1916 Trench Cake – Recipe

As this coming Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1, I decided to make, what is known as, a “Trench Cake”, made from the original recipe from 1916.

Whilst men were fighting overseas, they longed for pieces of mail from home, and it soon became a tradition where the women back home would bake a cake that would not spoil quickly…  They would wrap it up securely, and the soldiers would often share the cake with the rest of their regiment.

Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

8oz plain flour

4oz butter

3oz dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, dried cherries, etc.)

1/2 tsp bicarb of soda

1 tsp vinegar (malt)

1/4 pint milk (full fat)

2 tsp mixed spice powders (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, etc.)

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180C (160C for fan assisted ovens).
  • Grease and line your cake tin (I used an 8 inch tin).
  • Rub the butter and the flour together with the tips of your fingers, until the mixture resembles crumble.

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  • Add the fruit, sugar and powdered spices, and continue mixing together with your fingertips.

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  • Measure out the milk in a jug, and add the vinegar.
  • Add the bicarb of soda to the milk and vinegar, then quickly add the liquid to the dry mix and beat well.

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  • Pour the cake mixture in to your greased and lined cake tin, and place in the centre of the oven for anywhere between 1 and 2 hours – A big difference, I know, but you can tell that your cake is ready by inserting a skewer in tot he middle of the cake, and if it comes out clean, it’s ready.  My cake was ready after just 1hr 5mins.

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  • Carefully turn the cake out on to a wire cooling rack, and allow the cake to cool fully before slicing and enjoying.

As you enjoy this cake, give a little thought to all of those who fought, and lost their lives in the Great War.  Lest We Forget.

 

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Cowboy Casserole – recipe

It’s been a little while since I last posted, so I decided to come back with another classic type of post…  A recipe.  This recipe is called a “Cowboy Casserole” by my two boys, but others may call it a simple sausage casserole.  It’s super simple to prepare, and makes for a filling and beautiful belly-warmer of a meal – especially now that it’s starting to get colder!

This whole recipe cost me £3.50 to make, and easily serves 4 or 5 people, meaning each serving is between 70p and 87p.  What a cracker!

Ingredients

16 sausages (I bought a double pack of Richmond’s)

1 tin of peeled, plum tomatoes (I used Asda’s own)

2 tins of beans (I used Asda’s own)

1tsp dried chilli flakes

1tsp paprika

Splash of oil (for frying)

Method

  • Add a splash of oil to a frying pan, and part-fry the sausages.  I managed to fit 8 sausages in my pan, so this took me two “goes”.  Once the sausages are almost cooked, and are a browny colour, transfer them on to some kitchen roll to remove any excess grease from the pan.
  • Chop each sausage in to a “mouthful” sized piece.  I cut each sausage in to four.

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  • Leave the cut sausages on your chopping board, and add two tins of baked beans in tomato sauce, the tin of peeled, plum tomatoes, the chilli flakes and paprika to your slow cooker.  Add the sausages, and stir the mixture with a large spoon until all the sausages have been coated.

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  • Set your slow cooker to “HIGH”, and set the timer for 5 hours.  Don’t forget to put the lid on the slow cooker.

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  • You can serve your Cowboy Casserole on its’ own, or (my recommendation) mashed potatoes.

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  • Enjoy!!

First Day of School – 2018

First Day

Donut’s first day of school, and Gning’s first day in “year 2”

Merseyside Bucket List

From the moment I was born, up until 2009, I lived in the borough of St Helens, Merseyside (north-west England).  In 2009, I moved to Huyton village (in the outskirts of Liverpool).  I have lived within this 6 mile radius all of my life.

Last night I decided to start making a list of all the important, and wonderful places to visit in the area.  Museums, historical buildings, green spaces, and more.  I have visited many, thanks to my dad who loved to teach me the history of where I live, but there are still so many places that I have not been.

If you live in, or know the county of Merseyside, I would love to hear about your favourite places.  Do you have a favourite park?  Is there a particular building, or museum that you enjoyed visiting?  Do you know of any “hidden gems” in the area?  Please comment with one, two or more of your favourite Merseyside places, so I can add them to my list.

As soon as I have compiled my list, I shall post it here.

Back to School

Schools went back, yesterday, after a fortnights holiday for Easter.  Gning went in to his class with a big smile on his face, happy to be with all of his classmates again.  Donut, on the other hand, wasn’t able to return to nursery, as he is having belly problems again.  The earliest he can go back is tomorrow, as schools & nursery settings have a 48hr no-return policy after a final bout of diarrhoea or vomiting.  It’s a shame, as he’s quite taken to another little boy in his nursery school, and all over the Easter break, he’s been “talking” on the phone to this boy…  Pretend, of course, as we don’t actually have his phone number.  I am starting to be concerned though, as I’m sure there must be an underlying problem with his stomach somewhere, due to the amount of times he suffers with diarrhoea.

Anyway…

A couple of months ago, I successfully completed both a teaching assistant, and an EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage – children ages 0 to 5) advanced teaching qualification.  It’s completely different to my experience in work, as I’ve always done some form of administration role – typist, receptionist, secretary, personal assistant, telephonist; and after departing my role of a telephonist of 8 and a half years, last July, I decided that I no longer wanted to be “the voice” of a company, and I wanted to work face-to-face with people.  Not any type of people though – children.

It was hubby, dearest, who gave me a push, by purchasing the two online courses for me.  He said that I should give it a go, as I’ve always had a bit of a knack for working with children and younger people (over 15 years experience in working with the aforementioned, teaching martial arts).  So, I sat down, when the boys were in bed, and I studied.  I completed a (super thick) journal with all of my notes, and then reviewed them the following day, before starting another module of the course.  The next thing you know, I’m “sitting” the exams, and I passed both with a Higher Distinction (97.5% on both exams).

The next question was, “what am I going to do with my new qualifications..?”

I immediately started job searching, for teaching assistant, nursery assistants, and EYFS teachers, however, all positions required a minimum amount of experience set within a learning environment.  None would accept my experience of teaching martial arts, as it’s not considered “academic”.

I had a thought.  I should push my luck, and send several emails off to local nurseries, asking if they would be interested in “hiring” me as a volunteer.  They wouldn’t have to pay me a penny – not even for expenses.  I explained my predicament, and asked if I could attend the setting for just a couple of hours per week, so I could gain the valuable experience that I required.  I only heard back from one nursery, and they stated that they wouldn’t be able to offer me any form of positions, as it wouldn’t be fair to the children…  They further mentioned that “children do get attached to staff members, it would be a shame if the children got attached to me, only for me to leave when I had the relevant experience, if they couldn’t offer me a paid job”.  I was a little disheartened, but not upset, as I completely understood where they were coming from.

So, I decided to try a job search again, and I stumbled upon a posting from a teaching supply agency, for a “Behavioural Support Assistant”.  It was temporary only, but did not require any school-based experience – only some experience in working with children.  Fantastic!  This was my chance…  And I applied for the job.

The following morning, I received a phone call from the agency, apologising that the posting had been offered to someone else that morning, but there was another post that I may be interest in.  He seemed really interested in me, however, the conversation ended when I confirmed that I have no experience in a school setting.  I thanked him for his time, and ended the call.  Not ten minutes later, I received a phone call from the same number…  I was expecting some sort of “survey”, but it was a female voice this time.

The voice explained that she had overheard my previous conversation (from the mans end), and said that I would be a perfect candidate to register with the agency, under the Extra Support category – which basically deals with students who have behavioural problems; and my martial arts and counselling background was more beneficial to me than my teaching qualifications…  For now.

The following week, I went in to the agency to register my details.  I met the female “voice”, and we were in the interview room for over an hour.  She was intrigued by my background, and said she would get to searching for an opening for me as soon as the Easter holidays were over.

Fast forward to yesterday.  It wasn’t just the boys who went back to school.

I received a phone call from a male voice, at about 10am, asking if I was free that afternoon.  He explained that a school, close to me, needs someone to supervise an exam, and if I would be interested to go in.  It didn’t take me long to accept the position, and he said it was a “simple” job, that would start my experience…  I was to be an “Exam Invigilator”; where I simply sit in the room of students, sitting the exam, and make sure there is no talking, cheating, etc., and to hand out any equipment necessary (rules, calculators, pens, etc.).  We finished the conversation, and ended the call.

For the first time in my life, going in to an unknown setting, I wasn’t nervous in the slightest.  The students were all really lovely, and were all well behaved – raising their hands when they needed something, and all said please and thank you.  The only strange thing was, was that they all called me “Miss”!  That’s going to get a bit to get used to.  I came out of the school, yesterday afternoon, with a big smile on my face.

I had only been home from the school for half an hour, when I received another phone call, from the same male voice from that morning, stating that the school had asked for me to return this afternoon, to oversee another exam…  I was only in the school for 2 hours, and I’ve already made an impression.

What can I say?  I’ve currently only worked 2 hours, and I love my job.

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Vlogging!

I made the decision, yesterday, to venture out of my comfort zone, and move in to the world of video logging.  I’ve set up my YouTube channel already, and I’m now preparing to take the world by storm…

I have just one question though.  What should my first video be about..??  Should it be an introduction to me and the world of Insanely Normal..?

If anyone in the vlogging world has any advise for me, any do’s and don’ts, please comment below!

Please check out my YouTube channel, and click the “Subscribe” button.

Peanut Brittle – Recipe

So simple to make, especially for a quick and easy make, but a bit of a nightmare to clean the pan afterwards!

If you are looking for a traditional peanut brittle recipe, look no further.  This recipe literally has only two ingredients…  Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and is also (relatively) healthy.

Ingredients

 

120g granulated or caster sugar

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120g peanuts (shelled and “skinned”)

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The above ingredients are so versatile…  It is literally the same amount of sugar to peanuts, or you can really push the boat out and use cashews (yummy)!

Method

  • Line a baking tray with greaseproof / baking paper.

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  • Measure out your sugar, and put in a thick-based saucepan, over a low-medium heat.  Try not to stir the sugar until it starts turning in to liquid…  Instead, move the pan in a circular motion to move the sugar around.

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  • When the sugar starts to melt, it will start turning in to a caramel colour…  Stir, using a metal spoon until all of the sugar has completely melted.

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  • Turn off the heat, and remove the pan to a “cool”, but heat-proof surface.
  • Add the peanuts directly to the syrup that you have made, and continue stirring, until all the peanuts have melded together, and it becomes difficult to stir any more.

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  • Spoon the mixture out on to the already lined baking tray.  Try to level out the mixture as you go, so it is only “one peanut high”.

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  • Leave to cool completely before you break it up to enjoy.

NOTE:

Melted sugar is basically lava.  DO NOT allow any children to come in to contact with it until it is fully cooled.