Tuesday, 10 November 2009

While I've been gone...

... what have you all been doing? I've been thinking about houndstooth; red dresses; the postal strike (grrr; my second-hand books ordered from abe haven't arrived); the insurmountable differences between men and women; the pleasure of a hard frost in the sunshine of an early morning. And why are there so many fireworks in the days before and after November 5th? Where do they come from, and why do people let them off in the streets of London after midnight?
Also, have baked an excellent pear and ginger cake. V. good eaten warm from the oven with creme fraiche.

30 comments:

Karen, Surrey said...

Pear and ginger cake! Sounds fantastic - any chance of directing us to a recipe. I am almost finished Jane Eyre only about 20 pages to go. It has been hard work but definitely got better once the Romance/mystery started. What is it with Victorians and shutting people away in the attic! On the clothes theme I have a couple of items in my wardrobe which have special significance a pearl pink Boden dress shift style circa 1996 which whilst I won't really wear again is a bit of a Princess Diana tribute and I shan't get rid of it. I wore it at a wedding in deepest Tenessee when we were curiosities as English people. Also in autumn I wear a 1960's fawn coloured Levi jacket that belonged to my husband. He is 19 years older than me and bought it probably about the time I was born and wore it when he was a lot slimmer. (I am size 8/10 and it fits brilliantly). It only comes about a few times each Autumn but again it's not going anywhere.

Justine Picardie said...

I love your story about the 1960s fawn Levi jacket that belonged to your husband and you have made your own -- you being inside his past, but living in the present, and imagining the future. And I bet it's a beautifully cut little jacket!

Justine Picardie said...

My pear and ginger cake is very easy. Peel and cut up some ripe pears. Put them at the bottom of a round oven proof ceramic dish.(I smear a bit of butter around the sides, to stop the cake sticking). Mix up a sponge mix -- the standard one -- ie weigh three eggs (or four, if you want more cake), and use the same amount of butter, self-raising flour, and sugar. So for the cake I made, I used 3 eggs, which weighed 200 grams. I creamed 200 grams of butter with 200 grams of sugar, then beat in the 3 eggs, then added two teaspoons of powdered ginger, then 200 grams of self-raising flour, and enough milk to make the mixture slightly more runny than usual. I pour the cake mixture over the pears, and then bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. If you're eating it warm, it's nice to have when the sponge topping is still a bit moist beneath the crisp top. It's one of those age-old recipes -- a variation on Eve's Pudding, I suppose. V. good in winter!

Sarah Standalone said...

Hey! You're back! Glad you've managed to slip the grip of that Coco chick, we missed you. Whilst you've been gone I've....made a sale on Etsy (first one - yay! A 1911 book modestly entitled Everything a Woman Should Know) I've 'Elfed' myself (check it out on India Knights Things I Like - I chose Hip Hop, it made me lol) I've made a pear cake too - with frangipane and cranberry so really a tart, and today a dear friend who is in fashion came round for a cup of tea and we had a very a creative chat, hope all is well with you.
nb watched Jane Eyre with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens again last week - the madness, the fire and the passion, great autumn viewing.

oxford-reader said...

Apart from drowing in a sea of written work from Oxford applicants, I've been falling in love with Sebastian Barry and 'The Secret Scripture' and having my mind blown by Fiona Shaw in Mother Courage (see my blog).
I have also bought a pair of fabulous red shoes, which cheer me up no end in this wet and dreary world!

Good luck with the launch! (it is today that Coco is out, yes?)

Justine Picardie said...

Pear and cranberry and frangipane sounds delicious. Do you have a recipe? Coco now not out until early next year -- it had to be as perfect as is humanly possible, given the subject matter, and I didn't feel that it was quite right. Am knee deep in proofs in my study, but there's a watery autumnal sun shining in through the window, and I'm longing to have a quick walk around the park before it gets dark.

Justine Picardie said...

PS. Must check out Etsy and Elfing. Sounds intriguing!

savidgereads said...

Oh I am sooooo with you on the whole fireworks thing. Its not just why does it have to happen for three weeks leading up to Bonfire Night but the weeks after too. It must be a London thing. Its an outrage.

I have most recently been thinking about why Tiramisu Ice Cream doesnt work as a pudding when it clearly should!!! Maybe thats not what you were after ha!

Sarah Standalone said...

The tart was a Good housekeeping recipe, here's the link; http://www.allaboutyou.com/food/pear-cranberry-frangipane-tart-recipe/recipe, I served it warm with creme fraiche too.

Do 'Elf Yourself', I guarantee it will make you smile.

Warning: Etsy is addictive, some droolilicious jewellery

Hope you got your walk before the rain came.

Justine Picardie said...

I can't stop thinking about cake at the moment; must be the time of year. Had a delicious chocolate cake last night at a friend's house, and a slice of almond cake as well. Both were perfect -- dense, damp, moist. Can't abide dry cake...
Not a fan of Tiramisu, sadly, because have never grown into coffee. The smell made me so sick when I was pregnant that even the thought of it disguised in ice-cream makes me want to throw up.
Back to Coco proofs now, with a cup of tea.

Justine Picardie said...

PS. Sarah -- thanks for the recipe -- can't wait to try it!

Justine Picardie said...

PPS. Am going to try making it with ginger biscuits instead of hobnobs. My elder son says ginger biscuits are a healthy foodstuff, according to Men's Health magazine.

Sarah Standalone said...

Ginger biscuits are a cracking idea.

The best damp cake ever is a lemon and almond cake a friend baked for me whilst I lived in Switzerland. It transpired it was Nigellas from Domestic Goddess. To serve Nigella says, I can't help myself murmuring 'raspberries'

I will stop now lest this starts to read like cake porn.

oxford-reader said...

I agree that Coco has to be perfect - the book has to fit like a well made tweed skirt. Or a little black dress - yes, I think if your book were an item of clothing, it would probably be that.

I am not making anything, but I am safe in the knowledge that half my office are probably in the throes of baking right now, as we have a leaving do for someone going on maternity leave. On the menu we have brownies, chocolate chunk cookies, banana bread, chocolate muffins and either banana and choc chip muuffins or some hungarian savoury 'things'.

I could murder a slice of almond cake ....

Justine Picardie said...

I've made that Nigella recipe myself, and it is truly gorgeous. What is it with November and cakes? I'm glad to hear that Oxford-Reader and her colleagues are in the midst of a cake-fest.

oxford-reader said...

I think November must be the month when we prepare ourselves for Christmas by eating lots of cake ... that's my justification and I'm sticking to it!

Knitting Out Loud said...

Well, this is just the best blog ever. Ginger pear cake and red shoes. Are Dorothy's and The Red Shoes the only literary/movie red shoes? Thank you for the pear recipes, which are very welcome here, as we have 6 pear trees. Pear butter is delicious on toast. And FYI Elizabeth David is right: bread is better toasted over an open fire (discovered last winter when electricity went out).

kairu said...

Goodness, I step away for a day and come back to an explosion of cakes! I had a frozen peanut-butter pie at lunch (which I made), with a chocolate wafer crust and a light, creamy, peanut butter filling and a drizzle (rather heavy, reckless drizzle) of chocolate ganache.

At dinner, there was a warm date cake, sliced into cubes, with toasted pecans, banana ice cream, and caramel sauce. It was lovely.

Now the days are cool I am grateful for flannel sheets and down comforters, and my fake sheepskin-lined Tretorn rubber boots come out again.

oxford-reader said...

There is a disadvantage to cake - if you eat too much you end up feeling a little ill, and not able to do your work. I wonder what the students would think if I took a nap under the desk.

I am struggling to think of any other films with red shoes in them ...

Caroline said...

Justine have you made Nigella's chocolate and Guinness cake from Feast? It is the best cake I have ever made or eaten and is perfect for dark, drizzly November days....... Love your blog by the way.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Preparing for a Japanese exam, watching the second season of Yes, Prime Minister, cooking for some friends who were kind enough to let me stay with them, raiding the local used-book stores (found a lovely late-50s copy of Noblesse Oblige for a friend who wanted it very badly and didn't think she'd ever find it where we are), and wondering about blog-related things- like whether to keep on at it.

I've always wondered about the notion of red shoes indicating a lack of underwear. Doesn't seem to be any logic to it...

Justine Picardie said...

Red shoes -- Hans Christian Andersen, Angela Carter, and I wonder if there is a Hitchcock reference, as well as the Michael Powell film?
Cake -- chocolate and guinness sounds the perfect combination; especially now we know that dark chocolate is good for brain chemistry, and indisputably good for health (like guinness, which I was told to drink by local midwife when my first baby was born; instructions I followed dutifully, thus resulting in several weeks of mother and baby being sozzled).
I am so lucky to have lovely blog compatriots. Wind is howling outside, rain lashing at windows, and I am safe inside here...

jaywalker said...

"the insurmountable differences between men and women; " No one else has commented on this one so I will as it's something I have given a lot of thought to after a 23 yr marriage, an almost 30 year affair, 2 brief but fascinating live-in relationships and a 15 yr current partnership. (Yes, I'm ancient) I may be alone in this thought but there IS something fundamentally different about men although I still find it hard to do without them.
As women are programmed to nurture and care. men are programmed to hunt and seduce. Many of both genders restrain, control, manage those urges but I believe they are very deeply genetically embedded and often at the core of those insurmountable differences because they are diametrically opposed in many ways, particularly in attitudes to sex and love. Material for another book perhaps?

Karen, Surrey said...

All this cake talk is probably a primative instinct about building up our stores for the lean months ahead. And it's a long time until we need to get our bikinis out again. I spent yesterday evening steaming Christmas puddings and baking my Christmas cake. There is something very primeval about stirring up all those glossy fruits and alcohol and storing them away for Christmas.
PS. I have finished Jane Eyre - at last. I did find it really wordy but throughly enjoyed it. It was a lovely story, moralistic and simple in a way. I am glad she got her man in the end although it seems he had to be disabled to make him virtuous. Although his sight does come back I guess showing that if you can change things will get better. I will now be able to get on with Margaret Forsters Daphne biog if I can wrest it from my husband's bedside table. After that I feel I should move on the Virginia Woolf as I have read a few Woolf references recently. Any ideas from anyone about the best one to start with?

Karen, Surrey said...

Red Shoe references - how about Joanna Harris' Lollipop Shoes? Great read for dark nights leading up to Christmas, lots of cake/chocolate references too. If you don't know it it's the sequel to Chocolat but not so sweet!

Jan said...

Pear+Ginger+Creme Fraiche= Ecstasy....
Pity tis Beans On Toast for Lunch..
The Insurmountable Differences between men and women..book title, d'you reckon?

kairu said...

I remember reading that Guinness was recommended for pregnant, or maybe it's nursing mothers because of its high iron (or something) content.

Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando are my favorite books by Virginia Woolf.

How did I not know there was a sequel to Chocolat!? Must find it.

Karen, Surrey said...

Insurmountable differences between men and women.... Finances. Just been told we should revert to seperate finances its easier for him! I hope this difference is not insurmountable but at the moment it feels like it.

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