There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Friday, 26 September 2014

More baking updates.......(or why Stuart is a very happy man these days)

The Great British Bake Off has created a groundswell of home baking in Britain--which makes me very happy.  What could be better than a family baking together, sharing cupcakes with neighbors, or children baking to raise money for a charity?  In the age of ISIS, this kind of wholesome niceness can go a long way in making our world just a little bit lovelier place to be.

The Bake Off has also created a host 
of new baking cookbooks and this week I've 
added a few of them to my collection.

Last year's Bake Off finalist Ruby Tandoh, just published her first baking book, Crumb, and it's already taken pride of place in my kitchen. She's an excellent writer, as well as being a gifted baker, so it's a very good read and is loaded with beautiful recipes and her own flare.  It's also a great place to start if you've never baked before.  Ruby likes to explain why things work, what things mean, and in layman's terms the chemistry behind baking.  She loves baking bread and she especially loves baking old favorites with new and unsual flavors--a lemon and basil tart, stilton cheese and poppy seed crackers, or bay and blackcurrant creme brulee are just a few.

Just posted through our letter box yesterday is a Slice of Britain, by Caroline Taggart.  It's my very favorite kind of cookbook, combining recipes and travel.  A Slice of Britain is a trip through Britain via cake--what could be better!  She starts in Cornwall with Saffron Cake and Cornish Fairings, up through the heart of England with Bath Buns and Lardy Cake, over to Wales and Welsh Cakes, up to Scotland with Dundee Cake, and ends in Derbyshire with Bakewells and Gingerbread.  It's loaded with stories, snippets, anecdotes, and recipes for the very best of British baking--and there's no reading it without a cup of tea and a slice of cake sitting next to you.

I also succumbed to my first cookbook from Mary Berry, the grande doyenne of British baking and one of the judges from the Great British Bake Off.  To me she's like Britain's Nana, baking her way into everyone's hearts.  The reason Mary Berry's Simple Cakes came home with me was because the first page it opened to, as I flipped through it in the book store, was her recipe for Lemon Meringue Roulade.  It combines meringue and lemon curd, so how can you go wrong with those two things combined into delectable "scrumminess" ('scrummy' is one of Mary's favorite descriptions of deliciousness).   All the recipes are step-by-step with clear pictures and directions, along with good general tips on baking.

I tried my hand at the Lemon Meringue Roulade the afternoon I bought the book and it turned out very scrummy (and beautiful) indeed. I'm not sure what I'm baking next, but it will be from one of these great new cookbooks--and Stuart will be first in line to try it.

*My tip for perfect meringue: Wash the mixing bowl and the beaters well and immediately before whipping the egg whites.  This make sure there's absolutely no trace of fat or grease which inhibits the egg whites from forming stiff peaks. Also, as you're separating the whites from the yolk, make sure the yolk stays intact and doesn't break.  Even the smallest bit of yolk can inhibit the egg whites.  Perfect meringue depends on beating until very, very, stiff peaks form, which are glossy white. 

Recipe from Mary Berry's Simple Cakes

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