Every so often I attempt to engage my eldest child in the joys of baking. This generally results in abject failure. To up my chances of success, I thought that this time I would try a recipe so simple it barely qualifies as such: chocolate crispy cakes. Little BB was prepared to tear himself away from the ‘tee vee vee’ for long enough to pour the rice krispies all over the kitchen floor (some went in the bowl, more by chance than design), but not for long enough to wait for the chocolate to melt, much less to do anything that could vaguely be classed as baking; in this case the stirring. I feel my inability to interest my children in doing anything in the kitchen other than eating and twirling round and round until they get so dizzy they fall over (aka ‘dancing’) is a poor reflection on my parenting skills given my own love of the metier. In truth, however, there are far poorer reflections on my parenting skills, so I shall not dwell on it.
Ignoring the recent election results, completely, we return to the #firstworldproblems saga of selling our house and buying another one. Before this became something we actually needed to do I spent many a happy hour idly clicking through rightmove et al, and there seemed no end of suitable properties. Now that we have put our house on the market, there are of course no suitable houses. Only a procession of inhabitable hovels priced at ludicrous amounts; present company excepted. Added to which, we have reached the viewings stage, meaning I spend most of the time desperately trying to wipe muddy fingerprints from windows and doors and shoving plastic tat back into the many and varied boxes from whence it came. All the while dreading the prospect of complete randoms passing judgment on your taste and standards of hygiene. Happy days.
It was the bank holiday last weekend, and naturally we spent several hours of it in children’s A&E. This time it was courtesy of Mini BB. Having successfully navigated our stairs on numerous occasions, he decided that early Sunday morning was the ideal time to attempt a new, forwards, method of descent. It had predictable results. The triage nurse was very sweet and confided that her own children had each fallen down the stairs three times. ‘Boys?’ I asked. She nodded. Enough said.
Little BB is going through a growth spurt. At least I hope he is, since he is eating me out of house and home and the prospect of this continuing for the next 14 years is making me consider buying shares in some sort of farming community (other than the community farm, in which I do actually have shares). Having not had brothers I was unaccustomed to the sheer volume it is possible for boys to eat and still declare themselves to be hungry. A typical breakfast (before cereal was declared ‘too waxy’) consisted of weetabix with milk, two rounds of toast and butter, scrambled eggs and possibly more toast. That would keep him going for a good hour or two. Seriously.
Regular readers of this blog may conclude that the appearance of another brownie recipe heralds the arrival of another small person among my circle of friends. And indeed this is the case. Last week my lovely friend B (is there any other kind) welcomed daughter no.2 into the world and in celebration I made these, frankly awesome brownies. Though not as awesome as daughter no.2’s name, which for reasons of proprietary I cannot reveal here. Suffice to say that there has been some furious channelling of 1980s teen movies. In a good way.
Most Saturday mornings I take the mini BB’s to a lovely indoor play café, where I sit, separated from them by a 1.5m high wooden wall, drinking coffee and reading the papers; every now and then looking up to check that they haven’t killed themselves or each other. I recommend it. The likelihood of bodily injury (always high with my children) has recently been ramped up a notch by the discovery of the local bakery and resulting sugar high from the sticky buns (with sprinkles) and doughnut holes purchased therein. Naturally this development did not happen on my watch (I’m looking at you Mr. BB), but it has now become a permanent fixture in our weekend plans.
How better, then, to rain on my children’s parade, than by attempting to recreate the joy of bakery at home? Only, thanks to my mother’s life-long fear of deep-fat fryers (the cause of one fifth of all domestic fires, fact fans), and since passed down to me, without the arguably intrinsic element of a vat of boiling oil. This means that the doughnuts are more cakey than spongey; but then they also lack the artery clogging and heart-attack inducing qualities of regular doughnuts. You pays your money…
It may not be immediately obvious from the contents of this blog, but I have for some time being trying to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet. Yes really. The key word here is trying. Having stuffed my face with (my childrens’ ) easter eggs this past week or so, and with an impending holiday somewhere warm, I am feeling a renewed sense of purpose in the sugar-shunning department. Plus, Mr. BB has been off the white stuff in all its many and various forms since after Christmas and looks all the better for it. Annoyingly.
I’ve never really been a fan of hot cross buns, but like so many things it turns out that if you bake them yourself their taste is second only to having someone else bake them for you. Also, they are surprisingly easy to make and quite forgiving; which I know from having let them prove for rather longer than the recommended time so I could take the small BB’s to the city farm for the morning to commune with nature (read: mud) and fall off things not available for falling off in our house.
I should also confess that glacé cherries do not feature in either of the recipes I cribbed from, but I still had some kicking around from a previous recipe and thought I would go a little wild and crazy. I imagine you could do the same with any random dried fruit you may have in your cupboard: raisins/sultanas instead of currants for example, and dried apple/pear pieces might go down nicely too.
I think this may be the first actual pudding I have ever made. Puddings didn’t really feature in my house growing up (a by-product of not having a fully functioning oven for much of my childhood), and I seem to have continued in this vein, notwithstanding my own entirely functioning oven. I expect the reason is that puddings, unlike cakes and biscuits, are quite difficult to share with people not living in your house. And as my house has, until very recently, included one diabetic and one baby, this really only left myself and Mini BB to eat anything I made. Which probably wouldn’t have been a problem, except in the obvious sense. But now that Baby BB is not really a baby anymore, and Mini BB has been exposed to the joys of puddings from Pre-School hot dinners, my resolve is weakening.
Do you ever find yourself believing something you know to be untrue, but you are so used to believing it that you do so anyway? The realisation that I have been brainwashed by my 3yr old hit me on the (pre)school run this morning. Two people (mothers of other small children) stopped to comment on the stuffed animal that LBB was clutching (we have a rotating menagerie of cuddly pets that get dragged along with us. The summer of 2013 will forever be the summer of Edna after the fairly enormous pink flamingo that LBB carried around everywhere).
‘What a lovely Orca’ said Person 1. ‘It’s not an Orca, it’s a dolphin’ LBB corrected rather rudely. ‘It is a dolphin,’ I confirmed with a sympathetic smile; not everyone knows their sea-mammals like LBB. ‘The Orca is at home’. We continued on our way, until met by Person 2, who similarly remarked on the ‘Killer Whale’, by now being dragged along the ground. Again, LBB corrected them, and I was about to do the same when I realised that, no, it is not a dolphin it is in fact an Orca. Only because I got sick of LBB ‘correcting’ me every time I called it a dolphin did I too come to call it dolphin, and over time to believe that it was in fact a dolphin, despite all evidence to the contrary and my own eyes. There’s a moral in there somewhere.