Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Points, Book, Queen Elizabeth's 90th.

I am annoyed, I got an email from our grocery store points programme telling me fish was on points. I didn't realise it wasn't until tomorrow. I'm tempted to return the fish I bought and buy it again LOL.

Been reading, and oddly enjoying, my attempt at writing my memoirs. I am horrified at how many typos there are but at least I can fix them as I go. One word was puzzling me, I was talking about organ meats during the war years and mentioned you only got live depending on your initials that week. Then I suddenly realised I had meant liver. Duuh. Not something I had ever liked until I found a Portuguese recipe which I love. I have posted it here before. Iscas. Our Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavenaugh, suggested I should call my book Grandma Dragon after my nickname. That's just what I have done, brilliant idea.

Unbelievable, tomorrow we have our cleaner coming at 8:30 then at some point I will be getting a call from Medigas who are coming to collect all the paraphernalia which was rented for Matt when he broke his ankle bone, then in the afternoon the carpet people are finally going to come and fix the thresholds which are pulling away and in one case likely to cause a bad fall if not fixed soon. Taken 'em long enough. I can't remember how long ago I submitted a work order to the management.

Just watched a delightful programme on PBS celebrating the Queen's 90th birthday over a year ago. They showed personal family videos, apparently the Queen used a cine camera a lot of the time as did other members of the family as there are lovely shots of both Elizabeth and Margaret as children, also of Charles and Anne as kids too. It was narrated by Prince Charles but there are shots of William and Harry watching the films and commenting as well as Princess Anne and other members of  the family. It was a very enjoyable 90 minutes and I am so glad we watched it. Of course Matt and I lived through a lot of the happenings, she is, after all, only 8 years older than Matt and not much more than that with me. There were shots of the Queen and Prince Charles watching all the home videos and commenting on them. Just like you and I - oh look there's so and so!! Quite a lot of Princess Margaret who died in 2002 of her third stroke. Her daughter Lady Sarah Chatto was commenting on the videos too.

I have heard of Simnel Cake but had no idea what it was until I saw this recipe. Sounds pretty good to me and a great thing to have for Easter Dinner. Caster sugar is the same as regular sugar in North America.

Simnel Cake

Simnel cakes originated in the medieval era. It is a light fruitcake, covered in marzipan, then toasted. Eating of the cake signifies the end of Lent so it is rich with the butter, eggs and milk which were restricted during Lent. Marizipan or almond paste is baked into the middle and topped with eleven marzipan balls representing the true disciples of Jesus (omitting Judas). In some variations Christ is also represented by the placement of a ball in the centre. The cake is also served as Mothering Cake. While Mother’s Day is celebrated in early May in North America, families across the British Isles
celebrate on the 4th Sunday of Lent. Mothering Sunday was commemorated in England in the 1600s, a day for all — including servants — to spend a day with their mothers.

Almond Paste
1 lb icing sugar, sifted
2 cups ground almonds
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
3 -4 Tbs orange juice
5 Drops Almond Extract

1 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lb mixed dried fruit: currants, dark and golden raisins, red glace cherries
¼ cup candied citrus peel, chopped
1 orange, zested
¾ cup unsalted Butter
1 cup caster sugar (or sugar substitute)
3 eggs
2 Tbs milk
2 Tbs apricot jam

1. Prepare the almond paste: Making your own almond paste is much better than store bought which tends to have too much sugar and which may liquefy under the broiler. To make your own almond paste you will need a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process, the icing sugar and ground almonds, slowly dripping in egg yolk, orange juice and almond essence. The mixture should form a pliable paste. Set aside a small portion for 11 balls to decorate the cake. Roll out the remaining paste into 2 circles which are the approximate size of your baking pan. You can use the bottom of the pan to trace an outline and cut inside the line to ensure a good fit.

2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare a 9 inch spring form pan, by lightly greasing the bottom and sides.

3. Sift flour, salt and spices together, then stir in fruit and peel. Cream butter and sugar thoroughly until light and creamy, then beat in eggs one at a time, until the mixture is fluffy. Reserve a teaspoon of egg for finishing the cake later. Gently stir flour and fruit into the creamed mixture in two stages, adding a little more milk to give the mixture a dropping consistency.

4. Place half the mixture into the prepared pan. Place one pre-rolled round of almond paste on top. Cover with remaining cake mixture. Before baking the cake, give the pan a few sharp taps on a firm surface. This settles the mixture and prevents holes from forming in the cake.

5. Place the pan on a baking sheet. To prevent the cake from drying out, wrap corrugated cardboard — extending about an inch above the pan — and secure it with twine.

6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour. Lower the heat to 300°F and bake for an additional 3 hours or until a thin metal skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

7. Level the cake by placing a heavy pot on top of the cooked cake while it is still hot. When the cake has cooled slightly, remove the pot and the cardboard, and place the cake on a wire rack, allowing to cool completely in the pan.

8. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam which has been warmed, then cover the top of the cake with the second round of almond paste. Roll 11 small balls of retained paste and place evenly around the edges on top of the cake. Brush the top with a little beaten egg and very lightly brown under the grill until the almond paste turns light golden brown. Remove and leave to cool. You can now release the clip on the spring form pan.

9. The cake is often decorated with a ribbon tied around the base and a few edible flowers placed on the top

Servings: 10

Author: Pamela Foster
Source: Zoomer

Have a great day


  1. Glad you like the name for your book!
    Queen Elizabeth is going to live to be a hundred. Or longer. Charles might not even make it long enough to be king.

    1. Yes Alex, thanks.

      I think you might be right although she still has 9 years to go. Charles is only 69 though, probably got a few good years in him yet. I wouldn't have thought he would take the throne though at his age, but pass it straight on to William.

  2. I watched the program last year and really enjoyed it. Sometimes I wish I had taken videos of my boys when they were young.

    I started a book about my life years ago too. I actually had a little book with the questions to be answered. Unfortunately, my answers would drag me off on some memory and it was taking forever. I think it is still here on my computer. Don't think I got very far.

    1. Guess we missed it last year Denise, but it was good. I do have trouble understanding Prince William though. Harry is much easier.

      I only managed about 49 pages too.

    2. LOL. And you speak the same language.

    3. After 40 some years, I am not sure I do any more Denise. But he mumbles a bit. However, these days I am not used to listening to a British accent.

  3. The Queen has really hung in there. I keep hoping that William will be king instead of Charles. He is such a whiny manbaby. Jealous of the attention Diana got, jealous of the attention Will & Kate get. He'd make a terrible king.

    1. Where did you get that idea JoJo? I don't think he is a bit jealous. Unfortunately Diana was too young for him and he was already in love with Camilla anyway. And Charles is his son - he is already retiring from the limelight the way his father did.

  4. Hi Jo - well done on the book ... and good that the Queen's 90th is available here - it was interesting. Love simnel cake ... cheers Hilary

    1. Thanks Hilary. Well apparently it was available in North America last year.

  5. Grandma Dragon is fantastic. I love it.

  6. I'm very fond of the Queen. Have you watched The Crown? It's a great series.