Wedding Cake

Uncategorized

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, if you want keep up to date with my adventures on my Instagram @mariablackstone… I tend to post more regularly on there.

I have been busy with a new job – I am now working as a Graphic Designer for a wine supplier (lucky me), I have been away to Menorca and Belgium and spending the summer enjoying myself, and getting out as much as I can before I go to study in September. I have a wine course to go on next week, and am then starting a graphic design course a few weeks after that. I’m excited to learn lots of new stuff but apprehsive about the battle I will no doubt have with my energy levels. 

I also made my first ever wedding cake for a friend round the corner. I did a tasting for them and they chose vanilla and lemon – perfect for the summer. It was decorated simply with roses, berries and herbs from their garden. I was super pleased with the result and was amazing to know that people would enjoy all my hard work and efforts and that I could be a small part of their big day. 

If you’d like a cake for your special occasion, please do get in touch and I can discuss options and prices with you. 


A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Mini Egg Blondies

Baking, Photography

Hi Everyone, 

Here is an easy and naughty treat to enjoy over the Easter holidays! Perfect to use up  any left over mini eggs – but if I’m honest, it’s more of an excuse to go and buy more mini eggs! 

I was really pleased with how the photos turned out for these. I baked them yesterday evening, by which time all the natural light had gone (I think I was being ambitious, thinking I could make, bake and photograph them in the natural light after I got home from work at 6.30pm!) 

I decided to experiment with flash, I set up the background, put the finished bake in place, though a little warm (I was eager to get to bed) and got the work. I haven’t really shot any food with flash before, apart from my studio arrangements at university. I will definitely continue to practice with this technique as it means I can photograph and cook more for my blog in the evenings. 

My photography work can also be viewed here.

Beautiful background by Woodrow Studios

Ingredients

225g butter

200g white chocolate

175g plain flour

50g golden caster sugar

150g soft brown sugar

3 large eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

2 x 90g bags mini eggs

For decoration (optional)

3 cubes white chocolate

Handful of crushed mini eggs
Method

  1. Line a square tin (approx. 21cm square) and preheat the oven to 180*c / 160 fan.
  2. Chop the butter and chocolate into cubes and melt together in a bowl placed over lightly simmering water. The mixture may split once melted but don’t worry, this will all be combined together into one delicious mixture. Once melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. 
  3. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy, you’ll want it to leave a trail on the surface when you lift the whisk. This should take a few minutes. You will probably want to use an electric whisk or mixer for this other wise you’ll be there all night. 
  4. Pour your chocolate and butter into the egg mixture and gently combine together using a spatula. 
  5. Add your flour and fold in until well combined. 
  6. Add your mini eggs and stir.
  7. Pour into your lined tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your tin. It’s cooked when you can insert a skewer and sticky cake crumbs are left but no raw cake mixture. 
  8. Leave to cool, then drizzle with some extra melted white chocolate and top with crushed mini eggs.
  9. If you can resist, leave in the fridge or somewhere cool overnight to achieve a delicious fudgy texture. In the mean time you can polish off the remaining mini eggs. (Yes, I purposely bought a family sized bag just for the decoration, don’t judge) 
  10. Enjoy! 

Don’t forget to follow my instagram to keep up to date with my foodie adventures. 

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Day 2 – 14th February 

Inspiration, Photography, Uncategorized

I felt very refreshed this morning after a great nights sleep, making the early wake up much easier. After a shower and some breakfast – a little fruit, yoghurt and a fresh omelette and doing my signature move of slipping over in the marble bathroom (take note Maria, mosquito spray makes floors slippery) we headed off on our bus. We had a tour of Colombo, stopping off at the Independence Memorial Hall and continuing on a very long journey to Nuwara Eliya. 

After about four hours driving we stopped for lunch at a restaurant over looking the Kelani river, I opted for an omelette (again) it was fresh and delicious. 


We continued our journey which lasted about another three hours. Stopping on the way to look at some tea picking ladies. This work is extremely skilled, and they have a target of picking about 30kg of tea leaves per day which takes around four hours, paying only 1000lkr. This is around £5 which makes me feel incredibly guilty that I would spend that on lunch without thinking about it. 


On route, we also stopped at a couple of waterfalls with breathtaking views. The weather at this time was very cloudy, it looked as if the rain was catching up with us but nevertheless it was still beautiful.  

We finally arrived at our hotel, called ‘Grand Hotel’ at around 5.15pm – a very long day but we’re greeted with a hot towel and delicious cup of tea. After freshening up, we are going for dinner and then I shortly after I will  head to my room to get an early night. Another early start for us tomorrow. We are leaving the hotel at 5.15am, travelling to Horton Plains National Park for a 9km hike/walk. We will have a picnic breakfast whilst we are there. We will then enjoy a city tour on a tuk tuk as well as high tea in the Grand Hotel. 

Having a really good time, 
A girl with an appetite for all things creative,
Maria x

A girl with a creative appetite goes to Sri Lanka

Inspiration, Photography

I know conventionally a food blog is all about posting recipes however I’m going to use it as a space to write about my trip to Sri Lanka… after all it is my blog! 
After a ridiculously long journey, leaving my home at 5.15pm Saturday and not arriving to my hotel until about 9pm I was relieved to finally be in Sri Lanka. I have never done a long haul flight before and as an anxious person I was worrying about every single little thing…where do I check in my luggage, will it get there, will I make it to the gate on time, how will I know where to go when transferring flights?!?!
Classic me though left a little too early and had tons of time, no queues when checking in my luggage meant I could have a little browse at the airport and then I went on to my gate. Transferring flights was a breeze as I knew deep down it would be. My first flight was a little uncomfortable – maybe due to nerves as well as the seat. I watched a couple of films in hope that I would get a bit more sleep on the next flight. Thankfully I did. After stopping in the Maldives for an hour and a half (which looked beautiful from the plane seat) we went onward to Colombo. 
I nervously waited for my luggage exchanging glares of desperation with a couple of ladies from Manchester. Eventually, after about an hour it came along on the belt, and I heaved a sigh of relief! Theirs came along at the same time so we plodded off happily! I was so tired I felt my legs were going to collapse underneath the weight of my rucksack. I exchanged some money and found my airport transfer, smiling widely when I found my name written on a sign. It was about an hour to my hotel (although it only seemed about 30-40 minutes) but I arrived and boy was I pleased to hear that I’d been upgraded to the executive suite. I came to my amazing room and had a lovely nights sleep. 


Day 1 of tour: 13th February

I woke up, got ready and had breakfast. I wasn’t feeling too hungry – partly due to nerves, I always seem to loose my appetite after flying. I was also feeling anxious about the fact I had a whole day to myself before meeting my tour group this evening. Little me in a country I know very little about. I decided to go out and have a little explore though. As lovely as the hotel is, I didn’t want to stay in all day. 

I’m glad I did, as I was approached by a Sri Lankan man, he chatted to me as I walked down the street, trying to give him little information and before I knew it I was getting into a tuk tuk with him. Going against everything that I was told as a child and scared shitless that I had no idea where I was, and no idea where he was taking me. I clocked a bottle of rum that belonged to the driver. This was full. He took me to a temple as it was their public holiday for their full moon festival. I got to see a real life couple getting married, we then went to another place of meditation, it was beautiful. Back in the tuk tuk and the bottle of rum was now two thirds full and I’m a little edgy. He then took me to a gem stone shop where I got roped into buying myself my birthstone. Typical of an English person feeling like they can’t say no. I did stand my ground and made sure I didn’t spend too much. The tuk tuk driver then took me back to my hotel. The ‘guide’ was lovely though, they really are very friendly here.

I then just took it easy and sat by the pool, with a book. Chatted to a lady who was on her own, she commented on my nail varnish and found out she too was on my tour. I met the rest of the group this evening and everyone seems lovely. From Canada, Chicago, Switzerland and England. 

We all went out to dinner with our guide and eat outside as a group in this place called the Dutch Hospital. (Not a hospital any more, it used to be in the 1700s) I had a vegetable curry and it was absolutely delicious. The perfect amount of spice, really tasty and the fluffiest rice. I am now off to sleep as we are leaving the hotel at 7.30am for a tour of Colombo and a long bus journey to Nuwara Eliya. 

Night all,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

X

Banana, cashew butter & dark chocolate tray bake

Baking, Recipes, Uncategorized

Long time, no posting!

I’ve decided that this year I am going to start trying to be kinder to myself.

Yes, I want to loose weight and look great (I am off to Sri Lanka in 4 weeks and still don’t have my bikini body) but as young women there is so much pressure to be a certain way, and I simply get miserable when I realise I don’t fit the bill.

I read an article by Angelica Malin on About Time Magazine. Check it out here – she mentions that we all need a re-tox. A fabulous idea, which got me thinking. Instead of being so hard on myself I will change my outlook on life. I will do more exercise because I enjoy it, and not beat myself up when I’m too tired to go because of my fatigue. I will not eat all the biscuits at work because they are there and I’m bored. However, I will have a few cubes of chocolate in the evening because I really need something to satisfy me. Life is about balance, and if I eat healthy food that I really enjoy, go swimming and to the gym, because this lifts my mood and makes me feel fabulous, I can still eat a slice of cake or a dessert at the weekend because I really want it.

We all need to be kinder to ourselves. We all have busy lives, life is too short to spend hours in the gym, and deprive yourself of that bit of cake that you REALLY want but shouldn’t eat because your Instagram feed is full of pictures of girls that have better bodies than you.

Saying no to something simply makes us feel guilty when we do have it, and we only want it all the more because someone tells us we shouldn’t. So have that bit of cake, chocolate bar, or that biscuit that you want to dip into your mid-morning cup of tea. Just don’t go crazy. Life is all about balance!

Anyway…

I wanted to take a picture of something today, and thought about making a banana traybake with some black bananas that have been floating around the fridge for a bit too long. This is made with out sugar or butter/fat so a little bit better for us but still delicious. It has a texture between a traybake and blondie. I had a piece tonight with some warm custard. Really quick and easy to whip up, and great to pack into your lunchbox for an afternoon sweet-treat.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas – mashed (the blacker the better)
  • 60g sweetener – I used Sukrin Gold, as this is similar to brown sugar. You could substitute this for light brown sugar, or an alternative sweetner.
  • 120g full fat Total Greek yoghurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 115g cashew butter – you could also use peanut butter
  • 220g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g dark chocolate – chopped into chunks
  • 25g chopped, toasted hazelnuts

To decorate – 3-4 cubes dark chocolate, melted

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180*c/160*c fan and line a tin with non-stick parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl mix together the banana, sweetener, yoghurt, egg, and milk until well combined.
  3. Add the cashew butter and vanilla extract and mix again.
  4. Fold in the flour, salt and cinnamon.
  5. Mix in the dark chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour the batter into your lined tin, smooth out and push all the way to the corners.
  7. Sprinkle the top with the toasted, chopped hazelnuts
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until it’s springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, use a fork to drizzle the top with the melted dark chocolate.

banana-tray-bake-1-web-copy

 

Enjoy it,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Christmas Gingerbread Fridge Cake

Baking, Recipes, Uncategorized

Here’s a super quick recipe for you to try over the festive period. Perfect to use up chocolate from the selection boxes and biscuits left over from the biscuit tins. It’s ridiculously indulgent, but it is Christmas after all, and Christmas is all about excess!

Ingredients

200g milk or dark chocolate (or a mixture), chopped

150g butter, cubed

100g shortbread fingers

100g gingernut biscuits

100g dried cranberries

25 g pistachios

1tbsp golden syrup

1/2 tsp orange extract

For the topping

100g milk chocolate, melted

1 pack of mini gingerbread men (aprox. 25)

Method

  1. In a bowl, over a pan of simmering water, melt together the butter, chocolate, golden syrup & orange extract.
  2. Crush your biscuits roughly with a rolling pin or food processor. I like the biscuit to be quite chunky. Roughly chop the cranberries & pistachios.
  3. Mix the biscuits, cranberries and pistachios into the melted chocolate mixture.
  4. Pour into a square tin lined with greaseproof paper, and press down so the mixture is even and pushed into the corners.
  5. Leave to set in the fridge, then pour the melted milk chocolate overn the top. Top with your mini gingerbread men.
  6. Leave to set in the fridge again, then slice into squares.
  7. Enjoy!

gingerbread-tiffin-1-web

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Food Styling & Photography Masterclass

Food, Photography

Hi everyone,

Last Saturday (17th) I was lucky enough to attend a masterclass in food styling & photography run by the Guardian. After a bit of a shock alarm (not used to an early wake-up call on the weekends) I got up and headed to the swanky Guardian offices at Kings Cross.

After a cuppa, we made a start. We all introduced ourselves – lots of professional photographers, beginners & all levels in between but we all had one thing in common though I think, which was enthusiasm. We were then introduced to the lovely ladies running the masterclass – Jill Mead; Photographer & Rosie Reynolds; Food Stylist. They made everyone feel so very welcome. I learnt lots of tips in the talks they gave us & it was so lovely to hear them talk so passionately about their subjects.

Figs.jpg

We then had a practical demonstration, where I picked up some tips on lighting & a bit about the best lenses to use. I now want a macro lens so I better get saving those pennies. I also did however, feel that I knew quite a lot of what was being spoken about which was great for my confidence as I don’t always believe in myself. All my practising and constant research is obviously working!

After lunch (which was fabulous, I had mushroom stroganoff, salad & chocolate cake) we started to take our own photos. We bought along a selection of our own props and were provided with some scones, fruit & veg, jam etc. I didn’t really feel like my practical session was on my side that day, I took a few photos but I think the most valuable part of the day for me was the talks in the morning and in fact sharing my knowledge & ideas with others & looking at others work & finding out about what they do. I wasn’t at all disappointed that my practical inspiration wasn’t on my side that day, as I gained so much!

I am looking forward to going on a shoot with Jill at some point in the near future.

For lots more foodie pics & to see what I get up to follow my Instagram –  @mariablackstone or Twitter.

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x