Tuesday, 29 July 2008

bread, paper, cloth

Sofia plays peek-a-boo with her spaghetti bolognese bowl

I marked my 35th birthday with a whimper and a cough. I caught a chest infection the week before, but cheerfully and foolishly ignored it until it just got unbearable. I finally went to the doctors' surgery last week, was prescribed antibiotics and am now recovering slowly. Well, I should be recovering anyway, but it looks like I've caught another nasty bug and have been forced to stay in bed again today.

Anyway, the illness accounts for the absence of birthday piccies. I regret not having pictures taken, though, because I baked a strawberry shortcake which looked and tasted really lovely (but of course, you'll just have to take my word for it). I also made rhubarb fool as dessert to our Chinese takeaway dinner. I followed the recipe from the River Cottage Family Cookbook. That cookbook's a gem, and even Lucas loves browsing the pages to look for cooking ideas. He especially loves the section on making butter (which always prompts him to get his Snipp, Snapp and Snurr book about butter) and marshmallows. I haven't dared make marshmallows yet. The process looks very addictive.

S gave me a couple of books off my Amazon wish list for my birthday. One is Sylvia Plath's Collected Poems. I had left my Sylvia Plath books in the Philippines so getting all her poems in a single book was a wonderful present. I also got Cook Simple by Diana Henry, a lovely cookbook written for busy people like moi. A lot of the recipes are of the leave-in-the-oven type, which is ideal for me because cooking something in the oven for half an hour gives me half an hour to do other things, especially in the evening, when the kids have to have their baths and get dressed for bed before dinner. My only complaint about the book is that most of the recipes call for pricey ingredients, which can be a bit of a problem for budget-conscious mums like me. Oh okay, before I hear S snort at this, I'm a mum who's trying to be budget-conscious. There you go. But I like the book, and am looking forward to trying some of the recipes, once I get out of this rut that I'm in.

Despite the illness, I managed to do some crafting the other weekend. I wanted to give Lucas's teachers handmade thank-you presents, so I decided to make paper globe lanterns. We used to make these things in grade school as Christmas lanterns, usually from old Christmas cards. They're nowhere near as beautiful as the Philippine parol, though, so I eventually forgot how to make them as I concentrated on making our family parol instead every Christmas. (Speaking of which, I'd like to make one this Christmas. I'll probably order ask S to make the bamboo frame for me.)

Ehrm, anyway, I found the instructions for making them in Heather Bailey's blog. I would have loved to make the topiary version, but I didn't want to spend too much time looking for materials, and frankly, I was trying to minimise my spending as well, so all I had to get was new glue, some stick-on paper flowers and a couple of metres of ribbon. After a few hours of work spread over a couple of days, I managed to make five lovelies.

Hmmm, I've just realised that I haven't written about the bread and cloth bits of this post yet. Sigh. This is what happens when you're ill. Or when you're just old forgetful, easily distracted me.

S and I have always wanted to bake our own bread. There's nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread pervading the air when you wake up in the morning. We bought a breadmaker a few years ago, but after we moved house, the breadmaker sat forlornly for some time among our not-so-frequently used appliances before I finally decided to give breadmaking another go. Unfortunately, it didn't work because it turned out that I had thrown out the paddle the last time I used it. How, I have no idea. But that's me, you know. Forgetful, easily distracted. Anyway, the breadmaker is still in our kitchen and we're still hoping to use it again soon.

But what got me thinking of breadmaking again today is this website that I came across. It's the site for a book of the same name, which I of course promptly added to my Amazon wish list. (Hello, S, anniversary present, maybe?) How can you not find yourself dreaming about bread when this book tells you that you can have your own freshly baked bread in just five minutes a day? The trick, according to the authors, is to make a master dough that you can keep in the fridge for two weeks and just pinch off part of the dough every time you make bread. How convenient is that? I found myself drooling this morning (just before lunchtime) over the photos of brioche and fruit pizza on the website. Yuuuurrrm.

So I'm now including breadmaking in my to-do list. Speaking of to-do lists, please don't ask me about my sewing projects because they are all on hold for now. I made the mistake of moving all my sewing stuff to the study upstairs only to find out that S will be using the study again for the next few months. Now it will require even more motivation for me to take the sewing machine downstairs every time I'd like to do any sewing. Who knows, though, I might surprise myself one of these days and just get on with my projects.

Right now, though, my main concern is getting a nice dress to wear to a wedding in August. I don't want to spend a lot of money, so I'd like to get as cheap a dress as I can get that doesn't look el cheapo. It wouldn't be a difficult feat if I were a normal-size person, as the high street shops are holding sales right now and they normally sell lovely occasion dresses. Unfortunately, given my small frame, it's so hard to find clothes that fit perfectly. (I'm actually starting to get sick of being called 'tiny' by lots of people, especially doctors and nurses. Stop it, I don't have body image problems and I'm not starving myself. Just ask my husband who has to remind me to chew my food slowly because I always eat like a hungry horse.) I found an online shop that sells just a limited range of clothes and accessories, but which promises to sell perfectly proportioned clothing. And because they have a sale on right now, I'm tempted to give them a try. I am enamoured of this linen lace dress. The only problem is, hello, it's in watermelon pink! I'm not a big fan of pink, but I'd wear it if it goes well with my skin tone. I'm normally fair-skinned (for an Oriental anyway), but I do tan very quickly and since we've had a lot of sun lately, I'm just really brown these days. I've already discovered that green doesn't look good on me when I'm brown. Not sure about watermelon pink though. I'm considering this one as an alternative, but since it's pricier, I'm not sure. Argh, I hate stressing out over what to wear, especially when I'll probably just wear it once! Anyway, I'll go back to bed now and just think about nice things. Like pretty paper and soft, moist Danish pastries. Or these two cuties:

Sofia at Linton Zoo

Lucas in Cambridge


jhertz10 said...

Hi JD: If you do get the book (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day), you can post questions into our website (www.artisanbreadinfive.com)-- I'm one of the co-authors.

Jeff Hertzberg

JD said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for dropping by! I am about to buy the book (I really can't wait until my wedding anniversary next month) so I shall definitely pester, er, contact you if I need to!