Cinnamon buns with orange glaze – happy new year brunch!

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I kinda made up the recipe, but basically it’s 225g bread flour, 1/4 pint warm water, about a tsp instant yeast, 1/2 tsp salt, knead it all together and leave it to rise for an hour somewhere warmish. Roll it out into a rectangle. Heat about 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a little saucepan until it’s melted, then cool it down by adding about another tablespoon of oil (I used rapeseed), add in a couple of tablespoons sugar (I used soft brown) and a teaspoon of cinnamon and maybe quarter-half a teaspoon of allspice. Spread the cinnamon mix onto the rectangle, roll it up and slice it into 8 pieces, arrange them in a baking dish and leave them to rise for another 40 mins, then bake them in an oven at about 180c/350f degrees for 15-20 mins. The glaze was just a bit of icing sugar and a couple of spoonfuls of soya milk and the zest of an orange, but you could use the juice instead of milk if you wanted it really zingy, or leave the zest out if you just want the cinnamon to shine through. It actually could have stood a bit more cinnamon but that was the last of the jar and it had been open a while so your mileage may vary.

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£100 challenge – day two

Today’s spend: £3.35

Total spend for month so far: £3.35.

You might think that as I decided to do this challenge at least a week ago I’d have sneakily bought things in preparation back in September, but part of my reason for taking this on is that I’m regularly buying things so I’m prepared to withstand going shopless for a good while. Maybe reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter several times in my formative years overly influenced me, or listening to my granny’s stories of wartime rationing? Why else would I have felt the need to buy four heavily-reduced Christmas puddings in January, knowing that since they’re  “eat before” next spring, I could be comfortably confident for months, knowing I had thousands of calories of dense, fruity, cake-like-substance to turn into pudding-and-custard ice-lollies, or chop up and wrap in pastry with some apples to make a sort of strudel, or perhaps crumble into melted chocolate to make easy, rich fruit truffles?

Of course, I haven’t done any of those things. While I like Christmas pudding fine, it’s in strict moderation, and since my cupboards are always well-stocked with lots of things I like more, I just haven’t got around to my grand plans yet.

I really didn’t need to buy food today at all, however I did need washing up liquid, so after work I took a walk across town to the Co-operative supermarket. I will always buy washing up liquid from them for preference, they were the first mainstream shop I was aware of that proudly boasted of not testing their cleaning products on animals, and made it clear when the products didn’t include animal ingredients either. I love that they continue to boldly splash this on the front of their packaging, including the value range, so you don’t have to pay a premium for following your conscience.
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On my way to the Co-op i had to pass the market. They had HUGE bowls of bananas going for 50p, at least fifteen bananas to a bowl! And bananas are always useful… I only had a pound left in my purse of £3.50 at this point because before that I had passed a Big Issue seller, so £2.50 went to buy a Big Issue. In case you’re from outside the UK, this is our street magazine sold by homeless or precariously-housed people. I can’t deny that it gave me a slight pang to hand over £2.50 for a magazine, but I know times are particularly tough for the vendors at the moment, and in case it sounds like I’m trying to make myself look noble at a relatively small cost, I fully acknowledge I do get a heartwarming glow from things like this which, in however small a way, are giving people a helping hand. So, it was money well spent because I got a glow, a smile from the seller, and a magazine to boot!

The weather in Leicester is dull and gloomy today. At work I ate a handful of hazelnut for breakfast, and when I got back home I wanted something warm and filling, but not too heavy, so I made an experimental banana cake with ginger, cinnamon and cardamom, and an apple-cinnamon sauce to go with it. Apart from a spoonful of molasses, the only sweetness in the cake comes from the bananas. It’s not quite right yet, so I won’t post a recipe. I’ve got plenty more bananas to experiment with though, and at least I’ve made a start on those apples now!

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(Oh, and in case my mum is reading this I also did some jacket potatoes, and had some hummus and tomatoes, and I’ll be doing something with those mushrooms and the rest of the runner beans later. Don’t worry, I’m not living on cake!)


Thirsty Thursday – poorly potions

Possibly due to the changing of the seasons a large number of people where I work seem to have come down with cold or sore throat type ailments. Sadly, I am included in the crowd of malady sufferers, though infuriatingly it’s not been bad enough for me to be able to take a sick day, rather I have a low-level sore throat and sniffle going on, and sneeze now and then for good measure.

Whenever illness strikes I, like many others, take comfort in a warm cupful of something. My daytime choice is a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of Marigold bouillon powder (I’ve mentioned this stuff before, because I have a massive tub of it. I’ve been known to enjoy Kallo brand as well, although it’s irritating that not all of their tubs are vegan.) and about half a teaspoon of dried ginger powder.

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Because I have the humungous container of powder I’ve been able to transfer a few spoonfuls to a little jar to add to my stash at work. Not pictured: the remains of 100g bag of ginger I’m still trying to make progress on before its use-by at the end of next month.

Second in my line-up of soothing mugstuffs is a simple, comforting drink made from apple juice, hot water and cinnamon. It’s nice and easy, perfect if you’re not feeling too hot as it requires half a mugful of boiling water to be poured over a heaped teaspoon of powdered cinnamon, then the mug topped up with apple juice and a good stir with a teaspoon. I can’t think of a more comforting drink, with the possible exception of my final suggestion.

Last on the list, for when feeling ghastly and in need of a soothing cheer – make up a packet of vegetarian jelly crystals, strawberry for preference, with the requisite pint of water. Then fill a mug or bowl with some of the mixture, get a soup spoon and start dipping it out in spoonfuls and just wait for it to start setting in the spoon. As soon as a jiggly skin starts to form, down the hatch! It’ll still be a bit warm, and brilliantly comforting to a sore or scratchy throat.

If none of these suggestions tickles your fancy (perhaps you are feeling particularly fit and well at the moment. Good for you!)  I leave you with a picture of something I saw in a skip earlier today…

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