Monday, 26 July 2010

We interrupt your regular programming... give you this announcement.

Due to the ineptitude of a customer services person we are about to lose our internet. Don't ask. I'm sure you can all imagine just how the phone call went when the news was broken to me.

It might be a while before it's back too. And so in the flat we are pulling faces like this.

I'm sure there is a way to do fancy things with fancy phones. But this blogger is not someone who has gotten her head around all that yet.

So please bear with me, I promise I will be back as soon as I can. Hopefully with news about this, and other such exciting summery ventures.

Thursday, 22 July 2010


84 apricots, don't make as much jam as you'd expect for that much de-stoning.

But it's worth every one. The height of the jamming season has begun, and I'm doing the best I can to put as much gorgeous summer fruit into jars as possible.

Are you preserving the summer too? If so, please share how. This marmalady can't get enough of whacking things in jars!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Ladies wot lunch

A couple of weeks ago, when summer was at it's height, Rosy and I decided it was time to take advantage of the tucked away green spaces that London has to offer, and have a picnic.
It's amazing just what tranquility you can find in this city. Moments away from a busy road, and convenient bus route you can find yourself in gently green spaces, dappled in sunlight, refreshed by breezes, affording both quiet and comfort. I don't take advantage of it enough, and I really should.

I also don't take enough advantage of Rosy's amazing skills. I was in charge of the booze, and she was in charge of the main food items. I've been to picnics before where it's all a bit shambolic, the food is last minute, and squished into tupperware or still wrapped in shop cellophane, the blankets aren't sufficient and there is always one less plate or cup. I love those picnics for their charm, their laughter and their hapharzard cobbling together of things.

I suspected this would be something different, and I was right, after all it was two food bloggers, who take a leisurely lunch very seriously indeed. What I wasn't prepared for was just how unbelievable it would actually be. Honestly, this lady served up a still warm pesto and salad tart, a still perfectly crisp panzanella salad, and, wait for it, individual eton mess! I was out classed.

But I had the booze, so I like to think I did my bit. (we won't talk about the awful lemon cake I made that was so bad it embarrased me to even offer it...a write-off recipe that has been torn from my scrap book and burnt).

It was a perfect afternoon of calm, in the midst of one of the craziest and noisiest summers I've ever known.

I could very much get used to being a lady wot lunches.

Monday, 5 July 2010

The curious incident of the frog in the night time

This cute, fluffy, adorable little blighter has been getting up to some rather impressive tricks recently.

He doesn't enjoy the heat much, or rather, he likes to bathe in the sunshine in spring, but the height of summer is not his friend. You can't blame him, you'd be a summer grump too if you were carrying rather a lot of hot ginger fur (and perhaps a little bit of weight?! - yes, the v.e.t. did mention he should lose a few hundred grams!).

As a result he doesn't venture into the house much at the moment, but seeks out shadier spots under the decking or neighbours trees. Only popping in occasionally to remind us he needs feeding.

So I get all silly. I worry that he doesn't sit on my lap or want to be cuddled, I fear he loves someone else more than us and spends his days with them. I get in a bit of a tizz about it all.

And so Sniff finds ways to show his appreciation, as only cats do. A couple of nights ago we were graced with a midnight mouse hunt. Sniff kindly brought it in to show us just how exciting it can be to chase both him, and said rodent, around our living room. The prize was captured by a very on-the-ball N and given it's freedom, and what we thought was ample time to run and hide before Sniff was allowed out again.

Not so. How could two humans be so bad at this game? The aim is not to free the mouse, but to eat it! Sniff showed us just how we were going wrong by treating us to bit of ex-mouse around the flat the next morning.

Not to be deterred by his humans failings he upped the game. The night we finally got some humidity relieving rain he tried again. We were woken not by the pleasant noises of raindrops on the windows, but instead a very strange sound indeed emanating from the kitchen. Another poor mouse we assumed, so I gaily went out to do my fair share of chasing. In my sleepy haze I made the mistake of not taking my glasses, and so was peering at the strange shape on the floor, thinking how it was amazing that a mouse that spread out could still make so much noise, when it leapt into the air and emitted a mighty croak! It was a huge frog! Goodness knows how this innocent little cat had managed not only to catch the amphibian, but to get it through the cat flap in one piece! 

At this discovery all rescue duties were promptly handed over to a very sleepy N. I have nothing against frogs, but they rank with slugs and snails for their potentially sliminess, at least in my head! And I wasn't about to attempt capture, not least because I had no shoes on, nor glasses, nor any idea how to go about the manouver.

In the end it took two of us, one inside and one outside, to coax the poor thing back out into the damp garden, whilst little Sniffer was trapped in the bedroom eeking for all his little lungs could managed (I like to think he was balling instructions about how the game worked!)

Luckily the frog survived the encounter and hasn't been seen since, and our little kitty has been smugly sleeping off the exertion.

What remains a mystery is where the frog came from in the first place. As far as we are aware there are no ponds, streams or water holes anywhere near us.

It truly was a curious incident of a frog in the night time, and shall remain so...

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Blame it on the pav-a-lova

Sometimes I inexplicably get songs running round my head. This would be fine, except it goes on for days and days and it seems nothing will cure it. I can even hunt out the song, listen to it, and still my brain doesn't seem satisfied.

Which is how I came to be singing "blame it on the pa-va-lova" to the tune of "blame it on the bossa nova" which incidentally I only know because of watching this.

Why pavlova? Because this week I made some ice cream and decided that it would be a wonderful excuse to pile some cream, passion fruit and passion fruit curd on top of a cloud of crispy-on-the-outside mallow-in-the-middle meringue.

Because really, who needs and excuse for this super-sweet fat free (ahem, we're ignoring the cream, alright?) fluffy cloud of summery deliciousness? Not me. Especially as it means I can dance around the kitchen in my dressing gown singing "blame it on the pa-va-lova" at the top of my voice!

There's only one problem really. Unless you are super talented, it can be hard to make pavlova photogenic. Or perhaps it's just me? But seriously, this baby did not want it's picture taken. The light was all wrong, the cream kept trying to leap off the top, and all in all it just wasn't having it. So I've dolled it up with poladriod in the hope that you will trust me that it's a lovely idea to make this for your next summer gathering. I scaled down my recipe to make me feel less guilty about eating all that cream and curd for four days in a row. As a result this recipe makes a nice size pavlova for four servings. I'm sure it's not the best in the world, but it's easy and quick and I think it tastes lovely after a salad with a chilled glass of white wine.

Passionate Pavlova - Serves four.

2 large egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp lemon juice

2 very ripe passionfruit
100ml double cream
3 tbsp passion fruit (or lemon) curd

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with parchment. 

Whip the egg whites until peaks form. Then gradually whip in the sugar until the mixture becomes stiff and glossy. Then sprinkle over the lemon juice and cornflour and gently fold it into the mixture with a metal spoon trying to knock as little air out of the mixture as possible.

Pile into the centre of the baking sheet and smooth the top as best you can. You want a disk around eight inches in diameter and 1-2 inches tall.

Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 120C. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the oven off, but leave the pavlova in there to continue baking as the oven cools, leave until completely cold.

When you are ready to serve, gently invert the pavlova onto a place and peel off the paper. Whip the cream gently until it is still soft and fluffy, but holds its shape. Then stir in the pulp from the passion fruits. Gently spread the curd over the pavlova and then top with the cream, serve immediately, or within an hour.

Please don't forget to sing "blame it on the pa-va-lova" whilst serving, it makes it taste better. Honest.