There’s something about September. That nip in the air that shows that summer – such as it was – is over. The extra busy-ness of the roads at 8:30am. The appearance in the shops of Chr… no, let’s not go there.
Although the start of new academic year doesn’t have much significance for me any more, it still feels like a good opportunity to get back into habits that have slipped over the summer. The exercise regime needs a bit of a rethink as the nights are definitely drawing in, but I’m definitely more incentivised to get back into the cooking habit, with renewed appetite for new recipes (pun very much intended).
Still, things have slipped recently in my endeavouring and I had a whole week of not cooking at all over the summer so I decided to start off with something simple: fairy cakes. Now, I have made many batches of fairy cakes over the years but this time I fancied trying them with brown sugar instead of caster sugar. The resulting cakes didn’t look much different, just slightly browner, and the difference on eating was as much one of texture as of taste, the overall effect being somewhat softer and richer. A pleasant change.
While that effort was tangentally inspired by the Great British Bake Off (and a slight caster sugar shortage), my two attempts at creme caramel can be wholly attributed to it. Sadly neither attempt worked out very well, despite having my trusty copy of the Dairy Book of Home Cookery to hand. On the first go I had a recipe-reading SNAFU and put in about 1/5 of the amount of milk I should have. I like baked eggs, but sweet baked egg wasn’t really the effect I was going for. The second attempt worked out better with the creme but not so well with the caramel, which was an undercooked, coloured sugar syrup. Will I try again, third time lucky and all that? Well maybe, but probably not for a while.
That week I also tried a new-to-me chicken recipe from a Good Food magazine recipe booklet: Italian stuffed chicken, chicken breast fillet stuffed with a mixture of soft cheese, garlic, herbs and sun-dried tomato, topped with slices of tomato and baked in the oven. While this was definitely easy and very tasty, the experiment was most notable for the fact that my oven dish cracked in two during the cooking process. I was sad to have had to throw away the dish (it was a very useful size) but more annoyed by the mess it made in the oven as the filling dripped out… The dish has already been replaced, but oven cleaning does not rank highly on my list of favourite household tasks.
So the new term is off to a mixed start. First week report: room for improvement.