Posted in Life, the universe and everything..., tagged baking, biscuits, cakes, cookery, cooking, icing, Marguerite Patten, Mary Berry, meringues, Pavlova, pies, spongecake, sprinkles on January 27, 2013 |
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If you should ever require an afternoon of contented entertainment and have a small child about your person, then might I suggest biscuit making. All you need are ‘gredients Nanny, a selection of cutters (ours were a tad Christmassy but small people don’t care about such minutiae), icing colouring (very very important to have pink!) and sprinkles…
I remember when I was little being let loose in the kitchen with a copy of Marguerite Patten’s ‘Everyday Cookbook’ and producing all manner of things. There were drop scones and fairy cakes made on rainy Saturday afternoons for Sunday tea. There was the ‘Jiffy Cake’ which was a completely foolproof cake and only required the maker to chuck all the ingredients into the bowl before turning the mixer up to warp speed. I made the family Christmas cake every year until I left home and progressed eventually to meringues, Pavlova and various complicated desserts. The one thing I have never been able to really make is pastry – that is my Mother’s skill and one which I did not inherit. I love to cook and can pretty much make something out of nothing (TG agrees with this but I suspect we aren’t talking about my cookery skills) which comes in handy faced with fridge scrapings and a few tinned things on a Friday night.
Anyway, make biscuits we did. The Smallest Baby Boy was interested until we turned the mixer on and then he sloped off to watch bobsleighing with Pops (commentary by ex husband which was slightly bizarre). There was much concentration
And the finished products were by no means ‘scusting…
The session was a resounding success and even son in law was impressed by our baking skills…amazing!
In fact, it was such a success that the EBG has requested a repeat performance. I am under instruction to purchase further icing colouring, more sprinkles and some more inspiring cutters. This simple pleasure gives me the greatest of pleasures and I look forward to further sessions with this small person and in future her siblings. There is the comfort of stirring soups and stews, of steaming pots full of loveliness. There is the science and alchemy to look forward to of rising bread and turning runny uninspiring egg whites into sublime snowy peaks to be filled with creaminess and fruity goodness. There are fabulously stodgy puddings dripping with custard to enjoy and pies and sponges to be baked. I can’t wait.
Of course the good thing about all of this is that the EBG, like all small people, wants to take everything home. Phew, otherwise the diet would have fallen by the wayside and I would be 25 stone…
It’s wonderful to have a small pupil. And I am a more than willing teacher. Perfect!
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Easter by Joyce Kilmer
The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
Oh if the above were only true Dear Reader but alas, the weather even down here on the Isle is rubbish! This time last year is was glorious and we had Easter Sunday lunch in the garden and were out there long into the evening with bottles of vino collapso to sustain us. I fear that this will not be the case this year and so I am looking forward to the following
Some cake making with the SBG ( you may remember this exercise from before) – there will be chicks and bunnies involved…
Some visiting of friends and family. A line run through for the play that’s on in two weeks (yikes!!). And then there’s the new project – there are curtains to be hung, beds to be made, prettying up to do and photos to be take by our mega talented mate Gav (who can be found here http://www.gavinprestphotography.com ) – He is looking at ways of marketing and publishing his photographs – so if any of you guys out there in blogland have any bright ideas, let me know – or better still if you’d like to buy his work or have fabulous wealthy contacts let him know!
There is so much to do over the holiday I may spontaneously combust and all my plans of lazing around and doing bugger all have gone out of the window. I may manage to sqeeze in a small lie in or two and we are out
on the lash with Mr & Mrs Folly this evening to kick proceedings off.
I wish you a happy Easter Dear Reader with plenty of whatever takes your fancy.
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Posted in Life, the universe and everything..., tagged Acer, autumn, Autumn leaves, blogging, chutney, cooking, gardening, Marrow, Rainbow, Shepherd's Pie, Strictly Come Dancing, tomatoes on October 11, 2010 |
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Well Dear Reader, I don’t know about things in your neck of the woods, but down here on the sunny Isle it has been just that – sunny. We are having a touch of an Indian Summer and very welcome it is after the monsoons of the past week or two. In between work and making and doing this weekend, I managed to spend some time in the garden. It’s really putting the garden to bed time and I started dismantling the veg patch just leaving the leeks, broccoli and carrots which will be ok when the weather gets colder.
The ACL and I have had pounds and pounds of tomatoes (I cooked off 16 lbs in one single sitting for chutney) and this is all that’s left of those and the marrows
There were also a few random beans that had regenerated after all the rain so we had those for tea on Saturday in front of Strictly added to a humongous shepherd’s pie. Ah, the stuff of Autumn evenings to be savoured!
There are still peppers hanging around
And the Autumn leaves are a turnin’
And even Madam Rainbow got her backside off the bed and outside for a spot of sunbathing.
It was lovely to get some fresh air and warmth on my face even though the wind was chilly and I mowed and dug and did and felt so much better for having done it. The garden doesn’t look half bad either!
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Posted in Life, the universe and everything..., tagged autumn, blogging, Chilli, chilli peppers, chutney, cooking, grapes, grapevine, jam, preserving, tomatoes on September 3, 2010 |
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Season of mists
and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom friends of the maturing sun
Conspiring with Him how to load and bless with fruit
the thatch-eves run
No Dear Reader, not a garden in the med nor produce from the shops. All grown by myself and the ACL here on the sunny Isle. The house is stinky with vinegar, TG and the Child are spending as much time out of the kitchen as possible and the cat is threatening to pack her bags and go back to Somerset. But it’s that time of year and they’ll all just have to live with it! We are about 200 jars up so far between us and there are still hedgerow jelly, apple jellies and squash chutnies to be created. We are struggling to keep up with the glut we both have (we work as well) but we’ll get there.
Just out of interest, does anybody know what I can do with 8 different varieties of chilli? Ideally I’d like to keep them in some shape or form. I had thought of bottling them in oil but apparently, having done some research, this doesn’t work very well and can result in botulism. I did toy with the idea of home-made botox as a sideline…but maybe not. So if anyone has any bright ideas – let me know. In the meantime it’s back to the cooker for me…*sigh*.
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Posted in Life, the universe and everything..., tagged Chicken, Chilli, cooking, cottage pie, Economy Gastronomy, leftovers, making and freezing, nigel slater, Ragu, Tender on January 11, 2010 |
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My name is Amber and I am a cookbook junkie. There, I’ve said it. Not out loud as such, but well, as good as. I have any number of cookbooks by any number of authors and chefs covering any number of countries and cuisines. They feature heavily on my Christmas and birthday wish lists and nobody and I mean NOBODY is allowed to read them before I have. And yes, before you ask, I do use them. Well, most of them.
For my delight this year there were two really fantastic books – one a wish list whim that I had read about and the other by a firm favourite to add to my collection of his tomes (one still to go).
Firstly, my daughter bought me Economy Gastronomy…
Now, this is a clever book which is based on the premise that we are all throwing away far too much food and not doing enough planning ahead when it comes to our shopping. Basically you take one ingredient – say for instance a chicken, have a nice roast, and then use the leftovers for something else the next day, or make and freeze something. This is all so that at the end of the week there won’t be something lurking and festering at the back of the fridge. It also is a big believer in buying in bulk, making and freezing and also making the most of special offers. So on the basis of this and having read the book from cover to cover, we have so far made a kilo of mince into a cottage pie, a ragu and a chilli. Last nights roast chicken (organic, free range and bought in the reduced section of the supermarket for £3.50!) which was very nice, will tonight become Arrizo con Pollo with the addition of a few bits and pieces. TG has also made some very nice bread – the kneading wore him out but he could do with losing a few pounds post holidays – perfect! None of it is rocket science and I’m sure that most you do it already,but it’s more a different way of thinking. I have been making fridge scraping soups for years and making things from leftovers, but this takes it to a whole new level.
My other book is from my favourite ever chef – the very lovely Nigel Slater – probably the best writer of food prose in the world.
This is the man who can elevate the most humble of ingredients to the most sublime of levels, who makes me want to cook everything that he describes and who generally speaking only ever uses one pot. I love his magazine and newspaper articles and I read his books from cover to cover – not just for the recipes but for his beautiful descriptions of buying, growing and cooking food. I love the simplicity of his cooking using readily available ingredients (none of your ‘ just pop down to your local South African grocer’ here) and I love his very obvious passion for food and in this latest book, his passion for growing it. His quiet enthusiasm and lack of arrogance is very refreshing. You can keep your ranting chefs, your jus, your reductions, your fancy smancy ingredients, your nouvelle cuisine and your fannying around – give me Nigel and his Coq au Riesling any day!!
P.S. If you haven’t tried him, then Real Food is a good starting place…..
P.P.S. His Thai Green Chicken Curry is also beyond good!
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Well the weekend passed by in a flash of working, sewing and cooking. The weather was absolutely vile on Sunday with horizontal rain and serious wind blusters a feature of the day, but that didn’t deter the hardy Sunday lunch folk for making a foray to the pub and so we were kept on our toes. TG was around and had thought ahead (blimey) and put some Sunday dinner on in advance of the Chelsea game which once again I found myself in front of in the chavviest pub ever…..the things I do!! We invited our most excellent friend the American chicken lady from across the drive and despite a few more than crispy roasted vegetables (yes they all take different amounts of time to cook duh) it was a nice evening rounded off with us all sitting watching the X Factor results and bickering. Ah, the stuff of dream evenings!!
So what of the week ahead? It’s manic to say the least. In between what are now two jobs there are, in no particular order, 62 name labels to be made for the ACL (see above) for her ship captains to have on their Christmas bobble hats, tops to be cut out for 150 jars of stuff to be flogged (hopefully) on Saturday at our big Christmas fair, a buffet for 60 for Mrs Folly on Sunday which she has only just told me about and then there’s Christmas presents to think of, some of which I had planned to make, optimistically! Busy? Busy?? Well as my friend June says it ‘stops you thinking about sex and keeps you off the streets doesn’t it?’ Mmm, I suppose so…
Doubtless there’ll be something which either piques my interest or drives me insane during the week so watch this space for the rant that will surely follow! I’m also thinking about New Year resolutions – a good exercise or a complete waste of time? I haven’t quite made my mind up on that one. I think I’m coming down on the side of making them and at least beginning the year with good intentions but maybe that’s a step too far into virtuosity…answers on a postcard please.
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Posted in Life, the universe and everything..., tagged apples, attitude, blame, chutney, cooking, failure, nigel slater, taking responsibility, tomatoes on October 19, 2009 |
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I had a week of two parts last week. The working week was rubbish but the social, home, relationship one was great. The working week was rubbish because of the blame culture that seems to exist so much in this country nowadays. It seems to me that nobody is willing to take responsibility for their words or actions and instead are at great pains to shift the blame elsewhere. Without going into boring detail I had this in spades last week and by the end of the week was thoroughly fed up with other people’s attitude towards me. I can’t work out if people do this blame shifting this as a face-saving exercise, because they are scared of actually taking responsibility or whether it is simply something that is becoming entrenched in our society. We see it all the time in the papers and on tv – ‘celebrities’, footballers, pop stars et al who have an ‘it wasn’t my fault’ attitude towards whatever scandal they have found themselves embroiled in – it has become endemic and filters down into the lives and workplaces of all of us, even on the sunny Isle. For myself, I try to take the ‘mistake has happened, now how can we make it right’ attitude without apportioning blame, but it isn’t easy in the face of such opposition. Anyway enough of me on my soap box! Suffice to say that after the week that was TG and I went and had a couple of glasses with some friends and after a small rant and a good laugh I was feeling very much better.
I had a whole day off on Saturday for a change and after a small dose of retail therapy with all the vouchers and gift cards I could muster (there is nothing like free money!), I set about making some Christmas chutney and some more of my Indian Summer recipe with all of the tomatoes that were left, which was an enormous number and the apples I fished for. The child whinged that the house smelled of vinegar but I cracked out a goodly number of jars and felt that I’d achieved something. The rest of the tomatoes became soup that even TG liked which surprised me because he can be a fusspot when it comes to some of my more experimental recipes. I used to cook dinners made up from whatever was left in the fridge and they were called ‘looks awful, tastes great’ dinners and the kids dreaded them. For dinner on Saturday I made an old favourite Coq au Riesling – a Nigel Slater special and we were sad muppets and ate it in front of Strictly and the X Factor…sad but true. Actually we had a really nice evening with the fire lit and a few glasses of various – simple pleasures.
Well who knows what the week will bring – not more of the same on the work front I hope, but we’ll have to see. If it turns out that way I shall count to ten and smile sweetly and think about all the nice things to come this week – the Curry Club on Wednesday, a read through for a little play I’m directing and time spent with friends. The easiest thing in the world is to find fault and as a saying I once read says ’a man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame someone else’. So very true.
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Well, my, that was a busy one! Did I actually have a weekend?? Mrs Folly had asked me some time ago to do a buffet lunch for 50 for her trampolining club to which I readily agreed (poverty being an issue). The only slight problems were that there were no facilities for having anything hot, a budget of £3.50 per head and no cutlery available, so some serious lateral thought was undertaken to elevate it from the average sausage on a stick do. Having come up with a menu into which there was built a good profit (and not a sausage roll in sight), I spent almost the entire weekend, in between working, shopping and cooking for the event which was on at lunchtime on Sunday.
The good thing about living where I do, growing what I do and currently looking after the next door chickens along with an amount of scrounging from others is that there were many ingredients which required no purchasing at all. The result was actually rather good (if I say so myself) and the ‘bouncers’ as they are known seemed to enjoy the spread. I was totally knackered by the end of it all so TG and I repaired to a country hostelry for a spot of Sunday carvery and a glass of the pink stuff which was bloody marvellous and just what was needed. Feeling suitably full we went home to the fire and a film until I noddled so much that I was sent to bed.
I’ve never done a do like that before on such a tight budget and it was a lot of work…but there’s nothing better than the sight of small people stuffing vanilla and chocolate fairy cakes into their mouths and making all the right appreciative noises! Makes it all worthwhile.
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