It’s 2019 then! How did that happen? I’m back to work tomorrow after a Christmas and New Year break (thankfully, Scotland has an extra public holiday on 2nd January just to allow us to ease into the New Year a little more slowly). We spent Christmas in Northumberland where I managed a Christmas Day swim in the North Sea (7.30am, air temperature 2 degrees, not sure what the water temperature was, but I estimate it was at least ‘very cold indeed’). At times like this Mr McGregor is in charge of ‘logistics’ – i.e. holding my towel, taking photos and keeping the car keys safe, for which I am very grateful indeed.
We have had some wonderful weather for walks over the last couple of weeks, in Northumberland and around Edinburgh……
2018 was a year of ups and downs, as it would have been for many others I imagine, but I think one of the best things has been turning 50. I’m very grateful to my friend Lynne for suggesting that I could do 50 nice things over the year (this was before I realised that #50in50 was an actual thing). I don’t think I’ve achieved 50 yet, but I have allowed myself until my 51st birthday to do some more – but even if I don’t manage 50 really memorable things, it has encouraged me to do more stuff and not to put things off for another day ‘when I have more time’. When will that be for goodness sake?
Some of the things I have done are: watching a couple of ballets, climbing the Cheviot, various hilarious weekends away with ‘the girls’, doing some wild swimming (and getting a real taste for it), knitting ‘my first jumper’, ‘my first cardigan’ and ‘my first tank top’, reading more books by women writers, playing my fiddle….
I’m determined to carry on these adventures into 2019. New Year’s resolutions? I am hopeless at these, but I am planning to try to stick to at least these two, one work and one pleasure-related:
- Checking emails a maximum of three times a day when I’m at work. I find it so disruptive and distracting and my inbox really does not need checking more often!
- More baking (obviously)
One of my lovely PhD students recently bought me a new cookery book, which I am a little obsessed with – Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache, by Harry Eastwood. To start with, it’s a beautiful book to look at, but I am really keen on it as Harry uses vegetables in her recipes, so I can pretend that a slice of cake counts as a fruit/veg portion for the day. I have adapted one of her recipes here, and I thought the end result was delicious. Mr McGregor ate half of it before asking what it was. When I told him, he replied that he ‘doesn’t like carrot cake’. He then proceeded to eat the rest of it, so I am guessing that his pronouncement doesn’t actually apply to this particular carrot cake. And it is dairy- and gluten-free too….
Carrot cake (pdf: Carrot cake)
1 juicy orange
2 large eggs
60g light muscovado sugar
280g finely grated carrot
150g rice flour
80g ground almonds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (150 fan). Grease and line a 20cm loose bottomed baking tin. Grease base of this again
- Grate the zest of the orange finely. Squeeze the orange and use the juice to soak the sultanas in while you prepare the other stuff
- Whisk eggs and sugar for 5 minutes (yes, 5 minutes – it is worth it) until pale. Add grated carrot, orange zest and vanilla extract and beat again till combined
- Mix flour, baking powder, ground almonds and cinnamon and fold into the mixture
- Mix in the sultanas and any remaining orange juice
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until firm (you may need to cover the top with foil after 50 mins or so if it appears to be catching). The cake remains very moist.
- Cool on a wire rack