Thursday, 22 April 2010

Gawd Love 'Em

It's been just over a week since I arrived in Cambridge and what I've discovered so far is very nice. Hubby and I are surrounded by Harvard and its many, many buildings which lends itself to the neighbourhood being quite lively and diverse.

Having started to settle into the 'hood, and not had a decent chat with the family, I called to let them know that I was fine, everything was going well (even though I still feel like I'm in holiday mode!) and I was missing them.

Chatting to the folks back home, made me remember the last few months being back at Ma & Pa since Hubby and I gave up our flat at the end of March (which meant going back to stay with Ma & Pa).

It's amazing how you fall back into being who you were before you left home!

When my friends called to ask if I wanted to meet up with them, a slight panic of telling my parents would wash over me (just to explain, my childhood was brilliant but strict - never allowed to stay out late unless the parents knew who I was going out with; I had to adhere to the time I said I would be back at etc...) hence the panic when I had to inform said parents that I was off out for the night!

One night, such an occasion rose and I thought, 'ang on a minute, I'm married, they can't say anything!'... so I spoke to Mother and said that I was off questions asked, just an ok, see you later. How bizarre was that?!

The girls decided to throw me a 'last night at my flat' party and we all sat on floor cushions munching on nibbles and knocking back the wine. Everyone left at midnight; but me, Best Friend and Best Friend's sister stayed on chatting until 2am!

I went back home, thinking I hope the parents are not up...but popped my head around the Parents bedroom door and Mother said "hmm...what time do you call this?", I grinned and said, sorry - I was talking! Just then Father walked out of the bathroom, he looked at me...and suddenly, I was 16 again... "where have you been?" he demanded to know - just out talking, I replied... "until 2am? Did you lock the front door?", yes Dad I replied meekly and then I sauntered off to bed. I couldn't believe that I had just been told off!

Quickly enough, I fell into the Parents routine of getting up by 9am, having breakfast, mull around, pop into Croydon and then about 3pm decide what to have for dinner, fumble around in the fridge for the ingredients, pop out the shops to pick up anything missing, cook dinner and then settle down in front of the TV to eat said dinner.

Now, I have very different viewing habits than The Parents, but as it's their house and only the upstairs TV has Sky HD i.e. I can record my favourite programmes, I was happy to go along with what they wanted to watch. But, I had forgotten how much of a routine they could fall into. Every night, the programming/evening went as follows:

6-7pm: ITV News and Weather
7pm & 30 secs :Emmerdale theme music (Father likes to hear it but doesn't watch the programme)
7-8m: Two and Half Men
8-9.30pm: channel hopping trying to find something to watch whilst complaining that despite over 40 channels to choose from, there was nothing to watch.
9.30-10pm: cup of tea made
10pm (or earlier most nights): I'm abandoned. But this 'abandonment' was not completely unwelcome; it meant that I could then watch the stuff that I wanted to (Sex and the City, True Blood, Fringe...) but best of all I could flick between channels.

The Parents hated it when I tried to flick between the channels. But I only did this because once you've seen one set of adverts, its guaranteed that they will repeat the same ones again and again each break. And not only the adverts, but the promo's of the up and coming snippets of the next 'exciting' installment of 'What Katy did next'. There's only so many times a sane person can watch said adverts/promos over and over and over...

One said promo was one about South Park. We all know South Park and how close to the line (heck even over it) they can go. But their particular promo went as follows:

In a fudge factory, kids amble up to the assembly line, where workers are putting fudge into boxes:

"Oh my God, its Tom Cruise!"
"I didn't know Tom Cruise was a fudge packer?!"
"I am not a fudge packer!"
"What's going on?"
"It's Tom Cruise, he's a fudge packer"....

I merely rolled my eyes and then looked across to the Parents and that made me laugh. They just looked almost blankly at the TV. I mused as to whether they understood the term 'fudge packer'...I was thinking not!

Mother looked at me..."there's nothing but nonsense on the TV now"

Each week, guaranteed on a Monday evening, Father would ask me if X Factor is on, I would say, do you mean American Idol, he said yes, I would say that it's on a Wednesday Dad, he'd reply oh ok...every week...without fail...and then it got worse when Britain's Got Talent and then it was the confusion of what programme was on when!..

Oh I do miss Ma & Pa and their way of not quite getting things, their memory loss and selective hearing...gawd love 'em.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Three(ish) Weeks & Volcanic Ash

I'm trying not to panic... dawned on me earlier today that it's not too long before I would board the plane to Boston and then I can see my darling Hubby after four very difficult months. But, I hear you cry, that's no reason to panic - surely it should be Hubby panicking...after all he's had four blissful months without me nagging him!

Well, I'm 'panicking' because of the Icelandic ash that hovers in the air and the possibility of another eruption causing another week of cancelled flights. Some people have had dreadful ordeals trying to get home and I'd hate to get caught up in that fiasco - I'm not a keen traveller of those metal objects in the sky!

It made me think though - what's the alternative? Visions of taking the Eurostar to Paris, another train across mainland Europe into Russia, catching a trip with a fisherman on the Bering Sea to Alaska, then another train to Boston via Canada. It may just work...and then An Affair to Remember popped into mind and so I searched for a transatlantic voyage to NYC.

And they still do them! It takes six days from Southampton to New York, pier 12. It would be great to take a voyage across the Atlantic; evenings filled with dinner dances, days playing shuffleboard but perhaps I've romanticised the whole thing...and me being me, I would have to be with Hubby to really enjoy myself; I couldn't do it without him.

So, with that in mind, me thinks I'll have to pray to Hephaestus (Greek god of fire renamed Vulcan by the Romans) so said volcano doesn't through a hissy fit and spew more clouds of ash therefore stopping me from seeing Hubby.

The only good thing to come out this? The jokes....

"I came out of my house yesterday and was hit on the head by a bag of sausages, a chocolate gateau and a box of fish fingers. I realised it must be the fallout from Iceland."


Thursday, 15 April 2010

Honey & Ginger

It's my beautiful and wonderful best friend's birthday on Sunday; amazingly the weather will be great and she has decided that it will be diaquiri's and a picnic in the park - that's why we're BF's!

I asked her what did she want me to bring along and she asked me to make 'your strawberry cake'...I grinned, knowing that she would make such a request.

But it reminded me that I wanted to share a great recipe that I recently 'invented'...I didn't do the hours of testing; I simply wanted to bake and opened the cupboards thinking what could I use out?

My thoughts ran to Parkin but fancied doing something else; so I picked up the ground ginger (a key ingredient in Parkin) and as I moved things around, randomly thinking that I really should tidy things up in here [the cupboard] my hand fell on to some honey that Hubby and I had bought to drizzle over something!

And from that was born my Honey & Ginger cake:

For a 8" round cake tin - non stick is best, buttered and slightly floured
  • Cream 10oz of 'cake butter' (e.g. stork) and 10oz sugar until the butter is a lot lighter
  • Add one at a time 4 large (room temp) eggs - beating in each one well
  • Add in two batches 10oz of cake flour until just combined - do not over mix
  • Add 11/2 teaspoons of ground ginger and mix - again do not over mix
  • Put half the mixture in the tin
  • 8-10 teaspoons of honey randomly placed on the batter
  • Put remaining batter on top, smooth/swirl on top
  • Bake at about 180 degrees for about 40mins - but cook according to your oven!
  • You'll have some batter left over - so make some cupcakes!
As you cut into the cake, you'll find that the honey has melted and almost caramalised - its tastes divine - even if I do say so myself! Haven't done it as yet but experiment with different flavour honey's but bear in mind that it needs to complement the spicy-ness of ginger.


(By the way - 'your strawberry cake' is a vanilla sponge, filled with a cream cheese icing and fresh strawberries or for a less sweet version, a mascapone & fresh strawberries filling).

(image: Microsoft Clipart)