Tuesday, September 28, 2010

plum cake, blackberry jam and crumpets!

i had a bit of a cooking day! no photos unfortunately, but i made crumpets and blackberry&apple jam from darina allen's 'forgotten skills of cooking' book. The crumpets turned out beautifully, I made the whole recipe, thinking i'd wrap the leftovers in clingfilm and toast them tomorrow... alas, i am a pregnant lady, and over the course of the afternoon they were all gone!! and Emm had no more than one! i had to throw out the first three though, in my defence, but still, i must have eaten about 10!!!
For the jam I made the mistake of listening to too many cooks, using Darina's recipe but adding my mum's advice that I definitely should use jam sugar rather than ordinary sugar, so the consistency was on the verge of wine gums!! very very set. i added the juice of half a lemon because i knew the berries were quite sweet, from my friend's husband's jam experiment, which worked a treat, my jam turned out just the right balance of sweet and sour.
I used the last of the plums from our tree to make a small 'Pflaumenkuchen', using a pastry base instead of the favourable yeast dough base. (I made that one last week and I think out of the two versions it's definitely the better one) The bready base makes you think of bread and plum jam, only it's less sweet, much tarter and with only just cooked plums, rather than mushy sugary jam.
In the evening I still managed to cook a yellow thai curry, inspired by Jo's post! Emm was tucking in, except for the peppers and mushrooms. I had to make sure she drank lots of water afterwards, because I suppose the paste is quite salty, much more so than other dishes I cook. I forgot to put in the broccoli, my concentration was definitely waning by then!

I had bought Bill Grangers new book (can't find it on the amazon associates search engine), but returned it when I realised it was 12.50£ on amazon (13.25£ at the moment), after I'd paid 33€ for it in the shop! I know there's exchange rates and shop overheads, but I don't think that kind of price difference is justified!! They took it back, no problem. I haven't ordered it yet and am thinking almost everyday of a dish i saw in it and then remember, oh yeah, must buy the book! I had half decided to return it when I realised what most of the ingredients were going to cost!! If I was able to source them, that is... But now I keep thinking back and I think I will get the book again. Or maybe I should just get his first book? Are chef's first books usually their best?

Monday, September 27, 2010

blackberries and cookies

We went picking blackberries today, yum... A friend of mine, Kate, recently bought a new house, on a bit of land, which happens to be covered in brambles! They've made jam already, and today, when Emm and I dropped in to bring cookies and borrow some maternity clothes, we decided to pick some more! Her two boys, and my little one, of course picked all the berries straight into their mouths, thoroughly destroying their clothes and covering their faces! Such a pity I didn't have my camera with me, it all looked so idyllic, Emm hasn't had the freedom to just roam around such a big area since we were at my parents'! The sun was on our backs and when we had enough berries, we picked a few cooking and eating apples to go with them. Kat's youngest started to get tired and cranky, so we headed back to the house to put him to bed, and I cooked the rest of us some sausage sandwiches.

When we got home Emm happily went to sleep, and I checked my mobile to discover to my embarassement that I'd totally forgotten about the window cleaner, for whom I was going to be home hours ago! He did my windows anyways, accidentally setting off the alarm, which called my mobile (unanswered in my handbag in the car), then P's mobile, who thankfully managed to switch it off remotely and then sent a neighbour around to check... How embarassing! I spent the rest of Emm's nap making phonecalls apologising to people, and the rest of the cookies went to support that cause...

Tomorrow will most likely be spent making something with the blackberries, maybe blackberry and apple jam? and something else with the last of the plums from our tree, i'm thinking german pflaumenkuchen! And I'll have to get the rooms ready for my mum and my aunt, there's some more tidying and bedmaking to do. And I'll have to try and spot and fix all the little things that i generally don't notice, like spiderwebs in the corners, the ironing basket, and dust behind the TV!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

yippie, the last of the hideous 'buttermilk' paint is gone from our house!

When we moved into this house every room, bar the bathrooms, was painted Dulux 'Buttermilk', a sickly, light zapping, depressing, pale yellow. The new paint is Dulux 'Abbeylands', a neutral beige, not too dark, but dark enough to provide a nice contrast to the white woodwork, no yellow undertones, just perfect! I usually like colour, but in the bedroom we have dark purple curtains, a bright orange anglepoise lamp and a green woolly throw that has flecks of purple, orange and turquoise in it, so I thought I better keep it neutral! 

I think I'll get these photos printed and frame them white, they'll be great for the room! 

That duvet cover is quite faded, and I should probably get a new set, but this one has just about gotten perfectly soft! The other problem is finding affordable 100% cotton bedlinen! I don't like the poly cotton almost everything in the shops here seems to be made of, and the linens in Ikea and in Germany have different measurements. Plus I would have to come across a nice design, in the right colours, and without any glitter or beads!! So for the moment, we'll stick with this one, and the 2nd set, which is all white, and let them both get softer and softer with every wash. 

I'm not showing the side of the room with the hideous built in wardrobes, or the less than perfect chest of drawers, maybe if we paint them, or get rid of them, but that'll have to wait for better times! 

On the dinner front, we had Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls 'slow roasted shoulder of lamb with merguez spices'. I've been looking online, to see can I find the recipe to link to, but no luck. I did, however, find this blog post


with a nice photo. Ours looked equally delicious, and when P lifted the bone, the meat just fell off! Really really yummie...We had roasted spuds, spinach, and the meat juices with it.  Emm was tucking in, she probably ate more than me! We have lots of lamb left over, and i have a beetroot and feta salad prepared, so it'll be an easy dinner tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

finished knit dress

It's long enough, after all! She should be able to wear it all winter :-) She looks a bit grumpy, but that's because I put the dress on her right after her nap, and took her soother away to get a picture! Bad mama... 

And I already started the next project, http://www.purlbee.com/crocheted-linen-grocery-tote/ a groceries bag. I'm doing it in ancora cotton, it's really thin, it's meant for lacey crochet projects, i think. I bought it in Portugal. I'm using a 2.5mm hook and am already changing the pattern a little, as I go on, so no idea how this will turn out! But the bag is meant to be very stretchy, so it shouldn't matter too much!