Friday, August 28, 2009

Last night

I think every child in Harford County must have woken up with that thunderstorm last night. Boy, was that a doozy. Technically, only Abigail and Noah woke up to the storm - I'd been laying there in bed for a few minutes, wondering when they were going to turn up. As for the other two, it was Noah's scream of sheer terror that woke them up. And had me stepping on the dog.
There was no way anyone was sleeping for a while after that. So, there were 6 people packed, sardine-like, into our bed. Everyone was quiet for a while, but there was no sleep to be found. After about half an hour of struggling to make a place for myself in this bed, we gave up and packed 'em all off to bed. And with the exception of one more brief appearance from Master Noah, all was quiet from then on. Except for the occasional and distant rumblings of the storm.
The best part of it is that I know for sure that we were not the only disturbed house around: the neighbors across the road, with a two-year-old daughter, had their light on for a while last night, too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Confession

Who has seen North and South? BBC's mini-series based on Elizabeth Gaskell's novel has become my preferred viewing at the moment.

The confession part is this: I have a crush on John Thornton. Not the actor, Richard Armitage, mind, just the character of Mr. Thornton. Oh, swoon. I've now watched the final installment several times, and I still start welling up at his broken-heartedness at her return to London, and again at their encounter at the train station. His brow finally un-furrows and I get blubbery. Anyone else have this problem?

For those who haven't seen it, my romanticizing is probably not helpful, especially since I'm really bad at sharing what the film is actually about. Well, go and see it yourself, and then you'll know. And then you'll be less likely to call me a sap.

Victoria Sponge

I have something of a love/hate relationship with Nigella Lawson's recipes. Overall, I love them, because when they work out, they're awesome. When they don't, though, they really don't. Kind of like the little girl with the curl...
Anyway, her Victoria Sponge definitely works. And it's so easy. I would even venture to say that it might become your go-to cake when it needs to look special and there's not a lot of time for "special". So here it is:
Victoria Sponge
A note for the Americans: the measurements are in grams, because that's how she gives it in the UK edition. If you're struggling, buy the American edition of ...Domestic Goddess, or buy some weighing scales. I'd never manage in my kitchen without them!
You'll need
225g butter
225g fine granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
25g cornflour (corn starch)
1 tsp baking powder
3-4 tbsp milk
Preheat the over to 350 F/ 180C. Line a couple of cake pans - I would call them sandwich tins.
This is where it's easy: Tip all the ingredients (except for the milk) into your food processor. Whiz it all up until all the lumps are gone, then add the milk while it's still running. When it's nice and smooth, divide the batter between the 2 pans and bake for 20-25 min. When the tester comes out clean (and by tester, I mean knife, skewer, or knitting needle - whichever is to hand), cool them in the tins for 10 min, then turn out and cool completely.
You can then sandwich them with some icing and cover with icing, a la birthday cake, or you can do it properly and sandwich them together like so:
smear on a couple tbsp of some kind of berry jam, then cover with a couple handfuls of coordinating berries. Whip some heavy cream (about 125 mls) and slap some of that on. Then settle the top layer on and sprinkle some granulated or even icing sugar on the top.
For the pretty.
It's good eatin' - you'll see.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Birthday Celebrations

I know, it's taking me a while to get things going around here - after all, how long should it take to upload a few photos, right? Well, tough. It always takes longer than it should. But I promise to get my act in gear sooner or later...

Anyway - Big Stinkin' Water Fight

'Cause that's the way we do birthdays

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Crock Pot Peach Jam

Very delicious, and nigh on impossible to find in the stores. So make your own!

Fresh Peach Jam

(from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook)

You'll need:

About 2 pounds slightly underripe peaches (7 to 8 large)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

One 1.75 or 2 ounce box powdered pectin (optional)

3 to 4 cups sugar, to taste

1. Peel the peaches by dipping them into a pan of boiling water to loosen the skin, then immediately cool them by holding under cold water. The skins will slip off. Remove the pits. In a large bowl, coarsely crush by hand with a potato masher or pulse a few times in a food processor; you'll have about 5 cups of pulp. combine the peaches and lemon juice in the slow cooker; sprinkle with the pectin, if using (I didn't bother). Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Stir in the sugar. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 1/2 hours, stirring twice.

3. Remove the lid, turn the cooker to HIGH, and cook 2 to 3 hours longer, until the jam achieves the desired consistency. Ladle the warm jam in to clean glass jars & let stand until cool.

To sterilize your jars, either run the jars and lids through the dishwasher or wash in hot, soapy water and heat in a coolish oven (about 300F) for 10 min.

So good, and so easy...
And I forgot to mention yesterday - those cheap boxes of seconds come from Lohr's Farm stand off Snake Lane in Churchville. Go stock up!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Getting ready

There's been a lot of "readying" around here, for various reasons...
Cake, for the big boy's birthday
Harvesting the Roma tomatoes (again - this time for brushetta)
Peach Jam, for whenever (and for the locals, got a massive box of 'seconds' peaches for ten bucks. Can't beat it.)

A sleep sack for the new babe in progress

Eleanor's Christmas sweater (you mean you can't tell??)

We had such a lovely celebratory weekend. Anniversary dinner at Chipparelli's (where Toby finds he doesn't really care for Marsala or breaded chicken the hard way), followed by watching a true master of bocce ball in Little Italy. The new 3 year old, loved his gifts, his cake and his family. This birthday passed the true test of a successful celebration: on the way home from ice cream, he fell asleep in the car and was out for the night. Result.

Expect some birthday photos and a couple of recipes this week.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mmm, Mmm, Good

First, Abigail's dress - turned out really nice, in spite of a little whoopsy. Still at the rate she grows, it'll be Anna's dress by summer's end. I foresee several more on the horizon, once my machine starts behaving itself again.

Second, d-o-n-u-t-s. Yummy.

I had a craving (as I do) for donuts, and didn't want to spend a fortune at Dunkin Donuts. So I found this rather helpful little sight, and found donut-making to be right up my alley. In fact, it's such a cute little site, I think I shall be going back there again...

They come highly recommended.

Monday, August 3, 2009

5 March

That's the date, just received this morning. Now I just need to get a new calender to write it down...

For those who are concerned (Shelley), please don't be. Toby is sure to remind me that this was how it was with the other babies, so it's sure to pass soon. Your encouragements and prayers are much appreciated, though!

And just to prove that I do get out of the bed occasionally, we went to the Bel Air Farm Fair on Friday. We went with another family from church, which made it even more fun - good friends to play with, more eyes to watch the goings on and a bit of extra energy to go the distance. As it tends to be with these things, we were generally too busy doing to take many pictures, but rest assured, we all had a marvellous time (even when the rain came).

Plus, I was finally able to finish Abigail's dress. No pictures yet, but they'll come soon. The sewing machine managed to make it to the end admirably, just to give up at the start of a new project, so I don't really know when the next project will be attended to. Watch this space...

Just to make up for the shocking lack of visual aids, here's one of the Big Three, post-pool frolicking:
What cuties.