Sunday, 9 March 2014

Family Reunion

Lovely weather today. I went out this morning wearing my thin nylon jacket and even had to take that off and walk around in t-shirt and cardigan it was so warm. 

I've had an extremely busy but thoroughly enjoyable day.

All the kids (except DD1) plus two boyfriends were here for dinner, and I had a visit to a wedding fayre at a hotel on the seafront with DD2 this morning. 

I was up at 6.30am baking cakes and preparing a meatloaf and a mushroom roast. Apart from having vegetarian DD2 to cater for, DD3 has decided to give up dairy for lent so that added to the cake making challenge. It wasn't really a problem, I simply substituted Vitalite dairy free marg for the butter and chose recipes that didn't need any milk since I'd forgotten to buy soya milk.  I made an Apple Crumble Cake from a recipe I found on the internet, and Mary Berry's Victoria Sandwich Cake. 

Both were delicious even with using marg instead of butter. I made custard to go with the apple cake, and there was also squirty cream and ice cream if anyone wanted it. DD3 had thought she wouldn't be able to have cake so was really pleased I'd made them with the dairy-free marg. 

Apple Crumble Cake

Cake Base

100g butter or marg
100g soft brown sugar
150g plain flour
50g cornflour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 teaspoon almond essence (or vanilla)
6 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used canned apple as I had a catering-sized tin in stock)

Crumble Topping

150g plain flour
125 g butter or marg
125g demerara sugar
tsp ground cinnamon


For the cake - beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.Mix in the flours and baking powder, and then the eggs and essence. Spread the mixture in 23-25cm springform cake tin and spread the apple over it.

Crumble - rub the butter into the flour, cinnamon and sugar until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the apple and cake in the tin.

Bake at 180C/Gas4/ Fan 160C for 45 minutes to 1 hour until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin and then carefully remove the tin from around the cake so that the crumble does not get disturbed. Serve with custard, cream or icecream.

The meatloaf was yummy too. I got a lovely heavy, extra big loaf tin from TK Max yesterday for £3.99 reduced from £11.99. Just what I needed to make a meatloaf big enough to feed 7 of us meat eaters including 5 men. 

I used a very simple recipe mixing together 800g lean minced beef, 400g minced pork, a large packet of red onion and sage stuffing mix, beef stock, and 2 beaten eggs. I lined the tin with raw bacon rashers, piled the meat mix in and baked it for about an hour before turning it out onto a plate then returning it to the tin with the bacon side up and cooking for another 15-30 minutes.

The mushroom roast was just a medium onion and 6oz mushrooms blitzed in the food processor, a packet of stuffing mix made up and added to the mushroom/onion mix with 2 beaten eggs. Press the mixture into a well-greased loaf tin and bake for about 45 minutes. You can top with grated cheese and bake for another 15 minutes until golden but I left that off so DD3 could also have some. We had mixed roasted vegetables, mixed boiled veg, yorkshire puddings and gravy with it. Sorry for lack of pictures, I was so busy preparing it all and just managed to snap this picture before it was eaten. The meatloaf is to the right and a small portion of mushroom roast to the left of the plate.

There was tons of food and very little leftovers, so it must have been a success. 

It was lovely to have everyone here but also nice to get back to a bit of peace and quiet once most of them left. DS2 is staying overnight and will go back to Canterbury tomorrow with his dad when DH goes into work.

The wedding fayre was very small with only about a dozen stalls, but it was great for getting some ideas. Really, DD and I are of the same mind, she wants to spend as little as possible, make as much as she can herself (or ask me or her fiance's mum to help), but have an enjoyable day. We came back home and spent an hour or so on the internet trying to find materials and ideas similar to some that we'd seen that we could make without too much difficulty. We're almost agreed on the invites and we plan to spend time together crafting which will be lovely. Her fiance's mum has recently retired and taken up cake decorating as a hobby so she will probably make and decorate the cake, and I'll make cupcakes that she'll decorate since fancy stuff really isn't my forte. 

It's early days yet so nothing is set in stone; they don't even have a venue and are still debating whether to have the ceremony in Las Vegas and just have a party over here afterwards. It is exciting  but I have a feeling I'll soon be all weddinged out. DH and I had a very simple registry office do with just his parents (he's an only child) and my parents, grandmother and sisters and our 6 week old baby girl (DD1). We went back to my mum and dad's council house for a buffet meal afterwards. I never wanted a big do that cost the earth and if I had it to do over again I'd probably try for something even cheaper. Since we've been married 30 years in July I don't think we suffered for not having a big wedding celebration.

Apart from today's activities, I've spent my week shopping but spending very little (Folkestone on Weds, Westwood Cross Shopping Centre at Margate yesterday), volunteering on Thursday and working for hours and hours on DS2's scrapbook. Honestly, I was either sticking stuff into the scrapbook or copying and printing photos for 5 hours on Friday. I think (I'm hoping) that it will be completed in time for his birthday in exactly 2 weeks today. I don't recall the other scrapbooks taking so long but then I think I was more enthusiastic about doing them. Thank goodness I didn't have any more kids.

Tomorrow will find me baking my cupcakes yet again for DH to take to college on Tuesday for a Macmillan Cancer fundraiser. And more work done on that scrapbook...I hope.

Here's hoping you all had a lovely day and the sun shone on you. Hugs, Helen x


  1. Gorgeous day here. Boys on their bikes out the front and lovely dog walks. It's great to get everybody together once in a while. The wedding shows are great for ideas but you can always make them so much cheaper, more personalised too.

  2. It really was nice to have a family get together. Pity DD1 lives so far away. It really has been a lovely day; I feel so much better when the sun shines and I can feel a bit of warmth.

  3. What a wonderful family photo. Made my heart happy for you x

    1. Thank you, Rachel, what a lovely thing to say.

  4. How nice to have everyone together.

    The mushroom roast sounds yummy too.

  5. What a lovely family photo! Looks like everyone had a happy time over their meal.
    It`s nice to have a family get-together, but like you I also appreciate the peace and quiet after all the chats and laughter.