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Food

Oh my, Pecan Pie!

The Hummingbird Bakery strikes again. This time, Brother James was having a BBQ and I offered to make the desserts. Suddenly, I had the mammoth task of making a Mississippi Mud Pie, a Pecan Pie and a Lemon Meringue.

The Mississippi Mud Pie was a triumph, as usual, and that had nothing to do with my baking skills, and everything to do with the oodles of chocolate, syrup, sugar and cream involved.

The Lemon Meringue is one of Mr T’s favourites and his mum makes a cracking version so I was a bit worried about this. I needn’t have. Phew. I’ll share the recipe later in the week.

And the Pecan Pie? Turns out it’s T3’s fave pie so I was already on to a winner there. The original recipe uses Hummingbird’s revolting pastry which I abandoned long ago, in favour of pre made frozen shortcrust. As I always say, if it’s good enough for Mary Berry… The recipe also specifies dark corn syrup, which, if you don’t live in the States, is bloody hard to find. You can order it off Amazon, but really, I’m not that fussed, so I improvised with golden syrup and maple syrup.

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Here goes…

Ingredients:

  • Readymade shortcrust pastry (I used JusRol, pre-rolled and one sheet is enough)
  • 200 caster sugar
  • 250 ml golden syrup and maple syrup (I substituted like weights)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g pecan nuts, chopped
  • Whole pecans to decorate

First up, preheat the oven to 170C. Roll out your pastry, and pop into your pie tin.

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Put the sugar, corn syrup and salt in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes.

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In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and slowly pour the warmed syrup (warm NOT hot!!! Otherwise you’ll have sweet scrambled eggs. Barf) into the eggs. Add the butter and vanilla and stir until blended thoroughly.

Put the chopped nuts into the pastry case and pour the syrup mixture over the top. My mixture was very very runny, so I popped the whole pecan nuts around the edge to decorate as best as I could, but there was definitely some sinkage…

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Bake for 50-6o minutes or until the pie has reached a deep caramel colour.

I baked this the day before, but, in my humble opinion, this is best served hot, with fresh custard or a generous scoop of ice cream. Because I’m an idiot, I didn’t take a photo of the finished thing, but it sort of, kind of, maybe looked a little bit like the one from Hummingbird Bakery at the top…

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Betsy Loves, Food, Travel, Uncategorized

Afternoon Tea at The Devonshire Arms

Yesterday was another good day at the office; or more correctly, not at the office. At The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey. For Afternoon Tea. Oooooooooh, I hear you cry. How swish! And you’d be right.

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Another local(ish) place I’ve never made it to before, the drive from York was glorious – incredible Dales scenery, tummy-dropping dips, two separate rain storms and plenty of time to sing along to Taylor Swift.

I arrived a bit earlier than my colleague so there was plenty of time to potter around and take some snaps. I’ll grant you that from the outside, the hotel doesn’t look super duper impressive, and it was quite grey at that point, but inside, I was enchanted. It plays to the whole rustic theme beautifully but then throws in expertly chosen contemporary elements, such as the gorgeous black flocked wallpaper in a cosy little sitting area – who doesn’t love velvet dachshunds?

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We were booked into the conservatory area for our Devonshire Fizz Afternoon Tea, and by then the sun had come out and was streaming through the windows. Mr P (that’s Poppa P, except no one would call him that…) would have approved of the pristine white tablecloths with matching napkins, while the polished silverware would have made his little heart sing.

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Within moments, two flutes of Laurent Perrier NV were popped in front of us. What a delight. Our lovely waiter offered us a selection of tea and coffee. I went for peppermint as I felt it might somehow counteract the insane amount of sugar that I was about to consume. (Update: it didn’t, but it was still tasty.)

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Then our cake stand arrived. Now, I’ve had Afternoon Tea before. Don’t sound all surprised, guys. I know I’m usually a lettuce-munching exercise fiend (cough), but wowwwwwwweeeeeeee. Not your traditional fancy silver cake stand, instead, we were presented with a modern right-angled jobbie with three tiers of goodness.

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First up – individual pots of strawberry and custard, blueberry and lemon shortbread, chocolate brownies, and raspberry and white chocolate macaroons.

I could happily have pounced on them, but the grown up in me forced me to look one tier down to the sandwiches – dainty fingers of brown and white bread with egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon, cucumber, cheese, chicken, and ham. They probably have really fancy names like Yorkshire’s finest Ham from Hand Reared, Bottle Fed, Christened in a Church, and Read Bedtime Stories, Local, Organic Pigs; ditto with the other fillings, although how you hand rear cheese is beyond me… in fact, scratch that, I don’t want to know. Shudder. Whatever their official titles, the sandwiches were tasty, alright? But once they were finished, that meant I could move on to the good stuff.

All of tier number one disappeared into my mouth. And I loved every single mouthful. Every. Single. Mouthful. Although would it have killed them to have two brownies EACH?…

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Finally, the cream tea part. The scones with clotted cream and jam. Now, if you’re Cornish, you pop the jam on first, and then the cream, but we were at The Devonshire Arms, so it was cream first, and frankly, that’s the way I like it anyway. We each had two individual scones to scoff – one plain and one with raisins (or dead flies as they’re universally known). I collared a waiter to ask for more cream. Obviously.

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You’d think I’d be STUFFED by now, and I admit I was filling up, but I hadn’t had lunch, and I was also kidding myself that this would be tea. Anyhoo, with the tiers in front of me depressingly empty, and the pot of clotted cream scraped out with a finger (I may or may not be joking about this. Who knows?… You know, right? You know…) I was forced to realise that there would be no more sugar coming my way.

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Wiping a tear away, I luxuriated in the warm embrace of the conservatory watching the clouds skitter across the blue sky and the bushes of lavender sway in the light breeze, and then I went home to Mr T.

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And here’s some more pics that didn’t fit neatly into my genius narrative…

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Celebrity

Oh, Captain. My Captain.

Collective mourning, it’s a weird thing, isn’t it? I never met Robin Williams. Most of us didn’t but I’m willing to bet a lot of people felt a little sinking of the heart to hear that not only he passed away, but that suicide is suspected.

I’m sad because he will always be Genie in Aladdin, and Peter in Hook, and Mrs Doubtfire, and Alan Parrish in Jumanji. These are all films I adored as a child, so perhaps, psychologically, his death is another nail in coffin (excuse the metaphor) for my childhood.

Or perhaps I feel sad because he had one of those faces that just made you smile. How could you resist those twinkling eyes?

Or maybe it’s because, as someone who’s suffered from depression and taken anti-depressants for the last five years or so, I’m heartbroken to see someone so successful, with the world seemingly at his feet, finally give in and give up (if suicide is the verdict).

Or maybe it’s just sad when someone dies.

When it comes down to it, I know very little about the man, other than the roles he played, but here’s a few of my favourite quotes from him.

You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.

See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.

A woman would never make a nuclear bomb. They would never make a weapon that kills, no, no. They’d make a weapon that makes you feel bad for a while.

Men can’t fake an orgasm, who wants to look that dumb, you know what I’m saying?

I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.

Time is the best teacher, but unfortunately, it kills all of its students.

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.

And finally…

You have been a fabulous audience! Tell you what, you’re the best audience in the whole world. Take care of yourselves! Good night, Alice! Good night, Agrabah! Adios, amigos!

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Sale-Shopping
Fashion

Staying solvent

I am a consumer. The worst kind. I am terribly impressionable so a flashy advertising campaign will always impress me (hello Apple). I also love the feeling of possessing something shiny and new. I quite enjoy popping into town for a browse. I go on Amazon at least once a day. I’m an eBay bidder and seller. Every day I check the new stock in Topshop and Asos (and Net-a-Porter but fortunately I acknowledge that 99.9% of everything on here is out of my price range). I buy Elle monthly and earmark anything that takes my fancy. I follow a plethora of fashion blogs and also earmark anything I fancy. Ditto Instagram and Pinterest.

My Pinterest shopping list

My Pinterest shopping list

I like clothes. I like shoes. I like jewellery. I like make up. I like bags. I like STUFF. Stuff is fun, although I will hold my hands up and say the amount of stuff I own is ridiculous, and when you put it into the context of most of the world’s population it’s obscene. However, fair distribution of the world’s wealth is not the topic of this blog post; the topic is, how do I avoid bankruptcy?…

My Amazon wishlist

My Amazon wishlist

Luckily, Momma P drummed into me the dangers of store cards from a young age. And Mr P would be highly unimpressed if I found myself flailing under thousands of pounds worth of debt. That being said, I have an overdraft, and a credit card, and I am prepared to use both. If I indulged every single desire then I would be in serious trouble. No joke.

My Asos 'saved' list

My Asos ‘saved’ list

So how do I manage? Not with anything as adult as pure and simple willpower and control. Oh no; I have to psyche myself out and I do this with the joys of virtual shopping.

My Topshop 'notebook'

My Topshop ‘notebook’

Every single website that I buy from has a ‘saved items’ or ‘wishlist’ option and I use these to go CRAZY! I add every top, bag, hat and accessory to my online basket and bask in the glow of almost buying. Sometimes I glance at the total and gulp. Other times I don’t even look. And then I go and do something else.

My eBay watchlist

My eBay watchlist

If, a month or so down the line, and I still want one of the things I popped in my basket, then, and only then, I consider actually buying it. (Well, quite frankly, that statement is a big fat lie because sometimes I see something and fall in love with it completely and know that my life will only be complete if I buy it, so I do, but mostly, yeah, I do what I just said…)

It’s working out quite well for me so far. The only downside is when I come back a month later and want it all… Or when I come back a month later and the dress I wanted isn’t available anymore… Or when my lists become so long I’ll never reach the bottom of them… Ok. So there are a few teething issues but it’s better than being bankrupt.

 

 

 

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Challenge Betsy, Fitness

Getting shredded…

Yesterday was my first day of the 30 Day Shred. Now, if you tell most people that you’re doing a home exercise DVD then you might forgive them for assuming that you’re not really doing that much. A bicep curl here, a squat press there, a swig of water here, a sit down and have a breather there. But if you know who Jillian Michaels is, then you might reassess that assumption.

Jillian Michaels is scary. She’s a trainer on The Biggest Loser, which, if you don’t know, is an insane American show where morbidly obese contestants compete to lose the most weight each week. Jillian is known for her catchphrase, ‘Unless you puke, faint or die, keep going.’

I like to think I look like this when I work out...

I like to think I look like this when I work out…

Oh yeah.

Anyway, so she released this home DVD in 2008 and it’s still on the bestseller lists. The idea is to do intense exercise for 20 minutes each day which replaces an hour or so of cardio. There are three levels, and you go up a level every 10 days. Each level consists of cardio, strength and ab exercises. The dvd case claims you could lose up to 20lbs in the 30 days. I guess that’s only the case if you don’t eat a tub of ice cream in one sitting like I do on a regular basis…

This is what I actually look like..

This is what I actually look like..

While losing weight is always a nice bonus, I’m actually doing this as another personal challenge to get me off my arse. So back to yesterday, and Day One. I guess the swimming meant my fitness levels are a bit higher, which is fortunate else I might have puked, fainted or died. As it was I simply ended up dripping in sweat and prostrate on the floor for half an hour afterwards. No exaggeration. But it sort of felt good. And then, as the day went on, and I could feel my muscles beginning to ache in recognition of some exercise, it felt better.

This morning, I persuaded Mr T to do it with me. So there we were, both in our gym kit, beach towels on the floor as temporary gym mats, windows open for a breeze, as we squatted and lunged to Jillian’s dulcet tones. I was thrilled to see he was just as red and sweaty as I was. Huzzah!

I won’t bore you with daily (or even weekly) updates. But if I manage to make it to Level Two, you’ll definitely be hearing something – probably a demand for cake!…

Have a lovely weekend all! x

 

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Challenge Betsy, Fitness, Sport

Don’t pee in the pool, people!

So, I’ve been swimming a lot over the last month. And it’s been fun, mostly. I’ve lost 8lbs (woop!), but also gained some fun facts. Here you go:

  1. First up, and it’s a biggie and a no-brainer – don’t pee in the pool, people! We know this, it’s obvious, it’s also gross if you do. Why would you want to be swimming (however diluted) in someone else’s pee? Just because Olympic champion swimmer (and professional dumb ass) Ryan Lochte says swimmers always pee in pools, doesn’t mean you have to join in. And despite his thoughts that ‘[t]here’s something about getting into chlorine water that [makes] you just automatically go’, he’s wrong, ok? Chlorine water does not make you do that. That’s what bladder control is about, Ryan.
  2. Never wear a white swimming costume because it will go see through, and people will see your bits.
  3. Never wear a nude swimming costume because it will look like you’re naked and people will assume they’re seeing your bits.
  4. It is always an awesome day when locker number 007 is free.
  5. For a few hours after a swim, when you sweat you will always release a slight eau de cologne of chlorine.
  6. You will be nicknamed by your fellow swimmers. While I don’t know mine, I do know that regulars at my pool are known as Happy Slapper (slaps his hands down rather than dips), Naked Guy (see No.3), All The Gear (and presumably no idea, this swimmer has all the gadgets and still swims like a dying dog). I imagine my nickname must be something like Mesmerising Mermaid or Graceful Water Goddess. Certainly not The Hippo or The Manatee. God, I hope not!
  7. Skinny jeans are even harder to put on than usual. Not because of new bulging thigh muscles, but because of the clammy sweaty residue that clings to your body even after a cold shower and ten minutes of downtime.
  8. It is not acceptable to shave any parts of your body in the communal showers.
  9. Ditto getting naked in the communal showers.
  10. Water Zumba for the Over 60s looks like a blast!
  11. Goggles are annoying little buggers – the lenses get scratched, the straps get loose, and inevitably they let water in at some point. Also, they steam up. Ugh.
  12. You will probably find yourself goggling ‘swimming workouts’. Stop it.
  13. You find yourself racing people in the ‘slow’ and ‘medium’ lanes, because, apparently, you’ve turned into a competitive douchebag.
  14. You get righteously annoyed when you’re stuck behind someone slower than you, but feel your own steady pace is perfectly acceptable when there’s a faster swimmer up your butt.
  15. You can’t hear children scream underwater. Wow! That sounds sinister. But really, put your head (not a child’s) underwater and it’s incredibly peaceful.

 

 

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CHALLENGE BETSY ROUNDAL
Challenge Betsy, Fitness, Sport

I swam the Channel!

I did it. I totally 100% did it. I have swum the Channel (in a pool, over a month). Phew! Tomorrow, I will be sharing my wisdom regarding pool etiquette, a.k.a. Do not pee in the pool.

Now I have to find a new challenge. Thoughts? Suggestions? If I carry on with the swimming, I could escape from Alcatraz, say hallloooooo to Nessy or paddle in the Nile. Currently, I’m dabbling with the idea of picking a less intense swimming challenge and throwing in Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred. I may live (or not!) to regret this…

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