Saturday, 13 February 2010

Stopping to smell the coffee

After a hearty breakfast (porridge cooked with semi-skimmed + a dash of vanilla extract, throwing in some dried sweetened cranberries for the last minute, then adding sesame + pumpkin seeds, walnuts or pecans, a sprinkle of demerera and cinammon) I donned my beloved wellies and went for a much needed long walk around one of my favourite parks. I didn't take any photos as I just wanted to walk and take in what was going on around me rather than documenting it: selfish, I know. I've been to that park numerous times over the last, wowsers!, 20 years but had never strayed from the beaten path. This time I did, allowing my sturdy legs to go where they wanted. To find something new in the familiar is always a treat, perhaps a timely (for me at least) that it's not what you look at, it's how you look at it that counts. To be bored by life is, well, frankly, boring, and we should constantly be looking to see new beauty and quirkiness everywhere. (methinks the Lemsip has kicked in a little too powerfully...)

In town, I turned off from my usual automaton path, curious by a sandwich board promising 'Good Food, Good Coffee, Great Welcome', and discovered it wasn't just a hollow tagline...

Delicious granary toast with butter and honey: why is it that toast made by someone else always tastes better than toast you've made yourself? Please also note that here, a large latte is indeed a large latte.

This may well be my new favourite place. A happy, laid back atmosphere, with delicious coffee, locals popping in to pick up lunch orders - it's amazing how much gossip can be exchanged in the time it takes to buy a coffee.

I finally, after much knitting, unknitting, frustration and stubborn ignoring off, finished one fingerless glove (from this beautiful book that, however, fails to mention that stitch holders will be needed....)  

For the second glove, I snaffled a couple of stitch counters which, although they haven't exactly changed my life, have improved my knitting notation and the sanctity of my books. Such a simple idea makes a difference.

I know it's wrong, though not illegal, but I have fallen in love with yet another book on baking. Now I know I have waxed lyrically and overly flowery over many a book determined to make my upper torso akin to that of the Michelin Man (though without the searing sexual potency) but this one is just fabulous. I've already spread the gospel over on the UK Handmade blog and feel duty bound to recommend it to you, good people. All hail, 'Easy Baking' by Linda Collister!!! And just to convince you of the utter fabulosity of this epistle, here is a recipe from therein: 

Delicious and Essential Pecan Spice Bars

90g unsalted butter (at room temperature, unless the room is either a sauna or walk-in fridge)
3 tablespoons Golden Syrup
1 large egg
180g self raising flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mixed ground spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
100g coarsely ground pecan nuts
11/2 tablespoons milk

Spicy pecan topping
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon demerera sugar
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
30g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature (see above)
40g pecan halves

  • preheat the oven to 180oC / 350oF / Gas Mark 4
  • line and grease a 20cm-ish square tin (or equivalent)
  • in a large bowl, cream the butter, on its own, with nothing but an eager spoon to keep it company
  • beat in the golden syrup then add the egg, beating it until 3 becomes one (ingredients that is)
  • sift together the flour, salt and spices into the buttery melange and stir together
  • add the pecans and milk and stir well
  • pour this delicious cacophony of potential loveliness into the prepared tin
  • now make the topping: in a clean large bowl, rub the diced butter into the flour, sugar and spices until you get clumps of dough. (I didn't achieve this: mine just turned to breadcrums, which still tasted good, but I'd like to give you something to aim for)
  • stir in the pecan then scatter in a smaller scale version of a cliched farmer sowing seed in a hearty manner (this is not a crude euphemism by the way...)
  • bake for 25-30 minutes until firm under your hungry touch
  • allow to cool before transferring to a wire rack for further cooling opportunities
  • cut into 15-ish pieces and devour at whim.
Happy Valentine's Day, by the way. x


Unknown said...

Your blog is ace!

Unknown said...

fingers of cake, fingerless gloves and flickin' about in the park. Joyous.

yumptatious said...

Awwww Good Lady Cupcake! *curtsies* You are wise! ;-)
Mike: because you're worth it ;-x