Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Snowflakes and baking...

Well what started out as a gloomy day with disturbed sleep and a nose full of snot turned out to be pretty positive... On the way home from the school run this morning, my good friend Jenny and I were discussing whether there should be more to life or if this was it (yes honestly!) when the oddest thing happened. We suddenly noticed that the snowflakes that were falling on our coats looked like, erm, snowflakes!

It gave me enough of a spark to carry on up the hill and when I reached home the snowflakes were getting bigger, and, well, more, um, snowflakey... I was manically trying to get more and more photos and I was stopping bemused passers by to tell them. Weirdly the top of my wheelybin was the best place for a snowflake photoshoot...

Definitely perked me up. Later I went to see one of my new North Somerset Arts cronies about getting some of my pictures framed, and I told him all about it, only for him to look out of the window a bit confused and he said "They are always like that when it snows in Nailsea", so I'm not sure I explained it well enough.

A bit more positivity later, when Jenny came round to make pastry with me. Now Jenny is a perfectly decent cook but suffers from a lack of confidence in all things kitchen-related. Last week after she had had a banana cake disaster, we had an impromptu banana muffin making session together over coffee (with a couple of other friends popping in mid-session) and it got us thinking. Quite often a few of us get together on a Tuesday morning for a little sewing, along with coffee, but could we 
translate this format into a baking morning (or afternoon as today turned out to be)? She asked if we 
could make shortcrust pastry as she normally buys pre-baked cases and hasn't had much success making it before, so a plan was formed. Together we made two batches, Jenny's a classic plain buttery shortcrust, mine with a hint of cheese and mustard powder added. Normally I make pastry alone and although I try to put some love into it, sometimes I can get a bit resentful over the time and concentration it takes (and don't tell Jenny but occasionally a bit cross when it turns against me and becomes a hard and unmanageable lump), but today it was great to have good company while I was doing it. It rested in the fridge and we drank coffee and ate cakes. Then we rolled it out and I showed her all I know (not very much) about baking blind. It is good to feel an expert on something even if it is all relative! I made one big flan case and she made lots of individual ones. We baked them and then had to dash to school; it was a bit surreal putting her hot pastry cases in the bike shed so that she could pick them later when we were out. So how did it go? Well I made a rather rustic-looking Swiss chard tart heavily laced with gruyere and an old piece of Montgomery's cheddar I found at the back of the fridge:-

And she made some quiches with a feta and olive filling, and some with prawns and lemon thyme (how good do they sound? I told you she was a decent cook!). Don't they look great? It's amazing how much positivity a bit of good food can spread. 

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