Saturday, 27 October 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

Today, I thought it prudent to bake a cake, as I have been receiving huge hints from George, that it's the weekend and the cake tin is decidedly empty. The only way he could make it any clearer that he wanted to indulge in a piece of cake, is if he stood in front of me and said 'Please bake me a cake'.

As the weather turns colder and the nights draw in, comfort food and cake, become an integral part of my cooking.

Do I see you rolling your eyes? Are you thinking to yourself, eating cake is not a good idea, because what is the saying.... oh yes.... 'a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips'.... well yes I suppose this is true, but surely everything in moderation.  

My mother, Phyllis eats whatever she wants, and her weight never seems to fluctuate by more than a couple of pounds, as she is a firm believer of eating everything in moderation.

I think it would be wrong of me to say, I am as good as my mother, because my appetite ebbs and flows with the weather.  In the summer time I eat less, but when winter arrives it is fair to say I do indulge a little more.

.... but this is how I compensate. Around the middle of November, I ban all things sweet, such as cakes, biscuits and chocolates from our house, (with George's agreement of course) until Christmas arrives and then I give myself permission to indulge in all the Christmas foods.  I don't know about you, but I  find, I can resist temptation if the forbidden foods are not in the house.  I might fancy a chocolate, but if there are none in the cupboard, then I find the fancy passes quite quickly.

.... and between you and me, I feel the constant hinting from George, is because he knows, very shortly, there will be no cake in the house.

But for now, I do feel this Plum cake will indulge his sweet tooth and as plums are plentiful in the markets at the moment, this is the perfect Autumnal cake.

So it's on with the pinnie and time to organise my ingredients.


250g soft unsalted butter
250g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
250g self raising flour - sieved 
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
500g plums ~ halved and stones removed

You will need:  22cm cake tin, buttered and lined
with baking parchment.

Pre heat the oven to 170C


Using an electric whisk, 

Whisk the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Whilst the butter and sugar are combining. Whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract and set aside for the moment.

Sieve the s.r. flour, cinnamon and salt and set aside.

When the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, add the eggs a little at a time and continue whisking. If you find the mixture splitting, add a tablespoon of flour and continue whisking.

Add the dry ingredients a tablespoon at a time until thoroughly combined.

Spoon the cake mixture into the pre-prepared cake tin and smooth the top. 

Place the halved plums into the cake mixture, pushing them down into the mixture.  You can arrange them haphazardly or create a design. You will find to fit all the plums into the cake mixture, they will need to be quite close together.

Bake for about 1 hour or until the cake is golden in colour and firm to the touch.

Leave the cake in the cake tin for 10 minutes, then remove  and place onto a cooling rack to cool.

There are two ways to enjoy this Plum cake. You can eat it warm with a spoonful of double cream or enjoy it cooled with a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Either way, I think you will be happy to indulge your sweet tooth.

.... but not too much, remember the saying I mentioned earlier.

'A moment on the hips, a life time on the hips.'

Take care and I will catch up with you next Saturday.

Oh yes, just before I leave you, I wanted to mentioned that I am having great problems answering your comments.  The comments are there, but when I try to access them they disappear.  I know Google does not support Open ID Comments anymore.  Do you know of anyway around this to allow me to access your comments.  I would appreciate any help you could give me.

As Always,

Saturday, 20 October 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

Are you a lover of spice?

Do you enjoy that wonderful after taste, when you have eaten something flavoured with spices.

I know I do.

So today I thought I would share a recipe with you which was given to me by my friend Wasanti. It isn't exactly the same dish that Wasanti would make, as firstly, Wasanti loves her Butter Chicken very, very  hot, whereas I like mine less hot and more spicy.... and secondly Wasanti has her own special blend of spices which are mixed for her in her local village. Having said that, Wasanti kindly gifted me a jar of mixed spices, but I have made Butter Chicken so many times, that although the spices were used sparingly I used them all up quite a while ago.... and you will have heard me say before, that a recipe is a guideline, it can be adapted to suit your own taste, so that is what I have done, adapted the recipe to suit my palette.

For instance, I use olive oil instead of ghee to brush the chicken whilst it is baking,  also I use full fat Greek yoghurt, as both ingredients I use on a daily basis.

Now for the title, Butter Chicken.... does that fill your taste buds with delight.... probably not, I have to admit it does sound rather boring, but when I tell you that Butter Chicken is made with a glorious mix of spices which will tantalise the taste buds, then I feel sure you will be a little more interested.

.... but before I share the list of ingredients, I must tell you, there are two parts to this recipe.  The marinading of the chicken, which can be done first thing in the morning, ready to cook in the evening. Or, if you prefer, marinade the chicken overnight, which I prefer to do, ready to cook the next day.

.... and the ingredients, when you look at the list, you will probably think, 'oh no, not another recipe with 101 ingredients', but please don't fret, as the ingredients list, appears long, purely because of the amount of spices we are going to use.  Again that might put you off, but please don't let it, as I know you may not have all the spices in your store cupboard, but trust me, if you are a lover of spice, once you make Butter Chicken, it will be something you will make over and over again, as once the spices have been bought, the actual dish is not an expensive dish to make. My friends love Butter Chicken and my family love it also,  so I feel sure it will be worth investing in the spices as they will not go to waste.

Now for the dish itself,

What do you think.  Does this Butter Chicken look tasteless and boring.... I would say, absolutely not.  I'm looking at the photograph and I could just reach for a piece of Naan bread or crusty bread and dip it straight into the Butter Chicken sauce.

So let us begin with the ingredients you will need to make Butter Chicken.


Serves 4

1kg of chicken legs 


2 garlic cloves ~ grated or crushed
1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
100ml full fat Greek Yoghurt


40g of unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves ~ grated or crushed
1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon of garam masala 
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
8 crushed cardamom pods ~ crushed, seeds removed
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 400g tin of tomatoes ~ chopped
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of sugar
Water - fill the empty tin of tomatoes with water
100 ml Greek Yoghurt
Handful of coriander ~ chopped

You will also need a large baking tray
a baking rack



Using a large sized bowl, mix together all the marinade ingredients.

Place the chicken in the bowl and spoon over the marinade and make sure each piece of chicken is coated.  Cover the bowl with a plate or if you prefer clingfilm and place the bowl in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.


Preheat the oven to 180 F

Using a large baking tray, place a baking rack over the baking tray, as you will find, whilst the chicken is cooking some of the marinade will drip through the holes in the baking rack. 

Place the marinaded chicken on the grill rack, spoon extra marinade onto the top of the chicken and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and brush the chicken with oil and turn over. At this point I spoon any residue of marinade onto the chicken. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.   You may find there is still some marinade left in the bowl, but don't worry as it can be added to the sauce.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, make the sauce.


Using a medium sized pan.

Using a medium heat, melt the butter and add the grated garlic and ginger.  Cook for a couple of minutes, moving the ingredients around the pan.

Turn up the heat and,

add the garam masala, ground coriander,  turmeric, chilli powder, cardamom seeds.

Stir for 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat.

Add the tomato puree to the pan and stir for another couple of minutes.

Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, sugar, water, lemon juice
and salt.

Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. If you have any left over marinade, place it in the sauce (waste not want not) and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.


Using a wide pan, place the baked chicken into the pan and gently pour the sauce around the chicken. Place a lid on the pan and gently simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time baste the chicken with the sauce.

When the chicken is cooked, stir in the Greek yoghurt and garnish with some chopped coriander leaves.

You can serve this with Basmati rice and naan bread, or sometimes as I do, just crusty bread.  I have even been known to serve Butter Chicken with mashed potatoes, because the plain mashed potato works well with the rich spicy sauce. 

I have also used this sauce to make a similar curry ~ Paneer Curry.  I have added the recipe to this weeks Featured post.

Now just a word about cooking times.  It is always difficult to say how long it will take for meat to cook, because it depends on the size of the portions being used.  You might find you need to cook your chicken a little longer. So please, always check to make sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Also, you might find this Butter Chicken too spicy, or not spicy enough.... again, adjust the heat to suit your taste.

.... and do I think you will make this Butter Chicken again.... oh absolutely.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Saturday.

Saturday, 13 October 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

I was talking to George the other day, about the fact that there are so many text abbreviations I do not understand.

For instance 'lol'.... it took me an age to discover that the letters stood for 'laugh out loud'.... how had this happened, why had this passed me by..... and when did 'haha' become 'lol'. 

Back in the days when I wrote letters and I wanted to write something funny, I would always finish the sentence with 'haha'.... making sure the recipient of the letter realised I was being funny, but it seems 'haha' is now obsolete and has been replaced with 'lol'.

.... and who is the person, who has brought me up to date with texting lingo.... someone of my age?  I'm afraid not, it is George's young nephew who when I asked if he knew what 'haha' stood for, said he hadn't a clue  and he thought it was so funny that I did not know what 'lol' meant, because apparently it had been around forever.... this coming from an 11 year old.... forever seemed an odd word to use (haha) .... sorry, I couldn't help myself.

So he decided to test my knowledge, which as you can tell by now, is pretty limited.

Here goes, wish me luck.

BTW ~ 'By the way' ~ nope,
I had no idea.

How about IDK ~ nope, I failed again. Apparently it stands for 'I Don't Know'.

Would I fare any better with TTYL ~ Those of you who are old enough to remember the Jimmy Young Show on Radio 2, will remember Jimmy saying goodbye with the initials TTFN ~ 'Ta Ta For Now'. It sounded so similar, but I couldn't imagine youngsters still saying Ta Ta. So I thought long and hard, as this was becoming embarrassing. How about 'Text those you love'.... I thought that was pretty good.... can you tell I was clutching at straws, trying to save face.  I shouldn't have bothered, I should have just given in gracefully,  because really, this was becoming embarrassing.  You may be surprised to learn that 'Text those you love' was totally wrong, the initials stand for 'Talk to you later'..... I know, I know, I really should have worked that one out.

....and finally... BRB ~ Be right back. By now I feel sure you will see  a pattern emerging and you will not be surprised to learn, that I didn't know this one either.

At which point George's nephew decided to give up on me, because my knowledge of texting was certainly below par, actually if there is anything below par, then that is what I scored, as  I scored a big round zero.

So it got me thinking about abbreviations which I used when I was young.

Do you remember,

writing the letters S.W.A.L.K on the back of envelopes which were sent to your boyfriend.

.... even more, do you remember what the letters stood for?  If you are of a certain age, then I feel sure you will remember,

the letters stood for, 
'Sealed with a loving kiss'

Or how about,

no, not the country,
Hope Our Love Lasts and Never Dies

I used to think George was so romantic when he sent me letters with H.O.L.L.A.N.D. written on the back of the envelope.

.... and my most favourite and one we have used as a couple for the past 50 years is,

'381'.  These numbers have driven our daughters crazy for years, because we have not told them what they mean.  Of course they have asked, but we just smile and say nothing. To be honest we always thought that they would discover the meaning, but do you know they never have. So finally, after all the years of asking, they are going to find out today.  '381' means 3 words..... I love you..... 8 letters ~ I love you and 1 meaning ~ I love you.

I wonder if I tested George's nephew, would he know their meaning.

Of course not, life has moved on and I feel sure when he reaches my age, he will probably feel the same as I do because technology is moving so fast.

.... but you never know, he might have a lovely nephew, who in the future, will help him, as much as he has helped me.

Take care and I will see you next week.

As Always,

Saturday, 6 October 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

Thank you so much for being patient.

It was not my intention to leave you for so long, but during the summertime, family, home and garden took over.  Before I knew it, the days had rolled into weeks, which in turn rolled into months and when I checked how long it had been since I had last written to you, I was rather surprised. I am pleased to say, that  everything has returned to normal, so I can now give you my full attention.

Are you curious to see what have I been doing whilst I have been away?

If you have been reading Ivy, Phyllis and Me! for a while, then you will know that as much as I love cooking, I also love gardening.... and I couldn't be happier with how, in just one year, we have transformed our garden. It is filled with colourful flowers and gorgeous fragrance.

.... and look at the colour of this Evening Primrose. This photograph was taken in the evening, just as the light was fading, as this is when Evening Primroses are at their best.... they truly are this colour when the light fades. The plant lasts for just one year, so I collect the seeds, sew them in spring and when summer arrives, I have a host of new plants to enjoy.

.... and the roses which I received as birthday gifts, have really enjoyed this year's warm summer. This rose is James Galway and it is a David Austin rose.  Nowadays, I buy all my roses from David Austin because I find they are so resistant to disease.

I am sorry about the large pots in the background, but I am moving plants around the garden at the moment. When I divide a plant, I plant one half in the garden and put the other half into a pot, that is until I can decide where its new home will be.

As a precaution against aphids, I have planted English Marigolds mixed with Lavender very close to  the roses. The colour orange is just stunning. When I walk around the garden, like little jewels, they catch my eye.

These beautiful pink Cosmos I planted from seed and they have grown to an amazing height. The other day, my neighbour asked me if I had fed them anything special, because he had never seen such tall Cosmos.  I think it is all about the soil, if you can enrich your soil, then plants will thrive.

These lovely little petunias are in a hanging basket just beside my back door.  Even though we have had a cold spell, they are still doing well. I think it is because they are in a sheltered position. I will miss them when they fade because when I am in my kitchen, I enjoy looking out of the window seeing their beauty

.... and I am absolutely in love with this gorgeous double clematis.  For the life of me, at the moment, I cannot think of its name.  I will be adding some more rose arches to my garden, later in the year, and this clematis is definitely going to be gracing one of them.

The borders as you can see are really filling up well.  On this side, I am waiting patiently for the bushes to grow, but they do tend to be slow in their first year.  I am looking forward to a little more height in the back of the border.  Can you see the obelisk? The stems twining around the obelisk are my French runner beans.  This photograph was taken in July and the beans have since been picked and enjoyed. Next year, I will definitely be growing more vegetables in the border.

I am so pleased with how the garden has evolved in just one year.  Admittedly it took a lot of hard work, but I never mind, because it is such a pleasure when everything grows.

I have to say, the bird bath needs a little tender loving care. The original bowl was broken when we moved house, so we added this bowl, only as an interim piece so during the summer the birds had plenty of water to drink, but we have been so busy, it has stayed as it is. Do you find, when the eye gets used to something, we stop noticing that anything is wrong.

This Constance Spry rose is planted along the back fence of our seating area, and when this jasmine, which I have companion  planted with the rose, reaches its full height and flowers..... the fragrance will be wonderful. Even as a small plant, these little flowers were so fragrant.  

Next year, one of our jobs is to remove the decking at the bottom of the garden, then I can plant lavender and chamomile to increase the fragrance even more.... the bees will be in heaven.

That is the most wonderful thing about gardening, just when you think you have finished, something catches your eye and the fork and spade come out of the shed and the fun begins all over again.

One of the jobs I need to do is to decide which spring bulbs I am going to plant and decide where they are going to be planted....and that is always fun.

I am looking forward to catching up with you to see what you have been doing during the summertime.  It might take a little while, but I promise I will catch up.

Take care and I will be with you next Saturday.

As Always.

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