recap & counting

I have fallen off the edge of the (blogging) earth.  But now I am back with you.  So much has happened.  Let’s re-cap some, and then I have to face up with if I have accomplished my goal.

There was a brilliant weekend in Dorset for my birthday.  Some of my favourite people and a couple cases of champagne turned out to be a lovely combination.  We started each day of the long weekend with a big breakfast in the regal dining room and then wandered off to the nearby market in Bridport or the beaches of Charmouth.  Then back for dinner and lounging on sprawling leather couches.  I would heartily recommend renting The Old Rectory.  The bedrooms are all different and, although I gave myself the best one obviously, there is nothing like hearing your guests’ delighted laughter as they check out their accommodation for the evening.  Besides, here are the neighbors:
IMG-20131130-01097

My intention was to make a big batch of cinnamon rolls for birthday morning to prove the final recipe.  But I was foiled by an Asda sustenance disaster which I sorted out instead of stirring.  So.  Is concluding exactly how I would do it from all the trials enough?  In the interest of the eleventh hour, I am going to let myself off the hook and say yes.  If you’re curious, it’s Pioneer Woman’s dough with cardamom, a creamed butter filling similar to the Donna Hay batch, and a nutmeg glaze.   Of course I also saw a cream cheese version in my new cookbook.  This quest could go one forever…   Still, tenth project crossed off!

I also went with the much lauded Peaches to Forza Win(ter).  This is the second time I have been at a Forza Win event and it definitely won’t be my last.  The food is spectacularly good (I have forgiven them the ill advised rosemary panna cotta) and I find myself still day dreaming about the soup.  I never daydream about soup, for goodness sake, so you can take that as very high praise indeed.  Their true worth is in that they are all nice.  Anyone who bounds over to say hello and press an interesting hot drink into my hand when I am grumpy and sodden from a thunderstorm gets my loyalty.  And then if they serve me porchetta with perfectly crisp crackling, I’m a lifer.  Here is Peaches’ soup photo:

peaches'

Work gave me a fantastic birthday present of a macaron masterclass at L’atelier des Chefs.  In my quest for the perfect homemade macaron I haven’t conquered shape and this seemed just what I needed.  There is nothing like watching a Masterchef professional contestant stand over some guy from Birmingham until he holds the piping bag properly to drum into my mind the right way.  I think that a little closer to the tray and not moving should turn my shells from little acorns to display worthy.  I actually tried a new batch on Sunday but sorting out the Sky engineer at the same time wasn’t very conducive to perfection.  Besides, the kitchen is way too cold for the Pierre Hermé recipes so I am trying a new one.  Luckily I got the Landrée sucre book for my birthday…  So the truth is that I have gotten as far as I am going to go without years of practice, grinding my own almond meal, or a professional oven.  So I am going to mark off macarons as done.  Eleventh project crossed off!
ready for the oven

In amongst the rest of December’s adventures I am still finding myself a project short.  And less than twelve hours until midnight.  Alas.  I finally replaced my lost needlefelting tools so maybe someone needs a NYE friend…

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