13 January 2009

fly away home

Flying home to Washington first thing tomorrow morning...

but not sure I'll be looking quite this jolly at 5 am!

09 January 2009

eat cake

Bought on a whim at a library sale, Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray is one of my all-time favorite books:

So it was probably inevitable I would enrol on a cake course at Divertimenti. The instructor, Sarah Benjamin (in the pink sweater), was not only incredibly knowledgeable--I picked up some super baking tips--but so lovely and patient with all my fumbling.

As usual, I was simply hopeless in the classroom. At one point I actually spilled an entire bowl of ground almonds over her! So no matter how well I do at home, I quite obviously have no hope of ever graduating from pastry school.

The tart in progress on the table above is a raspberry plum linzer tart. We also made a passionfruit and lime curd tart, a flourless chocolate cake, and a classic Victoria sponge:

My top sponge layer suffered some serious slippage on the Tube on the way home, but luckily it scooted right back into place. Hopefully the remainder fared better on the journey to G's office this morning!

05 January 2009

breakfast at tiffany's

Today Jaye and I went ice skating at Somerset House.

Here is Jaye in her skates, very sensibly wearing two pairs of socks:

And here I am, wearing only one pair of socks and losing feeling in my toes!

It was blisteringly cold, but the snow flurries that began just as we skated out onto the ice--followed by sparkly sunshine--made it all quite magical.

We had our very own Breakfast at Tiffany's in the rink-side cafe complete with strong Illy coffee and the most amazing biscotti:

And I even brought home a Tiffany souvenir baked by the Hummingbird Bakery:

I'm certainly not above a little corporate sponsorship when it makes for such a lovely day out!

04 January 2009

wonderful weekend

Last night, I finished a book that's just as wonderful as its title suggests:

Elspeth Thompson reacquaints us with those very ideas and ideals we so often forget in the rush and chaos of everyday life. The narrative is warm, friendly, and engaging--never preachy--and the quirky illustrations by Alice Stevenson, who also designed and illustrated the cover, are fab.

Now very much looking forward to putting some of Elspeth's suggestions into practice. Learning the ukulele perhaps? Hooray for the Great British Weekend!

03 January 2009

trusty puzzle, part two

My second National Trust holiday puzzle, all done!

We actually saw St Michael's Mount (top right) on our Fat Hen foraging weekend in October.

And this time two of the locations are quite near us. Witley Common in Surrey (bottom left) is just a half hour away, and Nymans Garden in Sussex (bottom center) is just over an hour away. Nymans in particular seems well worth a visit: a 20th-century garden with a collection of rare plants, surrounding a 'romantic' house, all set in 275 acres of natural woodland.

Penrhyn Castle in Bangor (bottom right) is much further afield but features one of my favorite things: a fully restored Victorian kitchen. The bowl on the scullery worktop is labeled 'K' for kitchen, but perhaps that could also be 'K' for Kristina?

02 January 2009

cooking the books

Inspired by Deborah and her 2008 Taste and Tell Cookbook Project, I've resolved to make at least one recipe from each of my cookbooks by the end of 2009. I thought this would be relatively easy, until I realized I'd need to make at least two new recipes a week--yikes!

There'll be sweet recipes...

and savory recipes...

with nods to my English home...

and my Scandinavian heritage:

The recipe list can be accessed via a new link on the sidebar. I've decided to include recipes I blogged about in 2008 as a bit of a head start (is this cheating?) and I've starred those recipes I'll definitely be making again.

Thankfully G has agreed to be my partner in this project, and as he's an accountant, we're calling it Cooking the Books. But I hasten to point out G has never-ever 'cooked the books' on the job!

01 January 2009

trusty puzzle

New year, new puzzle!

This is one of two super National Trust puzzles I received from G for Christmas. The assembly was a bit tricky. With Springbok puzzles, the pieces will only join in the correct way. With this puzzle, the pieces would happily join in all sorts of incorrect ways--aaargh! But the fabulous images more than compensated for the piece mix-ups.

I thought it would be fun to visit all the properties depicted, until I realized how far from Teddington some of them are. The pig, for example, is on Ballyquintin Farm, a 64-acre farm in one of the most secluded parts of Northern Ireland.

But I think visits to Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent (bottom center) and Barrington Court in Somerset (top center) are definite possibilities for 2009. The Barrington Court property includes not only a Tudor house but a working kitchen garden, and you know there's nothing I love more than a kitchen garden!