Thursday, 24 February 2011

gimme your wurst!

Don't that look a treat?! 

This was taken a few weeks back when we got some genuine German sausages from the German market and took the opportunity to relive one of the culinary highlights of our Düsseldorf - Berlin trip a few years ago.

The chef insisted that we had to have proper currywurst ketchup to accompany our smoky sausages of goodness-knows-what and cooked up the first recipe in this post - sch-lup! I love the silly spelling of 'catchup' on the second recipe (heheh!) but really - honey? A BAY LEAF? Don't tinker with the trashy food. 

If you are unfamiliar with the joy of a good currywurst it's basically cheap ketchup with curry powder slathered over a chopped up sausage. The German equivalent of chippy sauce. If you are unfamiliar with chippy sauce it's basically cheap brown sauce watered down with malt vinegar and peculiar to Edinburgh.

Anyway, back to the photo-story. I dished up the carbs in one of my favourite formats: I call them frenchy-style potatoes but they are officially known as Fried Potatoes with Garlic and Salt from Real Fast Food. It's super easy: couple of big tatties cubed (I don't bother peeling) and a couple of flattened garlic cloves, fried in a fingers depth of oil for 25 mins or so til golden. DON'T TAKE YOU EYES OFF THEM! Drain on paper and salt liberally. Voila. Mr Slater says to throw away the garlic afterwards, which I don't really understand. Fried garlic = le yum. 

Course the whole meal was simply an excuse to air my sehr schön "I like beer" napkins, a gift from Munich and the current pride of my serviette collection. Danke Stacio!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

shonky-tonk band

  Heart Like a Wheel by Julias' Daughters

We're barely competent, forget the words, fluff the chords and suffer from the stage frights but never-the-less, me and Emily are a band. We called ourselves Julias' Daughters as both our Ma's were named so.

We did a little demo recording round my house with the vital assistance of the resident musician. One mic was perched a-top the ironing board (which rather pleased me), Emily brought round lovely Falko (Konditormeister) bread for the rider, and I got told to "stand back" and "face the microphone, Ellen" many-a-time. 

This song, Heart Like A Wheel by Anna McGarrigle, first appeared on the self-titled debut album, Kate and Anna McGarrigle (1975). 

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

time for a timex...

I'm so pleased. I finally got my new/old watch back! Well, it's really a replacement for my original first-ever-watch which I was still wearing until four years ago when I accidentally got into a swimming pool, on a hotel roof with it still on, shortly before walking into a plate glass door and bursting my nose. The excitement of the whole experience had clearly gone to my head.

Any way, my old watch ceased up and was ir-repairable as, apparently they were never made so's that they could be repaired. Which miffed me cause I'd just been and bought a lovely new red lizard strap for it and all. 

Eventually, I found a replacement on Ebay which arrived the other week with the remains of it's original blue strap still attached. (In my imagination it was probably snipped off the wrist of a poor screaming child after some kind of arm-breaking Raleigh Blue Bird ride... but s'ok they got a digital watch that changed the telly channel after that.) And hey - it works! Plus the fella in Timpson's most obligingly swapped my old/new strap onto my new/old watch after I "put something in the charity-box, eh pal?". Thanks very much!

I can remember my Dad buying me the watch I was about five or six and if my memory serves me right, it was in Marks & Spencer's, Stirling (really? this would seem to predate them selling Mars bars by about 25 years). I was allergic to the plastic strap and didn't wear it much at first but my Mum got me a new one (white leather from Henderson's the Jewellers) after we moved to Dundee - Timex Town. And that's why I think I love my watch so much. Cause it reminds me little bit of home.*

*(albeit, aherm, assembled in the Philippines) 

Monday, 21 February 2011

this week on ellen bakes cakes...

My first excuse to rummage in my nightmare of a baking cupboard this week was for Valentine's Day afters. I'd had several ideas for what I'd like to make for pudding all involving calories, chocolate and copious leftovers but settled on dear Nigel's Chocolate Almond cake from The Kitchen Diaries which just happened to be the most 'substantial' of all. Oops. And oh my, down such a wickedly decadent path to ruination it led! It's one of those high-chocolate / low-flour cakes made with five eggs, whisked whites and more butter than is polite to mention. Still a little wobbly in the middle (aren't all the most interesting folks?) and slightly warm from the oven, with a dollop of creme fraiche and a more-slushy-than-expected-western on the side: I was made up baby. Made up!

Even better, I got to off-load some of the calories on my co-workers and took the rest round to Emily's house for band practice (that's where I took the above photo). You can see more of Emily's lovely Japanese-style quilted place-mat on her beautiful new daily-Blipfoto-blog: Floating Weeds

My next visit to the cupboard of doom was to knock-up something to take round to another friends house for tea. I'd planned on making Nigella's Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies in the festive season. I'd thought they maybe sounded a bit too Christmassy in January but as I had fruit, the pecans and just enough porridge oats (which were just fine but then I dunno what 'instant' looks like...) I went ahead. And they were good; sweet but on the right side of sickly. I think the dark sugar dissipated some of the sugar hit and also did something kinda funny with the pecans to convince me there was some maple syrup in there! See Nigella Chistmas is not just for eh, Christmas!!

 I just hope they gulped-down as satisfactorily for Cookie Monster... 

Monday, 14 February 2011

pinny pin pals!

It has taken me an enormous age to get around to this but on Friday, I finally got about listing my new selection of Paddington Bear pinny pins in the shop! The pattern on the fabric was made to celebrate Paddington's 50th and I fell in love with it on first sight. It's based upon packets of ingredients in the FILMFAIR Paddington animation where wiggly nosed bear attempts to bake Mr Curry a birthday cake…

I'm considering staging a reconstruction / re-enactment of Paddington's above cake-baking on the Baby Belling in my studio. Not so sure about shovelling the mix in with a garden fork (!) but I would of course ensure I have donned my duffel coat and black beret for some kind of continuity!

I keep a little selection of badge-wear  upon my work-a-day "flamenco" pinny; some baking related and a couple o' one-liners...

The 'bicarb' button came from the Barnardo's Vintage Shop in the Grassmarket, Edinburgh. I've had a few good badges from there (I take it they are made in-house?!) my favourite being a leopard face badge which I wore on my leopard-print shopper until alas, it went to the big badge-maker in the sky. My Country Grammar pin comes straight outta' the fabulous 50p Badges, a very excellent Glasgow-based on-line proprietor of proper pin-wears. They even let you send a cheque if ya fancy (now there's not a lotta folks'd do that!). I've been eyeing up a few new beauts in their new range...

I feel a little sneaky order coming on! Well, I'm always needing to replace my Dolly Parton badge which I've had and lost several of before. This time I may buy in bulk!

Another couple of making and baking related items:

✿ I made my first ever batch of marmalade the other week, according to the instructions of Good Ole' Mrs Corbin of course (lordy how I love that book!). For once I got WAY MORE jam than I'd expected (WOO HOO) so I'll be digging into a fresh pot at the breakfast table the 'morra! 

✿ If you are cakely-minded and in the Glasgow-area (or like me are DEAD KEEN and willing to commute) then Auntie M's Cake Lounge is starting up a BAKING CIRCLE once a month on Monday nights beginning on the 7th March! EEEEEEk! The idea is that everyone brings along a cake to sample and a copy of their recipe for everyone and well - you get to try lots of CAKE and TALK CAKE for TWO HOURS!! Get in touch with: for more cake-formation!

POST SCRIPT: I should of course mention my partial title borrowings inspired by the fantastique Pin Pals, of Etsy fame. If you dunno them then, for many reasons - YOU SHOULD!

Friday, 11 February 2011

library lover

There's been a lot of talk about libraries of late. People are angry and I'm glad: I need my library too. Philip Pullman says it all: Leave the libraries alone. You don't understand their value. A brilliant, passionate and rousing speech.

I had a fancy for reading several children's books during the December snows, after recalling various bits of TV dramas of yore.

The Midnight Folk is the preceding book to The Box of Delights, which I remember being very snowy and a bit scary on the telly. The plot is full of witches and wizards, mutineering pirates, highway men and of course The Midnight Folk: a troupe of talking animals. I found it a little hard to keep up with the twisting, turning plot and the lengthy cast of characters but it was worth it to meet Tom Otter (and his hilarious Bat side-kick) and see Kay put on an otter "skin" (complete with paws) to become otter-like too (I'm otterly obsessed). It's beautifully illustrated by Rowland Hilder - I love the trees in the highwayman chase below, which remind me of my great-granny's Dulton washbasin. 

I had a magical few days re-reading Lucy M. Boston's The Children of Green Knowe, which I think is one of my most favourite books ever. The fabulous decriptions of Tolly's room in the roof of his Great-Granny's house with all it's strangely comforting shadows and flitting visitors is so atmospheric it makes perfect winter bedtime reading. 

There's a plentiful cast of animal friends here too with Truepenny (a mole) and Hedge-prickles (the hedgehog, of course). There's also a netsuke mouse which Tolly takes to bed with him and sometimes catches squeaking in his pyjama pocket. But of course the central characters are the three children Toby, Alexander and Linnet who haunt the house, play games around the garden and become Tolly's friends.

Time to hitch my wagon up, I'm setting off for the banks of Plum Creek...