24 August 2011

Leaning towards autumn

This morning in the park the paths were gouged in many places where water from the rains of the past few days had accumulated and run downhill. There was a spot of sun but the weather leans distinctly to the autumn, and away from summer. In several spots I ran over beech mast and along avenue Winston Churchill, some chestnuts have already fallen. And leaves: I passed a neighbor sweeping small brown leaves from his steps and the sidewalk. We both shook our heads at them - leaves, already! Leaves, I tell you, we are not ready. Give us a minute, OK?

Last week's "bio box" was overrun with plums, and I made a hybrid Nigel Slater cake. Summer cake (from his Appetite cookbook) bred with the midsummer's cake from the fruit volume of his Tender books (that's volume two I believe). I used the sugar/butter/flour/ground almond quantities from the midsummer cake, threw in an extra egg, plums instead of apricots, and the lemon zest and juice as used in the summer cake. It was thick so I thinned it with yogurt as the creme fraiche had gone off - good plain yogurt but don't be afraid to use cherry yogurt (I wasn't!). Came out fabulous. Topped it with powdered sugar and it looked like a million dollars. Colleagues at office consumed it in less than one hour.*

I am not quite out of my muddle, but countered in slightly by spending a blissful afternoon browsing at the second-hand book shop Pele-Mele, and as a result, discovering Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes, and the Penguin Classics editions with annotations. Now, Holmes can be an irritating know-it-all, although Watson is a sweetheart and makes up for it, but the annotations are simply fabulous! They outline every inconsistency (where Arthur Conan Doyle took liberties with flora and fauna, for example), and in the Hound of the Baskervilles, variations between the text and all the film versions are thoroughly explored. I enjoyed the annotations as much as the story - so now am on a quest for more. If nothing else, I may even learn something about the telling of detective stories. So things are looking up.

*Note, if you make this and use plain flour, you might want to add a bit of leavening - I used a 1/2 tsp each of baking soda and baking powder.

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