Thursday, February 24, 2011

Something you can do in five minutes

Prepare the most excellent bread.

Artisan bread in fact.

Yes really.

I know I am possibly the last blogger on earth to write about this book, ARTISAN BREAD IN 5 MINUTES A DAY: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking but having just enjoyed this bread for lunch I was suddenly overcome with the need to share the joy.

Place flour, water, yeast and salt into a large container, mix. That's right, mix, not knead. It may even take less than 5 minutes if you are a really fast mixer. Leave to rise, refrigerate (for up to two weeks, but you will have eaten it all long before that). Tear off a portion when needed, dust, shape, leave a short while to prove and bake.

If you keep the dough in your fridge all the time you will never be far away from a rather fabulous loaf of bread and that is the sort of thing that can make one feel quite domestically smug and goddess like. And let me tell you, it really is fabulous, a perfect crisp crust, good open crumb and excellent well developed flavour.

I notice there is a UK version of the book available now too, Five Minute Bread: The revolutionary new baking method: no bread machine, no kneading!.

This is the sort of thing that gets you through half term with your sanity intact.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Technical wrestling

Today I have spent rather too long tussling with technology. I have been attempting to set up a Handmade at Poshyarns Facebook page, all this in the same week that I launched myself upon Twitter.

No wonder I feel the urge to lie down in a darkened room.

I sort of wanted to prove that I could do this by myself.

But having spent so long being bamboozled today I realise that this is exactly the sort of thing one keeps a Technical Advisor for, not the only thing of course...

Having finally set up the page I began to investigate how to add a link here on my blog.

But I find myself quite overcome, technically fatigued. I am off to the kitchen, The Technical Advisor will certainly need something sustaining to get him through an evening of advising one so challenged as myself.

So until the Dear Advisor can sort out the appropriate sidebar links just let me tell you that you can read my Tweets over here and follow Handmade at Poshyarns on Facebook . I do hope you can come and say hello, it's all rather baffling and a tad lonely at present.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Easily swayed

Sometimes I choose an item of food just because it looks pretty.

I am not too proud to admit that I bought these sardines because I liked the picture on the box.

I know it makes me a bit of a marketing man's dream, some might say it even makes me a bit of a sucker.

It could be said that it makes me shallow. Oh, and I really like the typeface too.

But putting something lovely on the pantry shelf sort of makes my day.

And I always eat the food eventually. The sardines had been there some time. It's a good job tinned food comes with such a long sell by date.

As I wrote this post I had a nagging feeling that I had seen a picture of sardines on another blog at some point. So I did a little brain racking and discovered that I am in Domesticali's most excellent company, twice. It seems the world of sardine packaging offers no end of creative possibilities.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happiness is

I am having one of those days, in truth I am having one of those weeks. Maybe even one of those months. Gracious, let us hope it isn't one of those years.

My patience is stretched.

Very, very thin.

Do you remember those rather good Hamlet cigar adverts? I think that is what I need, a Hamlet moment. But I only smoke cigars when drinking whisky and that seems a bad idea on a weekday afternoon so I took to the kitchen instead.

The answer would surely be lemons. A lemon drizzle cake. As I beat butter and sugar I felt my shoulders relax. As I zested lemons I felt the corners of mouth turn upwards. I scraped the bowl happily and levelling the cake was pure pleasure. Finally I took the cake from the oven, poured that lemony, sugary syrup on top and it felt as though I was pouring my troubles away. I left the cake cooling and went to collect Miss Tilly.

I came home to find the remains of the cake on the kitchen floor and a dog beneath the table overcome with guilt, too late.

And just for the record, that would be the same dog who ate an entire tray oven warm flapjacks just five days ago.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I must confess

That I really rather like Valentine's Day.

I know it probably isn't very cool, but there you have it. It's a bright spark in a dull month.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Knitting for love

Last week I went to Woodbridge.

Woodbridge is a rather charming little town in Suffolk, too far for me to shop there regularly but perfect for a day playing hooky with a friend.

The day was bright and breezy and we started off with coffee & cake in a rather good bookshop.

Then we wandered up the road, gazed in the window of the violin maker's shop for a very long time and ended up at Twist, Woodbridge's very fine yarn shop. Light and airy and stocked with plenty of Rowan, Louisa Harding, D
ebbie Bliss & Sublime amongst others. We made ourselves comfortable on the sofa and browsed long and hard.

Lunch at the Wild Strawberry Cafe, a good long browse through the rather fabulous children's bookshop and back towards the car park whilst gazing through the windows of little cottages and imaging the lives lived within.

But the really good bit of this story is what happened in the yarn shop (isn't it always?)

You see a man came in. Tall and pleasant, he must have felt quite nervous for my friend and I were deep in knitting needle conversation with the proprietor of the shop and we must have seemed a daunting trio. But he bravely asked his question.
"How long do you think it would take for someone who had never knitted before to make something, perhaps something like a scarf, say?"
Well, our advice came swift and fast.
"A scarf you say, not long at all, of course it is possible, U-tube can help, how long do you have? Ah Valentine's of course."
So that darling chap (a left-hander too) was given a lesson, several earfuls of encouragement and sent on his way. And because I know you are wondering....we suggested he use Rowan Cocoon, he picked a lovely cream colour, oh and bamboo needles, of course.

I do so hope she is worth it.

Monday, February 07, 2011

I heart Liberty

I never seem to tire of those Liberty prints, no not one bit. I like them best in little bits.

As bias trim

Or a little decorative applique.

Perhaps just peeping out.

All that floral joy just makes me smile.

So when I came across a stack of pre-cut Liberty hearts on eBay, they simply had to be mine.

A chain of hearts, to cheer my window pane view of February.

Friday, February 04, 2011

a shift begins

Today the wind blows madly, seemingly in every direction, my hair waves crazily on end from side to side.

The door blew right off the Post Office collection depot.

So they would not let me collect my item, apparently a missing door is a health and safety issue.

I felt cross, a twelve mile round trip wasted, but my mood was quickly whipped away by those roaring winds.

For it may be stormy but temperatures are up. Sure, those Easterly winds bite a bit but I can see green shoots in the garden. I have been monitoring their progress from the kitchen window, I am watching as each day they grow taller and fatter, those yellow daffodil flowers swelling inside their green cocoons.

Hand in hand with the lengthening days they give me hope and cheer my heart.

And a rather good lemon cookie always helps of course.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Tried and true

I like to think that I am a reasonably adventurous cook, indeed The Technical Advisor might be inclined to suggest that I am rather too adventurous
from time to time, he would certainly be happy to see me limit my adventures in cooking with pulses or new things to do with leftovers.

But sometimes, when something is really good, I am just too afraid to veer from the path of sure success. I have a great many biscotti recipes lurking in the depths of my extensive cook book collection. A brief search on-line will reveal many exciting variations on the basic recipe and for a moment I was almost swayed by one featuring Nutella, I mean Nutella in a biscotti? It's probably very good.

But in my heart of hearts I knew all along that I would stick with my usual recipe, the one I have made time after time.

Chocolate and Almond Biscotti from Rachel's Favourite Food for Friends

Because this is a very good biscotti.

Astonishing that something this fabulous contains no butter whatsoever. Practically a health food don't you know. So it's absolutely fine to eat two or three at a time.