Monday, 28 January 2013

I have a soggy bottom!

After watching a cookery programme recently featuring terrified contestants running around in a tent trying not to let their lemon meringues leak onto the floor, it set me to thinking about the last time I made a lemon meringue pie.  And it was quite some time ago, a good couple of years. 

I studied Home Economics for 'O' level, two years of cooking and theory, which was fun, apart from the boring theory, there is only so much a girl can learn about the different ways of treating milk to make - insert product off your choice.  But the cooking was great, and what happens is you have all these different ways of doing things at your finger tips.  We also had a teacher that wasn't afraid of teaching us things, we learnt all manner of french techniques, roux, choux, puff pastry, rough puff pastry, flakey pastry and short crust pastry.  We made eccles cakes and Christmas puddings, lemon curd, jam, stews and casseroles, pizza's, bread, egg dishes, Victoria sponges, Swiss roles, biscuits,   creme caramels, fantastic sweet flans of epic proportions, Easter bonnet hat cakes, yule logs, Christmas cakes, you name it we made it. 

Generally we were quite successful as well, apart from when I was making biscuits, because I would toddle off with my washing up to the sink around the corner, get carried away with the banter until someone came running up to me, tea towel flapping in the wind, telling me there was smoke pouring out of my oven.  Eventually I learnt to stay near my oven when cooking biscuits, I now use a timer.

Today I decided to reward hubby with a lemon meringue pie, well really it was an excuse to play with my Kenwood, but you knew that didn't you. 

The Kenwood made the pastry with the K beater, that was fun, I didn't even have to get my hands dirty. It worked quite well as well. 
I think I made the lemon curd a bit thick, and I didn't cook the pastry for long enough after the blind bake section. 
The Kenwood worked magnificently on the whites of the eggs and soon we had
 White fluffy peaks all over the lemon curd.
 Just out the oven cooling.
 A precarious landing on perhaps not the best of plates.
 First slice for no.1 son before he went to work.
 And yes it has a soggy bottom. 

Hubby's verdict verbatim. "I like soggy bottoms" 

Which is good because he married me!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Ken Wood.

Remember this, The day the Kenwood died.

And this, A post about a poorly Kenwood.

And this, lovely pavlova's

Well, we have been talking and thinking and then more talking about whether to get our Kenwood restored or to buy a new one.  Both of which we have baulked over the cost.  You see if I was going to get another Kenwood, I would like to get a top of the range one, one with metal body and a high spec motor, one that may last another 60 years.  One, the boys (or their wives) will fight over come the time I go to pastures new.

I wonder if Ken Wood (yes really, his name was Ken Wood) had any idea what he was inventing all those years ago of which we had the first off the production line.  Or should I say hubby's Mum did. I wonder if he knew the pleasure he would bring millions of women and their families and friends.  Did he have any idea.  Or did he know and secretly was very pleased with himself when he saw how beautifully he was making his motor and knew that it would last a very long time.  That it was built on the lines of a high quality roller and not an old banger to get you from a to b.  I wish I knew the man and was able to thank him for all those happy times me and my Kenwood have had together.

And yet we remained in a state of flux not knowing which way to go, to restore and admire the lines of beauty of the machine we have known and loved for so long, or to go the whole hog, and buy something new that we will be able to play with for many years down the line.  What with our Kenwood having lost its mincer, sausage maker, other gubbins many years ago. (we think in a house move).  But still the cost, wow the cost.

When, we decided to look at just how many points we had accrued on a card that hubby has had for many a long year and just uses to pay for petrol that he has been collecting the points for, for 23 years.  It had rather a lot of points, enough points to all but pay for this little baby. I was quite giddy with excitement as we finalised our choice of machine.
 May I introduce our oldest of Kenwoods, as you can see from the vent on the first machine it is a single vent, the next machines had two vents (or something like that)
Next to each other.  The old and the new, our new one has a much bigger bowl, much easier to do battle with dough and Christmas cakes and double mixes of delicious cake mixture and with a 1500w motor, compared to our 500w on the old machine, I don't think it will cause any trouble.

I made a chefs salad to go with our supper, it took seconds in the food processor which fits so nicely on the top.
I thought I would whip up a few fairy cakes for the knitters tomorrow.
They might need sustenance, we have a new range from Drops by Garnstudio in which has been eagerly anticipated by our Saturday knitters.
 I tried to pipe, but I am rubbish at piping, especially when I couldn't find the right sized piping nozzle.
 I've been missing my Kenwood, I have. 

I think we are going to have a lot of fun, can't wait to try the sausage maker!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Roses grow on you.

We have just celebrated our 24th Wedding Anniversary.  I know, doesn't time fly.
Hubby sent me these, the most beautiful long stemmed red roses I have ever seen.
 Florence clearly approves.
 A dozen beautiful long stemmed roses, such a treat in January.
 
 And then came home with another two dozen! 

We spent the evening quietly, finishing the Christmas port (A Quinta Do Noval 1975 from our cellar - and very nice it was too), looking through seed catalogues, crocheting, warming toes by our open fire and talking about our forthcoming trip to London. 
Whilst all the time gazing at my lovely husband and these lovely roses.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Oooh Yes! Peanut Bread.

 First of all I'll just show you a quick peek of my second loaf of bread from Paul Hollywoods new bread book.  I can't remember which one it was, it was a simple white one and it turned our quite nicely.
But the real fun started when I gave hubby a list of bread ingredients which I now have stashed in the cupboards and fridge.  Which bread to try first, well it was Sunday, so a little treat was in order.  
I decided to make the peanut bread.  It was simplicity itself, you do a little bit of work and leave it to rest for an hour, a bit more work then rest for an hour, a bit more work then rest for an hour and then pop it in the oven. I suppose all bread is like that really. 
   
It was tea time when it came out, so warm peanut bread with chocolate spread warming through and turning absolutely delicious was an absolute winner.  I can imagine this bread toasted with mashed banana on it perhaps with a dribble of honey.  I think this bread will become a firm favourite in our home.
One thing I have found out about myself is that I have always made bread in batches in the morning and then froze the surplus.  And the bread that is frozen is never quite the same as fresh bread, even if you rewarm it in the oven, it seems to have lost some of its moisture and bounce.  So what I have found out, is that making one loaf takes moments, that making bread in the evening actually works really well time wise, I can easily fit it in between cooking the evening meal, knitting and homework and there is fresh bread ready for tomorrow morning. 


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Our daily bread.

I seem to have come across many blogs of late extolling the virtues of their home made bread. 

It was like preaching to the converted, I've been making bread for 35 years, am I really that old? Okay not always every week, or even month, but fairly regularly to have picked up a few tricks. 

However since I started college, I haven't had the energy to put yeast to flour, or the inclination, but lately I  feel more energised, and I although I find this slightly perplexing, I am not going to question it too deeply and just enjoy the moment. 

After reading Carie's blog the other day and wittering on about yeast, it got me thinking about bread and that new book of hers 100 Great Breads by Paul Hollywood, so I ordered it and it came yesterday, 'cause I am impatient and fast tracked it.  Its a great book, (thank you for sharing Carie,) there were some breads that I thought oooh yes, Date and Fig bread and some that I had never even seen let alone heard of, Peanut Bread with 3/4 of a jar of crunchy peanut butter, I reckon that could be fun, especially with a chocolate spread, or how about Banana and Muesli , or Chocolate and Sour Cherry? or do you fancy a savoury Stilton and Walnut to nibble at with a glass of port on a cold and wintery evening.  

Anyway I got home later than planned, threw yeast into warm water with a teaspoon of sugar and a sprinkling of flour, whilst I set about weighing flour and butter and finding sieves and baking trays, cooling racks etc.

After the yeast had woken up, even though it was a fast yeast I've always woken my yeast up, on the rare occasion I have just thrown it in the flour I feel I don't get as good a result and it all seems much slower.  When the yeast was nice and frothy I melted my butter (it says rub it in, but hey, I don't think the bread minded) and threw it all in together and needed for a full ten minutes until I had this.

 Looks good doesn't it. 
 Tip two? (tip one was the yeast) 
Instead of putting the bread back in the bowl, having to find a tea towel and wet it and even when you do all that, unless your fastidious and get out every bit there are dried crunchy bits stuck to the bowl which end up in the bread. 

I turn my bowl over and place it over the dough.  It works a treat, no draughts, no skin forms on the dough and its in the perfect place to knock back, you don't even have to grab it out the bowl. 
 Ready to go in the oven, slashed and dusted with flour. 
 And twenty five minutes later we had this. 

And fifteen minutes after that I had eaten two slices!, 

Its very good. I like the butter in it, I normally use oil and I definitely prefer the flavour, of butter,  for true transparency I used goats butter as that what was in my fridge. 

(It is a combination of the Crusty Cob and Batch Bread, - I forgot to add the sugar!, so I cooked it at a higher temperature as it had very little sugar in it) 

It was very therapeutic to make bread this evening, I really enjoyed giving it a good pummelling. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Our boy's 21st.


At the moment I feel quite old. 

Our youngest has turned 21. 

And if that doesn't make me appreciate the turn of the wheel, I don't know what will. 

But within that, its a good feeling too, both boys are healthy (blows breath through lips and thanks god for that), intelligent and kind. What more could you ask from boys?

We partied,  there were very good lychee cockatails, it was the greatest fun. 






The boy turned 21, what can I say apart from,

It was magical. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013