Castlefield Market

Last weekend when the rain was pouring down and my stomach was rumbling, I headed into Manchester in search of something to eat. I’ve wanted to visit Castlefield Market for ages but it’s only held on the first weekend of the month and for one reason or another I’ve never been able to make it before. And I have been missing out!

The indoor market is full of handmade crafts and homemade produce. With plenty of street food stalls providing sustenance along the way. I loved the relaxed vibe – a DJ was playing music in the corner and everyone ate along big communal dining tables while making new friends. 

It was a hard decision, choosing where to buy lunch from, but in the end I went for a jerk chicken sandwich with the most amazing mango salsa from The Blackbird Pantry. Followed by what has to be the best brownie I’ve ever eaten. The stall holders were all enthusiastic and happy to chat about their products. There were lots of ‘tasters’ on offer too – an added bonus!

Outfit: Blazer – Zara | Top – Warehouse | Jeggings – M&S (exact ones here) Shoes – Primark | Clutch – Dorothy Perkins
(Note to self – take a bigger bag next time!)

Jewellery – Handmade by Emma
Cards, etc – Mint to Be
Bread – Hunters Artisan Bread
Cakes – Glamarang

(For a full list of stalls appearing each month see the Castlefield Market Website)

Vienna: Stephansdom and Sacher Torte

There are many, many delicious cakes on offer in Vienna. However, I was most looking forward to trying Sacher Torte – which was invented in the city.

Sacher Torte is a chocolate cake made to a secret recipe and sandwiched using apricot jam. As a girl who has eaten a LOT of chocolate cake over the years, I’d say this is definitely worth the hype.

After exploring Stephansdom (and a nearby bavarian market) we headed to The Hotel Sacher to try out Austria’s most famous cake in the place where it was first conceived.

Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

As I’ve mentioned before, we have a penchant in our family for handmade gifts (as demonstrated here). So with Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday in the UK I’ve been mulling over what to make. I thought this recipe I came up with for Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread would be perfect, after all my mum is forever telling me I need to eat more fruit and veg… Unfortunately my mum has decided to give up chocolate for lent so it’s back to the drawing board for me but I hope you all get chance to try this delicious recipe for yourselves. If any one asks, it’s one of your 5 a day!

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Recipe:

200g (1 cup) Golden Caster Sugar
120g (1/2 cup) Soft Margarine for baking
250g (2 cups) Self Raising Flour
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
3 Bananas
200g (1 cup) Chocolate Chips

1) Preheat the oven to 180°C
2) Grease and line a loaf tin
3) First, cream together the sugar and margarine (can be done with an electric beater). If you don’t have margarine you can use softened unsalted butter, but I’ve found it makes the mixture heavier.
4) Beat the eggs and add them to the mixture, then fold in the flour, baking powder and salt. (Plain flour can be used but you will need to add an extra tsp of baking powder to help it rise as this is quite a heavy mixture.)
5) Mash the bananas then add them to the mixture.
6) Finally, stir in the chocolate chips (I tend to use a mixture of Milk and Dark)
7) Fill the tin by 3/4 and bake for 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

This mixture is also great for cupcakes/muffins – just reduce the baking time to 20 minutes.

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Carrying It Forward

(Jumper Dress: F&F | Leggings: Topshop Tall | Boots: Debenhams | Mittens: Next)

This time last year I wrote about my ‘14 for 2014‘. I’ve never been one for resolutions, but I’d suddenly found myself with a lot of spare time on my hands and it seemed like a good way to organise my spare time into something more productive and enjoyable. So far so good-intentioned…

I started as I meant to go on with Number 1: Blog more – and managed to do this for the first few weeks. Then in March something rather wonderful and unexpected happened… I got a promotion at work. And all of a sudden my spare time started to shrink. So number 1 had to be re-assessed whilst I adjusted to my workload.

A few of the other numbers were also neglected whilst I was enjoying my new role, so this year I’ve decided not to make new resolutions, I’m just going to carry some forward:

1) Blog more
2) Keep a Journal
4) Get back in the saddle and go Horse Riding
5) Dust off the Violin and start playing it again
6) Swim
12) Learn to play Poker (it really can’t be that hard)

2014 was still pretty darn great though. Here are some of the things I did achieve!

Number 3: Read more books. I’m going to post about this soon because it’s something I’ve done with a great deal of enthusiasm.

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Number 7: Bake more. I particularly enjoyed June’s Coconut and Lime Cake:

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Number 8 (Pay it forward. Do more random acts of kindness) was easy to achieve. I started taking my baked goods into work, I fundraised for my favourite causes, and every time I saw a charity box I put any spare change I had into it. I also succeeded with Number 9 & Number 10.

Number 13: See more things at the theatre. I’m so glad I set myself this goal – it’s so lovely to get dressed up and go to the theatre for an evening. Here are some of the shows I’ve enjoyed this year:

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Number 14: Try one new thing, especially if it’s outside your comfort zone (I’m particularly proud of this one) This year I abseiled for the first time – 66 metres! Stepping off the edge was enormously daunting, but ultimately such a rush. As a bonus I also raised a lot of money for my local Mountain Rescue Team.

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Coconut and Lime Cake

It’s Father’s Day today in the UK and it’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I think my Dad is pretty damn amazing.

In our family we do things a little differently when it comes to commercial holidays. Whenever they roll around the rule is that all cards and gifts have to be hand-made (because it’s the thought that counts!)

It’s fair to say that, over the years, the ‘no shop bought gifts’ rule is something which has backfired on my parents once or twice… There was the time my sister made my mum a pair of “binoculars” by cellotaping two cardboard loo-roll tubes together, the year I got made redundant and each parent just got a hug, and let’s not forget the Mother’s Day when I broke my arm (long story) and we ended up in A&E for the rest of the day. But now that I’m older and wiser I’ve learned to stick to what I’m good at. So this morning I have been baking up some goodies for my Dad – who loves nothing more than homemade cakes (usually of the fruit variety).

This recipe which I found on Delia Smith’s website takes a bit of extra prep but the results are well worth it – it’s a perfect, light, cake for summer.  I altered it very slightly by sandwiching the cake halves with buttercream and just using the water-icing on top. I also had to leave out the dried coconut milk powder (whatever that might be!) but I don’t think it suffered for it.

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Click here for the recipe