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February 2011
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April 2011

Mostly 'Armless*

I have reached KSP: Knitting Saturation Point. I haven't knitted anything for the last two days, and I'm on the home run too, just 80 rows of sleeve and the neckband left to complete. It is like going to Confession: it has been sixteen days since I cast on and I have not knitted for two days. I will have to take five needles and read the pattern for five minutes to get myself reoriented.

Freshly hung grass
I'll have the hems to stitch up and then the most difficult task of all - finding suitable buttons. I keep trying my new cardigan on, when I am at home or when I have it with me and I am out!!!

Maybe Peri and Gilly are getting a little bored with The Cardigan??

Peri and Gilly don't want a cardigan
It was 3*C this morning, but it was cold.I could see my breath and there was ice all over The Dog Car!!!

Ice ice baby

There have been some demarcation issues, I am not sure on which side of the fence the grass is greener, but Gilly pines if Peri doesn't come back to her side quick smart!!

Peri and Gilly at the fence
Uncle and Auntie Dutch came today and 'gardened' and because there wasn't much 'gardening' really, they started removing the decking and even the ivy that was entwined round the rocks at the end of the deck. The plan is to take all the wood away and make a low rock border and then even out the dirt. What to cover the dirt with is a conundrum. Auntie Dutch thinks AstroTurf (astroturf, astroturf - I sing it to the AstroBoy song!!) but maybe some gentle on the paddy paws pebbles or very fast growing and tenacious plants of some kind??

Back yard blitzed
The Forbidden Zone doubled in size with the removal of lots of old wood and some tree branches. All the better to run about in semi-illegally if you are a pup!!

Forbidden zone
And now I am exhausted. I didn't do anything except make morning tea and lunch. I made individual pizzas and we topped them with ham and baby spinach. I like a squeeze of lemon too. I shall laze on the couch with my new book for a while and then we will have an early night. Not that The Labradors aren't totally tired as well. They have 'helped' all day and it is a big job for pups!!

New book
I think I need a sewing machine foot that makes ruffles!!!

I forgot to tell some exciting news, for us anyway, Peri has reached her goal weight of 35kg!! There has been joyous celebrations!! Gilly is 28kg and we are happy, but not so ecstatic as she should lose a little more weight.

*According to The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy, Earth is Mostly Harmless.

Tuesday's Letters Eat 10: 'G' is for Gingerbread Cake, Sticky

Late last night I listened to Nigella Lawson's Literary Luncheon on The Nightlife radio programme with Tony Delroy. This morning I was thinking about the letter 'G' for my recipe, and with Nigella on my mind I decided upon her Sticky Gingerbread Cake.

Truly this is the easiest of recipes and the tastiest of cakes. It improves with age and can be stored frozen too. It can be a plain or iced cake, and I think it would make a lovely pudding with custard and stewed apple. But that's just me!!

All you need to make this is a saucepan for the stove and one or two bowls, so the washing up is a breeze.

Gingerbread Cake, Sticky   makes 20 pieces

  • 150g butter
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 200g treacle
  • 125 dark brown sugar - no muscovado to be had here
  • 2 tspn finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tspn ground ginger
  • 1 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tspn ground cloves
  • 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 60ml warm water
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 300g plain flour, sifted

Preheat the oven to 170*C and grease and line a 30 x 20 x 5cm tray with baking paper. I use the disposable aluminium baking trays from the supermarket when I am taking a cake somewhere. I like to line them because I don't like my gingerbread cake to touch the aluminium.

One two tray
In a saucepan, over a low heat, place the butter, golden syrup, treacle, sugar, spices and fresh ginger. It only takes a few minutes to melt, and stirring helps the process along.

Pan of goodness
While this is melting measure out the flour into a large bowl. In another bowl add the dissolved bicarbonate of soda and eggs to the milk and whisk together.

Flour, milk, eggs
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the milky mixture and mix well. Then pour the liquid ingredients into the flour and beat until it is very well combined. There may be little lumps and fibres, but this is the fresh ginger. The batter is very liquid, really runny, so do not panic or worry.

The final steps
Pour the batter into the lined tray and bake for 45-60 minutes.

Into the oven

Check after 45 minutes. The cake is cooked if the top springs back when lightly pressed, it is firm in the centre and has come slightly away from the tray at the edges. The cake today took 50 minutes.

Out of the oven
Cool on a rack then cut into 20 pieces. I like it plain, but it could be iced with lemon or cream cheese icing or maybe just a dusting of icing sugar.

A piece of deliciousness
This keeps, wrapped in baking paper, in an airight container for up to two weeks. It can be frozen for up to three months.

'Cos Teeth So Fine, Teeth So Fine, Teeth So Fine, Teeth So Fine You Know I'm Glad You Are Mine. That's All.

Yes, my teeth are so fine. The new New Zealandish dentist checked and my x-rays were fine. No decay, so that's fine. No abscess, that's very fine. No fractures or cracks, which is a fine thing too. So my teeth are fine. So after all, it is my sinuses stupid. I am relieved. Still, being ill is a costly business. In the last few weeks I've spent about $300, not counting my normal drugs. I shall have to sell The Labradors for medical experiments!!! I am finally starting to feel a little better and my teeth don't have that not-so-painful but weird feeling all the time. I have my fingers crossed.

I cross my legs when I sit on the couch, the same way you do when you sit on the mat at school. I find it comfortable and it must be very conducive to knitting because I have knitted all the way to the hem of my cardigan. Yes, the hem. I have knitted one row of the hem and now I must find the rest of the wool. That might take a little while as I have a few places to look. It is quite sunny today but the bay windows make shadows across the floor. I like them, but the interfere with photos. Like I am Ansel Adams!!!

Cut grass at the hem
I am getting very excited because next up will be the sleeves and then it will be finished. 10 ply certainly knits up quickly. I don't know when I will be able to wear my cardigan though, because even with all this rain, it has been warm. Daylight Saving finishes next weekend, which makes me both happy and sad: happy that we get back the hour which we lost in September, but sad because it will be dark so early in the evening now.

We didn't have a big flood here, the levees held and the peak was a metre lower than expected. When we went for our walk it looked like there was a concert on, with cars and people everywhere looking at the water flowing over the dam. Peri and Gilly had to walk on their leads for half the time. We did spot this man in his tiny white boat near the bush at the top of the dam. I am not quite sure what he is doing, apart from risking life and limb.

Silly man

Still Peri had a lovely walk and shake and there is a rainbow in her photo too!! Peri must have lost weight because her harness is slipping to the side and is quite loose. I shall have to slide the buckle along and take it in. The other day she slipped out of it somehow, but didn't run away. Good girl Peri!!

Peri shakes and a rainbow
It matters not that I bought Lorelai Gilmore a new toy, what she really likes (apart from a plastic cup) is her Brushie with a piece of old elastic tied around the handle. I am always having to buy a new dustpan and broom (only $2) because she spies the broom, claims it as her own and runs off shaking it madly. She likes this old Brushie because she holds on to the elastic and shakes it and whacks herself in the head as well as anyone, or thing, in the vicinity. Ouch!!

Gilly and her Brushie
Yesterday I went to visit MrsDrWho and we sewed a quilt for the Fair at her school. It is made from bandannas on both sides. I sewed on one long piece of binding and then I ran out of puff, so we watched StarGate Universe and then I came home to bed. Where I could not for the life of me sleep. It's always the way. I'm hoping to go back today and we can finish. MrsDrWho is going to tie quilt in the centre of each square.

A few books I have had on Hold at the Library are starting to arrive. I am reading everything Rosemary Sutcliffe at the moment. I can't get enough of her books. I'm even reading them again. I also picked up Scorpia Rising, the last proper book in The Alex Rider series. There will be another, which is not an Alex book, called Yassen next year. It's burning a hole in my reading pocket because I'm deep into The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales Of Madness, Love And The History Of The World From The Periodic Table Of Elements. And aren't we all??!!

Ache Is Enough

I went back to the doctor again for two lots of stronger antibiotics to make me well, but still I have an ache. So today I bit the bullet, so to speak, and made an appointment to see the dentist tomorrow. I had an x-ray. It was bulk-billed and so free!! Here are my teeth. They look OK to me. Some of my back molars on both sides have one pointy bit missing, so I have been 'rebuilt'.

Consequently life has been quite quiet. I did meet up with MrsValley for lunch at Ut Si. It was delicious: we shared a pulled pork, pear and walnut pizza and a heritage tomato salad with bread - it had a fancy Italian name. We had sparkling elderberry juice and it was fabulous and local. In fact I think everything was as local as possibly and really reasonably priced too!!

After lunch we sat on the deck at her house and saw lots of native birds, the duckies, some eagles soaring, native hens and lots of wallabies. MrsValley knows every one by name!!!

Mrsvalleys window
Mrs and MrsValley gifted me some fresh basil garlic and rhubarb from their garden and so I have been cooking and eating very well!! I have made some rhubarb sponge cake, risotto cooked in the oven (which is just so easy) cheese biscuits and some Gala apple muffins. Yum. The risotto is for me, the rest was shared.

Yummy cooking
This week we have had an awful lot of rain, a few towns had their third highest rainfall ever, 330-ish mm, or 13 inches. There have been road closures because of flooding and we have raised the flood barriers in town.  They aren't expecting bad floods, but just in case.....

The little creek is full of water again and this morning we walked in the rain and Peri and Gilly played.

Labradors in a creek

Peri had a such big run and rowdy running game when we came home that she had to have a very long sleep.

Peri is quite tired
Apart from when I woke her up taking her picture.

Peri would rather not be awake
I must not be feeding Lorelai Gilmore enough because she vaulted the barrier to the kitchen and ate almost 300g of organic oats this afternoon.

I think she looks a little chastened. Now I know why there was no water left in their big container inside.

Chastened Gilly
I did buy her a new toy today, so I think that cancels out my strictness.

Gilly's new toy
My mum went for two holidays recently and so when she came home, The Labradors and I went for a little walk to the PO at the corner to post her a letter. Peri looks a little worried that I was inside the PO, but Gilly just looks exceedingly happy!! The wind had blown Autumn leaves everywhere lately, and there are a million acorns in our back yard.

Labradors at the PO
I've been sitting on the couch knitting Freshly Cut Grass. Somehow or other I have managed to be making the buttonholes at the end of the row, instead of the beginning. I sent a Ravelry Message to the designer, BabyCocktails, and she very quickly answered and said that as long as everything else was going well, she wasn't quite sure what I had done, but not to worry. How kind of her. I didn't worry and I have knitted on, Technically I am up to the part where I should be starting the outward slant of the hourglass, but I am not sure it will be long enough. I will take it off the needles and try it on at sewing tonight. I am really enjoying knitting this cardigan, it is growing quite fast and the Full o'Sheep is beautiful, if a tiny bit splitty.

Cutting it short
My new Delicous Magazine came today in the post and Lo and Behold, there was Jamie Oliver cooking flatbread. Jamie and me, we're like 'that'!!!!

Sad news that Elizabeth Taylor died, she certainly lived a full and interesting life. She's one of the last of the Hollywood greats. It's very sad for her family.

Now I am running late for Sewing, there's no deadline or anything but we usually start at 7pm with a nice glass of wine, a cup of tea/coffee and some nibbles!! Luckily, in The Northern Capital nowhere is very far from anywhere else!!

Tuesday's Letters Eat 9: 'F' is for Flatbread - Piadine

A few weeks ago the chef on Better Homes and Gardens made some piadine/piadina, an unleavened flatbread. He used lard, and lard isn't something in the fridge usually, so I sought out a more user friendly recipe. Stephanie Alexander has one in her giant tome which uses olive oil and so that's the one I went with.

I halved the recipe because 20 is an awful lot, and not having a terracotta tile and gas hotplates, it's good these can be cooked on the stove top in a heavy based fry pan. It takes about 45 minutes to mix and stand the dough.

Flatbread: piadine    makes 20

  • 500g plain flour
  • 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • salt
  • 250ml tepid water
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil


Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, and add the water and oil. Mix to combine and then knead for 10 minutes by hand, or a commensurate amount of time by machine. The dough should be light and stretchy but not sticky. If it is sticky, add a little flour and work it in by hand.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover with clingwrap and a teatowel and place in a warmish place for 30-60 minutes. I think longer is better, but 30 minutes seems to work quite well.

After 30 minutes, place the pan on the stove over a medium high heat.

Divide the dough into 20 even pieces and roll into small balls. Roll out into 2mm thick rounds, shake off any excess flour and place into the dry, hot pan.  Cook for 3 minutes and then flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side. The bread should have dark almost burned spots on it, and will have puffed up in places.

Good and bad

You will know immediately if the pan is hot enough because if it isn't, the flatbread won't puff up with bubbles. The one on the left is nice and puffed in places and has lovely brown bits. The one on the right is flat as a pancake and doughy. It's like the first pikelet. I had to turn the heat up a tad and then the second one was perfect. I always expect to need a trial run.

You can keep the flatbeads warm in the oven, or wrapped in a teatowel until ready to serve. In a big pan you could obviously cook more than one at a time. Serve them with a green salad, or with a curry, or with fresh tomatoes, olives and basil. Really, anywhere you would use a flat bread.

Flatbread and curry

The Green Smile

Today is St Patrick's Day, when everyone wears green.  I don't really participate by eating green food, or drinking green alcohol. Still, it makes me smile. I haven't been very smiley lately because I have a horrid sinus infection that made my jaw and neck sore, and I could barely open my mouth to chew. I did think it was a tooth, but a tooth won't make your glands in your neck swell up. I have antibiotics. Again. Because I can't fight off the infection. I am feeling marginally better, but my jaw still feels weird.

Chook alert
Yesterday we were almost invaded by a chook!! I wondered why Peri was barking, she's not a barker, and I went outside and Gilly was up the stairs beside herself with fear  and excitement.

My next door neighbour and I herded the chook up my drive, over the road, up the path and back into the yard. Then all was well with the world.

No more chooks
Except for my car. While I was herding I noticed that someone has dented my car. Twice. Or twice in one go. Oh no. I am very sad. I don't know when it happened, probably at the supermarket. My car is six months old now, so I suppose these things just happen. In the scheme of other worldy disasters, it's nothing really.

Sad dented car
I've finished the Knitolas Cage socks all bar the ends. I have three things that need the ends sewing in, so they are all 99% done.

Socks, knitolas
I knitted a tension square and for the first time ever my tension was correct: stitches and rows!! I am making a Shiraz cardigan. My Shiraz is green, Meadow coloured Full o'Sheep, and so I needed a good wine tasting phrase, so I have named it Freshly Cut Grass. It is a top down raglan in 10 ply and I have almost knitted one ball and I magically increased four more stitches than I should. I am just letting them be there until it matters.

Fcg starts
There is a little finishing off being done as well. Gilly is helping, there was no chance I was getting a sneak preview picture without her in it. She's not grubby, the tick liquid leaves a mark on the back of her neck for a few days.

Gilly and an almost sneak preview
Now I can have something to eat. I have to wait three hours after eating, take a tablet, and then wait half an hour more. I should take some pain killers to distract my mind from my weird jaw/ear thing. Then I'll make The Labradors tea, otherwise they'll be starving!!!

Tuesday's Letters Eat 8: 'E' is for Eccles Cakes

I am not sure if we had Eccles cakes when I was small, but I rather think one of my grandmothers baked them. I have just googled and then clicked through to Garibaldi Biscuits and I never knew they were Raisin Luncheons, or as we used to call them: Squashed Fly Biscuits. Of course now I can't stop thinking of Ambassador Mollari from Babylon 5 saying "Mister Garibaldi" in his special accent!!!

I am using Delia's recipe, but because MrsDrWho doesn't like mixed peel I have substituted some lemon zest and 50g of raisins. This is not a recipe you can whip up in a few minutes, it is a recipe for a Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. The pastry could rest in the refrigerator for up to a week and the filling too I suspect, though it may need a little extra liquid as the currants are fantastically absorbent. Batches

There are quite a few steps involved in making Eccles Cakes, but none are very difficult. I made the cakes in little batches of 6 at a time and it was quite speedy.

Eccles Cakes   makes about 24


  • 175g butter, frozen
  • 225g plain flour
  • 80-120ml very cold water


  • 75g butter, melted
  • 150g currants
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 1 tspn cinnamon
  • 1/2 tspn nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
  • zest of an orange
  • 40g mixed peel

To finish

  • milk
  • caster sugar


Butter tastes better
For the pastry, put the butter, as it is cut from the block, into the freezer for at least half an hour. Then holding the foil wrapper, or using baking paper, grate the butter and put it into the bowl with the flour.

Use a knife to cut and mix the butter into the flour until it is well combined. Then add the cold water. I added 5 Australian tablespoons, 20ml each.  The amount needed will depend on the flour, the temperature and humidity etc. Now mix with your hands until it forms a ball of dough, and comes away clean from the sides of the bowl. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Filling is fun
While the pastry is chilling, make the filling. Melt the butter and add it to the other ingredients and mix well. Set aside. The currants will absorb the liquid and plump up.

Rollin' rollin' rollin'
After 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 220*C or 200*C fan-forced. Take 1/4 of the pastry and roll it out to 3mm thickness. Between two floured pieces of baking paper worked best today. Cut out 8cm circles (the top of my EasiYo snack container was the right size!!) Once you have cut out as many as you can, add the remnants of pastry to the next 1/4 and so on. I cut enough for 34 Eccles Cakes.

Place the pastry circle down, and place 1 tspn of the filling on one half. Use your finger and brush around the edge of the other half with water. 

Pinch the two opposite edges together, forming a little pastie shape.

Then like making Chinese dumplings, with the pinched edge facing upwards, pull the ends in to the middle and make a rounded shape, like a little money bag. If the edges won't stick, try folding them over once more and pressing them together again.

Finally, turn right side up, with the seamed edge underneath, and roll out gently till it is about 1/2 cm thick.

Slash and don't burn
Once on the tray (it is easier - I found out the hard way!!) use a very sharp knife and make three little cuts across the cake, brush with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for 15 minutes. They should be golden on top. Place on a rack to cool. Then pour a cup of tea and eat a delicious Eccles Cake.

Eccles Cakes

Among These Dark Satanic Mills

I do want to talk about it, and then it is all too horrible and I don't. I just want to pretend it hasn't happened. I even had a dream where I was trying to pretend that Tony Burke (berk) hadn't given final approval for The Tamar Valley Pulp Mill.  There will be civil disobedience. I am not sure I am up to civil disobedience though. The worst thing is that the Labor Party in Government legislated through Section 11 that people have no redress against any kind of damage to health, property or business. Even if there is proven criminal damage we cannot sue. It is like living behind the Iron Curtain last century. I am in a slight state of despair.

Still, we are happy to be safe in our houses tonight. A friend's son is in Malaysia but he has emailed to say he is safe, on the fourth floor of his hotel, from the tsunami and the Japanese earthquake.

Peri Naughty and Lorelai Gilmore are well and happy. There has been much chasing after wallabies, riding in the car and sleeping in the Sun today.

Happy pups
My Green Picket Fence Vest is all finished bar the shouting. I think I may cast off the first armband ribbing again.(I can't say armhole because it makes Kate go Nudge Nudge Wink Wink Say No More) I cast off the neck with a 4.5mm and it seems nice and firm. I did some sneaky short rows in the front of the neck too, just to make sure it was long enough. Then there are just the ends to be sewn in.

Almost fenced
I am doing the toe decreases on my Any One For Tennis Socks? which I apparently started way back in September 2009. I experienced slight difficulties uniting the first completed sock with the rest of the ball of wool!! But on Wednesday I powered through the second half of the tennis court on the leg and then the heel flap and turn and the gusset while I was at the doctor's surgery and waiting for tests. I also had my 'flu vaccination and so I had to sit for 15-20 minutes to make sure I didn't have an adverse reaction. I will finish them tonight while I watch New Tricks.

Game, set, match point
Now I can think about which cardigan I shall knit next week!!! I want to use the 10 ply Debbie Stoller Bamboo Ewe. It is $3 a ball, so I might go to The Black Spot of Doomlight(tm) and use my $10 voucher to buy some more. Just in case. I have 13 balls.

It's a Long Weekend for the Eight Hour Day: Eight hours of work, eight hours of rest and eight hours of recreation. I might catch up with MrsDrWho and there might be some quilt making. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps......

Oh oh, I forgot to add, have you seen THIS?? I shan't be knitting it, but I am vastly amused!!

Austina Powers: International Women's Day of Mystery

Not only is it Shrove Tuesday, but it is also the centenary of International Women's Day. I had a little 'moment' last year contemplating women and our place in society. I mentioned the 'f' word: Feminism. It is not a word looked on fondly by many people today but I don't care, I like being a feminist. Women deserve equal opportunity, equal pay, equal status - we do, we're worth it.

We're having little pancakes for morning tea tomorrow. Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent and so it is forty days till Easter.

I've been to visit The Dutches and I took them their very late Advent calendar, filled with chocolates. I also made Nigella's gingerbread cake. Oh my word, it is so delicious, roll on 'G' so I can post it on my blog. Delicious and Christmassy!!

Calendars away
I went for afternoon tea and stayed for dinner:

While Uncle Dutch watched David Attenborough, Auntie Dutch and I oohed and ahhed at her garage sale bargain: ten sewing magazines, most of them Enid Gilchrist. $2 the lot!! What a fabulous deal. We are going to have a pattern making afternoon I think!!

I am not quite sure what Peri was eating on our walk, most likely something disgusting, but she thought it was very tasty.

Peri's yummy tummy
Lorelai Gilmore is still helping with my knitting.

Gilly helps with the knitting again
I have started some 8ply socks for Mr MadCage, I call them The Knitolas Cage socks. Lorelai Gilmore can't bear not to be involved with everything. She has her very favourite toy of all: a plastic cup,

Knitolas starts Gilly helps me again

And now a happy story. I bought some lamb at Coles to make some Greek wraps for lunch. (with feta, mint, onion, tomato, cucumber, lemon and garlic and yoghurt) When I opened the meat it smelled. Not a bad smell, but fresh meat shouldn't smell like this did, and though it was on sale it was still meant to be fresh. I took the lamb back and the man at the front counter sent me right to the meat area to pick up a new packet and I didn't have to pay the $4 difference in price. Well done Coles.

Now I am interested to see what Margaret Fulton's Honest To Goodness recipes from Woolworths are like. I shan't be cooking them, but every line she spoke in the advertisement I saw was a dig at Coles. Oh it is Supermarket wars. I don't buy the cheap milk, $1 per litre, I continue to buy milk from the dairy at Ashgrov. I bought porridge oats from Oatlands, in the Midlands, at the deli at the corner. The Oat Mill has just been restored. The oats may have been milled there!!

The weather is mild and wet. Lots of rain and wet footprints inside. I foresee a lot more wet footprints inside before the year is out. This week I have some doctors' appointments, just standard run of the mill ones, I've had my hair cut, and then there will be sewing on Thursday evening. I think I shall have a day in on Friday and finish my vest!!!

Tuesday's Letters Eat 7: 'D' is for Date Pudding: Sticky

And after an unexpected delay, normal service is resumed.

There is no comfort food more comforting than Sticky Date Pudding. There are many different recipes, this is just one. I made one and a half times the recipe so I could have some extra muffin sized puddings, so be aware that the amounts you see may look unusually large compared to the proper measurements given in the recipe. I do usually make extra sauce. You can never have too much sauce!!!

The recipe also makes 12 muffin sized puddings which should take the same amount of time to cook.

Date Pudding: Sticky   serves 8  

For the pudding:

  • 250g pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup self raising flour

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar    
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 60g butter


Begin by putting the chopped dates into a bowl, sprinkle in the bicarbonate of soda and then pour the boiling water over. Set aside for 20 minutes.

On a date
Now preheat the oven to 180*C and grease and line a 22cm round tin with baking paper.  I used a 20 x 30 cm pan. I have taken to using the BBQ tin foil pans if I want to take a cake to someone's house. I don't have to worry about my tin or a plate being returned.

Cream the softened butter, sugar and vanilla extract until it is pale and fluffy. You can see here how pale it becomes. Beat in the two eggs until it is just combined.

Add the creamed mixture to the date and water, mix, and then fold in the sifted flour. I found a big metal spoon worked quite well.

Mixing it all up
Spoon into the tin and then bake for 35-40 minutes. Mine did take 40 minutes but it came away from the edges of the pan and was springy to the touch.

Oven pudding
While the pudding is cooking, it is time to make the sauce.

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until it comes to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 2-3 minutes, longer for a thicker sauce though it does thicken on standing.

Once the pudding comes out of the oven, prick it all over with a skewer (or a scalded metal knitting needle in my case) and pour 1/4 - 1/2 cup of the sauce over the pudding.

To serve, pour more sauce over the warm pudding and you can add cream, custard, ice-cream or any combination you like. It heats up very well in the microwave if there is any left over.

Sticky date individual pud