Friday, December 24, 2010

what I own has changed

Ten years ago, I owned an inflatable armchair and a see-through handbag. Everyone had them. We used to sit around on the inflatable armchairs planning which arthouse film to see that evening and our handbags filled up visibly with the latest lipsticks and ticket-stubs.

Most people had a lava lamp as well. Through some cruel deprivation or disinterest, I didn't, but I proudly owned a pink Romeo & Juliet bag lamp. Does that count? They are all long gone anyhow, my Longchamps handbag so much so that I couldn't even find a picture of it on the great wide Internet, so substituted a Prada for your convenience. Did I give the armchair away? I forget. At any rate that decade of conspicuousness and portability passed.

Walking back to the house a few nights ago after venturing out to kick the bloody outdoor Xmas lights in the eucalpytus by the gate, I thought of Carol Anne Duffy's line, "How do you earn a life going on behind yellow windows?" and noted that what I own has changed. I have a big stout oak front door, a knitted nativity, a tree covered with 10 years of accumulated baubles people gave us (thank you, Lorna, for my lovely latest). I have out-buildings that need reroofing and two stockings waiting for Santa Claus. I have a corkscrew with a lifetime guarantee.

And looking at my own yellow windows, I wonder why such a life should be 'earned'? Surely its attainment is progression rather than progress, and a Blogtopian life as observed by others is a matter of priority, presentation and the luck of the draw. Kicking the outdoor lights had done no good; they were still broken.

Happy Christmas, everyone, and a big thank you to the commentators for entertaining and amusing me so well. I'll be busy turning 40 for a while now but will see you next year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

a salted fudge experiment

If anything entitles me to take my place here in Blogtopia, it is that I am the undisputed Queen of Fudge.

Before I awarded myself that title, I used to make old-fashioned fudge by measuring sugar, milk and butter into a saucepan and boiling it with a sugar thermometer. Now I chuck in unmeasured quantities of those ingredients, boil till it looks right, and beat till I feel like stopping, and it turns out beautifully. I could nearly throw a few carrots into a pan and simmer and it would turn into carrot fudge. No need to applaud.

Here's how to make a good basic fudge:
USE: 300ml Milk, 450g sugar, 100g butter

1. Grease a glass dish or a plate
2. Put the milk, sugar and butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring once in a while, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted.
3. Bring to the boil and boil for 15-20 minutes.
4. When the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (115°C on a sugar thermometer), remove from the heat. Leave to cool for a minute or two.
5. Beat the mixture with a spoon for a few minutes until it starts to thicken and become slightly grainy.
6. Pour into the prepared dish and leave to set at room temperature or in the fridge.
7. Once set, cut the fudge into squares.

So I thought I'd jump on the current salted chocolate bandwagon and have a go at salted fudge. I boiled up a batch, added a few squares of 85% dark chocolate, beat it till it turned grainy, turned it out and sprinkled it with sea salt before it set. Any salt would have done, but sea salt sounds good and look at that sparkle it gives.

It was pretty tasty. Not quite as blatantly delicious as chocolate fudge with salted peanuts added, but more sophisticated. The children won't like this, I thought to myself, so I ate it all.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Things fall apart; the blogger cannot post

I fell off the edge of Blogtopia for a while there. There was such a ferocious amount of work to be done and the days sped by with hardly an email answered. I missed the graceful flurry of commenting wit, the giddy exchange of recipes. Perhaps I'll never know how your poem turned out, or your homemade Christmas mantel centerpiece.

To make amends, I thought I'd pop back here with an image of a teddy bear.

Greater love hath no woman than that she abandons her serious facade to post something like this. The veteran blogger strolls through the dense LA fog with his rookie assistant, their hands deep in their overcoat pockets. "That's the lowest point," he tells her, "when they post a teddy bear."

Amid the scrum, the most charming little bird arrived from Flora. Bless her for taking a notion to stick it in the post and cause international gladness. These little things that people make with care and send with impromptu goodness are the stuff of life. You may have heard that we're all shot to hell here in Ireland and have no theoretical money left. Well what of it? We have the bird.

And while you're here, if you haven't already, would you marvel at Jaboopee's St Brigid masterpiece? Note the jubilant colour, the intricacy, the scale. You mustn't tell her, but I'm hoping to launch the Pretty Far West Yacht (replica) Awards for Achievement in the new year and bestow the very first yacht (replica) on her. That's if I can get the glue to stick on this damned replica.
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