Coffee and Banana Cake

coffee and banana cake2
I had all grand plans this week about writing one of those “10 happy things this week post”, and then what happened is that for reasons I don’t particularly want to disclose too much on the internet, it has been the shittiest week, probably since my cat got hit by a car and I had to go and identify him last year. So yeah. Not a happy Cecilia this week, and it’s probably gonna be a bit glum for a few more days to be honest.

Anyways, so when I woke up on Saturday and was gonna go and make a breakfast smoothie, but discovered that the bananas were a bit too overripe for that, I just thought “screw it – I’m baking a cake” Now cake doesn’t really solve any problems in the world, but I have never heard of it making anything worse either, so I started scouring my cookbooks for Banana cake recipe, and this is what I came through with on the other side

If you find yourself with a number of bananas that you are planning on just putting in the bin because they are overripe, I say go for this option instead!

What you will need is
100g butter
300ml caster sugar
2 eggs
500ml plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (which I am totally noticing when reading the recipe that I forgot to add)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
ripe bananas  – approx 400g (I used 4)
50ml cold coffee

Cream together your butter and sugar until fluffy, then continue creaming, adding one egg at a time.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and combine with the butter/egg/sugar mixture

Mash the bananas, mix them into the batter, and add the coffee.

Add to a cake tin (one of those with a hole in the middle) and bake at the bottom of the oven, for around 60 minutes at 175 degrees celsius.

Take your cake and eat it! It probably goes quite nice with ice cream or whipped cream. I just had a slicet on it’s own, it works that way too!
coffee and banana cake
Remember, bananas are high in Potassium, Potassium is very good for preventing high blood pressure and strokes, so basically this is a healthy cake! 😉

What do you tend to do with overripe fruit and veggies? just bin it or come up with a separate use for them?

Oh by the way, if you are following me on twitter, you may find it a bit confusing in the next few weeks that I start tweeting like crazy about my bus-journeys to work. The reason is I am taking part in a study about commuting and social media use that is being done by the University of Aberdeen. I am helping out with science!

Posted in Food | Tagged | 24 Comments

A Super-extra-ordinary day in my life

Let’s have a look at what I did this Monday shall we? I love reading these kind of posts, so I am basically forcing you to do so as well!

Actually this Monday wasn’t quite as normal as they usually are because I was working from home for a change, but it was a lot easier to take pics that way! (although they are still crappy phone pics but bear with me        )

7.45 – ish

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I got a longer lie-in today due to the whole not having to go into the office thing, and so I get up and get dressed for an 8am start. The great thing about working from home is I get away with wearing trackies and comfy base-layers all day!

8.15-ish

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Coffee is ready and computer is loaded up. Time to do that work!

9.00 – ish

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Work is dull, let’s put some radio on in the background

10.00 – ish

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Taking advantage of no distractions to catch up on a lot of training courses I need to finish – this time it’s all about various standards and regulations. Learning is fun! I am not bored whatsoever! There are actually tests between each module so I better pay attention, i.e switch off the music video channel in the background

11.45 – ish

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After finally completing the training I do some sneaky chores, like hanging up the washing. Isnt it amazing how these kind of tasks seem a lot more appealing to do when you’re meant to do something else? I recognise this from my university days.

13.00 – ish

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After our flat inspection (the reason I stayed at home today) which included in finding out or smoke detector doesnt work (yay) I finally manage to grab some super non-healthy lunch of toast with brown cheese, and tea.  Empty carbs and sugar! mmm

14.00 – ish

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Attempt more training and discover that this goes very well with knitting – multi-tasking all the way! This is gonna be a scarf.

Actually at this point I am struggling, as the training material keeps crashing and I can’t for the life of me figure out why, and start playing about with my java settings and stuff. I am seriously worried about having messed up my work PC. Two hours later I get a message from a colleague that the internet went down at work, and everyone left around 14.00 as there was no point staying there as nothing could be done. I am connected by VPN so this is why I haven’t managed to do anything. Had I been in the office I would have stopped working a long time ago, it is only because I am at home I sit and stress out about this for about two hours instead, until I am told ten minutes before regular close of business hours that I could have just taken the afternoon off. How typical!

17.15-ish

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But look at the sunset from our living room window! How pretty is that? it was gone 5 minutes after taking this pic, and at that point Pete came home from his work, which is not work this week but Jury Duty. Some people get to have all the fun!

17.50-ish

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We head to Tesco for some foodshopping. We mainly buy beer and vegetables.

18.40-ish

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Because when we get home we  whip up a beef and ale casserole for next days dinner. By the time this is done and in the oven neither of us can be arsed cooking anything for tonight’s dinner so we end up with a Pizza from the freezer

19.20-ish

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Which we devour to the sights of Walking Dead Season 3. I want to watch all the episodes, but Pete is mean realistic and sets a curfew on two, because he wants to play Nintendo instead.

21.00-ish

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So I go for a shower and retire to the bedroom watching old episodes of Skins on Netflix, before falling asleep.

So there you have it, my extremely awesome and super interesting Monday this week – nothing much to remember really, except I will now because I have written it down here. My mum always says to not forget the ordinary days in your life, and I guess she has a point, it is the ordinary days we experience the most often I guess.

How was your Monday this week?

Posted in Life | Tagged | 17 Comments

Off the needles – Traditional Norwegian Sweater from Fana

Fana6 As you may or may not know by now, I was born and grew up in Norway but my parents are Swedish and I have a Swedish passport, and generally consider myself Swedish in all aspects. Add the love / hate relationship between Sweden and Norway as a nation and you can guess that my loyalties lie with Sweden at all levels. Apart from a few exceptions.

There are 3 things I think they do better in Norway; Hot dogs, Chocolate and Knitwear!

I am a massive fan of the Norwegian knitwear tradition and the patterns used, and you will have seen in a few posts that I was working on yet another Norwegian traditional Sweater. Trust me, you can never have too many handknitted Norwegian Sweaters! Fana5 So last week, I finally finished this one, and I predict this will be a good contender to my Marius Sweater this year! The pattern is named after the region it originates from, that is, you guessed it I am sure – Fana, which is an area near Bergen on the West Coast.

The Fana Sweater is one of the most popular and well known patterns in Norwegian knitting, and has been made since around the 1850’s in some shape or another. Fana2 If you know your Norwegian knitwear traditions you will be able to recognise a Fana from miles away due to the stripes with the incorporated lice, and the traditional Roses around the collar. In the original Fana sweaters there is also a checker-board pattern around the cuffs and hem, but in my pattern they had skipped that and gone with just a ribbed edge, I modified it to a twisted rib instead as I think it sits much nicer (I realise a lot of you guys have a very limited idea of what I mean about different ribbed edgings etc. but you know, for especially interested this might be of use)
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Colour wise, the Fana is usually knitted in white as the main colour and then a contrast colour of red, blue, or black  or just any you like really) I don’t think there are really any “rules” as such, but there is usually white in there somewhere. I very nearly went with blue and white, but changed my mind when I saw this beige / camel colour in the store, and I am really glad I went for this instead, as I think it goes lovely with the blue!
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The yarn is a blend of alpaca and wool which is super soft and also gives it a slightly fluffier look due to the loose hairs in the alpaca yarn, but alpaca smells a bit like wet dog when wet so I better not get caught in the rain too often
Fana3All in all this took me around a month and a half to complete and I’m not gonna lie, it wasn’t the cheapest yarn I have bought, and it can definitely be knit in cheaper yarns and be just as nice, but I wouldn’t want this one any other way. Let’s just say that I could not make knitting a full-time job – people would not want to pay for the cost of materials and the man-hours that go into making one of these, but as a hobby, it works!

Size-wise this fits me perfectly! Yay for that! – as I mentioned earlier I took a bit of a risk and did not make a swatch to check my gauge and decide on a size before I started, I just went with what I thought was right. Lucky for me it worked out this time – it doesn’t always!

So what next? I made it a goal to make a lot more smaller items this year, like mittens, socks scarves and hats, but that was before I bought that book with Norwegian traditional Sweater and cardigan patterns so hmm.. Is it sad I already have my eye on another Norwegian Classic? I should really be focusing on some of the unfinished items and sweaters I have at home, but oh – the temptation! it is definitely there! And don’t even say anything Sarah because I know what you are thinking right now! haha

Posted in knitting, Norway, Off the needles | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments

Life lately – or “frantically rushing about and not remembering what I have done recently”

Lovehearts

Oh my god, I know I say this every week, but where on earth does the time go? This whole week has just gone by in a whirlwind, and I meant to get some blogging done every day (I have some ideas for a change!) but I come home at the end of the day, and then just.. I don’t know, cook dinner I guess and then it’s time for bed already? And so before I know it there has been almost a whole week with no blogpost. That is just not acceptable, but at the same time, why am I stressing about it – that is not what the blog is for!

So here is another random post of rambling on trying to summarise my week, even though I can’t remember half of it!

First of all, baking.. yes lots of baking, I am sure you are fed up about me harping on about Semlor right now, and so am I, but I was asked on Monday if I could bake “around 30” of these for an event on Saturday, and in a moment of madness, I agreed. Hah!

So that has been the majority of my evenings, baking, food shopping for ingredients I don’t have in the house, and also worrying about how on earth I am gonna transport 30-odd Semlor on a bus on Saturday. That one is solved though because I will be picked up and I will go all IKEA on myself and do all the prep at home, take the pieces in with me and assemble on-site! Pete has been roped in to help, he just doesn’t know it yet!

Also, remember how I said in the recipe that you can make your own almond paste but I had never tried it? well, now I have because I didn’t have any left and was a bit worried that my replenishment order was not going to arrive in time and Oh. My. God, Not tooting my own horn here (I totally am) but home made almond paste for the win! I whisked it up with some almonds, sugar, and added a vanilla pod to the mixture. Seriously – good stuff! the problem is the batch I made will not be enough (and it wont last till Saturday because it is very easy to have a little nibble now and then) so I will have to make some more of that.

By the way did anyone watch the Great British Bake-off for comic relief this week? It was the funniest thing I have ever seen watching Dame Edna cut her cookie out of the tray, or Joanna Lumley realising she had used coffee instead of chocolate in her cake! If you haven’t seen it yet you totally should!

So yeah – that has been the majority of my evenings. It’s worth it just for the fact that I can infiltrate the Norwegian church with SWEDISH bakes – hah!

So what else, oh – I have nearly finished my Fana Sweater – just have some ends to sew in and it needs a bit of smoothing out and then it’s good to go – what’s more it fits perfectly! It was quite funny actually, because I tried it on (I tend to not know whether my finished garments will fit properly until I have actually finished them because who cares about swatch testing and measuring when you can just spend two months working on something you have no idea if it fits? YOLO!) and my lovely husband said – oh it looks so good on you, you look like you’ve lost some weight actually – and I was just like.. hmm.. no this is just because I went up a size from what I normally knit! Ah well, it fits, and I think I will wear it a lot, and that’s all that matters!

Oh, and of course there is valentines day tomorrow. Have you got anything nice planned? I am not expecting anything – every year it’s always the same thing, Pete goes on for weeks in advance about how it’s just commercialised and that whole spiel, and I nod in agreement, and he is right – we don’t need valentines day to show that we care about each-other. So I know that there aren’t any flowers or fancy meals coming my way, and I’m cool with that, I promise! But still when it comes to the day, I just end up being a bit grumpy and mumbling on about how he could at least have got me a card. Every Year. What can I say it’s tradition! Happy Valentines day to one and all except for my grumpy bugger of a husband!

But I did get some mini – lovehearts the other day so I thought I would use them in this post, just because! We can pretend it was for valentines!

How has your week been? Any plans for the weekend? Cards galore?

Posted in Life, Rambling | 9 Comments

The girl who went up a mountain and did nothing.

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I don’t know about you guys, but this weekend my one and only plan was to do as little as possible. So when I got asked on Thursday if I wanted to come along on a skiing trip to the Cairngorms I initially thought – nah – not for me! After all I am just not a big fan of skiing at all, the last time I tried, I ended up walking down the mountain after closing time as I couldn’t even get my skis back on my feet after I fell over. Let me tell you walking down-hill in skiing boots is hard. Especially when the lights are switched off!

Therefore, my initial thought was thanks but no thanks. But then I thought about it. Essentially it was a free trip to Avimore, which is a lovely place, but I have never been there in the winter, and there are some great coffee shops that I could hang out in, and also I have a friend who lives nearby that I could meet up for a coffee or something whilst the rest of the group was off skiing or snowboarding or whatever it is they do, and so I decided – why not – I had no plans anyway so might as well get out of the flat for a little bit – that is after all one of the goals I had in mind for 2015!

So bright and early at 6,45 Saturday morning I was  picked up, and me and a small group of people headed up towards the mountains. I’m a bit of a sucker though, because I think sometimes the actual drive is the most enjoyable thing about a trip. Probably because I don’t drive myself, so it still has a bit of a novelty.

It was a gorgeous day, so once we were actually up at the  mountain, I quickly realised that I would have to alter my plans slightly. I definitely wanted to take the funicular railway to the top, skiing or no skiing, and have a look at the views, and also to be able to say I had my lunch at Britian’s highest restaurant. (Even though they were quite pricey and it was mobbed) and once we eventually got up there, I couldn’t quite figure out how I could make my way off the mountain, and down to Aviemore to meet my friend, on my own, and to be honest, I was quite happy sitting up there enjoying the views, whilst everyone else were off skiing. I felt a bit bad just abandoning my group who had invited me to come along you know?cairngorm2
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And so it was that I ended up spending Saturday sitting at the top of the 5th highest mountain in the UK, watching our bags, guarding the snack-box, reading books, and knitting on my sweater to some spectacular views of the Cairngorm national park on a winters day.
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From sitting quietly I even got to eavesdrop on some well random conversations. The nightly exploits of a group of 3 20-something boys and “who woke up in which bed” was an interesting one to listen to, but the most amusing / shocking was definitely the man who was in a bit of a pickle as he had been dog-sitting for a friends Chihuahua and have come home one day to find his cat had mistaken the dog for prey and eaten it and he wasn’t sure how to break the news to his friend…  like, I don’t even…

All in all, yeah, I didn’t do much at all, but I did pretty much the same thing I would have done at home in my flat, and so why not change the scenery a bit? I might even try my hands on skiing next time!

Have you ever been skiing in the Cairngorms or elsewhere?

Posted in Life, Scotland | Tagged , | 19 Comments

3 things I have been loving recently

Halfway through the week you guys! Friday will be here before we know it!

Here are three things I have been loving recently, and one that I haven’t loved at all

IMG_20150112_131901Firstly, my new office mug that my mum painted for me – isn’t it really cute? It is not supposed to be me, but it does have a bit of a resemblance I’d say – minus the glasses. My mums hobby is painting porcelain, and she loves the fact that people use the things she makes, so this is a win win for both of us. I get a lovely mug for work, and she gets to make things!

Secondly, my microfiber towel. –  Yes you read it right I am raving about a towel! Since January I have been going to the gym 4 times a week. Although don’t look too impressed because most of the time I spend hiding in the back of the room pretending to do the plank with a pained expression and just cursing the world and going “whyyyyyyyyyyy??” for about 30 minutes, but you know, at least I am in the gym right? Anyways, getting this microfiber towel from Amazon was a godsend, because it literally dries itself as it dries so after you’re showered and ready you are left with a dry towel that you can fold away into a tiny pouch, and you don’t have a lung a wet bathroom towel back and forth to your house every day! Amazeballs!

(Image by the little library cafe)

Thirdly, this blog – I just discovered it this week.  – Do you like baking? Check! Do you like books? You bet ya! Kate from The Little Library Cafe gives you a new recipe inspired by a book every week and to me that is just the perfect combination. What about these Turkish delights, inspired by the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? Certainly something I want to try to make! Why don’t you head over and have a browse and see if she has baked your favourite book yet?

Now, one thing I have not been liking lately, is the combination of snow and public transport. Today for example, I was chairing a couple of meetings at work, and wanted to get in early to get my breakfast and other stuff sorted before.

Right on cue, we got a couple of cm’s snow and the buses just draw to a standstill! I waited out in the cold for about 40 minutes before the bus showed up, and by that time of course we got stuck in traffic, and the end result is I was late in to work, and had to panic eat an apple for the 5 minutes between meetings that I had this morning. This is not something I do well. Panic-eating means lack of chewing which seriously increases my risk of choking. Seriously snow and bus – I could have died! Please do better next time!

What sort of things have you been liking and not liking recently?

Posted in Life | 22 Comments

So you want to make a Semla?

Semlor Header

That subject line should be read to the opening line of  the song Do you want to build a Snowman? from Frozen – you’re welcome for me putting that song in your head for the rest of the day!

This will be a fairly lengthy post, but if you do decide to try this for yourself I promise you it’s worth it! Pete just told me today that this might nip his previous favourite, the cinnamon rolls I make to out of the top spot, and I have to admit I don’t know how I feel about that! But they are both made from the same base, so it’s all good!

Anyways, to give you a brief presentation of the Semla, it is pretty much as Swedish as it gets. Of course with anything “Swedish as it gets” it seems to have its roots in Germany. Pretend you didn’t read that!

A Semla is was usually eaten on Fettisdagen, aka Fat Tuesday,aka Shroves Tuesday, aka what you English speaking people know as p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-pancake day, however as Sweden converted to Protestantism and moved away from observing lent, they started eating it around every Tuesday between Shroves Tuesday and Easter. Why deny yourself of the good stuff when you can just keep on eating? These are actually common in the rest of Scandinavia as well, but the recipe vary from country to country so I will stick to the Swedish version.

To make these I suggest you make it in 2 stages, unless you have a whole day devoted or something. The recipe for the bun makes around 20 servings and these can be frozen, then you could take out as many as you need on the day you want to assemble your Semla. These are quite rich, and very filling, and VERY calorific, so you probably do not want to make 20 in one go. Fun fact – in 1771 the King of Sweden died following digestion issues, after having had a meal consisting of Sauerkraut, lobster, caviar, smoked herring, and 14 helpings of Semla. Don’t do what he did! Just don’t.

Anyway, on to the recipe.

For the buns 

You will need:

  •  7-10g dry yeast (about a pack and a half)
  • 150g butter
  • 500ml milk
  • half a teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom, or one and a half if you use cardamom pods, release the seeds and use a mortar and pestle to crush them up
  • 1 egg (plus one for brushing the buns)
  • approx 1,3 to 1,5 liters of plain flour

Melt the butter, and add the milk and let this cool down until it’s sitting at or just above body temperature (it should feel neither hot or cold when you put a finger in the milk – make sure hands are washed!)

Mix all the ingredients together, preferably using a dough hook and leave to mix for at least 10 minutes, letting the gluten develop in the dough. Don’t add in all the flour at once, just as much as you need for the dough to let go from the side of the bowl. (I usually find that 1,3 litres  is enough)

Leave the dough to proove for at least 30-40 minutes, until it has doubled in size. When I do this, I usually cover the bowl with a plastic bag, and leave it to stand over a sink / tray with boiling water, this really helps, but I also have a very drafty and cold kitchen, so you may not need to do this.
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Once the dough has prooved, take it out, give it a bit of a kneading, and divide into around 20 pieces of equal size. Roll these out to buns, and set to proove again for about 20-30 minutes, again till they are about twice the size. Brush them with some whisked egg, and bake in the middle of the oven, at 250 degrees C for around 8 – 10 minutes. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.
How about them bunsDid you end up with something like this? Good – Freeze or eat or whatever you fancy!

So the next thing you will need is to transform your cardamom buns from plain buns into a Semla, I chose to use 4 because a – I do not want to die like the king did, but also b  – if they were gonna end up a success I wanted to make sure there were more than one available to eat both for me and Pete.

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Now here is what you will need for the rest

  • Approx 200grams of almond paste. (You can either make your own  or be lazy and buy it from a shop, like Scandinavian Kitchen. I was lazy, and I have never tried to make my own, but I am sure it is tasty if you do)
  • Whipping Cream – a small pack
  • Some milk
  • Icing sugar

First thing to do – grate your almond paste, cut a lid (the top) of each of your buns and dig out the dough to make a hole. The dough should then be mixed up with the almond paste, use a splash of milk until you get the consistensy you want. Then, you want to place your dough / almond  / milk mixture back into each bun, like so:Semlor2Whip your cream and layer on top of each bun:
Semlor3Try to remember which lid goes with which bun, and put back on top, dust with icing sugar (I may have bought a brand new sieve just solely for this purpose only to realise a tea-strainer does the trick beautifully) and you are done – Ta-da!
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Serve just as they are, or you can heat up a splash of hot milk for these to swim in, If you like soggy bottoms on your cakes. I definitely prefer them plain.

Next you should probably sign up for a spinning class and go for a run!

Have you ever heard of these before, or come across any traditional bakes for Lent / Shroves Tuesday in your country?

Posted in Food, Swedish | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments