Get Your Chill On

The refreshing chill of iced coffee is well-documented. Some have even suggested we’re approaching an iced coffee tipping point. To that I say, “Balderdash!” Iced coffee is here to stay. Especially at TransAtlantic Towers where it absolutely central to my morning routine.

THE LOW-TEMP LOWDOWN

The iced coffee I drink most often is from the pitcher I keep chilling in the fridge at home. This is the coffee brewed by our usual grind and brew machine that has been left to cool and then is poured into a fridge friendly container and chilled. What could be easier? After all, we’re making coffee anyway; ModParlPhotos needs his coffee in the AM as well, though his preference is for a steaming cup of joe.  No coffee goes to waste because I can just add it to the existing supply.

But sometimes, usually in the hottest part of the summer, the mood comes upon me and I will make some cold-brew. Continue reading “Get Your Chill On”

Post Heat-Wave Cool Down

The temps finally cooled off and it was a toss-up as to what living things at TransAtlantic Towers were the most grateful: the plants, the cats or the humans.

  • The plants were largely OK because I made a point of ensuring it. Of course we bought a whole bunch of new herbs on the first day of the heat wave – got them re-potted that day too before it got too brutal out. Over the next few days of top temps, I was fully committed to keeping the new plants watered – so the thyme, mint, sage, rosemary and chili plant all came through it unscathed and were kept as cool as possible.
  • The cats don’t really care to be watered so I refrained. They managed to find cool dark places to hide between the hours of 10am and about 6 or 7pm every night. They complained but they kept eating and drinking water so they were clearly not in any sort of heat distress.
  • So I am casting my vote for the humans – who did the best we could with fan placement and adopting the Summer Sun Approach to Eating.

As it was a topic very much on my mind during the recent heat wave, I posed a question on the Fabulous Foodie facebook group: what foods to you use to keep cool? The answers were deliciously diverse.

Continue reading “Post Heat-Wave Cool Down”

On ‘Catering’ Your Self-Catering Holiday

Cooking might be the last thing you want to do while on holiday, but there’s a lot to be said for self-catering holidays.

  • You get more room for your money on self-catering holidays than you do from all-inclusive.
  • You set the schedule – with young kids, this makes keeping to routine a lot easier.
  • You’re more in control of the menu on self-catering holidays.
  • You eat what you want when you want on self-catering holidays.
  • Makes managing dietary restrictions easier.

But I know the idea of having to cook (and wash up) makes it sound less holiday-like and more like just moving the housekeeping to a new location. But cooking doesn’t mean it must be done in the same way as you always do. Take a holiday approach to cooking:  take some shortcuts, mix things up, relax your rules.

All you need to adopt a holiday approach to cooking is a bit of planning and a willingness to do things a tad differently. I have some thoughts on prepping for self-catering holidays which I’ve shared on the ‘Greater Gotham Going Global’ travel blog, and now I’ve got some tips more specifically about preparing for the catering part of  self-catering. Continue reading “On ‘Catering’ Your Self-Catering Holiday”

The Summer Sun Approach to Eating

Let’s get the weather moan out of the way first thing: “SHEESH, it’s hot out! No, seriously – so hot.” Well done. We have fulfilled our clichéd social obligations. Now, on to something useful and constructive.

I don’t know about you but while I love the summer sun, relentlessly high temperatures with very little breeze – which is what we’re having here in my part of the UK at the moment – wears me right out. I become lethargic, cranky and even the simplest tasks seem like major undertakings. So what’s the solution? Well, if I was still living in Houston where heat and humidity are a daily fact of life except during a few weeks in January and February, the answer would be AC. But I am not in Houston – or even the US – so AC is not as common and the answer is circulating fans, lots of water and choosing a summer sun approach to eating. What do I mean by that? I’m glad you asked. Continue reading “The Summer Sun Approach to Eating”

The Bread Baby

Does anyone remember that craze back in the 90’s, where people gave each other little pocket sized computer thingies that you had to ” feed” and “bathe”, or they pinged in an annoyingly loud manner? Or that episode in “Frasier” where Niles attempted to simulate fatherhood by looking after an eight pound sack of flour for a week? No?

I had forgotten them too – but they all came rushing back to me in the early hours of the morning about a month ago, when I found myself under the glare of my kitchen lights, giving it the full Colin Clive and screaming, “It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!!

itsalive
That’s Dr. Frankenstein to you, thank you very much.

I was making my own sourdough bread.

Moreover, I was learning – all too painfully – that making your own sourdough bread is not about the baking the bread, but rather about making the “starter.” And making a sourdough starter is uncomfortably like looking after a small baby for an extended period of time. There’s a lot of feeding and changing, quite a bit of gas, the regular disposal of beige goop, some malodorous smells, and far too much fretting and crying.

How did I get to that darkly cinematic moment in my kitchen in those wee small hours? Not naturally or easily actually. I have always considered myself more of a “cook” than a “baker” but my confidence in baking had truly grown in the last few years. Continue reading “The Bread Baby”

Pickled And Baked

It’s not what you think.  I’m not wallowing in wine or whacked out on weed. (At least not right now.) I do, however, have homemade bread baking in the oven, and I’ve just put up a bunch of pickles. Again, it’s not what you may think.

I haven’t joined a commune in Vermont, delved too far into the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, or taken up extreme right-wing ideologies and moved into a nuclear bunker in Tennessee. I’m just trying to stay hip. And for once, I’ve found I haven’t already aged out of the latest trends. Both baking and pickling are tres chic here in the UK. That runaway smash tv show The Great British Bakeoff has taken the nation by storm over the last few years.

mary-berry

Both baking and pickling are tres chic here in the UK. That runaway smash tv show The Great British Bakeoff has taken the nation by storm over the last few years. Continue reading “Pickled And Baked”

Spaghetti: Dressed For Dinner

We recently celebrated Spaghetti Day here at Fabulous Foodie. Deborah’s fabulous post about the various forms of- and sauces for- spaghetti got me to thinking about what a large part spaghetti has played in my culinary life.

I remember being a child watching my dad make his spaghetti Bolognese sauce, and how – though it’s certainly my own sauce now – mine is based on his. Yes, I know that sauce is actually called a ragu, and that in Italy it’s never served with spaghetti (except perhaps resignedly to tourists) because spaghetti is the wrong shape and texture to properly hold the sauce, but like everyone who didn’t grow up in Italy, that’s the way I first ate it. And it’s still how I prefer to eat it to this day.

bolognese-sauce

As a teen, I learned how to eat spaghetti properly, instead of cutting it into childishly spoon-able lengths; how you gather a few strands on the tines of your fork, and twirl the fork against the side of the bowl or a spoon until they’re neatly twined around your fork. And how it’s actually okay to slurp a bit , just to get those few recalcitrant straggly ends into your mouth. (At least it is in my house.)

Then I remember how I learned to cook spaghetti (and all pasta) properly:

Continue reading “Spaghetti: Dressed For Dinner”

10 Best (Non-Baking) Uses for Bicarb

Before anyone asks: yes, my fellow Americans – bicarbonate of soda is the same as baking soda. Now that we’re on the same page – Happy Bicarbonate of Soda Day!

There was a time when I assumed the only thing bicarb was good for was, once mixed in with water, as a hangover remedy. These days I bake more so I realize there’s more to it than that. But I’ve also realized in the past year or so, that its usefulness as a tool in the cleaning arsenal around the house is unrivalled. Well, only rivalled by lemons. Between bicarb and lemons, I hardly need anything else.

Bicarb_lemon

I’ve been switching to greener cleaning options these days – for a number of reasons, chief among which is the obsession that cleaning product manufacturers have these days about scenting EVERYTHING. They clearly have a very different understanding of the word “lemony” or the phrase “pine fresh scent” than I do. YUCK!

baking-soda-for-cleaning

So, I thought to mark the occasion of Bicarbonate of Soda Day, I thought I’d round up a few of the ways I used bicarb around the house. You may find a useful tip or two – and by all means, share any others you might have.

Continue reading “10 Best (Non-Baking) Uses for Bicarb”

Kitchen Disasters R Us

It occurred to me the other night – as I frantically scoured out one of my favorite saucepans while flapping at the smoke alarm with a tea towel – that things in the kitchen don’t always go to plan.

burningkitchen
Please note – no kitchens were harmed in the making of this stock photo.

What had gone wrong? Well, I had been making mashed potatoes for myself in my new favorite manner, which is to simmer them in a bit of milk, and then use that milk for the mashing liquid. It takes a bit longer for the potatoes to cook but you lose none of the potato flavor to water, and you’ve already got hot potato-rich milk for the mashing.  Add butter, and it’s a great no-draining method for mash just so long as you don’t get distracted by the TV as they’re simmering.

Which, of course, I did.

Continue reading “Kitchen Disasters R Us”