Friday 16 December 2011

Astral cookies

I have decided to shift the focus of my life to the dream world. Really. It’s much nicer there and, major plus point, it’s warm. Last night I spent the majority of my time splashing around in the Pacific and running down waterfalls. It was heaven. Okay, so there was the small matter of all the dead/sleeping people littering the boats by the cliffs but hey… Then I wake up and there is ice on the inside of the window and even the dog is shivering. But no…this isn’t going to be a post about astral travel and lucid dreaming…not quite yet…

Adrian comes in and stands at the foot of the bed looking revoltingly cheerful.
‘I’m off then…’
He’s going shooting. Not some big fancy shoot, I hasten to add, just a bunch of mates.
‘Looking forward to it?’ I say, just eyes and nose visible over the four duvets, still shaking off the turquoise waters in my mind.
‘I dunno,’ he replies. ‘Seems a bit weird to be looking forward to killing something…’

Huh? Don’t tell me the vegetarianism is catching? He has been eating a lot less meat lately. And going to the gym. Last night he even had a cup of tea instead of another beer. Hmm.

But then, when I drag myself out of bed and creep to the kitchen there’s a slab of Sherman’s bacon defrosting on the top (no, it’s not really carved from Sherman’s haunches – not much meat there, come to think of it – but from one of his ex-pigs). And Hugh F-W’s MEAT (you gotta like the open honesty of that title, huh?) cookbook is open on the page for pork pies. Ah well…

Anyhow, his departure leaves me and James home alone… again. The poor boy is in the wars… again. He’s injured himself…again. Policeman’s foot apparently (plantar fasciitis). ‘He’s the youngest person I’ve ever seen with it,’ said the doctor, with that gleam of eye that medical people can’t quite suppress at something more interesting than piles and flu.

‘Yeah, well he’s got form,’ I replied. ‘He was the youngest person to have Bell’s palsy too.’
‘So he was!’ Dr B’s eyes light up even more. ‘Maybe he’s a medical conundrum.’
James wasn’t remotely impressed. He didn’t want to be a conundrum; he wanted the magic wand of medicine. He wanted to jump up and walk out cured, like the guy in the Bible. Dr B would make a cracking Jesus, come to think of it – he’s got the bone structure and does a good line in pithy comments. But he’s not hot on miracles. Instead he told James exactly what the apostle St Google had already told me – do the exercises, rest, get some orthotics.

It’s tough though. When you’re thirteen and your greatest joy is to run, to play rugby, to play squash, to play football, to do anything really that involves getting out there, being physical, hurling your body around cos, like a puppy, you have way too much energy. Yes, he reads; yes, he plays on the Xbox; yes, he watches TV; yes, he chats on Facebook but still…

So, don’t laugh…we’ve been baking, he and I. Well, he’s been baking; I’ve been nicking the cake mix. Cos, though food in general doesn’t really rock my boat, I’m a sucker for cake mix. And – of course – baking involves ovens and oven involve…heat. Delicious heat.

Marbled chocolate brownies; raspberry muffins; festive nibbles; spicy cocktail biscuits… Sheesh, no wonder people put on weight – these things are made of slabs of butter and crateloads of sugar and not much else! Favourite so far? Peanut cookies. Oh yeah. Seriously, butter AND peanut butter – your arteries probably wince just at the name but boy, are they good.
So good, in fact, that you should try them. I suppose you could argue there’s protein in there, eh? Vegetarian protein at that.

Peanut cookies 

1 cup/225g butter
2tbsp/30ml crunchy peanut butter (if you prefer a smooth cookie, go for smooth peanut butter…doh!)
1 cup/115g icing sugar
½ cup/50g cornflour
2 cups/225g plain flour
Unsalted peanuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180C, 350F or Gas mark 4. Lightly grease two baking sheets.

2. Beat the butter and peanut butter together and add the dry ingredients. Mix like hell…If you have a mixer this will probably be easy. If not (like me), you’re best off kinda giving up with the spoon and just kneading it with your hands… It’s a very dry mix so keep going. Squish every last bit in.

3. Grab a bit of mix and roll it into a ball. This recipe will make around 25 normal sized cookies – if you like giant ones, go bigger. Place the balls on the baking sheet leaving plenty of room for them to spread out and make themselves comfortable.

4. Press the tops of the balls flat using the back of a fork. If you like (I do, James doesn’t) press a few whole peanuts into each cookie.

5. Bake for around 15 minutes (depends on your oven) until lightly browned. Then the usual stuff about letting them cool a tad (or they will crumble apart) before putting on a wire rack. Then just see if you can stop yourself from scarfing the whole lot in one sitting.
Yeah, they don't look any great shakes but...

In other new book Walker (available for Kindle only - it's an eco-adventure so couldn't really justify the trees!) got a plug in the Telegraph today. Feel free to make my Christmas merry by downloading a copy to your Kindle. Click here for the US and here for the UK.

My anti-guru has been off on a brave quest for the Light recently so he could probably do with a boost to the coffers his books right here and now. 

And for those who roll their eyes at all this shamanic and spiritual stuff, you can still order Adrian's book Great British Pubs and still get it in time for that astral pub crawl at Christmas... 


Anonymous said...

Marbled brownie recipe please!

Exmoorjane said...

@Anonymous - if you're very good. :)

Isobel Morrell said...

Hope James gets better soon. He's also at the stage in life where, hopefully, he can get over all the "interesting" (to the quacks, anyway) ailments, and grow up strong, fit and able to take on anyone! It's a New Year soon, so hope its a better one for him in 2012 - and that all the cooking gets eaten, heat or no heat!

Happy Christmas - and thanks for the entertaining posts I've been able to read since following you when I began blogging at in March this year. You've taught me a lot!

Ashen said...

Love your post, as ever. No baking, cooking or whatever this Christmas, I'm off to see friends Spain, including son and partner, ha, ha, bliss.

Cait O'Connor said...

Can I join you in dream world?
Great post as ever!

Zoë said...

in my dreams I am allowed to eat biscuits and brownies too *wistful sigh*

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Astral said...

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