The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

Fairy Cakes, Iced Buns And Scones – British Style

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Our lives have calmed down considerably since our train trip. We’ve settled back into quiet days and nights. Nat, however, has been busy with the Fall weather – clearing leaves from the lawn, eaves and front ditch. He’s facing reality again with the Fall weather now upon us and the Winter snows soon to blow our way. With his back being pretty good of late, I’m especially hoping that clearing the driveway and walkways of snow this Winter won’t lay him up again. The first six months of 2015 are still very vivid in my brain. Neither one of us wish to repeat that scenario.

We had a little excitement this past week. We were notified that new wireless water meters were being installed and our appointment was set up for a week ago. The rep appeared around 7:00 pm Thursday night, installed the meter without any problems and was then on his merry way. Naturally, as soon as he left, Nat was testing the water pipes and discovered the hot water wasn’t running at all. Try as we might we could not get a drip out of any taps or shower head in the house. We allowed the cold water to spit and spurt until it flowed smoothly, but the hot water was staying put. Nat concluded that there must be an air block somewhere but we were having such trouble trying to dislodge it, he called the water meter man back to see what could be done. He, too, had no luck and even had to call his supervisor. Again, a big bejesus air block was the conclusion and our advice was to keep working on the pipes and taps and he would call in the morning to see  how we got on. Well, for another hour and a half, we kept turning the taps off and on allowing them to run for long periods of time to no avail. Nat soon began to bang on the pipes leading to the hot water heater and I started to sing that song by Tony Orlando & Dawn “Knock 3 times on the ceiling if you want me, bang on the pipes if you’re not gonna show… ” That was frustrating to say the least as Nat banged and banged away, while I kept turning the taps off and on, off and on. Then finally, at long last, the hot water began to flow. Just as well, as my head was starting to bang itself!! Another one of those dumb luck situations that only Nat and I could have. So much for that relaxing evening.

Nat and I took one of our “nothing to do” days and wandered around the Outlet Collection of Niagara. Nat was looking for a pair of shoes and I thought maybe I could check out some new winter boots and perhaps a trench coat. I’ve always wanted a nice trench coat but I wasn’t too sure whether I could find the one I wanted at an Outlet Mall, but God knows I was going to give it my best shot.

As luck would have it, Nat found a perfect pair of loafer-style shoes, I just happened to find a gorgeous pair of knee-high scrunchie boots, all within the same store – what were the odds, eh?? We then took a peak at a few stores for the trench coat, and much to my surprise, I did find a couple of perfect ones, just not in my size, and just a wee bit above my price range. But both were gorgeous and I at least had a chance to try a London Fog coat close to my size to make sure what size I really would need. With the help of the clerk I was given the information and would order what I needed online. The exact one I wanted just happened to be available at Macy’s Borderfree and it arrived this past Friday. I love it. I can’t wait for the chance to wear it with my new boots and fold-over neck wrap. God, I feel so good about myself right now and I’m enjoying every minute while I can. I will admit, however, that I have to stop feeling too good or the household budget is going to be blown sky-high with my shopping for new duds!! So far, to date, I’ve lost 15 pounds and I’m determined to keep going. I’d love to get down one more dress size!!

With my renewed energy level, I’ve also gotten back into the mood of baking. For the longest time I’ve been a huge fan of the Great British Baking Show – a baking contest that I catch hosted by Paul Hollywood & Mary Berry (two well-renowned artisan British Bakers) plus comic foils and hosts Sue Perkins & Mel Gledroyc. I can’t get enough and always end up sitting closer to the TV than usual to see better detail of the baking results – Sponge Cakes, Wedding Cakes, Fairy Cakes, Iced Buns, Breads, Scones, Biscuits, Pastries and so much more. There’s so much to learn and watch that I get inspired to want to bake until the cows come home. The only problem I could see was using Castor Sugar. Not really well known in Canada, but after some research I discovered that it’s actually a superfine or special sugar. A lot of people advised you could just grind up regular granulated sugar, but with a bit of looking I found the superfine stuff.

So, with much aplomb I proceeded to make Paul Hollywood’s Iced Buns. A hot-dog-style bun but filled down the centre with Whipped Cream and Jam and then a strip of icing laid along the top. I had even seen a demonstration by Mr. Hollywood on the web site and couldn’t believe how easy this whole recipe was. I excitedly proceeded with the bread and it was easy. So easy, in fact, I had a hard time believing it was going to work. I love making bread, but even this one was strange even for me – everything dumped in one big bowl, mixed with your hands, rest, shape, rest and bake. I was so excited when I removed the tray from the oven – gorgeous, slightly browned buns (looking exactly like hot dog buns). Once the buns cooled slightly I had to cut one in half and give it a try. FAB-U-LOUS, with just a hint of sweetness (I’m guessing that’s the Castor Sugar). I wanted to eat the whole thing without finishing them, but I dare not. I would throw my blood sugar levels off. So I decided to freeze the buns and would fill and ice them in time for a family get-together sometime.

I was so inspired by the Iced Buns that I decided to give Mary Berry’s Fairy Cakes a try. Again, another super easy recipe but for me, a tad disappointing. These little cakes are, in fact, just a small cupcake (as Canadians know it) and I had mixed the icing just a tad too watery and it began to drip down the sides before I had a chance to put any candies on top. I had to stick them in the fridge to cool down before I could continue. Nat tried one for his tea that night and said they were pretty good but, yes, a little sweet. This recipe called for a lot of Castor Sugar and had no vanilla, so, along with the icing I kind of knew they had to have some extra sweetness to them. Again, I’ve finished the dozen and have placed in the freezer for that family event later.

Speaking of family events, Nat and I had a great time at Zoe’s 14th birthday party. Naturally, I had saved a cheat day for some cake, and I savoured every bite. Nat and I left a little early but we had gotten caught up on the family news and adventures of the Irwins’ and Piersons’. Stories that get soon get muddled and mixed up with each other but always a laugh to hear the outcome.

I’m going to continue trying out more British recipes and hopefully I’ll come across a permanent one – like the Iced BunsI could even make these as Hot Dog Buns for Nat whenever he feels like having a hot dog for lunch. Not necessarily the best food on anyone’s diet, but he does enjoy one now and again as a breakout treat. As for me, I’d love to just slather that bun with loads of butter and enjoy!! Maybe I can save one as cheat!!

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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