How to: Fail-safe boozy brownies

By the time you read this post I will be on my merry way north of the border to bonny Scotland in search of a long weekend on the high seas.  Well, high-ish seas: I’m off on a wee sailing trip with some pals and what better way to mark our maiden voyage than with some boozy treats you can eat and drink.

Enter Valhalla Brownies.  Shock horror, another recipe from my favourite Scandilicious baking book.  I’ve made these tempting treats a few times now – for Fridays in the office; for my birthday and, well, just for the sake of having something nice with a cup of tea and every time they have been delicious to eat and fuss free to make.


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READY, STEADY, BAKE: Norwegian Spiced Chocolate Cake

I first came across this recipe at the beginning of last year when I followed the heady scent of cinnamon buns to the Truman Brewery for Nordicana.  While there I picked up Norwegian – American Food Anthropologist Signe Johansen’s book, Scandilicious.  This was the first recipe from the book that I had tried and the video documents the first time I tried it.  It was a great success so I’m henceforth marking it as my fail safe go-to when there’s a celebration to be had!

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From rags to…wreaths

We’ve all got clothes with ‘what-was-I-thinking?’ prints on them, right? No? Just me then. Well, whether you have a garish shirt or a few scraps of material kicking about you can breathe new life into them at this time of year.

Wreaths make an appearance every year but they can be a bit expensive, especially if you opt for one with plenty of foliage year on year. Last year I made a couple of fabric wreaths using offcuts of material and they turned out pretty well.

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A very Merry (handmade) Christmas

I’ve been a little quiet since my post-a-day challenge – my apologies. Things have gradually become more manic with the impending festivities just around the corner and a pretty big leak in our roof needing urgent attention.

I decided to do something a bit different this year and make the majority of my Christmas presents for friends and family. A while ago I shared a post about making your own liqueurs as gifts, which you can read here. If you gave it a go they are just about ready to gift or sample, depending on how generous you are feeling!

While I was visiting one of my favourite spots recently I picked up a great book full of hints and tips on how to make everything from beauty products to jams and even medicinal remedies, (although I’m not giving up ibuprofen just yet.)



One of the recipes in it was for some lovely strawberry and cream bath soaks – who doesn’t love a soak in a hot bath? I decided to make this for friends who have been working tirelessly, raising money for some very deserving charities. I hope they’ll get the chance to relax and enjoy them after the Christmas rush is over! Here’s how I made them:

Strawberries and Cream Bath Soak

You will need the following:

* 1/2 cup / 60g oats (regular or quick-cook)
* 1/2 cup / 50g milk powder
* 40g ground almonds
* 16 – 20 drops strawberry essential oil (I added more to get a stronger scent, customise it to your own tastes and remember – a little goes a long way!)



* In a small bowl combine the oats, almonds, milk powder and your essential oil. Stir well to make sure it’s well mixed. Close your eyes and take a deep breath – are you at Wimbledon enjoying a cream tea and a glass of Pimms? No? Then add more of your essential oil. Stir.

* Divide the mixture among pretty cloth bags. I chose to use organza favour bags I got in Tesco. They sell them in bags of 3 for £1.50. Fill about half full and close using the drawstring on the bag. If there isn’t one you can gather the material and twist it round, securing with a festive piece of ribbon. I managed to fill around 2 bags with this amount so adjust accordingly.

* I added a muslin bag to each of my gift bags. I got these off Ebay for around £5 for 10 bags. When you fancy a soak in the tub simply fill the muslin bag with around 2 dessert spoonfuls of your mixture and tie. Hang it on the end of the running tap of your bath and let it all infuse and you’re all set for a relaxing bath! The bags can be reused as many times as you like, just empty and hand wash with soap and warm water after your bath and leave to air dry.

* Keep your bath soaks in a cool dark place until you are ready to use them.


A few notes…

* Obviously this is not for human consumption, regardless of how delicious it smells.

* The oatmeal mixture is designed to sooth stressed and dry skin and can relieve itching. However, some skin types may become mildly irritated by the essential oil. You can reduce the amount of essential oil you add or eliminate it completely. It obviously won’t have the fruity scent in this instance but won’t stop you making like Cleopatra and enjoying a milk bath.

* These bath soaks are best enjoyed with emails unchecked and phones switched off. The world can wait. Just relaaaaaaaax.