Holidays, Unemployment and Strawberry Prosecco Cupcakes

On Tuesday evening I left hospital after my last shift and entered temporary unemployment which so far I am thoroughly enjoying. It has only been a day and a half though.

It’s been a busy few months with revising for exams on top of end of year assessments and working on a rota with more holes than Swiss cheese. I did however get to go away with my family and hang out on the beach with my nephews who were mostly adorable. I also got to try skimboarding for the first time which was a lot of fun but largely involved me falling off and getting a face full of water.


After the holiday I got back to my last few weeks on cardiology and my last few weeks of core medical training. We made the decision a while back to take a year out of training before I apply for a registrar job so we’ve been looking at various options and I’m very excited to say I have accepted a job in New Zealand! We are hoping to move out there at the end of October for around 7-8 months.

To say thank you to the cardiology ward I made these:

Strawberry and Prosecco Cupcakes


For the sponge

  • 175 g butter or margarine
  • 175 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175 g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp Prosecco extract


  • 2 cups fresh strawberries (diced)
  • 1/3 cup (100g) sugar
  • 2 tbs cornflour mixed with 2 tsp warm water

For the buttercream

  • 400 g icing sugar
  • 200 g butter or margarine
  • 2 tsp Prosecco extract


  • Fresh strawberries


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/Gas Mark 4, and line a tin with cupcake cases

  2. To make the sponge: cream together the butter and caster sugar until fluffy

  3. Add the eggs and prosecco extract, and whisk everything together until smooth

  4. Add the flour and whisk again

  5. Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

  6. Meanwhile make the filling: dice the strawberries and put them in a small pan over a medium heat for about 4-5 minutes , stirring constantly.
  7. Add the sugar and cornflour and stir until thickened. Remove from the heat
  8. When the cupcakes are cooked, cut out a hole from the centre of each cake using a sharp knife and fill the hole with the strawberry filling
  9. To make the icing: mix the butter and prosecco extract together and add the icing sugar. Mix until smooth
  10. Lastly add the icing to the top of the cupcakes and add half a fresh strawberry to the top for decoration.
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Posted by on August 2, 2018 in Uncategorized


Mince Pie Flapjacks and Mental Health Doodles

It’s been a long time since I last blogged – almost a year! As yesterday was #timetotalk day for mental health awareness this is a special blog on mental health. I’m trying to be more honest about the fact that I have mental health problems, particularly as I’ve recently had to have some time off work because of it, but I still struggle to find the right words sometimes. Recently I’ve started drawing and doodling a lot so here are some of my doodles on mental health.


This recipe is something I made for work for our ‘baking Fridays’. If, like me, can’t resist the urge to buy loads of reduced price mincemeat at this time of year (or have mincemeat left over from Christmas) but can’t quite bring yourself to bake actual mince pies, this is a great recipe.

Mince Pie Flapjacks

mince pie flapjacks


  • 150g sugar
  • 150g butter or margerine
  • 150g golden syrup
  • 410g jar mincemeat
  • 500g oats
  • Pumpkin or sunflower seeds (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease and line a large baking tin (mine was 12 by 9″)
  2. Heat the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan until melted
  3. Transfer to a large bowl and add in the oats, mincemeat and seeds (if using)
  4. Mix together well and tip into the baking tin, flattening it down with the back of a spoon
  5. Bake in the oven for 20mins or until just brown at the edges
  6. Cut into pieces while still warm then leave to cool.


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Posted by on February 2, 2018 in Uncategorized


Winter and Piña Colada Cake

Hello there readers, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything so I figure it’s about time I told you about my life and new baking inventions. As it’s been so long I thought I’d just give you a few highlights from the last few months:


  • We moved into our new house! We are now officially homeowners like real grownups. And as real grownups we unpacked the essentials first, like the nerf guns and the trampoline. . .
  • img-20170205-wa0000

    Living room


    Our new house!


  • Christmas: we spent Christmas day with family in York including Christmas dinner in my nana-in-law’s sheltered flats for around 20 people including 3 elderly people who had nowhere to go on Christmas. It was chaos but wonderful chaos.
  • I also got to cut my sister’s ‘gender reveal’ cake  which was yellow on the outside (complete with icing sperm on it) and either pink or blue in the middle. It was a complete surprise for me but sadly the rest of my family found out early because Percy had told them how he made a blue cake. Never trust a toddler to keep a secret.

The Hastings Clan


Gender reveal cake. It looked more blue in real life.


  • Last week after 6 months on the infectious diseases ward I said goodbye to the team and have moved on to the elderly care ward. ID was chaos at times but I saw a huge variety of interesting conditions and I got on really well with the staff there so I was sad to leave. As a thank you I decided to bake something for the ward. I’m not quite sure where this idea came from but I really liked the thought of doing a piña colada cake (pineapple, coconut and rum) so I had a couple of trial runs to try and work out a recipe. This is version 3.0:

Piña Colada Cake



  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup liquidized pineapple (I used 1 can of tinned pineapple)
  • 1/4 cup of rum (I used Morgans spiced rum)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease a cake tin. I used an 18 inch tin with a loose bottom.
  2. Mixed the sugar and butter together until smooth
  3. Add the tinned pineapple (without the juice) to a blender and blend until smooth
  4. Add the pineapple, rum, eggs and desiccated coconut and mix well (it will look separated at this point but don’t worry).
  5. Fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until combined
  6. Add the mixture to the cake tin and bake at 180 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean
  7. Share

P.s. the icing I made is butter, rum, lime juice and icing sugar but I didn’t measure quantities I’m afraid. I tend to just add things until it looks the right consistency!


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Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Uncategorized


Mountain Bike Mishaps and Night Shift Granola Bars

Last week we both had a week of annual leave and took a trip to Liverpool, Scotland and then York to get away for a bit. We started off in Liverpool for my nephew Percy’s second birthday party which was a wonderful chaos of children, food and a multitude of toys. Percy seems to be enjoying himself but got a bit scared of Elisha when he decided to wear all of the party hats at once. I can’t understand why.


After the party we headed to Scotland to stay in a place called ‘the rural retreat’ which turned out to be someone’s house turned B&B run by a lovely couple and a rather excitable dog. There were various activity places nearby so we decided to try out mountain biking on one of the days. Elisha has been mountain biking before but I was definitely a beginner so we followed the advice of the bike hire man and did some easier blue trails before we went for the fun looking red trail. Maybe I got a bit too confident though because coming down the red trail I tried a small jump. I landed ok but then veered off spectacularly into a rock and was thrown head first over the handlebars with my bike landing on top of me. Unfortunately we were still near the top of the trail with no other way down I had to carry on cycling, very cautiously now, down to the bottom. I was worried I’d fractured my scaphoid bone so we took a detour to Perth A&E to get it checked out. Thankfully it was fine so we headed back feeling battered and bruised but grateful I didn’t have to wear a cast for the next 6 weeks!


On our final weekend of annual leave we went to York and did more walking, this time with family including our 2 year old niece who did an impressive job of walking up steps that were nearly bigger than her. Saturdays walk ended in a steam train ride and a tea and cake stop which was a significant improvement on the A&E stop from earlier in the week. Sundays walk also had a good stop – a tree that was brilliant for climbing as well as being full of apples. We walked back with several bags of free apples which we’d managed to remove from the tree with a combination of my climbing and Elisha’s mum’s boat hook.


Before our week of leave I had a run of night shifts which always fills me slightly with dread because I usually feel like a zombie by the end of the week. I’m never quite sure what food to take on night shifts because I no idea what i’m going to fancy eating at 3am. I usually take a sandwich and try and convince my body that it’s lunch time but what I actually feel like is something between breakfast cereal and overly greasy takeaway food like the kind you often end up eating after a night out. So in an attempt to be healthy this week, I’ve made these nutty oat bars. They are closer to a breakfast cereal than a takeaway but that’s probably a good thing.


Night Shift Granola Bars



  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts, roughly chopped (I used almonds but walnuts or peanuts are also good)
  • 1/2 cup seeds (I used sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup of pitted dates (a well packed cup)
  • 1/4 maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter


  1. Heat you oven to 175 degrees and toast the oats and almonds for 15 minutes until pale golden brown
  2. Put the dates into a food processor and mix until they form a kind of ball of date dough (a word of advice – I tried doing this with a hand blender and ended up decorating the kitchen with pieces of date. Use a food processor).
  3. At the oats, nuts, seeds and dates into a large bowl and put to one side
  4. In a small pan, heat the maple syrup and peanut butter until melted together
  5. Pour the syrup/peanut butter mix into the bowl and mix together with the oats etc
  6. Line a baking tin with clingfilm and tip the mixture into the tin and press down
  7. Cover the top with cling film and press down again with something flat (I used a munchkin game box but a good hardback book is probably better)
  8. Refrigerate for about half an hour, then chop into bars (I chopped then into 12 bars)
  9. Share around.
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Posted by on October 31, 2016 in Uncategorized


Medicine, Mortgages and Mango Cake

Hello again. It’s been a while since I wrote on this blog as we had a different one for our adventures in Papua New Guinea (see if you’re interested). We are now back in the UK and settling into our new home in Bradford with the crazy Ewbanks who we are staying with while we look at buying a house. I temporarily regressed into a child when we got back from PNG and spend a wonderful 2 weeks playing with my nieces and nephews, doing handstands and drawing smiley faces on other people’s feet.

me and percy

Me and Percy on the beach



The Hastings clan let loose with sharpies

Now though I have reluctantly returned to the world of adulthood to start my new job in infectious diseases and do really grown up things like applying for a mortgage. Admittedly I am super excited by the prospect of owning our own house but I’d rather we could just skip all the boring paperwork and get the the house-owning bit. The job however is going great. I have an amazing team, a slightly crazy collection of patients and a chance to use my new found tropical medicine experience. Last week we had 2 cases of malaria, 1 case of TB, 1 case of HIV and a mysterious febrile illness in a returning traveler that we never quite got to the bottom of. It was probably just flu but I’d like to think it was something exotic.

Outside of work I have started aerial silks again, attempted to sew an ereader cover, tried out a new church (which has a starbucks in it – what’s with that?!) and played many board games with my new housemates. I also seem to have made friends with the house cat who is very needy and won’t let me read without sitting on my shoulder. I’m considering getting a restraining order.


My recent sewing projects – an ereader cover and a washbag

So to the cake. This mango and coconut cake was made purely because we had half a tin of mango pulp that needed using up and I was in a baking mood. If you can’t get hold of tinned mango pulp (or would prefer using fresh mangoes) you can mash up fresh mangoes instead and add an extra 1/2 cup of sugar.

Mango and Coconut Cake


Tasty mango cake with a cup of tea in my favorite ‘tea-rex’ mug


  • 1 1/2 cups of sweetened mango pulp (or fresh mangoes – see above)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees and grease a baking tin
  2. Add the mango, margarine and sugar and mix well with a spoon or electric mixer until fluffy
  3. Add in the eggs and mix again
  4. Fold in the flour, bicarb and grated coconut
  5. Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until risen and springy
  6. Eat! Hot with cream or cold with a cup of tea, both are good.



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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Uncategorized


Leaving Liverpool with Chocolate Coconut Cake

Well this is it. Our house is empty, our suitcases are packed and my last shift is finished. We are preparing to say goodbye to Liverpool and fly out to New Zealand and then Papua New Guinea where we will be volunteering at Rumginae hospital for 5 months. We’re so excited!



Rumginae hospital


I haven’t written a blog for months so I will sum up the last few months. I have been working on a winter pressures/clinical pharmacology ward for the last few months which started off horrendously stressful as it was just me and a consultant covering a 24-bedded ward; however once the staffing levels improved it was a lot of fun. I have seen a wonderful variety of conditions, seen patients in the infectious diseases clinic, laughed, cried, went on strike and become fit enough to walk up the 9 flights of stairs to our ward without collapsing.

We had a bit of a shock recently when Elisha became ill and was admitted to hospital. He was breathless and feverish and I took him in expecting it to be a chest infection but we quickly discovered he was actually in DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) – a serious complication of diabetes. Neither of us had any idea that he had diabetes so it came as a bit of a shock! He is doing well now and getting used to taking insulin and we are very grateful to the diabetes nurses who have been helping him work out how we can still go to Papua New Guinea.

To celebrate our trip and say thank you to my lovely colleagues I made a chocolate and coconut cake:


Here is the recipe:


  • 275g caster sugar
  • 175g margarine
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g coconut yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 225f self-raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the icing:

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 100g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 200g icing sugar
  • Desiccated coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease (+/- line)
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth
  3. Add in the eggs one by one and mix
  4. Add the yoghurt and vanilla essence
  5. Fold in the cocoa, flour and bicarbonate of soda
  6. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 minutes
  7. Once it’s cooled, make the icing
  8. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of boiling water
  9. Stir in the vanilla essence and icing sugar
  10. Spread the icing over the cake and cover with desiccated coconut
  11. Share and enjoy
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Posted by on February 22, 2016 in Uncategorized


Endings, Beginnings and Apple and Mincemeat Strudel.

Well that’s it. I’ve finished my diploma in tropical medicine. I can’t believe how fast 3 months has gone! I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and learnt about everything from HIV and malaria to loa loa (the worm that crawls across your eye), the plague, ebola, O’nyong nyong, and cats that mess with your brain. We’ve looked at worms down a microscope, written limericks about HIV, sung songs about schistosomiasis and had presentations about leo the lepradillo. The exams may have been a bit stressful but I would thoroughly recommend the course to anyone.

We been in full celebration mode since exams finished; on Monday by 70 of us cramming into an amazing Greek restaurant called Zorbas which was total chaos but a lot of fun. Last night we had ‘international night’ with champagne, awards, amazing Senegalese food, a Senegalese band and our very own LSTM band called the Leishmanias.


I feel sad to be finishing the course and leaving all the incredible people I have met here but we have exciting new things to come. Firstly I’m starting a new job on Monday on the infectious diseases unit and clinical pharmacology unit in Liverpool. It’s a really exciting opportunity which just sort of fell into my lap but I am very grateful for! Secondly we are going to Papua New Guinea! We have been in contact with a hospital called Rumingae out there who have said they would love to have us in the new year. Its a small 60 bed hospital seemingly in the middle of the jungle where I will being going out as a general medical doctor and Elisha will be doing a variety of things to help out round the hospital from IT to handyman jobs. I think he needs a cool job title like chief of miscellaneous stuff. Suggestions on a postcard for a better alternative. We’ll be there from March till July 2016.

This recipe is my celebrating-the-end-of-exams desert that is an amalgamation of a BBC and a Nigella recipe.

Apple and Mincemeat Strudel

IMG_20151125_082344962 (2)


  • 2 large cooking apples
  • 1 jar of mincemeat (411g)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar plus 1 tbsp for sprinkling on top
  • 1 egg or milk for brushing the top
  • 500g packet of puff pastry
  • Optional – 1 tbsp alcohol (I used a berry liqueur I bought from a roadside stall in Montenegro. You probably can’t get hold of that though).


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Peel and core the apples and chop into large chunks
  3. Add the mincemeat, spices, lemon juice, sugar (and alcohol if using) and stir together
  4. Roll out the pastry to approximately 30 by 45 cm with the short age facing you
  5. Lay the filling down the centre leaving 8-10 cm either side of the filling and 1-2cm at either end
  6. Now you get to make the lattice: starting at the top cut a line on each side of the filling leaving about 0.5cm between the end of your line a the filling. Cut another line 1-2cm further down. Now cut a line 0.5cm further down and remove the 0.5cm strip you’ve just made. Continue that pattern all the way down both sides of the pastry until you have a comb-like pattern.
  7. Next take each strip of pastry and cross them over the filling to create a lattice pattern. Fold the top and bottom ends in.
  8. Brush the top with egg/milk and 1 tbsp sugar and cook for 20-25 minutes until the top has browned.




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Posted by on November 26, 2015 in Uncategorized