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Archive for December, 2007

Shortbread

Posted by --- on Friday 21 December, 2007

This is one of S’s favourite foods so I thought I’d try and make him some. The recipe I’m using is from The StMichael All Colour Cookery Book by Jeni Wright.

150g flour
pinch of salt
25g ground rice
50g caster sugar
100g butter (chilled)
Caster sugar for dredging

Sift flour, salt and rice into a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Add the butter in one piece and rub into the ingredients. Knead until well mixed but do not allow the mix to become too sticky. Wrap in foil or polythene (I’m using a plastic bag) and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, press the chilled dough into a  greased, 17.5cm round tin (the recipe calls for a fluted edged flan ring but I don’t have one). Mark into triangular sections with a knife and prick with a fork. Chill in the fridge for a further 15 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and bake at 325f/160c for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Cover with foil if it starts to burn. (note to self; due to dodgy temperature on oven, cook at “100” uncovered for the 1st 15 minutes, mark with a knife again and then cook covered for the next 15 minutes and finally uncovered for 10)
When cooked, allow to cool slightly before removing from pan and cooling on a wire rack. When completely cool, drege with caster sugar and cut or break into sections.

Well this went well! I’d made 8 pieces. S had eaten half before it had finally cooled. L said he was impressed, I liked it and I’ve had to hide the last two pieces for K & J to try when they come home from school. I will be making more later.

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Crunchy fudge.

Posted by --- on Friday 21 December, 2007

Ingredients
454g granulated sugar
300 ml milk
57g tablespoons  butter

Method
Put the ingredients into a strong saucepan.
Put saucepan onto the lowest heat of the smallest ring and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved.
It is EXTREMELEY IMPORTANT that all the sugar is dissolved. Test for this by tapping the wooden spoon on the bottom of the pan. If there is any undissolved sugar there it will “crunch” under the spoon. Just leave the pan on the lowest setting and it will boil. Boil steadily leaving the heat at the lowest setting. Do not turn the heat up. Stir only VERY occasionally and gently just to make sure the mixture isn’t burning. Just do this (i.e. boil and stir VERY occasionally) until the mixture forms into a soft ball when a little is dropped from a spoon into a saucer of cold water. This means that you can squeeze the mixture dropped into the cold water together with your fingers and it will form a very soft ball. THIS CAN TAKE WHAT SEEMS LIKE A LONG TIME, up to about 20 mins but the most important thing is what happens when you test a drop of mixture in the saucer of water. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BURN YOURSELF BECAUSE THE FUDGE MIXTURE IS VERY HOT.Remove from the heat and stir with a wooden spoon (careful it is very hot) until the mixture starts to thicken. It is now beginning to set and will do so rapidly.
Pour into a prepared tin greased with butter or vegetable oil.
When nearly set cut into pieces.

I’ve followed this recipe twice now and each time I’ve added some vanilla extract. The first time I boiled it for hours – literally – waiting for the soft ball stage. I put the pan half on the smallest ring on the cooker so that it heated slowly, I tested that all of the sugar had disolved and waited with the occasional stir to ensure the heat was distributing. Then, again with the odd stir, I left it exactly where it was to gradually boil. It took too long that way so I ended up putting the pan on to the whole ring and turning it up to 1.5 – 2 and letting it boil. When I dropped a small amount – about half a tsp – into cold water it flattened into disc shapes very much like erythrocites! In the recipe it says it may take as long as 20 minutes… I kept putting the timer on for 10 minutes at a time and I gave up on it after 2 and a half hours and poured it into a foil-lined tin to set. It sets very fast and tasted ok but had a crunchy, crystalised texture.  The second time didn’t take as long. I heated it slowly to make sure the sugar had time to disolve, again on as low a heat as possible by putting the pan half on and half off the ring, then leaving it in the same possition I turned up the heat to 1.5 as soon as it had disolved. This time though I had a sugar thermometer. I boiled it until it reached the “soft ball” stage that is printed onto the thermometer – around 240c, poured it into the foil-lined tin to set and still ended up with crunchy fudge. The colour is right, the taste is too but the texture isn’t like the fudge we get here in the UK.  I’m going to look for a different recipe.

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Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! ……

Posted by --- on Tuesday 11 December, 2007

After months of computer problems, I decided today to be brave and wipe this computer. I’ve never really messed with XP but this PC is three years old and needed a clean start. It crashed all the time, Explorer was constantly locking up whether or not I was by the computer, Dr Watson kept being closed due to whatever reason it felt like at the time and I was rebooting several times in an hour and finally today, it was struggling to boot up; instead, getting a flashing cursor on a black screen.

Any hoo…. I went through the folders on the hard drive; not as easy as Win. 98 because of the user accounts but I did it. As I was putting things back tonight I realised I hadn’t backed up my photo folder! That’s probably the worst one I could leave! Because it was so large I was going to put it onto it’s own DVD but I was formatting this, cooking, going shopping and a hundred other jobs at the same time and I forgot.

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!  

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Kittens move in

Posted by --- on Thursday 6 December, 2007

Well we have more additions to the household now. After looking for a while, we found Wellcat cat rescue on the web and went to look at two brothers. I only wanted one cat but Pauline wanted these to stay together. S was happy to have the two. When we got there it was difficult to just take two! There were lots of cats and kittens there that needed homes. Pauline and her family must have their work cut out looking after them all. I am thankful that there are people out there who can dedicate themselves to looking after unwanted pets.

I have a theory that I would love to see put into action. I think that all pets – but especially larger domestic animals such as cats and dogs – should be registered. They should all be neutered or spayed unless the owner/keeper is a registered breeder. I can think of loads of reasons why this would be a good idea but especially because there would be a reduction in unwanted pregnancies and animals. In the case of cats, they are often left out to roam for hours on end and the owners have no idea where they are or what they are doing. Sometimes this isn’t the owners fault; I have a cat that hates being in the house. She is 14 now and spends all of her time outside in the garden. She sleeps in the shed. She has beed spayed however and can be found at any time. Although she doesn’t want to be inside, she never goes far and can be found in our garden or my neighbours  – which she loves in the summer as it’s overgrown and she lies in the long grass in the sunshine.

Did you know that cats can get pregnant at 6 months old! Apart from the hundreds of kittens that are born, there are many illnesses that would be avoided if the cat is neutered/spayed, tom’s are less likely to roam, fight and get run over.   It annoys me that people breed animals – any animal – when most of the time, there really is no need. I can pretty much guarantee, that where ever you are – in the UK at least – there is a rescue centre or home nearby that has whatever pet you want, be it a dog, cat, guinea pig, rabbit etc … If you are thinking of having a new pet, take a look. Even Pets-at-home now has a rescue animal section. Oh and another plus with rescuing is that most of the time, the animal is free. Charities don’t charge you for a pet although you can donate if you want to. This includes the bigger places. I was in Pets-at-home last year and as I walked around I saw people with their heads over the little fenced area which is smack in the centre of the shop, cooing over the rabbits and guinea pigs which were being sold for £20 – £30. I walked to the back of the shop, where sitting in cages were, yep you guessed it, young rabbits and guinea pigs – free! In fact, I bought home a 6 month old guinea pig! As I said, please think about this before you buy a new pet.

Here are the kittens:

Pepsi16wks whisper16wks

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