Yesterday I shouted at our two year old. After he repeatedly banged his little sister’s cot with two wooden spoons he was pretending to be ski poles while I attempted to put her down for a nap, I told him he was old enough to know better, shut the door on him and promptly burst into tears. Granted he’ll turn three in February and part of him knew exactly what he was doing, but because he’s so much bigger than Joy I sometimes forget, he’s still so very little. ‘Be quiet’ is a command he can commit to obey for a few minutes max before an exciting distraction sets in and patience is crucial on both our parts if we’re going to survive. In my three short months of parenting two, I’ve discovered that frustration can be high on the list of emotions for all parties involved, but raised tempers rarely improve anything. Certainly not the likelihood of babies to nap. But blondies? I have scientific proof that blondies improve just about everything. Continue reading
When I was pregnant with Nino, brownies and ice cream were my Sunday evening indulgence. It wasn’t a pregnancy craving per se: brownies and ice cream are the treat that never fails to cheer me up, my dessert island dessert. But I’m pretty sure I ramped up consumption during those nine months. Ice cream, vinegar, beef mince 😉 This time round, however, baby girl – or the body containing said baby girl, to be precise – has different ideas. Ice cream still appeals but eating it any later than lunchtime simply isn’t on the cards. If you suffer with heartburn outside of pregnancy, my heart goes out to you (quite literally, it burns). So last weekend, after dinner, I sadly ignored the good stuff calling to me from the freezer and – feeling disproportionately sorry for myself – looked to the cupboards instead to rustle up something sweet.
According to reliable sources – aka Wikipedia and the various blogs and websites who have authoritatively regurgitated its contents – the word ‘butterscotch’ was first recorded in Doncaster in 1817. Little wonder my Doncaster-born husband ranks butterscotch in his top three sweet treats of all time (battling it out against fig rolls and lemon sorbet, if you’re interested). Butterscotch Angel Delight is his particular weakness (the boozy version from my book now trumping any nostalgic memories of the nasty artificially flavoured packet stuff) but he’s also partial to a simple sauce – on meringues, in cake or smothered all over ice cream. So when I was recently tasked with creating a ‘Taste of Britain’ for Rennie’s 80th birthday celebrations, I knew exactly what to make. Continue reading
On average, how many of your government recommended 5-a-day do you manage to eat?
Despite, or perhaps (in part) because of, my love of baking and this blog, I’m very conscious of getting my daily quota of fruit and vegetables. In the UK it’s fairly easy to stick to, with the government recommending a modest five 80g portions. However in Australia it’s seven, Spain eat eight and in Japan they suggest a staggering seventeen, although I’m guessing each serving size is slightly smaller than ours given that consuming over a kilo of even the most ambrosial fruit would be a struggle for most sensible human beings in any given day.
Black. Not a colour we necessarily associate with wonderful food. Especially those of us who are keen bakers where, unless you’re talking black treacle, black bottomed cupcakes or black cherries (of which I’d argue the latter are really brown and purple respectively), black tends to signify something that has been in the oven too long; in other words burnt.
Try to think of a black food and you’re likely to conjure one of two ends of the culinary spectrum. In the losing category come the burnt items; over baked bread, lasagne left in the oven too long, black bits of onion in a pan that should be caramelized or the singed tips of an otherwise snow-white meringue. At the other end of the scale, black seems to signify something altogether more luxurious; tiny pearls of caviar, dusky black truffle, exotic black garlic or the supposed aphrodisiac qualities of a stick of licorice. Continue reading
Garlic bread. The ultimate in comfort food, this simple snack was elevated to superstar status back in 2003 by Bolton-born Peter Kay’s famous sketch. Since then, it’s become nigh on impossible for people in the UK to pass a packet, produce a plate or merely mention the stuff without some smart arse chipping in with a round of ‘Garlic bread?’ intoned in a slightly nasal Northern accent.
Kay may have had his reservations, but there are few things more satisfying than the simple combination of good bread and garlic. Bruschetta made from toasted bread straight off the barbeque – rubbed with garlic and drizzled in olive oil – is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but for something with a little more rib-sticking clout, it’s hard to beat a buttery stick of good homemade garlic bread. Continue reading
‘It’s a labour of love’. ‘You’ll pile on the pounds’. ‘It’ll change the way you think about them forever’ . . .
You might be forgiven for thinking such comments are in some way related to pregnancy and children. They’re not. Despite being an avid baker, at only just the wrong side of twenty-five, I’m not quite ready for that kind of bun in the oven. Nope, I’m talking croissants.
Search for ‘homemade croissant’ online and you’ll find thousands of recipes, often accompanied by a caveat. Yes they are wonderful, and yes you’ll love the end product, but getting there is a tricky, time-consuming process and everyone seems to have a horror story to share (back to that pregnancy comparison, I think there might be some mileage in this . . .)