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This sunday I had a go at a fair giving doodle bread demonstrations and selling a few kits. It happened to be the hottest day in about 3 years in Ireland and the place was completely and utterly empty but I had fun and met some great new people… my sister Catherine took a break from her GCSE’s to help me out and while away the time while the majority of the rest of the population got unbelievably burnt in the sun (the drive home was just a sea of lobster coloured people walking down the road) Still! It was fun!

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grannyThis weekend my granny turned 94 (she’s the one on the right) and so saturday evening was spent getting drunk in her living room while singing ‘The black hills of Dakota’ and ‘That’s Amore’ until she kicked us out at about 9pm because she was feeling ‘tired’.  I checked on her the next day and she said she had a great time. God I hope I’ve inherited her genes.

(sorry about the dodgy phone camera photo 🙂 )

I don’t know if this is just an irish thing (though I don’t think so – cake wrecks has good examples of quotation marks on cakes…?) but we found this on our sunday evening walk –  if you take a look at the photo below, someone is being quoted on this van. I’m sure the gourmet sandwich company makes great sandwiches the way they should be, but who said it first? George Bernard Shaw? Gordon Ramsey? Britney Spears? The society for the protection of proper sandwiches?

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Hmmm… I’m not meaning to be mean, but I see signs that companies use with quotation marks all over them and I can’t help wonder who the authority is that they are quoting.. if anyone knows, let me in on the secret will you?

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In a world of glossy bright modern celebrity organic cook books, I have a secret passion for old vintage cook books, where the chefs remain faceless, the photography dark and ostentatious and the recipes fussy, unpronouncable, decadent and just looking too hard to attempt (though that doesn’t stop me). I don’t know what it is about these books, I think I love the attention to detail, the ceremony of the recipe, and the technical ability that is needed; no short cuts are taken and nothing is ‘easy peasy’ but the sense of accomplishment that must come along with a successful ‘Timbale Orta’ – a hollowed out sponge pudding which miraculously holds bright red cherries inside – or a successful cold lemon souffle – must be pretty satisfying 🙂

Plus, these books hold so much history of how people used to eat and cook – aspic anyone? This book is pretty important to me as it was my first cook book, bought for me when I was about 12 or so, and I wrote my name, address and class before bringing it into school in case I lost it lol.

tried out a few recipes for a garden party. It was Ronan’s birthday and we were having a few friends round – I’ve been dying to try the ubiquitous ‘no knead bread’ recipe (see the bottom of post for video link) and had the chance on friday night before our saturday afternoon shindig. The basic premise of ‘no knead’ bread is that the bread dough is made a bit wetter and allowed to prove (or double in volume) for 18 – 24 hours and then baked, rather than kneading the bread, allowing the gluten to develop and rise quicker.

So, on friday night I muddled about in the kitchen with a simple but wetter bread dough made simply from strong bread flour, warm water, yeast, salt & sugar and olive oil, mixed it up and poured the mixture into oiled baking tins. On saturday morning, the dough had indeed almost doubled with large bubbles through the texture; I ripped up some rosemary and added sea salt and black pepper to the top and heated the oven at full temperature.

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Now – a few mistakes were made; I shouldn’t have left the mixture overnight in the baking tins.. I oiled the tins before but this made no difference 18 hours later, and I ended up struggling to detach the bread from the tins :S then, i had to rebake the bread in flour because the texture in the middle was a little bit raw (i thought so anyway) and the flour was there to try and stop the sticking!

I had a panic because all the bread stuck and I thought didn’t look the best but I used a spare basket and some plain linen tea towels to rustic the bread up which I think looked pretty good! To be honest, I’m not sure about the texture of the bread; because the gluten hasn’t been developed through kneading, the bread takes on a texture of chewy english muffins. Though, the rosemary and sea salt and pepper made the bread flavour totally yum, I’m also convinced that the longer you leave yeast dough to prove, the better the flavour. The fresh bread smell wafted everywhere and in the end everyone seemed to enjoy it, especially our blues playing friend Davy 😀

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