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Sunday, July 2, 2017


Nothing quite messes with my routine like, 'The Great British Bake Off".  The 'new' series began, and my nail technician, Michele, was going to send me a text to say she had found a new British show, but decided, instead, to tell me on my Wednesday visit.  

Having my nails decorated in a less than traditional 'red, white and blue', for the big day, (which just happens to be the birthday of this great nation in which I reside, as well as my own,) with a series of patterns other than a flag, we discussed the baked goods that had been shown.

"Why do you call cookies, biscuits?", asked Michele as she painted one blue, then one red flower on a white background.  "What we call biscuits, you call scones!"  She had seen a couple of the programmes, and they had made 'something called Jaffa Cakes, and Viennese Whirls', she recalled.  "That is why we give you a strange look when you suggest 'biscuits and gravy'", I replied.  She could see the dilemma.  A sponge topped with orange jelly and then covered in dark chocolate, being smothered in a rich white gravy, with (probably) sausage!  It is only now that I understand the comment in the movie "Twister", when one of the characters says that the gravy is so famous, (and I quote) 'it's practically a food group'.  The thought of the mixture was not appealing.  We continued to discuss the other items on the show, whilst my nails took on the appearance of something that resembled the 'Pepsi' motif rather than a typically USA theme.  It was all my own design, one which had been birthed whilst waiting for red traffic lights to turn green, during which time I had sketched a rather crude drawing of my two hands, with a set of patterns that covered each one of my nails. Michele merely obliged!  I told all who commented that I was going for the all round American theme. After all, 'Pepsi' is an American product, is it not?

Plans for Thursday morning had been to continue with my holiday 'collages', and to make two rooms ready for some special guests that are coming to visit us later in the year!  Yes, my grandsons are coming to play!  However, after watching three episodes of the 2016 show, everything was put on hold!

I planned to host our neighbour's soiree in July, although I have not yet extended invitations to the neighbours, and was struck with panic when I saw I had a mere half a dozen bars of dark chocolate left in my cupboard.  I would need one for the experimental Jaffa cakes, one for the actual, and then perhaps a couple for the soiree, depending upon what I decide to concoct.  That left only two for emergency purposes!

Two collages were completed.  Views from the air of the Grand Canyon, and the Hoover Dam, together with a compilation of geezers from Yellowstone National Park, were hung and rehung upon my 'collage' wall.  It had become necessary to separate 'family and state' (to coin a phrase) as the memoirs were starting to overtake, and I was running out of wall!  Oliver and Jamie were given their own space, and my sole painting (an unsigned 'oils' of various London landmarks) was taken down, and awaited a new home, which needed to be as honorary!  

My usual Friday housework tasks were split into two, making me realise that this was probably a preferable option for the future.  It allowed me to make my sponge for the Jaffa Cakes, (with the Jelly having been made and left to set in the fridge the previous evening,) and set about starting the cleaning for the ten minutes that it was cooking.  It is amazing how much I can accomplish in ten minutes if I set my mind to it!  However, I should also set my mind to actually reading through a recipe when trying to recreate the same! This is why I need a 'practice run'.  Although I have patience for most things in my life, I am always trying to run before I can walk when I enter the kitchen, and whilst the cake and jelly were wonderfully made, pouring the chocolate (which was still hot) onto the cool orange substance, would obviously not create the desired effect!  It ran off as violently as the waterfalls of Niagara in my third collage!  I carried on cleaning, whilst periodically stirring a cooled down version of chocolate.

"Wow, these are amazing", was the correct response!  The dozen and a half chocolate covered delights were wolfed down in no time at all, by those who had no clue how they should look (or taste) like.  It was rather humbling!  "You know, mom uses a mixture of Hershey's and condensed milk for her chocolate covering", was a comment that was considered to be helpful, when I mentioned (and I have no idea why I mentioned) that my chocolate supply was running low.  I showed restraint and said "Thank you" for the suggestion, trying not to grit my teeth.  To my cohorts, the famous American chocolate is 'practically its own food group', but to me, it is not an option.  I am, as my husband says, a chocolate snob, and indeed am proud of the title! Obviously this is only my opinion, but in my opinion, (doubly stated for legal reasons)  pouring the suggested concoction over said biscuits would be tantamount to smothering it with sausage gravy.  I would not find it particularly pleasant!  

The Viennese Whirls were slightly less of a challenge.  I had made them before, albeit many years ago, and they were never really considered to be much of a delicacy.  However, when serving up to a group that has no idea of their existence, they suddenly become one of the most sought after items on the planet!  The practice run would be without the filling as I am quite certain I could accomplish 'a-bit-a-buttercream' without too much problem!  

Taking care of mundane chores on Friday, happened before preparing the dough for the whirls.  I followed the recipe to the letter, or so I thought, and started to spoon it into the bag.  It seemed particularly dense, and I went to make sure there was no liquid, perhaps in the form an egg, to be added.  It was then that I realised I had failed to put in any sugar.  "The recipe doesn't call for lemon", I heard myself say, when wondering, "should I add some lemon", but despite all the warnings, and arguments that I had with myself, I opted for the flavouring.  It was still virtually impossible to pipe the mixture into whirls, but Samantha had appeared at my door, ready to take on the muscle job!  "Perhaps I should just take off the nozzle and pump it through into whirly blobs", I suggested. My daughter gave me one of her looks, and attempted to pipe beautiful swirls.  After two reasonable efforts she suggested, "Perhaps you should just take off the nozzle and pump it through into whirly blobs".

"Wow, these are amazing", was the correct response! The two dozen little biscuits were wolfed down in no time at all, and the lemon, apparently, was a great success!  Oh how I would have failed the challenge on the programme, but then I probably would never have made it through the first round, due to my inability to follow instructions, due to my inability to walk before running!

I still have another couple of collages to complete, as well as a few other cosmetic jobs to accomplish around the house, but I believe there are still at least half a dozen more baking shows to watch, and that may cause me to change my routine yet again.  I can only hope that they stay away from anything requiring chocolate.  Cocoa I can manage as those nice chocolate manufacturers in Switzerland have provided Costco with giant tubs!  

No automatic alt text available.Other than spending time creating this week, I did manage to spend quite a few hours at the office, complete a few rows of yet another cardigan (whilst my daughter, quickly, whipped up a crocheted version of Frank for me,) and entertain Samantha's neighbours by the pool on Saturday afternoon!  Sandra and family joined us for an afternoon of splashing and swimming, and no one else saw fit to brave the 98 degree temperature until it was almost time for them to leave.  It was the least creative few hours of the week, but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless!  

With 'The Fourth' looming, many people appear to have left town, with Monday having been cast as an unofficial holiday.  "The courthouse is open; we are open" is usually Dana's motto, but he has given the office staff (including me, although I have offered to be 'on call') the day off, giving us a nice four day weekend!  I have at least six weeks worth of projects to accomplish on the extra day, but practically speaking think I shall probably get round to completing a nice round number; zero is very round!  

Happy birthday to the United States of America, and I look forward to celebrating many more with you!  Cooking, cleaning, creating and all other items on the agenda will recommence in the middle of next week, and I shall have three working days before I have to consider what I can report for ............ another story!

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