Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Procrastination




Isn't it funny the things that can be found to do in order to stop you doing what you actually should be getting on with.

I find Facebook, Twitter and general web searching all eat away time, whilst at the same time still being completely enjoyable.  But my most favourite avoidance strategy has to be hoovering the cat.  It seems that we both get something out of it.

What avoidance strategies do you use?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Sloooooooow




We are having a tea party on Saturday in conjunction with the Nantwich Food Festival.  It's a drop by event - we invite our guests to drop by either on route to or from the Festival for a cuppa and a slice of cake.  So I've been busy this week thinking about what I could make for the party.  I even posted on Twitter and got a wonderful suggestion from Deanna.  You can check out her blog here:  http://www.foodographic.co.uk/  She said that she thought it was all about textures, having a selection of textures - something chocolately, fruity, a meringue, cake and pastry.  I liked the thoughts on texture, so with her Twitter post on my mind, my menu will conist of the following:

  • French Apple Flan - Fruity but in a sweet pastry case
  • Carrot and Pistachio Cake - To get that spongey texture but with a nut crunch (plus doesn't everyone love carrot cake?
  • Lavender shortbread - a biscuit but with a floral twist
  • Some cupcakes - Just because 
  • And finally meringues
Nothing chocolately on the menu yet, but there's still time if I have a change of heart.

I decided that I would make the meringues today to try and get myself at least a little prepared and so not to leave everything until the last minute.  I have never made meringues before and was a little apprehensive having read all sorts of things about how wrong it can all go.  Anyway again with some help from my Twitter friends and Good Food online support I made a start. 

They seem to have gone ok, although I've not yet tasted one as they are still in the oven "drying out", despite the fact that I started to make them at 10 am this morning.  And that's what I found so fascinating about the process - everything had to slow down.  After whisking your eggs, you have to add the sugar a dessert spoon full at a time and then whisk this in, but not at full speed otherwise you can overdo it.  Once you've scooped your meringues onto a baking tray, then you put them in a really low temperature oven and cook them for an hour and a half/three quarters.  Once they are crisp, you then switch off the oven and leave them in there until the oven has cooled completely. 

So I'm glad that I chose to make them today as I would have been in a real panic if I'd have attempted them tomorrow and not been able to use the oven for the other cakes I'm intending to make.

However, what was nice about the whole experience was that it was slow.  I had to slow down, think about things and make sure that I got it right.  I couldn't sling in the sugar and whisk it into a frenzy.  I couldn't turn the oven up to a higher temperature and get a quicker result.  In this world where everthing seems to be so high paced and fast, it was nice to go slow for a change.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Monday Roast



Have you ever wanted something, and then when you didn’t get it find that it hangs around in your head teasing and tempting you until you do something about it. Well, that’s how it was on Monday. On Sunday I had the urge to have a Sunday roast, but as we were out and about all day, it just didn’t happen. But that thought just kept niggling away at me all day on Monday – lovely roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings smothered in gravy, chunky slices of chicken and of course lovely fresh vegetables. So that was it, I left the office and hotfooted it to Sainsburys and bought all the components for the roast. As it was a Monday evening, I decided to make it easy on myself and bought bags of prepared vegetables and ready made gravy. The end result was that we didn’t eat until about 8 pm, but we ummed and aahhed our way through crispy roast spuds, cruncy kale and doughy Yorkshire puddings. It was a real treat. My husband who was not feeling too well felt much better and my itch was scratched.



I guess it just goes to show that sometimes when you get an idea in your head, the best thing to do is to just take action. It was well worth the effort.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Good Old Fashioned Bartering




You may already know from other postings on this site, that I am friends with my neighbour Jean and we share the joy of baking.  Whenever I see her she will tell me about what she's been making, any recipe changes she made and how it all turned out.  She is like a walking encyclopedia of baking and only shares her sponge recipe with a select few.

Living over t'wall from her reminds me of my childhood.  I lived in a rural neighbourhood where I freely went into my neighbours' homes and produce grown was shared around.  There would always be a smile, a fresh glass of cordial or a dog to pet.  In fact the house we were attached to had a joint loft space, so whenever we got locked out we would ask my neighbour's son to climb through and let us in. 

So I like living next door to Jean, it is a return to more old fashioned values.  There is friendship and sharing.  Jean's husband Jim tends an allotment, so surplus vegetables come our way for soups and casseroles and fresh salads.  In fact last night we did some good old fashioned bartering.  I swapped two jam jars and a glass vase (which frankly was taking up too much room in the cupboard) for a jar of scrummy strawberry jam to put on scones which I am making today for friends who are visiting.

It seems a very fair swap to me.  Both parties went away happy and there may even be a couple of scones going over t'wall later today. 

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Beautiful September is here



I can't quite tell you why, but I always feel happy when September arrives.  I think it is one of the loveliest months of the year.  It brings with it the anticipation of Autumn, yet still holds onto some days of summer.  We know that colder weather and darker nights are coming, yet September often brings joy with sun filled days and the chance to lap up remaining rays of sunshine on your face and skin.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she likes this time of year as it equates to new clothes buying.  And nothing wrong with that I say.  It is a season of change.  We change from our summer outfits into warmer clothing, we watch the trees alter from green to wonderous reds, browns and golds and we take in our harvests and fill our cupboards with brightly coloured jars of fruits, jams and chutneys.

I also like the fact that September brings new momentum and it holds renewed enegry.  People and businesses tend to be  more focussed, the summer holidays are over and children are back to school.  I tend to set goals in September to take me up to the end of the year.  It enables me to focus on what I can achieve before 2010 takes a bow and 2011 enters in.

Could this be a good time for you to set your goals and decide what you would like to achieve before the year ends and a new one begins?