Recipe: Carrot, Apple & Cashew Soup

Carrot apple cashew soup header

This weekend’s recipe is another scrumptious and super-nutritious soup based on one in my original Cranks recipe book. I can’t recommend this tasty concoction highly enough – I was a bit doubtful about the addition of nuts, but they add a lovely flavour and a delicious velvety texture. I am afraid I used chicken stock again, but vegetable stock will work just as well. I really recommend giving it a try.

Carrot apple cashew soup 2

Carrot, Apple & Cashew Soup

  • Servings: 4-6 delicious bowlfuls
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  • 500g carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 large cooking apple
  • 25g butter
  • 25g extra virgin coconut oil (or an extra 25g butter)
  • 1 litre stock of your choice
  • 50g cashews
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Prepare the veg and fruit according to your preference (I scrape the carrots, peel the potato and potato, and just core the apple, leaving the skin on). Chop roughly.
  • Melt the coconut oil and butter (or butter if you don’t use coconut oil) gently in a large pan, then add the fruit and veg and sautée for about 5 minutes, stirring now and then.
  • Add all the other ingredients, bring to a gentle simmer and then cook, covered, for about 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and use a stick blender or goblet blender to blend the soup, then reheat gently to serve.

Carrot apple cashew soup 1

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See my recipe index for more Very Berry soups and other goodies.

Winter Comforts Artist Trading Card Swap: Round up

So, pretty much everyone has sent their card for the 8th round of the Very Berry Artist Trading Card Swap, and lots of people have received them too – hopefully it won’t be long until everyone has a card! Thanks, as ever to all who took part, and thanks especially to the lovely folks who wrote guest blog posts, and the two the very very lovely people who sent Angel cards this time round – you are so much appreciated, and make this swap a pleasure to run.

I wanted to share some of the beautiful cards that were swapped this time. There were beautiful birds, cosy fires and armchairs, fluffy cats and dogs, winter woollies, snowy fun and hot cups of tea (and cake!):

Blue tit at a feeder by Sherry
Keeping each other warm by Bekki
Snuggly owls by Ann
Fireside cat by Sue
Reading by the fireside by my namesake Ali
Cosy armchair by Catherine
An armchair by the window by Dianne
Afternoon tea by Larisa
A fluffy tea cosy by Paula
A wintry walk with dog by Karen
Snowy fun by Betti

Hope you’ve all had a great time swapping along – you can find lots more ATCs in our Very Berry ATC swap Flickr group. If anyone wants to join up with the next one, keep a look out after Easter for the next swap sign ups.

Introducing my new sponsor: Black Sheep Wools

Black Sheep WoolsI’d really like to welcome Black Sheep Wools as my new blog sponsor. If you are a knitter, crocheter or stitcher you will already know Black Sheep Wools as a fantastic place to go for yarn, threads, patterns, hooks, needles, cross stitch supplies and more. If you can drag yourself away from all that gorgeous fluff and stitchy goodness, the great news is that they’ve recently started stocking fabric too, so it’s definitely somewhere to bookmark to your list of great fabric shops. They stock fabrics by lots of favourites, including Denyse Schmidt, Nel Whatmore, Tim Holtz and Tina Givens. Amongst my favourites, they have loads of lovely Kaffe Fassett:

Black Sheep Wools Kaffe

There are also fabrics from Michael Miller (these are from the Sodalicious collection by Emily Herrick – but there’s lots more):

Black Sheep Wools MM

And from the epically on-trend Tula Pink:

Black Sheep Wools Tula

If batiks are your thing, they have a lovely range from Sew Simple and a really useful range of good value solids from Sew Simple too. Postage is a flat rate of just £2.50 with free delivery on orders over £25, which is just excellent value. Speaking of value, they also have regular offers, and lots of things going on (including fantastic workshops at their Craft Barn near Culcheth in Lancashire, and a great café too!), so it is definitely worth following them on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, so you can stay up to date with all that’s going on.

Black Sheep Wools have great plans for their fabric, haberdashery and notions range going forward, so I’m so excited to be working with them, and am especially excited that they’ve commissioned me to design some exclusive patterns for them later in the year. I’ll keep you posted on those!  Thanks to all at Black Sheep Wools (they’re such lovely people) for sponsoring me here on Very Berry – it’s hugely appreciated.

Recipe: Sticky Ginger Cake

Ginger cake header

Here’s a lovely recipe for sticky ginger cake that I’ve adapted from an old recipe book belonging to my mum. I’ve tweaked it a bit so there’s less sugar and syrup, the original recipe calls for 50g of golden syrup, and replaced this with 25g of maple syrup and 25g of honey; the sugar (only 30g) I have leave out entirely. I also substitute 20g of the plain white flour with 20g protein powder to add some extra nutrition for my kids – feel free to ignore this if you like.

Ginger cake 3

The dreadful thing about this cake is that, once it is made, you HAVE to leave it for 2 to 3 days to develop the necessary stickiness and flavour. It is a painful experience to have to wrap it up and put it away – try to have another cake ready to distract you in the meantime ;-)

The recipe calls for a 6 inch by 9 inch rectangular baking tin – mine is a square 8 inch version and it worked perfectly well, try to keep within an inch or 2 either way, and you may have to cook for a little longer if your tin is on the small side, and a little less time if you have a bigger shallower cake.

Ginger cake 2

I have baked this a few times and it is a very liquid cake batter, so the sultanas always sink to the bottom. I am tempted to rename it sultana and ginger upside down cake… unless anyone can come up with a solution?

Sticky Ginger Cake

  • Servings: 12-16 slices
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  • 80g plain white flour
  • 20g hemp protein powder (like this one)
  • 100g plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 level tsp mixed spice
  • 3 level tsp ground ginger
  • 100g sultanas (optional)
  • 100g butter
  • 50g maple syrup
  • 50g honey
  • 100g black treacle or molasses
  • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 280ml milk
  • 1 egg


  • Line your baking tray with baking parchment and preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
  • Sift the flour, protein powder and spices into a large mixing bowl (just throw the bran that’s left in the sieve into the mix when you are done – you are adding air rather than sifting for debris!). Stir in the sultanas.
  • Melt the butter, maple syrup, honey and treacle very gently over a low heat – don’t bring to the boil, just heat gently. Stir into the dry ingredients.
  • Heat the milk very gently until just warm, then stir in the bicarbonate of soda – make sure the soda dissolves or you will get white lumps in your cake. Beat the egg into the milk and soda mix, then pour it into the prepared mixture and beat  until you have a smooth batter which is the consistency of double/heavy cream.
  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-45 mins depending on the size of the tin you’ve used and your oven temperature. If the middle of the cake is still a bit wet whilst the top is done, you can protect the crust from getting burnt by laying a piece of foil over the top of the tin. The cake is done when it is springy to the touch.
  • Cool slightly in the tin, then turn out onto a wire tray and remove the baking parchment. Wrap in greaseproof paper and/or foil and hold yourself back from cutting into it for at least 2 days.

Ginger cake 1

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For more recipes – including more delicious cakes – do visit my directory of Very Berry recipes.