Thursday, 31 July 2008

Driving Miss Daisy

So, Patrick was in The Cut- men only, grrrr, hairdressers the other day when he saw an advert in the Belfast Telegraph, quite possibly the poorest written paper in the UK.

"Elderly couple seeking competent driver
for weekend shopping trips and lunch.
Must have own car or be able to drive an automatic."

Patrick phoned them up and played every one of his toff cards, casually mentioning that he was a solicitor, that he had return to do some further studies and the accent was as cut-glass as I have ever heard it. The old guys were less then excited about clambouring into the back of a Mini so Patrick duly told them that he could drive an automatic and that he had found it to be "fine". Of course he hasn't been anywhere near the driving seat of such a car in all his days.

The interview last night seemed to go well and he has ended up in a fairly flexible situation where these guys are going to give him a call when they fancy an outing. The husband has some sort of dementia possibly, so I am sure it will all be great craic, and I suspect his wife is keen for some sensible company. Not quite sure where Pat fits into this equation!

If anyone knows where I could find a peaked cap, let me know. And thanks to AF for his tips on driving an automatic. A friend in work said it was like driving a go-kart, AF suggested it was like a dodgem. I think Pat should stick with the go-kart analogy.

Well, carry on Jeeves.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

House update

We put in an offer on the house on Friday.
They said no.
But then said what they would consider, which was the sum I had kind of anticipated paying anyway- so maybe not that bad!
I will keep you updated...though I see that my blog view numbers are not exactly sky-rocketing. I will continue to shout into the ether though!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Just remembered

Oh yeah, stuff did happen this week.

I made a new ironing board cover!
As you can see it fits in just grand in my spare room, or maybe it is a bit difficult to spot in said room as the cheery floral pattern blends in with the carpet.

It does look quite like Kath Kidston stuff, but did not set me back 20 notes.

In fact it hardly cost me a bean because I had the fabric lying around anyway. It was the back of an Ikea single duvet cover, the front of which I used to make the Roman blind in the spare room.

Should anyone think they would like one of these items for their Christmas, let me know. I reckon I could also stretch to a peg-bag.

General Friday Chat

Very little has happened this week and certainly nothing has happened that was worth photographing. Therefore, sorry that this entry is not such a hoot as previous. A few points to clarify though.

1. I do acknowledge that the photograph of my "wonderful" pancake actually doesn't look that hot. Or rather, that it had been cooked too hot. 'Well-fired' was one comment I received. I think I have 2 options here

(a) make excuses to my large readership and claim that all the other pancakes were fab and that one was an exception
(b) tell my by now dwindling readership that I don't give a monkeys and if they can make better pancakes then they can post their own photos.

Yay! What an idea! A pancake competition! Realistically, am I ever going to write the next Chocolate and Zuchinni blog? There is no point in trying to make this blog have broad appeal.

I have not yet decided what the prize will be for the lucky winner. Watch this space.

2. I put an offer in on another house. All very nerve wracking. This is the property which was described by a 1st degree relative as massive and ugly and overpriced.

OK, it is not yet perfect- far from it. However I have high hopes regarding its potential and in a few years time (read 10+) I am sure it will be passable. In the meantime I have contacted the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum to see if they would like to come and take away the boiler for one of their exhibits. I hope to hear from the estate agent on Monday. Dad would have been proud of me - I offered 84K less than the asking price. Ballsy no?

That's all folks.
But just to keep you happy, here is a photograph of Patrick rowing.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Speedy Pancakes

I tried out Anne Magill's pancake recipe.
It is ace, I am v pleased with it. I feel as though I have found some sort of baking-enlightenment.

The recipe was passed on to me in the verbal tradition. At Mum's retirement lunch Bron and I were commenting that whoever had made the drop scones had done lovely job, that neither of us could make them, and unfortunately the secret to said DS was probably 50 years of practice. However, I was dispatched by Bronters to find out (a) who made them and (b) to get their recipe. Finding out the answer to A was ok, (A.ok even!!) but I felt a bit of a pillock in the second part because Anne was labourious telling me the recipe whilst the other 7 octogenarians were rushing round her in the kitchen the size of a phone box with hot water and dishes. Undeterred, I got the recipe, and you will be pleased to learn that it is straight forward and 50 years of practice is not required.

So, as it was told to me.

Anne; Take 8oz of self rising flour.
Add to it 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda. And 1/2 tsp of, of, Barbara! What do you put in pancakes?
Barbara -[answer off] I don't make them.
Emily - Salt?
Anne- no, not salt.
Emily - Baking powder?
Anne - (exasperated) No! Margaret- what do you put in pancakes?
Margaret- [knee deep in dishes] What? Pancakes? Mine are like shoe leather. Why is this dishwasher not drying the dishes? This thing is useless.
Anne and Emily exit the kitchen, with a look of great relief and embarrassment upon Emily's face. Anne continues to contemplate raising agents.
Not bicarbonate of soda, not baking powder, not salt - the other one.
Emily (last ditch effort.) Cream of Tartar??
Anne - Yes!! 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar.
Anne and Emily move to centre left of stage, Emily is seen to have aged considerably during this passage
Anne- OK, so are you with me so far? 8oz, flour, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1/2 tsp bicarb and 2 spoonfulls of sugar. Mix all that round.
Emily - got it.
Anne - put 2 eggs in a measuring jug and switch them
Emily - (to audience) Friends, switching eggs? What is the meaning of this? Is this some kind of baking mojo? Should I be offering to cast out demons or call social services?
Anne - then make them up to 10 floz with milk. Add the liquid to the flour etc and mix round. When the bubbles start to appear on the surface start cooking.
Barbara- [moving from stage back during last passage unbeknown to Emily] You need a girdle!
Emily - [under breath] One more comment like that and you'll get a sock!! Ok, I had a few egg sandwiches and a slice of fruit cake, but that was all!
Anne- yes, put some butter on your girdle...
Emily - puzzled- wonders when ladies foundation garments became the topic du jour.
Anne -
When it's hot, cook the pancakes, turn them when the bubbles form on the top side.
Barbara - You should get a girdle for your birthday!
Emily [to audience] the Terrific at Thirty mug and a girdle? No way! These oldsters have some cheek. At least I got the recipe....
Curtain falls
Voice Over - Here ends another chapter of "Recipes from the Edge" starring Emily as daring gourmand, recipe hunter extraordinaire, Anne as the gentle cook with 50 years baking experience and holder of Drop Scone of Jura Award 1972 and Barbara as Damart sales rep.


It was hard work. Have to say, I've made it a few times now - only a half quantities, and it is great. One point worth making perhaps is that the mixture is thick enough to point a wall with. Very much a mixture rather than a batter, so don't be tempted to add more milk. The mixture requires a little spreading when it hits the girdle. I made them for mum the other day, and they were pretty much ready by the time the pot of tea was made. So, thanks to Anne and Barbara, genuinely, though my title Speedy Pancakes definitely refers to the time to make them, rather than the time to acquire the instructions.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Teacher's pet

I am currently doing the Saturday morning adolescent diabetes clinic.
However! It is the first Saturday of the hols and it is raining heavily, so I am anticipating not all will turn up.
To brighten the mood I baked brownies last night for my colleagues to enjoy. This is the recipe I followed, but I am not convinced it is that good. Comments and better recipes welcome.

185g butter (I know, metric units. Bring back Imperialism)
275g golden castor sugar (I just used ordinary)
185g dark chocolate - good stuff
3 eggs
85g plain flour
60g (or maybe 40, I am writing this off the top of my head) cocoa powder

In the style of Gordon Ramsey, butter and sugar; beaten. Eggs; added. Chocolate; melted. Cooled chocolate; folded (in). Flour and cocoa; ditto.
Now, I gave it 25 mins in a mod oven (~160 c). The I put another 8 mins on the timer because it looked pretty liquid still. However, I was watching the first ever Starwars film (for the first ever time!) and so I didn't hear the buzzer and it got a bit longer - though no idea how much longer.

The top of it is nice and flaky but it is really damp and squigy inside. I guess I remember the recipe from the Good Housekeeping children's cookbook which was perhaps a more spartan recipe (also made by a 9 yr old) in which it was all quite biscuity apart from a chewy middle.

2 questions
(a) is the current vogue for desert-like brownies universal or did I just muck up the recipe?
(b) do you have a better recipe?

Friday, 4 July 2008

progress report #1

Hello you've reached Knit-Line...

Thank you to Mum and Alison for your help to date with my newest knitting project.

After having packed up so many of my possessions and then moved them to Patrick's parent's house and then realised the unpacking of them will not be for a long time I decided to get me some new wool.

It is 100% merino wool, I am using a Debbie Bliss pattern, all done on 3 3/4 needles (which are small as far as I am concerned) and a cable needle. Having never cabled anything before I am chuffed by the results! This is the back of the "ribbed cardigan" and I thought the detail at the back was lovely. Obviously when worn it will be pulled out a bit, which should perhaps show the pattern off a bit more but I am loathe to pull it for photographic effect as I suspect the picture that would follow would be a picture of Sad Emily, trying to put the dropped stitches back on her 3 3/4 needles.

Further photos will follow.