Keep Calm

Yes people it’s SALE time again. Keep your cards safely locked away! I’m only kidding.

The main rule I’ve tried to stick to as I’ve got older and wiser is this – I obviously didn’t love it enough pre-sale so why am I getting all excited now?

After lots of internet searching here are a few things that caught my eye.

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Oreos aren’t the only cookies

My children love Oreos, double stuffed if possible, in cakes, in brownies or straight up. I’m too scared to look at their nutritional values ( zero I would imagine) but a little of what you fancy and all that. I love biscuits but I’m more of a shortbread gal and can easily pass on an Oreo.

Therefore, I was very happy to oblige when asked to make some. My kids know by now that baking is not one of my strong points, not through lack of trying over the years but nothing ever looks as it should, but generally speaking I get the taste about right.

The recipe I followed is from the excellent Smitten Kitchen website, beautifully shot and so delicious looking it makes you want to lick the screen.

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This is all I needed for the cookies.

I forgot to put the sugar in the photo! I used caster sugar and only 1 cup as the icing is incredibly sweet.
1 1/4 cups (155 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (45 grams, but cocoa weights can vary greatly) unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups (200 to 300 grams) sugar [see recipe note]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 140 grams) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.(180 c)

1.In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar.

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2.While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

3.Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough.

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4.Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

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For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 55 grams) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup (50 grams) vegetable shortening
2 cups (240 grams) sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

This starts off looking disgusting but gets going after a minute or 2.

To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie.

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My icing bag the split so I just spooned the icing on!

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Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie.

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Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

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Well it would be rude not too.

I’m officially converted – sorry shortbread!

 

Athleisure – what does it mean?!

“If sweatpants are your everyday attire, you’ll end up looking like you belong in them, which is not very attractive. What you wear in the house does impact your self-image.”
― Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Well Marie, I definitely disagree. Look at the photos ! My usual attire isn’t that smart and quite often incorporates gym/leisure wear , but I don’t look a slob and my self-image is ok (delusional!). Continue reading

Let the music play

Off to the Wildlife Festival this weekend, we went last year and had a brilliant time. I was  worried about being too old but we upgraded to VIP and felt very much at home. It was the same vibe as dancing around your kitchen with your friends (the sun and alcohol had nothing to to with it!).

Last year I wore denim shorts and a floaty blouse, the weather was beautiful and I didn’t need anything else. This time my 15 year old is going with her squad (is that right? sounds ok but probably not as it’s come from her mum). They aren’t in the VIP section which is just as well for all concerned. Continue reading

Trainer Heaven

I was about to have a good moan about the weather and how I’m still not wearing sandals but traipsing around in trainers and boots . But lo and behold we have experienced a mini   heatwave – although rain predicted for tomorrow afternoon so don’t book that pedicure.

Trainers are my favourite everyday shoe as I am on my feet most of the day, so I’m always on the lookout for new ones.

We were stuck at home this half term, one of the girls had a rotten cold and was camped out on the sofa, the other now has exams and was studying. In between  playing nurse and teacher (which is a real laugh – thank god for the internet) and dodging the rain to take the dog out walking, I spent some time online wishlist shopping. Continue reading

Wake up and smell the coffee

Literally…….

First thing I do in the morning is make coffee, it is my daily ritual. When feeling particularly virtuous I neck a glass of tepid water and a slice of lemon beforehand.

When I first worked in an office in the mid eighties everyone drank Nescafe. You could get decent coffee from small Italian sandwich shops but it wasn’t until the likes of Starbucks opened in 1998 that I really discovered coffee.

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Obviously Walter has just had a cup of my coffee! Continue reading