Ever since Nino uttered his first few gurgles, I’ve been noting down the things he says in his baby book, adding an explanation in brackets where necessary in the hope that our future selves will be able to decipher their meaning. It all feels so important in the here and now that it’s impossible to imagine that one day these precious milestones will be eclipsed by greater events: full sentences, proper facts, probing questions, and the rest. But the logical part of my brain knows that they will, so for the last year or so there has been this list. Which is now running at full capacity, words scribbled in the margins and over the page. Before I had Nino I didn’t realize quite how talkative a twenty month old would be, and although we have a lot of conversations about bears and cats and pee, there are already glimmers of so much more, a little joker who’s keen to communicate and eager to learn. It all feels very special. Continue reading
Cooking is something I’ve always wanted to share with my children. So many of my childhood memories involve standing on a chair beside the kitchen counter, stamping out biscuits, licking utensils and pouring one too many silver balls over dollops of sticky homemade icing. When Nino was still a babe in arms we’d cook together every day, him nestled inside the sling, beady eyes peeping out as I scrambled eggs or stirred a Bolognese. When he got a little older I’d sit him on the kitchen counter, the most appreciative one man audience to my one (wo)man cooking show, letting him suck a lemon or sniff at herbs as I went about the business of making dinner for his dad and I. Then came a good few crazy months, that age where everything goes straight into the mouth and control is neither mastered or desired, directions to mind a hot oven perhaps not understood, perhaps wilfully disobeyed. Either way, most of my serious culinary creations took place while the babe was napping or after bedtime for at least six months. Continue reading
I’m not much of a breakfast muffin person – it’s hard to sway me from my standard fare of toast with avocado or eggs, bircher muesli or, as the autumn draws in, a bowl of creamy porridge with yoghurt and fruit – but if you are, these muffins would be just perfect. I’ve been eating them at tea time or after dinner, the buttery crumble topping giving them just enough decadence to stand in for dessert. Essentially I’m saying this is an all day sort of a muffin, a necessary addition to your baking knowledge whatever the hour you decide to indulge. Continue reading
When I was fifteen I got my first mobile phone. Not your standard smart phone with fancy apps, a camera or even a colour screen; just a pink-cased Nokia brick which I used as a sort of portable telephone box to call my parents. Friends were contacted using our good old-fashioned landline and the internet (including the joy of MSN Messenger) accessed by via our clunky home PC. I didn’t spend much time online and any baking we did was inspired by my Mum’s extensive collection of recipe books, magazine cuttings and a little bit of imagination. Continue reading
As a little girl, a white wedding isn’t something I thought about that much. Other than the few obligatory years of being anti-boys, I was pretty sure I wanted to get married – to have the happiness my parents had and create and brand new family of my own – but I hadn’t dreamed of the venue, the dress and every detail of the big day in the way so many small girls do.
I didn’t really dream about the man I’d marry either. Of course I hoped for someone good looking and funny, caring and all the attributes that almost everyone wants, but there wasn’t a specific agenda, criteria to meet or checklists made. I suppose I wanted to see what would happen, where life would take me and what the future might hold. Continue reading
Summer and strawberries go hand in hand. Wimbledon, barbecues and, being a summer baby, birthdays are all synonymous with a strawberry or two in my mind, the season kick starting with that first sweet burst at the end of May.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but memories of my childhood summers are dappled in sunshine, garden grass scorched by the sun as we took turns spraying each other with the hosepipe and praying that it wouldn’t be banned. As an adult, the Great British Summer seems a little wetter, certainly colder, the sky hung with clouds and even edible sunshine kept at bay with our strawberry season delayed by several weeks. Continue reading
Sweet, soft & full of interesting flavours
‘Every time I’m forced to watch [my friends] eat egg whites, I feel bad for them. In the first place, egg-white omelettes are tasteless. In the second place, the people who eat them think they are doing something virtuous when they are instead merely misinformed’.
My attitude to egg white-only omelettes is pretty much in line with the Nora Ephron quote above. After a major custard or ice cream making spree, I’ve occasionally attempted to scale the mountain of leftover albumen by making an anaemic omelette, but I’m almost always disappointed by the odd consistency and insipid flavour which result. Continue reading
Chunky homemade granola
Happy Valentine’s Day!
All around the world, in every corner of the internet, people are posting or googling recipes for things like chocolate fondants and profiteroles, planning in what they will eat with their other half this evening and exactly what it is that constitutes the ultimate romantic dessert.
So today I’m bringing you breakfast in the form of my favourite chunky granola . . . Continue reading
Salty, sweet, smooth, crunchy & chewy – the ultimate ice cream experience
‘Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best,’ and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
I’m the kind of person who thrives on anticipation. I love nothing more than planning in a project at work, booking in my next holiday or organizing an event (don’t even get me started on the wedding . . .). But sometimes I look forward to the future with such a sense of excitement – whether it’s a weekend of activities or simply what I’m going to have for lunch that day – that I need to take a step back, to remind myself to live in the present and enjoy each moment as it comes. Continue reading
Flaky pastry, caramelized apple & crunchy nuts create the perfect contrast of textures
Remember the fairy tale of the princess and the pea? This story starts a little like that.
Since before I can remember (when I was just the littlest suggestion of a loaf inside my mother’s stomach, in fact) I’ve spent my summers at my parents’ house in Italy. High up in the mountains just before the border between Tuscany and Umbria, it’s one of the most beautiful, relaxing places I know. Due – in no small part – to the fact that it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Continue reading