Friday, 8 July 2016

Fat Friday #51 Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Friday everyone! I can't get enough of cookies! There have been so many cookie recipes lately. I can't really get enough of them, however I never thought to do a traditional cookie but make it vegan friendly. If you aren't vegan then that's ok, you can use unsalted butter and regular chocolate chips instead of margarine and dairy-free chocolate. 
Also, I have to say these cookies are very...cake-like. So they will be a nightmare to get off the baking sheet. Be patient and just make sure that you wait until the tray goes cold, then remove them.

Recipe: Makes 24 cookies (Adapted from Mom on Time Out)
  • 240g flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp of cornflour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 120g golden caster sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 180g dairy free chocolate chips* (or regular chocolate chips)
  • 50g margarine (or unsalted butter)

*I couldn't find dairy free chocolate chips so I chopped up a slab of chocolate into chunky bits.

  • Bowl x 2
  • Wire rack
  • Handwhisk/Wooden spoon
  • Baking sheets lined with silicone paper x 4 (Or just use two and wait for each sheet to cool down)
  • Fridge
1)Place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
2)Cream the margarine, bananas, and sugars together and super light and fluffy.
3)Stir in the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture until just combined.
4) Add the chocolate and pop in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until firm. 
5)Preheat your oven to 375f/GM 5/190C
6) Roll the dough into 1 inch little balls and place on a baking trays.
7) Bake for 10 minutes or until they turn a light brown.
8) Let the cookies cool on they tray for about 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.
9)Eat like a boss. 

Happy Friday Peeps!

Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 17 June 2016

Fat Friday #50 Peanut Butter Oreo Brownie

Happy 50th Fat Friday! This is now one of favourite recipes and its such a unique way of making a brownie. The bottom layer is a peanut crumble layer, the middle is a layer of oreos and top layer is a chocolate brownie layer. Its worth the extra effort and can be served, with some clotted cream, as a dessert too.

Recipe (adapted from Primrose Bakery Everyday by Martha Swift)
Peanut Butter layer ingredients:
225g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
170g golden caster sugar
115g dark brown sugar 
75g milk chocolate chips
125g unsalted butter
250g chunky peanut butter
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 x packets of Oreos

Brownie tin (33x23cm) greased and lined with silicone paper
Wooden spoon/Handheld whisk

1)Preheat oven to GM 4/180C/350F.
2)In a bowl, mix throughly the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking soda, salt, sugars and chocolate chips.
3)Add the butter and peanut butter into the dry ingredients and mix until it becomes crumbly.
4)Mix the egg and milk into the crumbly mixture, until a dough forms.
5)Tip the dough into the lined brownie tin and spread with your (clean) hands until the base is completely covered.
6)Arrange a nice layer of oreos on top of the peanut butter. Put to once side.

Brownie Layer ingredients:
160g golden caster sugar
60g dark chocolate chunks
125g milk chocolate chunks
25g cocoa powder
100g plain flour
200g unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs

Hand whisk/wooden spoon

1)Tip the sugar, chocolate chunks, cocoa powder and plain flour into a bowl. Mix well.
2)Add the melted butter, followed by the eggs and mix until combined.
3)Spread the brownie mixture on top of the oreos in the brownie tin.

To finish:
1)Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is firm, but still a little soft in the middle. Don't over bake or this brownie will dry out.
2)Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and consume. Life is good. 

Happy Friday everyone!
Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 10 June 2016

Fat Friday #49 Natural Red Velvet Cupcakes

I've always loved the look of red velvet cakes and cupcakes. I've made them before but was always a little off put by the amount of red food colouring. I stumbled across this recipe in one of my favourite books and wanted to try it for a group of friends who were coming over for afternoon tea. Its made with beetroot and raspberries (there is a little food colouring to add a rich colour but you can omit this if you like) so its as natural as it can get. 

Recipe Adapted from Primrose Celebrations by Lisa Thomas and Martha Swift
Beetroot Puree :
  • 1 raw beatroot
  • 35g frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/2 tablespoon cold water

  • Blender
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Peeler
  • Bowl
1) Peel and chop the beetroot into cubes. Place in the blender with the other ingredients.
2)Whizz for 5 minutes, scraping the sides from time to time to make sure that the puree is really smooth.
3)Once smooth place in a bowl to one side. 

Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 160g cream cheese
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 560g icing sugar

  • Handwhisk
  • Bowl

1)Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix with a hand whisk until light and fluffy.

Cupcakes Ingredients:
  • 185g self-raising flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 30g dark chocolate
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 55ml milk mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon natural red food colouring
  • 115g of the beetroot puree


  • Cupcake tray lined with cupcake liners
  • Wire rack 
  • Bowl x 2
  • Hand held electric whisk
  • Saucepan filled with hot water with a heatproof bowl on top/Microwave
  • Sieve

1)Pre heat oven to GM 4/350f/180c.
2)Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. 
3) Melt the chocolate either in the microwave or on the heatproof bowl with hot water in a saucepan. Make sure the chocolate doesn't burn.
4)Place the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in another bowl and mix until light and fluffy. 
5)Add the melted chocolate to the egg and sugar mixture, and whisk again.
6)Pour in the milk and lemon liquid and food colour and mix on a low speed. Then add the beetroot puree and mix again!
7)Add the dry ingredients to the batter, mix and divide into the cupcake cases, filling them about 2/3 full.
8)Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Once cool you can decorate as you like! I like to use a palette knife or a piping bag fitted with a circle nozzle. Of course sprinkled with some cute little sprinkle thingies too. 
Happy Friday! 
Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 3 June 2016

Fat Friday #48 Laura's Vegan Banana Cake

Many thanks to friend and worker Laura who gave me permission to pop this recipe on the blog. She's constantly baking vegan friendly sweet-treats for us girls at work and she made this amazing banana cake! I needed the recipe in my life! It turns out that this is an all in one recipe, so its minimal effort.

Recipe  Vegan Banana Cake-kindly provided by Laura (Many thanks):

  • 100g Vegetable spread (such as flora)
  • 10ml sunflower oil
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 2 bananas 
  • A handful raspberries
  • Bowl
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Loaf tin greased and lined with silicone paper
  • wirerack 
1)Pre-heat oven to GM 4/ 180c/350f. Grease and line the loaf tin. 
2)Throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until all combined together. Seriously, thats it!
3)Pour the batter into the loaf tin and pop in the oven for about 50 minutes or until the top is golden or until you can put a toothpick into the centre, so it comes out clean. 
4)Let this cool on a wire rack until completely cold.

Thank you again for letting me post this recipe Laura. Happy Friday Folks!

Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Penny Reviews: Tearooms-Vernon Cottage

Oh I do love a good tearoom. Especially when its on a bright and sunny afternoon. My family and I went to Vernon Cottage located in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. I've been to this tearoom many times and have always had a good experiences with the food.

You find your table and make a note of the table number and order at the bar area inside the cottage. I was meeting up with some friends and they had ordered already, so I went straight to the bar to order a cake and a cup of tea.

As I approached the staff member behind the counter, he was polite to begin with but that changed when I wasn't sure of the table number. He rolled his eyes and tutted at me and told me to point to the table were I was sat. I did so and was a little taken back. "Table 38 then? So what do you want?" I was a little shocked at the change in behaviour, and answered just as rudely with "lemon cake and apple crunch tea, please." We exchanged money and I sat back down with my friends and explained what had happened. They agreed with me, that he was rude. 

When the cake came over by another member of staff, who was very polite. The cake was light, fluffy and really lemony and the buttercream was the just the right amount. It was a beautiful sponge with a tangy buttercream that I would definitely recommend. 

When the waiter gave me my tea and cake, my friend ordered a

coffee in a cup rather then a mug. He said that its only one size as the coffee is from a machine. She said that should be fine. The rude staff member brought over the coffee with the receipt. Awkward to say the less, he mentioned the 'cup' situation and again shrugged it off and said "Its a machine, so yeah, nothing I can do." and simply walked off. 

Overall, I would come in for the nicer staff members and the delicious pastries and cakes but this time, the rude member of staff really made the experience uncomfortable. There were other members of staff who were pretty nice, so it could be a one off.  

Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Penny Reviews:Restaurant-Lakeside Park

As a belated birthday gift my granparents took me to a restaurant that I've always wanted to go to. Lakeside Park, located on the Isle of Wight, is known for its high class restaurant and spa facilities. Its located in Wootten Bridge, near a lovely and scenic lakeside. The restaurant is presented in a modern, clean and crispy white decor. 

When entering the restaurant we were welcomed warmly and shown to our booked table. We were read the specials and explained that we could order from the fixed menu or the a la carte menu. I ordered a Kir Royale, cause it was my (belated) birthday and cause why not. Drinks came promptly after we ordered them. We were left alone to decide what we would like and after about 5 minutes we ordered.

For my starter I ordered the scallops with pork belly, cauliflower puree and mango puree. The presentation was incredible! Art on a plate or slate rather. I'm not fussy on slates for plates but the black against the cauliflower and scallops, it really popped. The saltiness pork against the fishy scallop then partnered with the fruity mango was balanced well with a number of different flavours and textures. 

Main course was also beautifully presented, I did feel it need a little more colour however. It was a fillet of halibut served with Parisian potatoes, curly kale and braised red cabbage. The halibut was perfectly cooked but I did find 2 thin bones-it happens with fish- and perfectly seasoned too. The potatoes and curly kale were also perfectly cooked, however the red cabbage was bitter and I felt that it was a little out of place on the dish.

Now dessert took ages to order. With the restaurant filling up, our waitress was a little flustered and passed us a number of times before we had to ask for a dessert menu. The Lakeside 'Toffee Crisp' looked interesting, so I ordered that! Dessert was hand prepared, so it did take a little while, but it was worth the wait. The dessert itself was made up of a blood orange sorbet, chocolate popping candy 'soil', a dark chocolate cup filled with a caramel sauce and a chocolate mousse topped with crispy oranges. One of the best desserts I've ever had!

Overall, the whole experience was amazing. The menu is pricey, so its worth a visit for a special occasion. The staff were kind if a little over flustered and familiar, some of the staff were a little unprofessional by stating that my Nan was 'doing a runner' when she was just going to use the restroom. Which made us a little uncomfortable. But other then that, both the waiter and waitress were nice enough. 

Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 13 May 2016

Fat Friday #47 Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Oh yeah! Cookie dough! One of my guilty pleasures. I never eat cake batter or biscuit doughs as I want to eat the baked product. But cookie dough is another thing, if there isn't enough to make a full cookie, I will eat it. When I saw this recipe for cookie dough inside a cupcake, it was definitely one for a Fat Friday.  Although, you'll need to start the day before to make the cookie dough so they have enough time to freeze. 

Recipe (Adapted from Primrose Bakery Everyday by Martha Swift
Cookie Dough Ingredients:
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 75g flour
  • 30g dark chocolate chopped into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Electric hand whisk/Wooden spoon
  • Freezer friendly plate or tray
  • Bowl
1) Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined
2) Using a set of scales (hopefully you used some to weigh out the ingredients!) weigh out 20g of cookie dough and roll into balls. (Note: they maybe a pain to roll but its worth it)
3)Put in the freezer to freeze overnight. 

Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 170g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 170g self raising flour
  • 45ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Electric hand whisk/Wooden spoon
  • Cupcake tin lined with 12 cupcake liners
  • Bowl
  • Wire rack
1) Preheat the oven to GM 4/180c/350f. Line the cupcake tin with cupcake wrapper.
2) Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. 
3) Add the eggs in one at a time and mix until incorporated. 
4) Throw in the flour, milk and vanilla extract and beat again until no flour lumps are present.
5) Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases until they are 2/3 full.
6) Grab the frozen cookie balls that you made the day before, and place one ball in each of the cupcakes. You won't need to press them in, the batter should bake over them. 
7) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown on the top. 
8) Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 350g icing sugar, sieved
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 60g sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 35g dark chocolate pieces, chopped

  • Electric hand whisk/Wooden spoon
  • Sieve
  • Bowl
  • Piping bag fitted with a large circle nozzle/ palette knife
1) Place all the ingredients in bowl and beat until combined.
2) Once the cupcakes have cooled down, pipe a swirl on top or use a palette knife to spread onto each cupcake. 

Happy Friday!
Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

6 Things Not to Say to Someone who has Anxiety &/or Depression

Sorry about not posting anything last week, I had a bit of a health scare and wasn't able to bake/work/sleep very well/eat all the chocolate/post on this blog. So here's a little bonus post to make up for last week.

This post highlights some of the cringy statements that I have been asked about my mental health. So to inform and educate others I'm listing my favourites here. These are totally real and have been asked by strangers and former friends. Let's get to it. 

1) "Oh I was depressed once, but I got over it."
I've had this said to me and I was speechless. Instead of standing up for myself or questioning it, I took it on the chin. This is a very insulting thing to say to someone who is going through depression. Let's face it you didn't have depression as a suffer has, you might have been a bit down or sad at one point, but your mood improved and it passed. Depression is, sadly, constant and something you don't 'get over' in an instant.

2) "Do you rock back and forth when you have a panic attack?"
Erm no. People who have panic or anxiety attacks act differently. But assuming that an attack is sitting in the corner, rocking back and forth, is ignorant and far from the truth. It completely depends on the person. In my case, I hyperventilate, I shiver and will not allow anyone to touch me or attempt to calm me down until I feel calmer and more grounded.

3)"So you aren't you worried about what people will think of you?"
All the damn time. Mental health is still something that most people do not like to talk about and it's not really discussed. With anxiety, you're always thinking about what others will think of you: "Are they watching? They are watching. So don't fuck up. Keep it together for a bit and don't panic." Depression can get to a point where nothing matters but you still don't want people to think you 'can't cope'  with daily life. 

4)"You'll never hold down a job/relationship/friendship. It will stay on record for the rest of your life."
Sorry what? What record? My permanent record? Most strangers have their own problems to worry about, let alone your mental health. You don't need to advertise your mental health, unless you feel you want or need too. Your employer can't fire you, your true friends will stand by you and most families will understand. Most people are a little more informed now, so they should be understanding. Saying that some people still are pretty ignorant/stupid/stuck in the past or want to be hurtful. Ignore the idiots and pay them no more attention or energy. 

5)"Can you not snap out of it?"
Can you snap out of a cold? No. It's the same with any mental health problem. Just because you can't see it, does not mean that it's not there.

6) "It's not a real health problem."
I have a few choice words for anyone who says this. But let's keep this clean shall we? Walk away from any idiot who says this. They need to be educated more, you can attempt to give them information about mental health but, more often then not, they are stuck in their old way of thinking and it is a pointless endeavour. 

Remember people who suffer with any mental health issues need support, not doubtful statements which may cause more harm than good. Examples of the above statements can cause suffers not to communicate effectively and be hesitant to reach out to others. So listen, be respectful and support any ways you can.  

Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Penny Reviews: Restaurants- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

*Note:This week is a little different as I'm reviewing a restaurant that served afternoon tea*

(Image Credit:
I turned another 20-something this year, and got a special treat for my birthday. After doing a little research on the best afternoon teas in London, I found a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych in Covent Garden, which looked much like the Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea that I have attended before. This time I went with my friend Sofia.

Entering the hotel, we were shown to the Indigo Restaurant by the friendly staff, seated and the menu explained. The staff asked if we were preferred just tea, champagne or a Cocktail Charlie. Sofia and I went for a Cocktail Charlie, which consisted of Scotch Whiskey (Sofia went booze free), grapefruit juice, cherry syrup and chocolate bitters. It was sweet and smooth on the tongue, may I say that it looked pretty awesome! I believe that it was dry ice that made it delightfully smoky.  

Next the savoury selection entered our sight, the presentation was minimal and clean. The selection itself was pretty standard for an afternoon tea, but executed very well. I was impressed very much with the leek and stilton quiche, which was Sofia's favourite too. We thought that we could have used more savoury items, however, the staff were very patient in explaining that we could request more, if we pleased. And we did. Quite a lot! We ordered about 8 quiches and lots more smoked salmon and herb creme friache sandwiches. I mean, we really took the piss and ordered lots more savouries as we felt the initial portion wasn't really enough. 

After 2 more savoury orders, we asked if we could have the sweet course. Again without missing a beat, the staff asked if we would like tea. We both finished our cocktails and opted for different teas. I wanted English Garden, which was a refreshing mix of lemon, spearmint, cornflour and strawberry. While Sofia opted for the Sugarcane Black and Mango Noir teas. 

A short while later the sweet course arrived, and it looked stunning! I went straight for the candy floss, which tasted like rhubarb and custard.

I moved up to the lemon cake pops, which also had a dusting of freeze dried raspberry, which was a little disappointing as it was a regular cake pop and I felt that the lemon could have been more pronounced. 

Eton mess was sweet, creamy and looked very appealing. The chocolate caramel milk was one of my favourites, as it was like drinking a mini milkshake, which hinted at sticky caramel.

One of the coolest parts of the afternoon tea was the golden egg, that was filled with vanilla and mango cheesecake. I don't actually like cheesecake, but this was so delicious. I was surprised to see real vanilla seeds in the mixture with a mango layer on top of the egg. The chocolate was thickly layered so it was hard to break but worth it.

Next were the scones, they were nice, soft and served with clotted cream and apple compote. Next I tried the blueberry broiche, which I thought was a little dry but I added for apple compote to make up for it. One of the best treats, was the cocoa bean financier, which was a small brownie shapped in a cocoa bean. It was sticky, sweet and warm chocolatey goodness in a small package. 

Overall, I felt compared to other afternoon teas I have been too, the food was lovely with a good variety, but I felt that the treats could have more unusual considering that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is so wacky in the book. Also, I felt that the price was a little high for the quality of food that we got (£49 for a cocktail afternoon tea). The staff are definitely the reason I would come back again, they were attentive and they sung me happy birthday too, with a little cake! They really made the effort to make the day special. 

 Thanks for reading.

Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 29 April 2016

Fat Friday #46 Red Berry Brownie

Happy Friday! Nothing better then a sweet, tart and chocolatey brownie to kickstart the weekend! This recipe is adapted as I actually ran out of sugar, so I used icing sugar instead. The result was amazingly fudgey and very chocolately. Give them a bake this weekend!

Recipe (Adapted from Primrose Bakery Everyday by Martha Swift

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 150g dark chocolate chunks
  • 150g white chocolate chunks
  • 200g fresh strawberries and raspberries (chopped)
  • 3 eggs
  • Microwave/Saucepan filled with water, with a heatproof bowl on top
  • Brownie tin lined with greaseproof paper
  • Bowl x 2
  • Wooden spoon

1) Preheat the oven to GM 4/180c/350f. Grease and line with greaseproof paper.
2) Melt the butter on the hob over a pan of hot water or microwave in the oven until completely melted. Set aside.
3) In another bowl, put the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, flour and chocolate chunks and mix until combined.
4) Pour the melted butter into the dry ingredients, and stir (like a boss) until thoroughly mixed in. 
5) Add the strawberries and raspberries and very gently fold them into the mixture.
6) Pour the batter into prepared tin and spread evenly.
7) Bake for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool into the tin. 

Happy Friday!
Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

What The #100happydays Challenge Taught Me

As some of you already know, I've been doing the 100 Happy Days Challenge. I've been posting everyday, on my Twitter feed, something that has made me happy or improved my mood. The idea of the challenge is to see if you can improve your outlook on life and help improve your mood. 
Well, I felt that it has had both positive and negative effects on my day to day life.
I'll start off with the negatives, having anxiety, the pressure of posting everyday was a little bit of an annoyance, with a mild bit of panic hitting me whenever I didn't post. Also, I do still like keep a little bit of privacy even when posting on the Internet, so I felt that I didn't want to post certain private moments (like when I ate a whole packet of cookies). 

Moving onto the positives however! After all, this is what the challenge is all about. Even if I had a really bad day, this challenge forced me to look at one thing that make me happy. It could be such a simple thing but it could be the difference in a bad or good day. 

Ultimatly, is it worth it? Is it worth posting everyday, for 100 days? Yeah, absolutely.

Because, it does make you see the positive in anything, even when the day isn't going your way. It can help improve your mood and make you see the fun side of life. I really suggest that you give it a try if your feeling down and out. 

Here are my favourite highlights from the 100 days:

Would you do the happy day challenge? What would make your day happy?

Bake On! Penny x

Monday, 18 April 2016

One of the Last Taboos-Mental Health

*Trigger warning-Swearing, mental health issues in this post*

This post has been a long time coming. If anyone who follows the blog knows that there has been a lack of updates and a huge delay in posts. This is not a post about 'how busy I've been' or 'there hasn't been enough time'. Not this time, this is more serious.

About a year ago, I had some terrible shit happen to me. I thought I was ok, I was starting a business with my friends, I was living with my boyfriend who I dearly care about, I was gyming it and I was happy. At least, I thought I was. However, I was living on a very fine line. A line that I didn't know I was on. 

I was on the edge, and then, I got my final push from the friend that I was meant to start the business with. I won't go into details of why she decided to end the whole thing, because if I told you her reasons, you would cringe. I will not go down that road of petty bitchy-ness as I'm not like that and will not go down to that level. 

The long process of fighting over the name of the business, insurance, ownership, everything, ensued thereafter. I was lucky enough to help legal help and I got professionally drawn up letters and emails. While I received bitter, unprofessional emails and texts.

In those few difficult months, panic attacks started. I was awake at night, worrying about everything. My safety, my career, reputation. I carried on like it everything was fine. While I was harassed every which way.

I think that, I took a brave step, a step that most people do not even bother with because its still a taboo. I went to the doctors, and was diagnosed with anxiety. Finally after all these years, it had a name! I wasn't insane or mental, I had a thing!! It was such a huge weight off me. It was only in those last few troublesome months, that it began to manifest itself into an ugly anxiety monster that reared its head into my life.

More people suffer with depression and anxiety, yet nothing is ever said because it is still not fully understood. 1 in 6 people (in the UK) will suffer with depression once in their lifes and yet its still a little 'awkward' to talk about. So here I am, being awkward, by talking about it now. I am not crazy, mental or insane. I have anxiety. I decided to to start Cognitive Behavioural Therapy rather then going onto tablets. I was approached with kind, helpful people who didn't judge me, as they knew better. So months later, I'm better, still on the road to recovery. The anxiety monster that loomed, is getting pushed back by 'Old Penny'. Which I'm getting back into.

I'm lucky to have support from a family who now understand (thank you), I have some support from co-workers who took the time to listen (thank you), I've got some fucking fantastic friends which I cannot thank enough for chatting about everything and lastly, my boyfriend Rob. He went through it all with me and could not do a thing about it. At the time, he just sat and listened. He saw me suffering and tried hard to help. He cried with me, got frustrated at me and ate all the chocolate with me. One day he told me that there maybe something more to it and suggested I seek professional help. Without him, I don't think I would have the strength to ask for help. Don't worry, I made him some cookies as thanks.

To those who helped and you know who you are. I'll always be grateful to all of you, so I'll be forever baking to say thank you. Which I don't mind. 

I'm not really sure how to finish this really. I'm not a doctor that can give you advice. I can't do a 'Top Ten Tips' for this, its ongoing. Mental health is still be researched and we've only begun to scratch the surface. The only advice, (if you can call it that), that I can offer is: be kind. If someone is reaching out by telling you that they think they maybe suffering from an mental illness. Listen and rather than suggesting to 'cheer up', suggest that they go to a professional. Be kind to others around you and you might make someone's day a little brighter. That's all really. If you take away anything from this, is that hope is not lost. There is help out there, please speak up about it. 

If you feel that you or someone you love is suffering with anxiety, (or depression) don't be afraid to reach out for help and come forward. There are people who can help, you just need to ask. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this and share with anyone who may benefit from it. 
Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Penny Reviews Restaurants: Truffles of Southsea

On a brilliant sunny Thursday afternoon, I went for lunch with my nan to a restaurant that she would like, so we ended up in Southsea at a restaurant that I've been to before and had nothing but good experiences, Truffles of Southsea.

We arrived at 1:15pm, so well within time for the lunch time set menu. We settled down into the somewhat empty restaurant, with a lack of people it seemed a little chilly. There was a woman who was serving who was extremely polite and offered to take our coats for us. She allowed us to sit wherever we wanted to and asked us if we wanted a drink, an americano and a diet coke later. We settled on reading the lunch special set menu, which was really good value for money (£9,95 for two courses and £11.95 for three courses). I was impressed with the quality of the menu and ordered a cured salmon as a starter and seabass fillet with parmesan polenta and a beurre blanc sauce for my main course, with a side of triple cooked chips. 

The waitress asked if we needed the heating on and we said yes, sadly the air conditioning wasn't behaving correctly, so we had to sit a little chilly. The wait for the starters was perfect and presentation was lovely, with great attention to detail. The taste of the cured salmon was perfect, it reminded me of a sashimi texture, not raw however but not quite cooked. There was a beetroot and radish spread on the plate which added colour as well as flavour to the dish. Light and tasty as a starter. 

The starters were left on the table for about 2 minutes before being taken away by the polite waitress. She asked if we enjoyed the starters and made she we had enough to drink. She didn't linger too long at the table to make it awkward, as she cleared away our plates. 

We didn't need to wait too long for the main course, approx 10 minutes at the most. The seabass fillets were cut into angles, which made it look very contemporary. The parmesan polenta added colour to the dish and the beurre blanch added a richness that really brought the dish together. The issue I had was I found three bones my fish. I know that fish have bones and of course, there is never a guarantee that fish fillets will be completely boneless. Its a hazard that you have to take when you eat fish, however its still a little off putting. Even though the dish was nice, I felt a little more beurre blanc sauce would have been appreciated. The triple cooked chips were an absolute delight, a perfect mix of soft middle and crunchy outside. I also noted that there was a little flavour of truffle on the chips, which was a really nice touch.

We didn't opt for dessert or a drink as we felt that we wanted to leave because we were so full as well as being a little cold still. The waitress gave us the bill and we paid, but not without a little conversation. For £25.90 for a quality 2 course meal, drinks and a side dish, its a good price for a great lunch. 

Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Penny Reviews Restaurants: The Coast Bar and Restaurant

When spending a little down time with my family on the Isle of Wight we found our way over to Cowes. The location itself is very well known for its yachting enthusiasts and small cafes. Being still in the Winter season, I wasn't expecting much to be open. That's when we happened upon The Coast bar and restaurant, which was full, almost to bursting! It looked like a busy lunchtime. As we entered we were greeted with the restaurant manager, he politely greeted us and directed us to an available table for two. 

The layout of the restaurant was cool, with sharp lines, comfortable chairs and with a view into the kitchen, which boasts a woodfire kitchen. What I really like in any restaurant is cleanliness, and Coast is spotless. 

The waitress handed us a menu each and asked us for a drinks order. One americano and diet coke later! The menu was small but well thought out with options for veterinarians. As we browsed the menu, the drinks were placed down and we were asked if we would like water for the table. In any restaurant that I've ever been in, I don't think I've ever been asked I would like water for the table. Its a really nice touch. Also, I would like to point out, that we were given a good amount of time to browse before the waitress came to take our order. 

I opted for a starter of 'Pan fried Scallops with a Cauliflour Puree' and for my main course, 'Venison with Rosemary carrots, Celeriac Puree and Cranberry Jus'. I took in the atmosphere and everyone was content, including the staff were amiable. It was really reassuring and comfortable, even though we were surrounded by lots of people.
My starter arrived within 10 minutes, I enjoyed every bite of it! I wish they had a main course version. The scallops were cooked perfectly, not chewy or rubbery. The addition of the pancetta really brought the dish together. The size was perfect as a starter, not to small or large. Presentation was lovely as well. 

The wait for the main course was a bit much, I think we waited about 40 minutes- (ish?), however we were always attended. When we finished the water jug, it was replenished and replaced as quickly. The staff here were so on the ball. The wait for our main course didn't arise as an issue as the staff were so attentive. 

When the main course did arrive, it was worth the wait. Beautifully presented and my venison was served pink (as it should be), it was juicy and well seasoned. The dish also had parsnip chips, which wasn't mentioned on the menu but it was a great texture against the soft texture of the meat and puree. The jus itself I felt could have been more tart, as it was a cranberry jus, but I still enjoyed it. 

Honestly, it was hard to pick out any fault with the food or service for that matter. I was so impressed with the whole experience. It was a little pricey for a lunch (£44 approx), we got what we'd paid for. If this is the quality of service and food at lunch, I would love to come here during the evening!

Overall, I would highly recommend that you make the effort to visit this restaurant, even if its for a coffee. I will definitely be coming here again!
Bake On! Penny x
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