Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lemon Flat Pie

After my first ever taste of lemon meringue pie at Christmas time, made by shadowdraic's Mother, I was completely hooked. However, being hooked upon a substance, in many cases, does not mean that one can make it as I'm sure many will agree. The pastry bit went rather well: I bought it at Tesco. It seemed a bit shallow, (the depth of the pie case, not the act of buying it at Tesco) but all the lemon bit (which came out perfect) fitted into it.

Now we come to the meringue. I have been able to eat eggs for 3 years now. I am very good at fried eggs, and I can make scrambled eggs, and lovely fluffy omelettes. BUT. I have never made meringue before, and this is the bit where I wished a) that I had asked a trusty Delia book about it, b) that I had checked the use-by date on the eggs prior to beginning, and c) that I had an electric whisk. Seperating the eggs went well, considering. I swear there was no yolk in the white. The whites and sugar were beaten and beaten with a fork but to no avail. The whitish, sugary egg-soup which resulted was poured, hopelessly, onto the perfect lemon filling and baked. See pictures. Next time..... I'm asking my Mum to make the meringue!

Fresh eggs, electric whisk, digital weighing machine, baking beans, parchment, and a proper pie tin are all on the shopping list marked "urgent".

Here is the recipe, in case anyone is brave enough to have a go:

100g shortcrust pastry, baked blind for 12 minutes in a pie tin. Or just buy one.

For the filling:
50g cornflour
225g Castor sugar
half a pint of water
the rind and juice of 2 lemons
2 egg yolks.

For the meringue:
2 egg whites
100g castor sugar.

Measure the sugar for the filling and the cornflour into a saucepan. Crush all lumps out of the cornflour. Gradually stir in the water. Add the lemon rind and bring to the boil, stirring all the time until thickened and translucent. In other words, there will be particularly bizarre and sudden change in texture, and it should then look like lemon curd. Cook for 1 minute. Take off the heat, and stir in first the strained lemon juice then the 2 egg yolks and mix well. Pour into the pastry case.

To make the meringue:
The recipe says to whisk the egg whites until thick and fluffy and then fold in half the sugar, whisk again, and fold in the rest of the suger. All I can say is: do not do whatever I did. The eggs must be extremely fresh, I now think, and the kitchen utensils grease free. Even a little smudge of grease will ruin it, I've heard. Search me if thats true or not. Follow Delia's instructions, or something. Make it fluffy, and make it light, ok? Spread it over the top of the pie.

For fluffy sticky meringue, bake in a ferocious oven for ten minutes until browned all over.
For crispy dry meringue, bake in a slow oven for 30 minutes or until crispy.

Let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tagged! its a meme!

I've been tagged to write "5 things that you didn't know about me" (by badger that)!!!! Its a LOT harder than it looks. And, reading through, it seems to be some sort of modern confessional. Bizarre.

1. I used to be an operator for a "text date" service which would send smutty texts to men for £1.50 a time. I sat at a computer entering whatever came into my head. Every 10 seconds a different "profile" would appear and a conversation, similar in style to msn. I would read the profile bar and pretend to be "Tracey" or whoever, send a text, to "Derek" or whoever, then onto the next one. Its amazing what people will pay for. Theres a lot of lonely people out there.

2. At a festival a few years ago (ahem) I found my ex fiancees tent and took out all the pegs and hid them beneath some poor innocent's car. I'm not proud. But it felt good!

3. As an April Fools joke I once persuaded the form teacher at school to anounce that there was going to be an audition for Dr Who in one of the classrooms at lunchtime. About 4 people turned up. I was called mean. Probably, I was.

4. At College, I embarrassed myself on Induction Day by standing up in front of the class and presenting my personal project (it was an Art College). My project in part, was all about the different colours that numbers have, and their personalities. I asked the students what colour Wednesday was, and was greeted by a stony silence. I was 19. It was only after a sympathetic student approached me with a video of Horizon's "Orange Sherbet Kisses" that I found out I was Synaesthetic. I had thought that everyone saw the world in the same colours that I do. They don't.

5. When I was young I always wanted to be a princess with long blonde hair that trailed on the ground when I walked and a pointy silver hat.

Monday, March 19, 2007

To party or not to party?

I've discovered that I'm not sure if I prefer babysitting to partying. Both involve equal amounts of laughter, fun and tears and both leave me exhausted. I missed Mikey's (far left, above) party on St Patricks Day to babysit, and will soon be doing some babysitting for Paul and Charlotte (above) whose first offspring Mina first saw the world on March 12th. Ahhhh.

Surfing all things purple and socky and I have found a page that is a liiittle tiny tad over obsessed with socks. But, down to the important things. Normal Marmite or Guinness Marmite? Is there, actually, a difference? WIth my untrained taste buds, I can't tell. Slightly less strong perhaps. I love it though. You can't get it in Ireland, I've heard. Some people care enough to chat about it on the marmite forum. Some are selling it on ebay. An internet forum about a yeast based salty spread? What's next, a London Pride themed Marmite for St George's day? Ah.....thought not.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Flapjacks II. The Great Baked Ones

Call me boring but I love to cook flapjacks. I struggle for the perfect, easy to remember recipe, yielding chewy in the centre, not too sweet, not too dry flapjacks, that crumble in your mouth not in your hand (TM). The microwave flapjacks in previous posts have been ultra-yummy. What does one do, however, when faced with a kitchen devoid of a box that goes Bing? Take half a block of hard margarine, 5 tablespoons of sugar, 2 of golden syrup, and a pint of rolled oats. Melt, mix, pour into greased tin. Bake, (180 C oven 20 min) eat. It's that simple. And I LOVE it!! The last picture is the correct amount of flapjack to be left over after about 10 minutes.......!


The ultimate in over-hopeful exercises..... I have stabbed an avocado pip with corn on the cob holders to suspend it in water and grow an avocado plant. The plant, even in 5 years, will apparently never yield any avocados, but they do make glossy-leaved house plants. And, I can say that I grew it myself. Mango tree next.... tomorrow, the world!!!

Here's how to grow an avocado
And a pineapple
And a mango tree

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jones: The Best Cat in the World

Surely only Jones could be caught winking at me. The only cat that would cuddle and nuzzle me (and sneeze on me) without stalking off (too often). A cat that put up with being carried around by me, regally, as if to say; "I am the most perfect cat Ever, obviously I use Humans as my sedan-chair from time to time. At my convenience, of course". When I called upset, my best friend Fee used to put him on the phone to purr to me, and the world seemed less harsh in an instant. He was a big fluffy tart of a cat, beautiful in a soft lazy way. Jones will be sorely missed.