On the menu: cook-therapy


(No photo, as although Sunday’s cooking was quite nice, it didn’t actually look that fetching)

I feel the cold easily at the moment, particularly in the evenings and at night and one of the warmest parts of the flat is the kitchen, as long as the oven’s on or the hob’s going (if not, it actually can be quite cold, as the kitchen is so small, there literally isn’t a space for a radiator). So, whereas normally I gravitate towards cooking quite quick dishes, I had some time to spare on Sunday, so I cooked ‘proper’. It was leek and ham hock gratin with rosti topping from Delicious magazine and yes, cooking kept me warm and I had a very pleasant late Sunday afternoon / early evening making it. The resulting dish though ….. well I really, really liked the leek and ham hock gratin bit, I think it would make a fantastic pie filling but the rosti bit was a bit, hmmmmm. The rest of my fussy family though, neither kid liked it at all and K, my husband, thought it was ‘missing something’, hmmm, probably artificial flavourings …..


Excuse the lovely plate, it’s Z’s plate, he painted it a few years ago and it’s normally his exclusive plate but I’ve pinched it temporarily as all the other plates are in the dishwasher.

After my surgery back in June I was quite anaemic but a bit reluctant to take iron tablets, so I made sure to increase my iron intake via food. One really good source of iron is blackstrap molasses and at the time I was also quite craving gingerbread or fruit cake (I think sometimes your body does crave what it actually needs), so I ordered some blackstrap (had to get some from Amazon) but alas the cake didn’t happen as I wasn’t really up to baking. So the jar of blackstrap has been sitting in my cupboard ever since.

Christmas approaches and well Christmas = ¬†gingerbread and/or fruit cake (preferably both!), so I got that jar of blackstrap down. I’m not actually feeling that Christmas-y, I have a zero hours contract job in social media (when I’m not being my crafty self) and I had to give up half my hours when I had the aforementioned surgery and although I’ve since done some short term projects which temporarily increased my hours, payment for those won’t hit my bank account until the middle of this month, so I’m a bit broke, so very little Christmas shopping and just generally bah humbug. Not that Christmas should be about money but argh, the way Christmas is ‘these days’. Also, on some great big internal NHS calendar somewhere, they have scrawled (in my imagination), ‘make the run up to Jo’s Christmas really stressful by running lots of tests on her’, in big red marker, because pretty much every November and December for years I drain more money out of the NHS and that really fills you with festive spirit too. So anyway, to summarise, Christmas, what’s that?

Sooo, to rectify the anti-Christmas vibe I made gingerbread. I took a break from Pinterest and got the recipe from my copy of The Hummingbird Bakery’s Life is Sweet book (sorry, can’t find the recipe online). As well as the blackstrap molasses, it has a zillion other forms of sugar in it (or so it seems, actually, it’s muscovado and honey and well, honey has it’s health benefits too). I made two gingerbreads at once, one for us and one for S to take to school for the cake stall at her Christmas fair. Making two at once was okay …. until it got to the bit where I had to mix the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients, my mixing bowl was very nearly not big enough! The gingerbread has lots of spices in, which is of course the aromatherapy secret of the Christmas vibe of making gingerbread. It’s meant to also have fresh ginger in but I forgot to put it in, so although the gingerbread I made does have dried ginger, the other spices; cinnamon, allspice and cloves, sort of drown it out a little (particularly the cloves), so it’s more ‘spicebread’ than gingerbread but that’s my fault and I don’t think it particularly suffers for it. I am also pretty sure I forgot to put in the milk too! *Blush*. But again, the cake doesn’t suffer for it.

I am a big fan of cakes that keep; Victoria sponges and cakes with lots of cream etc are all very nice (actually, I can find lots of icing and buttercream a bit overwhelming) but you need to eat them quickly, which is not that good for the waistline if there’s not that many of you actually eating it! So gingerbread (and my other Christmas favourite, fruit cake) are really good cakes to store and keep coming back to and they do smell so good when making. Gingerbread and fruit cakes can also be a little bit healthier than some icing laden sponge cake too, blackstrap molasses in particular seems to really be a wonder stuff, I may not have needed the iron boost as much as I needed it back in June (although, not being much of a meat eater, I do worry that I’m generally not getting enough iron), but blackstrap molasses is also an excellent source of calcium apparently, which I am short of, so yay! And, like I say, this gingerbread also has honey in it, so more health benefits and there are health benefits to cloves, cinnamon, ginger and allspice too! So it’s almost like it’s healthy to eat cake, well, almost!


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