Here's your May 2016 newsletter direct to your inbox from me, Holly Bell. I hope you like it!
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My month


April saw us be 8 years married. We didn't celebrate this year. It's not been a great year all in all. We moved and that was not quite what we thought it would be, then husband lost his job and well, it's just starting to feel a little less stressful. So no dedicated night out. And you know what, I didn't mind. I can't do fake. I won't do fake. Next year will be better!

April did see me have a lovely night out with two of my pals who had babies at the same time I had Lawrence. We went to Crafty Burger. It is SO good. Seriously. I cannot describe the warmth of the service. Do go if you can get in. Booking is almost always essential and it's only open Thurs - Sat eve. (It was so good I have since been back twice in one month!) We tried Grillstock one night and whilst it was good it wasn't Crafty. I think I am addicted! Pudding has often been eaten at Gelato Village. Dosa's at Chettinad have been on the cards more than once. There was lovely cake at No. 8 cafe, baklava at Konak too. (My jeans are a little tight this month).

We were decorating again (and sorry, no finished pics as well, we are still half done. Anyone else living on a building site??) The piano arrived amidst the decorating debris! The boys are enjoying it, although it is not tuned yet. I had my photo taken in a bath of popcorn (keep glued to my Facebook and Insta for the finished pic coming this month). There was a weekend away in Melton to see The Wall of Floyd (clips on Twitter) and a great talk at Oadby Library about how self publishing led to so much for me.

Two other big things happened this month. My first fornightly column for Closer Magazine Online came out (check it out here - there's a little about me and how I approach cooking for a family and also a recipe for the most succulent homemade chicken nuggets you will ever eat). The second big thing is something I have struggled with whether to tell you. But I figure if I don't then I might not do it. This makes it sound much more exciting and indeed grave than it actually is. But here goes; I am planning on selling my brownies online. I am also going to blog about the process. The blog posts will all be on my usual blog but the brownies will be on another site. More coming soon. (Deep breaths Holly, deep breaths...)

In May I am at the Northampton Living Heritage Food and Drink Festival doing demos on the same stage as the wonderful Theo Randall, Phil Vickery, Jean Christophe Novelli and Levi Roots! Ticket info here. (I am there Saturday and Sunday). I am also off to LA again at the end of the month. More on that soon.

In case you missed any of the blog recipes there's been an oaty white loaf, mixed berry parfait, lamb koftas with beetroot hummus, coconut and goji rock cakes, sweetcorn fritters, pork casserole with apple, cottage pie with sweet potato mash and Easter egg rock buns.

Have a great month and I hope you enjoy the rest of the newsletter. 

Love from Holly. x

P.S. If you are reading this from a link on Facebook or Twitter and want to sign up for future newsletters just click here. Remember to check your inbox for a confirmation email and also to add my email to your contacts. Otherwise I could go to spam.
Sneak preview
This recipe won't be available on the blog until June (though it was originally published in my ebook years ago) but I'm sending it to newsletter subscribers ahead of publication. I hope you enjoy it!

Cherry & Amaretto Traybake

Serves about 12

For the cake:
3 large eggs, at room temperature
250g margarine or soft butter
250g self-raising flour
250g caster sugar
3 tbsp semi skimmed or whole milk
1 tsp almond essence
1 tsp baking powder
170g frozen morello cherries (You could use fresh or even glace if you can’t get hold of them.)
6 amaretti biscuits, crushed up in a pestle and mortar until almost crumbs
For the icing:
10mls boiling water
15mls amaretto
120g icing sugar
A dot of red gel food colouring

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C and place the rack in the centre of the oven. Line a traybake tin sized 24cm x 24cm with greaseproof paper. (If you don’t have this size tin then use what you have and reduce the time a little for a larger tin, increase for a smaller tin – it’s all about the thickness of the cake. Use the toothpick test described later to test if the cake is baked.)
  2. Place the eggs, margarine, flour, sugar, milk, almond essence and baking powder into a large bowl and combine until light and creamy using a mixer. This should take about 4 minutes with a mixer. Don’t forget to move the mixer about a lot if it’s a handheld one. You can also use elbow grease and a wooden spoon.
  3. Spoon the frozen cherries through the mixture and then pour into the prepared tin. Level over with the back of a spoon and then sprinkle the crushed biscuits over the top evenly. Bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out of the centre of the cake clean. It may crack a little at the end of baking but don’t worry.
  4. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 20 minutes then ease the cake out of the tin and allow to cool in the greaseproof paper on the wire rack until cool.
  5. Make the icing by mixing all the ingredients together using a metal soon until you have a thin icing to drizzle over the top. I use a teaspoon but I know some people like to pipe their icing. Leave to set, cut and serve.
Blog throwback recipes

One year ago: Strawberry & vanilla cupcakes and Lamb koftas, crunchy coleslaw and hummus and Chicken, potato and aubergine curry and Crunchy pork meatballs and Cinnamon and apricot granola and Refined sugar free apple flapjack.

Two years ago: Carrot, courgette & cheese mini savoury pancakes, Broccoli, cauliflower and pasta cheese, Easy rough puff pastry sausage rolls and Cheesy breadsticks.

Three years ago: Simple chocolate ganache tart, Meringue roses and Flat vanilla cupcakes.

Four years ago: Razzamatazz ribs, Banana and custard cupcakes and After Eight cupcakes.

Five years ago: Banana and custard melts.

In my basket
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Grabbed this 365 Science book after reading rave reviews, plus it was only £5. So far a bit hit as all the experiments we've tried have involved household stuff.

What do you buy for one of your oldest friends? Gin of course! This one is especially delicious and quite traditional in flavour.

I bought A Little Life on my kindle thingy on my iPad a while ago. I'll be honest that it did not immediately grab me. It's the story of a group of friends that spans their whole lives. It felt slow and I am a fast reader, so if I don't feel I am making progress, well I move on. I know this is not my most appealing habit. Anyway, I finally got through it and wow, the last half of the book had me sobbing. Worth the time if you can spare it. Maybe a good holiday read for the summer?

I am in LOVE with my Go Ask Alice Hat. Every hat has unique vintage trimmings meaning nobody else will ever be wearing the same hat as you. And all at £34.99. You can have one made to a brief or let Caitlin make you a surprise. This was a surprise and I adore it. Contact and order through Facebook.

It was a good friends birthday and I found myself back on the Falcon trail again. Can you ever have too many of these? I think not. Love them. These were great value too.
Cookbook corner

I heard Nigella is a fan of Home Cooking so I immediately bought a copy. (Yep, so strong is my devotion and trust of her taste). It's great. Think part story, part food journal. A really great book to read at bedtime or if waiting in the car. I spend my life waiting in the car for various boys to finish various clubs so always keep a book handy.
Holly swears by...
Okay, so I have in the past been very guilty of buying cheap and cheerful bake ware. And some of it has been fine. In fact I think that cheap thin trays are superior for making fancy little macarons (though do I ever make them these days... do I heck!). I recently investing in this swiss roll tin for £14.99 designed by Dame Delia Smith no less. It is incredibly quality. It won't tolerate the dishwasher but I will forgive it that. I love it so. Well worth the investment.
What I've been eating
My pal bought me these from Ocado. They sound WRONG. But she knew how much I love both wasabi and also coconut, and my I am glad she did. These chips are amazing. And oddly my 1 year old loved them too. How strange. His eyes watered but his tummy made him go back in for more. Just £1.40 for 40g from Ocado.

Links you might like:

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you've enjoyed the May newsletter from Recipes from a Normal Mum!

NB: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means I get a few pence if you buy something (anything) from the shop - that money goes back into running this newsletter which isn't free for me to send. All of the recommendations are genuinely personal. If I have been paid to talk about a product I always say so explicitly).
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