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how not to greet strangers…


So a new Co-op has opened up in Denvilles and earlier this week I needed some eggs and a newspaper. The new Co-op is perhaps marginally closer than the Emsworth Co-op so I thought I should give it a try. Here is my review.

There is a slight aside that I will need to explain first for this story to make sense. For the last month or so I have been the proud wearer of a PICC. If you don’t know what a PICC is see the photo above and check it out here: It is really great. I love my PICC. It means I don’t have to be poked at all when I go into hospital to get my treatment as my blood comes out of the PICC and the chemo goes into the PICC and I will have the PICC until this journey is over. I initially called it Peter but Mark was uncomfortable about me having a male thing clinging to my arm so now she is called Penny and she is fantastic.

Anyway back to the Co-op and the review. In short, the Co-op did not fare well and I’m not sure that I will be going back in a hurry and here is why.

1) They had sold out of copies of the times. #middleclassproblems

2) They only sold eggs in boxes of 6 instead of 12 and really I wanted 12 eggs. #middleclassproblems

3) As I approached the counter to pay for my copy of the Independent and my 6 eggs, the man in front of me in the queue brushed past my arm. ‘Oh I’m so sorry’ he said, ‘oh no it’s quite alright’ I said and I thought that would be the end of our interaction. I was wrong.

‘Oh look you’ve done something to your arm as well’ he said pointing at my PICC, ‘what’s wrong with you?’ I should have of course lied, but I didn’t. ‘I’ve got cancer’ I said.

It was horribly awkward for me, him and the shop assistant. He then said ‘I’m going to rub your back to make it better’ and he proceeded to do so. Really he shouldn’t have done that, he should have just left!

Anyway if you wish for a guide on how to talk to strangers, just avoid doing as the man did in the Denvilles Co-op.

the day I had some assistants…


So I was lucky enough to be visited by the lovely Lal and I decided I’d have to whip up something pretty special for supper. Pasta I thought – how hard can it be? Quite hard it turns out and so the pasta very much became a team effort with overall pleasing results.

We made the Hairy Biker’s Butternut Squash ravioli and it was so tasty. The recipe is a bit fussy so we made a few amendments.

Top tips:

1) 500g of butternut squash is a piddly small amount. The average butternut squash it turns out has a fighting weight of about 1.3kg so if you are going to cook for people with an appetite, just weigh your butternut squash and scale up the amount of pasta dough to suit.

2) If you are going to make your pasta in a blender (which is a good idea) then do use the dough hook attachment and not the cutting attachment. If you use the cutting attachment you may find that you break your Mum’s Magimix – Sorry Mum and thank heaven for the 3 year guarantee.

3) I couldn’t really understand what the hairy bikers were talking about when they talked about ‘marking circles in the dough without cutting’ and ‘lifting sheets on sheets’. It all would have made it very complicated. Much simpler to roll dough, cut circles and repeat until there is no more dough to roll.

4) The recipe suggested garnishing your ravioli with sundried tomatoes and sage. We decided that bacon lardons were much better.

5) The hairy bikers did not make a sauce for their ravioli and it would have been very dry without sauce. We had quite a lot of extra butternut squash filling left after we had filled the pasta so I put the butternut squash filling into a saucepan, warmed through, and added chicken stock until it reached a saucy consistency. It was great.

et voila – une tarte tatin…


APPLES – I was very kindly given lots of them, fresh from the garden, so a Tarte Tatin made sense. I always worry with garden apples that you are going to find a grub but these were thankfully grub free.

Making a Tarte Tatin I thought I had to go properly French and Raymond Blanc’s recipe seemed suitably French enough.

The recipe was great – really easy to follow and it worked so that it also a bonus.

Top tips:

1) An apple corer is an amazing kitchen gadget and really useful for coring the apples.

2) It says to freeze the pastry after you have rolled it – turns out the rolled out pastry wouldn’t fit into my freezer so putting it into the fridge worked fine.

3) Use a wooden spoon to bang on the tin and make sure the tarte has really freed itself when you are turning it out onto the plate.


How do you make a swiss roll…

So, on the whole, I intend to have a go at the technical challenge – the recipes are all available on the website This week however I was lacking a bundt tin and quite fancied having a go at making a swiss roll. Diana’s Lemon Curd swiss roll looked particularly tasty and here is her recipe:

Diana takes inspiration from her mother’s Sunday tea and serves a light Swiss roll filled with homemade lemon curd.


For the lemon curd
For the sponge

Preparation method

  1. For the lemon curd, put the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice into a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (ensure the bowl does not touch the water). Stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. When the sugar is dissolved, add the beaten eggs and continue to heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  3. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Grease and line a 26x40cm/10½x16in baking tray with baking parchment.
  4. Place a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the eggs and sugar to the bowl and whisk until lukewarm (don’t overheat the mixture). Remove bowl and whisk until the mixture is very thick and leaves trails when the whisk is removed. Fold in the sifted flour using a metal spoon.
  5. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking tray and place on the middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
  6. Lay a large piece of greaseproof paper or a tea towel on the work surface and dust with sugar. Tip out the cake onto the dusted paper/tea towel and carefully remove the baking parchment.
  7. Spread the, still warm, lemon curd evenly over the sponge.
  8. Position the cake with one of the short ends nearest to you. Make a cut across the width of the sponge about 1cm/½in in and about three-quarters of the way through the depth of the sponge (this will help you roll up the sponge). Tightly roll up the sponge starting at the nearest edge and using the paper/tea towel to help you. Set aside to cool.
  9. Before serving, trim the ends of the roll to create a neat finish and dust with a little extra sugar, if desired.

This therefore is the theory, the next post will detail what happened in practice…

The roll and the wig…

IMG_8393 IMG_8401 IMG_8407 IMG_8422

I started, as instructed, with the curd. Lovely and lemony but reluctant to thicken. Despite my persistent stirring it didn’t really thicken at all. Very hard to judge what thick means so I thought perhaps it would thicken upon cooling.

The creation of the sponge was quite straightforward and very satisfying. Diana’s recipe advises spreading the curd on the still warm sponge and then rolling. The curd however was still not thick and I thought I’d roll the sponge empty and give the curd yet more time in the fridge to chill and hopefully thicken.

This gave me time to go to see the wig lady. I’ve not yet lost my hair and I’ve been told it may not happen but I want to be prepared just in case. The wig lady was very friendly but as it turns out totally unprepared for a Corney head. No wig would fit, despite her determined stretching and tugging, nothing in her collection could be found to do anything more than crest like an awkward toupee on my head. ‘This has never happened before’ she said. ‘I’ve never seen anyone with a head as big as yours’ and ‘it doesn’t look that big’. So stressed was she by the whole debacle she started to break out into a hot flush and apologised for a ‘wasted journey’. There was no waste here; Mum and I had such a giggle. She has offered to see if they can order in a ‘special wig’. Here is to hoping that it doesn’t come to that and my hair sticks around!

So post wig it was definitely time for tea and time for swiss roll assembly. The curd still hadn’t thickened but I pressed on anyway and slopped the curd over the roll. If I was to make the roll again I would find another curd recipe or add corn flour to make sure it did thicken. As much of the curd oozed out of the roll it ended up being a little dry but Mum and Rosie went back for a second slice so it can’t have been that bad.


And so it begins…

FOOD! It has been a fairly central theme for me over the last month or so and I am setting up this blog as I intend for it to be a bit of a project over the next few months. As you all probably know, I’m going to have a bit of time on my hands and this blog will aim to track my progress as I do two things:

1) The Great British Bake Off Challenge – I am going to choose my favourite recipe from the Great British Bake Off each week and then try to recreate it in my kitchen.

2) The Great Emsworth Feeding Challenge – I want to eat more seasonal, sustainable, and interesting food. Living so close to the butchers and greengrocers I want to learn to cook with whatever is fresh and intend to share the results here.