Today would have been my Dad's 85th Birthday. He passed away last August.
I am not writing this post to score sympathy votes but to remind everybody out there to love, cherish & appreciate their parents no matter what.
I hope you don't mind, but I would like to share with you some excerpts from the eulogy my sisters & I wrote for Dad.
Douglas George was born on 18th February 1927 in London, the eldest son of Gertrude & George. He had a younger brother, Ray who was born around 2 years later.
At the age of 18, towards the end of the Second World War, he joined the Army in the Royal Signals & worked as a radio mechanic.
He left in 1948 & joined the GPO - now BT. He continued his fascination with radio-communications & gained his operators licence. We all recall him speaking to friends through his self-built radio set!
Also in 1948, whilst out with a mutual group of friends, he met a young girl called Joan Hunter. Joan, our Mum, was from Scotland & had moved down to London several years previously.
Their friendship blossomed & on 28th August 1954 they married.
They had an extra special 1st Wedding Anniversary present - the birth of their 1st Daughter, Sheena!
They went on to have 5 more children - Marion, Alan, Alison, Zoe & Christine.
Sadly, Alan died at only 5 months old & Alison at the age of 36 in 1999.
Living in a household of all girls could not have been easy, but Dad would use his patience & endurance - even to get a slot in the bathroom!
We had various male pets over the years as allies for Dad. Despite his protestations that animals were a nuisance, it was not uncommon to see a cat curled up on his lap & a dog at his feet!
Dad was a modest man, who was never envious of anyone's achievements but was proud of what they had attained & shared in their delight. He knew the value of love & family life.
Dad's strength of character shone through after Mum died. We rallied around to help him but in fact it was he as head of the family who helped us come to terms with the loss of our Mum. When we were faced with the bereavement of Alison within 2 years, he stoically carried on despite his own grief & offered us support in his quiet manner.
When his 1st grandchild, Fiona, was born, he created a cairn whilst out on one of his mountain climbs & his walking companion took a photo of him next to it.
Soon after, his car was stolen - with the camera in it. He was more concerned about recovering the undeveloped film than the car itself!
He was a great cook - there was nothing better than one of Dad's chicken or prawn curries. Another of his signature dishes was ham, egg & chips, where the eggs were done to perfection- none of us have been able to replicate the 'Dougie Fried Egg' & probably never will!
Dad was our very own Oracle. As we were growing up there was no Google or Ask Jeeves - he knew just about everything & if he didn't, he knew where to find the answer or how to work it out with his own unique logic. He guided us through our schooling with gentle persuasion & assistance. Even in his last few months, whilst struggling with illness, he was able to help with the crossword! He could not see to fill in the boxes but instantaneously provided answers to the clues - such as Soporific or the Capital of Australia (I know I should have know these!!! By the way, the answers are calm or sleepy & Canberra!)
There are so many things to thank Dad for with one exception - our genetic disposition for sticky-out ears or 'Doug's Lugs' as we call them! However, they are very useful for keeping the crowns on our heads throughout Christmas Day!!
During the last few years of Dad's life, he struggled with physical restrictions, having been diagnosed with Parkinson's, which took hold quite swiftly. He had been an active man, so found this difficult & frustrating but we were grateful to be able to reciprocate the care, love & devotion he had shown us & help him through.
Thank you for everything, Dad. We will never forget that your support & love for us has been unconditional throughout our lives. We will always feel honoured to call ourselves Doug's Girls. We miss you but you will always be in our hearts.
Now, go & give your Mum & Dad a hug & kiss, give them a call or in your head -
Can you believe it?!
Where have the last 4 months gone?
Don't you just love July? - supposedly the warmest month in the Northern Hemisphere (Really?!)
July's birth flower is the water lily & birthstone is ruby which symbolises contentment.
Let me introduce you to my very own Ruby...
Here she is! Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby!
(How many of you sang Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah then?!)
It is the start of the school holidays (do I hear all you parents groan?) & excitement prevails for all 4-16 year olds.
It is a strange time of the year when the promise of time-off struggles with boredom & 6 weeks loom ahead waiting to be filled with fun.
When the sun is shining all is well, but when the heavens open, as they often do, what can be done?
BAKING, OF COURSE!!
So, pop the oven on to 180 Degrees Centigrade, raid your cupboards & try this....
As 29th July is Dulcie Blue Bakery's 1st Birthday - Yippee!!- we are going to make Rainbow Birthday Cupcakes!
Get prepared - sort out your cupcake cases & place in a muffin tin ready.
In a bowl measure out 110g Gluten Free Flour, 110g Caster Sugar & 110g room temperature Butter, 3 tablespoons room temperature Milk, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract & 2 large Eggs. Beat together to form a smooth batter.
Spoon into cases.
Place in centre of oven & bake for approx 20 minutes until golden brown & springy.
Leave in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire cooling rack.
Meanwhile prepare your buttercream.
Put 125g room temperature Butter in a bowl, add 250g Icing Sugar & 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract.
Beat until smooth or until your arm aches soooooo much you just can't mix anymore.
Using a spatula put butter cream into a plain nozzled piping bag.
Once the cakes are cooled pipe a huge splodge (very technical term) on top of each & every one of them.
Top with Gluten Free Jelly Beans.
Stop & have a well deserved cup of tea while the kids do the washing up - remember you must teach them that the important part of baking is NOT licking the spoon or making as much mess as possible or eating all the jelly beans before they even get on the cakes, but the clearing up. (Yeah, right, as if that'll ever happen!)
Here we are again with some facts & dates for March - it is amazing how many pieces of useless information are retained in our grey matter or are accessible on the WWWW (Wonderful World Wide Web!)
As I am posting this on 10th (incidentally, my lovely sister's birthday!), I have missed a couple, but here you go -
1st - St David's Day.
8th - Shrove Tuesday - Oooh - Pancake Day! Yum!
14th - Save a Spider Day.
Spiders are fascinating creatures -
8-legged, air breathing arthropods.
There are approximately 40,000 species of spider.
Most spiders have 4 pairs of eyes.
Sizes range from 0.015" to 10"!! There are no spiders on Antarctica. Arachnophobia - A fear of spiders.
But no matter how scared you are of them, you have got to agree, their webs are beautiful!
17th - St Patrick's Day.
27th - BRITISH SUMMERTIME BEGINS - Please tell the weather!
Flower of March - Daffodil.
Birthstone - Aquamarine.
The phrase 'Mad as a March Hare' is derived from the eccentric behaviour of hares which supposedly only occurs during this month - their breeding season. This odd behaviour can include the boxing of other hares & jumping up into the air for no reason what-so-ever!
The most famous mad 'March Hare' is Lewis Carroll's character from 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' appearing at the tea party.
As a celebration of the bright sunny weather we are having, try decorating your favourite loaf cake with springtime flowers.
Ok, so where did January go? Not that I am complaining - I think out of all the months, January is my least favourite.
February is all about love? Not on your Nelly!! What would we do with the other 14 days after Valentine's Day if it was?!
According to Anglo Saxon Britain, February was named Sol-monath.
Literally translated, 'monath' means 'month' & 'Sol' means 'mud'.
And looking out the window at my garden I would say that is pretty accurate - thanks to our 1 year old Labrador with, it would seem, the biggest paws in the world!
(Despite 'Dulcie Devastation', my one remaining, tiny clump of snowdrops has managed to bloom - bless!)
'Sol', however, could also be interpreted as 'sun' which brings about visions of bright spring days & a promise of things to come - the daffodils are just beginning to peek out of the soil ready to grow & show their beautiful bright sunshine colours.
What interests me most is Saint Bede the Venerable (672/673-735) of the Northumbrian monastery of St Peter.
In his writing - 'On the Reckoning of Time' (De Temporum Ratione) he states -
Solmonath can be called “month of cakes”, which they offered to their gods in that month. This is what I want to hear! So, taking into account all of the above, I think it only fitting to bake a cake - but not just any old cake -
White Chocolate Mud Cake! 250g Butter. 150g White Chocolate - chopped. 300g Caster Sugar. 300ml Milk. 300g Gluten Free Flour 1 tsp Xanthan Gum. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract. 2 Eggs. Pre-heat oven to 170C & prepare 20cm baking tin. Place Butter, Chocolate, Sugar & Milk in a pan over a low heat & stir until melted & smooth. Allow to cool. Add Flour, Xanthan Gum, Vanilla & Eggs. Bake in a prepared tin for 1 hour. Leave to cool. Cover your lovely cake with - White Chocolate Ganache. 300g White Chocolate - chopped. 125ml Cream. Dark Chocolate Shavings. Bring cream just to boil & pour over Chocolate. Stir until Chocolate has melted. Cover & refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Spread over cooled cake. Top with dark Chocolate shavings. ENJOY!! Chris xxx
I have been toying with the idea for a while now, wondering if I would have anything interesting enough to write that you would like to read.
I am still wondering, but maybe I will post something that will be of help or will just make you smile?
Bear with me (GRRRR!) while I try to get my head around all this technology stuff.
It is not my forte.
Baking & decorating cakes is!
My mental cogs have been whirring & groaning since the beginning of Dulcie Blue Bakery last year - things to do, places to go, people to see, baking to.....bake(?)
Whilst the velocity of my little wheels is still high, the volume of resistance does seem to be diminishing!
Over time I am hoping my posts will be varied.
Obviously there will be a huge amount of cake & cupcakes (minis, muffins & giants) but also cookies, brownies, scones & other bits'n'bobs. I may even throw in a few savoury items! Why not, my teeth are curling too!
Add to that the experiences of being a coeliac & the impact that has on life, being a mum to 2 sons, 1 daughter, a black labrador, a tortie cat, a really cute rabbit & a bearded dragon (not my idea - a weak moment under duress!) & being a wife, sister & daughter there should be something for everyone - I think!
I do need to apologise for one thing before I get this blog rolling.
I am so very, very sorry about the inordinate amount of exclamation marks I use.
I LOVE 'EM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!