Friday, 15 May 2009

Prom Practice

Prom Practice
Originally uploaded by bassettsfarm

So, here is my "baby" girl, Grace, last night. We had a practice for her Prom - which is tonight. She wanted me to do her hair and to try her lovely dress on. She looked just beautiful - and even more gorgeous this evening when she got dressed up for real.

I have neglected my blog terribly these last few weeks. I do apologise. I've been really busy with one thing another - and you will be seeing lots of the new cakes and cookies and cuppies that I've been making over the coming days.

I have been making lots of cakes - only for pleasure and for friends still - but I love the practice it allows me.

I just wanted to show everyone my lovely girl - she will be 16 in about a month's time and I am looking forward to it - but dreading it at the same time. It makes me feel so old, to have such a young lady as a daughter. She is ater prom as I write this and I just know she is having such a fantastic time.

I shall give a full report tomorrow - but for now I must go to sleep before my eyes do on their own!!


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Squires Kitchen Exhibition

I've been neglecting my blog for the past couple of weeks - and I'm sorry (to all TWO of my loyal followers!). No excuses really, just the usual busy life getting in the way of me doing what I want to....sit down and waffle on!

I am being forced to take it easy today though, because I feel so ill. I have some sort head cold or flu or something coming on, so I have a thumping headache, a sore throat and am aching all over. The perfect time to just sit down and quietly reflect on things.

On Saturday, I went to the Squires Kitchen Sugarcraft Exhibition in Farnham in Surrey. What a beautiful town Farnham is. I had only been there once before, and didnt' remember anything about it - but it was a delightful place, so pretty, with a proper "old fashioned" town centre. Lots of independent shops and boutiques - just lovely.

Anyway, back to the exhibition. I was one of the lucky first 100 in the queue, so was given a delightful goodie bag, filled with all sorts of treats and samples. Then, when I went inside, there was a whole world of sugar just waiting to tempt me! There were new products for sale, magazines and books, demonstrations of different techniques, displays of Wedding Cakes and a whole room full of competition entries in various catagories, from cupcakes to miniature wedding cakes. I had never seen miniature cakes before - these are not just small cakes - these are tiny works of art. I don't really know anything about them - why people make them, or where the art originated (I suspect it is a Japanese craft - like Bonsai trees, but I don't honestly know). When I was last into cake decorating (about 15yrs ago) there was no such thing........... but now I have become interested in sugarcraft again, it seems that this is a new fashion. Anyway, some of these tiny, perfect little tiered wedding cakes were just so precious. The flowers adorning them were the tiniest little things, all wired into superb little bouquets. I have taken some photos and will show them over the coming days and weeks.

I wanted to show you a photo of the goodies I came away with. I used Mothers' Day as an excuse to treat myself to some new gadgets and gizmos. I haven't used all of them as yet, but the ones I have used, I am thrilled with, and the rest, I am just itching to get to grips with.

I am off to get myself a couple of painkillers and to try to rest a bit before Archie gets out of nursery - rest will NOT be on the menu then!!!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Viking Bay

Viking Bay
Originally uploaded by Pablo101

I found this beautiful photo on Flickr, in one of the groups I follow called Broadstairs. I just fell in love with this photo the moment I saw it. It's of one of my very favourite places in all the world - Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent.

I've been visiting Broadstairs since I was a little girl, and I now take my children there every year. Broadstairs is a place full of happy memories for me - and ones that can leap right to the front of my mind every time I get back there, because it hasn't changed all that much over the years. Of course, some things change - and each year we notice how a shop or two has been replaced by a different business, or a restaurant may have changed hands - but on the whole, Broadstairs is a wonderful place that remains - to me at least - perfect.

I liked this photo so much, that I looked at all the others taken by the same phtotgrapher. Without wishing to sound too much like a mad fan or would-be stalker, his photos are fantastic. He has several more of Broadstairs, and then pages and pages more of stunning photos - I loved looking at every single one of them. I'm totally ignorant about how to take a good photo, or how to work a fancy camera - my albums and now computer are filled with "snaps", taken literally to just capture a moment I think I will remember in more detail just by looking back at my rushed photographic evidence!

Looking at Paul's work makes me want to take the time to learn more and manage to capture images that I would be proud to hang on my walls, as I would every single one of his pictures (apart from a rather too up close and personal shot of a spider!).

But, I don't think it is something I could learn. I might be able to work out how to use a camera in a slightly more advanced way than my current aim and snap fashion, but I just don't think that I would ever have the talent to capture scenes the way he does. It's a God given talent, I that I don't have! I have been to Viking Bay, and to that very spot where Paul must have been standing, hundreds and hundreds of times - and yet I've never seen it like that! He also has photos of somewhere that is just around the corner to my old home - a place that I went past every single morning on my way to work, and yet I had never "seen" it, until I looked at the photograph.

I think that a lot of people are probably guilty of thinking that a work of art has to be drawn or painted - but give me the artwork of "Pablo101" on Flickr any day! Paul's photos make me happy - so I shall look at them often, and enjoy them and the mood they create for me.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Home Economics

Here's a lovely, happy photo of my three cheeky children together. It's a couple of years old now, and it amazes me just how much they have all changed so much in that short space of time. Grace, on the right, is now quite the young lady, soon to be 16, and at the moment she is very busy with studying for her GCSEs. Alice is so much more grown up looking than she was in this photo - she's not a chubby little girl any more. And Archie - well, he is now 4, and quite a handful.

They are lovely kids though, and all of them different in character, but very alike in some ways. They are all very caring, they each have a great sense of humour, and would do anything for each other.

As this blog is supposed to be primarily about baking - I was just thinking about each of the children, and how different they are about wanting to cook. As long as he gets to lick the bowl or have some goodies, Archie loves to help. He will get his little booster stool and hop up to watch me and get involved........ constantly hinting that "those sweeties look nice" or "that icing looks yummmmmy". As for Alice, well - she is happy to do any job for me, as long as she is getting her hands dirty and messy. There is nothing she likes more than the mucky jobs, and where I will find any way, tool or piece of machinery to prevent me getting messy hands, Alice will just want to dive right in there and get gunky. She has always been the same, and I remember when she was small and at nursery she would ask to do painting..........and then be content to just paint her hands with layer upon layer of coloured paint. Then there's Grace. Quite different to the other two - she doesn't help in the kitchen, and has no interest in cooking at the moment whatsoever. I have tried to encourage her, and include her with various different projects - and it wasn't until recently that she told me the reason she hated anything to do with cooking............ the cleaning up afterwards. She said that it did look like it might be fun, but that she had seen me clearing up after a cooking session, and it was NOT for her.

When I was at school, we did Home Economics, and learnt all sorts of things about cooking, running a home, catering for different diets and needs, and how to "bake from scratch". I am now 43, so it really isn't that long ago that I was at school. I am thankful that we had those lessons at school, because it was through those that I learnt to love cooking. I can remember the very first thing we made - stuffed eggs. It was basically just mixing hard boiled egg yolk with mayonnaise and tuna, then piping it back into the hollowed out egg whites. But, from that first lesson, I was hooked. We learnt how to make all sorts of things - choux pastry, puff pastry, cakes, savoury dishes....... Wednesday nights were frequently spent eating the results of my latest Home Economics lesson for dinner.

I didn't realise that things had changed so much in schools until my daughters started secondary school. No longer was Home Economics on the curriculum. No longer was it something they did every week, until they decided whether or not to take it at exam level. Now, they have it mixed in with "Textiles and Resistant Materials", and they do it for a term a year. That means that in the three years Grace took it, she only actually had cookery lessons for about 30 weeks, and practical lessons for less than half of that time.

She came home one day and told me they needed to take in the ingredients to make an apple pie. I was preparing myself to rummage around and find lots of little plastic containers for the various things she would need..............until she gave me the shopping list of things they had been told to get. I don't know if you will be as shocked as I was, but this is what was on the list:

1 tin of apple pie filling
1 packet of frozen pastry

Another time, they were going to be doing fairy cakes. By this time, I thought I was prepared for anything - and as I LOVE to make cakes (and so know how very easy it is to whip up a batch of fairy cakes!) I had everything to hand.................................... or so I thought. The list of ingredients was as follows:

1 packet of ready made fairy cakes (or home made ones if you prefer)
1 packet of roll out icing
various sweets and decorations

Now, I'm not a super intelligent person, I don't get paid heaps of money to advise the public about healthy eating, I don't analyse statistics about how obese our children are becoming, I'm not able to have a TV programme or head up a campaign to make school dinners healthier. BUT - I CAN see that if we want our children to live healthier futures, we have to TEACH THEM how to cook healthy things, how to recognise a balanced diet and include things that are good for them. I think that Jamie Oliver should use his high profile and influence to do something about implementing some sort of change to the curriculum in our schools, and teach the next generation how to cook properly - and not to think that to make an apple pie all you need is a tin of pie filling and a pack of frozen pastry!

Friday, 13 March 2009

My Red Nose Poster

My Red Nose Poster
Originally uploaded by bassettsfarm

Happy Red Nose Day to everyone. I just made this using fd's Flickr Toys and I am SO proud of myself. I am really hopeless at anything best friend Dunn is going to be SO impressed with me!

Actually, it is probaby just a very good advert for fd's Flickr Toys - they truly are idiot proof!!

MORE cookies today

Here are a couple of cookies that I CAN show you, because I made these and DIDN'T enter them into the Cookie Challenge. As I think I mentioned, the themes were Easter and Spring, and we had to produce 3 for each. Well, Easter was the easy one - as you can tell by these "rejects". I can't tell you what I did eventually enter - but it wasn't an egg or a cross!!!
I was actually really pleased with the way these came out, because I have never used royal icing on biscuits/cookies before - I have always chickened out and used rolled fondant instead. But, this wasn't as scary as I'd thought, and the results were rather good. I'll be doing it again - when I have more time to play.
Well, the girls have gone to school in their "non-uniform" outfits, and Archie has gone to nursery for what he imagines is going to be a "Red Nose Party". I think the Red Raffle will be fun - there were some rather nice prizes there this morning....... I had my eye on a red box of Belgian chocolates. Let's hope if our ticket is a winner, Archie doesn't want to choose the prize though. I'll end up with a box of RED NOSE COOKIES that I donated! Alice, my middle child, definitely looked as if she was "Doing Something Funny For Money" this morning. Her outfit was extremely colourful - tangerine coloured jeans, yellow shoes, an orange top and a blue and white stripey jumper............ the only thing is - she WASN'T kidding. It was an outfit she was happily wearing, with no idea how dazzling she looked! I am sure that she is either colour blind or eccentric!
I am off to do some cooking before I collect Archie.......and that box of Belgian chocs, hopefully!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Red Nose Day Cookies

Here they are............. the Red Nose Day mini cookies I made for Archie to take to nursery tomorrow. You might notice there seem to be a couple missing from the first photo - that's because no matter how many times I told Archie he had to WAIT until I had taken the photos before he ate them - he could NOT resist sneaking a couple (thinking I wouldn't notice I guess!!!).
These were a bit rushed because I have also been finishing off the cookies for my "flickr challenge". I can't show you those just yet, because they have to be entered anonymously. But, as soon as the voting is over, I'll post them on here so you can all have a giggle!!!
I am now putting off cleaning up the devastation that IS my kitchen! It will have to be done very soon though, because I have to start on dinner. I was reading something yesterday that has really set me thinking...... well, daydreaming, actually. I joined a new flickr group, and there were lots of other ladies introducing themselves on there. Anyway, one of them was wrote that sometime this year she and her family will be moving house, and that she is determined to find a house to buy that can accommodate TWO kitchens - so that she can have one "industrial" type one for her catering business, and one normal one for her family cooking. The more I think of it, the more appealing the idea becomes. Not only would you have one that is all approved by the Environmental Health Department............ but you wouldn't have to be clearing up and packing away everything before you can get on with your everyday cooking. What a joy!!
I've always wanted a separate room for my hobbies - so that I don't have to get my sewing machine, or sugarcraft tools, or pottery out and then put it all away again every time I feel like doing some crafty type work. Now I'm thinking along the lines of a separate Hobby Room and a separate kitchen. Goodness, before you know it, I will have moved myself out and have a completely separate my dreams!!!
Well, reality (and washing up) calls.
Hope you like the cookies.