Friday, 16 December 2011

Volcanos on the school run

Questions from Darling boy this morning on the school run included; what is a volcano? what is an earthquake? what is inside a dinosaur? what is inside concrete?  He is 3 1/2 years old.

All these tricksy questions meant I took a wrong turn on the school route- which I have driven 4 times a week for a year, so taxed was my brain.

I searched a long way back to my geography lessons and came up with an answer to the volcano one which involved the words 'magma' and 'lava' and me describing it like a mountain with a big straw in the middle which goes into the centre of the earth, where it is so hot, the rock has turned to liquid. I hope this is right. My answer to the one about earthquakes involved the word 'tectonic plates' which I said were like jigsaw pieces- though I got a bit vague on why they rubbed together and got wobbly. I really couldn't remember why they do this.

I said dinosaurs had organs inside them just like we do, i.e. heart and lungs and livers and stomachs- I hope this is right too, I'm not sure.  As soon as I said it I had my doubts.  By this point, I was hoping to dodge the concrete question, but Darling boy wasn't so easily put off and really wanted to know.  I came up with 'sand and special glue'.  

I told marvellous dad all about these questions.  He laughed and said he could tell Darling boy all about concrete when we go there for christmas- and I just know Darling boy will be hanging off his every word.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Stir up Sunday

Ok, so Stir up Sunday was a few weeks back, and is actually for the christmas pudding, not the cake- but what is christmas if not a chance to break from tradition (actually, thats the opposite of what christmas is,  where it seems everything from the ancient decorations on the tree, to the order in which the days events should unfold, should be the same every year for complete seasonal family happiness all round, but anyhoo)

So, this year I opted for a Nigella cake as it is both nut free (for Handsome husband who is an almond dodger) and also contains the magical chestnut puree stuff which is beyond delicious and has the most beautiful packaging.  You wrap it like a traditional christmas cake homage to the Sound of Music (a brown paper package, tied up with string) pour the goodness in and bake in a lowish oven.  Once its out, you can feed it with booze each week as you like, then glaze the top with fruits, stand back and admire.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The chocolate bourbon

Here is chapter one in the cannon of classic biscuits...the chocolate bourbon.  Much more chocolately and  satisfying than the shop version.  Pretty easy to make and with a chocolate buttercream icing in the centre, it makes the biscuit something more of a treat too.  It's more squeezey to eat, but worth making again.  Little brother chose the home-made one over the shop one when offered both- clever boy.

I'm sure you can play around with the flavours too, and go all spicy and cinnamony, should you be so inclined.

It went with a swing.

What a lovely evening- the jazz concert was a warm and toasty success.  A nice big audience and the band and singers were all great.  The church looked really pretty with holly and candles and fairy lights everywhere.  The mulled wine and mince pies went down a storm.  Pictured here is Dave the postman's famous shortbread. I truly believe that if you didn't feel all warm and snuggly and christmassy when Mike Long sang White christmas than you must be a robot, from planet Grinch.  Mike's voice was velvety rich and evocative and his version could easily stand next to Nat King Cole's anytime.  It was a lush evening.  I'm already daydreaming about organising another one- bigger and better, next year.  Next time I'm thinking of finding a brass section from somewhere- we all need trumpets in our lives after all.  We raised a lovely amount of dosh for the feel restoration fund too- brilliant.

Friday, 2 December 2011

THE Christmas jazz concert, it's tomorrow!!!!!

How can I have forgotten to mention I have been organising a jazz concert? It is tomorrow night at the local church and is in aid of the church bells which need re-hanging. The re-hanging will cost about a squillion pounds and we are applying for Heritage Lottery funding, but need to raise 10% locally.

It was my big idea to have a concert so I was the one to drive it forward, but it couldn't have been possible without my fellow ringers being super duper helpful. I suggested it back in August and have been beavering away ever since.

The band, Just Misbehavin' are booked, the brilliant singers Mike Long, Emily Wraith and Lynn Thornton have agree their set list, the wine is ready for mulling, the mince pies are ready for munching (we have all been madly baking) we even have a hostess trolley on standby to keep the mince pies warm (yes, we have thought of everything!)

Tomorrow we decorate the church in the morning and then the band arrive before 6pm for a little run through, then it's show time at 8pm. It's very exciting and I've gone past nerves, though I'm sure they will return tomorrow. Can't wait. It's been a long time since I put on a show (I used to run a contemporary dance company back in London, but more about that another time) so I'm really looking forward to it.

As a bonus, marvellous mum and dad are coming down with my brother and his lovely partner, hooray! Darling boy and Little brother are very very excited.

I will post again soon to say how it goes, I'm sure it wil be with a swing though!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The biscuit classics

I have started a new venture; to home bake all the classic biscuits you wouldn't normally bake yourself.  I'm thinking of the old skool biscuits that you had at school.  Rolling off my kitchen work bench and into the hungry waiting mouths of Darling boy and Little brother (and Handsome husband if he can get there quick enough) will be custard creams, rich teas, digestives and the classic chocolate bourbon.

I have made custard creams a few times, a la Nigella. They were infinitely more delicious than any shop bought version, a million times so.  Not being a fan of the commercial biscuit, finding it powdery and bland, I was delighted with the results.  I never fail also to be enraptured with the romantic background of the key ingredient, Bird's custard powder.  Mr Alfred Bird's wife loved custard deeply, but was allergic to eggs.  He strove to engineer an alternative that would enable his sweetheart to have her custard and eat it. Romance and puddings, who could ask for more.

By they way, Mr Bird also invented baking powder (again for his wife, so he could make yeast free bread).  What a hero.

So, watch this space for some classic biscuit action.  First up, the bourbon.