- I'm drawn to this shade of yellow like a magnet to the fridge. I just find it comforting, not joyous: it's warm and gentle, wise perhaps. It does, however, make me talk bollocks - ho hum. The yarn I'm using is specifically designed for felting (I'll let you know if it works) and the beautiful pattern book is from the bargain bucket at C&H Fabrics. It's a beautiful book, even if I don't use any of the other patterns. Eye candy is underestimated and should be devoured as often as possible.
- After losing my first ever knitted hat, and feeling despondent from knitting never-ending fingerless gloves with 4-ply, I resolved to knit a new hat with chunky-as-you-like Big Softie yarn. I started whilst beginning the week cheerfully with a new english 'Wallander' with the wonderful Kenneth Branagh (but do try and catch the original Swedish version, often on BBC4, which I think is marginally better, though both reduce the current crop of televisular dirge to mere cataracts) and finished the following afternoon: this instant yarn gratification was just what I needed. However, I over-estimated the girth of my head, or at least the length of it, but luckily my finishing was neat enough to allow for a turned brim. And it was just in time for all the snow. I am still ploughing on with the mittens and may have them finished by Xmas, when I will probably burn them in a ritual sacrifice to the Goddess of Craft, asking Her for patience and fatter yarns in future. The pattern is from 'Stitch and Bitch' by the way, should you wish to while away the hours whilst watching Swedish drama of the greyist, weightiest yet atmospherically sumptuous variety.
- The land of my dreams is Paris at the mo, and if anyone would like to buy me this apartment, I would be most grateful and would even send you cake. I am feeding this daydream with a daily munch from the delicious visual buffet of 'Paris: Made by Hand' by Pia Jane Bijkerk (who has a rather beautiful blog too.), a delicious collection of 'the city's artisans, createurs, and craft boutiques'. If you are going to Paris, physically or in your mind, I whole heartedly recommend it: it's small enough not to be cumbersome and should lead you into dark spaces of illuminated joy that you wouldn't have bothered with before. If you are going, could you bring me back anything from this amazing shop please? Merci!
- I am currently addicted to the BBC digital station, 6music. Facebook chums will already be aware of my regular spamming of their status update pages with yet another gem they must listen to that I've just heard via 6music. The DJ's are irreverant, intelligent and clearly love the music they play. Here they are allowed to be as geeky as they want, encouraging their listeners to do the same, creative a music nerd safe-haven. They also tap into the stunning BBC archives to play long forgotten Peel sessions and a variety of music royalty live sets. Particular favourite DJ's are Adam & Joe (of coursee, Tom Robinson's eclectic ear, new boy Jarvis Cocker (a perfect mix of music and literature, tied together with a ribbon of Cocker wit), Huey Morgan (who, along with JC, turns Sunday into a joyous day full of interest rather than the grey day before the week starts again) and Lauren Laverne, keeping me company during the morning. To me, it's bliss.
- I have a new guru and her name is Lynne Truss. If you haven't read any of her funny and informative books, may I urge you too. They won't take you long as the typeface is huge. Make sure you are sitting properly as you may develop a neck twinge with all the nodding in agreement as you read. She just speaks common sense and if more people read 'Talk to the Hand', perhaps we can all remember to be a tad more civil to each other, as a little consideration towards others really oils the wheels of our day to day world. However, do not do as I did and read 'Eats Shoots and Leaves' at the same time as John Updike: it took all my strength not to start adding commas, apostrophes and colons of every flavour to his book.
- Finally, baking. These biccies remind me of the ones my old school cooks' would occasionally treat us to, instead of the uninspiring jelly whip or tedious selection of starchy yogurts for most days Dpuddings. These biccies are both crunchy and chewy, with a delicious gingery, toffee flavour (courtesy of the Golden Syrup) Here, size matters: you won't achieve the same amount of comfort nostalgia with a small packet-sized biscuit. The recipe comes courtesy of Jeanette Orrey, the woman who inspired Jamie Oliver to help overhaul school lunch nutrition. I've omitted the chocolate from her recipe, but feel free to add 60g of chopped choc if you wish. The measurements are slightly different as I received a rather gorgeous set of scales for my birthday that measure in increments of 20g, making weighing 55g an impossibility. From my limited experience, I've found that baking is down to ratios: alter all weights in the same way and you should be ok.
180g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
120g butter (or marg)
120g demerera sugar (or caster, light brown or a mix)
1 heaped tablespoon golden syrup
drop or two of milk
- preheat the oven to 180oC / 350oF / Gas Mark 4
- line two large baking trays with baking paper or the non-stick parchment-equivalent of your choice
- mix together the flour, baking powder and oats in a big bowl
- rub in the butter to create a breadcrumby melange
- add the sugar (and choc if using) and golden syrup and stir to create a stiff dough. You may need to add a drop or two (or three) of milk to bind it all together.
- divide the dough into eight equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball, place on baking sheet and flatten sensitively with your hand, allowing room for the biccie to grow.
- bake for 20-25 mins until pale brown and cracked of surface (they should look like mahoosive gingernuts)
- allow to cool on the sheets before transferring to cooling racks
- enjoy with tea and the knowledge that your school days are long behind you.
PS: I'm having a clearance sale!!! Please come by and pick up a bargain before I hire a flame thrower and destroy the lot in a hormonal frenzy.