Sunday, August 31, 2008

The best daring bakers cook-off yet

Wooohoo. Check this out.

I can make choux buns. These were supposed to be chocolate eclairs. I'd bought an icing kit specially - but then lost it. So I made buns instead. For one day, Recaro and I lived in profiterole heaven. I made thirty of these bad boys and - as ever with a daring baker challenge - had to give half away. This time to my sister in law who had her son, DIL and two grandchildren visiting.

These turned out to taste every bit as perfect as they look. Maybe it's beginners' luck, but I think choux pastry isn't scarey after all. If you aren't a daring baker, I dare you to give this a try - it's well worth it.

By the way, I filled these with whipped double cream - other daring bakers made flavoured pastry cream. I didn't need those extra flavours to make this a heavenly dessert.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very
quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You
need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough
will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,
beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.

You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do
not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you
have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it
should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

Notes:
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the
piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

To bake;
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with
waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.

Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.

Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.
The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the
handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the
oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue
baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking
time should be approximately 20 minutes.

Notes:
1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the
bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40
degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of
the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the
bottoms with whipped cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms
with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the cream
and wriggle gently to settle them.

Notes:
1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,
stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create
bubbles.

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Chocolate Glaze Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

Notes:
1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

Notes:
1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Feel the fear


Ball pits are not nice. I can't help but imagine there's a lot of wee swishing about in the bottom of these.

However, my pal the Yoga Guru talked me into taking her son and my daughter to play. Since Peaches' socks remained dry throughout the visit, I've been assured that the hygiene didn't hit the all time low that I feared.

I wasn't ready for the crashing and leaping about that ensued. Fortunately I realised that it would not be cool for me to go in and join in (that is, stop) the mayhem. It was exciting to see how confident they both were at exploring and playing in this massive cage of squashy shapes, balls and slides.

The only advantage I 'enjoyed' was that at least it wasn't Peaches who was throwing herself headfirst down the slide. I don't know how mothers of boys handle the stress.
PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Corporate bloggy love

Bank holidays wipe me out. The combination of in-laws, mixed up weather, accidents and an unreliable boiler have left me drawing a blank on the blog front.

I can understand why some people are closing their blogs, even though I find it very sad. It's true that I'm not doing much to add to the wealth of interesting writing going on on the blogosphere. But where else are you going to go for yet another photo of a very tasty quiche? This week's quiche is brought to you by the vegetable; broccoli and the cheese; feta.
Thank you. You're welcome.

Another thing that's keeping me feeling chipper about blogging, is that I was sent a freebie. This freebie has been hugely helpful at this time of demanding in-laws, slightly grumpy husbands and very unreliable boilers.

The lovely people at Nivea sent me a pot of this.
At first I was thinking that I couldn't possibly like a product targeted at women in their thirties, that is called Q10. Cuten, geddit. I don't like that sort of name - it whirrs around my head as I try saying it normally but always hearing it the other way. Grrr, I'm too old to aim for 'cute'.

I do like a skincare routine, however, that lets me whack on a load of moisturiser and see it soak into my skin easily without a greasy feeling. Or a queasy feeling. I'm feeling too credit-crunched to go fork out for Kiehl's or Clinique just yet.

Previously, I was using a Nivea moisturiser with self tanning ingredients. It was good to have something to wean me off the tanned face. The weather hasn't been justifying my sunkissed complexion.

The natural look has been a success. In fact I've had a few compliments about my skin lately and can only put it down to the product. Either that or people are finally awakening to my gorgeous inner beauty. You never know.

Take a look here and you can try this out yourself for free.

And while I'm appreciating corporate freebies, here's another business that's earnt a strangely lush mention.

We've been using this Tomy monitor for the past two years. Peaches bedroom is two floors away from ours, so we rely on a monitor to hear if she wakes in the night and to know when she's ready to get up in the morning. Not that we respond until after 6am.

It works fine as long as it's in the charge-up base but it has zilch life in it if we pick it up. Recaro phoned Tomy today to find out about new batteries for the parent unit. They won't send us one.

Instead they've insisted on sending us a completed new monitor set. For free. Isn't that incredible customer service?

And what about that crochet pot? That's a present from Lindiloo, our babysitting/knitting goddess. I put my watch in it so that when I reach for it in the middle of the night (to see how much more sleep I have to go) I don't make loads of scrabbly about noises. Scrabbly noises in the night make Recaro cross...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Donut



Looks like a video, but it's a series of strangely lush photos.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Adventures in manipulation and high expectations

As you know, we are in training. But not just toilet training. Oh no. My ambitions for social engineering go much further than that. I want to get Peaches doing all the things Recaro and I like as soon as possible so that we can maximise our family fun before she turns into an anti-social, bored and argumentative teenager. (There's a 50% chance of this happening, because I was a witch as a teenager and Recaro was an charming young man).

So far we are making good inroads into preparing Peaches to sit with us and not run around for the duration of a 45-minute church service every Sunday. We've been taking her to church for at least a year and she's gone from attempting to bottom shuffle up the aisle, to sitting with us as she munches on breakfast snacks. Right now, she's making just one escape attempt at each service.

We had a lucky break in that when we began, they moved this service into a smaller side chapel and we could take her out into the main church for a mid-service scamper and explore. When the congregation grew too big for the chapel, Peaches was already familiar with the church and was generally happy to stay with us.

This weekend, we decided to shift our territory for social conditioning to a nature reserve and the golf club.You might think the nature reserve isn't much of a challenge. But there are DITCHES, very muddy beaches and bird hides often used by very quiet elderly men who like to look at the birds and not be disturbed by small children. Fortunately the reserve was really quiet, so this introduction to bird watching went really well.

First of all we took time to smell the flowers.

Before ripping them into little pieces. See how they fall apart...


We took up residence in a bird hide to breakfast on chipolatas, ketchup, boiled eggs and coffee. It was delicious. Adventures don't come much easier or tastier than this. By the way, we saw a kingfisher and spotted some seals basking on a sand bank.

After a midday nap and some more food, Peaches and I went to meet Recaro at the golf club. It's a middle of town golf club, only nine holes and very quiet. It's possible to play millionaire's golf here and pretend that the world is here for your convenience.

Peaches seemed to embrace that idea pretty quickly.

After waggling her golf clubs in a very random fashion at golf balls on the putting green, she decided to check out the course itself.

If you look closely at the silvery patches by her feet on the 9th green, you'll see that the ground is miraculously resisting any effort to soak up and disguise her very public accident.

Noone was on the course and we pretended everything was A OK. I was hardly going to whip out the wet wipes and start polishing the green. I'd have looked like I was the one in need of social-conditioning.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Irresistable balloons

Guess what. We just keep on having fun.

I took Peaches to a local gallery - only to discover that they had put loads of white balloons into the room. Peaches played for ages while I took lots of photos.

Because she was moving around so much I'd set the camera to sports setting. Unfortunately it was really tricky to get sharp photos. I've been messing around with the photos in iPhoto and its relief that the grainy look at least suits the subject matter.

Photos taken with the flash were a lot punchier, but I wasn't happy at using the flash in a gallery.
It did occur to me that the guy attending the gallery (probably one of the artists) might not have liked me using the place like a playground. I just didn't dwell on that thought for very long.

It's in a building that has a lot of children events going on, so I rationalised that someone was going to play with the balloons eventually and it might as well be Peaches.

And in a latest news update
: Peaches came up with the goods this morning. Very little fuss and straight on to the potty. We weren't allowed to look at her while she was on the job, but overcame her modesty to celebrate her success straight after completion. Later that afternoon, there was an accident while she was out and about, but that was because I didn't move quick enough when she told me she needed the potty. I've got to work on my focus if I'm going to be a potty-training athlete.

Slack mum: it's all in the mix

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek


Remember how much fun it was to mess about with paint.

At some point, I will get the paints out of the garage and have an artistic moment with Peaches. Until then, I am delighted that she can get her painterly kicks at the childminder's (I should give this woman a name...).

What starts like this...

Ends like this...
You have no idea how this happy picture fills my heart.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Much excitement and sugar in the house

Thursdays are my Fridays. I've made it to the end of the paid working week. It adds an extra level of excitement to collecting Peaches from her childminder's house. Today she's been potato printing and painting - she was very keen to show me her pictures.

She's not had a potty training accident since Monday, things are going very well. After the initial tough three days and then two days off because of outings and sickness, Peaches has grasped the idea of potty training. I'm sure it helps that her three-year-old playmate is being trained at the same time. However - there has to be an however, it's traditional in all potty training stories - she's not done a stinker in the potty yet. In fact, there's not been sight of a poo all week.

Anyone want to hazard a guess just what disaster is surely about to befall us?

Another developmental milestone arrived this afternoon. Peaches has suddenly tuned into the idea of what telephones do. She clutched the phone and carried about the house this afternoon clearly looking to get it working. After a bit of a struggle where we took turns to chant, 'My turn now', I managed to phone Recaro. Peaches held the phone. With a look of wonder she listened to the voice, and then whispered, 'Daddy'.

And everyone smiled and was very happy. It really doesn't take much. We are a bit daft like that.

We celebrated with a piece of Gigi's Texas Sheet Cake. I made this over the weekend and we are still getting through it. Not only is it delicious, but it inspires Peaches say, 'More, please. More, please,' as she carries the plate back to the kitchen.

Other moments of joy include singing along to the Bee Gees, joining in with Twinkle Twinkle and Horsey horsey... And even singing along to greatest New Zealand hits.

That's right. New Zealand. We received this bundle of goodies yesterday from Scrappy. It's an excellent calorific selection. I even recognise a lot of the music too. This was a prize for linking the baby photos to the current photos of Scrappy's daughters.

It's great to have this stash in the house. Not only do I learn how much music that I like is actually Kiwi, but I also have sweets to eat while I watch Sabrina (Bogart/Hepburn) and wait for Recaro to get home. I can't watch the Olympic highlights until Recaro gets here - otherwse I have to watch it all twice - and it's unless it involves GB winning a medal it's not so good if you already know the ending.

So thank you Scrappy. I've not eaten sweets like this since I was 12 - I think I'll book that dentist appointment tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How much am I loving the Olympics?

This post is a bit overdue, but you see there's been an astonishing thing happening. The BBC is broadcasting women.... da da da daaaaa.... playing sport.

This is unprecedented. If there's one thing that rankles with me about the UK, it's the rubbish coverage newspapers and broadcaster give to women playing sport. Mind you, at least we have plenty of health and lifestyle pages berating us for not being fitter, sexier, more maternal, more ambitious and generally ordinary everyday goddesses.

So I am especially happy to see Nicole Cooke (cycling) and Rebecca Adlington (400m freestyle) winning gold medals and Jo Jackson winning a bronze (400m freestyle). Their ecstatic podium smiles have been incredibly uplifting. It's taken four days for the guys to get off the starting blocks, but bless, even David Florence (silver in canoeing) has got a pretty name.

I have a lot to say on this subject, but I've just found someone who says it better. Have a read of Kira Cochrane for all the statistics about the dearth of women's sports coverage.

This article appeared in The Guardian, which is funny because I've written two letters to The Guardian over the last couple of years on this subject. Yup - I am that kind of letter writer.

Sadly, it's all been to no effect. For as long as football and newspapers feed off each other in their weird obsessive, compulsive manner, UK sports editors will continue not to care about women's sport. Though - irony upon irony - my last letter even referred to the lack of coverage given to Britain's hugely successful women cyclists in their world championships...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to work - or did it ever stop?

Today, I returned to paid work. I don't feel like I've had much of a break. Recaro's bout of sickness was followed by Peaches being sick on Saturday. She woke from her midday nap and vom'd all over her cot. I spent the rest of the afternoon curled up on the sofa with her while she dozed and puked until bedtime.

She's more resilient - and may I say, a better patient - than Recaro. By Sunday morning she was as right as rain again. However my holiday felt even more wiped out after spending Sunday with my... let's say, chatty... mother-in-law at Broadstairs folk week. (Broadstairs folk week will forever be referred to as hell on earth - more morris dancers, ice cream, old people, small children, hot sunshine, thunderstorms, sandy beach, Charles Dickens fancy dressers, than anyone should ever see in their entire life time).

I feel strangely better and more at ease after a few concentrated hours in a quiet office.

Here's the update I'm sure you've ALL been waiting for; potty-training.

Peaches is getting the hang of potty time and has had a few goes at sitting on the child seat on the toilet. In truth, she has done only one actual, factual, unforced, entirely on target, wee in the potty. But hey, she's 22 months old and that on-target-wee was only on day three. Day four and five were shot to pieces by sickness and day trips out.

Despite this, I'm optimistic about the progress Peaches is making with potty training and our enthusiasm for sticking with it. This is mostly because the childminder will be doing clean up duty today, but also I'm tight and don't want to buy any more nappies. Peaches is at her fabulous childminder's house with plenty of spare clothes and knickers. If I don't have to buy any more nappies - for this baby at least - I'll be a very happy mother.

I'll find out later this afternoon whether the childminder, who has far greater experience and wisdom in these matters than I do, thinks I'm being over ambitious. At least I haven't had an email about it yet. That's got to be a good thing, hasn't it?

To help me through this difficult time... Nivea has kindly sent me a pot of anti-wrinkle cream. I'll be testing this pot of Q10 plus moisturiser over the next few weeks to see if it'll knock a few years off and soften my Klingon brow. How did they know? They must read this blog - I don't want to seem ungrateful, but I'm hoping they'll pass the word to Apple, Tiffany and Furla...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tasting menu at The Sportsman

Good health is returning to the house. It's very difficult to sustain normal levels of fun and happiness when Recaro is nursing a bad stomach. Today he's well enough to clear his old Star Wars videos out of the attic. Nothing, it seems, cheers a man up more than messing around with ladders and loft space. (Unless he has a shed. Sheds beat attics any day.) Thank you for your get well messages - I was starting to feel a bit doleful at being trapped in the house by self imposed potty training and bad luck sickness.

It's a pleasure to get round to regaling you with the delights of my birthday feast - especially since we had to cancel Recaro's dinner - I'm a meal down, disaster!

I found the photography to be a major challenge. None of them are especially in focus and many are too dark. The words will have to do a lot of the work in describing this gorgeous meal.
We started off with pork scratchings - deep fried pork belly, still meltingly warm. I can't abide pork scratching in pubs, but these were in a different class. Canapes of rye bread and pickled herring were served alongside these. By the way, all butter, bread, salt, pickled herring and cured ham are prepared in house. The chef, Steve Harris, is a mostly self-taught chef and works hard on perfecting a number of old-school ideas before putting them on the menu.

Next up was lobster soup. I can't eat lobster - so my soup was swopped for a deliciously summery courgette soup. I'm assured by HP Sauce (our neighbours) that the lobster soup was fabulous - for them, this was a highlight of the meal.
Next up was Salmagundy. Here's a bit of food history for you. Salmagundy is an old word to describe 'a salad of anything and everything'. Nowadays, this salad includes poached egg, meat (in this case bacon) and beans (french and mange tout). We also got an incredibly tasty tomato and flower - which tasted quite sweet. Incidentally, the name Solomon Grundy is derived from Salmagundy.

16 month salt cured Seasalter ham had a very full on taste - quite salty and as you chew it, more flavour emerges. Steve even goes so far as to produce his own sea salt - the beach is only 50 yards away. He started experimenting with home cured ham in 2004 so that he could use up all parts of the pigs that a local farm rears for the restaurant.

Are you keeping up? Good. Because next we were offered an additional course of brill tartare. A limey, sweet pickle flavoured serving of brill - in a foamy sauce, served in a shot glass. I thought this was the tastiest, liveliest part of the meal. I'd defy anyone who doesn't like fish to not like this. (Unless you don't like lime and pickle. I can see that would be a problem.)

The main fish course was braised brill with a smoke herring sauce. It's hard to imagine how tasty a grey sauce can be. It strikes me as quite a bold move for a chef to serve up a grey sauce - colour matters so much with food, but in this case, I think it's an ironic twist that this tasty sauce looks dull. The brill was cooked just right and it was not a surpise that the courgettes (home grown) were lush.

I like to think the good people of the Sportsman like us because we were offered another extra dish of lamb belly with mint sauce. Yummity.
The photo of roast rack of lamb from Monkshill Farm was a disappointment. I really wanted to show you how perfectly tender and evenly pink this lamb was. If all places could cook their meat with such care we'd all be as round and fat as buttered pigs.
Finally we were on to desserts. If ever you eat at this place, you won't want to miss out on the triumph that is the Sportsman dessert menu. Rhubarb sorbet and burnt cream (creme brulee) is possibly one of the best desserts. The sorbet is a little sharp - and also has some exciting tongue-crackling space dust. This has been known to make old ladies think they are suffering a heart attack... weird - tongue-crackling isn't a heart attack symptom I've ever heard of.

I rarely order creme brulee in other restaurants. It's a simple dish that most places screw up - I love eating it here because I can completely trust that it's going to be right.

An extra (yes another - I was in dessert heaven) dessert of elderflower ice lolly served with cake milk (milk flavoured with ... cake) later, and we moved on to jasmine tea junket and strawberries. The junket was served in little sealed pots along with chocolate mousse with salted caramel and a little custard tart topped with a raspberry.

What a triumph.
I think you can see how happy that meal, and the lovely wine, made me. There was also bottle of white Albarino wine that didn't last long enough to be photographed.

If you plan to visit - let me know and I'll pass along my secret tips for getting the best table in the house.
PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Still here between the vomit and the wee

There's just one day between Recaro's and mine birthday and it's been taken over by all sorts of body fluids. I already knew I was going to be preoccupied with multiple knicker changes, super-absorbant paper towels and a wide range of potty songs.

I didn't bet on Recaro falling ill and vomiting all day.

What a treat. I feel as if my life could be summarised with a subtitle by Suburban Correspondent.

My birthday dinner last night was fabulous - I'll put up a post about this separately, because I did take lots of photos - unfortunately somewhere along the line, Recaro picked up a bug and has fallen into terrible sickly state.

I hoicked him out of bed after Peaches' bathtime so that I could change the sheets and insist on his having a bath.

Since then, he's asked me in a weak and wavering voice if I would go to the pharmacy for him.

Poor dab. Of course I went. He's now nursing his bottle of Pepto-Bismol and considering when he might attempt to drink some rehydration concentrate.

While I count the minutes between doses, I'm walking that fine line between nursing my husband and drinking beer and blogging. That PB better work. I really don't want to take him (and Peaches) to hospital. I'm a pretty attentive nurse for my sickly husband - just don't push me too far.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Recaro: keeping DIY stores in business


While I've been attempting to potty train Peaches (eight pairs of knickers and a mere dribble in the potty so far), Recaro has been doing DIY.

Yes that's right. D I why the heck.

So far he has put up one iron rack successfully in the airing cupboard and removed a tree from the garden (wrong place and infested with bugs). He has got rid of all the branches and trunk, but did manage to break the pick axe and has made THREE trips to the DIY store.

Right now he's in the middle of repositioning the whirligig (the second he's bought today - the first was broken...). If this thing goes up straight I shall be very proud of him, but the last one was so off kilter, I don't feel very optimistic about this one.

This job involves ready mix concrete - but he's dug too big a hole and discovered he hadn't bought enough concrete. So he's dug all the concrete out and is starting again with twice as much again.

I hope he knows what he's buying.

The last time we went shopping together, he was very visibly the married man in the store. I'd walked ahead with Peaches. Keeping her under control and picking things up along the way. By the time we met up with each other, I was ready to dump loads of things in the trolley he was pushing.

A very empty trolley.

Apart from a single, lonely packet of chewing gum.

If he was single, he might at least have had some pizza and beer. Instead he was 'married man' playing the vacuous, what am I doing in this supermarket, card, which is very odd because it was his idea to go shopping in the first place. He wanted to buy beer. Perhaps he forgot...?

I told him at the time that 'I'm going to blog this.' Of course, he doesn't know I'm going to blog about his DIY skills... maybe he doesn't have to ask.

It's my birthday (what kind of freak am I?)

They do it in Waikiki, they do it down on Camber Sands...

It's my birthday and I'm on holiday. Yesterday we went to Camber Sands for lunch with friends, which explains why Peaches was wearing her new party dress on the beach. This is why I'm not posting much this week; it's time to focus on the family.

Recaro has brought me breakfast in bed (hot croissants filled with egg and bacon, since you ask).

What's next? Potty training! I'm seizing this opportunity to stay home and get Peaches out of nappies. I'm such a freak of nature, I'm looking forward to seeing if I can persuade her potty train quickly. So far it's 10am and we are on the third pair of knickers - no stars on the chart yet.

Since it's my birthday, however, I won't wreck this post with too much talk of poo and wee. I will get some grown up fun later on, when we go out with our neighbours for the tasting menu at The Sportsman. If you ever get the chance, it's worth a visit. We'll be having something along the lines of this;

Pork scratchings, bread, home-churned butter (unpasteurized when possible) and Seasalter Sea Salt
Mussel and bacon chowder
Salmagundi
18 month salt cured Seasalter ham
Brill tartare
Braised brill fillet with a smoked herring roe sauce
Roast Monkshill Farm Lamb
Pear ice lolly and ginger cake-milk
Jasmine tea junket and rosehip syrup

If you think any of that sounds weird, believe me, it's going to be fabulously tasty.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Don't put your daughter on the stage


Do you remember the heady excitement of messing about on an empty stage? I do. The opportunity to know what everything looked like from 'up there' was too good to miss.

I had no idea that Peaches would find it so interesting as well - I thought she'd be too young to clock the significance of a stage. It could have had something to do with running into her daycare playmate who's a year older.

I DID happen to be having a beer while I took these photos, but it wasn't as if a whole line up of acts were waiting to get on stage. Hanging out in an empty marquee was the easiest option for keeping Peaches out of the sun/out of the sea/in my sight.

Every now and then she'd stop running to hold her top out and smile beautifically (is there any other way). That brought her a few cheers from guys passing through the tent on their way to drink beer on the beach.We also had ice cream because she's surprisingly good at eating it (funny that). I don't let her run around with it. Is it the credit crunch or would I always be too stingy to see a good ice cream dropped on the floor? (You decide.)

My mum always tells the story of how I had a tantrum and scrunched up an ice cream when she attempted to turn it around for me. This took place in a full butcher's shop and she insists it was excruciatingly embarrassing. I've learnt from her mistake and don't ever come between a toddler and her cone. No matter how sticky and drippy things get, I leave her to it.
PhotoStory Friday
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