Monday 17th March 2014.
I am certain that, when I push myself really hard in the kitchen, I go on to endure a night of vivid dreams. Last night I was stalked by a dinosaur; thankfully he was a friendly dinosaur with no intention to eat me. However, he was obsessed with following my every move, everywhere I went, there he was!!!! Anyone wish to psychoanalyse that?!
Before I went to bed last night I had made yet another loaf of bread. As our oven seems to be turned on almost constantly the kitchen gets very hot. This in turn leads to very well risen loaves of bread!! I often have to open the windows to let out all the steam and to stop myself from overheating!! While the bread cooked I made up the lemon curd. I used Ruth Clemen’s delicious recipe. I needed to grate the zest and squeeze the juice from six lemons. The lemons were full of pips and, of course, the acidic juice located and attacked all the tiny little scratches of which I had been blissfully unaware! After all the zesting and juicing had taken place it didn’t take much effort or time to make the lemon curd and it smelt absolutely divine. I have to say I found the whole process rather satisfying! I had to leave the lemon curd to cool in a sterilised jar overnight, before popping it in the fridge first thing in the morning.
This morning I had to leave the house at 10am for my interview with BBC Radio Oxford. I cannot express how nervous I felt; I thought I might need to take a sick bag for the car journey!!!!! I had been asked if I could take a few samples of my cooking along with me, so I decided on bread, lemon curd and a few slices of malt loaf. Neil had kindly taken time off of work to take me (as I don’t drive) and my in-laws babysat yet again for us!
Once at the studio, I was put immediately at ease, firstly by the receptionist, then the producer and then of course by my interviewer Malcolm Boydon. I had been worried I would clam up but, of course, once I started talking there was no stopping me. Talking is something I’m rather good at!!!!
When we got home, Neil and I had some lemon curd on bread and oh wow, it was so yummy. I am addicted to homemade lemon curd, it is honestly so much nicer than shop bought. It is softer and contains far more flavour. I will be making it again for sure.
After lunch I was soon thinking about the evening meal. I am constantly thinking about food at the moment but, to be honest, this has always been my problem!!! For dinner, I would be making burgers, burger baps, baked beans and good old trusty potato wedges. Potato wedges are my trusty friend at the moment as they are so easy and take the same amount of time to cook as frozen chips, so really worth trying!
My first error was thinking that the baked beans would take about an hour to prepare and cook. I checked my recipe and found that they would actually take four hours to cook, arghhhhh!! I had two hours before dinner, so I needed to get a wriggle on and hope and pray that we didn’t end up eating raw pinto beans!
The pinto beans in question had been soaking in water overnight. I expected them to have softened but no, they were still rock hard. I had to boil them in lots of water for a while, meanwhile I chopped up an onion and tipped it into my enormous casserole dish. I then added an alarming amount of black treacle, it really seemed like such a lot. Stranger still, I needed to include some Dijon mustard. The combined ingredients smelt foul!!! Once the pinto beans had been fiercely boiled I tipped them in to the join the bizarre concoction. After pouring some water over the beans I shoved the dish into the oven to cook for a few hours. I must admit that I cheated and turned the oven up a bit, otherwise we would be eating dinner in our jim jams!
While the Boston-style baked beans cooked I thought it would be wise to get on with making the burger baps. The recipe made 12 rolls so this meant we could eat the remaining rolls for lunch over the next few days. As much as I love making bread each day my wrists are starting to ache! I followed an extremely easy recipe which I found online. The dough was lovely to work with and I was soon able to place the rolls to one side to prove.
While the baked beans were cooking and the bread rolls were proving, I moved on to making the beef burgers. I used a very plain and simple recipe from the Baby-Led Cookbook. It was great as I only needed to use beef, one onion, a single egg and some herbs. I couldn’t believe how few ingredients were needed! There was no need to cook the onion first so the ingredients were quickly mixed together then shaped into eight burgers. I was delighted that half could be frozen for another day. Result!
I had enough time to put the required burgers into the fridge to firm up while I sliced the potatoes up into wedges. As I don’t peel the potatoes this only took a few minutes of preparation before I could put them into the hot oven. I have to say that my legs were aching really badly by now and I very much wanted to lie on my bed and close my eyes for a little while! Unfortunately I needed to get on and make a Herman cake. Like you do!!!
Poor Herman, why did I feel so guilty about cooking him?!!! He was stinking the house out and taking up valuable real estate on the kitchen worktop. I should have been glad to be rid of him! I used the basic cake recipe for Herman. I thought for my first Herman cake I should stick to something simple. Despite the recipe being very easy to follow, there were quite a few ingredients which needed to be added. I did wonder if the 2tsp of vanilla essence is used to mask Herman’s musk!! It took ages for the cake to cook but it didn’t matter as I was, by then, dishing up our meal.
It was fun (not) dishing up all the different parts of the meal in a confined space. It was however satisfying to think that I had made each component of what was sitting on the plates but I knew this would mean very little to the boys. I doubted they would eat it! To my utter amazement Isaac really loved the Boston-style baked beans. In the first week of this challenge I had made another variation of baked beans which he had hated! I was happy to be off to a good start! Isaac also enjoyed the burger bap and wedges but he was hesitant with trying the burger. Finally, after much nagging, I managed to persuade him that he should at least try the burger and Isaac did go on to eat half of it. Oliver, on the other hand, only wanted the bap!! He refused point blank even to lick a piece of burger; he glued his little mouth shut whenever we attempted to assist him! Oliver is living off of bread at the moment, which is a bit of a worry. Neil declared the burgers to be extremely tasty, high praise indeed.
A little while after dinner I took a well risen Herman cake from the oven and turned it out onto a wire rack. I must admit that the cake looked very plain and I wondered if it had been worth nurturing Herman for these past ten days. Once the cake was cold, I grabbed a knife to cut a slice. The first thing that struck me was that the cake was so soft, it was almost like slicing through air!!!! We all had a taste of the cake and agreed that it melted in the mouth. The vanilla essence was very much in evidence and it was quite sweet but other than that it was a very nice, plain cake. Sometimes it is nice to have a simple cake without it being covered in copious amount of butter cream!
I have no bread making this evening so I can can relax now. I did think about making an extra something for Isaac’s lunchbox tomorrow, but I don’t have the energy to peel myself from the sofa!