I have not been very well of late. I have had cold after cold and instead of taking a reasonable time off work to recover I’ve just tried to push on with things. As a result I have been feeling very run down and tired and not achieving much outside of work hours.
Originally, when we first decided to have a party for Spider and Flapjack Princess I was going to work my way through various bits of Frostbite: Susan Austin, cook in advance and freeze until needed. But as a result partly of my lack of energy and partly due to a severe lack of cash this didn’t happen. With a week to go until the party my freezer was empty and I was down with yet another cold.
However a quick rewrite of the intended menu and some furious baking by my Mum meant that catering by me was cut down to an evenings cake making and a morning cake decorating (see previous post) and bulk sandwich making.
So for the record, because I know that from time to time they do drift into this small corner of the internet some times I would just like to say, “Thanks Mum ! You’re Fab…” and Spider thinks so too… I would also like to say thank you thank you thank you to my sister in law Islay and also to my brother who not only came up for the party but when it was over just pitched right in with the tidying up…so thank you to my family, to Husband, to Flapjack Queen and of course to Spider for being, just wonderful…thank you to all of you who made it just a really enjoyable day.
I have been suffering from “the time of the month” which is a euphemism for “it’s almost pay day”. As a result I’ve been experiencing that constricted feeling again…my insides have felt all twisted and tight and I’ve been finding it hard to think straight…part of the problem it seems is I’ve been overdosing on Radio 4 news programmes who are almost wall to wall banking crisis with a bit of Obama and Gaza thrown in for variety…
As an experiment I tried silence…I tried turning silence up loud…doesn’t work…must remember to put some CD’s in the car.
What has worked however is forward thinking about parties. Spider has a lot of friends with birthdays in February and March so we are busy most weekends it would seem…trying to find presents within budget now that Woolies has gone is proving a challenge.
But the thing that really cheers me up is planning Spider’s birthday. He is having a shared party with Flapjack Princess (they have a lot of the same friends in the village and quite a large circle of non pre-school friends) and for purely practical and economic reasons it is going to be a Pirate and Princess party. Practical because most girls have a princess or fairy type outfit, economic because our local supermarket was selling chocolate coins off cheap and we have bought in bulk (yes I know I’m a cheapskate…I prefer the word “thrifty”)!
I suspect that I will probably enjoy Spider’s party more than he will…he will enjoy it because it’s a party, he will enjoy his party as much as he enjoys the other parties…I will enjoy it because it will make him smile…
I have a rather ambitious plan to do a skull and cross bones cake…it’s ambitious for me as I don’t really do icing, not the rolled out type…I may need a back up plan…I may be about to test drive Susan Austin’s Freezer party (see Frostbite) which even includes a frozen birthday cake amongst it’s recipes.
I don’t know whether it was the phonecall confirming our reservation of the village hall or whether it was my payslip dropping through the letter box but for the first time in a week I can feel my internal organs uncurling and relaxing…and I am beginning to be able to think straight…but to stay this way I might try weaning myself off Radio 4 or at least try not to listen to quite so much news !
The pancakes in the picture in the post below are made using the recipe from Feast:Nigella Lawson. I know the recipe is on her website and I was just going to post a link but I couldn’t find her site this morning…so I thought I’d post an alternative version of breakfast pancakes from Frost Bite: Susan Austin which I occasionally make when I haven’t any banana’s… but then I do keep banana’s frozen in my freezer anyway, a tip I got from one of Nigella’s books and from Frost Bite… I also tend to keep frozen pancakes in my freezer (plain, banana, gingerbread, whatever) so that I can be an indulgent mummy even when i don’t get a lie in !
240g SR flour
100g brown sugar
1.5 tsp ground ginger
1.5 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
250 ml milk
60g melted butter
1. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredient. In a jug whisk together the wet ingredients.
2. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir them until they are combined in a smoothish batter – presumably you could also bung them all in a food processor and whizz them together that way.
3. Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a frying pan. Then drop small amounts of batter in the frying pan, should be able to do 3 or 4 in the pan at the same time
4. Cook the pancakes until small bubbles start forming on the surface, then flip the pancakes and cook the otherside for a minute or 2 until golden brown on both sides. Makes about 15
Can be frozen once cool. Defrost in microwave when needed or slowly in fridge if you have the time
The recipe is almost the same as the pervasive Nigella Lawson version, but I prefer these because they are ok without the icing…and they freeze well which as a (now) full time employee and Mummy is essential for me. The recipe in the book Frost Bite gives a recipe for icing as the intention is that these should be iced, but I don’t always want to be that nice a Mummy !
100g butter (softened)
100g caster sugar
0.5tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
40g custard powder
0.5tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 180 deg. Line 2 trays with baking paper
1. Cream butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add vanilla and egg. Beat again
2. Sift together flour, baking powder and custard powder. Add to butter mixture. Gently stir until combined. Add more flour if mixture feels too sticky.
3. You can freeze the dough at this point and take out later to defrost and cook when you are ready. Alternatively you can roll out the dough to 2-3mm thick and cut out with cookie cutters to required shape. (You can freeze when cut out by placing trays in the freezer and putting frozen shapes in boxes)
4. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes or so, until lightly browned in at the edges. Leave to cool and ice as required.