Death and dying

Angel

Yes, this isn’t what you might have hoped for. But in fairness my blog is about random things, thoughts, life and stuff in general.  Unfortunately not as popular as chocolate and cake, but I’ve been thinking a lot recently, for various reasons, of death and dying.

And so, please excuse my insomnia-befuddled brain as I try to string my thoughts together, albeit not very well.

This year has seen a number of deaths of famous people. Is it just one of those times, or are we just at an age where it means more when someone you know of dies?  Then too, I have had death in the family, and a couple of lovely friends have had an even more devastating time.  Death just isn’t something we tend to talk about or deal with much in terms of acknowledging it and yet there is no getting away from it. And so when it happens, coping can be extremely difficult.  We are all different, and react and cope differently, and one can feel so utterly helpless in being unable to lessen someone else’s pain.

The death of a loved one is deeply traumatic, but grief is a necessary process to heal, to get closure.  There is no time limit to healing. One thing I do know is that if you don’t let yourself grieve, it will come back and bite you when you least expect it.  Sometimes one feels that  it is self-indulgent to grieve, that one should be coping.  No! Your feelings are justified, no-one can tell you how, where, what or when you need to feel.

Death is a funny subject, and people deal with it in different ways from humour (bizarrely cathartic) to avoidance (not good) and everything in between. But pretending that it does not happen does not help.  It is as much a part of life as anything else.  I think it is important to bring children up without shielding them from it, don’t keep them away from funerals, children are resilient and curious.  Life is a process, beginnings and endings, sickness and health, happiness and sadness.  If we grow up understanding this – not necessarily in all its gory detail – I think maybe we would cope, if only a tiny bit, better.  And we all have different ways of coping.  No way is right or wrong.  But my point is that with a bit of knowledge, perhaps there would be a bit more understanding, both of others and of ourselves.

It is desperately sad how it can be that those who seem to care about you are the same people who disappear when you are mourning the death of a loved one. People react in strange ways.

A common thread – both in my own experience and that of friends – is that the people you thought would be there for you are not.  But regular contact, even if only to say I’m here, I’m thinking of you is so, so important. The comfort of care. A hug. That just helps you make it through another day. Yet people will think oh, I don’t know what to say, they won’t want to talk about it. This adds to the pain.  All you want is someone to show that they care. sometimes to be able to talk about it is an enormous relief. The one time you really need a friend and yet your own pain is too raw to ask.

To go through grief alone is a terrible thing. You know that nothing can take away what has happened, that no words can magically heal.  But these little bits of caring add up, and help.  They really help.

And if you are going through this right now, I wish you peace and love. Give yourself time.

 

 

Win some, lose some

No food post, and no baking today.

I had decided to make a chocolate fridge tart, a recipe I have adapted and evolved over time, so that it is a heavenly blend of salty and sweet – chocolate and salted caramel.

Unfortunately as the fates had it, my chocolate siezed, and I was unable to rescue it. I had run out of chocolate (how could this happen?!?) And so there will be no picture. But there will be a next time.  If at first you don’t succeed……

On the winning side, I have discovered a new blog to follow, the fabulous Princess of VP blog it’s always a bonus when you discover new blogs to enjoy.  (I tried to add a link to the blog, but for some reason it failed).

I love blogs on food, health, make-up, photography, in fact all sorts of things, blogs that make you think, that make you laugh, that spark an interest in something. I’m still new to all this and searching for more ideas.   What about you? What do you enjoy? Which blogs do you recommend?

Today in essence was a mixture of lose (my fridge tart) and win (found a new blog to follow). I’m still working at getting that old mojo back again.

Sticky Lemon & Ginger Cake

I think I might just be on the cusp of rediscovering my baking mojo.  I am wanting to bake more, and enjoying it once again.  So that’s a win.  However I need to take photos with my camera and not with my tablet.  When I post photos taken on my tablet they are tiny.  Urgh.  So frustrating.  Somehow I seem to have got confused between the two.  It will be a while before I manage to sort this out though, so please bear with me!

Today’s cake is one I have baked a few times and is always a success. It is a joy to make, smell and eat!  Just grating the fresh ginger and zesting the lemon for this is worth it for that lovely fresh zesty, summery aroma. Small things, hey, but small things are important.

The cake has fresh ginger, lemon zest, Bramley apple and dates as the fruit ingredients and so we can eat it smugly thinking it surely must cover some of your 5-a-day!! This all combines to make a lovely moist, more-ish cake. It is fruity and spicy, but not in-your-face.  A lovely balance of flavours.

The white chocolate drizzle on top turned into a full on white chocolate flood this time because, well, I had the chocolate so why not use it! And anyway, although I am not a great fan of white chocolate it works so well with this cake.

When I first baked it I posted a photo on Twitter and the cake earned itself a rather different name. “Inspired” by the white chocolate drizzle……I blame Declan and for the time being I’ll avoid using that name just in case I put you off!

cake

 

Cheese Scones

A few weeks ago I baked some cheese scones…….or, as they became known “cheese surprise” scones (SURPRISE!!!! there is no cheese!!).  Yes. I forgot to add the cheese. There’s nothing quite like putting everything in the oven, closing the door…..and thinking “I’m sure I forgot something”.

These things happen. Maybe just to me, but hey ho.  I’ve been hankering for cheese scones since then and thought of trying a new recipe.  My go-to scone recipe uses oil instead of butter.  It is the quickest, easiest scone recipe EVER!  The only down side is the resulting dough is quite soft, but it results in very light, fluffy scones.  I keep thinking I really need to make scones from a recipe where you rub in the butter, to see if I can make a success of them (these scones look so much smarter than mine do).  But I like an easy life and so I used my tried and trusted recipe.

This time I remembered to add the cheese!  I used cheddar with herbs and garlic instead of plain cheddar, for something with a little extra oomf!

Double Chocolate Muffins

I may have mentioned already that my baking mojo has gone missing for a while.  The will is there, but the results aren’t happening. This has been quite frustrating and I feel the only way to resolve this is to keep on baking until it all comes together again!  Time – and weight gain – are the issues here. So sometimes the lovely guinea pigs at work are forced to munch their way through my baking.

Last weekend I baked chocolate muffins.  Now I haven’t baked muffins for ages. But they are one of the easiest things to bake,  you don’t have to be too careful about mixing everything.  They are not complicated.  But my chocolate muffins were a disaster.  Not that bad that they’d have killed anyone(!) but they just didn’t deliver on the taste, and they were dry.

Not to be defeated, I have been trawling through chocolate muffin recipes and finally found one I wanted to try.  And I have a result.  These are double chocolate (dark and white chocolate) muffins.  They came out beautifully light, and totally chocolately.  Success!

muffins

Quiet time

It’s one of those weekends.  You know the ones, the weather isn’t playing ball, you can’t wait to wear your summer clothes and spend time in the sun, but it’s still too cold. Instead you spend the weekend discovering things in the house to repair, cooking, laundry, and reflecting on life.

I do like all the seasons, for different reasons, but I like spring (when it eventually happens) because it is the season of hope. As the days get longer and lighter and brighter, the garden changes with new leaves and buds, the birds start singing, there is hope in the air. Even if they are not, things seem possible.Dhalia

Cupcakes!

I’ve been wanting to bake these for ages. They are not difficult, but somehow they look more impressive than they are. And, I just wanted to know that I could do them. I have all these amazing ideas in my head, but because I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, I can never achieve what I want.  I do at least know this.  So I try to set myself easy targets.  Most of which I fail.  But life is about trying, isn’t it!

Of course on the day I decided to bake, I couldn’t find a chocolate cupcake recipe that used cocoa powder and not melted chocolate, but finally I found one – and it was one of those throw everyting together and blitz to hell recipes.  First I had to mix the cocoa powder with boiling water to form a paste, and then add everyting else. But the cocoa powder ended up in a solid mass in my mixing bowl. Not to be daunted, I thought I’d soften the butter and mix that with the cocoa powder, before adding the rest of the ingredients.  I put the butter in the oven whilst the oven heated up. And promptly forgot about the butter, and instead threw the eggs into the solid cocoa mess. Suddenly, I remembered the butter, but it was now a hot liquid and I could not add it to the eggs (scrambled cocoa eggs?!?!).  Sigh. I added everything else, and with the electric beaters going I poured the melted butter into the cake batter.  Somehow the cupcakes turned out fine!  Lifes little mercies!.

Cake batter goes into the ice cream cones and is baked as normal, then just a swirl of icing on the top, and there’s your cupcake!  A fab idea for children’s parties too. Chocolate ice cream cone cupcakes.  Just add sprinkles.

Cupcakes