Letters to a Sister :26

How was your week? Mine was okay but busy.

I had the kittens neutered. Of course, usually two of them live outside with the mothers (which is working well, by the way, I haven’t seen a rat around the pond in ages.) However, while they were recovering, they all had to be inside. Louise, the grumpy older cat, was not happy. Nor particularly was husband. There were, I must admit, way too many cats in the house. Especially as one (I think Mandy) was refusing to use the dirt tray. They are all outside again now. They are much happier. So am I.

The chickens were also annoying this week. There were no eggs. I wondered if something was getting them (or even, much worse, if the hens had started eating them) so I put a couple of bought eggs into the nesting boxes. They are still there, so that wasn’t the problem. I then wondered if perhaps they were laying elsewhere. During the day I open the hutch and they wander around the garden. They’re safe because Kia is often out there too (even a fox wont mess with a GSD.) So, I tried leaving them shut in all day. They were unhappy but I got eggs. Now I don’t know what to do – I like them wandering around but there’s no point having hens if I still have to buy eggs. Have discussed it with them, I’m sure that will help.

It was also my turn to cook for the oldies. I decided to give them chocolate brownie and ice cream for dessert. This was very popular. Lots of people have asked for the recipe, so I thought I would include it below. It’s modified from a Nigella Lawson recipe (I like her recipes – they always work) so do hope I am not breaching any copyrights. (I figure that she must have started with someone else’s recipe and changed it to suit her and I have done the same, so it’s kind of fair.)I do not look as sexy as Nigella when I cook and am a lot grumpier. But the brownies are nice.

The quantity is for ten old people, so to serve forty I had to do it four times. By the end I was in bit of a muddle, couldn’t remember if I had added salt and even forgot the buzzer – which is fatal. They were all edible, which is good.

It’s much nicer cooking with someone else. At Easter we always have a cream tea at our house, so I cook scones for about ninety people. Niece always comes in the morning to help me make the dough, so we help each other remember to add sugar and salt while I learn about her boyfriends and she ignores all my good advice. It’s a nice time.

But back to the brownies. I have included cup measures in case you make them in the US, where cooking is slightly less accurate but a whole lot easier. I have also included my own helpful comments, the sort of thing they never put in recipe books but you tell the children when they’re cooking. Enjoy:

Before you begin, put all animals out of the kitchen. And all teenaged boys. And if your mother is like ours, put her outside too. Then wipe the surfaces, wash your hands and find a clean apron.

Preheat the oven to 170℃.

200g chocolate (weight should be on the packet.) Be honest here, if you will eat some, buy extra. You can use any chocolate you like – milk, dark, white all work fine. I think orange might be too sweet.
200g butter (a little less than 1 cup.)
400g light brown sugar (2½ cups)
100g cocoa (¾ cup)
1⅓ teaspoons bicarbonate soda
200g flour (1¼ cups)
5 large eggs (if the hens haven’t laid them under a bush somewhere)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence (it’s expensive, so please don’t spill any.)

Grease a dish with sunflower oil. I use big lasagna dishes, 27cm squared. Put the chocolate into a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin until it’s in chunks. Eat any extra.

Mix the eggs and vanilla with a fork.

Melt the butter and sugar. You need a very low heat and to stir all the time or it will burn. Bash out any lumps of sugar while you do it or they make horrid crunchy bits in the brownie.

Remove mixture from heat while you measure the dry ingredients. This is important. If it’s too hot when you add the eggs, they cook. You will then have brownie with cooked lumps of egg in them. Your husband tells you they are “interesting”, your parents-in-law politely remove the eggy lumps and leave them on the plate for you to find later and your children refuse to eat them after the first mouthful.

Add the flour, cocoa, bicarb and a little salt (pour it onto your hand first, you just need a pinch.)

Add the eggs. It’s easiest if you add them gradually. If you add them all at once you will need to beat the mixture really hard until it’s smooth, which is a good arm workout but hard work.

Add the chocolate chunks, then quickly, before they melt, scrape the mixture into the container and put it into the oven.

Set the timer for 25 minutes. It should look dry on top but not cooked underneath. If the top looks wet, give it another 5 minutes.

Leave in the dish to cool, serve warm with ice-cream or cold on a plate.

Wash up and wipe all surfaces.
Allow animals and family back into kitchen.

Take care,
Anne x

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IMG_3563

Killing the kitchen roll. Again.

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Guard duty.

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