Baking Bonanza ... and a little sup of soup

Peanut butter brownies
Party Pieces

While sorting out recipes cut from magazines recently, I came across one for marbled peanut butter brownies. Having been off chocolate in January, I decided that I would reward my abstemiousness with a chocolate treat. My self-imposed rule when I haven't given up chocolate in January is not to eat chocolate except on Fridays and Saturdays ... and perhaps a sneaky bit on Sundays. Back to the brownies recipe. When would I get to try it out?

The occasion arose. Two colleagues were moving on and in the time-honoured tradition of showing affection for people who are always on diets or lamenting their weight, a group of us marked their departure by going out for lunch and then having a tea party about an hour and a half later! I baked, of course. First I made good 
old-fashioned cup cakes using the batter and glace icing recipes from Mary Norwak's Breads, Cakes and Biscuits, which was published in 1978. Then I made the marbled peanut butter brownies (Good Housekeeping, April 2013). You can find the recipe here. Oh yes. There is nothing like the smell of baking chocolate.

But cup cakes can exert their own particular charm. I'm not a skilled cake decorator, but I know that the judicious use of fancy sprinkles can impress.
Cup cakes with lemon glace icing

Another baking effort was made for the spouse's birthday. I have a page from a Good Housekeeping magazine (April 1989) which has recipes for four different cakes: apricot almond, spiced pecan and apple, coconut and carrot, and chocolate brazil. I first made all of them for the older offspring's christening party. Tackling each recipe one at a time, I made the cakes and froze them in advance of the big day. The most popular at the time was the chocolate brazil cake. It used to be the spouse's favourite. Much to my surprise, he opted for the apricot almond cake on this occasion. 
The ingredients included butter or margarine, caster sugar, eggs, self-raising flour, dried apricots, ground almonds, grated rind of an orange and milk. 

Apricot almond cake
Stop! There's Soup
Just in case you're wondering, I have made a soup. Cannellini bean and leek with chilli oil from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg Everyday. The bliss of links. If you want to try it or just find out what's in it, click on that link! The only way I can of proving I made it is to upload my photograph of the prepared ingredients. It was a little fiddly and my chilli oil turned out green rather than red. Nevertheless, it went down well with the spouse and younger offspring. 

Prepping for cannellini and leek soup

Bee Buzz 

Here are some recent bee stories: 

Feel the buzz: the album recorded by 40,000 bees (The Guardian, 8th February 2016) 
Buff-tailed bumblebee voted Britain's favourite insect (The Guardian, 16th October 2015)

You can find the text of The Life of the Bee by Maurice Maeterlinck here. 

Look up Don't Swat at the Bee in The New Yorker (28th September 2015). 

That's it for now. 



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