Cake tins.

Whilst handing over the freshly baked rich fruit cake to my Dad my Mum and I were making a pot of tea in the kitchen when she suddenly darted into the draw where she keeps her cake tins and rummaged around a little and found and presented me with her Christmas cake tin and asked me if I would like it.

Like it? I’d Love it.

I could see she was a little bit sad at handing over such a treasure and she tried to explain that it was old and a bit rusty but once you’d lined it really well etc etc. I brushed her worries aside and told her how I had hubby’s mothers original Christmas cake tin and how it too needs to be lined well, and how happy I was to have both cake tins. I mean to say for me, I couldn’t have been happier if you had given me the crown jewels. I’ve used hubby’s Mothers Christmas cake tin all the way through my 30 years of marriage, hubbys Mum gave up on Christmas cake making quite early really. And my Mother was until recently a very avid baker of a fruit cake, making I would think at least ten maybe more a year, it has definitely seen decent service. If only we could go to all the parties and Christmases that these cake tins have been used for, in much the same way that Scrooge visits Christmas past, it would be wonderful wouldn’t it.

Hubby’s Mum’s is on the left and my Mum’s is on the right. It made me laugh when I put them together, one can see that hubby comes from a family of four and we come from a family of seven just by the size of the cake tin!

There are no identifying marks on the tins but when one turns them over I am pretty sure that are made by the same manufacturer. They seem to feel the same, have the same welding and air holes etc. Both tins must be over sixty years old, hubby’s Mums might be getting on for eighty!

The beauty of these tins is that they are made specifically for the baking of a rich fruit cake, you would never bake a light cake in them because of their construction. I don’t know if you can see but they have a double layer on the bottom with an air gap in-between the layers which makes them perfect for the long slow cooking of a fruit cake, mine often stay in for 4 1/2 hours, sometimes a little more. If you used a normal tin, even with a good layer of grease proof you would run the risk of burning the bottom of the cake. In fact it’s almost a certainty, but with a cake tin like this and a good quadruple layer of brown paper around the sides tied up with string the cake cooks evenly and gently.

And along with this I have never come across one of this type of tin brand new. Which is I think a terrible shame, manufacturers are missing a trick there. And I’ve never seen a second hand one and believe me I have looked.

Yesterday Mum and I looked through her old recipe books for her original cake recipe, I wanted to christen my new to me tin and present her with a cake that she loved to eat and make from me. Sadly we could not find it, so I am in search of a recipe to fill such a big tin. I’ll find one soon before my next batch of baking.

I can safely say this tin has gone to a very good home.

October wet but busy.

As with all allotment holders that enjoy their food I have been busy gathering and storing mine. Tomatoes have been gathered in.

Apples and pears were picked and then processed for the freezer, we managed 22lb of peeled and cored apples this year. I’m so pleased because last year this apple tree gave us two apples and one of those was not much bigger than an acorn.

And with the left over peel I am making organic apple cider vinegar.

We have been pumpkin hunting, which was great fun and found three beautiful Crown Prince to add to our not so great harvest this year.

There has been chestnuting, an old custom from our town, all ages take part and this year the sweet chestnuts have been excellent – must have been all that rain.

It is a slow and arduous process to get the second skin off a sweet chestnut, but one that is worth it I think. My method is to snip the pointy end into a cross with a pair of kitchen shears then plunge five and only five chestnuts into boiling water for one minute, lift out into a bowl and run to the table with them and pull of the first shell and with the aid of a pointy knife lift off the second skin. This must be done while the chestnut is still hot otherwise the second skin known as the ‘tan’ which is the pellicle (and this tastes bitter and is best removed) welds itself back onto the chestnut. While I am doing this I have turned off the heat and thrown another five into the hot water, I repeat the process until the water becomes murky and cool and start again with fresh water. If the chestnut cools, simply plunge back into hot water to warm the chestnut and allow the second skin to be removed.

I have three pounds in weight in the freezer and a half bag to do this morning. Then that will do me, even though chestnuts are still bouncing off the parked cars sat underneath the chestnut trees. Unless I get a second wind, that is! You never know!

I’ve been baking rich fruit cakes this autumn. It is nice to get the oven going after a long hot summer, this is my fourth cake. I think there is a competition between hubby and my Dad as to who can eat them the fastest. I use Delia’s recipe, she’s never let me down although I do increase the ratio of nuts, cherries and citrus rind, but add 25g of extra flour to compensate and a little longer in the oven.

Along with that the autumnal crops are coming along. We ate some beautiful rainbow chard yesterday that I made into a garlic and cream gratin which we had with some very local sheep, which was delicious. The sheep had been reared and grown, slaughtered and delivered to me, all on the same lane. It seemed a natural process to have it with our home grown rainbow chard, also grown on the same lane. How’s that for food miles!

What with all the rain we have not got on top of the plot as yet, it looks like it is drying out for a few days so we should get a little autumn digging done, fingers crossed.

Creatively, I’m at the start of a crochet blanket, several socks are lodged in nooks and crannies around the house, a King sized quilt is half way through and ideas abound.

One month, no buy.

Well the first half of the month was definitely more tricky than the second half. It is all about discovery and I have discovered that make up has become even more addictive than I thought it was. There is something that lifts the soul when wandering through a department store looking at all the jewel like offerings as their packages glitter in the light whilst singing in soft enchanting voices, ‘buy me, I am beautiful’.

There was that purchase at the beginning of the month and then and lets be honest, there was a make up palette that came home with me a couple of weeks ago, it was just too beautiful. But it is a learning curve on how best to curb those cravings for pleasure, or at least turn them into something other than a need to purchase pretty make up.

I’ve finished my favourite pot of evening moisturiser, which means I have opened a new brand in my stash. To be honest this one came in a beauty subscription box and is said to cost over £90.00. I’m not feeling the love and over the course of the last two weeks I feel like my skin is drying out slowly. I might start something else and finish it off as a body cream. At least that is the beauty of the subscription boxes, one can try expensive items without spending serious amounts of money. And because of that and in the name of transparency, my no buy year has become more of a reduced buy year, perhaps I should amend the title. I had intended on cancelling all of my beauty subscription boxes, which I actually did, but a few days ago I have just resubscribed to Cohorted, as the value and products are just too good to miss. I think I am deeming this a vital necessity for the good of my mental health and have chosen to embrace my inner spendthrift in this purchase and this purchase alone.

Clothes wise, no problems. I have plenty of jumpers and shoes, I bought new jeans a few months ago and I have recently sorted out my wardrobe so as to better appreciate its often hidden depths. I’m halfway through washing all of my jumpers, which makes one realise just how many one has and have sorted out my pyjama and lingerie draw, so as to better appraise its offerings.

Linens and towels we have plenty, after 30 years of marriage one does tend to accumulate a fair pile.

So the plan is that next month I am going to knuckle down a bit harder and see where that takes me.