Category Archives: Cooky tit-bits

Miscellaneous observations about not much really

The last summer holiday of my 20s

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I rightly admit that this is a rather grand title for this blog post. But I have been silent in these parts for a while now and thought I better reintroduce my blog voice with a punchy headline. Catch your waning attention perhaps!?

After a short (OK quite lengthy) repose, I have returned to the blogosphere midway through the FINAL SUMMER OF MY 20s! With old careers ending and new peeking over the horizon, I have been in a bit of flux these past months. Part of the kerfuffle involved relocating back to the UK for the summer before I begin again, with renewed force in the Big Apple. This time mixing with the journalistic glitterati in Renzo Piano’s magnificent skyscraper, the New York Times Building. By Jove am I excited!!

But before I step back into the fray that is the bustling urban chaos of NYC, I must sit and ponder in my village back in the North East of England (read: wait for my visa to start). However, timing wise, everything has worked out quite spectacularly for our family. My wandering sister also returned from her wonderful work in Bangladesh to join me in this pause before our new jobs begin in the cities of New York and London. So what are we doing with ourselves with all this time allocated to pensive activities? Well eating of course. Healthy style.

Not only is my sister a provider of shelter but she is also a self-confessed horticultural genius. And so her budding garden, prepared lovingly during her last trip home, and maintained superbly by the matriarch of the house, is in full bloom upon our return.

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A lettuce patch interspersed with chive, lemon balm and salad burnet (a slightly random but nevertheless, endearing herb)

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Pots of herby goodness, thriving in our patioed back garden: greek basil, basil basil, parsley and mint

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Tomatoes in father’s greenhouse creation. A gift to the mother.

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The beginning of a torrent of corn. See later for the continuation of that saga!

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Bags of potatoes. These homegrown pots make for magnificent mash.

So with this basis in soil, our family is prepared for a summer of culinary living. So let’s get on with it!

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Absolutely Dwellable!

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So it is that time of year again. The back end of winter with an occasional, but not too frequent, sunny day. The rest of them are soggy and cold and I HAVE HAD ENOUGH (stomps foot).

Roll on summer I say. Or at least Spring for more than 24 hours at a time?

With a little over 2 months between jobs, I have decided to spend my free summer-planning time (I’ll admit it: time could be more productively spent reading academic papers) working on where to go and when. Two summers ago, my family and I “vacationed” (as the Americans prefer it) up on Cape Cod. Rustic beaches, white picket fences (see post on all things Cape), fresh fish and chips and those pies! So this year we are looking for a more exotic destination. A little less North East coast and a little more grass skirt?

I just thought of Hawaii.

Hawaii-ocean

Sold? I am

Yes I did. Just popped into my head. Just like that.

But I am new to this playful search for the perfect family trip and so have employed the use of the new spangly Dwellable app (because ‘all things iPhone’ amuses me).

First of all they got me right in the mood. Who doesn’t enjoy a real live water washing up on sand moving image?

With the rain dribbling down the window pane outside, a beach scene is all I need to get into character. I can just picture myself. Lounging about, upturned coconut beverage in one hand, the other providing shade from the bright sunlight as I watch other holiday goers frolick in the sea. I dont need a woolly scarf with this backdrop. Nor do I need an umbrella, or a Wellington boot (look it up Americans), and not at all would I find a cut off glove, fingers poking out, of any utility. No no no. Grass skirt with bikini for decency is all I need. And Dwellable is here to help. I can almost run through my day on the beach, taxing though it is not, while simultaneously searching for the perfect rental.

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Love a snazzy app to make a cool day warmer

Loads of images, easy filters to get straight to the point (budget-wise and more) and all the necessary clicks to discover the holiday destination of my dreams and book with the owner. Really very nice Dwellable. Really VERY nice.

friendly Hawaiian sea turtle at Laniekea, north shore, 2002

My new friend says hey

And now with summer in mind, my ability to match up destination to calendar to price and then sealing the deal all in one swoop, click, swoop and then click, I can get onto the superfluous business of working out a water sport of choice.

Windsurfing anyone?

Bread

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That sister of mine is quite magnificent at the thoughtful present. She really achieves a relevant gift and this usually entails me working for my dinner.

Just before Christmas, I was advised to keep Thursday 20th December free. A highly anticipated prize, I was turning down every Tom, Dick and Harry so that I was prepared for whatever she could throw at me: impromptu space flight? dinner with Alec Baldwin or one of my other crushes? really the list is endless.

What she is capable of never ceases to amaze me.

Well, long story short, turns out the bread baking class she had signed me up for, at Le Pain Quotidien (Bleecker Street venue), was cancelled last minute and thus the surprise had to be revealed prematurely and the class rebooked. For February 16th in fact.

And so here we are.

I have just returned, via the F train, back up to my apartment, laden with enough bread to feed 5,000. Jesus, God bless him, could have done with me a while back. I have made deliveries en route however, some might say like a wheaty Robin Hood, and now I am left with a couple of baguettes, 3 dinner rolls filled with chocolate pellets and 2 batards of walnuts, apples and sultanas (my personal favourite). I also have a quarter of the pizza we made and dined on at the communal table and that, dear readers, will be for my lunch tomorrow!

So, now lethargic from over-doughing myself, I am going to cheat a bit and show you my afternoon spent in SoHo insteaad of telling you any more. I do hope you don’t feel short-changed.

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My apron

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I spy with my little eye? A highly desirable Kitchen Aid AND the pizza toppings for later on

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Yep I was covered in flour (King Arthur Company in particular) from toe to tip

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Squidgy, bubbly dough weighed out on some retro scales

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This is where we filled the proofed dough with toasted walnuts, apples and sultanas

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Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’

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Baguettes in their couche (snug as a bug in a rug as you can see) and a monster pizza shovel

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Yes that is chocolate and butter. And yes they are going in the middle of mini dough balls

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The posh “Pain d’Epi” style. Tres joli

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Pain d’Epi d’Ashbridge

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Yeah. I pretty much made all of this toute seule!

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Making our dinner to finish. A combination of dough, gravity and knuckles (in summary)

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Preparing the bread for the oven. Give the old carbon dioxide some pretty holes to sizzle out of

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Eh voila. I think my work here is done.

Magnifique? Super? SUPER COOL? 

Mais oui!

How much did my face cost?

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And I am DONE. This morning I had my final visit to the surgeons at Cornell and they took ultimate snaps of my marvelous American smile. It is probably the last time I will see Dr Dreamy and it was an emotional moment (possibly for both of us?– we will never know). After complimenting my mouth and being mightily pleased with his first ever patient and her textbook bite, we shook hands with vigor and wished each other the best of luck in the world.

And his number???

Nope I didn’t get it. But I did get the before and after images of my face so we can all gasp in awe at the transformation. So perhaps that is enough.

But what does it feel like after 15 months of living with train tracks in my mouth? Well I am free now and in addition to having a glorious Hollywood smile, I am also able to eat comfortably and my mouth is no longer cut to pieces with the sharp metal that rubs and rubs. While eating, I don’t have small pieces of food scuttling out of my mouth after they become dislodged from their brace-y resting place. I still don’t have feeling in my bottom lip and chin, and I was assured there is time yet for that sensation to return (fingers crossed), but as of now I am trying to enjoy the new reflection in the mirror and the ability to chew unhindered.

Now on to my reflection. I have had two or three moments of discomfort regarding my new face over the past 10 months. I think the first was post-op day 3 when my face blew up like a wonky balloon and I was reliving my mumps diary days with my sister photo-cataloging every new swelling. After that, once the mouth stent was removed and my face was back to almost normal size, I got to see the result of these two refitted jaws. That was a lot to take in. It took a few days of adapting to my new look and accepting a somewhat unrecognisable reflection. And now, this week, with the braces removed, my lips are able to lie comfortably and my true face is revealed. No longer must I hold a permanent pout as the braces push my cushiony puckers out into the ether. My face has changed again and I am reluctant to regard myself for too long for fear of disappointment. I am vain now. I admit it.

With so much focus on my face for so long, I have learned to critique every aspect of my look. My miniature nose embarrasses me sometimes as it settles into the new form. My cheeks feel too lean (a symptom of now being 10 lbs lighter) and the new dimples I have acquired amuse me as I wiggle my mouth around and about in front of the mirror.

It is a long time, 15 months, when you are at the beginning of it all. Back then, it seemed like forever. A ridiculous and unnecessary task to have braces at 28 and to have one’s jaw smashed and re-jigged for the sake of aesthetics and possibly a little bit of improved function.

Worth it?

Definitely.

I would do it all over again in an instant.

And here is the proof!

I am here today to unveil the before and after shots. If you are squeamish look away now.

BEFORE

Teeth before 1

Teeth before 2

Teeth before

AFTER (ta da!)

Teeth after 1

Teeth after 2

Teeth after 3

I would caption these but hey. They speak for themselves. Haha pun absolutely intended!