Dog+Yoga=Doga

Are you concerned about your dog’s wellbeing? Do you think they are a bit stressed and need some support?

Then doga could be just the activity for you and your dog to reconnect with each other in a calming and relaxing environment.

I struggle with yoga sometimes, throw a dog into the mix and I sense carnage instead of calmness, my dog Rocco who gets distracted by his tail. 

If this works for you then great but think I’ll pass.

A spoonful of sugar…

The sugar lies on the black background
Image created by V.ivash – Freepik.com

New Year always brings new goals and aspirations that for the average person don’t usually last past February.

Which is why two work colleagues and I decided to take part in the Staff Engagement team’s New Year New You challenge that takes place over January, one month is enough for us. Each week the Staff Engagement team issues weekly challenges with prizes at the end. We were issued our first task, 7 January where we had to record our sugar intake; this included both natural and refined sugars with a limit of 30g of sugar per day, going by how the week went I doubt we’ll be winning any prizes!

This is not as easy as you think, my diet isn’t the worst but it could also could be better.

Monday was the start of this educational week. Ate my usual breakfast of peanut butter on toast, with banana and honey. I thought it was healthy. Then I got hungry an ate a Muller fruit corner yoghurt.sugar_new year new you

The banana had 12g of sugar, a banana! Muller fruit corner yoghurt contained 14g. Good think I opted for peppermint tea was fine and not my usual of caffeinated tea with milk and two sugars.

Afternoon snack was an apple,15g, that’s it I was done I had exceed the limit! Not chocolates, not cake but fruit had pushed me over the edge and maybe the muller yoghurt had something to do with it.

That was pretty much how the rest of the week went.

Fast forward to Friday when I drank a homemade protein milkshake, I didn’t even think there would be sugar in milk, how wrong was I. According to Google 1 cup of semi skimmed milk contains 12g of sugar. Team that up with the banana and two frozen strawberries I was already nearing the set 30g daily limit. I can’t wait for this challenge to be over.

Overall looking at what I ate in a day did have some benefits; I noticed that the majority of the sugar I was eating was natural sugars from fruit. I rarely drink caffeine tea these days but when I do I have 2 teaspoons of sugar with it plus milk.  Even then it wasn’t enough refined sugar that I risked having a sugar crash later in the day.

I do think that with the daily exercises I wasn’t eating enough which might be why i was feeling tired and having headaches. That won’t be happening again, making sure I have plenty to eat throughout the day.

Let’s see if I do any better in the next challenge.

Trousers are a bit tight

Since getting married I have noticed my trousers have been getting that little bit tighter. I know that we are all loved up, happy and comfortable but I do prefer to be able to breath after eating.

I’m not one to monitor my calories or obsess about the scales but since getting married I have noticed my trousers have been getting that little bit tighter. I know that we are all loved up, happy and comfortable but I do prefer to be able to breath after eating. Fortunately, I’ve not ever been overweight but the past year the weight has been creeping up with those trousers getting a tad bit tighter that I can get away with not doing the hidden buttons up.

Three weeks ago I started a some high intensity interval training workouts which I do on alternate days to the kickboxing YouTube videos by Jessica Smith.

I’ve tried the Plank workout by Emi Wong, afterwards it took me two days to be able to cough without my abdominals aching. You think I would have stopped here but no, a day later I did the Low impact HIIT Cardio workout by Joanna Soh, don’t let the title fool you, I still haven’t managed to complete the entire routine. I get to the second to last move then collapse. In both cases after the workout I ended up needing to lay down thankfully not in the recovery position but to;

  • let my body figure out how to breath normally again
  • allow my vision to return to normal from all the sweat

fitness clothes_v2The husband has also gained a few pounds but is not willing to partake in the morning workouts before work. So we have decided to go on weekend family jogs / speed walking for the dog. Wearing our new trainers and joint supports we started last Saturday were surprised that we managed a mile. This was also with the dog stopping to sniff at every blade of grass, and peeing at every tree trunk to mark his territory. I think the dog was pacing us he knew we need the jog on the spot breaks to break us into this brave new world.

Laugh all you want at my suffering yet despite the sore muscles I have noticed a change in how I feel; more energised and hungrier. My trousers have started to feel a bit looser, enough that I can now do all the buttons up!

8 year old drag queen

Many people, myself included used to get confused about the difference between being a drag queen and being transgender, they are not the same. Through a bit of research the way it has been explained is that a drag queen is a character that is played whereas a transgender is a way of life, part of that person’s identity.

No that has been cleared up what I want to discuss with you all is a bit of a sensitive subject and there are a few people that won’t agree with it but at least it will get us talking. I read about a family in Montreal where the mum is supporting her eight year old son as he embraces his drag queen alter ego ‘Lacaticia’. The young drag queen is already finding stage success having already appeared on stage with drag queen Bianca del Rio. Some could argue that the mum is being a bad parent by allowing her young son to behave this way or that the child is being sexualised and allowed to venture into what is considered an adult environment, but what harm is he really doing to himself and others? The mum and son must have a great relationship with each other that he felt comfortable enough to be so open with his mum about how he was feeling.

Don't panicI’m not a parent but this situation has got me thinking about how easy it is for me to say, ‘what’s the harm, the child is happy, the family is happy, live and let live’ but would I feel the same if it was my child who at such a young age decided they wanted to be a drag queen or say the age of 4 decided they were trapped in the wrong body and wanted to be the opposite gender? How would I react, would I be the supportive parent or the one that despite loving their child is now embarrassed by this declaration and direction in life they want to take? I would like to think that to some degree I would be relaxed about it, I probably would have a little freak out but more about how the handle the situation without the child feeling like they are doing something wrong or that there is something wrong with them. Culturally there might be a few questions from other people but change has to start somewhere.

self-esteem-1566153_1280_webIf you have read any of my previous posts you’ll know that I am fascinated by drag queens and there is a lot we can learn from them, from the way they do their makeup, how they carry themselves, yes they are crude at times but some of them have also had to go through a lot of different life experiences and hardship to get where they are. They are resilient and highlight the importance to be yourself and confident even when it feels like the world is against you. Ru Pauls drag show contestants are adults but they too were once children who went through the many experiences and emotions that some transgender children face today, though as a society we are trying to be more open and accepting change is not that easy and there are some countries that are in no hurry to accept that drag queens, homosexuals, transgender people etc should be allowed to live in peace.

Saying all this could the gradual changes in views and opinions the reason behind the increase in the number of children being referred to the only gender identity clinic in the UK?

The figures, from London’s Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust, show that in the year ending March 2016, 1,398 people used the service, compared with 697 the year before.

There are increased media reports and programmes following children through their day to day life as they transition, some delaying puberty with medication to live as the opposite gender, although  doctors can prescribe gender changing hormones to children as young as 12 depending on the situation. Is this the right approach, the article I read does provide a compelling reason behind the decision to allow children start gender changing treatment much earlier than the agreed age of 16.

As adults and roles of parents we are expected to guide and encourage the future generations to be decent human beings. But what do you do when your child comes to about such an adult topic, they are playing with Barbie and GI Joe dolls (This could have changed but that is what kids played with when I was young) but what if GI Joe wants to become GI Jane and Barbie has decided she is more of a Ken doll?

Sources

The Guardian: gender identity clinic
The story of two transgender children
RuPaul’s Drag Race

Apple and blueberry muffins

Maybe it’s because The Great British Bake off is back on the TV or maybe because I’m getting my baking mojo back, whatever the reason I am rediscovering why I enjoyed baking. I am not making as detailed cakes as I once used but opting for quick bakes that can easily fit into my daily routine and still taste good; muffins, biscuits even bread that doesn’t take a great length of time. You’ll have noticed that I occasionally dabble in eggless baking, the texture and taste is different to that of an egg based cake but only those who are cake connoisseurs or are told about the lack of egg would most likely notice the difference. 

Tuesday night I had Bake Off on in the background but not sure if other avid fans of this television show feel the same but this series isn’t holding my interest. I was on in the background while I busied myself experimenting with a new recipe I had found for blueberry and apple muffins through Google from netmums.comApple Blueberry muffin batter_WebThe mixture looked ok, I don’t think I over mixed the batter and it definitely looked lumpy as the recipe said it should. Where I fell down was the timing, every oven is different but I think I just have a special one that either wants to cook food too quickly or wants to take its time, in this case it was the latter. The recipe said the muffins should take about 10-12 minutes to cook on gas mark 6, mine took about 16-18 minutes. I was concerned about overbaking them as they started to brown but when poked with a skewer there was still a bit of wet mixture attached.

Apple blueberry muffin_WebThe end result was better than I expected, I did think they felt a bit soft but were cooked but that can happen with additional liquid from fruit but they were holding their shape and not falling apart when they were removed from their cupcake cases. As always I have willing guinea pigs who give honest reviews, my work colleagues;

  • the blueberries gave a jammy texture
  • it was light with a nice texture
  • they were a bit soggy probably caused by the apple but tasted nice!  

Here is the Netmums recipe if you want to try it out.

Ingredients

  • 256g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 220g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 apple (large)
  • 150g raspberries
  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml milk
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200’C/400’F/Gas mark 6
  • Line a muffin tin with muffin cases
  • In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together
  • Beat the milk and egg together lightly, add the melted butter and then add the apples and raspberries
  • Mix gently into the dried ingredients until just combined (the mixture will look lumpy, but that’s okay!)
  • Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden, well risen and firm to touch
  • Remove from the oven and cool in the tray for 5 minutes, then remove from the tray and leave to thoroughly cool on a wire rack

 

Latest attempt at eggless baking

The Great British Bakeoff is back on our screens and on the new TV channel, Channel 4 with the exception of old blue eyes; Paul Hollywood, new presenters. I did find that the last years series on BBC One wasn’t has good as the previous series so thought the revamp and the current changes would be a good move, breath some new life into the programme. I was wrong. Presenter Noel Fielding has a witty personality which I just feel is being suppressed, it’s like he is on his best behaviour not to offend anyone, and I’m waiting for him to break free. It could just be me and maybe I’m being a little unreasonable but I don’t think the talent is has high as some of the bakers from past series, let’s face it no one has been able to top lion bread. There are a few bakers that have won me over, Yana, Julia and Liam. He was robbed of star baker, think Facepalmsomeone needs to check that it is only tea in Pru and Paul’s mugs when they have to such an important decision. The introduction of Caramel week was interesting, though I think I will stick to buying stroopwafels, not a single baker was able to get the caramel right in the technical challenge, what was that all about?

I haven’t tried any of the bakes from the show but have been having my own little challenges. I back on the eggless baking trying to find a perfect go to eggless cake recipe. I personally don’t have any concerns baking with eggs but over the years I have come across people for whatever reason don’t eat eggs be it an allergy, religious or vegan or simply don’t like to eat eggs.

I am getting closer to reaching my goal with my recent attempt, think I may have found the ideal recipe from Carve your Craving. The mixture makes your own buttermilk by adding vinegar to milk and letting it curdle, I just bought buttermilk. I thought my mixture looked a bit too dry in the notes it says to add water but I didn’t read this part and added a few extra table spoons of buttermilk and chocolate chips. You can use an electric mixer but a trusty old hand whisk did the job.

In the eyes of my guinea pigs these cakes were success; the texture was that of an egg based cake and got thumbs up on the taste, I was a bit concerned they may not be sweet enough but I was Eggless Cupcakes Cooked Webwrong. I was just a bit disappointed with how the top of the cakes looked, I thought maybe I had overbaked them but the actual cake didn’t taste dry. With some icing on top no one who even see what the top of the cakes looked like!

One cake taste tester did say they had turned out nice but they did prefer the egg based muffin. I do think the egg based equivalent was that tad bit fluffier but that could also be down to over mixing the batter slightly. I am my own worst critic. I’ve added the recipe below but do visit Carve your Craving website for the original recipe as there are lots of accompanying pictures and helpful tips, plus lots of other recipes.

Ingredients
  • All purpose flour – 1 ½ cups / 215 grams
  • Granulated Sugar – 1 cup / 214 grams
  • Cocoa powder – ½ cup / 43 grams
  • Baking soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Milk – 1 cup / 240 ml
  • Oil – ½ cup / 118 ml
  • Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Vinegar – 2 teaspoon
  • Milk plus vinegar is nothing but buttermilk:) so if u don’t have vinegar use sour buttermilk ( chaas) 1 cup by replacing milk and vinegar
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree F or 180 degree C.
  • Line the cupcake tray with cupcake liners
  • Sieve and Mix all dry ingredients (All purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt) in a bowl. Always sieve from a height for tender crumb outcome
  • Now time for liquids
  • Add vinegar to milk and let it stand for a minute .. Stir in oil
  • Use liquid measuring cup to measure the liquids for best results smile emoticon
  • Mix liquid in the dry ingredients – whip with a electric whipper or by a spatula or hand whip only till the batter is smooth and no lumps – don’t over beat – very important
  • Mine is always ready within 30-40 secs.
  • And bake in pre-heated oven for about 18-20 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center of cupcake will come out with few dry crumbs .. Don’t over bake
  • Remove it from oven and after 5 minutes remove cupcakes on wire rack and let them cool completely before frosting.
  • Please follow the given tips – for the best tender moist cupcakes

 

Notes
I recommend adding 1 tsp instant coffee powder to the batter.. It enhances the flavor of chocolate… Do add if not making for kids
Milk plus vinegar is nothing but buttermilk:) so if u don’t have vinegar use sour buttermilk ( chaas) 1 cup buttermilk in place of milk
As there may be difference in flour quality – if you think the batter is too thick add no more than 3 tbsp water – 1 tbsp at a time
use whipping attachment not beaters
Can be stored at room temperature unfrosted upto 3 days in a air tight container
1 week in the fridge
3 months in the freezer

 

 

Morning routine update; Did I stick with the changes?

alarm-clock-1193291_1280_WebNot too long ago I wrote an article about changing my morning routine, this involved me waking up earlier, doing a some exercise and anything else if I have time for it all before work. I only trialled this new routine for a week but have since tried to maintain it.

There have been days where I have fallen off the wagon and skipped the morning yoga choosing to get out of bed a bit later or generally having a ‘go slow’ day where I have had more than enough time to get ready for work, arrive at work early but the mind and body were not being that responsive.

Bar the few occasions where I have hit the snooze button I have managed to maintain the exercise part of the routine. I still do the 5 minutes yoga video stretching out the morning kinks helping to dissipate the last dredges of sleep. Where I have only been keeping up with part of the original routine personally I have felt disorganised and rushing around trying to get things done.  I have been feeling under the weather lately but I don’t think that is the only reason behind my lack of energy and  motivation throughout the working day. I am hoping that my renewed drive to get back on track will help combat these feelings.

Diet has played its part, being organised and having breakfast ready meant I was eating something other than a chocolate muffin or a doughnut for breakfast, you imagine how I felt after that sugar crash. I was eating more fruit and drinking less caffeine, this has all gone out of the window and the extra sugar I have been consuming it definitely affecting my energy levels. As well as having a more structured morning I have been trying to stick with a bedtime routine involving removal of makeup, brush teeth etc I am also bringing back the bedtime yoga video. This could be the 5 minute or the 20 minute YouTube video depending on time but the aim to do at least one of them. Reading has become virtually non-existent, this is something I should try and find time for, it was a form of escapism and relaxation. Need to make to time to wind down and let go of the day.

I’ll let you know how I get on or if I fall back into bad habits. If this week has been anything to go by, it’s a work in process. I’ve discovered the TV series Dexter on Netflix so have been having a TV binge fest going on. I have been managing to get up early, I have a lodger and I need to get in the bathroom before her if I don’t want to be late for work.  I am still managing the morning yoga and eating a few more bits of vegetables and fruit, not quite the recommended daily amount but something is better than nothing.

Wish me luck!

World Suicide Prevention day

2017_wspd_banner_english

Sunday 10 September was World Suicide Prevention Day. It shouldn’t be that we need a day to raise awareness about such a sensitive topic, but like with mental health the stigma and negative opinions associated with suicide are taking time to dispel. It is only as a society, encouraging and educating people will we be able to move forward and prevent potential suicide victims reaching the stage where they feel death is the only solution.

 Taking a minute to reach out to someone – a complete stranger or close family member or friend – can change the course of their life

This year’s WSPD theme was ‘take a minute, change a life’.  Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt. How many of these could be avoided if we were to just take a minute and have a conversation with each other. We can blame technology and social media for many things;

  • social media is damaging to people’s mental health
  • mobile phones and social are ruining the way we communicate
  • we are becoming less sociable

But we can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room, it’s time to turn these negatives and use social media and technology to our advantage. Campaigns like Time to Change’s ‘Be in your corner’ mental health campaign, if your friend’s acting differently, step in. It isn’t always easy to make that first step, there is always the worry that you may say or do something wrong but more often than not all the person going through a rough patch wants is someone to listen. You don’t always have to have the answers or know the solution but showing that non judgemental support can make all the difference. If you think someone you know is struggling then go ahead and start your conversation.

Mental health problems can affect anyone at anytime, regardless of age, gender ethnic background. It is so important that as a society we all come together to raise awareness and educate people. Being Asian and of a Muslim background it was and in some cases difficult for people from the Asian community to acknowledge the existence of mental illness. In many religions suicide is a sin which as further confusion and stress to those who are already going through a difficult period. It’s not about vilifying religion and those who have a strong faith but more about educating people and having religion and treatments complimenting each other. Having a faith has helped those with a mental health illness, giving them inner strength and peace.

University Students

With the new semester starting there is more focus on the mental health and wellbeing of university students who for many it is the first time away from home, pressures of study, exams and student loans can be a stressful time. A study carried out by IPPR showed that the number of students reporting and seeking help for a mental health concern had risen to 15,395 in a decade and 134 students killed themselves in 2015 (source The Guardian)

Experts put the rise down to growing pressure on students who leave university with huge debt, as well as increased awareness – meaning more people are reporting problems

Men’s mental health

imagescfk9d35gSuicide is the leading cause of death in men below the age of 50, men were more likely to take their own life than die from road deaths, coronary heart disease, accidental poisoning or diseases of the liver.

There has been a lot of work being done to encourage men to talk about their physical and mental health. There are a lot of stereotypes I that negatively impact society and how people function. Pigeon holing them only leads to people feeling trapped thinking they will be ostracised, ridiculed and not taken seriously, an attitude Movember is trying to change. Admitting there is something wrong and talking about it is not a sign of weakness, it doesn’t make you less of a man. if anything it takes a lot of strength to open up.

Post natal depression

Spoken about students and men’s health we can’t ignore women, in particular post natal depression. It is important to understand that this is not an illness that women will recover from in a few weeks, it can take years and can be a long road.

Some people, myself included have confused the baby blues with post natal depression. Though the two have similar symptoms the recovery is different.

Up to 80 per cent of women report “the blues”, usually within the first week after birth. It often coincides with an increase in breast milk supply. Women may feel teary, sad, anxious or struggle to concentrate.

“The blues” are usually self-limiting and no treatment other than reassurance and support is required.

Postnatal depression (PND) affects approximately 15 per cent of women in the months following the birth of a baby, so is a lot more common than some might imagine. It is more severe and prolonged than “the blues”, and can substantially affect the relationship between the mother and baby during this critical period. Women who suffer from PND frequently report feeling sad, tearful, anxious or guilty, often without an obvious “trigger” that they can identify.

There are support groups like Pandas and Mind. Social media Twitter support groups like Lotus Petal, PND & Me. Don’t forget your health visitor will also be able to help if you are struggling.

Days like world suicide prevention day is a time to raise awareness and educate people that we can all fall down, some of us will need a little bit of extra help to get back up again. You could be that person that makes a difference in someone’s life.

Don’t forget that World Mental Health Day is 10 October, hold you own tea and talk day!

References

WSPD Home
Time to change
Samaritans
The Guardian
The calm zone
Essential Baby
Pandas
Mind

Puppy Love

Growing up my family had budgies, my grandparents had budgies, I can barely keep a plant alive! I’ve not ever had a great love of animals; I haven’t had any desire to own fish, no rodents or reptiles of any kind and definitely did not have a desire to have a cat or a dog. The hair, the slobber etc. just does not appeal to me. Until I met my partner, who let’s just say has ruined me! The person I once was has evolved into the person I don’t recognise. He has always owned a dog from a Doberman to a Rottweiler, usually raised from a puppy up until the end. His last dog was Rottweiler, this hulking beast of an animal who came up to my waist was a puppy deep down inside unless he didn’t like you or didn’t know you then depending on if you were an intruder or a non-threatening person a few treats and a firm voice could sway him to your side. Sadly this loveable creature became quite unwell and became paralysed and the unthinkable had to be considered and a very hard decision was made. I had known this dog for over a year and her recognised me every time I came to the house, would sit with me and tell me off when I would stop fussing over him. This is not me, I do not behave like this with animals, or at least I didn’t but something about this dog just tugged at my heart strings. Don’t get me wrong I still washed my hands a million times after running my fingers through his thick coat of hair and needed to use a lint brush after being covered in said dog hair but he was still one of the first people I would say hello to in the house.
When the end came it was a private moment and I wasn’t sure if my partner would want me there as I hadn’t know the doggy as long as the rest of the family but was touched that he wanted me there at the vets with him and other family members. Not going to lie, I was probably worse than everyone else a blubbering mess, I still feel I should replace the box of tissues at the vets based on the amount of tissues I singlehandedly went through. It was one of the most horrible and heart-breaking things I have ever experienced.

Can you guess where this is going?

My partner has always had a dog for companionship, friendship and security. Going through the options when deciding future dog a few boxes needed to be ticked.

  • limited slobbering
  • limited hair moulting tendencies
  • child friendly
  • formidable guard dog

Proud co-owner of a gorgeous playful puppy

RoccoI am the proud co-owner of a gorgeous playful puppy who will grow into an equally lovable and trained the right way a, protective adult dog, I am so excited.

When my partner and I initially went to see all the see the puppies for sale at the breeders we had a few choices but settled on one particular pup. During this process I’ve learnt that buying a puppy or any dog is not as simple as popping into your local supermarket and picking one of the shelf. There is the breed, the family line, who are the parents, any history of illnesses, disabilities etc then there is such a thing called stud dogs, all of this was a complete education for me. This all explains that before making a final decision and parting with money partner wanted to see the dad with whom the breeder is friends with and would also be at a dog that just so happened to be taking place that same weekend. The breeder brought along the puppies to the show, as you can imagine cute fluffy puppies garnered a lot of attention so thought in order to protect our interests it was necessary to get our future pup out of the shared pen so other potential owners new it was off limits, I wasn’t quite tall enough to lean over but decided to give it a go anyway and nearly fell in the pen trying to get hold of my pup. I’ve turned into one of those crazy puppy women!

The puppy will live with my partner as he won’t be left on his own during the day, my partner is also the most experienced to train him. I am still working up to being able to pick up his poop, I know I will have to do this eventually I’m just not there yet.

All I know is I talk about this puppy as if he is a child and if anyone was to hurt him, let’s just say there would be some serious consequences. Researching into getting the right deworming and defleaing products that won’t make him ill; some on the negative online reviews were enough to cause nightmares. Then there are the toys, blankets and getting the right food that doesn’t cost a small fortune. If this is a fraction of what parenthood could be like I don’t think my young / old ticker can take the stress and worry.

Soda Bread anyone?

Generally I’m more comfortable baking cakes and biscuits and have been learning the joys of freezing cut biscuit dough. As much as I like baking it can sometimes the preparation can be time consuming and when I’ve been at work and then have the craving to have a few biscuits, take a few out of the freezer and in about 15 minutes maybe 20 at a push I have fresh biscuits ready to go with my tea!

Enough about the cakes and frozen biscuits, the one area I dabble in and generally fail miserably is baking bread from scratch. I’ve used shop bough ready mixed bread where I just add water in the past, I’ve even tried focaccia bread from scratch with varying degrees of success and failure. So I thought I would try something a bit simple and opted for soda bread, no yeast involved, thought what could go wrong? My first attempt went wrong!

The dough was a wet, sticky mess …

Soda Bread_AllrecipesI found a recipe on Allrecipes that looked straightforward, I didn’t have any buttermilk but the recipe used the homemade version of buttermilk; milk with vinegar. I halved the recipe just in case it all went horrible wrong, which it did. The dough was a wet, sticky mess to which I kept adding flour that should have made the situation better, it didn’t. The dough became a bit tough and even though I was trying to find the silver lining in the moment and though the dough still had the chance to develop into a great looking and tasting soda bread, the oven would be the cocoon to make this all happen. Alas no this did not happen, the bread shouldn’t have taken long to bake yet the outcome was a lovely looking bread on the outside and a doughy substance on the inside. I couldn’t subject the daring foxes in the area that like to roam the streets, the only place for this lump that would offend bread bakers everywhere was the bin.

Was I beaten by this failed bake?

Soda Bread_James MartinI was for a short period of time, until I bought a pot of buttermilk then with the aid of BBC Good Food website and a recipe by James Martin (also see below) my bread baking fighting spirit was back in action. The ratios worked, the dough looked how I think it was meant to, onto the actual baking. Though there are many steps in bread making that I fall down on the actual baking and listening for the hollow sound does confuse me a bit but I went with it. The bread itself did catch a bit more colour than I would have liked, if I was comparing it to a colour chart I think it would have been the colour swatch that is just before burnt! The response from critics; brother and sister was the bread was a bit chewy, could have done with a few minutes in the oven which could explain why it tasted ok toasted and with butter, extra cooking under the grill. The main thing to take away from this attempt was it was edible.

Ignoring my limited bread making skills this bread is actually very simple and take no time to make. Give it a try and come and share your bread conquests on here or head on over to my Twitter share your thoughts.

Ingredients

170g/6oz self-raising wholemeal flour
170g/6oz plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
290ml/½ pint buttermilk

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.

2. Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.

3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.)

4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.

5. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.

6. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.