Something different – a cookery book giveaway

Well, then. Here’s something different…

It’s not often you see a palm tree in one of my pictures…

Nor lovely bridges across lakes….

There is a reason for that, of course.  At the moment the Bear and I are in Malaysia, just for a quick visit, while we sort things out, before moving here in the summer. I know that back home it is, as it usually is at this time of year, cold and damp and grey, so the warmth and the sunshine of Kuala Lumpur and down here in Seminyeh is even more appreciated. Who wouldn’t want to live here?

It’s not going to be plain sailing, of course, as there’s lots to do and not a lot of time to sort things. I have to go through everything we own and decided whether I keep it and ship it over here or I get rid of it. Some things are easy enough to deal with and go straight into either bags for the bin or to charity shops.

Other things are more difficult. This is where I need your help.

River Cottage Every Day, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall… and yes, there are two copies.

There is a slight difference between them….

One I bought for the Bear as a Valentine’s present and one he bought for me as a Christmas present.  Yes, I know he should have paid more attention because I bought him the book first but, you know, he’s a man… what can you expect? And I suppose I have to confess that while I did buy it for his Valentine’s present, it may have been because I knew I could read it too….

Normally, you’d have to hold me to gunpoint to give away a cookery book but really, we don’t need two copies. What am I going to do? Ship both copies half way across the world?

Each one is heavy.

Nearly 1.5 kg heavy. It doesn’t make sense, does it?

What does make sense is that I give one of them away, but the next question is WHICH one? I don’t want to give away the one the Bear gave me and he doesn’t want to give away the one I gave him. We can’t decide… so what we think is best is that YOU decide.

One of you (unfortunately only those of you who live in the UK because I have to pay the postage) can have one of these books…

All you have to do is comment below and tell me why you’d want the book I gave to the Bear or why you want the book he gave to me.

After a week, on 28th March, I will see how many comments there are and use a random number generator to pick the lucky recipient. Simple, eh?

That way we don’t have to choose which of us loses a book the other gave and one of you gets to get a copy of River Cottage Every Day.

Think of it as being like a goodbye to the UK present from us to you!

So… do you want his book to me, or mine to him?

Lolly, updated.

Lolly has been at it again…

October 2010

Autumn is here as is the apple crop. We have all been trying to do as much as we can with the huge haul of apples and the lovely Lolly is no exception.

We both love cake baking and Laura and I have been working on delicious cakes using apples. One thing we found on our searches was that apple butter or stewed apples can reduce the need for fat in a cake and anything that can make cake almost a health food is good for us!

  Lolly had emailed me one morning and we were talking about the potential for cake ” I was having a look at your blog and came across the recipe for the Apple Cake that you made with Apple Butter, and some chopped up apple pieces. I have 3 smallish apples left from my bounty, as well as a small Tupperware box of stewed apple and I wondered if you thought it would work if I made it like this….

Peel and core my 3 remaining apples, mix with juice of ½ lemon.

Put 250ml greek yogurt in a bowl and add 200g golden caster sugar, 60 ml veg oil, 2 eggs and the seeds from one of your wonderful vanilla pods and gently mix

In another bowl put 300g plain flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp bicarb, and then instead of the apple butter, two heaped dessert spoonfuls of stewed apple and a tsp of cinnamon.

Mix through and add dry ingredients and chopped apple.

 Do you think that this would work, or do you think I should also add a little bit of butter for a bit of fat?”

Look at that! I think you could say that it worked!

Lolly says “  Well I made it! I think that I put too much of something in, perhaps flour as the cake is a little dense. However, that hasn’t stopped it from being devoured by everyone at work so it must taste alright!!! I also made a small heart shaped one for Giles…!”

I think that is how it should be for a cake that is best eaten with tea or coffee – somehow, light and fluffycakes belong more with afternoon dainty teas. This is the sort of cake that is perfect for a mid morning break, say. Nothing too sticky… nothing too airy, just a perfect slice to have with a hot drink.

Well done, Lolly… and I bet Giles loved his heart shaped cake!

(You can see the rest of Lolly’s cooking adventures here)

A note about not blogging….

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted recently.

I thought you deserved a note of explanation. Recently my time has been taken up with travelling back to the North to see my aunt, who has been so dreadfully ill. 

Sadly, she  passed away, so I have either been with my family or working extra hours so I could take time off to get back to them.

I will start cooking and posting again as soon as I can… I just didn’t want you all to think I had given up.

The strangest thing I have ever done in a car

… well, I bet THAT got you interested!

Those of you who read this regularly might have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much as usual – that’s a combination of work getting in the way and a few worries at home. I’ve hardly done any cooking at all. My darling aunt is really quite ill, so I have returned to the grim North to see her.

I got up to the most marvellous sunrise and tried to think what it meant.. red sky in the morning?

Was that the bad weather portent.. or was it going to be good weather?  I set off muttering “red sky at night….shepherd’s delight… red sky in the morning…. oh dammit!”

I had a long drive…….

.. and yes, it started to snow… AGAIN!

By the time I was driving up this road, my most favourite road in the world, the road back into my village, it had snowed.

In two hours everything had gone from a normal wintry day, with no snow,  to thick snow

When I went to my mother’s house, what had been clear of snow, two hours previously, was now two inches deep.

I just wish it would all go away.

Anyway, back to the car thing……my aunt hasn’t been eating and as I would do anything for her, I asked what she could manage a mouthful of. She’s stuck in hospital, watching yet more snow whirl past her window  and marvellous though the NHS have been for her, they can’t possibly make dishes to order.

They have to cater for thousands every day and that means making stuff that appeals to the majority. That’s fine, in the main, but she was tired of yoghurts and jelly…. but she could, perhaps, manage a spoonful or so of creme brulee.

So, the devoted niece drove straight to Marks and Spencer and bought two little creme brulees. I would have made it myself but, quite frankly, I didn’t have the time.

That’s the packet, balanced on the dashboard of my car.

They looked delicious…but, and this was the big but… you had to put the sugar on the top and grill it to get the lovely brulee crunchy top.

Now, as I said, the NHS is truly marvellous but they just won’t let you wander into their kitchens and borrow a grill.

I had thought of that and I brought along (being a most resourceful niece – comes of being in the Girl Guides, I reckon) my kitchen blow torch.

They wouldn’t let me fire it up in her room, either. 

Risk of fire and all that.. so….

I sat in the car in the car park and brulee’d the little pot, balanced on my leg,  until it was golden and crunchy.

Was it worth it? Oh yes. My little aunt ate it all up… and the added bonus was that my car smelled divine!

So. Beat that. Of all the things anyone has done in a car, I reckon finishing off a creme brulee is probably the strangest…

Unless, of course, you know different?

Dorset Cereals Best Little Blog nomination!

I was nominated for The Best Little Blog Award at the beginning of the month – you have no idea how happy that made me. This little blog has only been going since October and to find that more than my immediate circle of friends are reading this has astounded me.

I think you must have noticed the little Dorset Cereals box at the top of the page, over there…. because I am doing very well in the voting!

There are people from all over the world coming and reading about my attempts to make my Bear into a truly Omnivorous Bear – take a look at the Feedjit box… click on Options at the bottom of the box and then on the Live Traffic Map.

All those flags show the most recent visitors… HELLLOOOOO everyone!

Please say hello and tell me about yourselves – have you cooked anything? Has it inspired you to cook?

Thank you, those of you who have voted.. it means so much to think that people have liked what I have been cooking and writing about. And if you haven’t voted yet… well……

If you want a recipe that has Dorset Cereals in it.. look at Bone Idle Bread, possibly the world’s easiest to make and tastiest, fruity and nutty bread. Just try it. You will be glad you did.

So, whatever happens in the voting contest, I am just pleased that so far, this month, more than 760 people have popped in here to see what is going on.

Thank you for reading so far. I hope you come back … but most of all I hope you cook something!

Cold, dark December

I  get up in the morning in the dark, I drive to work in the dark, I leave in the dark and get back in the dark.

Sometimes I wonder if the world has ground to a halt and it is permanently dark outside.

Last night everything was shrouded in fog  as well as being dark…..

view from my window

I’m tired and I can’t think of what to cook – well, I can think of lots of things but they all involve me being around to cook them.

I might have to drive back to the North at short notice, which will mean there will be no cooking going on…. there will be, perhaps, reviews of the delights of hospital sandwiches and what kind of coffee can be had from a clapped out machine in a corridor.

So, if you don’t hear from me,  think of me and the family and say prayers for my digestion…..