hyperactive breeds crossed together, what were we thinking!?). So I finally got round to taken some pictures while she had quietened  done in the evening, hence all the dramatical lighting, IT WAS PITCH BLACK! So this is no ordinary pie, this is a dramatical super duper apple pie!

Our rough collie Jacob seems to be getting used to her now, though he just tends to stay out of the way, and our cocker Bex seems to have found herself a play mate!
excuse me while I spam my own blog post with pictures of dogs.....

Back to pie now!

So with this dramatic apple pie....... the day I made this pie I had been fully apple out! We have around 5 apple trees in our garden all with different kinds of apples (we don't know what sort because the labels came off!) so we took them all to be pressed and made into juice and cider, So we know have 3 gallons of cider fermenting in our house and litres and upon litres of juice and tonnes and tonnes of apples still on the trees!

 So if you guys have any great apple recipes you wouldn't mind sharing I'd love to hear! (:

I don't know about anybody else but to me apple pie is just the mother of all pies, and we always have it with custard, but this recipe from 'The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook by Sarah Mayor' (it's an amazing cookbook) combine the two together to create thin layers of heaven upon heaven, thin slices of apple with custard in between the cracks, it is gorgeous! 

That is some dramatic apple peeling! It reminds me of my favourite pie quote, which just so happens to be about apple pie! , you've gotta love chicken run!

apple, honey and custard pie (serves 10)



  • 350 grams of plain flour
  • 50 grams of self-raising flour
  • 50 grams of cornflour
  • 275 grams of chilled butter, cubed
  • 100 grams of caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks mixed with 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and 2 table spoons of cold water
  • 1.25 kilo grams of cooking apples
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100 grams of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of self-raising flour
  • 250 millilitres of double cream
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • beaten egg
  • demerera sugar
  1. grease a loose bottomed flan tin (we used 21 cm one)
  2. mix the pastry flour together, put into a food processor and add the butter, blitz until it looks like bread crumbs. Add in the caster sugar and egg yolk mix, blitz again until it forms a ball
  3. once the dough is formed knead the dough until everything is fully mixed, cut off a 1/3 and wrap before putting in the fridge (for the topping)
  4. place the bottom of the flan tin on the worktop, place the remaining dough onto the centre and begin rolling it out evenly in all directions until it is as thick as a pound coin, lift the pastry and tin bottom up and drop into the tin, leave an overhang and chill for 15 mins
  5. preheat the oven to 170 oC / 150oC fan / gas mark 3
  6. peel and slice the apples into thin slices so you get layers of apple with custard in between
  7. whisk together the yolks, honey and flour before adding the cream and vanilla, spread the apple into the chilled pie before covering with the custard 
  8. knead and role out the remaining 1/3 of dough and any scraps to form the pie top, roll into a circle the same thickness as the pie before brushing the top and pie edges with some beaten egg
  9. place the top on the pie, press on and cut off any over hangings, brush all over with egg, sprinkle with sugar and cut a cross in the middle or a small hole bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until the top is golden 
  10. leave to cool slightly before turning out and enjoying, with extra custard of course! 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The. Best. Cake. Ever. White chocolate and maple syrup cake

So I finally give to you the best recipe for cake I have ever tried after ranting about it since my birthday post in May!! I also had a guest post on Mess Makes food here for grapefruit meringue pies which were so much fun to photograph because of their bright pink colour and they tasted beautiful (almost as good as this cake!).

meringue pie sampler from 'Mess makes food'
 Soooooo..... back to this beautiful cake! ..........

I honestly don't know where the recipe for this cake came from, it's been printed on a sheet of paper and in the family cooking file for I don't know how long. It is one of the rare recipes though which is made for an aga! 

But that doesn't mean that it can only be made in an aga! An aga is just a huge piece of piece of cast iron and is just a big oven which is on constantly, it's great for cooking stuff for a long time (like pulled pork!) and keeping the house warm in winter.

This cake just combines two magical things, the white chocolate in the cake makes it really creamy and just makes it taste so good, combined with the maple syrup which adds some sweetness but also it's classic taste. It's finished off with a maple syrup and mascarpone frosting which is the best frosting I've ever come across, so good I even used it in my spiced parsnip and hazelnut cake.

I will take this moment to thank Lucy Young for creating this beautiful recipe

So many strawberries! If you don't have strawberries don't worry, they're not part of the original recipe but they do go so well with the creamy flavour of the white chocolate.

I have one final question, is maple syrup ridiculously expensive in other places or is my family being ripped off!? This maple syrup (although it is delicious with a lovely bottle and label) was over £6! That seems a little bit too expensive for me, though this cake is a treat!

White Chocolate and Maple Syrup Cake (aka the best cake ever)

from Lucy Young


  • 100 g quality white chocolate
  • 175 g butter, softened
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 300 g  self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 175 g maple syrup
  • 150 ml milk
  • 250 g of mascarpone 
  • 3 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of icing sugar
  • deco, strawberries (optional)
  1. preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and grease and line a 20cm cake tin
  2. break the chocolate into a heat proof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water until melted, DON'T boil the water as white chocolate has a lower melting point than other chocolate so seizes very easily, it's better to do it very slowly
  3. beat the butter and sugar in a separate bowl till pale and fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time
  4. beat in the flour, baking powder and syrup until combined before finally gradually adding the milk and stiring until combined
  5. pour into the tin and bake for 30-35 mins until golden and a knife comes out clean
  6. while cooling put all the frosting ingredients into a bowl and beat until combined, frost the cake once cooled and decorate with strawberries (optional)
  7. feast! 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Healthy Zucchini, Feta, Hummus and Tomato Pizza

So the main reason I blog, bake and photograph is too escape school and do something I actually like to do, also to escape homework and pathogenesis's theorem......                                                                                                                        

But in the holidays I didn't have to do much escaping from that so all was good. I have a few photos and posts lined up which I'll have get round to editing and writing at some point, so don't be confuzzled if I'm still posting summery recipes into autumn! 

This pizza reminds me of Italy: 1. because it's pizza and 2. Because it's green, white and red! Anyhoo I have a story to tell........  Meet Paul my baby courgette, he was massive! 

Friday, 9 August 2013

zucchini and gruyere quesadillas with watercress guacamole (I grew something else!)

Okay so in this post I talked about how everything I try to grow fails and is eaten by slugs or I just never see a single leaf pop up...... well I grew something else...... ZUCCHINIS! (or courgettes since I'm British).

I have grown 3 so far and used one of them in this recipe, however I have had one growing for almost 3 weeks and it is marrow size. It is the biggest courgette I have ever seen and weighs about as much as a baby elephant (okay maybe a bit of exaggeration but it is HUGE!). It is so Incredibly big that I just can't think of something big enough to use the whole thing in so I'm gonna have to plan 'courgette day' in the near future before it grows any bigger!
I thought of zucchini cake, baked zucchini in tomato sauce, ratatouille and zucchini ribbons, humous and feta pizza might just about use up the whole courgette. I can't wait for this day to arrive. 

There are SO many foods I want to make and put on my blog but I just can nae seem to find the time to do it, stuff like cherry pie or clafoutis, apricot and strawberry crumble or danish pastries. And on one post (I couldn't find it), I promised when strawberries came into season where I live I would bake and tell you the BEST ever cake I have ever been so lucky to try. Please stick around for that because your life will change for the better.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Summer Rocky Road (white chocolate, apricot, sour cherry, salted pistachio and marigold)

Week 2 of no oven in the Dickson house....things are taking their toll....NO BAKING!

I was prepared this morning to bake a cake, I found a recipe to adapt, was just about to line a tin and preheat the oven when, wait, what oven? 
You might have seen my post on instagram about the new oven arrival and how there shall now be no more BBQs and cakes galore! And it doesn't fit.
.....But it's terrible, I can not survive another day without cake! Fine, soon it'll be fixed, hopefully in time for my Mum's Birthday next month (7th) ! 

So how's this summery? Well rocky road reminds me of Christmas and edible homemade biscuits, cookies and fudge wrapped in tissue paper in little boxes eaten within a day, sat around an open fire with family and the smell of a spiced cinnamon in the air..... I CAN'T WAIT FOR CHRISTMAS (149 days to go!)
So for this I replaced dark chocolate with white and added dried apricots and sour cherry, more summery fruits and oaty biscuits for a different texture to digestives. I did want to add amaretti biscuits and Turkish delight but I only got back from Scotland yesterday so the cupboards are bare. My Mum thought that adding turkish delight might make it too sweet as white chocolate is very sweet so I didn't add it and added a few salted pistachio nuts for the salty sweet combo instead. 
secondly I also thought that some marigold petals (which are edible don't worry!) because they don't really add a taste but look very pretty, if you're going to add them though make sure you eat the rocky road within two days or they'll wilt.

And thirdly a word of warning.....melting white chocolate is the bane of my life!, it always seems to go gritty when I use a bain marie, this is because white chocolate has a lower melting point than other chocolates so it seizes sooner. Another thing about white chocolate (I know it sounds awkward to cook with but lets be honest it tastes beautiful) is that it can hold it's shape really well so take it from the bain marie just before it looks completely melted and the outside of the chocolate is just a little soft. If the chocolate does go gritty in the end it probably won't affect the taste too much, just the texture so it'll still taste like delicious!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Peach and Green Tea Ice Cream (no churning needed!)

So I'm back from the 30 degree, sunny and insanely hot place of Paris back to the cold, wet and raining surprisingly sunny and hot land of Cumbria. Cumbria and hot and binary opposites :D

So because it's so hot I desided to make some ice cream. Also because the aga is now turned off it's so hot and the electric oven decided to break at the same time, we only have two gas rings and a BBQ to cook food with!

So while I was in Paris, it was so hot that you constantly needed to be drinking so it was a challenge to find the cheapest coldest drink you could. I managed to find a can of Lipton's iced peach tea, and it was beautifully refreshing and just what I needed! This ice cream tastes just like it and is a no-machine ice cream!