What goes with Jam and Bread ?

Tea. Apparently. It also goes very well with cake, and in cake… I read somewhere the other day that “afternoon tea” is making a comeback. That lovely ritual of small sarnies, little cakes or scones or best of all a toasted teacake. It would appear that in times of crisis, despite the rise of coffee in the last 10 years, the Brits, especially the English reach for their cuppas.

My day is punctuated, almost timetabled by important cups of tea which help me get through the day. The gasper, the first cup on waking, drunk in the dark as I slowly collect my thoughts together to tackle the day. The catch up cuppa with my parent when I drop Spider off. The procrastinator, the one I drink when I reach my desk as I sort the inbox into urgent and delete…

The Teenager is itching to cook with it, or correction he wants to try smoking food in a biscuit tin, having watched Jamie Oliver at the Food Show I think, woodshavings however make me think far too much of the bottom of a gerbils cage, so come summer (as I don’t fancy a kitchen thick with smoke) I may let him experiment with a biscuit tin and some loose tea…

I spent my lunch hour cruising the 4 floors of this building trying to cadge an Earl Grey teabag as I’m planning some budget cooking not involving a muffin…I have some not particularly good dates, some sultanas and some prunes to use up. The plan is Bara Brith…a real “tea” cake.

Experiments in Pizza

Lunchtime – In the fridge at the moment I have some pizza dough – correction,the dough is slowly rising. I made the dough itself at 8.30am, just before taking Spider off to pre-school using the dough recipe from Apples for Jam:Tessa Kiros I had to adapt the recipe however as my yeast refused to foam using the method from the book so I adapted the recipe to match the instructions on the tin – will be changing yeast brands as this tin has been very fussy as to what it gets added to!

After making the dough I followed a tip from Nigella about leaving the dough to have a long slow rise in the fridge. I have to head off now for a site visit in the wilds of Oxfordshire. Hopefully by teatime my dough will be ready for stretching and rolling and having toppings added. Off to find some mozzarella… I’m also going to buy some new yeast as I was concerned about the dough when I was kneading it, it started off as a little tight ball of dough and stayed that way…now I know that’s not supposed to happen.

Dinnertime: The dough did not look promising when I got home, it was a little bit softer than when it went in the fridge. I punched it down, divided it in two and left it to rise a bit more in the warmth of the top oven – in the lower oven I had 2 granite tiles warming up – tip from Jamie at home (who needs a pizza stone). After 30 minutes it was pliable enough to stretch it out as a base. Decided that simplicity was best and just did a simple tomato and cheese (cheddar ) and wow, after about 10 or 12 minutes we had lift off !

Not quite wood fired oven, but good enough for now
Not quite wood fired oven, but good enough for now

If I were to do this again, which I will tomorrow I think the only thing I would change is the dough… don’t know why but it didn’t quite work, I think perhaps my yeast may be on its last legs.

Anyway for Saturday night I shall buy some new yeast and let Teenager have the run of the kitchen and the fridge and see what he comes up with – but for now I am happy that I have found a good cheap alternative to frozen pizza and one that does not entail too much preparation in the kitchen…

I feel a bit like a kid who believes in magic – its been almost as much fun today as the first time I tried developing a photograph from a negative… mind you I did that in my bathroom not my kitchen !

What I don’t want for christmas…

London again today. Popped into the House of Fraser before heading home. My big boss (the grand fromage ?) had some money off vouchers for HoF which he didn’t want and I was a more than grateful recipient. I had a vague idea of perhaps getting a new handbag – I think it may be time to smarten up my act a bit and take a slightly more professional attitude towards things, be a bit less Slummy Mummy…was a little bit embarrassed yesterday when visiting a firm of solicitors when I realised I’d turned up for a meeting with all my papers just stuffed into a Sainsbury’s hemp bag !

But, as anyone who has known me for longer than 3 years will tell you, my laid back approach to my appearance pre-dates motherhood by many years. I remember one year my school mates gave me a selection of plastic bags as a Christmas present as a comment on the fact that my school files were carried around in carrier bags as I never seemed to have a proper school bag – mind you that was probably one of the most useful presents I’ve ever had, lasted me well into university years !

But to get back to House of Fraser. I was happily browsing in the homewear section when I came across an electric pizza oven. Yes, for just under £50 you can have an electric pizza stone which not only will cook your pizza base almost as crisp as a restaurant, but you can also use it for making omlettes and heating pastys…

I am doing home made pizza this weekend with the Teenager. We acquired a pizza stone the other week following a suggestion from one of the Jamie Oliver books (Jamie at home I think) which suggested that any slab of granite would do. I’m trying out a 50cm x50cm floor tile which Husband picked up from a skip a few months ago – so can I spend the £50 I’ve just saved on a new handbag/briefcase or do I have to donate it to the “pay off the credit card fund” ?

Was planning on making more Brownies tonight but tomorrow’s meeting has been changed into a site visit, which means I won’t be seeing the future owners of the Brownies until monday and I don’t think they will last the weekend if I do them now