Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A is for August

Writing a blog post always results in two main emotions.

On the positive front, joy. I enjoy writing. I like the positive feedback I get from family and friends and when someone tells me that an activity / a recipe posted was copied and worked.

On the negative side, it can be quite boring.  You have to do quite a lot of research to come up with a new post and just as you're about to publish, you realize that that type of topic has traditionally scored very low on your traffic analysis.

One post that did see a bit of a spike though was the July calendar one and so while some could accuse me of pandering, I would argue that I should give people what they want!

So here's my initial calendar for the month of August for things to do (some very self explanatory) and ideas that I will cover this coming month:

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

International Beer Day

3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Book Lover’s Day

10 11 12 13


14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21

Hawaii Day

22 23

Waffle Day

25 26 27 28 29 30

Trail Mix Day

Let me know if you'd like to see a special event in your country or culture listed here.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

C is for Crème Brûlée

There is something very simple, but very delicious about a luscious Crème Brûlée.  Cracking through that crispy disc of caramelized sugar to dip into the velvet smoothness of vanilla custard.  

And this is the recipe I use to make six ramekins of ambrosia (and that's not the canned/packet stuff)!

  • 500 mls double cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 100 gms caster sugar
  • 6 tblspn caster sugar (to sprinkle)

  1. Turn on the oven to 150℃ to pre-heat
  2. Cut the vanilla pod down the middle and scrape out the seeds by running the back of your knife along the skin of the pod (both sides inside) and dumping the seed pulp into the cream.  Put in the pod too.
  3. Bring the vanilla cream in a pan to boiling point (when you can see it's just beyond scalded) and then simmer for 5 mins
  4. While this is simmering, whisk the egg yolks with the 100 gms sugar until the mix is pale and fluffy
  5. Fish out the (empty) pod and bring the cream back up to the boiling point and then whisking the egg mix furiously, pour the cream into the bowl.  If you don't whisk enough, you will only have scrambled eggs
  6. Pour the mix into six ramekins until they're about ⅔-rds full
  7. Put the ramekins in a deep roasting tray and pour water into the tray (not the ramekins) until the water's about half way up the outside of the dishes to form a bain marie
  8. Then carefully put the tray in the oven and leave to cook for 40-45 mins.  It should still wobble a bit as the dish will continue to cook slightly out of the oven
  9. Immediately take out the ramekins from the water (I use my kitchen tongs to do this) and leave to cool
  10. Chill until needed (easily left overnight)
  11. When you come to serve, sprinkle over a tablespoon of caster sugar per ramekin and put under your hottest grill setting to caramelize OR you can use a blowtorch
Obviously you have to be careful, but I tend to use my husband's blow torch as it's a lot quicker.

Are you ready to serve up Crème Brûlée on Crème Brûlée Day on 27 July.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

T is for Teddy Bears' Picnic Day

So it's not helpful that it's ended up being mid-week, but you could always shift the celebrations from 10th July to the weekend...

And I'm not talking about a party to suit a slightly scary Peter Pan-personality type that has hundreds of plush toys that have taken over the corner of the master bedroom of a 40-year-old.  I'm talking about a party for the kiddies.

So here are some of the ideas I have:

I already have the tiffin boxes and will be serving lots of child-friendly food drawing from the list from the Beeb.  And to keep costs down, I will make a bright picnic blanket and similar tree cushions to mimic the woods in which the picnic will take place as the patterns are very easy, although you can buy a similar picnic blanket and the cushions should you so choose.

Now all I have to do is to download the music by John Walter Bratton, which dates back to 1907.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

J is for July

I do love my planning!  Know it's a bit much for some people...but for others....

And for all those of you out there, here's my overview of July food-related celebrations for any prior preparation.

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

Canada Day
2 3 4

Independence Day

6 7

Macaroni Day

8 9 10

Teddy Bears' Picnic Day

11 12
13 14

Bastille Day

15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Cuban Revolution Day


Crème Brûlée Day

28 29 30


Friday, 4 July 2014

T is for Tour de France - Le Grand Départ

We're off up to Yorkshire ce soir to see the Tour de France come through the county which has gone to town on yellow shirts and cyclists. And I spotted this in a butchers' window in Ripon.

Am looking forward to the weekend and seeing the action unfold.  And to ensure everyone understands what's going on...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

I is for Independence Day

I have always shied away from Fourth July celebrations, but I'm currently doing some work for an American company and we're getting the day off!  So I'll ignore the fact that it's a celebration of becoming independent from the UK, and dig out the bunting I made for the Jubilee celebrations given the red/white/blue theme works for both!

And after a quick conflab with some colleagues, I'm also now hosting a small soirée.  I'm going for the full American experience...for which I'm turning to Martha for support.

First off...given the heatwave we're experiencing...I'm making up some fans.

Couldn't be easier.  Print off the templates onto light card, fold and stick to the stick.

These napkin rings are just as easy. Cut out four stars per 'ring', attach two to either side of the end of the string and wrap loosely around your cloth.  Adjust the colours according to your table linen.

And I'm also using a Martha menu for the day although I'm replacing the pudding with a star-themed one (also from Martha) to mirror the stars on the table.   I know the design of the menu's OTT (and that I may have to explain that phrase)...but it's fun!

And finally here's some music to play (in no particular order):
  • America – Tracy Chapman
  • Englishman in New York – Sting (given it’s being served in England)
  • Breakfast in America – Supertramp
  • Fairytale of New York – The Pogues
  • America – Neil Diamond
  • New York – Paloma Faith
  • Kids in America – Kim Wilde
  • King of New York – Fun Lovin’ Criminals
  • Living in America – James Brown
  • New York, New York – Frank Sinatra
  • Let the Rover Run – Carly Simon
  • Americanos – Holly Johnson
  • American Woman – The Guess Who
  • American Pie – Don McLean
  • American Beauty – Dead Already
  • American Life - Madonna
  • Young Americans – David Bowie
  • America! – Cast of West Side Story
  • Americano – Brian Setzer Orchestra
  • Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen

What will you be up to?