Monthly Archives: November 2013

Mixer-less, still.

It’s been about two years since I have lived without a mixer. Can you believe it?!? I wouldn’t have thought it was possible. But when there are other more urgent things like doors and windows and toilets, cake mixers will just have to wait.

Finally ordered one but they got the wrong model. Ordering another one through another channel, but they’re asking for all sorts of proof —my ID en cours de validité, my credit card with the numbers hidden so i’ll have to go and cut up little bits of paper to hide the parts that have to be hidden, take a photo recto-verso,, scan or photocopy or whatever, and either fax or send by post or email. W T H. Am I going to the prefecture or making an online purchase?!?? In other parts of the world, they send you text messages with a code that you have to enter within minutes to complete the online purchase. I’ve never come across this backwardness.

So no cake this weekend. I was looking forward to some proper creaming, you know, watching the butter and sugar suddenly turning that pretty pale yellow and smelling, ah the smell… Of course, one can just apply elbow grease, but how much easier with a machine!

Would I make more cakes with a mixer? I don’t know. It’s just the two of us, whereas I used to have hordes of birthdays to bake for. Not a week went by without a cake  of some sort. Here we’ve got friends and neighbours of course, and poor Bob has had to be deliveryman on more than one occasion, but when we gave some to my old neighbour, she turned up at the doorstep with some heirloom painting in return. (Or she just wanted to get rid of it haha.) Back home, we thought nothing of passing stuff over the fence, exchanging food. Bob had warned me it’s different here. Maybe it’s the climate as well? When people are cloistered up in their homes, doors closed, blinds drawn, there’s an extra barrier to break. Gifts are not bestowed lightly; gestures are measured. It becomes an impingement even. No smells drifting over from kitchens, from across—possible, of course, because we all had open kitchens—carrying over, intermingling, so we knew who was having what, which family ate early, which ate late, which kid was being yelled at for sneaking bites. I miss just as much the sounds—the chopping, the methodic pounding, how i love that sound, of stone hitting stone, the sizzling of food dancing in pans, the scraping of ladles, the clank of plates. I used to stop whatever I was doing to listen, and sniff, guessing. And laugh at the thought that were the walls to suddenly disappear with a poof, my neighbour would find my hands covered in dough and I would see her sweating over her stove.

My sister and I had a trick. Sometimes when terribly tantalizing smells of something my mother would never make wafted over, we would proclaim extra loudly in our kitchens, “Oh, but what a W OND ER FUL smell. I’m sure whatever’s cooking must be D E LI CIOUS!” Sometimes it would work and we would get food passed over. What cheeky monkeys we were.

In the meantime, here’s a photo from the box: Kenwood mixers over the years. I just had to show it to my mum because it’s exactly the one we have at home!! My mother, who hates cooking and has never baked in her life, got it as a wedding gift, used it once (she claims) then promptly put it away. And there it remained tucked away at the back of her cupboard until I unearthed it more than 30 years later. That’s right, 30++. And it works perfectly!!! I even got it fitted out with a dough hook. These days when machines are programmed to break down (it’s a fact that my Bosch hairdryer gives out every year at Christmas time, failing without fail, if you like), this brings a tear to the eye. I’ll never throw our old Kenwood away—when I look at it, I see my aunts making their butter cakes. Yes, we were a Kenwood family.

I’ll persevere with the neighbours I think. Food should be shared.


Kenwood mixers over the years- this was my mother’s and it’s still going strong!

Pumpkin sourdough bread

It’s taken me four years since I clipped this butternut squash and sunflower seed bread recipe to actually make it. !?!? I used pumpkin and pumpkin seeds and obviously didn’t go for a baguette shape. The pumpkin was quite tasteless sadly and also rather dry, so I added an extra two tablespoons of pumpkin puree. The pumpkin did nothing much for the bread except for the colour, and strangely the bread dried out and was even less tasty by the next day. With such add-ins, it really depends on the quality and wetness of the fruit/vegetable, so will have to try this again.