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
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