Saturday, March 28, 2015

Double Spud Topped Cottage Pie

This week has been a flipping disaster.  Firstly, poor Sandie the fluffy dog ended up at the vets where we found out she has an ulcer on her cornea.  The poor little mush is not a happy dog at all with eyedrops being administered by Little Sis and Lulu forming a two man headlock team every few hours and painkillers hidden in pieces of chicken.  She's feeling very sorry for herself indeed.  Then the next day, I hurt my eye.  Nothing major, I thought.  Just whip out the contacts, stick on the (hated) specs for a day and all will be well. Eh, no.  A visit to the chemist turned into an immediate visit to the GP which transformed into a "get to Casualty in the Eye and Ear hospital.  Now".  After having my eyelid turned inside out twice - as gruesome as it sounds - and dye drops into my eye, I also have an ulcer on my cornea.  Nice.

So this means no driving for a week, lots of eyedrops every few hours, avoiding bright light, splitting headaches and rummaging through the freezer for dinner as quite frankly, I'm not in the humour to cook.  This is the time I'm grateful for batch cooking because I unearthed two portions of special cottage pie that I froze before Christmas.  In foil dishes too, so no washing up necessary.  In fact, had I been alone, I possibly would have eaten it straight from the container.  But decorum called for a plate, extra veggies and cutlery.  Can't let standards slip just because I'm like One Eyed Jack.  This makes 4-5 decent portions which you can eat straight away or freeze for up to 6 months.



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Protecting Your Financial Future

Something that has only dawned on me with wisdom is the importance of protecting our financial future.  When I started working, I was paid an absolute pittance but managed to have a pretty decent life with my meagre earnings.  Of course it was because I was spending every penny and not saving anything at all. As I got older and started thinking about buying a house, my financial behaviour had to change enormously to make this happen.  Loans had to be cleared, credit card balances paid off and a lovely healthy credit rating established.  It took time and a second job in the evening at one stage, but I eventually got there.  A bit like Monica Galetti from Masterchef who had some pretty tricky financial issues when she first moved to London.

Monica Galetti talks about becoming a chef

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cherry Amaretti Muffins

During the summer, I buy cherries when they're in season and cheap and spend a happy half hour pitting them before eating some and freezing the rest for baking later in the year.  One of the best investments I've ever made is a cherry pitter which makes short shrift of taking the stones out of the cherries without mangling the delicate fruit.  According to The Hubs, it sounds like a machine gun as I "phut phut" my way through a few punnets but it makes life so much easier and for a tenner, it's definitely worth the investment.

This is a great recipe when you've forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge but want to bake something lovely - buttermilk and oil work together to create a really moist muffin, while cherries straight from the freezer and a handful of amaretti biscuits from the cupboard bring flavour and crunch to a regular run of the mill bake.



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Marvellous Ideas for Mother's Day

What do you mean, you've forgotten?  Mother's Day is this Sunday, March 15th and I've a list of lovely things which would make perfect gifts for your Mum.  Actually, it's also Little Sis's birthday so Lulu was planning to consolidate the two events into Happy Mother's Birthday but I think I've persuaded her that she needs to make two cards instead of just the one!

Mother's Day at Marks and Spencer

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Comic Relief Cupcakes for Red Nose Day

Friday 13th doesn't all have to be doom and gloom, especially this year, when it's time to get your bake on for Red Nose Day.  I picked up a great cupcake kit in Sainsburys last week for £2.50, with half of the proceeds going directly to Comic Relief who fund thousands of projects helping millions of people worldwide. There's nothing more appropriate for a cupcake than a Red Velvet Sponge and I ramped it up by adding some Raspberry flavouring to my basic cake batter for a moist chocolate raspberry sponge with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream icing. Lucy has volunteered to eat all of the cupcakes herself and she might even donate some pocket money too.  She's a generous soul...

So, are you planning to bake cakes or make your face funny for money?  Tell me all about it!

Comic Relief Cupcakes for Red Nose Day


Friday, February 27, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash & Smoked Garlic Soup

Not all of my soup making attempts are disastrous, thank goodness, and this was one of the nicest ways I've spent a Sunday afternoon while The Hubs was working (apart from lying on the sofa watching Scandal and eating chocolate).  But if you time this right, you can easily accomplish both.  That's called multitasking, you know...  Back to the soup now.  Peeling butternut squash has got to be one of the most soul destroying and manicure shredding tasks known to man, so I have a clever little cheat's trick - a very sharp knife or a cleaver to split the squash in two. All you need to do then is scoop out the seeds, score the flesh and whack it into the oven.  If you're particularly lazy, line the roasting tin with foil so there's minimal washing up too.  You're welcome!



Monday, February 23, 2015

My Favourite Fizz


There are few sweeter sounds in my life than the pop of a cork heralding a celebration, be it an anniversary, a birthday or just because it’s Friday night. Those of you who read Babaduck or follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram know that I’m very fond of a glass of fizz. And for me, it doesn’t have to be a swanky vintage Champagne, some of which have turned out to be bitter disappointments (like the pink one that was a gift, cost a fortune and ended up being poured down the sink on New Year’s Eve).  Many countries make sparkling wine and one of my favourites is Spain, the land of unlimited Cava.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Celebrating Chinese New Year 恭禧發財

Kung Hei Fat Choy everybody!  When it comes to New Year celebrations, we pale into comparison with the Chinese, who have it down to a fine art.  2015 is the Year of the Goat/Sheep and Chinese New Year begins on Thursday 19th February. With 15 days of holiday festivities, that means cooking a lot of food to feed friends and family, so I thought I'd cook a Chinese banquet for us in Maison Babaduck to celebrate (no goat or sheep though...).


First up, it was time for some serious cleaning and decluttering to sweep away any ill-fortune lurking around the house before we decorated the table with lucky red envelopes.  The colour red symbolises luck and wealth so here's hoping for a prosperous 2015.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Technology : Making Life Easier in My Home

The lovely people at L&G asked me to take part in a campaign to talk about how technology makes life easier in my home and it really got me thinking.  We all take technology for granted now and sometimes we forget what a difference it makes to us all.  Take this weekend, for instance. We had not just one, but two guests, with Sandie the fluffy dog and Lucy the fluffy child both staying with us. 


Like most 9 year old girls, Lulu is obsessed with technology and knows her way around a mobile phone and a tablet, trying to persuade me download Roblox to ensure she never misses an opportunity to play.  Being a sneaky auntie, I hid my iPad away this weekend.  Her other favourite thing is Netflix, where she can watch iCarly to her heart's content.  Or until I sneakily log her out from the kitchen.  Yes, I am evil Auntie and we painted our nails instead!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Now I am Five

Half a decade.  Half as long as I've been married and half as long as three of the Childerbeasts have been on this earth.  That's how long I've been writing on Babaduck.  The soundtrack to this piece is running through my head and it's Never Forget by Take That.  Because I never forget where I've come from.  Babaduck began as something to keep me busy during the dark days of recession when the company I loved working for, folded like a pack of cards, and went into receivership.  I spent a very long and lonely 10 months out of work, desperately afraid that I wouldn't find another job and frantically worrying about how we would manage to pay the mortgage on just one, ever decreasing salary.  My confidence plummeted to an all time low because I couldn't get a first interview for the vast majority of the 200+ jobs that I applied for, never mind the luxury of a second one.  I buried my fear because I didn't want to worry The Hubs who was the only one earning.  I cried when we didn't qualify for any assistance apart from jobseekers benefit, despite hitting all the criteria on paper.  I lost a lot of my hair because of the stress, a fact that my amazing little sister hid from me, in case it never returned.  Thankfully it did, and she only told me about a year later when I was working again and was able to deal with it.