This anti-gravity kit is a clever piece that I’ve seen them illustrate with all kinds of ideas, but I particularly love this one and know it will go down well here. I mean, Flake and Cadbury Mini Eggs? Ok, it’s not exactly single origin chocolate, but it is Easter.
In spite of Austravel’s best attempts, I’m not heading to Australia this year but I guess we could be very tempted to celebrate Australia Day on January 26.
It was certainly a trip of great eating and drinking, and there are some things I’d definitely think of having on the menu here to celebrate:
So, it’s unlikely to be BBQ weather here (although with the way things are going then you never can tell), so I’m going to go with the Bill Granger option and make a pile of the ricotta hot cakes. Or, given that it’s a Tuesday morning, then maybe I’ll make the sweetcorn fritters for dinner instead.
I seem to remember my luggage had a whole load of Tim Tams in it, from the original through to the chocolate raspberry, some peanut butter ones and the coconut ones. And the salted caramel. They didn’t last long. Sanza have quite a few of the flavours, which is cheaper than the return airfare!
I never got into Vegemite, but then I’m not a fan of either Marmite or Bovril. But it would seem appropriate to have a jar on display at least.
For when it wasn’t quite yet wine o’clock, then I got seriously into Bundaberg Ginger Beer. Perfectly refreshing when it was warm, without being too sweet. It went perfectly well with fresh fish and chips on the beach. And it appears you can get it pretty much everywhere here too now, from Tesco to Waitrose. I must remember to stock up.
When it was wine o’clock then it was hard to choose from the huge variety. In the end I ended up picking a name I liked the look of. I choose racehorses to back in the same way. I had better luck with wine than I’ve ever had with horses. Looking at the choices on Majestic, then I’m going with Two Left Feet Shiraz. About right for me.
And if I wanted to get baking, then there could only be one thing: banana bread. Everywhere we went it seemed to be on the menu, in much the way a scone or flapjack might be here. My go to recipe has always been from Domestic Goddess, we have always been, and remain, Team Nigella.
I would love to be in Australia for Australia Day, it was definitely the most incredible trip and I loved every minute of it. But, not to be, at least this year, but I’ll be raising a glass to family and friends there, and to the expats who for some reason want to leave all that for here.
December was about getting ready for Christmas, whether the fun, with festive cocktails, or the practical, with funky tea towels for the drying up ahead. Not to mention my usual roundup of options if you had forgotten that Christmas was just around the corner.
Definitely a year of contrasts, and new adventures on several continents, but some great eating with good company, at our own tables and away from home too. Here’s hoping for more of the same in 2016. What are your food memories of 2015? Would love to know.
They still look lovely, and are a bargain at £10, and are part of the famous Boots mix and match deal. There are some other lovely things in the same range, from a toast rack to a cakestand, so you could probably get to your 3 for 2 deal just within this range.
Go quick though, these have been one of the first items to go in years gone by.
My cake tin cupboard is one that drives me nuts, as they keep falling out. But there aren’t many pans in there that are contenders for getting rid of, as they are all sensible shapes and sizes. Whereas if any of these crazy shapes were in there, it would surely be an easy choice. Seriously, why would you with any of these?
I am sorry to mention this, but three months today and it will be Christmas Day! Which means it’s time to start the planning for the meals, if only because I love this part. Looking forward to new traditions and old, so maybe that I need some new inspiration. These five books are all newly published in time for Christmas this year, so may be worth looking out for.
Elizabeth David’s Christmas – obviously the writing is not new in this, but it’s the first time Elizabeth David’s thoughts on, and recipes for, Christmas entertaining have been pulled into a book. She was such an influential writer it seems unbelievable this is the case, but I will really enjoy reading this one.
Christmas Cookies – the secondary title tells you all you need to know: dozens of classic Yuletide treats for the whole family. As we have a tradition of new PJs and hot chocolate on Christmas Day evening, maybe some of these would be ideal accompaniments.
Maggie’s Christmas – given this has been the year of our big trip to Australia, then it seems appropriate that we might add an Australian view of Christmas to the bookshelf. I think Maggie is the Aussie equivalent of Delia, and so these could become classics, even allowing for the differences in the seasons.
The Irish Countrywomen’s Association Book of Christmas – from Australia to Ireland for another part of my heritage. This says it covers recipes, advice, blessings and traditions for the perfect Irish Christmas. I’m all about mixing traditions and recipes, so might give some food for thought.
Oh Come All Ye Tasteful – who doesn’t want a foodie’s guide to a millionaire’s Christmas feast? Maybe it’s a bit of fun just to read, or maybe you can afford to stuff your turkey with foie gras and black truffles. Personally I think Christmas is memorable when you cook with love, not just expensive ingredients, but may be worth a read.
It was bread week on the Bake Off, and I think the memory of the flour moth invasion is about gone. And I’m thinking that coming into autumn then there’ll need to be more bread baking, which means interesting flour testing.
Flour made from these more ancient, less intensely grown grains are often easier for some people to digest, so these may suit some. Might also appeal to history geeks, with things like the Anglo Saxon Blend of light rye or the Medieval Peasant’s Blend. Definitely need to try this one! Although somewhat different as includes peas and broadbeans in the mix.
Definitely a site worth checking out for all your bread baking needs from ingredients to baking tins.
Ok, I know this week’s Bake Off was about biscuits, but I’ve got cakes on my mind as it’s my turn to take cakes in for the team. If I had time then I’d be baking, but sadly it’s only going to be thinking about baking this week. These books would be fabulous inspiration if there was time:
Naked Cakes – how beautiful does this cover look? And I love this as a reaction to things like over-decorated cupcakes. This one is very much about the flavours, with things like Coconut Angel Cake with Raspberries or Chocolate Fig Cake. I think this one is going on my Christmas list.
Jamie’s Food Tube: The Cake Book – as you’d expect from Jamie, these are modern twists, and plenty of flavours involved. I like that these are seasonal recipes, so something to go at any time of the year.
Cakes in a Mug – ok, there have been a few nights that cakes in a mug have featured here when there’s been no other sweet stuff to hand. This sounds like it might be a dangerous book to have on hand!
Surprise Cakes – sounds like the best kind of cake to me! I’ve never really tried anything like this except an ombré cake so wouldn’t mind giving a go.
Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book – well, can’t really beat going a bit old school with the queen of the bakes, now can you? Funnily enough I don’t own any of Mary’s books, so maybe this is a good one to start with.
Whatever time you get to bake, hope you enjoy it and the results!
Definitely an appointment to view tomorrow with the start of the new series of Great British Bake Off, though it’s hard to believe this is series 6. Which made me think about the things that the first five series have taught me:
1. Apparently you can make your own filo pastry from scratch.
But why would you? I cannot believe Paul Hollywood made his own when he worked in Cyprus. And life is too short to make it. Likewise puff pastry.
2. A KitchenAid is a treacherous piece of kit
I don’t care how lovely it looks, my dull by comparison Kenwood Chef has never covered me in flour. I wonder how many episodes in we’ll get before it happens.
3. It’s not always the winner who does best
I seem to hear more of some of the non-winners than some winners. Or maybe it’s just that I read the Guardian so see Ruby’s recipes on a regular basis. Or hear of Brendan’s classes. Or was in Edinburgh for the festival when Glenn was on tour.
4. It’s best, but not essential, to know your sugar from your salt
Didn’t do John Whaite any harm to mix them up. Although others have not been so lucky, even celebrities.I suggest very big labels in the kitchen. We did nearly have a nasty salt in tea incident here, so not learnt lesson very well.
5. Always check you’ve switched the oven on
Grilling cake tends to be limited to Schichttorte, otherwise it’s best to turn the oven on. And check it feels warm when you put a cake in. Otherwise there may be panic at some point.
6. Plaiting an eight strand loaf requires a lot of concentration
About the same as learning to French plait hair. I’ve given up on both.
7. If you’re up in front of Mary Berry, make your own fondant
Who can forget that look? But if it’s not Mary coming round, then I’d cheat. Though not with the Sainsbury’s own brand stuff. Horrid in my view.
8. About episode 2 I’ll be really glad again that I didn’t enter
Every year throughout the series someone nags me about entering. I vaguely consider it given that I love baking, and people, generally, seem to like my baking. And then they do something spectacularly over the top, and I think “thank god I’m not there!”
9. I’ll still want one of those ovens
It’s all about those slideaway doors.
10. I will forget every week to get some baked goods in the house
It’s not the same watching it with just a cup of tea. Must get organised and get baking in preparation to settling down to enjoy the hour.
So here’s to enjoying the trials and tribulations ahead of the bakers and seeing what challenges lie ahead, of cakes we’ve never heard of, and those we long to try.