Saturday, 20 August 2011

Noisy Kitchens...

I was at my aunt’s house earlier this week and one of the things I love about being there is her big pine kitchen table. It is bashed and dinged and war battered after being at the centre of the hurricane that is raising two boys! But that’s what makes it so wonderful to sit around. I sit drinking coffee, aunt is cooking dinner while talking to small child who is trying to get his dinosaurs to fight Ben 10 under the table while big child is discussing with me the finer details of the latest reboot of Spiderman and what that means to the marvel multiverse. I am battling the dinosaurs from the perspective of Ben10, opening the wine, helping aunt with dinner and also, feeling utterly and completely at peace in the middle of this mayhem. Such is the consequence of growing up in a large and noisy family…noise is peaceful, silence is too loud!

My mums kitchen is the same (which makes sense since she grew up in the same household as aunt!). its large and airy and stacked with every pan/knife/spice or ingredient required for every savoury or sweet dish that you could ever want to create, topped with a groaning shelf of books offering further advice, if required, on how to get those creative juices flowing! *tilt of the hat to Jamie and Delia*

With several separate work surfaces, there is enough room for everyone to be getting on with their own thing, while holding down separate conversations with one-another, seeking mums advice on texture and seasoning, listening to radio 2, moving the cats out of the way, emptying he dishwasher, bickering over who has who’s knife and enquiring as to whether it is time to open the wine yet! (it always is!)…should anyone find themselves in our home and not cooking or baking, the kitchen is still the place we gravitate to. The light, the noise, the laughter, the smell…it all equates to one thing for me. Family. Home. Safety. Love. 

although, please dont be mistaken, we are more:

Especially on Christmas Eve. In our house we have Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve, and we all cook a course each. I do the starter, mum and her husband do the main course, sister and niece do the dessert. Although, this may change this year as niece is old enough to do her own course and much more interested in baking than sister. I think sister may move to starter and niece and I will bash together a couple of different desserts with petit fois and rich dark coffee. (although last years white chocolate crème Brule is going to be hard to beat, we have demanded it of neice several times since…but it’s a challenge I am sure she will rise to). We may even create a nice pre-dinner Christmas cocktail to precede events. I am sure no will argue against the addition of a drink or a course in our house!

Am excited already! Niece and I have begun our discussions on how to decorate mums house for Christmas. We sat around the pool in Dubai when visiting mum in July, on July 25th to be precise (our half way to Christmas Day decorating and food confab!) and discussed such details…much to the frowns of sister and mum, who were in no rush to see in the winter times!

Usually, when mum resides in this country however, her christmas cake is prepared early in the year and fed all year round, so ultimately, i could argue that she starts her preparation even earlier than i do!
So when Christmas Eve rolls around, we shall have our lists and schedules of everything that needs doing and the times for it to be done (including when the wine shall be opened and showering and dressing times for later in the evening – courtesy of my overly developed organisational skills!) and we all get into the kitchen, Christmas music blaring and get to it.

At around 3pm the wine will be opened and the table decorated and people will start getting in showers and putting on their Sunday best. 5ish we will start eating, and with all the courses and chatting and drinking and cracker pulling and Christmas Eve present opening, we should be finished for around 10ish…since the dinning room is an extension of the kitchen the food does not need to be taken far and all the excitation happens around this one wonderful beating heart. 
Of course then on Christmas day we open our Christmas pyjamas, put them on, make a big breakfast with champagne & orange juice and stay in them all day, playing board games and snacking on left overs and once again, opening the wine far too early…

I know its only August and possibly far to early to be thinking about Christmas and I have my teacher training to start soon and moving house and working and all those other wonderful eccentricities that make up each and every persons tapestry of life, but its rainy and chilly here in north England and X-factor starts this evening which is a sure indicator that Autumn is on the way and it makes me happy to think about Christmas. Although Christmas is still a few months away, mums visit is only a few days away, and the kitchen will be full, and our tummy’s will be full and our hearts will be full once again. 

And I cant wait. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Food Pr0n

So i have the date for when my mum is coming to visit and its this wednesday (24th August) and since my sister is going on holiday for the thursday to the monday, i shall have her all to myself! well, me and my neice, who as it happens, is nursing a pretty serious baking addiction too, so thats our activites sorted then!

I am really looking forward to getting in the kitchen with my mum, at her house we have a big country style kitchen that is the heart of the home, and even when people are staying that aren't partaking in the cooking, they like to sit in there with us...Radio 2 blaring and hot black coffee being dunked with home made biscuits...until the sun is over the yard arm anyway and the wine is opened :)

I shall be convincing mum to go through her pastry recipes with me again and also bread making, so i hope i shall be able to come home with many scrummy delights! I shall also be sharing with her some of my favourite food blogs at the moment with the prime ultimatum of getting her to help me make some of them! Luckily we are having a big family shinding while she is here, so we wont have to eat all the lovelies ourselves...although really, that would not be such a problem!!!

so, firstly my current food blog addictions are:

I think i found sprinkle Bakes at a perfect time as the wonderful recipes are currently being collated into a book, and i am not suprised at all. When i first saw them i thought 'wow, these are way over my head, i shall just look and drool!' and while some of the recipes are indeed more advanced the way they are described and explained with pictures and some video tutoials makes the whole thing so much easier to follow! i certainly cant wait to buy the book when it comes out.

In the meantime i am definately going to try these cowtails:

and this chocolate peanut butter terrine:

both of which look like they can be stored for a while. i certainly am looking forward to having an hour to myself, opening SFX magazing, making a fresh coffee and unwrapping a cow tail...sounds loverly!

My second current food blog addiction is this lady:
where the above two sweets can be stored, this one needs to be eated straight away, and it makes me drool every time i look at it. in fact, i am pretty amazed that i havnt shorted my laptop!


I cant wait to try these with mum and neice. I am not sure there will be any left for sister when she returns from her trip with her chap...although, i may have to either half the recipe or find something interesting to do with stale scrummy doughnuts, no matter how sweet our teeth are, i dont think we can manage to eat 28 cream doughnuts between us!

enjoy the food pr0n (which by the way, is an intentional typo for my austenites!)


A Quiet Friday Afternoon...

i rarely rarely get a quite anyday afternoon, let alone one on a Friday and i have taken full advantage....

i have cooked myself a lovely and healthy lunch (so i dont feel any guilt later when the whiskey gets opened!)
chicken, stir fried with broccoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms and brown rice (otherwise known as putting all the bits and pieces that needed using up from my fridge into a wok and cooking with lemon juice and soy sauce!) delicious, filling, yummy...

accompanied by a pot of tea. until recently, my favourite goto tea for relaxation  was green tea with jasmine, which, while maintaining its status in my ranks of favourites, it has been knocked off the top spot by my discovery of Pukka teas.
bliss....especially chamomile and vanilla...

after both i felt deliciously full and relaxed and finished the rest of the book i have been reading which i really really really cant recommend highly enough...
Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children. its a modern day fairy tale for adults, with a little bit of sadness, a little bit or horror and a lot of fantasy with an ending that could inspire a sequel....which i really really hope it does. I sat down to read it last night and could not stop reading it until tiredness caused my eyes to droop and my bed to call me...and i had the luxury of a quiet afternoon in which to finish it today.

And should you find yourself with a quiet afternoon for yourself to dedicate to some nice food, a pot of tea and  a very enjoyable satisfying read, may i suggest you follow the instructions as above, find a comfy chair, perhaps the addition of some Joni Mitchell (i have recently rediscovered blue and am loving it once again...especially 'A case of you')

 and spend your afternoon on a fantastic little imaginary island of the coast of Wales...

a most relaxing and wonderful ending to a hectic week and beginning of a hectic weekend...

My First Post :)

Ok, here i finally am...
i have been boring my browncoats with my food addiction for a little while now and i think they may be past their peak of interest, so instead of simply drooling over all the delicious recipes that i find online, and dreaming of owning all the loverly things i find on home shopping sites, and making notes in my decorating journal of all the things i want to do to my home when i move i can now....(drum roll please!)...put them all here and hope that someone else other than just me wants to read them!!!

Where to start though? about with a little introduction?
I am Polly and i live in Manchester in Northern Enland and i am starting my teacher training qualification next month and planning on moving into my very own home later this year, which is becomming very exciting to me on the decorating and sewing front! i fully intend on taking advantage of my mums visit home next week to teach me how to use her very complicated sewing machine to make my curtains and bedspread! although i currently dont have window measurements i can make my bedspread and cushion covers and wait a little while longer for my windows...that should be fab!

am planning on scurrying around my mums attic this weekend to dig out all the bits and bobs that i actually do own in order to finalise my colours, but i have the feeling that, as i am a little bohemian in my tastes and tend to pick out the things that other people dont want and give them a home, any colour chart that i settle for will end up being a rainbow of everything anyway! still, i can at least get going on deciding my base colours right?

but to start with, please let me introduce you to one of my favourite shops online ever: Plumo.

whatever colours i end up with, this site will inspire me and hopefully, help me to fill those little corners that need arty encouragemnt! especially with this Armenian Teapot,

these beautifully decorated painted indian cups:

and this indian spice box:

so hopefully, this is just the start to this leg of the journey of my lift and i am exfcited that it is filled with colour, love, cakes, scifi and my browncoats.