Saturday, 29 October 2011

Halloween Pumpkin Pie

I'm not sure about halloween. I did not grow up with it as a tradition as South Africa, with all houses behind big walls with electric fencing and guarded by at least 3 Rottweilers, is not conducive to trick-or-treating. Now I'm in the UK, all around me is orange, black and purple, and I guess I will have to stock up on sweeties on the weekend in case any little dressed up kiddies knock on the door hoping for a treat.

(tip: sprinkle leftover pastry with cinnamon sugar and cut into strips and bake with the pastry shell for a yummy snack) 
More... )

Friday, 21 October 2011

On a running note

You cannot understand it unless you have done it. Do you know how hard it is to go out for a run, on a dark, cloudy, rainy afternoon. On this day, I talked myself in and out of going out for a run at least a dozen times before my foot crossed the threshold of the door to go out. I was almost convinced that I wasn't going to do it, as I sat on the sofa looking out at the rain just 5 minutes before my self-scheduled time to go. Nobody to meet, no motivation to go except for the little voice in my head telling me that I should go, I will enjoy it. So I changed, put on my still-damp-from-the-last-run shoes, opened the front door, sighed, and stepped out into the rain.

When I got to my start point, I sat in the car for a minute, not completely convinced that I was going to actually get out of the car. Once out its just a matter of getting past the 5 minutes of uncomfortable cold-wetness, and then that fantastic internal combustion engine that is the cardio-vascular system starts sending the warm blood to cool and damp fingers and toes, and you begin to feel the glow of running.

It was quiet on the trail today. Impossibly uncommonly quiet. I did not see anyone. ANYONE. Not one single person. Normally, even on the darkest, dismalest day, there will be even one dedicated dog walker. But today, NOBODY. Alone in the world.

A run in the rain is an assault on all the senses. Maybe assault is not the right word. Its a treat for all the senses, stimulating, scintillating each one all at once. The sound of the rain on the trees above, on your head, the sound of your steps, your breathing, the sound of the wind in the trees, in your ears. The sight of the familiar landscape shrouded in cloud and fog. The colours all muted by the grey, a pointillism of raindrops. The woods have a distinct smell. They smell of leaves and wood and rain and the river. Rivers have a distinct smell too. The smell of this river takes me back to my teenage years of paddling on the Klip River. The touch, the feeling of running in the rain... the feel of the rain on your face, the and the wind on your neck. The feel of the trail under your feet, every pebble and root and puddle. The feel of your lungs burning on the hills and the feel of your thighs burning as you near the top of the steps. And taste. Taste the salt of your sweat muddled with the rainwater that runs down your face. When else do you feel so much, hear so much, and revel in every millisecond of it.

As comes with the rain, it was muddy out today. Very muddy as its been raining for a few days in true Manchester-Autumn style. So I know its nice to have dry feet, but once your feet get wet, they're wet, and once they warm up in your soggy shoes then you are free to run through the puddles, the mud and the slush with the joyous abandon of a child. When did you last run in the mud? Jump in a puddle? Its fun, and a bit of reverting to childish mentality that I cherish. When did you last run as fast as you can? Move our legs at their maximum possible speed? Even as a 'runner' I don't run as fast as I can very often. But today I did. Sprinted so fast (relatively, for me) that if I tried any harder I would actually find my face on the ground. Its exhilarating. It hurts. Its wonderful. It lasts only a short time but when I pulled up, at my car, my heart was beating its fastest and my lungs screamed for air. My legs glowed with all the blood my poor heart was pushing there, and I could not help smiling. Nobody there to smile at, but smiled at myself. Then got in the car, and that was that.

You can't 'get' it unless you have something that makes you smile, even when you are all by yourself. Something that you do to make you happy. Something you love. Something your life would emptier without.

Orignal From: On a running note

Friday, 14 October 2011

Courgette Pumpkin Spiced Breakfast Bread

I love a good banana bread. Who doesn't? But I also like to shake things up a bit. Move away from the traditional bananas and walnuts, and throw in some more random ingredients and see what happens.


So I came across the 'Zucchini' aka Courgette Breakfast Bread on dear Joy the Baker, and I wanted to try it immediately. Coincidentally I had a huge courgette in the house, and some pumpkin in the fridge that was asking to be included. It wanted in on the bread, and I thought that was a great idea. Better than the poor pumpkin leftovers being forgotten in the back of the fridge only to be discovered a few weeks later once they have started to grow their own little mold colony to keep them company.
More... )

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Best Chocolate Ice Cream in the Universe

No matter how old I get, there is something comforting about ice cream. Something in its cool velvety creaminess that calms my very soul. A little melodramatic you say? Well, it does. And this chocolate ice cream is the epitome of comfort food. I don't have chocolate ice cream very often. Its never the first flavour that I'll choose when faced with an ice cream parlour full of options. Normally the vanilla raspberry, the pistachio or the creme brulee flavours get the first look in. But when I came across this recipe quite accidentally while browsing online, something about it spoke to me. It said 'make me. you won't regret it'.

Apart from the completed deliciousness of the finished product, the actual making of this ice cream is a divine process. The chocolatey mixture bubbling on the stove will fill your entire house will the blissful aroma of deep, rich, chocolate. It does this to such an extent, that the nice lady coming to pick up her birthday cake, will walk in, sniff, and goo 'ooooohhhhh, what IS that gorgeous SMELL?'. Its true. It really happened.


So, being the rushed-off-my-feet self-employed mad workaholic that I am now, I neglected to take any photos of the making of the ice cream. I am sorry. Truly. Very. Please forgive me. So please settle for a few images of the finished product, and let me assure you that the making of this ice cream, is silly easy, and every sublime scoopful of it will make you smile and forget your worries for as long as it touches your tongue. I promise.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Slightly adapted from David Lebovitz

You'll notice this recipe doesn't call for eggs, which makes it suitable for people who are avoiding eggs for various dietary reasons. For best results, sift the cocoa powder to remove any lumps and use good chocolate, one in the range of 55 to 70% cocoa solids.

What you will need: 

1 cup (250 ml) full cream milk
4 teaspoons cornflour
1 cup (250 ml) double cream
1 cup (250 ml) evaporated milk
2/3 cup (130 gr) sugar
1/3 cup (35 gr) good quality cocoa powder
3 ounces (85 gr) dark or milk chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 generous shot of creme de cacao (dark or light)

What to do:

1. Mix a few tablespoons of the milk with the cornflour in a small bowl, until smooth.

2. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the rest of the milk, cream, evaporated milk and sugar. When the mixture comes to a gentle boil, whisk in the cocoa powder, then let it cook at a modest boil for 4 minutes, whisking regularly.

3. After four minutes, whisk in the cornflour/milk mixture then continue to cook for one minute, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened.

4. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate and salt, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla and liqueur.

5. Transfer the ice cream mixture bowl then sit that bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice and a bit of water, and let sit until cool, then refrigerate until cold.

6. Pour the mixture into the canister of an ice cream maker, then freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.



Orignal From: The Best Chocolate Ice Cream in the Universe