On the menu – Wine Gum Birthday Cake, Beet & Chard Stir Fry, Angel Hair Pasta and Turnip Chilli

Saturday

Z loves wine gums, so I made him a wine gum cake for his birthday. It’s based on the 7Up Pound Cake from The Hummingbird Bakery’s Life Is Sweet. I then added two separate flavoured icings, orange and raspberry (coloured to match), although I am rubbish at icing but the idea was that the 7Up in the pound cake would represent the lemon and lime wine gums, the orange icing – orange wine gums and the raspberry icing the closest I could get to represent strawberry / black currant. Anyway, like I say, I’m rubbish at icing.

As for the cake, well, it was okay. I haven’t done much baking recently but eating the cake I realised that the baking I have been doing has been relatively low in sugar and this cake most definitely isn’t, there’s more sugar than flour in it! And I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer lower sugar. I’ve never been a big fan of icing (that’s my excuse why I’m bad at it and I’m sticking to it), all that extra sugar on top of sugar, it’s like those cupcakes that are half cake – half mountain of icing, I think I should like them, a big part of my brain is telling me I want one but when I actually get one, they turn out to be a bit bleurgh. But back to the 7Up pound cake, there wasn’t actually that much icing on it (I’d made it too watery as usual), what was really sugary was the cake and well, it would have been better with less. It reminded me of the cakes in the actual Hummingbird Bakery stores, they’re always really tempting but I’ve learnt now to avoid them and go to Gail’s instead when I have a choice between the two because I find the Hummingbird Bakery cakes a bit sickly. I guess I should have thought of that before using the recipe for Z’s birthday cake! But I’ve been meaning to make the 7Up cake for years, cakes with soft drinks in, always intrigue me.

Monday

More Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall More Veg goodness to counteract the sugary weekend. This is Beet & Chard stir fry and it was rather nice. I like how the More Veg book is encouraging me to think about cooking different veg in different ways than I normally do.

Tuesday

It seems wrong to be against a particular type of pasta but I’ve just decided that yep, I definitely don’t like angel hair pasta. I rarely cook with it and well, there’s a reason for that. Maybe in the hands of a good pasta cook, angel hair is nice but not when I make it, it’s claggy and stodgy and just a bit bland, no matter what you put on it. This particular recipe is Angel Hair with Lemon and Cold-Weather Herbs from Anna Jones’ The Modern Cook’s Year, I loved the sound of it but the reality was a bit hmmm, okay then. The problem, other than the pasta itself, was that the lemon completely overpowered the herbs, there was only a very faint hint of them and I wanted herby pasta. I will not be making this exact recipe again, however, I still like the idea of it, so I may try again with spaghetti or thin tagliatelle, I would miss out the lemon and, if I was feeling indulgent, swap the olive oil the herbs are fried in with butter, now that sounds nice.

Thursday

The run of total success for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s More Veg has failed with the Turnip and Lentil Chilli, it was edible, just about, in a sort of warming, filling sort of way but I can definitely take it or leave it with turnip (emphasis on the leave) and the chilli itself was just hot, there was no layers of flavour.

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