27 August 2011

Birthday dinner and cake....

Every year I always make J something special. He chooses his dinner and cake he’d like and of course I make it for him. I’m sure he tries to pick things that I’ve got on hand or things that I don’t make often enough. This year he wanted sushi and a chocolate cashew brownie cake (recipe by the usual death by chocolate author). I know...he’s a bit strange but gotta love him!

So about two weeks before his big day (which wasn’t on this posting date I should add!) he says his preferences. I was a bit dubious of the sushi as we normally only make that when we have a really hot period as that’s the best for those days. We’ve not had a really ‘hot’ summer here unlike other parts of Europe or America.

But rather our usual English weather of mid-60s and the odd few days of something a bit higher. So it was a *big* surprise to both of us that on his birthday the Gods smiled on us with yes, HOT weather! It was pure luck I am sure but it was good to have those few days of heat and have sushi to enjoy. Here are a few pictures of the meal from the roll to the cut version. I make smoked salmon for him – shrimp or veggie for me.I had all the fixings for the cake bar the cashews which as luck would have I got on offer at the store. I also happened to get the chocolate reduced (OK only I could find this chocolate reduced but that’s the great thing about me – the reduced aisle!) that I used – which was the first time I actually used this chocolate. Since it was unsweetened I had to add a bit of extra sugar to the cake which wasn’t a problem and really it was delicious. J thinks it’s the chocolate that really made the cake and I sort of have to agree.

13 August 2011

The BakerLady is baking bread....

I know my love of bread hasn’t gone unnoticed around here but I really do love making my own bread. My sister came to have a holiday here in the UK as you know and before she left I ordered a few items that I thought would hold me in good stead over here. I know there are just some things you cannot get in this country (well you can but obviously at a ridiculous price!).

She got a small carry-on piece of luggage at one of the charity shops there and I quite happily filled it with goodies that I ordered on-line and had sent to her. It was far cheaper than her re-sending it to me via the post and well so much more to pack into the luggage!

So I found this Pain de Mie Pan (Pullman Loaf Pan) over at King Arthur, which had a good many qualities to its name – namely that King Arthur is selling it means quality, it has 65% recycled steel in it (all those cans you put in the recycle bin are coming back without having to damage the Earth harvesting them!), an eco-friendly replacement to non-stick which I’m trying to avoid and more attributes.

So this past weekend I made a loaf of bread with this new pan – it’s a mixture of white flour and brown malted which I like making. It’s not 100% brown loaf since I cannot have that often but enough to give it some good taste along with as usual my starter in there. I made a bit more than I’d use for my traditional loaf pan since this one is quite long (thankfully it fit into my oven as it should – I was a bit worried!).

This is the pan with my bread just going into it for its second rise. I let it get to nearly the top (about ½ inch from the top) when I clamped on the lid and put it in the oven. I read a few reviews that the lid popped off but mine did not and the loaf came out like a breeze. I must admit it didn’t fill out the pan as much as I had imagined but then again I didn’t do a measured batch – I just eye-balled it (scales are on the fritz!) and guess at how much I’d needed for the pan.And this is the loaf as it came out of the oven and then out of the pan completely cooling. I really got the pan to have more even slices of toast that fit into the toaster but also to have some that I could slice and put into the freeze for those times when you want toast but as usual is the case no bread! I don’t keep too much bread in the freeze as its valuable space in our household but a few slices won’t take much room and serves a purpose when you are trying to quickly gather a lunch at 7am!So go on try your hand at something new. Baking bread seems so mysterious when you combine only four ingredients and out comes something unbelievably lovely. You’ll be hooked I guarantee it!

6 August 2011

Those holiday snaps...

Well here are some long awaited holiday snaps from July when I went to Teignmouth with my sister and niece. We did have some lovely weather and really did quite a bit – relaxing was the order of the day since we travelled on three trains to get there to begin with!
This is a picture of the church just down from the cottage – they were having a flower fair. I looked in on the last day by myself – it was really just a local showing of flowers from the gardens, very homey.

The next three pictures are of the beach in both directions and the third is my niece playing in the sand – this was our first day there – she just had to go into the water. I swear she is a water baby!

We then went by bus to Brixham which had a replica of the ship Francis Drake used called the Golden Hind. It was moored on the Quay and the background to the ship as you can see from the next few pictures was amazing!Get a load of this sea gull that really wanted to be noticed. Then of course my culinary dreams began when I saw all these lobster pots and such. I wonder how much they have brought ashore for us to enjoy?

Then of course I was put off immediately by this restaurant’s name. I know silly of me but honestly – it’s funny but it’s not!

These two pictures are one of Torquay which we didn’t get to but I can see why it is called the English Riviera. The next one is of the St. Leonards Tower in Newton Abbot it certainly was imposing and impressive.I thought this offer at the local chippy (fish and chip shop) was impressive – I have yet to see this being offered here in Southend.And finally – what we all needed after this busy holiday – SLEEP! This is Olivia one morning – she began at the top of the bed but somehow made it down to the end. Don't even get me started on the night she fell out of the bed - yes and got back into bed all without waking up! I know - somehow just like her Aunt in many ways!A glorious ending to the trip! Hope you enjoyed that quick tour!

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