baby sam

Dear Amelia,
Only one more sleep until your baby brother enters this world, so as soon as I’ve finished writing this I’ll be packing my bag and hopping in the car for the four-hour drive to your house.
I’m very excited.
It’s not often I get to roam at will and the thought that there’s you and a new baby waiting at the other end is only adding to the general air of hysteria.
Your Grandpa and Ella won’t be able to make it until the weekend because someone has to stay behind and make a quid.
That someone isn’t Ella, who recently achieved a personal best for lying on your Uncle Paul’s couch with a pair of Explorer socks on her head (17 minutes in case you’re wondering).

ella sock2
While we were visiting your Uncle Paul on the weekend we went to the Queens for dinner and I was treated to yet another food smear.
Food smears are very trendy at the moment. They look like this.

I found this picture here.

I found this picture here.

I think food smears will be with us for quite some time. They must be saving restaurateurs a fortune.
The menu will generally say something along the lines of  “…served with a lightly spiced sweet potato mash” and you’re picturing this fluffy mound of deliciousness but what you actually get is half a teaspoon of the stuff swiped across the side of your plate.
Bring back food towers, I say. Or even better, Nanna serves, where the food is arranged in piles all around the plate.
Your Grandpa, who’s been a grumpy old shit lately due to major dental surgery, blames the food-smear trend on the never-ending parade of celebrity chefs and TV food shows.
We had to stop watching My Kitchen Rules because by the third episode he was threatening to put a brick through the TV.
In other news, I have finally painted all the woodwork in the passage, bathroom and bedrooms. It took me two weeks.

passage small
I’d like to be able to say it gave me immense personal satisfaction to see the end result, but it didn’t. By the end of it I’d almost lost the will to live.
Also, due to aforementioned dental surgery, we’ve been eating lots of soup.
I can’t say I’m a big fan of soup, and that didn’t change after eating it non-stop for what seemed like a decade but in reality was only a week.
The exception is this Pumpkin and Sweetcorn Soup from TV cook Delia Smith.
I can eat it until it comes out of my ears (which it almost did over the course of that seven days).
Delia’s original recipe includes a sprinkling of toasted sweetcorn over the top of the soup, which I never do because I can’t be bothered.
Also, as usual, her recipe is about five pages long because she seems to be under the impression all her readers are morons.
Here is a shortened and slightly altered version that is still extremely delicious.

One year ago on this blog: Getting Clucky



Serves 6

2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
700g butternut pumpkin
1 supermarket pack of corn cobs (3-4 half-cobs) or 2 whole corn cobs, husks removed
salt and pepper
750ml (3 cups) chicken or vegetable stock (Campbells or similar)
250ml (1 cup) milk

Melt the butter over low heat in a big heavy-bottomed pot.
Fry the onion gently for 8 minutes, without letting it colour too much.
While that’s happening, peel the pumpkin and cut it into 2cm cubes.
Take the kernels off the corn cobs by standing them on end and slicing down their length with a knife.
Tip the pumpkin and corn kernels into the pot and season with salt and pepper.
Put the lid on the pot and let the vegetables soften for 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally.
Raise the heat, pour in the stock and milk and bring to simmering point.
Lower the heat, partially cover the pot with a lid and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin feels soft when pierced with a knife.
Puree the mixture with a stick blender until smooth (or blitz it in a blender) and, if you haven’t just had dental surgery, serve with big hunks of bread or cheese on toast.


Dear Amelia,
It’s very cold and rainy in Albany today so we’ve got the fire going in the kitchen and some veggie soup cooking away on the stove top.
Last week when I wasn’t feeling well, we practically lived off Pea and Ham Soup because all it involves is chucking a big, fat ham hock into a big pot, tipping in a packet of yellow split peas, covering the lot with water and simmering it until the split peas dissolve.
Pea and Ham Soup always reminds me of the Pease Pudding my Nanna used to make when I was a kid.
She’d tip the split peas into a cloth, tie them up in a bundle and suspend them in the water that the ham hock was simmering in.
Once the split peas were mushy, she’d beat in an egg or two, put it all back in the cloth and simmer until it was so thick you could slice it with a knife.
Sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? And now I think about it, it was.
But I loved Pease Pudding when I was a kid and it was such a part of Yorkshire life it even had its own nursery rhyme.
We used to chant this rhyme when we played skippy out in the street.
It didn’t occur to me until I was older that it was basically an ode to salmonella.
Pease Pudding hot,
Pease Pudding cold,
Pease Pudding in the pot,
Nine days old.
Some like it hot,
Some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot,
Nine days old.

Your Grandpa’s birthday cake went off like a rocket last night.
It’s the lightest, stickiest, most delicious cake imaginable and because it contains the grated rind of half a lemon, you could say it’s practically a health food.
I was going to serve it with custard but by that point I’d knocked off the better part of a bottle of champagne, so I went with the easy ice cream option instead.
We’re off to another birthday dinner tonight, so when I’ve finished writing this I’m heading out into the driving rain to buy a card.
He’s a Freo supporter, the birthday person.
Hopefully I’ll be able to find a card that’s suitably antagonistic.

GOLDEN SYRUP CAKE (taken from Cakes: River Cottage Handbook by Pam Corbin)

Makes one 22cm x 10cm loaf

200g golden syrup
100g butter, cut into cubes
150g self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarb soda
¼ tsp salt
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
grated rind of ½ a lemon
1 lge egg
150g plain yoghurt
1 heaped tbsp golden syrup, extra
1 tbsp boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Grease a 22cm by 10cm loaf tin with butter and line with baking paper.
Melt the 200g golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring to combine.
Set the pan aside to cool a little.
Seive the flour, bicarb soda and salt into a mixing bowl.
Add the breadcrumbs and lemon rind and mix well to combine.
Mix the egg and yoghurt in a separate bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the egg and yoghurt, and the golden syrup/melted butter.
Mix with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until smooth and glossy.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until it’s cooked (a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean).
Put the cooked cake on the benchtop and poke lots of holes in it with a skewer (a satay stick or piece of dried spaghetti works just as well as a skewer).
Mix the extra tablespoon of golden syrup with the tablespoon of boiling water and pour this mixture evenly over the cake.
Let the cake cool in the tin then turn it out on to a plate.