Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

Nigella Kitchen September 26, 2010

Filed under: Books,Food — lauravw @ 11:55 am

To help get over the coming-back-from-holiday blues, I ordered myself a copy of the new Nigella Lawson book. It arrived this week and I’m not disappointed. It’s been a busy week (the laundry! going back to work! life!) so I’ve not had as much time with the book as I would have liked, but I did manage to sit and flick through it for half an hour, a stack of page-marking sticky notes at my side to mark the things I most want to try. There are a LOT.

It’s clear from some of the recipes that certain products will now be in great demand, thanks to an endorsement from Nigella (like that business with Delia Smith and the cranberries a few years back). I already want a bottle of Frangelico, a tin for making brownie bowls, and a nutmeg grater.

I’ve got my eye on making the Frangelico tiramisu, the brownie bowls, and something that involves Crunchie bars. There’s also a recipe for Marmite pasta, which really appeals to me (your mileage may vary on that one). And I’m going to make an egg custard – my mother bakes fantastic egg custards but doesn’t weigh anything or use a recipe, so I’ve never been able to emulate them.

The TV series that accompanies the book starts on Thursday – I’m out that night so will have to record it and catch up the next day…


The big adventure: San Francisco September 20, 2010

Filed under: Travel — lauravw @ 7:03 pm

We began our holiday in San Francisco, a city we’d visited before, but long ago (when we were young!), when our budget meant we had to stay in a youth hostel and live on whatever we could cook in the hostel’s little kitchen. This time the budget stretched to a hotel, and so things were a lot more comfortable.

In many ways San Francisco is a beautiful city, but it’s also one with a lot of deprivation. There seem to be big areas that are best avoided, and while that’s true of any city, San Francisco’s no-go zones seem to be on a rather larger scale than I’m used to.

We travelled around by bus, and I did not always feel safe – I certainly wouldn’t have felt safe taking a bus by myself there (and I speak as a member of a public transport using, car-free household). The area around our hotel was not the best – passing through it dampened our spirits a little every time we ventured out.

On the other hand, the nice neighbourhoods are VERY nice, and they have pretty views and lovely shops and places to eat. And there are wonderful public parks – Golden Gate Park is an inspiring place, with a huge range of scenery and activities. We spent a day there exploring the California Academy of Sciences, which is a modern and envrionmentally-conscious museum. They have a light and bright building containing two domes. One houses their planetarium (FANTASTIC!), and the other houses a tropical environment containing birds and butterflies (also fantastic!). And underneath all this is an aquarium (fish!). It’s a great place – even the catering facilities are worth going to. If you go, my advice would be that it’s warm in there: the tropical dome feels tropical, and so you need to have layers on, and ideally a fan with you.

We headed straight from the park to the Bi-Rite Creamery, an ice cream shop so in demand that people (us included) queue round the block for a taste.

Our wait was 40 minutes, and while I hope I don’t have to queue that long for ice cream again, I really didn’t mind. I had salted caramel ice cream, and it was lovely. (Later on the trip I tried a second salted caramel ice cream at Molly Moon’s in Seattle, where I didn’t have to queue at all. I wonder if this is a flavour we’ll see in the UK soon?)


Resurfacing September 19, 2010

Filed under: Travel — lauravw @ 1:55 pm

The recent radio silence round these parts is due to the fact that we’ve been off on our holidays, spending the past two weeks pottering around far from home. We headed west to San Francisco, then travelled by road up to Seattle with our friends Megan and Scott, where we spent a few days before flying back home. It feels like we’ve been away a really long time, but in a good way.

Now we’re back and the usual real-life inconveniences are starting to make their presence felt – returning to work, a larger than ever pile of laundry, and so on. But it was such a great holiday, so hopefully it will carry us through for a while. And it’s nice to be home – the very first thing I did was top up all the birdfeeders, and all weekend I’ve been watching to see if the goldfinches have noticed. I’ve also been enjoying cups of tea, crumpets, Radios 4 and 6, and most of all, being reunited with our little cat, Daisy.

I took hundreds of photos, and I’m hoping they will help me to remember all the things we saw and places we visited. Megan’s already written about the tour we took of a chocolate factory, so I’ll let you go and read that while I catch up with my laundry.