Sunday, 27 October 2013

Adventures with Cookie Cutters

There's something very comfortable about cookie cutters. They come in fun shapes but they're supposed to be useful.

I say supposed because I've struggled for years to find a cookie recipe I like. I have one fabulous recipe with dough that you just drop on to the baking tray and let the shape of the biscuit take care of itself, and another where you make a little ball of the dough and then flatten it with a fork. But can I find a roll-out cookie dough that I like? No. 

Or not yet.

The wombat doesn't look tremendously exciting but he makes a terrific scone. Just exactly the right shape to make a top quality scone. 

Remember that's pronounced "skon" not "skoan" in this house unless you are talking about that place in Scotland called Scone (also of course New Scone and Scone Palace), in which case you pronounce it "skoon". When I was about 7 we lived briefly in New Scone. We had a plague of froglets in the park in the summer, went to a children's party and had rabbit-shaped jellies, and a steamroller got loose and ran down the hill into a sweetie shop. And after about 3 years of trying I finally learned to ride a bike. A place packed with incident.

Don't have a scone recipe? Here's one which I hope Delia Smith won't mind me borrowing.

8oz SR flour, 1.5 oz butter: rub into breadcrumbs
Add 1.5 tablespoons caster sugar and a pinch of salt
Gradually mix in 5 fluid oz milk
Knead into a dough
Roll out to 3/4 inch thick
Cut out scones and place on greased baking tray
Cook at 220 degrees (200 for fan oven), gas mark 7 for 12 - 15 minutes
Eat warm with clotted cream (or butter) and your favourite jam.

I hadn't made scones for years before yesterday, and never in the oven in this house so I think I need a little practice but not a bad effort after so long.

Australia makes a good scone-shape too.

I was given both the Australia and the wombat for Christmas 1993 when I was staying with friends in Sydney. I also got the Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. What great presents! And they sort of kick started my collection.

Here's a turkey I bought in Buffalo when I was visiting my friend Lynn. He's rather smart.

I suppose he must be for making special Thanksgiving cookies although most of the recipes I've seen online seem to be of the drop the dough on to the baking sheet variety. Obviously we don't have Thanksgiving in the UK and I don't have a pile of family recipes featuring pumpkin so I'm not sure I've ever used this cutter in anger. But he is rather handsome.

I'm not very big on making New Year's Resolutions. At least, I only ever made one that I managed to keep which was to create a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. Which actually worked really really well. Bit of a triumph really because given half a chance I'm incredibly untidy and never put anything away. Only now, when I go to look for something I try to look in those long-ago (4 houses ago) places. Which no longer exist. So in the end not very helpful. I ought to try it again.

However, I think perhaps I will make an end of October resolution to try and find a really good cookie dough to make good use of my collection.

Monday, 14 October 2013


A little bit of purple to start us off. Here are some amethysts; beautiful stones much cheaper than, and to my way of thinking, by far prettier than diamonds.

And here's my beautiful old pencil case. I got it years ago in Harrods Small Leather department. They mostly sell handbags and purses. I never found out if Harrods has a Large Leather department. And if they do, what would it sell? Suitcases? I've used this a lot and it's got a little battered. I think the strange white dribble is body lotion. I keep thinking I ought to get a new pencil case but this is exactly the right size, it still works, and it's a lovely colour. A bit more purple than this photo shows.

This gorgeous silk scarf comes from a shop in Venice called Venetia Studium. It's all very fine bringing home a model of a gondola or maybe a little glass octopus, but you can't wear a gondola. I expect you could wear an octopus if you had a full sized one but it probably wouldn't smell very good. Anyway, I'll stick with a silk scarf thanks. Apparently you can buy  Venetia Studium products in London these days, and of course you can buy them online too; at frighteningly high prices. Somehow when you're on holiday and buying something in Euros it doesn't really click how much money you are actually spending. I'm sort of relieved, having looked online, that the scarves I have are by no means the most expensive. I could have spent three times as much as I did. Maybe one day.... 

This is a much less expensive little scarf I found in a catalogue and bought in the sale. Anyone out there remember tie dye? My mother got really fed up with the number of pillow cases I walked off with to practise my tie dying skills. Which weren't very good. I'm probably still alive to tell the tale because I never took one of her precious linen pillow cases.

A beautiful purple hollyhock in our front garden. And a purple sequin skirt. I bought it when I was really depressed and I couldn't afford it. But just owning such a fabulous thing cheered me up no end. It doesn't fit anymore but I couldn't possibly get rid of it. The green background is my wardrobe door.

This is our fabulous purple bath. In our fabulous purple bathroom. I took this photo when the decorators were still in; hence the cardboard on the floor, but it's the best picture I have of the bath. 

And finally a really pretty plate. The pattern is called Prunus which is Latin for a cherry or plum tree. And the colour is prune. Which of course is a dried plum. This really is a lovely plate. Not quite sure why I like it so much.

Purple is such a great colour it's hard to go wrong. And I probably have quite a lot more purple stuff to come.