Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A-Z Queen Victoria’s Painting, Reminiscing,

I have discovered that some bloggers are writing with an A-Z theme following the dates, i.e. April 1 was A, April 2 B and so on, a couple of bloggers (Hilary Melton-Butcher being one) are writing about British castles and Sia McKye wrote about a British ship, the Britannic, sister ship to the Titanic. I was wondering how I could fit into this as my subjects are so varied. About the only thing I could think of would be to do recipes with the letter of the day which I think would be difficult. I suppose I could give my blog over to one topic for the month, but if I came across something I really wanted to write about I would be screwed. One thing I was really fascinated to learn from Hillary was that Queen Victoria painted, there is a picture on her site. Pretty good. Here are a couple I found on the net.

I think both paintings were done at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The first is very similar to the one in Hillary Melton-Butcher’s blog.

Our Monday bowling was pretty mediocre again, oh well, we are getting some exercise out of it. One of our team members was telling me how bad her balance is, I suggested she should learn T’ai Chi – my balance improved by leaps and bounds once I started to practice it. Before that I used to trip over shadows. I remember one time in England getting out of the car and falling right across the road, I was so lucky that there was no traffic coming. This was in Rochester High rochesterBuilding_2126055iStreet, in Kent. These days they have prohibited traffic from that street altogether although delivery vehicles are permitted. In fact, in my opinion, they have killed the place. What was once a wonderful street with great shops is now full of twee little tourist places called Pickwick’s this or Oliver’s that – another is Sweet Expectations. Matt and I were reminiscing the other night and thinking of Dales which was a wonderful food store where, apart from anything else, they used to roast their own coffee and you can imagine how wonderful the smell when you walked by. I remember them cutting bacon to order too. My mother shopped there regularly. Today it would probably be called a deli store, but in those days it was a grocery store which sold all the food you could possibly want. Over the road was MacFisheries where my mother shopped for seafood. I remember they would open an oyster for one to try (not that I ever did in Leonardsthose days). We didn’t live in Rochester itself by then (although we had done so for a few years) but in a village called Hoo St. Werburgh where our local butcher would cut meat to our requirements and who made his own sausages which were wonderful. In Rochester there was a big department store called Leonard’s and I remember my mother went to their hairdressers regularly and we bought a lot of our clothes there as well as in another store called Cobb’sThe Bull which had fantastic coats, sweaters and many other things. When we emigrated I bought a camel coat there and Matt bought a sheepskin coat which he still has to this day, doubt it will ever wear out. All these stores have disappeared now. The Mathematical School which was on the high street has also been knocked down and is a parking lot today. I just found a couple of pictures, one is certainly from the ‘50s showing Leonard’s, not sure about the date of the second one. The Bull, in Rochester, used to be a very popular ‘watering hole’. There was also an excellent steak house there before we emigrated. The Bull is also where Henry VIII, he of the 6 wives, met Anne of Cleaves, his fourth wife. He took one look at her and said “no thanks” and promptly divorced her, lucky woman. He chopped the heads off two of ‘em.

Coincidentally I got this recipe in my inbox, so C is for Carrot Cake. I know I have posted carrot cake recipes before,  but as it is one of my favourites, you are likely to get more in the years to come. It occurs to me C is for chocolate too. I am not really locked into this theme yet mind you although I have got a D recipe for tomorrow.

Classic Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

Food and Wine, Contributed by Jodi Elliot
Servings 8-10
CakeCarrot Cake2
  1. 1 cup pecans (4 ounces)
  2. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 cup vegetable oil
  8. 1/2 cup buttermilk
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  10. 4 large eggs
  11. 2 cups sugar
  12. 1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded


  1. 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  2. Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  3. 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  4. 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment. Butter the paper and flour the pans.
  2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and finely chop the pecans.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk and vanilla. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients. Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots and pecans. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until springy and golden. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold the cakes and let cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese at high speed until light, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the confectioners' sugar; beat at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Peel off the parchment paper and invert one cake layer onto a plate. Spread with a slightly rounded cup of the frosting. Top with the second cake layer, right side up. Spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting and refrigerate the cake until chilled, about 1 hour. Slice and serve.
Have a great day


  1. Jo, I am part of the A-Z challenge, too, and clicked onto your link from the list.

    What a lovely site!

    Thank-you for sharing your recipes. I love carrot cake.


  2. my blog is also unlimited in subject so i kinda go with the letter of the day and think up some random idea and hope it works xD i really suck at this challenge stuff :P

  3. Thank you both for dropping in. I will check what you have to say.

  4. Hello,

    What a wonderful post! I found you on the A to Z Challenge, and I will definitely be back to read more of your lovely writing!! Keep up the great work.

    Stop over at my site too if you get a chance. :) I write humor stuff (or sometimes serious stuff that people laugh at? Does that make it humor then?).


  5. Thank you for sharing. I'm in the A to Z Challenge as well, and I love the carrot cake recipe (it counts as a vegetable, right?). I look forward to more of your writing.

  6. Thanks Nancy and MOV I am enjoying reading what you have written too.

  7. Hi Jo .. I just chose a theme last year - using ABC .. Aspects of the British Countryside, and adapted it this year to Aspects of British Castles .. I can do a few more like that ..

    My Castle posts are short but they're every day, I usually only post once or twice a week .. as you know I write and weave at the same time ..

    I just found it easier with a theme .. as I can so easily change my mind - thanks for posting about me ..

    PS - could you please take off the Word Verification .. it's a request from us all to us all!!

    Cheers Hilary

  8. I taught in Winchester as an exchange student. Your photos bring it all back. A new follower from a-z.

  9. Hello.
    Visiting from the A-Z Challenge. It's my first time taking part.

    Love carrot cake...got any leftovers? (smile) Enjoyed reading your post. Good luck with the rest of the challenge!

    Day 3: Cosmopolitan Flower

  10. Hilary, I took off the word verification a week or so ago and immediately got spam. Maybe I will try it again.

    Welcome lover of words and Andy David, nice to see you here. I too have never taken part in this before, it seems like its gonna be fun. You know, I am not sure I was ever in Winchester, unless it was when I was a littlie and my father travelled around the country taking mother and I.

    No leftovers Andy, I am a pig when it comes to carrot cake.

  11. OK, Hilary I have taken WV off again. Will see what happens.

  12. Another thought. I think that Queen Victoria, as part of her education, was taught to paint watercolors. Her paintings look quite proficient.

  13. I suppose that in her day that would have been part of her education, you are right. All young ladies were taught music, painting, embroidery and such and not much more when she was a youngster. Mind you, so was I but it didn't do me much good. Couldn't play the piano worth a damn. I wasn't too bad at painting and embroidery, but haven't touched either in years.

  14. visiting from the A to Z challenge and loved your post. We are devoted to everything to do with Queen Victoria on the Isle of Wight which was one of her favorite places.


  15. I love recipes on anything. A Carrot Cake. I love them. this is from scratch. the only cake my dear husband will attempt to eat. must copy. oh i'm visiting from the A-Z Challenge.
    new gfc follower. http://sidnereading.blogspot.com

  16. Found you on the A-Z list...love the recipe, I didnt expect that.
    here is my link I made a page just for A-Z

  17. Hello fellow A to Z'er!

    My blog is also uber random so it's nice to seomone else who is highlighting lots of different things! I'm totally with you on the love of food, travel and chocolate! I haven't posted a recipe in a while, though... I should gt back on that.

    Enjoy the April challenge!