As my sister certainly had no hesitation in making this libellous claim when she tagged me in this picture earlier in the week. The only fitting way to respond to this of course was “right back at you”!
The particularly stormy weather over the weekend and the very real threat that we might well lose power and have to manage with candles, an extra blanket and cold baked beans as our only form of sustenance (eaten from the tin of course, as there would be no hot water to wash up and the dishwasher would be out of action)….. prompted me to consider a few things I just know I could not live without:
Water and Coffee
Chocolate and (it goes without saying) Cake
I recently read and happily latched on to the suggestion that Chocolate should be put at the top of your “to do” list every morning, affording you the smug satisfaction of ticking off at least one item everyday (and most likely before breakfast!).
It would be a very brave man or woman indeed who got between me and my hair straighteners, as I remember (and cringe) all too well the wilderness hair years we lived through before the advent of this glorious accessory.
For, since I came across the note worthy advice of Peter Hahn that there should not be a day without cashmere, it would be quite remiss not to include this too. Given that cashmere is now up there amongst life’s very essentials, what further excuse do I need to bump that new sweater from wish list to an absolute staple, must buy this week item!
After all of the hype and frantic pre-storm preparation and pontification, in our part of the country we do seem to have been pretty much unaffected. We have woken simply to a wet squally day – pretty typical really for late October.
That this “storm” was dubbed St Jude’s storm; after the patron saint of depression and lost causes whose feast day falls on 28th October, now seems particularly apt, as we actually seem to have lost the storm!
It has been not so much, super storm here but more storm in a teacup.
With a rather unexpected and definitely unwelcome sense of déjà-va, just as last October we were caught by the tail end of Hurricane Sandy, this year we are watching and waiting for what is being billed as the worst storm to hit the UK in 25 years.
Or this is certainly what I tell my son, who is beyond mortified by the picture we have on the landing wall of him at three years old in a wetsuit with pink sleeves (for the record this was the last item of clothing originally belonging to his sister which I passed down).
Today is my husband’s birthday (age to be kept a closely guarded secret…..), and I do wonder if making him a pink cake was perhaps pushing the envelope a little too far.
Recently I have been reading, and hearing on the radio, an alarming buzz, or if you prefer shocking rumours.
Rumours with sufficient enough weight and veracity behind them to make me believe that an impending crisis really is looming.
Chocolate is in short supply…..
Apparently the drier than usual weather in Africa has hampered cocoa bean production and supplies are dwindling. It is anticipated that the world’s cocoa bean supply will fall short of demand…..demand for chocolate!
Since chocolate has soooo many numerous (and of course proven!) health benefits the consequences could indeed be dire:
Gone will be our perfectly balance diets!
Image via Pinterest – source unknown
Gone will be our valiant efforts to eat a healthy
selection of 5-a-day!
Image via Facebook – source unknown
With costs set to spiral as supply outstrips demand, is it too late to get our placards at the ready and mount a campaign?
But I have to confess the best moment of the show for me was when hosts Mel and Sue dispatched Paul Hollywood from the baking marquee whilst gleefully remarking that he boasted un derrière comme une pêche (had we noticed this during the last 9 weeks?!…..).
As you know if you have been following my efforts to bake along with the show, I have been wildly generous with my brief, and this was very much the case once again this week.
So, with a nod of my beret towards all things French, I made Tarte Tatin.
As I am not particularly fond of puff pastry (quite frankly too much “puff” for me), I made my tarte using sweet shortcrust pastry instead.
For this Tarte Tatin recipe you will need:
For the pastry
125g butter (cut into small cubes)
175g plain flour
15g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water
For the apple filling
50g caster sugar
450g Granny Smiths apples
Begin by making the pastry: Measure the flour and butter into a bowl and rub together until the mixture takes on the texture of fine breadcrumbs. This can be done by hand but I prefer to use my Kitchen Aid.
Stir in the caster sugar.
Add the egg yolk and water, and mix together to form a dough.
Lightly knead the dough, wrap tightly in cling film and chill in the fridge whilst you make the filling.
Peel, core, half and thinly slice the apples.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the sugar. Gently heat until the mixture is caramelised and golden brown in colour.
Pour the caramelised sugar mixture into the bottom of a 20cm round cake tin.
Layer the sliced apples on top, making sure there are no gaps.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface until you have a circle of pastry slightly larger than the cake tin.
Carefully place the pastry on top on the apples, tucking the edges in.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
When you are ready to cook your tarte, preheat the oven to 200C / 400F /
Gas Mark 6.
Place on a baking sheet and cook for 30 – 40 minutes until the pastry turns golden brown.
Turn onto a plate and serve apple side up.
Delicious hot with cream or cold (if there is any left!) the next day with a cup of coffee.
I have a wardrobe stuffed full of scarves and a near on compulsive habit which drives me to just keep buying more. Working on the theory that just like handbags, and shoes (yes, my closet is very full, bursting to capacity even, with all these essential items!) that you simply cannot have too many.
But beautiful and extensive as my scarf collection might be, there is one small issue fundamental flaw; tying them. Instead of sartorial statement and elegant nonchalant appeal, it is more “chewed-string” fashion faux-pas…..
And whilst I may not be looking as chic as I would like and my fumbling fingers may not be able to tie effortlessly casual knots such as those promised in this tutorial, my scarf romance will most definitely continue as we push into winter this year. As unless I can manage to master the thermostat and the complexities of our new boiler and heating system (and please don’t suggest I read the instruction manual…..) scarves well tied or otherwise will not just be a wardrobe staple but an absolute necessity.