Wednesday, 27 August 2014

S is for September

Another month is nearly through.

So we've come to the time to post September's activities.

And if the first celebration is puzzling you, then all will be revealed in a couple of days!

What else have you got planned?

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3

Anna Maria Russell's Birthday

4 5 6
7 8

UK National Mushroom Day

9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 19 19 20

British Food Fortnight

21 22 23 24 25 26

World's Biggest Coffee Morning
28 29

International Coffee Day


Sunday, 24 August 2014

W is for Waffles

When I noted that today is Waffle Day, I baulked.  I have quite a large number of gadgets in my kitchen as I have the space and I like them (like father, like daughter).

But I wasn't going to buy a waffle machine.  Years ago my parents used to own a toastie maker which would churn out grilled cheese sandwiches on a Sunday for tea.  They were amazing (apart from burning the top of your mouth every time), but the machine cleaning post cheese heaven was not so fun.  You had to clean it while it was still warm so the melted fat didn't set but not too hot to burn fingers.  It was a right pain!

And waffle machines are in the same camp as far as I'm concerned.  Great if someone else owns one, but one's not going to live a rancid life in my cupboards.  Especially since I came across the recipe for one that could be made in a griddle pan!

Half an hour later and I'm having to use the picture from Jamie Oliver's site as the waffle smelled so good as it came out the pan and was inhaled so quickly, there wasn't anything left to photograph.

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 300 mls (whole) milk
  • 225 gms self raising flour
  • 2 teaspns baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100 gms butter, melted and allowed to cool
  • Extra butter to grease the pan

  1. Whisk the eggs and the milk together
  2. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt
  3. Once combined, add in the 100 gms melted butter and gently fold it in
  4. Do not whisk any more or else you'll have stodgy waffles
  5. Put the pan on a high heat and grease it with the extra butter
  6. Pour in the batter and swirl it around gently until it's covered the pan base
  7. Turn down the heat to allow the mixture to start to set without burning on the bottom
  8. Cook for 6 mins until it's golden brown on the bottom
  9. Flip the waffle on the other side and cook for a further 6 mins or so*
  10. Flip the waffle again and cook for another min or so and then back onto the other side for another min
  11. Serve with your desired topping of bacon/maple syrup/eggs or berries/crème fraîche

* We flipped it onto a plate and slide it back in to the pan the other way up.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

H is for Hawaii

Regular readers of my posts know I don't need much of an excuse for a celebration. That's mostly because I like mixing it up and having different types of evenings.

It's also because while lots of people come around for food, my guests typically include a core cohort of family members. The regularity of their attendance means I want to keep them surprised...and that's easier through themes.

I also firmly believe that an evening is made up of so much more than food.  Having quirky decorations that work with the food and spark conversations also help an evening along.  You don't just go to restaurant for food and for someone else to do the washing up.

This weekend is no exception to the above and sees me shift the celebration of Hawaii Day from 21st August a couple of days back to the 23rd and a Saturday evening for a film night.  The choice of film is going to divide the guests as I'm asking them to choose between From Here to Eternity and Runaway Bride.

And what connects these two...well both incorporate my Hawaii Luau themed food and decorations.  Didn't see that coming, did you!?!  Well you probably did...

So here's the idea board behind my party.

So I've raided Amazon for cheap rattan screens, tacky plastic flower leis, half coconut shells, cocktail umbrellas and paper lanterns.  Tesco/Supermarkets do some great orchid plants which can jazz up the table before spending the rest of their days in the bathroom...they love the humidity of that room.

We actually already have the shirts and flip flops from a pool party a number of years ago.

And the Tiki totem poles are just clip art that I will print off and stick to tall glass handle holders.

And for a menu, I've gone for one featured on Sunset.

Everything's being served as a buffet so people can watch and eat, or eat and chat.  Whatever suits them most.  And here are the food cards I'm using for the buffet, which can be downloaded here and then printed off.

Now where's that Beach Boys' CD...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

L is for Left-Handers' Day

My brother is left handed which puts him in a group that makes up only 10 to 12% of the population.

But when we were kids, I never realized what a struggle he had with every day objects.  Fortunately my parents were not the type to make him use his right hand, but everyday objects are not so forgiving so things like pens, scissors and even tin-openers were a daily challenge.

But having come across the website Anything Left Handed a while ago, his next few presents may see some items work their way into the packages that work for him properly...although after all these years, he may have more difficulty using these left handed design ones than the regular ones at home!

His first present will be a bit of a surprise as am sure he doesn't know that there's a Left-Handers' Day, let alone that it's on 13 August.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

B is for Book Lover's Day

This Sunday (10 August) is a day I can designate to celebrate two of my main passions: books and food.

Throughout literature, many memorable moments have been marked with meals.

And this book looks to bring to life the food hidden in pages.  It's called Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature's Most Memorable Meals and is written by Dinah Fried.

It's beautiful.  If you do buy a copy, please buy the hardback version. And this is not one for the Kindle.

One of my most memorable meals was detailed in Heidi by Johanna Spyri and features the toasted cheese & bread that the eponymous girl was fed when she spent her first night with her grandfather--cheese that was so golden from its time on the fork near the fire that it was as soft as butter.

And it's faithfully recreated in the book.

As are a number of other meals from many of my favourite reads...

For me, it's something to relax over and the perfect way to spend Book Lover's Day.  But if you need more prompting, check out the book's website before you buy.

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...