Sunday, 19 May 2013



A Jamaican ginger bread loaf never lasts very long when I'm around so I thought I'd attempt to make my own. What better though than to put a Northern twang on it by making a batch of Yorkshire's very own Parkin. Parkin is made with treacle and oatmeal, giving it its own special flavour. I however did not have any oatmeal in so I used a mix of oats and oatbran for more texture. As always I like to add my own little twist to my cakes and decided to add some marmalade to the cake and to also add a generous glaze of sticky and syrupy marmalade on top. Extra YUM!



125g Golden Syrup
100g Treacle
2tbsp Marmalade
100g Soft Brown Sugar
190g Plain Flour
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2tsp Ground Ginger
1tsp Cinnamon or Mixed Spice
100g Butter
200g of Medium Oatmeal/Oats/Oatbran
1 Egg
1tsp Vanilla Essence
100ml Milk

Sticky Topping:
2tbsp Marmalade
2tbsp Golden Syrup
1tbsp Treacle
2tbsp Icing Sugar


1. Preheat your oven to 170 and grease and line a square or rectangular deep cake tin.

2. Place the syrup, treacle, marmalade and sugar into a pan on a low heat until melted. Leave to cool.

3. In a bowl, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon/mixed spice and then rub the butter into the mixture. Stir the oatmeal into the mixture. Add the melted ingredients, the egg and the milk and stir until combined.

4. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and place on the middle shelf of your oven to bake for 50-60 minutes.

5. When the cake is baked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Place all the ingredients for the sticky topping into a pan and warm on a low heat. When the mixture thickens, remove from the heat and brush all over the exposed surface areas of the cake. Leave to set before eating.

* Did you know that Parkin tastes better the longer you leave it?
3-4 days stored in an air tight container is the recommended storage time before eating but I bet you'll struggle to even keep it for a day!

Sunday, 12 May 2013


So for most of us university students, exams are already underway or will be upon us by the end of the month.

This time of year can get a bit crazy for us, the pressure of exams approaches and creeps up on you out of nowhere and all of a sudden your mind is awashed with an anxiety that just won't let you be. As a result, we end up living in the library, fueling ourselves off endless coffees and energy drinks, working til 4 or 5 in the morning and forgetting what it looks like to live a normal daily schedule.

It's not too late to get on top of things. For those of you in need... I give you my last minute and exam-week guide for getting by without having a breakdown...


#1   Organise what you have left of your revision time.  A timetable is great for this and can help you to track and monitor your progress. You should aim to do at least 5 to 6 hours per day of revision during the exam period, and if possible to do more. Try to figure out when you are at your most productive peak and slot in to revise around those times. 

#2   Avoid distractions - procrastination is inevitable but it's always best if you 'allow' for procrastination time within your day. Disconnect yourself from the internet for the time limit of your work, don't work in the library if you know it's just a social hub where all your friends will be, etc.

#3   Believe in yourself. This is key. If you know you have done the work to get the mark you deserve then you should have all faith in yourself. No one is perfect and you can only do the best that you can do.

#4   Avoid panic and placing exams out of perspective. A great tip for this is to practice mindfulness (you can view my previous blog post on this HERE) and to give yourself 'time out' where you can relax and rebuild your energy. Make sure you allow enough time for sleep too, eight hours as a minimum is essential for productive functioning.

#5   Eat well and avoid overloading on caffeine - Coffee, tea and energy drinks are all helpful in some respect but they should not become the staples of your diet. Incorporate healthy complex carbohydrates with iron-rich vegetables and good sources of protein in each meal. Eat reguarly and healthily to maintain motivation and brain power and to keep your physical and mental health working at its optimum. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and if possible try to get 20 minutes of physical activity (it doesn't have to be a gym workout... a brisk walk home is fine!) into your day as well.

Saturday, 11 May 2013


Last month I received an email from MILLIES in Leeds last month asking me if I would be interested in a new project. Millies are a fab shop in the city centre which describes itself as a "fine food and local produce store". They sell locally sourced Yorkshire products and offer a wide range of interesting and delectable food stuffs (...just try their yogurt covered honeycomb  pieces and you'll see what I mean!).

Anyway - this project was to review or create recipes with some products that they were promoting or selling. First up a pot of sweet heat from the one and only THE CHILLI JAM MAN.

The Chilli Jam Man is a great little Yorkshire-based business, which has "spent years developing chilli jam recipes to tantalise and sate the tate buds". I chose to try out the extra hot (9.1% heat rating!) Bhut Jolokia Chilli Jam, which also happens to be one of the three vegetarian jams available within this range.

Upon the first little finger dip I was extremely surprised to finally find a "chilli" product that actually even I found very hot! It even gave me friend hiccups but this could have just been due to over excitement. Ha.
I instantly knew it would pair perfectly with a nice loaf of bread and an array of cheese, meats and pickles. So maverick me over here decided to put the Chilli Jam into one of my favourite bread recipes... the soda bread!

So here we have it...



200g Plain Flour
200g Wholemeal Flour
1 1/2 tsp of Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 tsp of Salt
2-3 tbsps of Mixed Seeds (Optional)
280-300g of Buttermilk
As much of a jar of your favourite Chilli Jam that you can handle!

* Click HERE for the whole range of Jam's available from The Chilli Jam Man.


1.  Heat your oven to 200ÂșC and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2.  Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the salt. At this point you can chuck in a few tablespoons of some mixed seeds, chopped nuts or any other dry ingredients of your preference.

3.  In a separate jug, mix the buttermilk with the Chilli Jam (I used about 2/3s of a pot) and then add this mixture to the dry ingredients to form a dough and knead gently, forming the dough into a ball.

3.  Place the ball of dough onto the baking paper and then with a sharp knife, cut a cross in the top of the dough about an inch deep. Sprinkle with flour and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.


The outcome is a lovely doughy bread, quite hefty in consistency but one that can act as a suitable foundation for piling up with your favourite toppings. It packs just enough punch to give you that Chilli kick of the fiery Bhut Jolokia chilli and if it's not to your tasting you can add more or less of the pot of jam - but be warned, it's VERY hot!!

...and last but not least a MASSIVE THANK YOU to Millies and The Chilli Jam Man!