“You’re the best mummy in the world !!!”

Princess and Pirates Party 2009

Princess and Pirates Party 2009

Possibly not the words he will be using again in a hurry, but for now I’m going to hang on to these words and the look on Spider’s face and hug them close to me  in my memory to get me through the dark blue days.

I have been in bed for the last 5 hours after coming back from the party, 28 children and adults, we had no refusals…perhaps not something I’ll do again in a hurry…maybe I’ll wait 12 months…

The on again off again birthday cake

The birthday party cookery for various reasons has not been going as planned, but I’ll write about that another time possibly. The main thing I wanted to do this week was to make a basic sponge cake and to then ice it in the shape as a skull and cross bones – really simple and easy, the only difficult bit is trying to turn the white fondant icing the right shade of black.

Anyway this week has not been good for me, I wake up tired, I am tired all day at work, I go to bed tired and I fail to sleep as there are far too many things floating around in my head. So last night when I was meant to be making the sponge cake I was instead trying to have an early night, which didn’t work out for various reasons (see yesterday’s post)…I left the butter out intending to make the cake in the morning, but as I mentioned previously someone tried to be helpful and tidied it away back into the fridge for me – and my hand held mixer can’t cope with fridge cold butter (how I miss my kenwood mixer).

At lunchtime Flapjack Queen phoned up to say that the party bags we had bought ready filled cos its cheaper are actually quite small and 2 slices of cake probably won’t fit in the bag…I agreed with her that instead we would break with small people’s party tradition and serve the cake up after the rest of the food for eating then and there. I also decided that I would copy her idea and turn Spider’s birthday cake into a pile of cup cakes instead a la Nigella.

7.30pm there was a further change of plan back to the original skull and cross bones cake due to the difficulty of persuading a certain small boy that it would be better to have the big cake on his actual birthday when he has his second party “family only”…

So spent the next 30 minutes trying to make 12oz of victoria sponge cake mixture in a too small bowl with a hand held mixer and then fitting 4 cake tins in the oven…there was more mixture on me and the walls of the kitchen by the time I had finished.

Anyway, early start again tomorrow…may be an even earlier trip to Saino’s or Tescbury if the fondant icing I’ve had in the cupboard for over a year turns out to be off…or anything else goes wrong between now and 2.30pm…

Yo ho ho me hearties, I’m off to bed to dream of pieces of eight and making people who cut you up in traffic walk the plank…

Definately NOT waving

I am drowning in a sea of playmobile and boxes and boxes of photographs that need sorting… then add in paperwork waiting to be shredded and 2 weeks of ironing and I am so so tired.

Just had to do a mercy dash across the village to sort out a baking powder crisis (Flapjack Queen half way through birthday cake making dropped it on the floor – I only had half a teaspoon – thank heaven for Mums !) having just decided that I am not in a good state for trying to make birthday cakes – fortunately have an hour before work in which time to make 4 sponge cakes and cook them… wish me luck and think of me tomorrow trying to prove that I can, for at least an hour pretend I’m a domestic goddess.

Off to bed

postscript: Cakes were not made friday morning as someone had put the butter back in the fridge – could have melted it in the microwave but I think I was glad of the excuse. Still got an eveningand a morning left…

Pancake Day

Despite what I said about wanting to cook more with Spider I have ducked out of the question of whether he’s old enough to make pancakes by being ill. Fortunately his Grandma is a champion pancake maker and kept him occupied for most of the afternoon watching her make the batter and flipping pancakes.

I was more than happy to submit to a bit of mothering myself and wolfed down 4 pancakes with traditional jiff lemon and caster sugar.  A blog I like a lot was discussing the merits of toffee sauce versus lemon and sugar and although I agree that lemon and sugar is the best, I have been longing to try a recipe I saw in the observer several years ago. Hugh Fernley Whittingstall made pancakes with a banana and toffee sauce for Lyn Barber. All you needed for the sauce was some milk and half a packet of chewy toffees…unfortunately the packet of wherthers original that was in the fridge appears to have been slowly disappearing…

Cooking with children

My son has a Fairy Gothmother (FGM), he also has a Not Quite Godfather (the NQG) and a VIP (very important person in life aka KT Cupcake). People who know this about me and about Spider are therefore quite surprised to discover that I have a goddaughter.

Yes, I am a godmother, possibly not a very good one because as KT Cupcake sometimes likes to recall at the time of my goddaughter’s (Cookie) christening I was actually on the other side of the world and 18 metres under water – actually because of the time difference I was probably tucked up in a hotel room somewhere snoring my head off, but that’s not quite so good a story. The idea behind me being a godmother was that Cookie’s parents wanted her to have an adult influence in her life of someone with a different attitude towards life than her parents.

Her mother is a talented artistic person. I am not. I like making cakes to make people smile, KT Cupcake spreads happiness in other ways. Anyway, for Cookie’s  last birthday I gave her a voucher for a mornings cooking together and since her 7th birthday is now approaching at speed, we thought it was probably about time that she cashed it in.

Now, since I am feeling guilty about the fact that I have been a bit of an absentee godmother since Spider was born, I was planning on making it a special occasion, perhaps buying in some fancy cooking bits from the Pink Fairy Cake website, but as usual in my life things were very last minute “are you free tomorrow ?” “why ?” “Cookie’s ballet has been cancelled, can she come and cook with you saturday morning ?”

So had to make do with a container of 4 different sprinkles from Budgens, food colouring and some gold and silver foil cake cases dug out from the back of the cupboard (dating from when I got married I think)…I also managed to find a little whisk shaped like a chick in an egg which I bought as something for Cookie to take away with her as memento.

The house was also a mess and needed an early start saturday morning to ensure that the house could receive visitors and the kitchen declared fit enough to cook in and no longer a health hazzard.

The jury is out on whether I have provided her with a different approach to life after one morning together but I have at least introduced her to a few new things. She had never cracked an egg before and thought that you needed a bread maker to make pizza…

We made:

Since Saturday I have been in and out of bed with a stress related problem…I don’t think it was related to cooking with Cookie, who it would appear had a fantastic time and wants to do it again – soon. We had fun, but I don’t think teaching cooking to children is going to be my route out of debt, not unless I want to spend all my spare time chipping icing off the sink… I actually had fun too and am planning to make more of an effort to cook with Spider and to live up to my godmotherly duties…currently trying to overcome my make and do phobia and make a little scrapbook for Cookie of our morning together plus the recipes.

Photos to follow – I have technical gremlins at the moment


Flourless Fairycakes

Not really. Am afraid I don’t have a good recipe for flourless fairycakes, unless of course you don’t mind nuts. But even this recipe defeated me as I not only had I, in the run up to pay day run out of flour but I also seemed to have finally used up the packets and packets of cashew nuts that were clogging up my cupboard.

The lovely Mrs Lacer over on Lacer’s Life has been knitting this month which reminded me that I have a set of needles under the bed and am halfway through 2 knitted “things” for Flapjack Queen’s children and having made the egg last week I really should get on and finish the dinosaur puppet to go with it, especially as it was Flapjack Princess’ birthday on Thursday.

Thursday came and went and the dinosaur although knitted was still in pieces (I am allergic to “making up”) and I had no money for a card. Fortunately however there are some card blanks in the office and I then  I found Little Cotton Rabbits had this as a free pattern at this point I’ve tried to inseft a photograph but the system doesn’t seem to want to let me at the moment.

Unfortunately in a misplaced attempt before christmas at being an organised tidy individual I had finally got rid of my stash (wool and material) vis freecycle and all I had in were a few bits of white orange and black wool – however my Stepson mentioned that his Mum knitted so a quick phonecall netted me a ball of pink wool and one of brown.

Anyway, result was one card and one bemused Flapjack Princess…hopefully I’ll get the present finished this weekend.

Note: I promise this isn’t going to become a knitting blog. I realised whilst making the dinosaur the reasons why I gave up knitting – kittens playing with your wool whilst your knitting…

Good enough to eat ?

Good enough to eat ?

Recipe: Radio Times Pear Tart

When I was younger and with a lot less on my mind, I was more organised (cue hollow laughter from my Mum and Islay (sister in law)). I used to keep a recipe book where I would write down or more often stick down recipes that I’d found in magazines – the rule was that it didn’t go in the book unless I’d cooked it and liked it…as I got older the number of recipes around increased at a much faster rate than my cooking and then I also discovered recipe books.

Anyway this recipe is right at the front of the book and has been made on numerous occasions but won’t be this month as it would appear I am right at the end of the Pear season – never mind plenty of other things I can make, come friday when there is flour in the house again – think I’d better start buying in bulk.


10oz Shortcrust Pastry

1.5lb Pears

Juice of a lemon

8oz carton whipping cream

2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

3oz caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 200 deg c(400 deg F or Gas 6)

2. Roll pastry out and line a 9-10 inch flan tin with it. Prick the base and bake blind in the oven  for about 12 minutes

3. Peel, core, slice pears.  Layer pears neatly on the pastry. Sprinkle with lemon juice

4. Mix cream with the eggs and sugar. Pourthe mixture over the pears in the flan tin

5. Turn the oven down to 190 deg c (375F or gas mark 5). Put tart back in the oven for 20-25 minutes until cream is just set.

6. Cool for 10 minutes and serve…or allow to cool completly and serve…

If I ever put a photo up with this post you can assume that I finally found some pears in season… I have done it with tinned pears before but I suspect this is cheating…

Dinosaur Eggs

I am not the creative type. I am a willing assistant at “make and do” when Spider’s in that sort of mood but you don’t usually get me sitting down with scissors and glue and card for fun. This morning however the boys kicked me out of the kitchen as they wanted to get creative with the crepe pan…they’ve also used up the last of my flour so that’s put the mockers on doing any baking until Friday (unless the child benefit payment had been paid).

So I have spent the morning with bits of paper, a balloon and some wallpaper paste making 2 dinosaur eggs for the dinosaur puppet I started knitting just after christmas. I have found it quiet therapeutic actually, just sticking bit after bit of paper to the balloon – had hoped Spider would want to do it too, but he’s too busy creating treasure island with Playmobile figures (the obituary for the inventor of it was in the Guardian the other day) in the living room…Teenager did help with the second one, but he got bored when he discovered I was insisting on 6 layers. “We only had to do 2 layers at school, and it was strong enough”, I pointed out that whatever it was he did at school it wasn’t then played with by his half brother…

The puppet itself is made but needs sewing together – it is at this point that I usually get bored – fortunately I’m on a deadline so it may get finished by thursday (Flapjack Princess’ birthday)…photos to follow another time, I have to go and investigate the strange banging noises coming from upstairs…I think the bedrooms may have become infested with saurapodlets…

In season now: Pears, believe it or not but only just

I’ve mentioned before that I am am trying to firstly eat seasonally and if possibly eat locally. Eating locally currently is restricted to this country  rather than this county, partly because I’m not yet organised enough,but mainly ‘cos I’ve delegated the shopping to Husband for budgetary reasons (he’s better at getting bargains).

[When we had more money I did try an organic box via River Nene which was good from a seasonal and localish point, but  bad as you didn’t get much choice in the contents of the box (think they may have changed the system now) and since my guys are picky about their vegetables I ended up eating a lot of weird soups to use the veg up…there was also the period when I got Kale 3 boxes in a row – not good !]

Anyway I was floating around the net this morning and came across the Pink Fairy cake blog (their actual website is a good resource for cooking with children). I  discovered that Pears are in season now.  Having grown up in Worcestershire the home of apples and pears I was very surprised to learn this as I’d always assumed they were ready the same time as the Apples (Sept-Dec) but no, on checking the BBC website (you can tell I’m British, I always head for the BBC for the low down !) it would seem that they are in season January.

I love pears. They are not something, pre Spider I bought very often (except perhaps in tins) as usually when you buy them they are rock hard, take so long to get ripe and by the time they are ripe they go over and get mushy so quickly – and don’t ever ever consider putting a ripe pear in your lunchbox ! But when it came to weaning Spider they were one of the first things I gave him (apparently they are gentle on small people’s tummies) and it was then I discovered that cold pear puree is probably one of the closest things to “food from heaven” you can get !

I am also very fond of pear juice and have happy memories of hot days travelling round europe by train with lunches of bread and cheese and glass bottles of pear juice…don’t ever try putting a ripe pear through a juice extractor – as Nigel Slater points out in Thirst, all you get is a few pathetic dribbles of juice !

So I am on the look out for some pears to kick start my interest in cooking – I suffer quite badly from lack of motivation in the winter months and all I want to do is hide under the duvet, as you may have gathered from the lack of activity here recently (that’s also partly due to lack of cash)…if nothing else there is a tin of pears in the cupboard !

Life of Pie

Feeling at a loss. The wonderful Victorian Farm (BBC2) finished on Thursday. I started watching it purely to get some background on family history (some of Husband’s family came from shropshire) but ended up really enjoying it. Haven’t had the urge to cook anything else from the programme  since the Fidget Pie although I was vaguely toying with the idea of brewing beer !

When I was searching for a similar recipe to Fidget Pie to get oven temp and timings (not owning a range as they do on Victorian Farm) I come across another pie (not surprising when you are searching through a book called Pie: Angela Boggiano) which made Husband say “wow, that sounds good”. So I made it last night as a “we don’t celebrate valentine’s day, but” meal. (Cheshire Cheese and Onion Pie)

No, we don’t celebrate Valentine’s day here. Husband claims he doesn’t do it because it’s just a feast for card makers and he doesn’t need 1 day in the year to show he loves me. Personally I think it’s more to do with his fear of being told off if he forgets it ! Me, I am relieved not to have to be creative anymore. I used to make an effort to come up with something different and unusual but by and large was disappointed by other’s lack of originality – although the year I was treated to “Egg and Chips and Champagne” was quite fun !

nice as pie
nice as pie

Anyway I came home last night to discover 2 bunches of flowers “because a house needs flowers” and thought I should do something a little different for tea – unfortunately this pie does take over an hour in the oven plus about 30 minutes to make the pastry and prep the filling, so it was gone 9pm by the time it hit the table – or our knees as by that time we were watching Almost Human (BBC2).

Anyway I am pleased to say that the pie was a success. Husband is in love with the pastry which is a cheese shortcrust and…wait for it, WANT’S TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE PASTRY !!!

This morning I am enjoying a gentle morning of CBeebies with my “young man” who does I am pleased to say celebrate Valentine’s Day, so much so that he has given me 2 Card’s. One which he made and coloured in himself, the other he bought but included 2 packets of seeds – coriander and rocket, something I haven’t seen before “Suttons Groweasy Seed Mats”.