Cookies, Crumbles, and Meltdowns

I have been saying recently that I would like this blog to take a new turn, and to perhaps broaden it’s horizons; I’d like it to go on, and become a blog about food, as I learn to cook it, too. I’m not too focused on a subject for this blog, however, food would like to be something I include within it’s parameters.

So, the day before yesterday, I made cookies. I’ve never been much of a cookie baker, or indeed a baker of any kind. I make tray-bakes, but muffins are simply not my friend. I overwork the gluten, and sort of make sweet-bread. But cookies? Well, my black and white ones seem to be getting every time I make them, and I’ve made quite a few batches lately. I quite enjoy making cookies. I think it’s something to do with the fact that it’s kind of a childish pleasure; there’s something wonderfully juvenile about cookies, and their association with milk.

And who doesn’t love the cookie monster?! (1)

Anyway, the baking is going well; the muffins made me cry a bit, because of the gluten situation, and I couldn’t find a way to remedy it. I’ve made a few batches now, to absolutely no avail. I’d like to think that practice makes perfect; Saint Delia would certainly agree.

I made myself an omelette for breakfast, and I know that that sentence seemed rather, well, pointless. The trouble with my omelette was that I couldn’t quite manage to execute the folding; the folding seemed to be a skill that was just beyond my comprehension, and the problem was further compounded when I realised that my book, that was telling me how to make the omelette, was hovering dangerously close to the gas ring. So then I kind of panicked, a little bit, and turned off the hob, thinking that if I were to burn the house down whilst making brunch, my Mum would be more than a tad upset.

Anyway, I managed a kind of open-faced omelette, and I filled the middle with smoked ham and tomato, and added a small sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top, but not too much to make it a cellulite trap. (I’d already been to the gym before brunch, and so I was feeling a little bit virtuous). I also added a touch of basil to the egg mix, with lashings of salt and black pepper, and a dash of Tabasco sauce. I think that I should take out shares in the company; I go through absolutely tonnes of the stuff, because it’s almost as versatile as Worcester Sauce, in terms of flavour, and adding something of an undercurrent.

Anyway, I have to go now. I have to buy my little sister a birthday balloon, and I have to get dressed for work. I hate getting dressed for work, but there it is. I suppose I’d look strange waitressing in shorts and a vest top. Hope everyone has a lovely Sunday.

(:

(1) http://fortheloveofcookies.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/orig-14366331.jpg

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Mixtape

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I’m going to put this out there, because it was incredible. I honestly cannot believe how lucky I am. Yesterday, I was at work, and I was fairly fed up. My cold was annoying me, and my shift had been dragging on for far too long. But then, I met Voldemort. Yes. Lord Voldemort. Or Ralph Fiennes really. So anyway, I run back into the kitchen, kind of hopping and bouncing around a bit. And after I finished doing that, I went home and watched Harry Potter films all night. It was amazingly cool. And, having just read back that paragraph, I realise that I sound a tiny bit as though I don’t get out enough, but there we go. I thought it was awesome.

On a completely unrelated note, I’m starting to get very excited about my impending trip to Washington D.C. I’m especially excited about going to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I like looking at all the mechanics and engineering behind space travel, and space exploration, and the shuttle, Discovery is living at the museum for the moment. I’m going to go and see that! I particularly like looking at  the scale of these things. They make me feel like a very tiny blip in the world, when you compare yourself to the machinery that means we can actually walk on the moon!

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There’s a cupcake shop in Washington, called Georgetown Cupcakes, that my little sister is just desperate to go and visit. She really can’t wait, because she watches their television series. She’s also an excellent baker, and makes the most adorable and delicious cupcakes. I’m a very big fan of her red velvet ones; they’re somehow creamy and moist all at once. Her face lights up whenever I mention cupcakes. It’s so lovely. And because she finishes school, ready to go to college this week, I bought her two brand new cupcake books, so she’s got something to do over the summer. She’s fifteen, and will be until the end of August, which means that by law, she can’t work this summer, even if she wanted to. I think she should just start a business plan for opening a bakery, and I could help her do the promotions.

At this point, I must bid this post farewell, because I have to go to work soon, and I have some ironing to do. The joys of work, but maybe Voldemort will still be there…

(:

(1) http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/images/content/107094main_discovery-launch.jpg

(2) https://sarahalicewaterhouse.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/cupcakes.jpg?w=300

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Cooking May Never Be My Forte

Food is one of the key ingredients to life, however most of us in the Western world spend a fairly large portion of our lives wondering about food. It’s nutritional value, whether we eat too much, or too little, or whether we ought to follow a diet. Food impacts our lives in such a massive way, and it contributes to whether we are larger or smaller, slim, or curved. In the image crazed world in which we live, food underpins the way we all feed about ourselves, whether we’d like it to or not.

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I am admittedly, a dreadful cook. Examples of my culinary expertise have been discussed in previous posts, purely because they provide the basis for so many amusing stories. I’m a legend in my house, because of my ability to burn everything, including peas, of all things. I’d like to note that I’ve been compelled to improve though, because I didn’t want to starve at university. I have got much better, although my use of the hob unsupervised is still prohibited, because, and I quote “We don’t want to be burnt to death…”.

Food is one of my favourite things, and it’s one of the reason’s I’d love to live in a big city one day; there’s always a huge range of choice, and many varieties of cuisine to be tested. I love to be adventurous with food, and I love spicy things, especially. I also thoroughly enjoy fish, in particular, sushi. I’m not a fan of the one with the omelette on though; I’m not quite sure why, really.

Eating in posh restaurants however is a minefield of its own; the more hyped up the restaurant, the more pretentious the food, and inevitably, something called “jus” winds up on the place, usually next to a teaspoon full of mashed potato. Cep jus is by far the worst of the “jus'”, because it looks like spittle. And it’s thoroughly unappetizing, in my opinion at least.

However, I’m not a food snob, at all. I’m perfectly happy with sausage and chips. I just like eating fancy things sometimes too, possibly because my parents are excellent at cooking. By far the best thing about coming home is eating my Mum’s cooking again. She says I could cook the same things, however the problem is I couldn’t; I couldn’t make it taste as she does, and I think it’s something to do with having your dinner cooked for you, by your Mum.

(:

(1) http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/rma/lowres/rman8657l.jpg

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Suits and Slippers

So I find myself writing this morning for the first time in some time, because I’ve been neglectful of many things recently. Not least of which is my blog. So for that I’m very sorry, however now I’m safely grounded back in my university bedroom, I shall be writing on a daily basis once again. My little vacations must start getting shorter, I suppose. But anyway, back to the topic of the day…

Being a ballet dancer hasn’t always appealed to me. In fact, I demanded to quit ballet when I was seven years old. I hated it, because I was clumsy and frankly, not very good. The video of my dance performance is diabolical. It’s so bad that I’ve hidden it, and I’m the only person on the planet who knows where it is hidden. But I have recently decided that contrary to by seven-year old conviction,  I’d very much like to learn to dance. My complete lack of grace and rhythm is an endless source of comedy in my household.

(1) And they're so cute.

There is, I suppose, a great element of sophistication and idealization around the art of ballet. It is romanticized, perhaps to the extent that it is misrepresented to the public. Anybody who watched Black Swan last year will know (or at least think that they know) about the dark side of the ballet. I suspect not all elements of ballet are quite as extreme as the film suggests, however, as with all professions, there’s bound to be something not quite right, something obscured under a facade of beauty and decadence, somewhere. I find it fascinating to look at all the facets of a particular profession to see where the flaws are, and how they can be resolved.

This is one of the reasons that I’ve been looking at consultancy as a career path; it can be integrated into wider interests too, and I like the problem solving and project managing. I’m fairly well organised, and I like to make huge, gorgeous projects happen. I like to take the idea of something conceptual and make it into something effective and useful in society as a whole. It’s like being a puppet master you get to put things together, and make them work with one another.

Back to the point of wanting to be a ballet dancer, however. I have a wish to have long, elegant leg lines, and a flat, toned stomach. The gym doesn’t really seem to be sufficient; it merely builds muscle, after a certain point which isn’t conducive to the rather elusive, slimline figure I covet. Genetically I’m not of a slim disposition, however I think there’s probably a balance to be struck. So I think I’m going to attempt to learn to dance, and people who know me well will be laughing their cotton socks off, reading this. I’m even laughing at myself a little bit.

So, a new thing I’m trying. Ballet. I’ll let you know how it does. I could be a ballet dancer. Admittedly I’m more likely to be a clown, however it’s a possibility. It might transpire that I’m more suited to hiking up mountains as opposed to dancing, but I suppose we’ll see. I really must remember to renew my gym membership, too…

(:

(1) http://www.sugarplumdancewear.co.uk/images/products_zoom/Diane_449_Retouch.jpg

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Packet Mix Brownies Are Harder Than They Seem…

Today was one of those days where I decided to be one of those lovely dinner guests, who bring dessert. They bake you something delicious and bring it round in a Quality Street tin. I decided to make brownies, and I should have known the venture wasn’t going to go exceedingly well, when I bought the packet mix. You know the one. With the “just add water” instructions on the back. But nevertheless, I thought, “hm… what could possibly go wrong?”. The answer of course, was just about everything.

To start with, I didn’t have any greaseproof paper, which would have been perfectly fine, except apparently when using baking tins, it’s something of a necessity. The next error was that I had no scales. No scales to measure twenty-five grams of butter, and had to sort of go with a “wing it” approach. Using a tablespoon. Which, in case anyone was wondering, is a wildly inaccurate way of adding ingredients to a packet mix.

I’d just about managed to get the mix into two rectangular tins. Being a student, I do not have a seven-inch square tin, lined with greaseproof. I had a seven by four-inch rectangular tin, that was no so much lined with greaseproof paper, as with grease, the variety that comes from butter. The mix also seemed to be spread awfully thinly across the tin. I was assured that it would rise, and that no one would even notice. The problem really started to appear when I put the two tins into the oven.

"Oh, they look nice"... "Errr...I wouldn't get too hopeful about the ones I'm bringing"... (1)

The instructions told me that I should bake the brownies for fifteen minutes, on one hundred and seventy degrees celsius. I’d even remembered to pre-heat the oven first. Another, rather important, element that seemed to have slipped my mind though, was that our oven, again, being a student oven, is less than reliable, and is much more uneven than otherwise. So in the brownies went, me bumbling along, doing some clearing up, thinking that the brownies will be done in the blink of an eye. But when I looked in the door, they seemed very flat. The white chocolate mixture in particular, seemed to have formed a rather hard shell, that was preventing the mixture below from cooking. So I left the brownies for a few minutes, checked back, and it seemed that nothing had really changed. So there I was, pondering how I could get the middle to cook. At this point, I got bored, and decided to make some lunch.

After about forty-five minutes cooking time, the cookie-dough brownies looked almost acceptable (except for the little hole my flatmate had put in them, causing them to sink…) and so I put them on top of the hob to cool down. I also extracted the white ones, which had at this point, formed a biscuit-y sort of slightly burnt around the edges tray bake. Obviously, that didn’t stop us, and we thought we’d better “check to see if they were okay”.

As far as I can tell, the best of the bunch are cooling on the hob at the moment. The white ones have been confined to scrap bin, i.e. my flatmate’s mouths. You never know, if I’m really lucky, the cake goblins will have swooped down and murdered my little brownies, making them flat and burnt too. In fact, I’d better go and check…

(:

(1) http://www.nikiaguirre.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/brownie.jpg?w=300

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Good Morning, Christmas Eve!

This morning is one of the two mornings a year when school aged children are willing to arise from their beds; Christmas Eve is upon us. This magical day has religious significance, familial significance, and corporate importance, to almost everyone. This year for me however is going to be slightly different, because I am going to spend the morning with my family, decorating a beautiful gingerbread house, but this afternoon, I shall be going to work. This seems like an extraordinarily grown up way of conducting the day; as children, the afternoon would be used for playing with the garland, making stockings for teddy bears, and watching Christmas films.

(1) Christmastime in Harrods

Christmas tends to be one of those reflective periods of the year, especially since it falls very close to New Years Eve, a time where we make resolutions, and promptly break them at some point on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd of January. I find the progress of the resolution strangely amusing in the way that one’s conviction for it decreases in direct proportion to the time passed immediately after it. New Year’s Eve resolutions are perhaps made to be broken, in the same way as tulip shaped wine glasses, and plastic children’s toys.

I find the Christmas period one unrivalled in attitudes by any other time of year. At no other time of the year is eating until you are considering vomiting an encouraged practice. The consumption of mince pies is, at no other time of year, a pleasant afternoon past time. During the course of weeks one to fifty-one of the year, drinking Bucks Fizz at breakfast is frowned upon. But not for Christmas. Considering the origins of the holiday, these practices present something of an attitudinal paradox.

To my untrained mind at least, Christmas seems to present something of a release from the restrictions and the tensions of the year that has just passed. Where people have been running through London’s complex tube system at six thirty every morning for fifty weeks, they relish the opportunity to exchange this for a very hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, and kippers, accompanied by Buck’s Fizz. These foods represent the luxury of time which very often evades us, for most of the year. Christmas is also a time where paying mortgages, and saving up a nest egg, tends to be something of an abandoned practice; instead, we lavish gifts on family and friends, buy fine foods, gallons of wine, and seek only really, to be merry. This celebration of the year is a kind of reward: a reward for doing so well, surviving the pressures of life, and therefore instead of resisting the pleasures of life in favour of a slightly more attractive waistline, we tuck in.

The Christmas period offers us also, the opportunity to become creatures of leisure, something we don’t tend to be able to do very often during the year. Being a student, I have plenty of time for reading books, however they are not my books of choice; they are lovely books, they are classical books, but they are a part of my “job”. Over Christmas however, I get to indulge in the classics I have chosen for myself, such as Dostoevsky’s Devils, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. I also get to draw during the festive period, squeezing it in between walks and work. For the very reason that I get to be at home whilst I do all this, it’s my favourite time of year.

I hope everyone has a fantastic day today, and have a happy holiday!

(:

(1) http://www.shoppingblog.com/2011pics/harrods_christmas_world_department_2011.jpg

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