Monday, 18 May 2015

MS Cake Bake - THANK YOU

As you may know I have MS - diagnosed in 1999. It doesn't stop me but it does limit me and some days are worse than others. I'm quite proud of the fact that I hide it well and unless you know me or watch me closely you probably wouldn't guess. My legs are not always stable, I sometimes walk with a limp, I can wobble as I walk, my hands have little surface feeling and at times don't quite do what I expect them to do, writing can be hard, holding cups/cutlery can be difficult and some days I am so tired I just stay on the sofa.

Bad days I stay home, mainly because home is the best place :-) and without my fantastic Hubby Nick even my good days would not happen. We have an amazing life, as you can see from my many blog posts, but I do only post the 'good stuff' - no-one wants to read about the bad !!

Here's my latest piece of 'good stuff' - last Thursday I hosted a Cake Bake Day here at home in aid of the MS Society; their official Cake Bake Day was on 15th May.

Over the two weeks prior to Thursday and for the next week I have taken orders for large cakes. A maximum of two cakes a day and spread a few days apart - the whole event has taken a lot of planning, not my baking but my own ability and rest. Baking two cakes a day was do-able if they were not too tricky, if they were then it was one cake. The icing happened the following day so I could rest in between.  The cakes for my Coffee and Cake at home were made over the two weeks prior too (freezers are amazing things) so again it looked lots but was actually 'slow and steady'.

Gingerbread People
Coffee and Walnut Cake
Victoria Sponge
Chocolate Guinness Cake
Schokogugelhopf for my Blackout Prize
I am so so grateful to all my friends and family for their amazing support for this - my cakes were very well received with amazing donations. I have four cakes to make this week for my final orders.

The only thing that really had me frustrated with a little 'blue air' was on the morning of my Cake Bake when I had to blow up and TIE the balloons - this definitely needs more thought next time as my fingers were useless - it was quite funny. Guess it's a job for my lovely Hubby next time. 

I also do cross stitch - great for MS resting and so long as I watch my hand and make sure I'm holding the needle I can stitch quite a lot (I have often looked up at the tv then back at my stitching only to find my hand in the air and the needle still in the fabric, so funny)

For my friends who live too far away to share my baking I launched a Just Giving page to raffle a Little House Needleworks cross stitch chart entitled 'Baked Goods' - for every £1 donated I'll be putting their names in a hat and drawing a winner on May 31st. I am so grateful and quite amazed that £31 has already been donated - THANK YOU

Baked Goods Chart

The main reason for this blog post is to say THANK YOU - certainly not for sympathy or praise - and it is a BIG thank you as my Cake Bake total is amazing. The actual total is yet to be finalised but with money already in, orders this week and my online page, the total will be 

OVER £250

MS needs so much research into causes, symptoms, medication, cures, life style help and support. Since my diagnosis so much more has been discovered and developed but more funding is needed to continue this vital research into a condition that affects so many. 

And hopefully days like CAKE BAKE will also increase awareness as MS patients are often judged - wobbly walking must mean someone is drunk - can't get change out their purse must mean they are high on something - slurred words must mean they are not in a fit state - WRONG, it could just be a 'bad day' and a helping hand would be appreciated.

THANK YOU to all my friends who give me a helping hand when I need it and a who have given so much to my Cake Bake and helped MS Society with their future research and the support they give.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Wine surrounded in mystery.

Last week Hubby and I enjoyed another great evening at Majestic in Leicester at their Wine Course. £5 deposit secures your place on their selective course which usually samples 8 or 9 wines. This time our son also joined and as always it was a night of discovery and surprise.

However before that I need a little help - last night we enjoyed a lovely chardonnay from Concho Y Toro. Rio Lento is a lovely light wine, un-oaked with vanilla highlights and a smooth creaminess. But where did we buy it from ?

Initially we thought a recent purchase from our trip to Calais - could it be Calais Wine, or Majestic Calais. Having checked our receipts and their online shop it doesn't appear so. Hubby then thought The Wine Society but again no, which leave SH Jones, a great little wine merchant in Leamington Spa but I'm not sure. Google for once is not helping as a search on Rio Lento Chardonnay results in a variety of holidays !!

Can anyone solve the mystery - I do hope so as I'd quite like another sip or two !!

Returning to our Wine Course at Majestic - all the wines were a mystery to our son as although he's a bartender he specialises in cocktails, but some surprised us too. On arrival the table was laid for 10 with 3 whites and 3 reds per setting already poured - very inviting but equally mysterious as not a bottle in sight. But before sitting at the table we were offered a glass of bubbly - a light wine with large bubbles, pears and a hint of orange. This was revealed to be Prosecco Romeo & Juliet NV Treviso £12.99

We settled down at the pre-laid table and focused on our first white, very pale in colour, quite fruity with acidic notes. It had me puzzled a little as although is was undoubtedly a sauvignon blanc it didn't appear to be Old World, more new area such as Chile. However it was Old World, French and from the Loire Valley which really surprised me, but from an area we have not visited, Nantes. This city lies at the mouth of the Loire and the area is more widely known for muscadet; a good wine but for me I prefer the sauvignons from further up river.

Pierre-Jean Sauvion £9.99
We tried the next two white together - both had a more golden colour compared to the first but were very similar. Wine 2 was a chablis with it's unmistakable pear drops and vanilla, and Wine 3 a creamy chardonnay with slight tannin

2012 Chablis from Domaine Vocoret was a lovely chablis with a classic old label highlighting it derived from 'vielles vignes' and the Chardonnay from Chile. Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserve from Casablance Valley is one of our favorite chardonnays and already sits awaiting on our rack. Both wines are great value at £11.99.

After enjoying 3 whites Majestic surprised us with another bottle of bubbles - fine bubbles, biscuity and elegant. A real treat to try Heideseck Monopole 2007 Gold Top £30.00.

For each tasting we were asked to think about colour, nose, taste and finish. Although everyone's pallet is different we did find some similarities as we tasted the white trio. It wasn't until after each tasting that the bottle was revealed - quite a surprise with some wines and non more so than our first red!

Full of damsons, oaky with a hint of espresso, a lovely red which we just couldn't place. It was another example of Chilean wine, Errazuriz Estate Series Pinot Noir 2013 £10.49.

Surprisingly the second red also had everyone puzzling, although it isn't easy when the wine is a blend. Merlot was definitely noticed with a dry tannin, but also apparent was a hint of licorice and some earthy notes. The blend was cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc (the earthiness) and merlot and was in fact a Bordeaux from the right bank area of Medoc. The cabernet franc was actually the most dominant in this red which may account for why we were all unsure. A deep red that would be enhanced by serving with food, Chateau Greysac 2008 £14.99

Our final red was my favourite - a lovely malbec, always so deep with cherries, hints of coffee, oak and slight tannin. This wine was from Mendoza, Vinalba Reservado Malbec 2013 £12.99 and as with a good malbec had a beautiful chocolaty coffee finish.

An amazing tasting, always lots of information given by the knowledgeable Majestic staff and always good wines to try. Every time we visit I learn more and more especially as Majestic also provide small nibbles of food to wine match. Theses matches are not always complimentary to the wine, some are given to purposefully highlight what not to drink - such as spicy Doritos with the Malbec or smoked salmon with Chateau Greysac !!

There was yet one more tasting and this was a real mystery - dessert wines are delicious and are amongst my favourite wines, especially at the end of a meal with a small piece of chocolate. The mystery ?? this dessert wine was a red !! A totally new experience for Hubby and I; definitely positive experience as a bottle was purchased without any question.

Elysium Black Muscat 2013 Andrew Quady £9.99 - very dark in colour with a rosie pallet this was pure delight and the perfect was to end such a brilliant Wine Course
 - thank you Majestic Leicester