It’s that time of year again when a prescription from my doctor lies around for weeks. Every time I look at it I suppress the mental note that says ‘You really need to get this done.’
It’s time for my annual mammogram.
Of course you’re thinking that I’m far too young to need a mammogram and you are right. But my Mum - who I miss so much - shuffled off her mortal, cancer-ridden coil aged 42 and that means that the mammogram people have been all over me for years.
Which sounds way more fun than it is.
But this year I don’t mind (much) about my mammogram. As my husband says ‘It’s all upside; either you have cancer and they’ve caught it early or you don’t have cancer and that’s good, right?’
Not sure he’d be so cavalier if it were his testicles about to be squished...
The other reason I don’t mind is that last year I interviewed Jane Hallenga, Kristin Hallenga’s mum and I realised that I'm fortunate that doctors take my concerns about breast cancer seriously.
Aged 23 Kristin Hallenga was told she had breast cancer. Stage 4 breast cancer, there is no stage 5. And this was after she’d been to two different doctors with a lump in her breast, which was dismissed as ‘hormonal.’
Kris is no ordinary cancer patient. She went through the requisite treatment but also launched a charity to promote breast cancer awareness in young women. With the help of her twin sister Maren and her mum, Jane, www.coppafeel.org came to life.
Here’s a snippet to give you a feel (geddit?) of how they’re different to other cancer charities:
‘At CoppaFeel if we're not bakin' for boobies or bikin' for baps, we're joggin' for jugs or ramblin' for racks. And when we're not doing that, we're just simply hitting the streets and spreading the word. Where there are young people, you're guaranteed to find the CoppaFeel team.’
Kris and her family are an inspiration and so I’ll humbly endure my mammogram this year, thinking of them. (Not thinking of them as they squish my boobs, that would be weird, but generally thinking of them around the time of the procedure...)
And hey, if I DO have breast cancer, do you think I can join Kris’ cool club?
My husband is right, it’s all upside.
You can read my interview with Jane on www.inthepowderroom.com here:
But if you do nothing else today, please watch this clip of Kris receiving an award. Warning: it will probably reduce you to tears, but the word needs to be spread...
Boobie Cake aka ‘Fancy Fruit Cake’
Of course you don’t have to make these cakes in the shape of mammary glands, but it’s quite fun. My darling second daughter stared at the array of decorated cakes I made (see above) and declared innocently that she liked the ones shaped like ‘a baby’s bottle’ best. I need to improve my cake decorating skills...
To make mini cakes you’ll need a fancy cake tin that is square but has an insert that divides the large square tin into mini square cakes. I can't find one online to show you :-( OR you could use ramekins to make round cakes. But you’ll need lots of ramekins. You could also make one whopper cake in a round tin. Up to you.
And of course you don’t have to ice this cake, you can leave it naked and it will still taste yummy. It will also have about a third of the sugar content...
6 tbsps orange juice
1 tsp GF baking powder
1½ tsp mixed spice
200g dark muscovado sugar
Gluten free, Egg free, Dairy free version
Use the ingredient list for 'All versions' plus:
75g potato flour/ corn starch (cornflour)
125g rice flour (or you could use 200g of Doves Farm GF plain flour or other GF mix)
¾ tsp xanthan gum (if using Doves Farm or other pre-mix, possibly reduce this to ½ tsp, but it won’t make much difference)
200g dairy free margarine
Egg replacing mix:
4 heaped tsps of Orgran ‘No egg’ Egg replacer
10 tbsps rice milk
¼ tsp xanthan gum
2 tbsps ground linseeds / flaxseeds
2 tbsps olive oil/other oil
90ml rice milk / other milk
Gluten free with eggs
As for GF/EF/DF version but use 3 large eggs in place of the ‘Egg replacing mix’
Use butter in place of dairy free margarine
With wheat flour
Omit the gluten free flours, use 200g plain wheat flour instead
For any other version I haven’t thought of, please email me!
For the icing:
500g – 1kg white fondant, roll-out icing (check it is GF, mine was). The amount you need depends on how fancy you’re making your cake
250-500g Coloured roll-out icing of your choice
Smooth apricot jam
Confectioners glue for sticking (check it doesn't contain egg white), or jam will do (see later)
- Pre-heat the oven to 170˚ celsius
- Put the raisins, sultanas and cranberries in a large saucepan and add the orange juice. Gently heat until you hear sizzling, stirring all the time. Let is sizzle for about 30 seconds, keep stirring, then remove from the heat and set aside
- Put the dairy free margarine/butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat until combined.
- Add the egg replacing mix or the real eggs and beat again
- Add the flours (GF or wheat), baking powder and mixed spice and mix to combine. Add the rice milk/other milk gradually, stirring continuously. You might find you don’t need it all, you might find you need double; this GF cooking is based so much on intuition, no?
- When you have a fairly loose mixture – the mix should slip gently off your wooden spoon, not stick on it – add the raisin/sultana/cranberry mix and stir again. Is it looking lovely? It should be.
- Divide your mixture into your clever mini square tin, or scrape it all into one large tin, or divide it between a million ramekins
- Place in the oven and for small cakes, bake for about 20-25 minutes. A larger cake will need longer – about 40 minutes. If the surface of your cake starts to look too brown but the inside is squidgy, cover the cake with baking foil and slightly reduce the oven heat
- Remove the cake when it is risen, dark brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean-ish. You’ll get bits of raisin stuck to it, but you don’t want globs of cake mix
- Leave to cool
- If you are icing the cake/s, warm about 2 tbsps of apricot jam in a saucepan (or evil microwave, shhh!) and brush it over the outside of the cake/s
- Roll out the fondant icing to a thickness of 3-4mm and gently lay it over the cake/s. Squidge and primp and squeeze until it adheres smoothly to the cake and cut off any excess
- Decorate with shapes, nipples, whatever you wish. You can use confectioners glue to stick on shapes, or jam will more or less do the same job
- Now, you are checking your breasts regularly every month aren’t you? And if you have been sent an appointment for a mammogram, GO TO IT. Early detection is crucial
- Wish me luck with my mammogram!
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