Thursday, 19 June 2014

Tabitha's Excellent Cooking Adventure

Having got my trashed house back into some semblance of order (thank you FLYLADY from the bottom of my heart), I now turn my attention to La Cuisine.

Now although I can make the world's most perfect vodka martini, it's generally accepted that although a reasonably competent plain cook, and pretty resourceful when the cupboard is bare, I'm not really in the ranks of Escoffier et al.

So today I am attempting White Christmas, using the authentic recipe from my mother-in-law, may she rest in peace. Now there was a really good cook, and the recipe is in  her own handwriting so I am reasonably confident I've got a safe roadmap, as it were. My mother-in-law was a wonderful cook and I'd have gone and lived at her house if I could. Nothing like three really good meals a day to attract a writer, I always think. It's the question I always ask myself before accepting an invitation - will there be free food?

Anyway, I started this morning at about 1140. Emily and I walked up the street to Patel's Independent Supermarket to buy everything. It's only a ten minute walk, but then there is Emily's Public to consider. She gave a number of interviews to her admirers, both old and new, and also stopped to eat some dirt from a bucket the road workers had. Then we shared a strawberry milkshake at Bean Thief. OK. Here are the ingredients:

It all cost $31.73, so that's a pretty expensive batch of sweets. I could have got the big bucket of Maltesers for way less. I notice you can see a lot of brand names, so the manufacturers of all these products can send me a fat marketing cheque at the town address, thanks. I'm in the book.

1307: Now the first step in this exciting and complicated recipe is to mix together the dry ingredients, so I will start by measuring the quantities of everything into a mixing bowl. Here they are - oh, no wait, I didn't need to buy two packets of mixed fruit. One would have been enough. Oh well, it was on special. I can use it to juice up my porridge, and if the worst comes to the worst it can go in this year's Christmas cakes. Don't get excited - my husband makes those. I may or may not document that process for posterity. It goes on all night, so probably not. Right, the dry ingredients, take two:

Here they are in all their glory and a plastic mixing bowl. Most of the time was taken up by finding somewhere to store all the bits that were left, and cleaning up the mess that happened when I dropped the bag of icing sugar. There were quite a lot of ingredients left over. I had to buy an enormous box of Rice Bubbles, heaven only knows what I'm going to do with those, perhaps the dogs will like them. Anyway the important thing is to hide the evidence.

It's now 1328 and I am feeling quite overcome by all this exertion and creativity. I think I'd better pause for a coffee before I go on with the hard bits. While I do that, here is a picture of Emily for you to look at. It was taken last month at Bean Thief, where we had our milkshake today.

Isn't she absolutely divine? You can worship her while I get my coffee, and perhaps a fag too.

1341: As I hate to appear inefficient, I decided to carry on with the next step while I drank my coffee. It's very fine coffee. I love my Russell Hobbs coffee machine even better than I do my Kobo Mini. Here is a picture of it. You can see how beautiful and expressive it is. My brother-in-law, Ivan, gave it to us for an engagement present.

First I mixed up all the dry ingredients. Here they are, looking much more interesting:

It was here that I encountered my first snag. The recipe calls on me to mix in the 'melted copha'. But it is not melted; it is quite solid, in a sort of brick, like butter. At this point I decided to call upon my muse and senior personal assistant, Ferret, who was supervising operations. Here he is:

Ferret explained that you have to melt it yourself in a saucepan. This took quite a long time on the lowest setting, but it melted OK. Interestingly, just before the end when it had melted down to quite a thin slice, I could see an interference pattern in it. I wish I knew more about physics.

Here is the copha melting, and the final mixture after I stirred it in.

By this time it was 1356 and I was getting rather bored with the whole thing, so I shoved it into a tray without further ado. The tray I used was too big, so I shovelled it all up to one side. It has to set now, and I don't know how long that is likely to take. I hope the cats don't mistake it for kittyflakes. It does look a bit like them, and the tray is the same shape as their litter box.

I shall report on the outcome in a later post; it has of course to be tested on someone else, just in case.

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