Thursday, 30 September 2010

Recipe of the Week - Magic Chocolate Pudding

Magic Chocolate Pudding is one of the most requested puddings in this house. The boys not only like to eat this one, but to watch it being made and see the 'magic' part of it.

It is a self-saucing pudding, which means that you pour the sauce mixture on top of the uncooked cake mixture, while your family think you have lost your marbles! As the cake cooks, the sauce sinks down to the bottom, helping to keep the cake moist, and also leaving you with a lovely chocolate sauce at the bottom. 

for the pudding:
4oz dairy-free margarine
4oz sugar
4oz Dove's Farm Wheat-Free Self Raising Flour
2 eggs
2tbsp cocoa powder

for the sauce:
300ml boiling water
4oz brown sugar
another 2tbsp cocoa powder

-Put all of the pudding ingredients into a bowl and beat well with a mixer until really smooth and creamy. 
-Spread into a pudding dish. It doesn't look like an awful lot of mixture at first, don't worry!
-In a jug, dissolve the brown sugar and cocoa in the boiling water.
-Pour this, slowly, over the pudding mixture.
-Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 180C. The pudding will have come away from the edges of the dish when it is ready, and you will see the sauce bubbling up the sides.

I like my chocolate puddings without cream, but I know others prefer cream or ice cream with it.

As a little footnote, one variation of this pudding that I love is, add about 150g of raspberries to the pudding mixture once it has been beaten together. Pour on the sauce as normal. The raspberries melt into a lovely jammy-ness. My husband isn't such a big fan of puddings that are all chocolate but he loves this with the raspberries in it.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Domestic Bliss


............and after

There doesn't look like there is half as much when it is all ironed and folded neatly!

Freshly laundered nappies too......

............and a batch of Pam's Healthy banana loaf and muffins 

From a day of dithering yesterday to a day of domseticity today! Well, technically I wasn't dithering, it was just one of those days that you have with little ones, where you feel like you have been busy all day and have nothing to show for it!

Gaelic word of the day:
well I should probably translate last night's,

Oidhche Math (Oy-che Va) - Good Night

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

To iron or not to iron?

Just a quick post tonight. I feel there are so many other things I should be doing, not least that big pile of ironing in the corner, but I'm trying my best to ignore it! 

I'm not a big fan of ironing. Once I start it's fine, and I find it really satisfying to work through a big basket full and see the neat piles of clothes stack up beside you. It's just summoning up that first bit of courage to start! 

Having said all that, and despite doing my best to ignore the basket calling my name at the moment, I also don't like leaving the ironing lying around for more than a day or two without being done. I think I have my mum to thank for that. Still, it's a bit late to start it just now. I'll plough through it when Alasdair has a snooze tomorrow morning. Or maybe I'll just start some of it just now. Oh the agonising decisions of a busy mum!

I've put this week's dinner menu on the blog today. I also finally completed the little biographies of us all on the About me & my boys page, so you can check them out. My one isn't very exciting. I couldn't think of what to put! I think it must be that Scottish Presbyterian reserve and not wanting to blow ones own trumpet, so to speak.

So, now it's time to decide....20 minutes of ironing?..........or off to bed?

Gaelic word of the day:
leabaidh (l-ya-bee) - bed

I think you can guess what I've decided!
 Oidhche Mhath!

Monday, 27 September 2010

A Sunday Stroll

Yesterday morning we didn't go to our home church. This was because it was the enrolement service for the new year of  the Boy's Brigade and so we went to the church that the company is associated with. The boys marched down to the front of the church and then at the end of the service took their vows and were presented with their membership cards.

David is so chuffed to be able to finally go to Boy's Brigade now that he is old enough, and also to Monday Club, a church club for Primary School aged children.

On a Sunday we have a big traditional Sunday lunch/dinner mid-afternoon, often with a few folk from church round too. If the weather is good we will all go out for a walk before the evening service. Yesterday, we were home from the morning service earlier than usual, so we thought we would try going for a walk BEFORE dinner. Normally we go somewhere we can walk to from the house but yesterday we jumped in the car and drove 5 minutes away to a country park.

It was a really beautiful, autumn day. 

We started off in the woods, by the river.

Little Alasdair slept through the wooded part of the walk.

We then crossed a bridge over the river.

On the other side we saw some steps going up a steep, muddy hill and Andy said 'Let's go and see what's at the top.' He helped me haul the buggy up the steps and when we got to the top we found....

.....some beautiful open farmland.

We found a farm road and followed it in the direction we thought the main road was. Hopefully it would complete a circular route and we would be back where we started. It did and we were.

Little man was awake by now, and enjoying himself.

All that beautiful country-side so near us and so many people just going from A to B all the time not realising what they are missing.

Gaelic word of the day:
Latha na Sàbaid (Laa na Sa-banj) - Sunday (literally- Sabbath Day)

Saturday, 25 September 2010


 In my last post I mentioned that my husband was home for the weekend a day early, and also that he brought butteries with him. 

My non-Scottish readers probably have no idea what a buttery is, so I thought I'd do a quick post explaining them. Only I wasn't too sure how to describe them! 

I asked my hubby how he would describe them. I suggested that I would say they were 'kind of like a round, flat croissant but saltier.' He agreed but said that the texture isn't as light as a croissant. I'm afraid that's the best we can come up with! So here are a couple of pictures.

I love mine with the butter all melted in. My hubby and James prefer a bit of jam on top too.

Butteries are a breakfast food, kind of like a croissant, like I said, and you warm them slightly in the toaster before eating. You need a nice strong cup of breakfast tea with them.

They are associated with the North East of Scotland, where my husband is now working, and are quite hard to find in other parts of the country, although some larger supermarkets do have them. You can't beat the locally bought ones though!

And before I go, here is my latest crochet project, (complete with cute little sleeping baby foot):

I like to keep you all guessing as to what I'm making!

Gaelic word of the day:
bracaist (brac-osht) - breakfast

Have a blessed Sunday everyone.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Recipe of the Week - Victoria Sponge

I had originally planned to have Magic Chocolate Pudding as this week's Recipe of the Week.  Everything was going to plan and we had it tonight for pudding. I looked around the table, glowing with satisfaction as the boys practically licked their plates clean. Then it dawned on me. I hadn't taken a picture of the pudding! I think I may have been distracted by the fact that my beloved came home a day early this week. With butteries!

So here, instead is Plan B. An equally delicious, multi-purpose Victoria Sponge.

This is the cake I make for birthdays. It is easily made bigger by adding an extra 2oz of each ingredient for each extra egg. 

For birthday cakes I usually decorate with sugarpaste icing and shape the cake according to the birthday boy's request! (see bottom of this post.)

We also have this cake quite often as a week-night treat. It is so quick to rustle up if you have a free-standing mixer. Just put everything in the bowl, switch the mixer on and get on with some other part of dinner.

6oz dairy-free margarine
6oz caster sugar
6oz Dove's Farm Wheat-Free Self Raising Flour
3 eggs
2-3tbsp soya milk

-Put the margarine, sugar, flour and eggs into a bowl and beat well with a mixer until soft and fluffy.
- Add the milk and give another good mix together.
-Share the mixture between two greased and base lined 8 inch sponge tins.
- Bake for about 20minutes at 180C until golden brown and firm to touch.
- Transfer to a cooling rack.
-Once cool, sandwich together with butter icing (mix 4oz butter & 12oz icing sugar) and a generous layer of raspberry or strawberry jam.
- Seive some icing sugar over the top of the sponge to decorate, adding strawberries or raspberries if they are in season.

This cake can be made in different shapes of tins, just adjust the cooking time - give it less time in a shallower tin, more time at a slightly lower temperature in a deeper tin.

The cake below was made for James' 10th birthday at the start of the year, when he was a big Club Penguin fan. I made double the mixture and cooked it in two long rectangular tins. Once it was cool and sandwiched together, I trimmed it to the right shape then iced and decorated it.

Magic Chocolate Pudding will hopefully appear next week! Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to my butteries for breakfast tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Super spuds

A few weeks ago we checked on the first of our own potatoes. Tasty as they were, I thought we should give them a few more weeks to grow, since I hadn't got round to planting them until the beginning of June.

Since mince was on the cards for tonight's dinner it seemed the ideal time to try them again. What goes better with mince than freshly dug tatties?

I was living the dream really, because I also had some home-grown carrots in the mince (along with a handful or two of frozen peas) and a home-grown funny shaped, little yellow squash too. I would have had a courgette in it too. There was only one on the plant, and I've been watching it grow slowly over the last few weeks, then when I went out today it had been munched by the pesky squirrels!!

Little Alasdair got the tiny little tatties.

Now I bet you're all wondering why there is a US flag on the table beside him. 

Hmmm, I wish I could answer that! It was just one of the random things he picked up to play with before dinner, and ended up bringing it to the table with him. I didn't notice it until I took the photo!

And this then leads to the question, why do we patriotic Scots have a US flag in our toy box? 

Hmmm, I wish I could answer that one too! I think the flag came from my husband's trip to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, January 2005. 

Anyway, I think all this is side-tracking us from the real point of today's post............. potatoes.

Gaelic word(s) of the day:
bratach (pronounced exactly as it looks for once!) - flag
Na Stàitean Aonaichte (na Stat-chen In-yach-che) - The United States

The underlined ch's sound as in chin, chip etc.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Lewis Chessmen by Calum, aged 7

<b>1. They're One of a Kind</b> <p> 'There are other single pieces that have turned up around Europe,' reports Dr Caldwell, 'but the Lewis Chessmen are by far the biggest and best hoard of such things.'</p> <p> Several individual medieval ivory chess pieces can be viewed at places such as the Louvre and the National Museum in Denmark, but very few are directly comparable to the Lewis Chessmen. 'There are one or two pieces that are very close, including part of a knight that comes from Lund in Sweden, and a now lost broken queen that came from Trondheim itself. Other pieces may turn up here and there.' </p>

Calum's class have now finished their project on the Lewis Chessmen but I asked him to write me a couple of paragraphs about what he had learned about them. He was quite excited when I told him we would put it on the blog!

Calum wrote his facts in Gaelic so I shall do you all the favour of translating them into English! I've done it as literally as possible, with no editing!

The Lewis Chessmen are made out of ivory from a walrus and they were made by the Vikings. The chessmen were found on a beach in Uig on Lewis. It was Calum who found them.

There are 16 pieces in a side: 8 pawns, 2 castles, 2 knights, 2 bishops a king and a queen.

Two people are allowed to play.

I think he was quite chuffed that they were found by someone called Calum!

He also drew a wee picture:

If you want to find out slightly more than a 7 year old can tell you about the chessmen you can read about them here.

Never let it be said that my blog is not informative!

Gaelic word(s) of the day:
tàileasg (tal-eshg) - chess
Lochlannaich (loch-lan-eech) - Vikings
Remember and keep those ch's at the back of your throat!

Yes, I know Viking is perhaps not the most crucial word in the Gaelic vocabulary, but I think it is such a great word I had to have it in today!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Miscellaneous Monday

-We had the first viewers of our house tonight so it was another day spent cleaning! I was thinking this morning how we had been so good at keeping the place tidy and yet it still took me until mid afternoon to get the place ship-shape! Lots of cleaning and hiding things away in cupboards!

- I'm quite strict with how much time my boys spend each day playing on the computer so when I told them they could play from then (3pm-ish) until tea-time they were ecstatic! (It was raining so I couldn't send them outside, and I knew they couldn't make a mess when they were on the computer!)

- Dinner tonight was courtesy of my brother's wife. We were going to call round at dinner time to be out of the house when the estate agent was showing the viewers round anyway, so my sister-in-law asked us to stay for dinner too. What a relief, as then I didn't have to worry about messing up the kitchen to make dinner just before the viewers came!

- After all the cleaning I had a cup of my new favourite tea:
(Tonight's pictures are a bit fuzzy because I was holding Alasdair while taking them!)
The tea is white tea with citrus. James (10) loves it too.

-To finish off tonight's post, I thought I'd share pictures of our bedrooms with you all, since they were so tidy and inviting!

This is mine, my beloved and our little man's room. I'm not sure why it's got that soft romantic focus on the photo, must just have been the lighting! Little man's bed is in the left hand corner, although he still thinks the big bed is his and spends most of his time in there!

Here are Calum (7) and David (4) reading before lights out time.

And here is James' room. He moved into his own room about 9 months or so ago. Before then he had the top bunk in the other room, Calum the bottom and David was in a little first-sized bed. He quite enjoyed having his own room at first, but now misses the company a bit, and says that when we get our new house he and Calum are going to share and David and Alasdair can share another room. 

One of the many benefits of having all boys. They can all bunk in together!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Barbecue Fun

I am pleased to report that I survived the first week without my husband. Well, it was hardly a week, he left to start his new job up north on Monday morning and came home Friday lunchtime. The week didn't seem too long. There is always plenty to keep busy with in this house! Still, I am delighted to have him back home again. 

Yesterday afternoon we had a farewell barbecue at the house here with his old work team. I never did an actual head count but I put 25 plates out and they were all used. Some people brought their wives and children, so the boys had some friends to play with too.  Even little Alasdair had a friend his own age!

On Thursday afternoon while Calum made the yoghurt loaf in the post below, I was busy doing lots of baking for the barbecue. Then once the younger boys were asleep on Thursday night, and I was about to set all the cakes out nicely on the table, James asked if he could help me. I was only to pleased to accept his offer of help, even though it meant him staying up later on a school night. What an excellent job he did of helping me too.

The goodies are, from left to right and starting with the back row:
coffee cupcakes (another batch!), gingerbread, yoghurt loaf, vanilla cupcakes
and at the front
malteser slice, raspberry cheesecake chocolate brownie x2, rocky road and some after-dinner mints.

Here's a couple of close ups just to make you hungry! : )


We were very thankful for the beautiful weather we had.

David had a girl the same age as him to play with... 

...and her little brother had fun with Alasdair.

Once everyone had left we had a family movie night. Normally on a Friday night the boys go to Boy's Brigade but it was off last night, since this is a holiday weekend. We watched RV, one of the boys' and my husband's favourite movies. I'm not sure what is funnier, Robin Williams in the film or watching my husband laugh at the movie. I don't know how many times we've seen this movie and still it cracks him up!

I love the overall message from the film, that the family go from squabbling all the time and doing everything separately to spending time together and actually enjoying one another's company without resorting to computers and other gadgets - my aim in family life! 

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Recipe of the Week - Yoghurt Loaf

This loaf is so quick and easy to make. To prove this, today's loaf was made entirely by Calum (7). He read and measured all the ingredients himself. All I did was melt the margarine for him.

The fun part of this recipe seems to be that you tip the yoghurt into the bowl first and then wash out the carton and use it as the measurer for the other ingredients.

You will need:

1 small carton of smooth soya yoghurt 
(it doesn't matter if it is flavoured, we used Strawberry & Banana today)
2 cartons of sugar
3 cartons of wheat-free self raising flour
2 eggs
5oz dairy-free margarine, melted

-Tip the yoghurt into your bowl then wash and dry the yoghurt carton.
-Use the carton to measure out the sugar and flour and add them to the bowl, mixing it all together with a spoon.
-Add the eggs, again just mix in with a spoon.
-Add the butter and mix until everything is combined well. The mixture looks a bit more like a batter than a traditional cake mix.
-Pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin.

-Bake at 170C for 45mins-1hour until golden and a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

-Enjoy for supper with a nice cup of tea.

Gaelic word for the day (phrase today, actually):
Pìos cèic agus copan tì (pees ceck agus copan tee) - a piece of cake and a cup of tea

The underlined sounds have the emphasis. I'm really going to have to start putting mp3 files on if this is going to make any sense to anyone!