Book giveaway: The Eco-Friendly Home, worth £14.99

Win The EcoFriendly Home!

Win The Eco-Friendly Home, worth £14.99!
I have a copy of this insightful book to give away to a lucky reader (you might want it for yourself or to give as a present). All you need to do is leave a comment using your blog name or online profile on my 1930s house blog (click here) Competition closes on 30 October 2011 and is open to UK mainland only. Only one entry per household please.

PS. If you are into DIY and female, there's a Haynes manual for us ladies... Tips on those niggling jobs and a few 'man' jokes thrown in! Click here for more info.


Frugal fruit cake - are we in retro recession?

Banana cupcakes

Some I made earlier this year: celebration cupcakes
I got an unusual press release this week, in honour of cupcake week. The press release contained yummy cupcake recipes using Philadelphia cheese (scroll to bottom of blog for my fave cupcake recipe), a frugal fruit cake recipe and an intriguing article on 2011 Trends, commissioned by Kenco Millicano. These trends are very much in the spirit of this blog and include:
  • Retro recession: a wobbly economy is pushing women to go for "new and meaningful experiences" with a zero price tag.
  • Personal vintage: family heirlooms, clothes kept in case they come back in fashion, raiding your parents' wardrobe... I'd add scouring charity shops for the antiques of tomorrow!
  • Smarter shopping: coupons, deals, special offers, you name it.
  • Made by hand, made with love. Crafts are getting more and more popular: sewing, knitting, embroidery... Sewing skills are very useful to acquire because you can then mend and make do (I once added a back panel to a shirt so it would fit me - my mum bought the wrong size but since it was a designer piece and non returnable). If you want to see some of my makes, visit the archive and you will find several projects, many using recycled materials.
Last but not least, here is the Frugal fruit cake and Chocolate orange cups recipes, the former was passed on to taste-setter Barbara by her mum.

This dark and sticky cake is a family favourite and gets even better if kept for a few days.

150 ml (¼pt water)
100g (4oz) sultanas
125g (5oz) caster sugar
113g (¼lb) butter
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g (6oz) plain flour
1 egg
1tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. First grease and line a 1lb loaf tin, then grease the paper.
  3. Take a large, thick-based saucepan and put in the water, sugar, sultanas, butter and bicarbonate of soda. Place pan on a medium heat, stir ingredients together and bring to the boil, then boil for 10 minutes exactly, but don’t go away – if the temperature isn’t controlled it may boil over.
  4. When the 10 minutes are up remove pan from the heat and allow mixture to cool. Then add the beaten egg, and the flour and baking powder, sifted together. Mix well then place in prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf for approx 1½  hours.


Chocolate Orange Cups

This is a rich indulgent dessert, so serve small portions in shot glasses.

275ml double cream
100g dark chocolate
Finely grated zest of half an orange
160g Philadelphia Light
30g icing sugar
1tbsp orange juice
1. Heat the cream in a saucepan until almost boiling. Remove from the heat.
2. Break the chocolate into pieces and stir into the cream until melted.
3. Pour the mixture into 8 small dessert glasses. Chill for about 2 hours or until set.
4. Meanwhile mix together the Philly, sugar, orange juice and zest until smooth. Spoon or pipe a layer of the Philly mixture over each chocolate dessert. Just before serving top with the grated chocolate.