Hello dearest hearts, it’s a poor show i know but here is the second post for 2012. I’m afraid I’m going into some winter nesting mode, which I’m aware should lead to me spending many an hour leaning over an iPad drafting some witticisms for your delectation. But I haven’t. I have spent it tidying my baking cupboard, finding room for my growing collection of kilner jars and roasting tins. I have also spent it making more epic pastry failures. But ultimately I have been finding myself mourning the feast that is Christmas. The warm wonderment of the lights, the shameless sentimentality of films starring Richard Thomas and Susan Lucci, the sheer indulgence of a season that makes goose fat and double cream an essential ingredient. I love it all. As soon as it ends, I slump. Firstly, I’m usually broke whilst I wait for my next pay cheque. This year is no exception. The post Christmas sale in Marks and Spencer took a huge chunk of my cash. I also find myself seeking my joy for the new year. This year I have done this by planning weekends away like a beast. Firstly, a weekend trip to the Mulberry factory to buy discounted designer leather goods. Well, to the factory and then a fun day and night in Bristol. I went further by planning a weekend for me and my old law school chums in Bath next September. Ok so planning a weekend 9 months in the future may seem excessive but it was an exciting hour locating, lusting, telephoning and booking. I located via the Mr and Mrs Smith website, which made me feel impossibly middle class which you will understand if you peruse. It does not have b and b’s in Blackpool on its list, let’s just say. And before you fall out with me, I’m not slagging off Blackpool, it’s just not my kinda town!!
I’m still nesting. I’m still living for my Saturday shop, that mad hour walking around Waitrose eying up inspiration. My favourite part is the herb section. You look upon it with wonderment, hoping that these fresh favourite items may open the window to all kinds of possibilities, the ability to turn a bland dish into a taste sensation. This January, I think I should be resolute in my desire to make all my life resemble the fresh herb section of Waitrose. Every aspect has the ability to change the flavour of my life for the better. Rather than fear that something may be a disappointingly limp basil, I should think how, conversely, it may be a heavenly thyme, or a freshening parsley. Not everything is a searing birds eye chilli, it may be a pungent, tasty green chilli. Crap analogy aside, I’m trying to search for the opportunity everything presents to make things that bit better.
With this in mind may I introduce you to my good friend Reeses peanut butter chips. Think peanut butter but in the same form as a chocolate chip. You know when you find dried bits of peanut butter around the lid? Like that. But soft and gorgeous. I first sourced these when I got the More From Magnolia Bakery book which offered a recipe for a butterscotch and Peanut Butter brownie with cream cheese frosting. I mean, what more could one want?! So I bought. And never made said brownie. MC did. And it was goooood. Instead I made my own adjustment. Now I don’t need you all to tell me this is obvious. I know it is. But I did it anyway.
175g caster sugar
225g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 mashed bananas
1/2 bag Reeses Peanut Butter Chips
Preheat oven to gas mark 4. Line a loaf tin ready to put the mixture in the tin.
This cake is the holy grail. All in one. So bung it all in the bowl of your stand mixer or in the bowl and mix together. Once the mix is all together, stop mixing and transfer to the tin. If, like me, you have a few nerves about not creaming the butter and sugar to avoid lumps of butter through the mix, just do it. It’s habit for a lot of us, but it won’t hurt.
Place in the oven, middle shelf, for an hour. It will rise, and turn a golden brown. Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack till cool. When cold, mix some of the peanut butter frosting I told you about in my post What is a weekend?and top for extra peanutty goodness. I may even be tempted to sprinkle some crushed salted peanuts on the top for an extra salty hit.
You would not believe how long it’s taken to write this post dear readers. I have been writing it bit by bit for about 5 days, I can’t pretend that I’m the busiest person in the world. But my life is totally mundanely busy. From work, gym, cooking, washing up and indulging those tv programmes one cannot possibly forego, I have about 7 minutes to myself a day. I have been using those minutes perhaps wisely, perhaps not. But here it is, that post that’s been alluding me for a while. Hope it was worth the wait in the end.
Yesterday I have my friend Catherine over from Manchester. As she is pregnant (eeek!) I decided to make a nice afternoon tea for her so we could catch up over some sweet treats. Now, I’ve never been great at a scone, or a meringue, but I decided to conquer them both. I understand the wetter the dough, the better, but mine was perhaps too wet in that I couldn’t scrape it off the worktop. I had to overcome that hurdle. I realised later that whilst I reduced the flour amount due to lack of self raising flour, I didn’t reduce the liquid, so perhaps it was a tad wet…..
I also piped my meringues into nests, which I topped with whipped cream and fruit. Lovely. I finished the sweet trinity of treats with blueberry bakewell tarts. Gorgeous all three. We went on to have a walk around town. I bought a hardback copy of Domestic Goddess as my paperback was too flimsy (I love a hardback cookbook). The best bit of town was the urban Christians doing some rapping over a hip hop beat. There is something hilarious about someone shouting “yo yo, Sheffield, we’re keeping it real for Jesus”. The rap went on to say “You gotta represent in my father’s house, show mad love to your spouse”. The next verse taught us to “represent the lords son, respect your mum”. Fabulous stuff.
We also managed to observe a woman with her children (including one named after soul songstress Sade) who seemed to be the least patient woman in the world to have 3 children. I could see the flaw in her plan. She was treating each child to something in the pound shop, but proceeded to take any fun out of the purchases by screaming at them as the proceeded around the shop. From the first aisle to the last, this woman screeched her way round. Fortunately these children seemed to rather enjoy their mother growing increasingly impatient and ever louder. I quite liked the kids for that, as this was a woman who obviously deserved to be tried. Her lack of an indoor voice, or ability to regulate her temper, and her lack of awareness of people around her thinking very badly over her all made her horrendous to us around her. We had a terrible bout of faux-tinnitus on the way out.
We also saw two guys who had come over from Sweden on Holiday. To Sheffield. Seriously? Sheffield on holiday? I hope this is a stop over. I hope they were off somewhere nicer, or at least more exciting. I love Sheffield, but it’s no central London.
Anyway, that’s about it from me. Hope you like the mammoth post.
It’s Sunday morning, and I’m off to the gym. Seeing as I have eaten about 5 tons of whipped cream in the 24 hours, I think it’s only right to do something energetic. If only to help my cholesterol.
As always, I hope to keep updating regularly. But it would be churlish to promise. As ever , I’ll blog later folks!! X