Spinderella Gets Messy

I don’t have a self imposed blogging schedule that I adhere to. I just blog when I feel like it and when inspiration strikes. Today I feel I need to check in here, its been nearly a week since my last post, and I must explain my short absence from Usingmyloaf.

Its because lately I have kind of lost my cooking and baking mojo! The last few things I have excitedly made and baked, with my camera at the ready, have all turned into unphotogenic, Pinstrosity messes!

Hot damn, the creator of this blog understands my pain!

Opps! I should of used the cover maybe?

A Useful Tool

I cant believe that I have not shown this little kitchen tool that I picked up while visiting the Isle of Wight on holiday with my family, back in August on my blog yet! Oh yeah, I just remembered why – because it is not that interesting! I bought it for £1 in a charity shop, and I did have to chuckle to myself, as on the price tag it was labeled as a potato masher, even though it clearly says on the side it is a pastry blender!

One of my cooking goals is to improve my pastry making. Its a goal I have not really worked much, as I hate rubbing in fat. I don’t know why, I just cant stand doing it. It is one of my pet peeves!

I used this tool for the first time on Sunday, when I made my disastrous Malt loaf. It was so handy! It made rubbing in the Trex to the flour *shudder* such an ease! If you see one of these “potato mashers” while out and about, I urge you to do yourself a favour and buy it straight away. It makes the rubbing in method a doddle!

I also have to add that Rob peered over my shoulder when I was writing this little post yesterday, and said “a useful tool, is that me?”

Well he’s right about the tool part!

A Trex Malt Loaf Disaster & Me Rambling On Again

When I was a kid, one of my main hobbies was collecting stuff – badges, stickers, plastic cereal packet toys, scented rubbers, old Enid Blyton books from jumble sales (which I hope are still up in my parents loft!) Basically, I held on to all sorts of rubbish!

I did look after my things as a kid, and I admired and played with my hoard often. But to be honest, it was more about the hunt that led me to the next addition in my collection, that was the real the fun part. I guess part of me is still seven years old at heart, as I still have that urge to collect, consume and hoard stuff I don’t really need!

To be fair, I have got much better over the years since I was a kid. I try to consume mindfully and only buy items I really love for the house. I only buy clothes that I will wear, and I do try to spend my money wisely etc. But my weakness still is books.* I have far too many – art and design books, fiction books waiting to be read, loads of cookbooks (particularly baking ones), and now, add to that my latest obsession – vintage cookbooks!

Yeah I know. This obsession has always been kind of waiting to happen really. A sleeping monster, if you do! One of the main contributing factors is that I loved reading my mums 70’s cook book when I was younger. This, and my enduring love of second hand books both as a kid and an adult, my love of illustrations from the 50’s and 60’s (stemmed from the vintage Enid Blyton books I owned as a kid). Plus my love of cookbooks in general, and the nostalgia/rose tinted look my generation and the media has of the past (non related – how many bands are reforming theses days? Cher-ching!) And possibly this blog post!

So in the weeks since this post, I have been scavenging EBay for vintage cookbooks like a woman without reason. I do not spend more than £3 per item, and this month have forced myself to stop, after winning four books, from buying more. Seriously, that there is some self control for you folks!

Man, I love my new hobby of collecting vintage cookbooks/leaflets! I reason to myself that they might be worth something in the future, and that they are research and inspiration for this blog…..But we all know that I am a little slack when it comes to blogging – I STILL have not posted my big kitchen reveal post or learnt any basic HTML!

I’m off now into town to look at cute folders to store my new collection in.

Oh, and I did bake some Malt loaf from here for my blog! But I threw it away! This is the second retro recipe I have tried out using Trex, and is the second horrible dry cake I made from this book. I don’t know if its because I am leaving them to bake in the oven too long? After all, fan ovens were not around in the 60’s (I think). Or, that it is just down to the ingredients? Or perhaps vintage recipes are best left in the past eh!

*And aprons, and tea towels. Especially vintage ones!

Tick Tock

Don’t worry, I am not going to post a video of Ke$ha in this post! I would never be that cruel to you! Nope, instead I am going to talk in far too much detail about clocks.

I have established on here that I live in a house built in my favourite time period, when it comes to architecture and design, the 1950’s. So living here gives me the perfect excuse to buy pieces for the house that are from the era!

Two weeks ago, I published a sneak peek of our dining room, with its Dandelion Clock curtains. Next I am going to show two small details from our house, two clocks. The first is our lounge clock, a reproduction George Nelson clock. Originally designed in 1949, it is in perfect keeping with the period of our house, and in my opinion, a great piece of design that does not date. I bought it for a steal on EBay (£35 inc postage) – I do like a bargain! This clock is perfect for our lounge, it looks good as the main focus in the center of the room, hanging above the fireplace. Plus it makes me happy every time I check the time!

Next is our kitchen clock, which I purchased about five years ago. I bought it for our last kitchen, in the old house, again from good old EBay! It perfectly complimented the style of the kitchen, and I carefully packed it when we moved 2.5 years ago, to use again in our future (now current) kitchen.

Recently both the kitchen clock and lounge clock stopped working, to my distress! The Kitchen clock had been stored away for almost 2 years, and when we dug it out to hang up again, it had stopped working.

I did a little Internet window shopping to try and find a replacement. The trouble was I loved my kitchen clock and wanted to buy the same design again. Could I find it? Could I heck! Then, clever Rob suggested I buy a new clock mechanism, to see if that would fix the problem. A google search or two later, and I had ordered a new mechanism for around £4 inc postage from EBay (again!) Unfortunately after Rob replaced it, it still did not work *sob*, so we kind of gave up and left it hanging on the wall, forever saying quarter to one.

Around the same time the lounge clock packed up, and I began to believe we had some kind of weird voodoo curse against us when it came to clocks! I knew a new mechanism would not get it working, so I kept asking Rob to try and fix it (after all he can fix VW engines, clocks are similar right?), but he is a busy man with little free time, so for months I had two broken clocks hanging on the walls. I know – 1st world problem alert!

The other day, I came home and heard a wonderful ticking sound from the lounge. I found Rob and thanked him, and asked him how he managed to fix it. His words went something like this – “you muppet, you put the battery in the wrong way round!”

Oopps! At least it was something simple to fix, I suppose. My own attempts at repairing it myself (i.e taking the battery out, shaking it, re-adjusting the time, then putting the battery back in) had failed to notice this! Come to think of it, it did stop working around the same time I changed the battery!

The kitchen clock, we fixed by just biting the bullet, and buying another, more expensive, better quality, clock mechanism from Hobbycraft for £12.99. Which in Rob’s words “was a bitch to change over!” In the mean time, we could have bought another clock with the money we spent trying to fix this one! But at least we did the green thing by not throwing it out and I got to keep a retro white ball clock in my kitchen!

Tuesday Tune

So Taylor Swift has gone all dubstep on us? Whaaa? Surely not the same sweet and innocent – yet at the same time bunny boiler, ex-boyf hating, cutie Taylor Swift? The one who (in my head) looks like a beautiful, dainty, little fawn? Huh?

Yeah, well, she will never be as good as Dubstep Cat. Dude got swagger.

Turtle Power

Life can be funny at times, it is full of strange little coincidences.

One day I am blogging about how to cook and serve turtles, then a few days later, there I am, innocently shopping in my local supermarket….. when suddenly I spot the only turtle you will ever get me to eat!

Made in the form of glorious carbs! And slightly burnt on top! Mmmm fresh white bread!

I munched on his front leg when I took this picture!

A Retro Pudding

So I did it. I made a vintage recipe, and very tasty it was too!

I kind of wimped out of making anything too unappetising (as we do try not to waste food around here! Plus terrapins are a tad on the pricey side!) So, after browsing through my favorite vintage recipe book, ‘The Mixer Cookbook’ from Family Circle magazine published in 1966. I settled on the Orange Delights recipe.

I love the names of some of the recipes BTW – Spiced Pear Topsy Turvy, Apricot and Apple Whirligig and Spanish Angel Pie all sound delightful! In this book, many of the puddings involve raw egg whipped up into various concoctions. To be fair, It was published before the big salmonella scare! Although Rob and I are not in any vulnerable groups, (i.e preggers, old or young) I just did’nt fancy eating any of them. Saying that, this recipe below, sounds like its got to be good. After all, it is basically just booze!

For each portion
1 egg yolk
1 rounded teaspoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon sherry

  1. Place a deep bowl over a saucepan of hot, but not boiling water.
  2. Add the egg yolk, sugar and sherry and whisk until mixture has trebled in bulk. Pour into a small glass and serve immediately with crisp, sweet biscuits.

I below is the recipe I used. I selected this recipe as it involves jelly and tinned fruit, two very vintage ingredients! Plus on my newly discovered vintage foodie blogs, the most random recipes seemed to involve jelly/Jello!
Please allow me go slightly of topic for a moment here, and mention how much I love mid-century Americana stuff (but weirdly, I have never watched Mad Men!) I would love to own a period ranch home. Here is a link to my dream kitchen – complete with a baking area! How lust worthy is that! Shame, I cant buy one of those in Maidstone on our budget!

For four portions
1 (11oz) can mandarin oranges
1 packet orange flavour jelly
1/4 pint boiling water
1 small can evaporated milk

  1. Drain mandarin oranges; make up syrup to 1/4 pint with cold water. (I used mandarin segments in juice to try to be healthier!)
  2. Cut jelly into cubes and place in liquidiser goblet with the boiling water; run machine until dissolved. Add mandarin syrup and run machine for a few seconds. Leave in liquidiser goblet, in a cold place, to partially set.
  3. When on the point of setting, switch on liquidiser, remove small cap in lid and pour in evaporated milk. Run liquidiser until frothy. Save 12 mandarin orange segments for decorations (I did not, as you can clearly see in my pictures. I think my tin only had around 12 segments in total! But this recipe is very forgiving with quantities) Add remainder to liquidiser and stir with a spoon. Pour into individual glasses and leave to set. Decorate each dish with 3 mandarin segments.

The Verdict? This recipe took me right back to my childhood! It was so yummy! It reminded me of a pudding my Grandad used to make, every time we went to visit him up in Liverpool, his lime mousse. Oh my, I used to dream of that pudding! I know he used lime jelly to make it, but the recipe escape me (and my Mum too, as she never made it for me as a kid, hrrrump!) A quick google search led me to these recipes. I am going to have to make this asap, this time I will use my Kitchenaid mixer to whip up the mix, as using a blender only made a bubbly mousse on the top half of the pudding.

I also learnt something really useful to help me take pictures of food for my blog. Make up another portion to keep for the next day, to photograph in daylight! I know, it is obvious! It has only taken me 10 odd months to realize this little trick! Doh, what a donut!

I normally snap pictures of meals right before I am about to eat them, with steam coming off them and huge shadows over them, caused by the overhead lighting. This time I savvily plated up two puddings in our usual plain white and chipped Ikea pudding bowls, then the other two puddings in cute vintage teacups (i.e photogenic, blog worthy food props) Ah ha – snaps for me!

Yes, I am a slow learner!

Two Vintage Cookbooks

I mentioned on here ages ago that while celebrity cookbooks have their time and place, I much prefer the old school tried and tested cook books. I also enjoy reading vintage cookbooks for their comedy value, and have recently discovered there are food blogs out there who road test vintage recipes – amazing!
Here are two vintage books I have recently acquired. The first is The Home Book (or the ‘ome’ book as mine is called – very apt, as we do not pronounce our H’s around here!) My mum gave it to me, it used to belong to my Grandad and comes complete with the gaffer tape repair he made! It has no publishing date, I believe it is from between the wars, and is more of a homemakers guide to running a household. It has some great advertisements from the time period (prize winning babies anyone!) and tells you how to organize your servants and has some wonderful simple recipes I want to try.The second book I picked up in my local Oxfam bookshop for 99p, is the 1973 edition of the American classic The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. Now this is more of an encyclopedia than a cook book, there is so much gloriously old fashioned information in one paperback to process! Well, once I figure out the American terms for things that is! I have a set of measuring cups and know a that stick of butter is 4oz’s, but I am still not 100% sure what a broiler is? I think its a grill, but isn’t that what a toaster oven basically is? Its confusing.

The best thing this book offers me is how to boil brains and how to cook turtles. The latter recommended to be served with “Sherry, as a drink” apparently! Remember in the early nineties when everyone seemed to have a pet turtle, thanks to the teenage hero/ninja ones? And then suddenly they didn’t? Maybe this was poor little Leonardo’s et al’s fate, guzzled down with 6 tablespoons of butter and the last of the christmas sherry!

I am also inspired to as a challenge for myself, and maybe even, to become an occasional feature on here, cook some of the more random recipes from yesteryear I find in my vintage cookbooks. Its got to be worth a laugh, surely? Or it will at least be funny to me as I force Rob to eat all sorts of foodie delights! (As well as all the vegetarian food I – shock, horror – make him eat!) Mwah hah hah……

An Excursion To The Coast

Rob and I went on a little road trip in the bug today down to Ramsgate, Kent to view a camper van.

When I was a kid my grandparents lived down the road in Westgate-on-sea, and I think the last time I went to Ramsgate was probably when I stayed with them during the school holidays. So this must be the first time I have visited the town in nearly 20 years!

We viewed a 1983 VW LT28 van (no, I had never heard of them before either!) which looked good in the photo’s on Gumtree and seemed to be a decent price – your ‘cool-campers type more desirable bay window and splitty vans go for silly money – but when we viewed it it was literary crumbling away before our eyes with rust and rot. It did have an MOT until June ’13, and a numberplate with FKD in it going for it! But was only really worth £500 in parts (if you are lucky), not the £800 to £1k odd the seller was looking for.

I described it as ‘your favourite shortbread biscuit’ meaning soft, crumbly and melt in your mouth on the drive home. Rob looked at me like I was a loony when I used that abstract comparison, but he did put his finger through the body work and made a hole in the van when he touched it! Not on purpose I must add!

It’s a shame, but we have decided to keep an eye out for another LT at a good price, and the trip to Ramsgate was a nice change of scenery. We had a little wander around and basked in all Ramsgate’s shabby-chic run down glory. It has that Victorian former grandeur down to a tee and a photogenic harbour. We had lunch in a sweet little cafe with a lovely warming open fire and vintage china plates. I took my camera with me and took a few snaps to share here.

Finally, you know how it is, you are wandering around thinking “how cute/photogenic” the buildings are….then get home and realize you have taken a picture of some scaffolding! Yep, I did that! – My camera battery was low OK! That’s my excuse!