Making Pastry

I once wrote that “life’s too short to make your own pastry”. After all, you can buy it ready made for £1.50 in the supermarket, why bother to make it? At the start of last year, or perhaps it was the very last days of 2013, I decided that I wanted to broaden my kitchen skills and making my own pastry seemed appealing. Not long after that, in mid January our oven stopped working and that put paid to all my baking plans until we purchased a tiny little mini oven in December. Since then, I’ve been trying to reintroduce baking into my days, partly for toddler entertainment, partly so I know what goes into our food, and partly for my own satisfaction. I can do things. I can learn. I can master basic skills.

Half fat to flour, and 1.5 teaspoons of cold water per ounce of flour. I grate the butter using a cheese grater so it’s easier to work in, and you have to touch it less which keeps it colder. I heard Mary Berry say that the trick is to keep it all very cold and so it must be true.

It’s not so much the cost of it. Yes, I think it works out cheaper overall: a block of butter is 98p, and a bag of flour is about 60p and you can get two lots of pastry out of one block of butter. But for me it’s more the achievement of making it myself. At a time where my creative time is limited it’s a satisfying outlet to be able to make something, especially when that something is what we’ll be having for our evening meal. And even more than that, it’s because I want my children to see me being competent and making our food from scratch rather than using convenience items. That’s probably not sustainable all the time – I am definitely of the “everyone ate something, nobody starved” opinion right now rather than getting upset because we haven’t all had our five a day. But my mum is a brilliant cook, she is so skilled in things like that and I don’t think I ever questioned whether or not she’d be able to make something. She just could. Isn’t that brilliant? And I’d love for my two to be able to see me doing so, and them learning to do it as well. Knowing how to do things makes me feel good, and proud.

We had a little bit of pastry left over and TTB and I turned it into teeny weeny jam tarts. They were about the size of a £1 coin and were absolutely delicious. I think they were the cutest thing I’ve ever made! We each ate 4 and didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty as they probably didn’t even equal the same amount as one full sized jam tart. These two photos make me disproportionately happy but I’ve learnt that if small, simple things make you shine with happiness then that’s no bad thing.

Sometimes things go all right

 

Last Thursday I thought I’d take TTB to the toddler group in the local church hall. He had other ideas, as usual. “No I not going to the church hall!” and then after running through a few options of what we could do he decided that he would like to go for a walk to see the pigs. That was fine with me, I’m always happy to not go to toddler groups! However, he then proceeded to be a real pickle and refused to do things like get dressed which I’m afraid is a requirement to leaving the house ;-) We made it until lunchtime and after that he did agree to wear clothes and leave the house which was a bit of a relief!

 

We walked up along the canal path and round down the hill to see the pigs and chickens and it was a very nice walk. We saw a robin, a blackbird, several jackdaws, a grey wagtail, some kind of finch that I didn’t recognise and some sparrows. We looked at the new soft leaves growing on the trees and the beginnings of the wild garlic flowering. When we made it to the pig field, we were surprised to find that they were actually awake and standing at the gate rather than laying asleep further up the field. Well! It turns out that pigs are a LOT bigger and louder (very snorty!) than TTB was expecting and he got rather scared and refused to walk past them. We had to wait until they’d gone back up the hill again before he’d even let me carry him past!

I felt really good for having taken them both out on a walk though, a proper walk and not just doing the playgroup run or going to the shop. Bonus was that on the way there (and back actually) there was a vintage Porsche parked on the market setts so TTB was able to stop and admire that for a while, and then tell his daddy about it later. Taking them both out on my own makes me feel like I can manage both of them and it’s good to bear that in mind on the days when things don’t go so well.

 

Right Now

Right now, it is 10:50am. I have about 20 minutes before I need to go and collect Tiny Tin Bird from playgroup. He has three mornings a week there and it gives me just over an hour and a half of time without him. I have lots of things I need to do during this time and I just end up achieving nothing. It’s my only time I can get my laptop out to try and do things like blogging, organising my photos and general “life” admin.

This morning I had high hopes, I even set my laptop up on the dining room table to see if I could blog while baby girl slept in the moby wrap.

Well.

Instead of achieving anything, I managed to empty a full pint glass of water over absolutely everything, including my laptop, which I managed to lift out of the way before it got too wet, then dropped my phone as well. The water went over my yarn, and Tiny Tin Girl’s hat, which she will need to wear when we go back out again.

I’ve mopped up the water, but this woke up TTG who became very angry that she was in the wrap and I was not walking around (seriously I hardly ever sit down these days!) and started fighting against it.

One of the jobs I needed to do was to transfer some photos from my laptop to my external hard drive, but it turns out it’s so old that there isn’t enough storage on there for even a fraction of the eleventy billion photos I have. I don’t have time to go through one by one and delete ones I don’t need, either.

And I need to blog because I enjoy it and it’s my only outlet for intelligent thought and writing and ME, really, and also because I’m trying hard to save up the little bit of ad income I get every month so that I can buy a new laptop, one that doesn’t get stuck when I look at photos and is a bit faster to use.

I love TTB’s playgroup time but I always seem to get so frustrated at my unrealistic expectations of what I can achieve during it! I don’t even know where I am going with this blog post – and it’s now almost time to get ready to go.

I suppose one solution would be to take fewer photos but that’s no fun is it? ;-) I have grand aspirations for the future: I want a desk of my very own and a big powerful computer that is super fast and a reliable way of archiving my photos. And a muffin. Ah, dream big Heather!

x

 

Thank you so much for your kind comments. I’m generally optimistic and realistic and whatnot and completely appreciative of my situation right now, but sometimes things are just so frustrating! Let’s face it, tipping a glass of water over everything didn’t really help ;-) x