Despite this year’s Christmas festivities getting off to a bright start, courtesy of the BBC’s Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concert at Aberdeen’s Music Hall, things have gone downhill since.
You see, it is a modern tradition in our house that Firstborn and/or The Tall Child bake a birthday cake for the Paterfamilias (ie, me) on Christmas Eve. Well, it’s after 5pm on the 24th and not an egg has been whisked by an offspring or any flour weighed out.
Fortunately, not all is lost! After (literally) decades of trying to replicate the taste and texture of my Czech grandmother’s festive vanillekipferls (crescent biscuits), I think I’ve finally cracked it!
Here’s the limerick:
On a cold Christmas Eve this year It’s become transparently clear That I’ll soon have to bake My own birthday cake ‘Cos the cooks have failed to appear!
I woke up this morning – ALAW publication day – with no limerick in mind. Fortunately (or, perhaps, unfortunately given what it gave rise to) a quick read of today’s Graun elicited the fact that lockdown has seen the number of British naturists ‘soar’.
“British nudists’ group reports exponential growth in participation in online events since pandemic restrictions came into force“.
A nude bakery class seems to be popular, Naked kitchen with Pam, no less, but one in which participants’ webcams must be switched on to avoid “lurking perverts” – perish the thought!
Anyway, thus inspired (as an occasional-but-fully-clad baker myself) a quiet, contemplative walk in some woodland avec mon chien resulted in this week’s less than memorable ALAW.
A baker was really quite lewd When baking some bread in the nude ‘Cos to knock the dough back He gave it a whack With a tool that’s exceedingly rude.
I like towns (and cities) with their own character rather than homogenised, lookalike town centres filled with same old chain stores, betting shops and charity outlets.
All of which means that I’m not a great fan of shops like Greggs, the ubiquitous UK bakery chain. Consequently, I was amused to read that its only outlet in Cornwall, a concession within a service station, has closed. Apparently it was much ado about pasties. The Cornish, it seems, prefer the real thing:
“It’s obvious that Cornish people will use Cornish bakery’s where they can get a Cornish pasty rather than the s**t pasty slice from Greggs. They were never going to survive here.” [as quoted in the Daily Telegraph, including its misuse of the possessive instead of a plural. Groan!]
If only the good folk of Kendal had the same attitude I might still have been able to buy a decent slab of sly cake on my occasional forays to visit the Matriarch!
Anyway, as this is a retail-orientated ALAW (and with some economy with the actualité) here is a limerick BOGOF offer…
A bakery once tried to expand In the south-western parts of the land, But the Cornish aren’t patsies And want their own pasties So Greggs, it appears, has been banned.
There once was an outlet of Greggs Whose pasties were really the dregs Of the pastry-shop art So it had to depart With its tail firmly tucked ‘twixt its legs.
The fourth of October is Sweden’s national cinnamon bun day. Yup, it’s that day that you’ve never heard of, but would just love to celebrate if you had.
Why is it so? Well, the cinnamon bun (kanelbullar) is a staple of the Swedes’ devotion to fika, or coffee break, so much so that they decided to devote a whole day to it.
I’ve tried two recipes and the second one turned out fine courtesy of theSwedish Food website. (I used the alternate recipe given for the filling and baked the buns for 20 minutes in a fan-assisted oven at 160°c, before lowering the temperature to 130°c and baking for another 8 minutes with foil over the buns. I made my own nib sugar and used freshly ground cardamom seeds).
I’m quite pleased to see the back of 2016, but for what it’s worth here are some pics for my ‘best of’ compendium for the year …
Best new experience of the year:
A bread-making course at ‘Bread Ahead’ (Borough Market, London). Just me and a bunch of Chelsea girls loafing around …
Best ice-cream of the year:
Beating Zanoni’s of Vienna by a short head was the first ice-cream pit stop of the year.
Best blog idea of the year:
A limerick a week. How else can one show one’s proficiency at celebrating #TeamDemelza in verse with an anapestic meter and strict rhyme scheme?
Best cycle ride of the year:
Finally, at the age of 24, Firstborn scraped her knee whilst participating in a physical outdoor activity. Her mother was so proud 🙂
Best health tip of the year:
… and from the Graun: Bike rides and hot baths – a fitness match made in heaven and it’s official!
Best impression of a marine mammal of the year:
Management performing dolphinarium tricks (we’d boycotted Marineland Mallorca whilst on holiday) with Firstborn as the ‘trainer’.
Best meal of the year:
The most hotly contested category of all. It could easily have been the baked brie at the Crofters Bistro, Rosemarkie, or the scallops at the Applecross Inn or the mega-breakfast at the Hatton Locks café or the liver and bacon at the Tigh an Eilean Hotel, Shieldaig. But by a country mile, ‘hats off’ please to the Gasthaus Ubl in Vienna for keeping traditional Austrian cuisine alive and at its best. Roast pork, sauerkraut and dumplings like my Grandma used to make. Großartig!
Best sausage of the year:
Another Viennese delight – mit brot und senf, of course
As sensitive bio-indicators of atmospheric pollution, these lichens growing on a wooden bench seat next to the main road through Lochcarron attest to the freshness of its air. Unusually for Scotland the air was still on the day this picture was taken, making it the best fresh air of the year!
Best concert of the year:
No real competition here. Bellowhead on a Saturday night at the London Palladium during the band’s farewell tour. Simply awesome.
We travelled to Arbroath today so that ‘Tall Child’ could get his annual fix of the Red Arrows aerobatic display team. Once there we took time out before the main event to top up our caffeine levels and indulge in some homebakes in a local café … but Arbroath, I ask you, marmalade on a fruit scone! Really?
It seems that I was wrong to suggest that the winning entrant to our recent ‘Geordie Traybake of the Month’ competition (Newcastle Brown Ale brownies) had been illegally aided by his partner’s suggestion that his oven temperature was too high (275°C instead of 275°F – see posts passim). Seemingly, no such help was given as at that time our victorious baker was highly stressed and, as his partner casually put it: “… not really receptive to any suggestions!” (what a great line; I think we know what it means😄).
After the event the ‘leftover’ winning brownies were clearly coveted by the victor’s partner who returned them to their home only to lose them to the low cunning of their family dog who, apparently, tucked into them clingfilm and all. Her observation that it was an interesting experience as it passed through their pet’s system did, however, make me think. Just imagine if separate portions of dog food and clingfilm could be consumed and gastrically engineered in such a way that, on passing through its innards, the clingfilm enveloped any waste to be pooped out pre-wrapped for disposal in a doggy bin. Classic!
Finally, it should not have been a surprise for their pet to think the brownies were hers and hers alone. The English northeast vernacular for a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale (the essential ingredient in these brownies) is a ‘bottle of dog’. So, really, they were not Newcastle Brown Ale brownies at all, but dog brownies. Clever of the mutt to realise that!