Surprise

food processor

Last night, as we were watching the Antiques Roadshow, there was a knock at the door.   Although this is not unusual, it is also not usual without knowing who will be turning up.  We no longer live in a society where people just pop round on the off chance any more.  Well, hardly ever.

So, himself opened the door to find his parents standing there.  They are the only people that ‘just pop over’ these days.  Something I love.

My Mum-in-law said she had been reading my blog and handed me a box.   Like many people, in principle I love surprises, but have that inbuilt adult fear of not liking what I am given and therefore have a preset face look, just in case.  However this was totally unnecessary as, to my absolute delight, when I looked in the box there, all snuggled and shiny, sat a food processor.

Having battled on with the trusty steed of a hand blender for years, I could eventually recreate, with ease, ideas I have either read about, or seen on the television.  My heart absolutely soared.

It turns out the processor had been sat in it’s box for a few years having hardly been used.  I feel like the luckiest person in the world and spent the following hours considering what I could now make.  To some this may seem so irrelevant, but to me it has opened up a whole new page in the book.

This morning I made a carrot cake and for the first time could do that thing where you put the carrot in the funnel and gently push.  No more grated fingers or aching arms.   Even the pecan nuts were chopped in seconds.  And there are so many different bits of the gadget.  The pleasure I have already had from using the processor is immeasurable.

Right, I’m skipping off now to read through more recipes which specifically require a food processor.  Meanwhile, if you ever fancy popping round, there will probably be a little something which has been loving prepared via my newest thing of wonder, and if you’re really lucky, I might just let you have a go…

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Imperfections

imperfection

There has been an awful lot of discussion regarding imperfection, and, conversely, perfection, over the last few days, in my world.

As some of you may know, it was the final this week of The Great British Bake Off, or as it’s referred to on twitter #GBBO.  Nancy won.  Nancy, who despite having many imperfections in her bakes, and no where near as strong a final bake visually as Luis, was what Mary Berry called, ‘A good home cook.’

I’m not too sure whether it was said with a pinch of sarcasm, but either way, Nancy won the illusive glass plate.

Similarly, I have been experiencing imperfections in my cooking this week.  I have tried baking Hummingbird buns, and have made a large sausage curl. Both recipes have not been major successes, although I wouldn’t call them failures.  I suppose it all depends on where you set your bench mark really, but, as Thomas Edison once said,

‘I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work’

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one hell of a mantra to live by.  We spend so much energy relating imperfection to a negative, instead of celebrating its positives.

As an offshoot of #GBBO there was a programme called GBBO – An Extra Slice. The most popular section of this, I’m sure, was where members of the public sent in photos of the efforts they had made at home.  Full of glorious imperfections, and so much more interesting than the ‘here’s one I made earlier’ philosophy.

Ironically on the #GBBO I noticed that all the girls started waring false eyelashes, and couldn’t help but wonder how the medium of television tries its best to wipe out imperfection.

But back in my little world I count myself very lucky.   Any negative thoughts of my obvious imperfections both in body and baking are so often eradicated by my glorious wee boy.

Him:  Nice Hummingbird buns

Me:  Winks at wee boy

Him:  You’re so beautiful mummy

And once again my heart just melts.

Sardines

Sardine tin

In my non- sandwich lunchtime quest, I consider many options prior to choosing what I will have to eat.  To be honest, it’s a wonder I manage to get anything else done at all as it is quite a preoccupation, let me tell you.  And today has been no exception.

Thankfully, I was inadvertently diverted to the tinned section of the supermarket and at last, found what I was looking for.  Unlike U2. (little musical pun there for anyone who’s interested) Moving on.

Now I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love the packaging of tinned fish. Especially those rectangular size tins with the ring pull.  There is just something so visually satisfying about the whole thing.  The font size, the picture, the shine… I’m also drawn to the feeling of history they seem to emit, as though they have been stored for a very long time, but, due to their marvellous packaging, they will not fail to delight when released from the tin.

And so it turns out to be.  Moreover, isn’t it bonkers how sardines really do seem to expand when you take them out of the tin?  Talk about packing them in…

Back to lunch.  Sardines on toast.  Simple, but delicious.  Now then, those of you like me, who are enamoured with the packaging of tinned fish will know that the classics come in tomato sauce or sunflower oil.  I always plump for the ones in tomato sauce when plopping them on toast because I like to add a couple of bits to give it a ‘je ne sais quoi’.

Also, they do it on the telly and it always looks impressive.  Not that we have a working telly anymore.  I’m hoping for the leaves to fall from next door but one’s trees soon so that I can re-engage with the television.  At the moment we have become the epitome of  the 1950’s.  Himself serenades me on the piano, and I have taken up knitting, which is wonderful, but…  It’s starting to get dark earlier, everything takes a little more time to spring into action, and at the end of the day it is getting a little easier to sit, slightly dribbling, on the settee for many more hours than you imagined possible.  But that’s a whole other story.

Anyway, where were we?  Oh yes… Having had the immense pleasure of opening the tin, put one slice of bread under the grill to toast and pop the sardines and sauce into a bowl.  Add salt, pepper, chilli flakes and a splash of vinegar in with the sardines, give them a mash up and plonk on the non toasted side of the bread.  Put back under the grill until the sardines are slightly bubbling.

Make a cup of tea.  Enjoy.

Baking

images

In honour of the new series of Great British Bake Off starting again on the television, I thought I would ponder today about baking.  Firstly though, it would be remiss of me to talk about that before putting my viewing into context, and therefore I should really just mention, in passing, our television. We have, what some would describe as an ‘old fashioned’ television.  Mainly because it is one of those large box type affairs which, to be honest takes up much more space in the room than is really viable. Consequently, it is ever present, whether on or off.

Recently, our next door but one neighbours trees have grown to such an extent that they block out the signal.  Or that is what we have been told.  So our oversized television spends a great deal of time not working.  However the signal does seem to work when there are no storms around the country. Sometimes.  Other times, normally when I really truly am interested in something on the television, it has a propensity to switch itself on and off in the most irritatingly undefinable manner.  In other words, I never have any idea whether it is going to work or not.

Anyway, back to the bake off.  As someone who loves baking, I watch this programme with absolutely delight.  The characters that emerge never overpower the mainstay of the programme, the baking is always impressive, and the language used by the judges makes me giggle every time.  Of course Mel and Sue absolutely hold the whole thing together in my view, the double entendres, and cheekie quips are just delicious.

You see baking has an amazing ability to bring out the most extraordinary capabilities and emotions.  There is nothing like baking a cake with every element turning out perfectly.  This rarely happens, but when it does, it is the most euphoric of emotions.  In contrast, you can often experience a state of absolute deflation when it goes wrong.  Which it so often, can.  That said, the other wonderful thing about baking is the sharing of your triumphs, however successful.  What will happen this year in the Great British Bake Off, only those on the programme know.  For the rest of us, we follow the highs and lows, the successes and failures, the laughter and tears with baited breath and a comforting knowledge that there will always be cake at the end of each programme.

And they’re off.  This is the start of the next few weeks where I wait, with anticipation, for every episode.  And when it arrives, my enjoyment is never dampened.  I only hope our television and it’s signal, agrees with me.

As a final thought, I have not, as yet, ever tried any of the recipes.  But this series I may well change my habits, and not just watch, but actually bake.