The day I entered the Emsworth Show.

Winner of the Phillips Tankard
Winner of the Phillips Tankard.
More vegetables!
More vegetables!
GIANT vegetables!
GIANT vegetables!
I want to learn to knit so I can make one of these.
I want to learn to knit so I can make one of these.
The failed tray bakes.
The failed tray bakes.
First prize in the '4 Decorated Biscuits' class
First prize in the ‘4 Decorated Biscuits’ class.

So the Emsworth show, for those of you who are not in the know, is something of an institution in these parts. It happens every August Bank Holiday Monday come rain or shine and it is magnificent. You can pretty much find everything you could ever imagine at a village fete at the Emsworth show and then you can also find much more. One year my friend Pippa came to visit and the bee keeping society made a pretty concerted effort to recruit her to bee keeping. They didn’t, unfortunately, succeed. I always love the dog competition and the birds of prey but my favourite is undoubtedly the marquee and everything that it contains. From Victoria sandwiches to giant vegetables, every base is covered. I have never previously exhibited in the tent so this year was my first attempt at Emsworth Show glory.

I was, at first, a little reluctant at first to enter the baking competition but my Mother was insistent that I should give the general public a chance to see what I have been cooking up in the kitchen chez Corn. ‘Fine’, I said, ‘I will enter something, how about I enter the Victoria sandwich competition?’ ‘A bad idea’, advised my Father, ‘far too much competition for a show novice’. ‘Okay’, said I, ‘I will enter the Lemon Drizzle’, ‘Again a bad idea’ counselled Pa Pa ‘Your sister is entering that category and I don’t think you two should be in direct competition’. My sister, Rosie, entered the Emsworth Show Bakewell Tart category last year and won so she has excellent show form.  I was certainly not willing to challenge her for any baking title. ‘Right’, I decided ‘the Tray Bake it shall be’. So we had agreed, I was to enter Five Tray Bake Pieces and Rosie, riding high on the wave of last year’s success, would enter the Lemon Drizzle and the Bakewell Tart.

I have been waking early these days (a side effect of the steroids) so I fairly reliably rise at about six or half past. I therefore concluded I had enough time on the morning of the show to bake my tray bake before the nine o’clock deadline. The fresher the better I thought, fairly foolishly it turns out.

I chose to bake Angela Neilsen’s Raspberry and pine nut bars The lovely Phoebe very kindly baked these for us and they were delicious so she gave me the recipe.

At six thirty I rose and started to bake my pine nut bars. They were quite simple to bake and I was very pleased with the results as I put them into the oven. What I belatedly realised was although I had budgeted enough time to bake the bars, I had not allowed myself enough time for the bars to cool.

I removed the bars from the oven and they looked great. They definitely did not however look like they were going to hold their shape without first cooling them. It soon became apparent that I was going to have to actively cool the bars as room temperature would not be quick enough. Despite my fear that I was going to melt the inside of my Mother’s freezer, I put my bars into it for a chill. It worked – to a certain extent.

At ten minutes to nine I took my bars out of the freezer. Although the instructions were no more specific than ‘Five pieces of Tray Bake’, instinct told me I probably ought to be entering centre instead of edge pieces. Unfortunately with the hurried cooling, the only pieces that were set were edge pieces. As I plated up five edge pieces, I bet my Mother that I would be told off for entering them. ‘Just do it’, she wisely said, ‘we are running out of time now’.

Sadly my Tray Bakes did not even place at the Emsworth Show. These were my judges comments: ‘Good flavour combination but texture just a little wet. Tip: for show work do not present outside edge pieces’.

So in my first attempt at show baking, I had broken an unwritten rule. At least I could console myself by knowing that I was right; show baking is a minefield of unwritten rules and I failed to successfully negotiate them this year. Rosie had better luck. She placed third in both of her categories, in the Lemon Drizzle this was a particular achievement as there were eight other entries in this class.

The day itself was sadly also a bit of a write off. The general rule is that the sun always shines for the Emsworth show. Unfortunately 2014 was the exception that proves the rule. Bank holiday Monday was the wettest day of the summer and the show ground felt like a weeping shadow of it’s normal self.

It was not all doom and gloom as the tray bakes, despite their surprisingly hefty price tag (who’d have thought that pine nuts were £3 per 100g!), were still extremely tasty. In terms of my competitive baking career, we will put the Emsworth Show 2014 down to experience and prey for better fortune next year.

The day we climbed Kingley vale…

View from the bench half way up Kingley Vale
View from the bench half way up Kingley Vale.
View over Chichester Harbour to the Isle of Wight from the top of Kingley Vale
View over Chichester Harbour to the Isle of Wight from the top of Kingley Vale.
View over the South Downs from the top of Kingley Vale
View over the South Downs from the top of Kingley Vale – can you see Mark?
Kate at the top of Kingley Vale - Hurray!
Kate at the top of Kingley Vale – Hurray!
Mark's offending scotch egg
Mark’s offending scotch egg.
Kate's tempura courgette flower
Kate’s tempura courgette flower.
Kate with the roast, the trimmings, and a very attractive bib.
Kate with the roast, the trimmings, and a very attractive bib which Mark should probably have told her about before he took the photo.
The trimmings!
The trimmings!
Kate's crème brulee with cherries and a cornflake crunch.
Kate’s crème brulee with cherries and a cornflake crunch.
Mark's peanut butter ice cream balls.
Mark’s peanut butter ice cream balls.

So back when I was really unwell and out of fear was refusing to go to the doctor, Mark set me a challenge. ‘If you are truly a well person and you truly therefore do not need to go to the doctor’ he said, ‘then you will demonstrate this to me by climbing Kingley Vale’. ‘Fine’ I said, ‘we will do it this weekend’. As it was we never made it to the weekend as I was hospitalised first. It was probably a good thing we didn’t make it to the weekend as climbing Kingley Vale would have probably killed me.

Anyway that was then but this is now, and I have felt for a long time that climbing Kingley Vale would be a real way to show both myself and everyone else that I am recovering really well. And on Saturday, we did it. We didn’t, as my Dad suggested, cycle up as I don’t think I’m quite well enough for that yet. But climb it we did and it felt amazing. The only real pains that I had were in my legs, not cancerous pains but healthy and muscular pains. The kind of pains you might get if you have legs that have not climbed hills for quite a few months.

To celebrate we lunched at the Richmond Arms.

This pub is incredible and well worth a visit, even from afar. It is not cheap though so save it for a treat. We feasted on 3 courses and so good was the food that Mark said some words that I have never before heard him say, ‘I’m so glad we ordered desert’.

Mark was very mean and for starter ordered the Hot and runny chorizo Scotch egg, saffron aioli, pickled fennel. I currently have to be really careful with my eating to minimise the risk of infection and so can’t have runny eggs. I have decided out of all the things that I am currently not allowed to eat, runny eggs are the things I am missing the most and Mark’s scotch egg ran beautifully, in front of me, and all over his plate. I made Mark promise that for my birthday next year he makes me a plate of runny eggs and then I can eat them to my heart’s content.

Kate ate

Tempura Courgette flower stuffed with goats cheese with a broad bean salad

12 hour rotisserie roast Gloucester Old Spot pork belly, pickled gooseberry, apple sauce, traditional trimmings

Crème Brulee with cherries and a white chocolate cornflake crunch

Mark ate

Hot and runny chorizo Scotch egg, saffron aioli, pickled fennel

12 hour rotisserie roast Gloucester Old Spot pork belly, pickled gooseberry, apple sauce, traditional trimmings

Battered peanut butter ice cream balls (This is not the Richmond Arms’ description, it is mine, as I can’t find the Richmond Arms’ description anywhere online! I’m sure their description would have been much more appetising but the main point is that they were delicious.)

How to make Jamie’s nutella and banana bread roll…

Kate and the bananas...
Kate and the bananas.
Kate rolling the bread...
Kate rolling the bread.
Dough before first prove...
Dough before first prove.
Dough after first prove - definitely needed a bigger tin.
Dough after first prove – definitely needed a bigger tin.
The bread snail is ready to go.
The bread snail is ready to go.
There is nothing better than the smell of fresh bread.

So this week was bread week on the Great British Bake Off. I fondly remembered Jamie’s Nutella and Banana Bread that I used to make as a teenager and thought this was the perfect reason to resurrect the recipe. So old is the recipe that it doesn’t appear online so I will post it here instead.

Jamie’s Nutella and Banana Bread

30g fresh yeast or 3 x 7g sachets dry yeast

30g honey (or sugar)

625ml tepid water

1kg strong bread flour

30g salt

Some extra flour for dusting

5 Bananas cut very thinly

1 x 400g jar of Nutella

Stage 1

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in half the tepid water.

Stage 2

On a clean surface or in large bowl, make a pile of the flour and the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in all the dissolved yeast mixture. With 4 fingers of one hand, make circular movements from the centre moving outwards, slowly bringing in more and more of the flour until all the yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pour the other half of the tepid water into the centre and gradually incorporate all the flour to make moist dough. (Certain flours may need a little more water, so don’t be afraid to adjust the quantities.)

Stage 3

Kneading! This is the best bit, just rolling, pushing and folding the dough over and over for 5 minutes. This develops the gluten and the structure of the dough. If any of the dough sticks to your hands, just rub them together with a little extra flour.

Stage 4

Flour both your hands well, and lightly flour the top of the dough. Make it into a roundish shape and place on a baking tray. Deeply score the dough with a knife – allowing it to relax and prove with ease. Leave it to prove until it’s doubled in size. Ideally you want a warm, moist, draught-free place for the quickest prove, for example near a warm cooker, in the airing cupboard or just in a warmish room, and you can even cover it with clingfilm if you want to speed things up. This proving process improves the flavour and texture of the dough and should take around 40 minutes, depending on the conditions.

Stage 5

When the dough has doubled in size you need to knock the air out it by bashing it around for a minute. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large flat shape (about 1/2 inch thick, 15 inches long and 12 – 15 inches wide). Heat the jar of nutella (without the lid on) in the microwave for 25 seconds to soften the nutella. Use a palette knife to spread the nutella evenly all over the bread. Arrange the sliced bananas all over the bread.

Stage 6

Roll up the dough length ways, in the same way that you would roll a swiss roll. Then curl the rolled dough around to make a snail shape. Transfer the bread roll to a baking tray. Be careful when doing this as the dough will need to be coaxed slowly away from the surface underneath.

Stage 7

Prove the dough for 15 minutes.

Stage 8

Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Top Tips

1) This bread is really yummy so do make it and have it for Sunday breakfast as the smell of fresh bread will make you popular with everyone else in the house.

2) Paul Hollywood would have been cross if he had been judging this bread on the Great British Bake Off as in the centre some of the dough was still raw. This is unfortunately a side effect of the roll. Next time I might just try rolling into a large sausage and not then rolling into a snail shape because although this would not be as attractive, it would hopefully give a more even bake throughout the bread.

3) The bread dough calls for 30g of salt. This is actually quite a lot of salt and you can distinctly taste it in the dough. I liked the contrast of the salty dough against the sweet filling but if you are not such a salt fan then you might wish to reduce the amount of salt in the dough.

Everyone loves a good florentine…

The finished product.
The finished product.


My first taster - he was very pleased.
My first taster – he was very pleased.
The underside - after successful chocolate redistribution.
The underside – after successful chocolate redistribution.
Kate and her Florentines.
Kate and her Florentines.
Rosie trying to eat Kate's Florentines.
Rosie trying to eat Kate’s Florentines.
The Florentines are ready to be baked!
The Florentines are ready to be baked!
Florentines, pre baking, surely they won't spread that much...
Florentines, pre baking, surely they won’t spread that much…


Florentines, post baking, oh yes they really do spread...
Florentines, post baking, oh yes they really do spread…

So back to the baking, and I was very excited about having a go at Mary’s Florentines. Here is her recipe and the one that they used for the technical challenge on week 2 of the Great British Bake Off and it was a success – Hurray!

Top tips:

1) Be brave, if you fancy it, and disobey Queen Mary. I like a flaky almond in my Florentine and I also don’t like walnuts so I didn’t add any walnuts and simply added 50g of flaked (not crushed) almonds instead. It worked really well.

2) Don’t be overconfident and do remember that Queen Mary is ultimately Queen Mary for a reason. I initially thought to myself ‘Mary, you have advised using 3 baking sheets for 18 little balls of Florentines this seems a little excessive.  It really is going to make it difficult to fit it all in the oven, maybe I will squidge them all onto 2 baking sheets instead.’

Thankfully, after further consideration, I remembered my place and did use 3 baking sheets for my 18 little balls. This is entirely necessary, even if you do have to play baking sheet Tetris with your oven, as the Florentines really do spread during baking.

3) Don’t be greedy and put too much chocolate on the first 10 Florentines. It means that you will have to scrape some of the chocolate off the early Florentines to make sure that that later Florentines also have chocolate as well. I also suspect that had I not thinned out the chocolate layer on the early Florentines, it would have ultimately taken a ridiculously long period of time to dry.

How to make an impression at the opera…

Middle & Over Wallop
Middle & Over Wallop
Soup!! Taken in a v arty fashion of course.
Soup!! Taken in a very arty fashion of course.
Kate with her AMAZING new scarf.
Kate with her AMAZING new scarf.
Paparazzi numero 1 - can you see Kate & Mark?
Paparazzi numero 1 – can you see Kate & Mark?
Paparazzi numero 2 - similar as you are still looking for Kate & Mark but they are now doing different things!
Paparazzi numero 2 – similar as you are still looking for Kate & Mark but they are now doing different things!
Paparazzi numero 3 - just because the best things come in 3s.
Paparazzi numero 3 – just because the best things come in 3s.
Kate and the fabulous Anna I.
Kate and the fabulous Anna.
Kate and the lovely Henriette.
Kate and the lovely Henriette.
Kate and the lovely 'carer'
Kate and the tremendous ‘carer’.
The lovely Henri.
The amazing Henri.
Kate, the old scarf, and a bottom made by Henry Moore.
Kate, the old scarf, and a bottom made by Henry Moore.
Kate and the wonderful Het.
Kate and the wonderful Het.

So we went to Glyndebourne and it was magnificent. And I had to behave like a good disabled person for the day and sit in my wheelchair. I don’t use my wheelchair ordinarily anymore as I am well aware of my limits (long but gentle coastal walks) and I don’t like to stray beyond them.

At Glyndebourne however the wheelchair turned out to be a welcome addition to our party as I was able to sit in the wheelchair throughout the performance and it was much comfier than the opera seats. It is also very useful for alerting people to the fact that I’m actually ill!

Also, since Mark had very kindly been gifted a complimentary ‘carers’ ticket to the performance it might have looked slightly odd if there was no one for him to visibly care for.

We saw La finta giardiniera, an early Mozart, and I very much enjoyed the lovely music. Leaving after the first half I was confident that I knew what was going on. Listening to Mark and Hetti discuss the plot it seems that I had no idea – ah the joys of chemo brain!

We wined and dined in a splendid fashion in Middle & Over Wallop during the interval. As a note to all other ‘wheelies’ out there, make sure your ‘carer’ is up for a push as the slope up to the disabled access was pretty steep and there were a few interesting moments; particularly on the way down. Anyway after all this sitting and eating I was feeling more than ready for a little nap.

So the second half was mainly spent lightly dozing while listening to still very pleasant music and having increasingly less understanding of what was going on. This would have all been fine and I wouldn’t have bothered anyone but then right at the most silent bit of the piece, when there was a dramatic pause to allow the audience to savour the singers great song, I did a bit of a wiggle in the wheelchair to get more comfortable. This wiggle caused the empty water bottle in the back of the wheelchair to leap out of the wheelchair onto the hard wooden floor and bounce around making a noise that reverberated around the entire auditorium. The audience all turned to stare, the performers turned to stare, thankfully Mark and I managed not to giggle and just hung our heads in shame instead!

So ladies and gentlemen if you want to make an impression at the opera, that is how.


how not to greet strangers…


So a new Co-op has opened up in Denvilles and earlier this week I needed some eggs and a newspaper. The new Co-op is perhaps marginally closer than the Emsworth Co-op so I thought I should give it a try. Here is my review.

There is a slight aside that I will need to explain first for this story to make sense. For the last month or so I have been the proud wearer of a PICC. If you don’t know what a PICC is see the photo above and check it out here: It is really great. I love my PICC. It means I don’t have to be poked at all when I go into hospital to get my treatment as my blood comes out of the PICC and the chemo goes into the PICC and I will have the PICC until this journey is over. I initially called it Peter but Mark was uncomfortable about me having a male thing clinging to my arm so now she is called Penny and she is fantastic.

Anyway back to the Co-op and the review. In short, the Co-op did not fare well and I’m not sure that I will be going back in a hurry and here is why.

1) They had sold out of copies of the times. #middleclassproblems

2) They only sold eggs in boxes of 6 instead of 12 and really I wanted 12 eggs. #middleclassproblems

3) As I approached the counter to pay for my copy of the Independent and my 6 eggs, the man in front of me in the queue brushed past my arm. ‘Oh I’m so sorry’ he said, ‘oh no it’s quite alright’ I said and I thought that would be the end of our interaction. I was wrong.

‘Oh look you’ve done something to your arm as well’ he said pointing at my PICC, ‘what’s wrong with you?’ I should have of course lied, but I didn’t. ‘I’ve got cancer’ I said.

It was horribly awkward for me, him and the shop assistant. He then said ‘I’m going to rub your back to make it better’ and he proceeded to do so. Really he shouldn’t have done that, he should have just left!

Anyway if you wish for a guide on how to talk to strangers, just avoid doing as the man did in the Denvilles Co-op.

the day I had some assistants…


So I was lucky enough to be visited by the lovely Lal and I decided I’d have to whip up something pretty special for supper. Pasta I thought – how hard can it be? Quite hard it turns out and so the pasta very much became a team effort with overall pleasing results.

We made the Hairy Biker’s Butternut Squash ravioli and it was so tasty. The recipe is a bit fussy so we made a few amendments.

Top tips:

1) 500g of butternut squash is a piddly small amount. The average butternut squash it turns out has a fighting weight of about 1.3kg so if you are going to cook for people with an appetite, just weigh your butternut squash and scale up the amount of pasta dough to suit.

2) If you are going to make your pasta in a blender (which is a good idea) then do use the dough hook attachment and not the cutting attachment. If you use the cutting attachment you may find that you break your Mum’s Magimix – Sorry Mum and thank heaven for the 3 year guarantee.

3) I couldn’t really understand what the hairy bikers were talking about when they talked about ‘marking circles in the dough without cutting’ and ‘lifting sheets on sheets’. It all would have made it very complicated. Much simpler to roll dough, cut circles and repeat until there is no more dough to roll.

4) The recipe suggested garnishing your ravioli with sundried tomatoes and sage. We decided that bacon lardons were much better.

5) The hairy bikers did not make a sauce for their ravioli and it would have been very dry without sauce. We had quite a lot of extra butternut squash filling left after we had filled the pasta so I put the butternut squash filling into a saucepan, warmed through, and added chicken stock until it reached a saucy consistency. It was great.

et voila – une tarte tatin…


APPLES – I was very kindly given lots of them, fresh from the garden, so a Tarte Tatin made sense. I always worry with garden apples that you are going to find a grub but these were thankfully grub free.

Making a Tarte Tatin I thought I had to go properly French and Raymond Blanc’s recipe seemed suitably French enough.

The recipe was great – really easy to follow and it worked so that it also a bonus.

Top tips:

1) An apple corer is an amazing kitchen gadget and really useful for coring the apples.

2) It says to freeze the pastry after you have rolled it – turns out the rolled out pastry wouldn’t fit into my freezer so putting it into the fridge worked fine.

3) Use a wooden spoon to bang on the tin and make sure the tarte has really freed itself when you are turning it out onto the plate.


How do you make a swiss roll…

So, on the whole, I intend to have a go at the technical challenge – the recipes are all available on the website This week however I was lacking a bundt tin and quite fancied having a go at making a swiss roll. Diana’s Lemon Curd swiss roll looked particularly tasty and here is her recipe:

Diana takes inspiration from her mother’s Sunday tea and serves a light Swiss roll filled with homemade lemon curd.


For the lemon curd
For the sponge

Preparation method

  1. For the lemon curd, put the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice into a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (ensure the bowl does not touch the water). Stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. When the sugar is dissolved, add the beaten eggs and continue to heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  3. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Grease and line a 26x40cm/10½x16in baking tray with baking parchment.
  4. Place a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the eggs and sugar to the bowl and whisk until lukewarm (don’t overheat the mixture). Remove bowl and whisk until the mixture is very thick and leaves trails when the whisk is removed. Fold in the sifted flour using a metal spoon.
  5. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking tray and place on the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
  6. Lay a large piece of greaseproof paper or a tea towel on the work surface and dust with sugar. Tip out the cake onto the dusted paper/tea towel and carefully remove the baking parchment.
  7. Spread the, still warm, lemon curd evenly over the sponge.
  8. Position the cake with one of the short ends nearest to you. Make a cut across the width of the sponge about 1cm/½in in and about three-quarters of the way through the depth of the sponge (this will help you roll up the sponge). Tightly roll up the sponge starting at the nearest edge and using the paper/tea towel to help you. Set aside to cool.
  9. Before serving, trim the ends of the roll to create a neat finish and dust with a little extra sugar, if desired.

This therefore is the theory, the next post will detail what happened in practice…

The roll and the wig…

IMG_8393 IMG_8401 IMG_8407 IMG_8422

I started, as instructed, with the curd. Lovely and lemony but reluctant to thicken. Despite my persistent stirring it didn’t really thicken at all. Very hard to judge what thick means so I thought perhaps it would thicken upon cooling.

The creation of the sponge was quite straightforward and very satisfying. Diana’s recipe advises spreading the curd on the still warm sponge and then rolling. The curd however was still not thick and I thought I’d roll the sponge empty and give the curd yet more time in the fridge to chill and hopefully thicken.

This gave me time to go to see the wig lady. I’ve not yet lost my hair and I’ve been told it may not happen but I want to be prepared just in case. The wig lady was very friendly but as it turns out totally unprepared for a Corney head. No wig would fit, despite her determined stretching and tugging, nothing in her collection could be found to do anything more than crest like an awkward toupee on my head. ‘This has never happened before’ she said. ‘I’ve never seen anyone with a head as big as yours’ and ‘it doesn’t look that big’. So stressed was she by the whole debacle she started to break out into a hot flush and apologised for a ‘wasted journey’. There was no waste here; Mum and I had such a giggle. She has offered to see if they can order in a ‘special wig’. Here is to hoping that it doesn’t come to that and my hair sticks around!

So post wig it was definitely time for tea and time for swiss roll assembly. The curd still hadn’t thickened but I pressed on anyway and slopped the curd over the roll. If I was to make the roll again I would find another curd recipe or add corn flour to make sure it did thicken. As much of the curd oozed out of the roll it ended up being a little dry but Mum and Rosie went back for a second slice so it can’t have been that bad.