Life Lately | It’s All About the Bake, About the Bake

life through a lens

Life Lately has been all about baking and getting ready by testing ideas/recipes for Thanksgiving, which – hello – is just around the corner! I will be cooking my first Thanksgiving meal at home as the previous two were spent eating out … I have my list ready and am keen to try making some new things. There may be a British twist to my Thanksgiving food … I am still pondering …

What have you been up to lately?

baking life

Recipes available  for (top): oat crumble topped vanilla cupcakes with raspberry filling and seriously moist chocolate cake

Recipes coming soon (bottom): peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies and apple pie bites


Legalising Marijuana in Ohio

legalising marijuana in ohio graphic

Yesterday the results, within Ohio, on Issue 2 and Issue 3 (essentially a vote on whether to legalise marijuana) came in … Ohio voted not to legalise.

I spent some time talking to people around me about what they thought about these issues, and most of them shared with me that they want marijuana to be legalised for recreational and medicinal usage. The people I talked to were few in number, but there does seem to be some good dialogue in general around the country, especially in the light of the 20+ states who have already legalised marijuana and the possible medical and taxation benefits that could come with it.

Issue 3 was about legalising having one ounce of marijuana for personal and/or medical use and for a person to grow (a restricted number) and sell up to eight ounces of the stuff from homegrown plants with the use of a license. It also covered having ten designated marijuana plant growing farms/facilities, under various guidelines, that would commercially produce and sell to nonprofit medical dispensaries, manufacturers and retail stores. This was where Issue 2 came in, as the ten designated marijuana growing facilities created concern that an overwhelming power and financial gain would be in the hands of the few, possibly enabling monopolies, oligopolies or cartels to maybe get exclusive financial or tax gains.

Interestingly, the people of Ohio who made their mark, voted as follows:

- results from 13 abc -

– results from 13 abc

I know a few people who were very confused about the wording of Issues 2 and 3 and that may well have had an impact on how they voted and the end results as some people I spoke to want marijuana to be legal but do not think a potential monopoly in the hands of the few designated facilities was a good idea – so although making marijuana legal was not passed (by a margin of 800,000+) the issue of whether voters wanted to prohibit monopolies – which they did – was fairly close with just 97,000+ votes in it. There was a lot of discussion around these issues, and it was fascinating to talk to and hear what people had to say – and to see what the results showed.

I am left with a question though – was the vote to keep marijuana illegal down to whether the voters do not think it should be legal for recreational or medicinal use, or because they do not want a few facilities and groups having control over it? Has there been enough done to explain the medicinal benefits of marijuana, or the concerns around its use?

As ever, I would love to hear your thoughts. Are you in Ohio or one of the states that already have marijuana legalised? What is your opinion?

My American Kitchen: Oat Crumble Topped Vanilla & Raspberry Cupcakes

oat crumble topped vanilla & raspberry cupcakes graphic

Ingredients (makes 8):

2 large eggs

soft margarine – same weight as the eggs

all purpose flour, sifted – same weight as the eggs

baker’s/caster sugar – same weight as the eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp baking powder

raspberry jam for filling

Oat Crumble Topping:

1oz margarine, melted

1oz porridge oats

1.5oz all-purpose flour

1.5oz soft brown sugar

** Melt the margarine then add the other ingredients and stir over a medium heat until well combined. Leave for a few minutes (removed from the heat) before placing on top of the cupcakes – making sure to break up into small crumbles with a fork before you do.

- jam spooned on top of each cupcake -

– jam spooned on top of each cupcake –


Heat oven to 325 F

Weigh the eggs

Line cupcake tin with cupcake cases – I removed mine once I placed the cupcakes on the cooling rack as I found they had got a little greasy from the margarine used for the crumble topping so do not use fancy, expensive cases

Weigh out the sugar, margarine and flour to the same weight as the eggs

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside

In another bowl, using a electric whisk/mixer, cream together the sugar, margarine and vanilla essence until fluffy

- cases removed to finish cooling -

– cases removed to finish cooling –

Add one egg with one tablespoon of the flour to the electric mixer and combine – do this for the second egg

Add the rest of the flour but do not use the electric mixer – instead fold it in very gently until it is all mixed in

Make oat crumble (**see above for directions)

Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases – I found I could make 8

Spoon a moderately heaped teaspoon of raspberry jam on the top of each cupcake

Cover the top with some of the oat crumble

- raspberry filled vanilla cupcakes with oat crumble topping -

– raspberry filled vanilla cupcakes with oat crumble topping –

Place in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browning and mixture seems firm

Remove from oven and let cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out on to a cooling rack and remove the cupcake cases

Leave to cool fully then enjoy with a cup of Yorkshire tea (or other beverage of your choosing)!

What do you think? If you have a go at this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

Presidential Race 2016: Viral Social Media Trend?

presidential race 2016 social media graphic

I am still watching the 2016 Presidential Race with much interest, and learning a lot about the policies and issues that some are running on, and a little bit more about how this country works.

There is still much to learn and get my head around, but it is a process I am really enjoying educating myself about.

With that said there has been one, less serious aspect to the race that I think is pretty great. I am not aware of the same kind of involvement in this type of thing in the UK – but please correct me if I am wrong – but the candidates seem to be courting popular social media or comedy with quite a lot of gusto.

This is not so new, I am sure, but I think the way they have embraced popular comedy and media has a slightly fresher feel than of old. There was always the odd appearance by some politician to show they were the every man/woman, usually failing abysmally, but lately there has been a few stand out television appearances by some of the top 2016 Presidential race candidates that have been really good.

I usually watch these things with toe-curling embarrassment. Politicians in the UK can be fairly self-deprecating, but I do not recall anything quite like this.

The videos I have included in this post go to highlight a little bit of what I mean, but since I am curious to make connections with people, especially around America (but also around the globe) I was wondering a few things:

Does this kind of popular media appearance help or hinder the politician involved?

Do you want to see your Presidential candidate with a sense of humour and slow jamming the news?

Do you think it detracts from the policies they are running on or is a good way of reaching out to the nation?

I for one have really enjoyed watching the various appearances, but as a non-voter, I would like to hear from those people who will be marking a ballot paper when the time comes, to find out your thoughts on the candidates who have courted this type of media outlet.

Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

My American Kitchen: Easy, Moist Chocolate Cake

easy moist chocolate cake graphic

Goodness, I have been busy, but not so busy I could not spend time getting this recipe for a seriously delicious, wonderfully moist, and super treat-tastic chocolate cake perfected.

This recipe uses plain yogurt, which creates a really great texture, and was inspired by the Biscoff Cupcakes I tried out … enjoy!


1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cocoa powder (I used drinking chocolate)

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup baker’s sugar (very fine/caster)

½ cup plain yogurt

2 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

easy moist chocolate cake recipe 1


Pre heat oven to 350°F

Grease and line the bottom of an 8in square tin (you can make cupcakes instead)

In a bowl, sieve and mix together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda – set aside

In a mixer on low, beat together until well incorporated, the butter, sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract (it will look very runny – do not worry)

Add a ¼ of the flour mix at a time, and mix on medium until well incorprated – repeat for the rest of the flour mix

Pour into square baking tin and then bake on middle shelf of oven for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of cake

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove cake and place on a wire rack to cool completely (you can then add your desired topping/icing etc)


easy moist chocolate cake recipe 2

**I topped mine with a simple chocolate drizzle made by gently melting ½ cup chocolate chips with 3 tbsp of milk then slowly adding 1/3 cup sieved confectioner’s sugar – adding another tablespoon of milk, and repeating until I got the consistency I liked**

What do you think? If you have a go at this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

Is Being Muslim Inconsistent with the Principles of the United States?

ben carson muslim president comment graphic

There seems to be so much to discuss with regards to the Presidential Race 2016 that I find myself writing about it again, this time not about Donald Trump and his Trumpisms, but Ben Carson and his comment about the possibility of a Muslim becoming President of the United States.

For those of you living under a rock, Ben Carson (Republican candidate) was asked by Fox News’ Sean Hannity if faith should matter to voters. This was his response:

If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.

Ben Carson Fox News Interview Sept 20th 2015

On the face of it this seems to be a reasonable response as no country would want someone in office who did not have the interests of the people and principles of that country (the Constitution – in the case of the U.S.) at the core of why they are running or wish to lead. However, the last time I checked, this country is made up of all manner of religious beliefs and faiths, and under the constitutionally protected First Amendment, are you not free to practise any such religion as you choose? Therefore a President, in theory, could belong to any faith and have the right to do so and run the country?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

First Amendment of the United States

The next question Sean Hannity asked, and the one that has the webbage world in a wobble, was did he [Ben Carson] believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution? The answer that Mr. Carson gave made something very clear – I think he may be confused as to what the Constitution entails …

No, I don’t, I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.

Ben Carson Fox News Interview Sept 20th 2015

The U.S. Constitution, Article VI very clearly states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust … “  so I am pretty sure that becoming the President is covered by this. Maybe Ben Carson needs to check what it is he is principled about and wanting to uphold before he discounts an entire religious faith as unfit to do so.

He did later elaborate that it would be a Muslim who follows Islamic Law, citing the killing of homosexuals and anyone following other religions, and the subservience of woman as being inconsistent with the principles of the United States. While I would not advocate any of these tenets myself from anybody no matter what you believe in and practise, under the Constitution, you have the right to run for President even if you do.

I will not deny that the practises of killing people for their sexuality or alternate faith, the denial or restrictions placed on women in some countries and the various punishments meted out to people is something that I would never condone – but I am pretty sure that there are very few American Muslims who do follow these rules in this country.

Various groups have come out and asked for Ben Carson to step out of the Presidential race as his comments were unconstitutional, often citing Article VI, but I am curious as to what you think about the whole situation.

Do you think there is a misunderstanding about what being a Muslim in America means? Do you think Ben Carson has a valid point? Do you think what he said was un-Constitutional? Should anyone, of any faith, be denied the right to run or become President?

Slice of Americana: Slim Jim

Welcome to my food review blog series Slice of Americana, where I get to try different iconic American foods!

I will be tasting most things for the first time, and will give an honest opinion of all that I consume – it is important to note that, unless stated,  I am not receiving any payment or endorsements of any kind.

With that said, on with my review of . . . Slim Jim

taste test slim jim graphic

The Information

A Slim Jim is a beef, pork and chicken jerky style dried sausage snack that can be found in quite a few countries and seems to be very popular here. I have seen many people tucking in to them enthusiastically and had it recommend to me on a few occasions so thought I would finally give it a try.

General Mills now make it but it all began back in 1928 as the brainchild of Adolph Levis, a businessman and all round snack-tastic gentleman.

There are a few varieties to be found but I went with the mild Slim Jim.

The Taste Test

The idea of eating this jerky type snack was not on the top of my list of things to try, especially since I read the chicken is mechanically separated (I always think pink goop) but as I am not adverse to occasionally chowing down on some truly fake food (waistline agrees) I was happy to try it as I assumed it would be much like pepperoni. It isn’t.

It has a really pleasant snap to it when you bite into it thanks to the casing but after that, the texture all became a bit … well, odd. It was a tiny bit moister than I had anticipated but it all seemed to end up feeling like I was chewing on tissue paper.

I waited for a nice meaty taste to hit my taste buds – but it never happened. I got a salty, slightly nondescript spice like hint. I really cannot think of any way to describe the flavour, other than it was not good.

- the Slim Jim -

– the Slim Jim –

- the inside/texture -

– the inside/texture –

The Verdict

Sorry, Slim Jim aficionados … this American classic snack is just not for me! The snap you get as you bite into it is a plus but the texture and taste are not … sorry.

Have you tried a Slm Jim? Are you a Slim Jim aficionado – think I am missing out on a variety of it that is good? If you have not had one before, do you think you would like it?

What would you like to see me try next?

a slice of americana

Wild Ohio: Insects of Summer

I have been out exploring again, and even though my lovely little digital camera is now on its last lense, I have managed to get some photographs that I am really happy with. I love to just wander around and enjoy looking at a place, and if I can get some great nature shots as a result, all the better!

Fall is very much making an appearance and the pumpkin themed take over has started, so I just had to join in and try a new sample of some pumpkin spiced ale that I think is new to the shelves (review coming soon) …

Enjoy the photographs I have, and if you have any advice about my future camera purchase, leave a comment!

- wasp & pollen -

– wasp & pollen –

- unripened berries -

– unripened berries –

- grasshopper -

– grasshopper –

- beetle and berries -

– beetle and berries –


What wildlife do you like to spot where you live?


Home Decor: A Corner That Is Forever England

expat life home decor graphic

As any expat knows, having things around you from home helps you make your mark on your surroundings. It is a way of saying you are here, you celebrate where you came from and the people or places that have influenced your life thus far.

Home decor should be a collection of things that give a nod to where you were and a look to where you are now … I am not looking to smother my house with British themed items or wrap myself in the Union Jack and regularly burst in to a chorus of ‘Rule Britannia’, but I am trying to create a place that is meaningful to me and something I can share. I like to be able to look at things that trigger a good memory and bring forth a feeling of positivity and happiness.

If you are looking for ideas on what little touches you can make to your own home, this may serve as some kind of inspiration (it is very much work in progress) … or if you may be interested in having your expat home decor featured (with links to your blog if you have one) in a future post on this theme, contact me!

The items I have photographed are just a little look at how I am using home decor to create a little corner of England … a reminder of home as I continue to create a new one.

- apron made by Newlyn Harbour Design Company - full English postcard - Cornish mine clock -

apron from Newlyn Harbour Design Centre || English breakfast postcard || Cornish mine clock

Ok, so I admit there is a bit of a Union Jack attack in my house ...

Union Jack tin by Emma Bridgewater || Best of British detail || Union Jack egg cups

Union Jack Mini with books that belonged to my grandparents || posters of Penzance & London || my handmade bag with a crocheted rose from a dear friend || a bag from Bill Brown London

What decor do you have that is a reminder of home? What little touches do you like to add to a place to make it a home? If you have multi or cross-cultural influences in your life, how do you celebrate them on your home?

Life Lately | Flowers of Ohio

life through a lens

Life Lately has been quite busy with starting (and trying to finish) various projects and ideas and just getting out and about again in the good weather before it turns to autumn/fall, to photograph some of the flowers Ohio has to offer.

The colours of the leaves on some trees has already started to turn and pumpkin spice is already making an appearance in coffees, cakes and anything else you can think of. Something I am very happy about!

What have you been up to lately?

Click on the photographs below for a closer look …

flowers of ohio 1

flowers of ohio 2

flowers of ohio 3