At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Monday, 29 December 2014

Marshy the Snowman Cupcakes!! :)

Meet Marshy the Snowman everyone!! Haha, or should that be Snowmen, for as usual this recipe yields 12 identical cupcakes. ;) And yes instead of Frosty the Snowman like they have in the song, it's Marshy the Snowman because that white stuff they snowmen are made of isn't, after all, any kind of icing or frosting or whatever - the head and the body consist of nothing but squishy white marhsmallows, another one of Ganache-Elf's big weaknesses. usually, as you might have guessed, I like to enjoy these delightful, soft members of the confectionary family on top of a hot choc in semi-molten form, but on this occasion, I thought they contributed very well to the aesthetic appeal of these Christmassy Cupcakes, as well as their scrumptiousness, of course. ;)
Ingredients :)

  • 125 g margarine/butter, softened
  • 125 g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125 g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 - 3 tbsp full-fat milk
  • 100 g white chocolate
For the dark chocolate ganache and decorations ;)

  • 150 g plain chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 150 ml single cream
  • 1 - 2 Cadbury Flake bars (or any other kind of flaky milk chocolate like Galaxy Ripple or cadbury Twirl :) )
  • About 10 white marshmallows (or you might need more depending on their size :) 
Method :)
  1. preheat oven to 180c/160 c fan. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper cases. 
  2. Place the margarine in a big bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very soft. 
  3. Chope the white chocolate with a sharp knife into small chunks or big chips. 
  4. Add the sugar, the eggs, the flour and the sifted cocoa powder.Mix well with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes; before pausing the mixer and scaping down the sides of the bowl with a large metal spoon. Resume mixing for another minute until smooth and well-blended.  
  5. Spoon up some of the batter and let it fall back into the bowl to check it is of a nice, soft, dropping consistency. Add 2- 3 tbsp of milk, a tbsp at a time, if it seems a little on the thick side. 
  6. Fold in the white chocolate chips gently with a metal spoon. Then equally divide the batter amongst the paper cases.
  7. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the cupcakes are well-risen and spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. If an indent is left when you do this, bake for a few minutes more before testing again.
  8. Leave in the tin for about 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
  9. Make the dark choc ganache by melting the 150g plain chocolate with 150 ml single cream, on a very low heat in a small saucepan. Stir until smooth and then refrigerate for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, checking after 1 ½ hours…you don’t want it very hard, just a nice spreadable consistency.
  10. Splodge a generous dollop of ganache on top of each cooled cupcake, reserving a small amount for piping the eyes and buttons of the snowmen.
  11. For the snowmen, cut 6 of the white marshmallows into half. Place each half on top of each cupcake, leaving a little space at the top for the head.
  12. Cut another marshmallow across its width into about 4 or 5 small pieces. Place the "heads" on top of the halved marshmallow on each cupcake.
  13. Now fill an icing bag fitted with a plain nozzle with the reserve ganache. 
  14. use this ganache to dot a pair of eyes, a little nose and a smile on each snowman. Then dot three buttons on each plump middle. :)
  15. Carefully break the flake/ripple into long thin shards and use these to make the arms of each snowman. :)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

It was the end of my old world...

To quote from my blog post from several days ago now - And so for my next post I want to share with year, of 2014. So apologies about that - I know this post is a little overdue ;) But as you all know my festive baking has kept me very much occupied over the past few days... ;)

Anyway, to return to the point...2014. I'll try to not drone on too much. As there is an awful lot more that I could say, about my 2014. Of course alot of things I don't remember, but there are some of those painful, minute details about what I did which I can't entirely erase from my memory.

And so in January of this year, the Christmas holidays drew to a close and it was time for me to return to college. My Christmas had been nice. I was still skinny, of course, but not painfully so.Up to this point, I hadn't quite entered that phase which was to become the worst stage of my eating disorder...but I think this did begin in late January, early February of this year.

Up till this year, I don't think I had ever intentionally , purposefully skipped a meal. Of course, perhaps one of two times in the past, if say I had been on holidays with my family and our plane had got delayed or something like that. But that aside...skipping meals at one time was just, well unthinkable to me really. I never used to like being hungry, as it meant that I got irritable and couldn't concentrate. But that all changed this year, too. I started to want to have that empty, hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach, which reassured me that there was no way I had eaten enough in the past few hours, days, week.

Why did I sink so low at the beginning of this year...? a similar way as when my eating disorder first developed all those years ago, there were a few things involved. First of all...loneliness. I was lonely, sad and isolated. And that meant that my appetite was pretty much non-existent. I became against the idea of eating alone....if ever was the case that I was on my own any morning, afternoon, evening or night, I would not eat. No matter how hungry I was.

There were other factors too which pushed me down ever deeper. The persistent feelings of self-worthlessness, self-hate, low self-esteem. I wanted to punish myself, in a way - and I told myself I was a good-for-nothing, stupid, unattractive girl whose existence was completely and utterly unnecessary. But as I mentioned before, I was too afraid to attempt suicide. But I derived strength from the fact I could damage myself in this sort of way. On the other hand, when I felt a little more upbeat and I didn't feel as self-hateful, a little voice at the back of my brain whispered to me that what I was doing, what I had been doing was very, very wrong. But what of it? I always answered to that voice, pushing it gently away. There's nothing wrong with me. I can walk miles and miles, noone can keep up with me when I'm walking. I never get colds. I'm no anorexic. I'm in perfectly good health! And so on I went, and the brief moments of happiness would always pass, to be engulfed and consumed by the other, oppressive feelings of uselessness and self-loathing.

What I didn't seem to take heed of, when I carelessly told myself that I'm in perfect good health , was the other signs which, to any other person, might have indicated that something was seriously wrong with my body.

For one thing, I had never, ever had one period, and I was fast approaching my 20th birthday.

Secondly, I was always so, so tired. Not boldily: rather, mentally : I could never do any kind of study, because when I went to sit down with my book and notes, a heavy cloud of sleepy sluggishness would overcome me.I would sit there staring at the page, the words meaningless and incomprehensible, tears of frustration pricking my eyes as I berated myself, over and over again, convinced that I was just naturally stupid and incapable of doing anything.

By March, I was steadily but surely losing more and more weight. College was bad and I was struggling to keep up with my fellow students. The exams were fast approaching and I hadn't done any kind of revision.

As the month dragged on, I, at the advice of one of my closest friends, went to the counselling service at Trinity to talk about my academic concerns. A tall, middle-aged man with brown hair and a kind, sincere face sat down with me and asked me why I had came. He glanced over the questionaire I had filled out in the waiitng room, which was used by the counsellors to help them identify where the student's problems really lay. A moment passed, and then he lifted his eyes to meet my own. I could feel the weight of his gaze.

I think he knew. He knew that I had lied on that form. This questionnaire consisted of a number of statements (eg. I struggle with low self-esteem), which, in your response to, you were required to indicate whether or not the statement applied to you.

I had answered, truthfully and honestly, to every single one of them...except one.

I have issues with eating.

I talked for about 50 minutes with my counsellor about my stress, my anxiety, my feelings of ineptitude and worthlessness and wretchedness. At 10 to 12 my counsellor stood up and shook my hand, but before he let go he looked into my eyes and asked me was I sure there was nothing else I wanted to talk about before I went.

I hesitated, slightly taken aback. I hadn't cried for the whole session, much to my surprise, as I am in general quite an emotional person. But I had checked my tears. Though at the very moment, I wanted so badly to cry. It was one of those brief, fleeting moments when i realised that what I was doing in regard to my eating was wrong. No. I don't, I CANT have an eating disorder, a hard voice said firmly.  But come you are so tired and lacking of energy? So hungry all the time? whispered another tiny little voice, so muffled it was as if it were speaking through layers of thick fabric. What do you think Mam would have said if she saw how little pasta you ate last night? 

And so I smiled, and told another lie. I said I was fine, and thanked him for everything he had done. His eyes were sad and concerned as I turned to go.

But his words and advice stayed with me. Another month passed...March daffodils were replaced by the buds and blossoms of April; and then the cool freshness of early spring surrendered to the warm, sunlit touch of May. And it was in May 2014 that I finally realised that I couldn't stay blind and helpless forever. I realised, with certainty, that I was suffering from an eating disorder.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Holly Leaf Log!! :)

Happy Christmas everyone !!! Well when I started on the post yesterday, it was St. Stephen's Day, or Boxing Day as we say in England ;) and it was absolutely BUCKETING down with rain. No white Christmas for us in Laois this year I guess. :( But hey, looking at this chocolate log here, you wouldn't know it, right? Nothing like a little sprinkling of icing sugar for that gorgeous snowy effect upon a festive Christmas treat. ;) And fortunately, I made this on Christmas Eve in consent with my brother's demands ;) and it wasn't raining then, fortunately. For if it had been, Santa's sledge might well have ended up being a rather soggy affair - and Ganache-Elf would have been deterred once again from wandering down the lane to find those precious holly leaves. ;)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, holly leaves were found and gathered - mission accomplished!!! And then on Christmas evening, not only were logs crackling away on the fire, adding a true Christmassy feel to the air - but there was a log of an entirely different sort sitting prettily in the kitchen, adorned with chocolate holly leaves and dusted with powdery, snow-like icing sugar; all of which served to contribute further to that wonderful, nostalgic atmosphere that is Christmas...a time of joy, excitement, love, and giving. And chocolate of course, as I have mentioned before. ;)

I have been making this chocolate log for several years now. It's my little brother's favourite Christmas dessert - he's never been a fan of Christmas pudding or the trifle that my Daddy favours. But this cake manages to combine all of the qualities I would asscociate with my brother's ideal dessert. Whipped cream, dark chocolate ganache, a soft, light chocolate sponge, and lots of beautiful prickly holly leaves made of real chocolate. 

I just adore the wintry prettiness of this log. it's what you would call a real show-stopper. ;) Feel free to make as many chocolate leaves as you like. Just be careful when you pluck the natural leaves from the branches of the holly tree - those pricks on the edges sure are sharp. :) You will also need a little paintbrush for "painting" the leaves with chocolate. Yes, this is how you do's that simple!! ;) But as I say, a clean, small paintbrush is required for this. A new one is probably best of course, though I use one which hails from my Painting by Number days - well washed of course - though since chocolate leaves are fast becoming one of my preferred decorative effects to add to chocolate cakes, I intend to toddle along to the shops one day soon and buy my very own Tesco Value paintbrush for such a purpose. ;)

Ingredients :)

For the sponge...

  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature :) )
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 25 g plain flour
For the filling and ganache...

  • 200 ml whipping/double cream
  • 200 g plain chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 200 ml single cream
For the leaves...

  • About 100 g - 150 g plain chocolate (or more if you feel so inclined :) ), roughly chopped
  • A little icing sugar for dusting
Method :)
  • I think it is always a good idea to start this cake by making the leaves. Gather  a good quantity of fresh holly leaves from a tree. Wash them very gently in a sieve and then pat dry on kitchen paper. Make sure they are completely dry before you resume with the chocolate melting. ;)
  • Melt the plain chocolate for the leaves in a heatproof bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until completely melted.
  • Leave for a few minutes to cool slightly. Place a large piece of baking paper on a tray. Then, use your little paintbrush to paint a thick layer of melted chocolate on the underside of each holly leaf. Make sure it is quite a thick layer, or the chocolate will just crack or flake when you remove the leaf later on. Place the painted leaves on the tray, wet sides facing up. Leave in a cold place or the fridge for about an hour to set.

  • While the leaves dry you can go about making the sponge. Preheat oven to 200 c/180 c fan.
  • Grease a Swiss Roll tin (mine measures 30 cm x 20 cm :) ) and line with a large piece of baking paper. Cut it big enough so that it comes all the way up all four sides of the tin, trimming the overlaps if necessary with a pair of scissors.
  • Break the eggs into a large bowl. With an electric whisk, beat them for about 2 minutes, then tip in 100 g of the caster sugar. Whisk them together for about 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes thicker, creamier and paler in colour. 
  • Sift the cocoa and the flour together into a separate bowl and stir them together. Then, sift them into the bowl containing the whisked egg mixture.
  • Fold the flour and cocoa very gently into the egg mixture with a large metal spoon. be very light-handed here so you dont knock out any of those air bubbles you created with all your hard work with the whisk!
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared tin. Smooth it all out evenly with the metal spoon. Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the cake is fully cooked, risen and spongy. It should be set and slightly firm. 
  • While the cake is in the oven, cut a large piece of baking paper and lay it on top of a clean, dry tea towel on a work surface. Sprinkle with the remaining 25 g of caster sugar. 
  • When the cake is cooked, turn it out onto the sugar-covered baking paper on the work surface. Very carefully remove the baking paper that the cake itself was baked in and discard.
  • Then carefully roll the sponge up from the short side, rolling the sugar-covered baking paper inside it as you go.
  • Place it on a wire rack and let it stand for about 5-7 minutes. Then unroll, keeping it on the sugared baking paper. Leave it on the wire rack standing on the tea towel to cool completely.

  • Now check your chocolate leaves. If the chocolate has set, then take one leaf in one hand and, very, very slowly and carefully, peel the leaf off the hardened chocolate. Do this over a place or the bowl you melted the chocolate in, so that if the chocolate does snap or break you will be able to salvage the pieces and use them again for melting! 
  • If you do end up with more broken leaves then whole ones, then don't be disheartened - this almost ALWAYS happens to me. Just remelt the shards of chocolate and then reapply them to the holly leaves. It's likely that, if your leaves were too fragile and snapped when you peeled them off the holly, that you weren;t generous enough applying the chocolate. Aim for a thick, even layer of melted chocolate on the back of each leaf. 
  • Make the dark choc ganache by melting the 200g plain chocolate with 200 ml single cream, on a very low heat in a small saucepan. Stir until smooth and then refrigerate for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, checking after 1 ½ hours…you don’t want it very hard, just a nice spreadable consistency.
  • When the gancahe is ready, whip the remaining 200 ml whipping/double cream until it form soft peaks - be careful not to overbeat. 
  • Spread the whipped cream all over the cooled, unrolled sponge. Then reroll the sponge, from the short side as before, and place on a plate. So pretty and it's not even been decorated yet. ;) <3 Take your chocolate ganache and spread it with a palette knife all over the top and sides of the sponge.
  • Finally, stick on all your exquisite chocolate leaves to cover the whole sponge, and then sprinkle over plenty of sifted icing sugar for that gorgeous, snowy effect. And there you have it, a perfect Christmassy treat which looks and tastes absolutely divine. <3 All you need to do now is a. ) decide whether you are going to reveal your secret of how you managed to rustle (heehee ;) ) up a load of real chocolate leaves, And b.)err, well have your cake and eat it, of course.
Happy Christmas everyone :) xxx

Thursday, 25 December 2014

My Christmas Eve surprise :) and a little wish for all my special readers :)

Yesterday morning as I was sitting in the lounge, gathering up my thoughts to make my next blog post, the doorbell rang. Glancing up, I saw the kindly, slightly weather-worn face of the postman peering through the porch window, a bundle of paper packages and stamped envelopes in his gloved hands.

I hurried to the door and quickly flung it open, curious as to know whether any of the carefully handwritten addresses were headed by my own name; and were accordingly meant for me to open. I didn't expect that any of them would be, of course...but to my surprise and delight not one, but two of these packages had Emily Snelgrove written on them in two very different scripts.

Leaving the other mail on the kitchen table, I carried these two envelopes into my room as tentatively and as carefully as if they were vases filled with diamonds. And there in the quiet, still warmth of my little room I gently tore through the paper of the first package. The very same package which had been sealed, with so much love and care and thoughtfullness, by a very special friend of mine all the wya across the North Sea. <3

Inside as you can see, were lots of traditional German foods eaten at Christmas time, from gingery lebkuchen, fragrantly-spiced cinnamon stars, little chocolate pralines...and even two small bars of hot chocolate powder. <3

I was like a little girl then, at that one wonderful precious little moment on Christmas Eve. I had given a soft squeal of delight when I had opened this exquisite little box to reveal the delightful contents that lay within....which had travelled, across all those hundreds of hundreds of miles, from Augsburg in Germany to the very heart of the Irish Midlands, to now nestle safely in my hands.

And if this wasn't so incredibly generous and kind-hearted enough...accompanying this beautiful little Christmas gift was a hand-written letter, just for me.

The thoughts and words of this little letter served to both touch my heart and bring happy tears to my eyes. One sentence in particular struck me, and the little illustration drawn alongside it. My reader...who is so, so much more to me than that; she is an inspiration, a heroine to me - and, above all, a true and very special friend - drew her beautiful composition to a close with the following group of words before she signed off.

Sometimes we just need to let things go.

Beside this one little sentence, a little balloon on a string was being wafted gently away. I didn't have to read the two letters on the balloon itself to know and understand what it exactly symbolised.

Letting go...something which the past few years have taught me is a very hard thing to do, in many different situations.

It's hard to let your loved ones go when you hold them in your arms at the bus shuttle, knowing that many a week and a month might pass before you are able to see them again.

It's hard to let go when you are forced to make that excruciating, painful decision at the vets when they tell you your faithful furry friend is dying and the kindest thing you could do for them right now would be to let her go. 

And it's hard, to let go of that voice which has controlled you, held you, manipulated you for so, so long, it has taken over you, become part of you, has become part and whole of your identity, so that your whole life is bent to revolve around it. You hate it, you detest it with all your heart and soul - but at the same time, letting go of that voice - pushing away its icy, cold hand and struggling upright by yourself - seems so, so hard it appears to be almost impossible....

But I know that WE can do it. :)

Now it's evening time and I'm sitting in the lounge by the fire, the fairy lights glistening in the smoky warmth, the smell of the pot pourris on the mantlepiece in my nostrils. The sound of laughter and happiness fill the air. Such a simple, but perfect little moment. My presents lie in a pile at my feet, Frozen siting atop of them, awaiting to be opened for my little movie session after dinner.

Thanks to the beautiful letter sent to me from my dear friend and reader, I suddenly do feel like Elsa in my favourite ever Disney movie. I am going to let it go. I can be strong and unique and beautiful - and I want YOU to realise this too. So please, please remember that, and that in this one short, brief little span of time known as deserve, for every single day of that life, to be happy.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of you, my readers. You have been there for me ever since I embarked upon this long and challenging journey, and for that I will never be able to thank you enough. <3

For every little comment, message, words of advice or will never be able to comprehend just how much this all means to me. And some of you have gone even further than that...I think you know who you are, but now, if I could, I would just love to reach out and hug you all, and thank you personally from the heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you -  you are all AMAZING and I hope you all have a truly magical Christmas full of happiness and joy, and I would like to wish you all best for 2015 and beyond. <3

And before I sign off with my hot choc with one of my little German biccies for dunking alongside ( a little Spitzbuaba in the shape of a christmas tree :) ), I just want to send a special thank you out to the sender of my little Christmas Eve surprise...the box and letter which I will cherish forever. (the edile goodies, I'm afraid I can't guarantee they will be still around by the end of this week...;) but that is what they are intended for of course ;) ). I am so, so touched by your kindness and generosity Ange, and words will never be able to properly express how special our friendship is to me. <3 I would also like to mention that Ange too is the creator of her very own unique and truly amazing blog, How Nutella Saved My Life (Click HERE to see it :) ) . She writes with both enthusiasm and a positivity with is infectious, and she has made me laugh and smile when I have felt like crying and everything seems hopeless. She is an incredible inspiration and if you haven't read her blog yet, please do take a look. :) She will have you all reaching for the Nutella jar in no time.... ;)

Anyway, I MUST go now, or's my hot choc will be going cold. :o Happy Christmas everyone - Ganache-Elf sends you all her love and best wishes, at Christmas and always. <3

ps. I have been baking LOADS and I am so sorry I haven't put my recipes up yet. They will be up in the next few days, I promise. ;) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 22 December 2014

2014...the year when everything changed.

Hello everyone :)
Well where do I begin. So many things I want to blog about, so many ideas I want to put into words, so many feelings and thoughts I want to express.

But as 2014 draws to a close, I thought it would be befitting today to look back upon this year as it was. For me, anyway, this year has stood, and always will stand, as a fundamental chapter in my life, in my story as a whole...and in my struggle against my own eating disorder, of course.

It was the year in which, ever since my eating disorder developed, I reached my lowest weight. This was probably due to the fact that, for the first part of this year, almost every single day I would skip at least one meal and was overexercising my body to the point of exhaustion.

It was probably the year when my eating disorder was at its worst. I haven't a clue what my bmi was in spring 2014...but I'm guessing my weight was way below 35 kg.:(

It was also the year when I finally, after years and years of denial, that I ackowledged that something which was shocking, sharply painful, and horribly overwhelming in its harsh reality...but which I know now was a truth that it was crucial for me to realise and accept.

I have an eating disorder...

So yes...2014  certainly does stand as a pivotal moment for was a fork in the long, winding, seemingly never-ending dark road which has been my experience of an eating disorder. A cold, harsh road...a road lined with thorns and brambles and stones which make your body bleed and bring tears to your eyes.

But I found the fork...and then I changed my path. Instead of blindly stumbling upon that way - which would have inevitably led to my own destruction, eventually - I decided that now was the time to change direction. I was going to try everything in my power to change change the way I thought about food and my body. To change my appalling eating habits and my sparse food intake and my diet - which was consisted of little more than what a child would eat, looking back at it now. To change my life, essentially. Because one day that same eating disorder, if I continued to let it dominate my thoughts and govern every single thing I did and ate - I know that same eating disorder would have killed me.

And so for my next post I want to share with year, of 2014. What I have experienced, what I have been through, what I have achieved, and what I have overcome.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Will I ever retrieve what was lost? :(

At the moment, it is all a bit of a waiting game for me.

My assessment test isn't until next month, on the 20th of January. When the actual date of my test was confirmed, I experienced a range of different emotions.
 relief was the first sensation I felt. For of course, an enormous part of me is absolutely dreading it. Just over a month!! Phew!! I had thought, initially. And it was after Christmas. I would be able to enjoy my Christmas at home with my loving family, just as I always had done. I could almost "pretend" that everything was as it always had been. That there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.

But then, close on the heels of these comforting, reassuring feelings, was an emotion that was entirely different and which I didn't anticipate in the least. A sort of disappointment...which was bordering on despair - a wretched, bitter acceptance that I would be spending the next few weeks wondering, worrying, waiting.

Wondering whether I would be forced to go into hospital or not...
Worrying what they were going to say, what they are going to do to me, what they might make me do.
And the part which is killing me the having to wait to hear and see whether what seems, to me right now, lost, forever...through my eating disorder.

The healthy body that I once had. A body that can stride after Benny as he clambers through the heathery expanses of the boglands near my home, easily and without effort, and not, in doing so, be subjected to any pain, or hurt, or aching of any kind. A body that can dance and be fleet of foot and move with a swift gracefulness. A body that can run, run across a grassy meadow in springtime or pelt across the soft sands of the beach into the silvery waters of the sea. A body that can function to its maximum potential.

But what do I have now? A broken body, skeletal system is in trouble, I know that much. My hormones are damaged, my liver, my brain; my digestive system is all messed up. And this of course has severely hampered on my ability to do the things I love. Walking, of course. Shopping as my feet just start to ache and I have to sit down after about half an hour. Cycling, strolling in the garden, meeting friends. I can't concentrate or focus like a normal person. I am desperate to write Morokia, but in my heart I know that that in itself will be something of an exertion. I know myself that Morokia is extremely complex and requires my utmost attention. I want Morokia to be a gripping, moving, compellingly-readable masterpiece of tangled plots and epic battles and striking, memorable characters and events. But right now, I do not feel capable of producing a distinctive, indelible work of art.

And the healthy mind that I once had, too.
In one of my many rummagings through my seemingly fathomless bedroom wardrobe, I discovered a tiny photo album which was full of photos from when I must have been about eleven years old. There were plenty of them which instantly brought tears to my eyes and a hard lump to my throat.

For example, this was taken when my daddy took me, my brother, and my brother's friend on a camping trip for one night at Nore Valley in county Kilkenny.
What made me want to weep when I looked upon this picture was the fact I looked so happy, carefree, innocent...I wasn't worrying about whether I looked fat or skinny; I wasn't convinced people thought I was ugly. In fact, I know it was such a long time ago, but I believe I actually felt pretty, that day. I was a little girl on a miniature holiday of sorts. And in my pinafore and with my long hair loose and unadorned, I likened myself to a princess on an adventure, and that the world was a beautiful, safe, and idyllic, tranquil place.

I clearly wasn't worrying about what I might be made to eat at my next meal; whether I would be made to eat more than I usually did. I didn't feel like bowing my head with guilt and shame - the guilt of betraying your family and friends and all those you love - for all the lies and deceit, the  unfulfilled promises I made to recover; the crippling sense of failure. I wasn't feeling anxious about what I had eaten yesterday, or whether or not I had done too much or too little exercise that day.

I was not being controlled, held, or governed by that sneering, manipulative, domineering voice which has occupied my head for the last 8 years, and which now, as I struggle to gain weight and move towards full recovery, attempts once more to overpower me. The voice that has taken so much away from me, and continues to rob me of any sense of happiness or self-worth. The voice which is, of course, the voice of my ED.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The TRIPLE decker!!! :)

Ahem....yes, this was SUPPOSED to be that holly leaf sponge which I was crowing about making in my Christmas baking post. Well...I do have a good explanation for why I ended up rustling it these gi-normous cake concoction instead of my intended project.Yesterday it was raining so hard that even creeping outside to the little holly tree growing on the lane was an exertion which just required too much effort for the pyjama-wearing Ganache-Elf. Typical Irish Christmas...rain instead of snow. :p

I PROMISE I will get onto the holly-leaf sponge - or something slightly reminiscent of that - in good time!! But as is often the case with my unintended creations....was I banging myself on the head with my wooden spoon in frustration as I regarded my result? Certainly not. ;)

This is another take on my biscuit cake sponge (click HERE for the recipe ;) )....though there are a few changes and little differences. The most obvious one though has to be the size of this more recent creation of mine. It's a three layer MONSTER of a cake sandwiched together with lots of - wait for it - not ganache but a chocolatey, scrummy buttercream instead. Also, I sneaked a few chocolate digestives into the biscuit cake for even more naughty chocolatiness. ;)

For the fluffy chocolate sponge. :)
  • 225 g margarine/butter, softened
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-3 tbsp full-fat milk
For the biscuit cake. :)

  • 150 g digestive biscuits
  • 75 g milk chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150 g plain chocolate, chopped
  • 150 g butter/margarine, cubed
  • 25 g maltesers
For the creamy chocolate buttercream :)
  • 150 g butter, cubed
  • 350 g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2-4 tbsp single cream/milk
Method :)

  1. Make the sponge first: preheat the oven to 180 c/fan oven 160 c. Grease two 20 cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking paper.
  2. measure the butter/margarine into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very soft.
  3. Add the eggs, the caster sugar, the flour, the baking powder to the softened butter and then sieve in the cocoa. Mix well with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes; before pausing the mixer and scaping down the sides of the bowl with a large metal spoon. Resume mixing for another minute until smooth and well-blended.  
  4. Spoon up some of the batter and let it fall back into the bowl to check it is of a nice, soft, dropping consistency. Add 1 - 3 tbsp of milk, a tbsp at a time, if it seems a little on the thick side. 
  5. Divide the batter equally amongst the two tins and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes in the preheated oven until the sponges are well-risen and spring back beneath the fingertip when pressed gently on the top. If an indent is left when you do this, bake for a few minutes more before testing again.
  7. Leave in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack, peeling off the paper and leaving to cool.

  1. Next make the biscuit cake: take one of the very same cake tin that you used for your sponge and line this well with cling film. Crush the digestives  in a freezer bag with a rolling pin.
  2. Put the plain chocolate, the butter, and the golden syrup into a large saucepan, using a heated spoon to measure out the syrup as this makes it easier to handle.
  3. Melt the contents of the pan over a very gentle heat, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth, and then remove from the heat.
  4. Cool a little before stirring in the biscuit crumbs, and then mix in the maltesers. Transfer to the prepared tin and refrigerate until set.

  1. Now it's time to assemble your gorgeous cake. :) Place one of the cooled sponges on a plate. 
  2. Make the chocolate buttercream by beating the 150 g butter with a wooden spoon or electirc mixer. Then sift in the icing sugar and the cocoa powder. Add the tablespoons of cream as required and continue to beat until you have a nice spreadable icing.
  3. Spread a little buttercream over the top of the sponge on the plate. Remove the biscuit cake from the tin, and then place it on top of the sponge.
  4. Cover the top of the biscuit cake with another layer of buttercream, and then place the other sponge on top of it.
  5. And then more layer of buttercream!! :) And use any reserve buttercream to decorate your cake: As you can see from the pic, I piped little swirls on the top of my cake using an icing bag fitted with a fluted nozzle, and also piped around the edges and sides. :)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sure...this is normal eating...there's nothing wrong with me.

There was a time, of course, when I didn't have the faintest inkling what the word anorexia actually meant. When I didn't even know what an eating disorder was...when I, in the naive innocence of my childhood, never even considered that a person, for whatever reason, would consciously starve his or herself.
 And I certainly didn't suspect that one of those people would be me.

 The first time I ever heard of such terms was probably in first year of secondary school, too. We didn't go into that much detail about eating disorders in our lessons..again, as I have mentioned before, the focus seemed to be on obesity and the dangers of being overweight. But I do remember one day our science teacher offered a perspective on the other end of the scale, concentrating on the health risks associated with being too skinny rather than the other way round. He criticised the stick-thin models which pouted out from the pages of all the famous fashion megazines, and appealed to us to refrain from even considering starving ourselevs in order to achieve such a dangerously low weight and fragile, waith-like frame.
 I had stared, with a rather nauseous feeling in my stomach, at one particular awful photo of a model with legs like bamboo shoots and a waist so tiny it seemed she would have been able to encircle it, without difficulty, with her bony, long-fingered hands. That's just...awful, I had thought, sadly, pitifully, sypathetically.... That poor, poor girl. She must have that diesease that Sir has just been prattling on about...the anorexia. Eating disorder. Well, I know I am thinner than I once was, but there is no way  I will ever end up like that.

I'm just normal, after all. A normal, boring, average girl. And there's nothing wrong with me.

These were my thoughts...these were the thoughts of girl who, at that time, was instinctively practising the following habits on a daily basis,under the pretension that they all just part of normal, healthy eating.

  • Eating a half, or less, of everything - half of the chocolate bar that I "dared" to have; half of the little patisserie Mam bought me as a treat; half of the little roll I had made for my packed lunch...the other half would be returned, uneaten, to my bag. Maybe it would be eaten later, but it was more likely it would end up being thrown away or put out for the birds to eat once I got home. 
  • Pretending, lying about what I had eaten. I would move things around in the cupbaord so it appeared I had been rustling in there for chocolate or bread or whatever, though in reality I had had nothing. Purposely pretending I was busy when the rest of the family would have lunch or breakfast together - though really I was just hiding away in my room doing nothing, anxiously waiting for them to finish eating so that I could scuttle quietly down a few minutes later when they had all dispersed. Then I would make myself a "lunch" of sorts...if you could call it that. Maybe a slice of dry bread and a tiny scrap of ham, an apple, a tiny roll, a bowl of cereal. 
  • I became painfully, ridiculously minimalist...with everything. When making sandwiches, whereas I would be generous with everyone else's and ad plenty of filling and spread and so forth...mine were the exact opposite. Often I would leave the bread dry. If would put in a few tomatoes and then a thin strip of ham, strategically placing it along the edges of the sandwich so it would be peeking out, and it looked as if I had the same as everyone else. When I served myself at dinner...I would aim for a very, very small portion. Mam would often notice and urge me to have more - a prompt that would often result in me being silent and anxious for the rest of the evening.
  • I pretended I didn't like certain foods. Even ones which I had formally loved, like chips and cakes and chocolate...well, suddenly and impulsively, one day I decided I was not and could not eat them. There were other foods which I hadn't tried or tasted in a long time, but which I claimed that I didn't like, having sampled them once before -  "when?" - "oh, when you weren't looking".
  • Never once letting the sentence "i'm hungry!" or "mmm, that looks lovely..." escape my lips. Why? Because then, I thought, people might expect me to eat more than the small amount I permitted myself to have...and there was no way I was going to do that.

I was one of those people who misunderstood what the term eating disorder actually connotates.
because to me, because I never purged or vomited, because I always ate every day and never went through a one single day without eating, I was convinced that I was normal.

I now know all too well just how wrong I was.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Let the Christmas baking begin!!! :) Mince pies!!!

Hi everyone!! :) This post will have to be a quickee today...the reason for this being that the industriousness of Ganache-Elf in her kitchen today could indeed be equated to Santa's little helpers in Lapland. ;)

And of course I absolutely had to start off my repertoire of seasonal baking with something which would mean that my apron was at risk of being stained with something a litte different than its more usual suspects, chocolate or cocoa, namely. (But rest assured, of course...Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without chocolate, right. And I don't mean just in advent calendars and such like...somehow, I am going to get it into my festive baking as well. ;) This being sticky, fruity mincemeat: notorious for making a mess of Mammy's oven, but with an equally notorious reputation for being so utterly irresistible when enclosed within a casing of buttery, sweet, golden homemade shortcrust pastry...
Now as you might already know, I'm always a little more cautious when it comes to making SHORTCRUST pastry. Which is funny I know as for alot of bakers this is the easier pastry to make. But I get on alot better with choux. Anyway, my point is that the mince pies I made above AREN'T my own recipe so I wouldn't feel right in sharing it, sorry everyone :o but who knows, maybe next time I will formulate my own unique recipe and I won't hesitate to let you in on that one ;)

Now, before I sign off to enjoy my hot choc, my mince pie and my advent calendar chocolate and put my feet up after such a busy day in the kitchen ... I thought I would just give you a quick sneak-peek into what I might be baking in the next few weeks. ;)

  • Festive shortbread
  • Holly Leaf Gateau
  • Christmassy cookies!!
  • The Biggest Chocolate Log EVER...
  • Snowmen Cupcakes
  •  Chocolate Biscuit Truffles
  • Snowy Brownies
Anyway, snow more blogging for tonight - I promise a more engaging post tomorrow ;) Happy Christmas everyone!! <3 :) xxxxxx

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Granny's Lemon Cake :) With a gorgeous topping that's as crunchy and crisp as a frosty Christmas morning! ;)

Another recipe I dedicate to my wonderful granny <3 Lemon cake is, unarguably, one of her favourites - I don't think I have ever known her to decline a slice, even though sometimes she sets me the rather difficult task of cutting the "teeniest" piece - which is not, believe me, easy!! :p

Never fear, I am most certainly going to post some Christmassy recipes this week and next week - how could I call myself the Ganache-Elf if I didn't do so?? ;) - but as the title of this post suggests, this cake certainly has a wintry kind of touch to it. Even more so when you bake it on a cold December afternoon, so that you can enjoy it with a hot mug of tea sitting by a roaring log fire with the fairy lights twinkling and those Christmas tunes that you've heard about a hundred times at this stage floating gaily from the radio. <3

Ahh...for me, Christmas sure is about memories and ritual, loved ones coming together, chocolate overdose (especially this year..Ganache-Elf is most certainly going to release her inner chocaholic ;) ), and, of course, baking. At this magical time of year, many of us like to make that extra bit of effort and take some time to prepare something truly special in their very own kitchen. And alongside the roast turkey and the ham and the brussel sprouts...we have all those delicious, utterly irresistible baked delights. Mince pies, shortbread and Christmas biscuits, the Yule log, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. Would you agree with me in saying that Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without baking? ;) 

And of course, Christmas has another significance for me in regard to baking. For it was in Christmas 2008 that my baking journey truly began in earnest. The culinary endeavours that took place within the Snelgrove household that particular December were what first inspired me to explore the world of baking for myself.

But anyway, onto how to make this truly scrumptious, exceedingly lemony sponge. It's as light as a feather and beautifully moist, and only takes a little time to put together and bake. Try to use a fresh juicy lemon for this recipe - if your lemon isn't very juicy you might need to squeeze half of another one. :)

  • 125 g margarine, softened
  • 180 g golden/white caster sugar
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp full-fat milk
  • 1 large lemon
  • 125 g granulated sugar
  1. Grease a 7 inch/18 cm deep round cake tin and line the base with a piece of baking paper. 
  2. Finely grate the zest off the lemon and squeeze out the juice.
  3. preheat the oven to 180 c/160 c.
  4. Soften the margarine in a bowl with an electric mixer and then add the caster sugar, the eggs, the flour, the baking powder and the milk. 
  5. Whisk for about 2 minutes until smooth and well-blended, then stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, before resuming mixing for another minute.
  6. Fold in the lemon zest with a large metal spoon. Transfer the cake batter into the prepared cake tin.
  7. Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes, until well risen, golden, and cooked. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake - it should come out clean and not sticky with wet cake batter.
  8. When the cake is almost cooked, make the topping: mix the granulated sugar with the lemon juice in a bowl. When you remove the cake from the oven, make a couple of little holes in the top with a skewer (if you haven't done so already when you tested it :) ), and then pour over the sugary topping. 
  9. Leave to cool in the tin, then when it's completely cold remove from the tin and place on a plate. 
  10. Eat on its own with a fork or maybe even have some for pudding with cream or warm custard... <3 simple, but exquisite. Lemon cake has to be one of those classics which will never go out of fashion. :)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

In September 2006, a little girl became sick.

September 2006.

That's the month I started secondary school.

That's the month when it all began.

That's the month when a small, blonde-haired, shy, quiet twelve-year-old girl entered a world entirely different from the one she once knew. Her relationship with food was, from that point onwards, altered forever; as was her own attitudes to her own body and her diet. And then, of course, her mind became sick...sick with the mental illness that we all term as an eating disorder. That girl, of course, was me.

I thought about this alot over the past few days...and I think these are a few of the things that triggered my eating disorder...which allowed those tiny, but destructive seeds to be sown in my mind, which would grow and strengthen as time passed, blocking out the light of all the goodness, forcing all my other thoughts, motives, and emotions to bend into submission to its heartless, cruel, merciless demands. And just like that big weed in the garden which chokes the life out of its victims struggling to grow alongside too did my ED consume and suffocate me, my enjoyment of life, every chance I had at happiness.

When I went to secondary was like I became super-conscious of myself, the people around me, what they were eating, what I was eating, what the media and dr this and professor that said you should and should not eat. 

One distinct memory I have...was sitting in home economics class and learning about the food pyramid, diets, healthy eating and so forth. As I sat there alone a strange, unpleasant feeling of unease began to creep up my spine and the words of my teacher who was reading out loud to us became faint and muffled in my ears as I became absorbed in anxious thought. Oh...God... I don't eat like that. I eat so unhealthily...I'm going to become that. The obese lady  in the photo at the bottom of the page stared out at me sadly, as if to say, in joint sympathy, I know, I know, darling. I know what it is like to feel bigger than everyone else.

Suddenly, everyone - my classmates, the senior girls above me, even my own sister. Suddenly they all became, in my head, slimmer than me. Suddenly I was the chubby, ugly one,  who stuck out like a sore thumb in a crowd of elegant, attractive, and of course slim girls. Another sharp memory I had was getting off the bus with my sister one Monday. Liz saw one of her friends and quickened her step in order to catch up with her, leaving me trailing behind at a short distance. But this wasn't what disconcerted me. I couldn't tear my eyes away from Liz's legs. Look at Liz...she is so slim...her legs are like matchsticks compared to mine! Which wasn't true, of course.

I was convinced that I was unhealthy. That my diet - which was pretty much the same as to what I ate in primary school - was one which needed to be modified, drastically. One day - I can't remember exactly when - I decided that enough was enough. I had to, and was going to, change...everything.

Something was going to have to give.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Izzy's 5 positive things challenge!! :) Day 5! :)

Today I am going to share with you 5 of my goals.

I know from experience...when you become sick with an eating disorder, you become detached from real life in many ways; as everything you think and do is, really, centred around food. Your whole life, your daily routines, your plans for the future...for me anyway, all of these were constructed around the habits and behaviour practices established by my eating disorder. I would plan my day around restriction and false appearances and exercise. I never really thought about the future much because my head was always so preoccupied with thoughts of what I would continue to do in order to maintain my low weight and eradicate any chances of weight gain.

Instead of waking up on any particular morning when I was sick and thinking, say, "I'm going to aim today to get lots of study done, and then I'll have plenty of free time at the weekend to spend with my family." or maybe: "this week I'm going to try and get some research into what career choices I might have an interest in." ...instead of that sort of thing, my first immediate thought on awaking would be one of anxiety and apprehension. What would I do today to ensure I would eat as little as possible? Would someone pick up on what I was doing...would my secret be blown?

But now I see the error of my I clearly see and acknowledge just how much these ED thoughts dominated my mindset and essentially prevented me from allowing myself to dream, to have goals that I would love to achieve.

  1. To recover. To be completely and wholly free from my ED. To be able to enjoy food again and to eat the foods I love without guilt or anxiety. 
  2. To enter both the Irish and British Bake-Offs and make it onto TV (hahaha... well a girl is allowed to dream. ;)
  3. To travel, to see the go to all the places I have read of or heard about and experience them for be able to walk upon the sands of the Sahara and feel the grains between my toes. To be able to climb the rocky expanses of the Scottish highlands and gaze at the beautiful, desolate wildness of the landscape all about me. To scramble amongst the ruins of the Pantheon and wade in the waters of the Pacific. 
  4. To be able to walk again. To hike and climb mountains and explore all those spectacular natural gems of my home country and beyond.
  5. To have my own bakery...with me as the head baker of course. ;)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Izzy's 5 positive things challenge!!! :) Day 4

Day 4....ahh, yes. The tricky one...for me anyway. The list today involves 5 things you like about yourself appearance wise. This was a difficult thing for me to write.
 For since my ED first developed all those years ago...the relationship I have had with my own body has been far from ideal.
 Almost every day when I was in the control of my ED, I would awake and look in the mirror and hate what I saw. Hating, but being too scared the change. Hating, but not realising that if I just faced my fears and made that decision to take that step...that I would look miles, miles better. But no. My ED told me that if you put on weight, you will look even more repellent than you already are...

But now, as I stand at this crucial moment of recovery, I need to recognise that I am not ugly, I am not fat, I do not look as awful as my ED always told me that I was.

No... I know that I can be pretty. All I need to do now is gain the weight I need. And then let the inner beauty hidden within begin to shine. :)
And this should apply for EVERYONE. Human beings are beautiful creatures.
And though I know how enormously difficult it is...I believe we must all strive to accept and love our bodies.

So if you have just 5 minutes today...(or even less than that ;) ) - take the time to smile in the mirror and see your body as it really is. The human body is AMAZING...have you ever stopped to consider that? Think about it....the tens of thousands of miniscule cells that make up this one incredible, complex, and beautiful organism that is YOU.

You are beautiful. Just open your eyes and see it and realise it. :)

And then maybe make a list (and don't feel like you have to stop at 5!!! ) like mine below. :)

  1. My hair. I've always had it relatively long - in my school days up till I was 18 I had it hip length :o but then I cut it to my shoulder and it's grown back. A few people have asked me is that its natural colour. It is. I love the way it curls slightly after I wash it and the blonde highlights I get in it in the summertime. :)
  2. My smile. :) I try to smile as much as I can. Just one smile, I believe, is such a beautiful little thing on anyone's face. 
  3. My neck. 
  4. My eyelashes - they are actually quite long for such a small person. :p
  5. My eyes. I've been told they are kind and sincere. :) I sort of would have liked to have green eyes like my Mam, but I have my Daddy's blue-grey ones. But I like them anyway. :)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Izzy's 5 positive things challenge! :) Day 3

Day 3 of the positive challenge!!! This is all about 5 things you want to get better at....and which you CAN get better at if you just believe in yourself and never give up!! ;)

  1. Making pastry...Out of all the different areas of baking it is probably pastry which I have the least experience of.
  2. Shopping...haha. seriously though, I am a USELESS shopper. Especially when it comes to buying myself clothes. 
  3. Taking care of myself...this is an important one, I know. As I think, one of my talents is caring for other people...but when it comes to looking after myself and my own body...that is something which I now know that I must work on.
  4. you might recall from my previous post...scarves I may indeed specialise in, but apart from that, I haven't yet made any other explorations in the wonderful wooly world of knitting. This year though I am determined to make a wooly hat (in compliance with my brother's demands. ;) )
  5. Being more positive..and this little challenge is really proving a big help with that! ;)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Izzy's 5 positive things challenge!! :) Day 2

Day 2 of Izzy's brilliant blog challenge! Today is about 5 things that you are good at.
Now I know myself - I am extremely self-critical. Always am, always have been; and I guess that isn't going to change too soon. So it took me a while to come up with these. But that's what this challenge is all about. We all need to recognise that each and every one of us has a talent for something and that we are all special and unique in our own little individual way. :)

So 5 things that the Ganache-Elf is good at!! :) heehee any prizes for guessing what the first one will be? ;)

  1. Baking and cooking...of course ;) and ganache-making, bread-kneading, cookie dough bowl cleaning , etc. ;) 
  2. Looking after furry and feathered friends; and all the delightful and not-so-delightful tasks that this involves. (scratching Benny's tummy, presenting the doggies with their made dinners and nearly being balled over in the process, clearing up after Maisy (ahem. need I say any more. ;)
  3. Knitting there ANYONE I know who doesn't have a hand-knitted scarf made by me? ;) (and if you don't yet, well I'm guessing you already know what that soft package from me contains... ;)
  4. Talking and listening to my loved ones and my friends; and always being ready to offer an attentive ear, a shoulder to cry on, or as big a hug as my tiny arms are capable of giving. <3
  5. Drinking hot chocolate. There's a certain art to the consumption of hot choc which I most certainly have mastered. ;) And the dunking of biccies into said hot choc of course. ;)
And you know, having written that, I actually could think of other things that I am, well, not too bad at. me, the girl who constantly accused herself of being useless, worthless, and completely inept at everything. 

So stop bringing yourself down!! And if you are very modest and can't think of anything, ask the people around you...I bet they will be able to see the talents and skills you undeniably have, but are unable to perceive for yourself. ;)

Everyone is unique; everyone has their own distinctive talents, abilities, strengths and skills. So ignore that voice which tells you you are not worth it, that you are good at nothing and bad at everything, and that is the way it has always been and always will be. That voice is WRONG. The world has made a place for you and wants you to take it, and to grab life with both hands and scream with joy as you do so. So smile today and are SO worth it.  You are irreplaceable... there is only one YOU. ;) 

An afternoon of bread-baking. :)

image's something many of us do take for granted, I think. When you make bread yourself it really does make you realise...bread is AMAZING. Who would have thought, with just a bit of flour and salt and that cool little micro-organism that we all know as yeast...a soft-centred, gorgeous-smelling, crusty golden loaf can be created.
There's loads of things I love about bread-baking. For one thing, it's just so fun. The vigourous kneading of bread dough has to be, without a doubt, one of the true joys of home-baking, for me anyway. And then there is the knocking back stage; which involves giving your inflated dough a vicious punch with your fist before it is moulded into whichever shape you are in the mood for, really. Perhaps a great big cob or bloomer; perhaps the traditional loaf shape, or maybe cute little rolls? Or even, if you are feeling creative...the list of possibilities is just endless. Turtles and crocodiles are fun.  
And, as with every thing else you bake for yourself...there is, truly, nothing quite like the taste and smell of homemade bread. It's not something which you should try out if you are in a hurry - the rising takes time, after all, as does the kneading and the shaping, if you want the best results. But if you do just one thing today...try to make some time. Instead of just sitting in front of the box flicking channels in the vain hope you will find something tolerable to watch; or perhaps going out for that jog which you had promised yourself you were going to do, no matter what the weather decided to throw at you...why not retreat into that warm, wonderful space which is the kitchen, and make some magic happen. The TV and the jog can wait until tomorrow, but just rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck into bread-baking is something which you will certainly not regret doing. There will be no sore ankles from running, or unpleasant feelings of guilt resulting from wasting all that time just sprawled in an armchair thinking...gosh, there really is nothing on the telly...why am I still even sitting here? Ahh, well, moving now is just a bit too much of an effort. No...instead, there will only be a marvellous feeling of impeccable smugness; and the most gorgeous, mouth-watering, enticing aroma to go with it. You knead to do it, trust me. Oh well ok Ganache-Elf I think you may stick to your ganache-making and not try and crack awful jokes. 
But before we resume, I thought I'd just share with you my recipe for basic bread dough...this is possibly the standard dough that I make at least once a week; for it is just so yummy and can be moulded into any shape that you like. Here, I've done some baguettes and little individual rolls, and given you a few tips on how to shape them. It's a good idea to try this out first before moving onto making other shapes for your loaf. :)

Ganache-Elf's guide to making beautiful bread. :)

You will need...

  • 450 g strong white bread flour. I use Hovis or Odlums. :)
  • 7 g sachet fast-action yeast/1 1/2 tsp instant yeast.
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar.
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • 4 tbsp olive oil/melted butter, plus extra for greasing.
  • a little milk to glaze.
  1. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and add the sugar. Stir together and then stir in the yeast as well. Make a little well in the centre.
  2. Measure out 300 ml tepid water ina measuring jug. I usually use two thirds cold water from the tap, and then the other third from a recently boiled kettle. It needs to be warm, but not hot to the touch: you should be able to comfortably stick your fingers in it. 
  3. Pour the olive oil into the well in the flour and then add most of the water. Using your hands, mix the flour and the liquid together, stirring and lifting until they start to come together into a soft dough. It shouldn't be too sticky, but it should not be too dry, either: slightly moist to the touch and nice and soft. If it feels too dry and floury add a little more water. Add a very small amount of flour if it feels very sticky. Sprinkle a very small amount of flour on a worksurface.
  4. Turn the dough out onto the floured work surface. Now it is time to knead the dough (yayyyy.). You need to do this for roughly about 10 minutes. If you have never kneaded before...don't worry, it's not difficult to master at all. Pin the end of the dough nearest you down with one fist and then take hold of the other end of the dough with your other hand. Keeping the side nearest to you pinned down, stretch the other end of the dough and then fold it in on itself and gather into a ball. Slam it down hard on the surface. Repeat this process over once again - try to settle into a nice rhythm. ;)
  5. After 10 minutes or so, your dough should feel smooth, supple and elastic. Oil a clean bowl with some olive oil. Roll the dough into a smooth al and place in the bowl. Cover with greased clingfilm. 
  6. Now it's time for your dough's first rising. :) leave it in a warm, draught free spot for about 1 1/2 - 3 hours, depending on how warm the day is. I usually pop mine on the table in the conservatory on a sunny day, or in my kitchen, or by the fire or the radiator if it's cold. It should have doubled in size when it's ready and feel inflated and springy if you gently prod it with your fingertip. 
  7. Line two large baking trays with baking paper. Give the risen dough a big punch with your fist to deflate the air. Then scoop it out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead lightly for about 2 minutes. 
  8. Divide the dough into three equal pieces.
  9. Roll one of these pieces into a rectangle, about 10 x 20 cm. (Don't worry if it's not really exact - mine rarely are. ;) ) Roll the rectangle up from the long end, as tightly as you can, so you have a long sausage-cylinder sort of shape. Place it on the baking tray.
  10. Repeat with one of the other pieces of dough, so that you have two baguettes. Place it on a tray.
  11. If you want to make some little rolls, divide the final piece of dough into balls about the size of a large apple. Cup your hand and then roll each ball of dough in your palm to make it smooth and well-rounded.
  12. Arrange the rolls on the other tray. You can space them apart, or you can place them close to eachother so that when they expand they will touch one another and be lovely and soft-sided. ;)
  13. If you like, make deep, long cuts in the tops of the loaves/rolls so you have that slashed effect like you see on Cuisine de France baguettes! ;)
  14. Cover with greased clingfilm again and leave to rise until they have risen once again and have doubled in size. Be very careful when you life the trays as the risen dough will be very fragile and it is very important you don't knock out any air at this stage!
  15. Preheat the oven to 210 c/190 c fan.
  16. Very gently brush the loaves/rolls with a little milk. Dust with a little flour if you like.
  17. Bake the tray with the rolls for about 10-15 minutes, and the baguettes for 15-20 minutes. When they are done, they should be well-risen and golden, and should sound hollow when tapped on the base.
  18. If you like your bread crust seductively soft, wrap the rolls/baguettes in a clean tea towel and then place on a wire rack to cool. If you prefer a crisp crust, it helps to put a deep roasting tin at the bottom of the oven before baking, so that steam is created.
  19. Now all the hard work is done and you can sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labours. The bread is absolutely heavenly eaten warm from the oven - slice the baguettes into pieces as big or as little as you like and split the little rolls down the side. The use them as an accompaniment to pasta, for an awesome Subway-style sandwich, or just simply on their own, slathered in butter, olive oil, peanut butter, jam, Nutella...whatever takes your fancy really. ;)
  20. The bread is best eaten within 24 hours of baking, but in the rare event of there being any leftovers, you can easily freeze any remaining pieces/rolls in tightly-sealed freezer bags; taking them out and heating through in a microwave/preheated oven as required. ;)

Monday, 8 December 2014

Izzy's 5 positive things challenge!!! :) Day 1

Good morning everyone!! :)
Today I am going to post about something a little different than usual ;) - as part of a little challenge proposed by a dear friend and fellow blogger.
 Ever since I first embarked upon the rocky road of recovery in May 2014, Izzy's amazing, beautifully-written, and incredibly inspirational blog, A Life Without Anorexia, has been there with me for the entire length and duration of that precarious and challenging journey. I can safely say, hand on heart, Izzy's blog is like a bible to me - her posts have got me through some of my most darkest and toughest times, and have helped me to overcome my greatest ever fears. Without a doubt, Izzy is, and always will be, an inspiration, a heroine, and a wonderful friend to me; and I want to take this opportunity to say a massive THANK YOU to Izzy <3 <3 <3 I would never have got this far without her.     (Click here to see her blog!! )

Anyway, before I get too emotional...let's move on to Izzy's positivity challenge! :)

Basically, this week every day I am going to post 5 positive things about myself...and hey, you should join in this too ;) I truly believe this is a wonderful exercise as it obliges us to stop and think about ourselves and our lives; and all the goodness and good things that circulate around them...and, most importantly of all, it enables us, as individuals - no matter whether you e in recovery or not - that you are worth everything. You deserve to be happy; you deserve the very best which life can offer.

Day 1 involves 5 things I like about myself (not appearance wise. )

  1. I am a good friend. I am always ready to listen to others; no matter how busy, tired, or stressed I am - I never want them to think that I am not there for them. 
  2. I am loyal and trustworthy. I would never betray a secret and I know I an be relied upon.
  3. I always like to give a helping hand, no matter how nasty the job may be, Ganache-Elf is up for it. ;)
  4. I am kind and caring..both to humans and furry friends. <3
  5. I love talking and listening to people and hearing their stories and experiences - whether they be my own age group, older or younger. I love the way that my eyes can see the beauty that is hidden deep inside people. :)
Feel free to comment and add your own!!! Don't forget - you are all AMAZING!! Don't ever let anyone, anything, or yourself or your ED tell you otherwise!!! <3

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Roll and Munch Buns. :)

So I had my triumph with NEO cake. (as in, actually inserting Neos into one form of baked produce. HERE is the recipe... ;) ) And it's funny, but around the same time as I wrote that old post about my fake(ish) Neo cake - the one that I entitled as such, but which didn't actually contain Neos inside the actual sponge or icing - I also told you about my NIBBLE buns. Which were normal chocolate buns with a little Cadbury Nibble gently inserted onto the top of each when they were still warm from the oven. (HERE is the recipes for both!! ;) )

But what if I went one step further in this process, so that we would have a nice chunky caramel deep inside a chocolate bun...? But this time there weren't any Nibbles in the cupboard...someone must have nibbled them all before I got to them. ;) But I had Rolos and Munchies, which I like just as well, needless to say. ;)
 A word of warning, though. I thought about a tube each of rolos and munchies would be enough. How wrong was a tube these days you only get a meagre ten rolos. :( So in the end I ended up using about four tubes - two of rolo, two of munchie. Buy plenty of them, anyway. It's always nice to have a few spare to munch on. ;)

Roll and Munch Buns. :)

  • 2 tubes of Rolos
  • 2 tubes of Munchies
  • 125 g softened butter/margarine
  • 150 g light muscovado sugar
  • 125 g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2-3 tbsp full-fat milk / single cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200 ml single cream
  • 200 g plain chocolate

  • Preheat oven to 180c/fan 160c; line a muffin pan with 12 paper muffin cases.

  • Sift the cocoa powder into a bowl. Add the butter, eggs, sugar, and flour, and beat well with an electric mixer for about three minutes until smooth and well-mixed.  After two minutes, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a metal spoon or spatula before mixing for the remaining minute.
  • Add enough milk to achieve a nice soft dropping consistency.Scoop some of it onto a spoon and then let it drop back into the bowl to check this: it should slide or drop down easily enough and not be too thick. 
  • Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until they are all equally filled. 
  • Place a Munchie/Rolo on the top of each and gently press it in, right to the bottom. Smooth over the top with a teaspoon. 
  • Bake the buns for about 20 minutes until well-risen. The sponge should spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip, with no indentation left. if there is bake for another couple of minutes before testing again.
  • Remove from oven once they are cooked and leave in the muffin pan for about 3 – 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Now push another Rolo/Munchie gently into the very top of each soft, still warm cake. Don't push down too firmly this time. Leave the buns to cool completely while you make the ganache.
  • Make the dark choc ganache by melting the 200g plain chocolate with 200 ml single cream, on a very low heat in a small saucepan. Stir until smooth and then refrigerate for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, checking after 1 ½ hours…you don’t want it very hard, just a nice spreadable consistency which is suitable for piping. 
  • Pipe generous swirls of ganache on the tops of the cooled cakes. And then of course add the crowning glory...add yet ANOTHER rolo/munchie on each glorious ganache mountain (or maybe even volcano? ;) It's  an explosion of sticky caramelly deliciousness I like to think. ;) )
  • And if you really want to get the ball rolo-ling and have just that bit extra caramel munchie-ness, chop up any leftover rolos/munchies with a sharp knife into small pieces and scatter over your buns for a glitzy pretty look (and additional yumminess!! ;) ) 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Don't suffer alone.

And the other point I wanted to make before I proceed. (and I do think it is time for a baking post soon as I do want to tell you about my Rolo Buns. ;) )....

And that of course is...that if you are struggling...then please, please, please don't suffer alone!! And believe me, I know how scary it is to reach out. To tell you loved ones just how bad things are, what you have really been doing, just how lost and trapped and despairing you feel. I know because I have been there - a few months ago - a few weeks ago, too, should I add - I was in the exact same place as you.
But here I am now sitting writing to you. And I did it. And now, after my initial feelings of despair and guilt and misery...I know I did the right thing. for years I was wearing a mask, a mask which made it appear as if Emmy was a completely normal, happy girl, who meant exactly what she said when responding to a "how are you doing?" "how are you Emmy?" on any particular day. "Oh, I'm...I'm grand!"
No. I was far from grand. Most days, I was very, very down.

What compelled me to throw away the mask? To finally, after having kept my true feelings, emotions, and problems hidden behind a smile and a brave face for so long, to let it all go and reveal the truth?
 Well, I suppose I was finally ready. I realised that I was brave enough. That opening up was not a sign of weakness: rather, one that required real strength and courage.

The first time I talked to someone about my eating disorder was, of course, at the beginning of this summer - when I told my Mam of how, the past 2 years of college, I had been consciously skipping meals, overexercising, restricting day after day after day...that's when of course I really did realise I had an eating disorder; and when my fight against it really did begin, in earnest. Though I think, looking back now, I underestimated just how bad it really was. I termed it as a "mild" eating disorder when I talked about it with my friends afterwards. Though now I understand that it was alot more serious than that. The impact it has had on me, physically, mentally and psychologically, testifies that for me. I had to learn that the hard way.

So please, please, please, don't ever feel like you have to go through this alone. You don't.

It's not easy, driving out that ever-present, manipulative voice in the head. The thoughts, the guilt, the urge to over-exercise or restrict or vomit. Accepting that you need to gain weight for yourself. It's not easy at all...and it's not something you should choose to go through in isolation.

Opening up, talking to others is a sign of strength, and not weakness. It's easy to just withdraw into yourself; detach yourself from others and the world; to become a closed book and pretend everything is bright and rosy. But in doing this, you will only be hurting yourself and others more in the long run.

If you believe you need help, talk to someone. Everyone of us is only human, and human beings aren't meant to carry massive burdens alone.