They thought they were too grown up for potato printing. So I showed them Melissa's post and they agreed just to humour me. But I think we all know who had the most fun.
There will be no craft refuseniks around my kitchen table!
Print boys, or nobody gets any dinner.
It's an odd thing, but despite not having a terribly sweet tooth, I really like baking cakes. And reading about cakes. And drooling over pictures of cakes. So it's not terribly surprising that I bought a cake book.
And I thought I'd try out a very basic recipe first - American Vanilla Cupcakes.
Yes, that is a courgette in the background. Because the book 'Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache' is unusual in that it uses vegetables - courgettes, swede, tunip, beetroot, butternut squash, parsnip, potato - they're all there. So you get cake, but healthy, virtuous cake, without fat. What's not to be excited about?
The food styling is sublime - look here or here to see what I mean and the chapters are organized along colour themes (a la Apples for Jam). And I really like the trust me tips which explain things ( in the case of this recipe, why not to worry that the mixture feels looser than a normal cupcake). Also very interesting were the Cake Diary pages which make it clear quite how many iterations these recipes went through to achieve the end product.
The first nagging doubts came when I licked the bowl. Not nice at all. The rice flour made the mixture unpleasantly gritty and the flavour was not good. But I reserved judgement. They baked beautifully - rising evenly and looked glorious. The great thing about their fat-free-ness is that you don't get any of that seepage of buttery greasyness into your cupcake wrapper.
So I made a batch of the Snow Meringue Icing and soon those cakes were looking even better.
Really, doesn't that just make you want to devour it? So I did, and what a disappointment. The cake was kind of rubbery and tasteless and the icing (which uses icing sugar and egg whites cooked over a bain marie and beaten for 9 mins) wasn't as good as standard seven minuite frosting made with caster sugar.
Now perhaps I just had an off baking day, because all the reviews I've seen of the book have been glowing. And I'm happy to test out a couple more recipes. I might try substituting a proportion of the rice flour specified with plain flour.
But at the back of my head, a little voice is is whispering if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Today, it was summer. A full on, blue skies, outdoors sort of day - a type we've seen precious little of this holiday. So we went fishing. This is not a particularly organized affair - more of a don crocs, grab nets and amble off. Because we're only talking about the stream which runs through our village and it's knee deep at best.
Also 'fishing' is merely our shorthand for describing our jaunts to the stream because in all the years we've lived here, we have never ever caught anything.
Until today that is. Look! Fish!
A bullhead and a couple of sticklebacks.
Okay, they weren't big, but there were plenty!.
There was a saint of a teenager down by the stream who gave my boys an impromptu fishing lesson and allowed them to hero worship him for at least two hours. If I was smarter I'd have asked for his phone number, because peace like that is worth good babysitting rates. And I'd happily pay to abdicate my responsibilities as squabble referee for a while.
This evening, I sat in a deckchair with my lovely neighbour, having a glass of wine while the children played in the driveway and looked up at the sky turning mackerel.
If today was our summer, at least it was well spent.
Kristina's blackberry ice cream photos propelled us out of the house on Saturday afternoon to go and fill a few tupperware containers with the bounty of the hedgerows from the fields behind our house. They seem early this year and very very plentiful.
The trip is so much speedier now that Mister Johnny has ditched his stabilizers.
So they zoom along while I am designated chief picker. This is largely because blackberry picking success is dependent on a high pain threshold (to ignore the prickles) and a basic level of greed driven determination. Those lightweights of mine are content to scoff a few in the fields with little thought of the potential rewards to be gained from getting enough berries home for a cooking session. I, on the other hand, always have half an eye towards the end goal.
And in this case, the end goal was ice-cream.
So very easy and so wonderfully good. I cooked the berries with some sugar and a couple of tablespoons of water, very gently until they began to give up their juice, then passed them through a sieve. The only downside to blackberries for free is their more extreme pippyness, but a sieve gets round that.
The resulting coulis, spent the night in the fridge getting nice and cold and was then put into the ice cream maker and churned until ice crystals started to form, at which point I poured in 300ml of whipping cream. Actually, I sweetened the cream too as I decided the coulis was still a bit too tart.
Do you find that with ice cream? The mixture has to be a touch over-sweet to come out tasting right after it is frozen.
And how very right this was. The only sad thing was having bog standard kiddy wafer cones instead of something classier. But that's just a good excuse for another batch.
I think it's the time of year, but I've been feeling in full on nesting mode of late. There are boring things which need to be done and are unlikely to be achieved in the near future (like painting the hallway), but there are also lots of little things making me extremely happy.
The first for our kitchen, from the most incredible place in Corbridge RE - found objects.
It's not the most salubrious of locations, tucked round the back of a
petrol station, but inside? Well, it took my breath away - an Elysian
Fields for bloggers. Looking at the website guarantees a case of the wanties - just warning you.
Products and photographs by RE
My peg rail was salvaged from a mill - the piggy tails used to guide the threads as they were fed into the loom. I didn't know this when I convinced hubby that it had to come home with us, but now that I do, I love it even more. It seemed the perfect place to hang a few of my cookie cutters. For a long time now, I've felt they deserve better than lying jumbled in a giant tupperware box deep in the bowels of one of those ludicrous kitchen corner cupboards which swallow your stuff, never to return.
They make me smile, and I have grand plans for little seasonal vignettes to hang on the rail. Who knows if that will ever happen, but dreams are good.
The rail sits above our kitchen table in the space that used to occupy my much loved Mrs Eliot Books print. You can just see the corner of it there, but because I had framed it in a pale wood, it doesn't look quite right in that spot any more and needs to be moved. Fortunately I have just the replacement from Tiel at tsk tsk . I fell for it before I even saw the peg rail, but my planets must have been in alignment, because they look beautiful together. Now my nesting kick just just has to extend to getting a frame and mounting it. The print is called '8 days a week' and features clothespegs, which just says it all, really. I'll show you mine when it's all done.
The kitchen also witnessed the unwrapping of a very special box.
The sweetest of gestures from Jen of Painted Fish Studio. Just because I fell in love with them.
There is such great joy to be had in having things around you which remind you of special people and places. Even the cookie cutters have tales to tell. See yours, Louise? Katherine?
Look around you - bet there are a few items with a story and if you've been blogging long, I'm almost certain there'll be an internet friend or two attached to them.
We had the most amazing time here. Shame it's 274 miles from home. Practically a sock worth of travel knitting - in between breaking up tussles in the back seat.
Some days I question the sanity of grandparents far away and a principled refusal to buy an in-car DVD.
Pleasure is not only derived from eating, shopping and friends, but I can't deny the importance of that triumvirate in the pursuit of happiness.
Lunch at Ottolenghi, afternoon tea at Fernandez and Wells. I'd highly recommend the clementine cake.
Shopping all over the place, but especially for me:
They made me buy it. But oh how I love it.
Almost as much as I love spending time with them.
Small things are pleasing me today. My newly arrived vintage french thread.
From Milly and Dottie's Emporium. A shop to make one smile if ever there was one.
Some little matchbook jotters with paint chip covers and security envelope pages. Guess who got a new guillotine and needed to test drive it?
A small bit of knitting. Very small, and possibly a touch pointless. But I had to have a go at it.
And some rather more useful sock knitting, now completed (alt least one of the pair is)
Now if only I could find my A to Z - I'm off to London in the morning and I'm hopeless without it.
We're back from a little trip. A change of scene can be a very good thing. Particularly when the scenery is so lovely.
And escaping from the eternal drizzle rain and grey skies helps too. We could pretend to live in houses that weren't ours.
And defend then from enemy invaders.
And of course there were plenty of boy activities. Ranging from the relatively tranquil feeding of the ducks.
Through the gently active garden cricket.
To the death defying tree climbing. Can you see him? Look closely.
Now look at the size of the tree. That's hubby chewing his fingernails at the bottom.
He's hoping neither of us has to climb up to rescue him. The last time I had to do that, I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with Johnny. Mark got stuck about 15 feet up a tree. I thought he'd manage to get down himself, but then came a tearful little voice 'Mummy, my legs have gone all trembly'. Bump or no bump, I was up that trunk like a shot.
Thankfully this time the descent was all under his own steam. He's going to get all the cousins up there next time we see them. Bet my brother and sister-in-law are pleased they lent us their house now!