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Do something new a month – March

April 1, 2013

March has been such a cold month that for the most part it has felt like February. For reasons beyond my control which I won’t bore you with I also seem to have spent the month lurching from drama to crisis and back again. This has been rather a nice distraction.

My heating has been broken at possibly the worst time of year. I now have a new favourite sound for March that glorious gurgle the pipes make as the heating switches itself on and warms up my flat. I will never take that happy noise for granted again but I digress, so without further ado:

My new author is Peter Robinson. I’d watched the DCI Banks series on TV but the books are far better. I love the way he interweaves contemporary references, refers to books (many of which I’ve actually read) and music. I’m rather sadder that poor Banks like so many heroes appears to be destined never to be happy. After reading the first novel; when reading it at work at lunchtime someone very senior immediately began a paean of praise to Robinson, I investigated audio books at the library and now DCI Banks is my accompaniment of choice for baking, cleaning, tidying etc.

I have baked Hot Cross Buns, that’s been a steep learning curve. I’ve now had three attempts and each batch has been better than the last. The first time I allowed the automatic breadmaker (borrowed from my parents) to do all the work. The result was acceptable but not perfect. The second time I took advice from google and allowed the dough to prove for longer before baking and on the third occasion I let it prove overnight. This proved to be the best option resulting in much lighter fluffier buns.

I struggled with the crosses too. According to my recipe book they should be piped on with flour paste. This proved to be very difficult as flour paste does not pipe smoothly it tends to sputter and there’s no neat finish. So I discussed this conundrum with my mother and used a flour and water dough made with plain flour then rolled it out and cut crosses. If I were to do this again. I’d use milk or egg to glue them down and use slightly longer strips to take account if the fact the strips shrink when cooked.

There is no candied peel in my buns because my sister hates it so I omitted it.

All this learning and I won’t get to use it again for a year. Although I was thinking I love Marks and Spencer’s iced spice buns and if I used the recipe, then gave the crosses a miss and applied icing instead I think I’d have am approximation of the iced spice bun. It might be worth a try.

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There were two other firsts in March I visited Mecca Bingo in Camden for a friend’s birthday. This was an odd experience but rather amusing. Our group was definitely not the usual demographic for Bingo, apart from anything else one of our party had a Y chromosome. We did not win a thing – not that we expected to but its a very cheap night out. I got a spirit and mixer for less than £2 in Camden! I don’t think we took it seriously enough some of the other women and its mostly women took the winning of £5 for a line very seriously indeed whereas I viewed it as a way of spending money after all the only certainty was that Mecca would always win. It’s a bit like buying a lottery ticket gives you a licence to dream but I’m well aware that I’m more likely to be run over by a bus than win.

The other first was a ride in a London ambulance. I’m pleased to report I was not the patient, (I have a strict no ambulance policy for myself.) it relates to one of the many dramas that have come along in March. Again it was an interesting experience and the LAS paramedics were charming, reassuring and professional. I decided taking photos would be inappropriate although as my camera was in my handbag it was tempting…

The final thing is knitting. I finished the cable cardigan for my favourite small person. She is thrilled I am less so because I can see all the faults and things I should have done better. The neckline has not been picked up evenly and it sticks out like a sore thumb when I look at it. If Steph didn’t love it so much I’d rip the whole thing out and start again but that’s not an option.

I’ve now cast on a jumper for my friend’s toddler son. It’s a textured sweater which looked as if it was going to be more complicated that in actually is. It’s knitted to look like differently textured squares in a repeating pattern. I’ve finished the back and am half way through the front. Next it will be two interminable sleeves. Once again I implore you to look at the knitting not the shameful state of my living room carpet.

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I’ve no idea what I’m going to do in April yet but it’s rather an adventure and I’m grateful to Make and Bake with Bert for suggesting it and giving me a focus when it’s been needed. Hopefully by the end of next month Spring will have sprung.

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One Comment
  1. Mum always refuses to do the flour & water thing for the crosses, we just cut a cross into the top just before they go in the oven. Yours look great though.

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