Monday, 31 December 2012

Of changed plans, wet walks, recipe fails and socialising with children

New Year's Eve 2012.

It's been a good year on every level, and here we are celebrating the end of the old and the dawn of the new. Before I get distracted on my usual ramble, I'd like to get a little sentimental here and say how much I've enjoyed my time in the blogosphere - it's been brilliant, and I'm hoping for plenty more in 2013. Obviously, it's an outlet for my culinary meanderings, but what has really made it so great has been meeting lots of fantastic people (both virtually, and in a couple of cases, in real life), the comments, the tweeting. Thank you for reading my blog.

And now the ramble. Get on your glad rags and your gaiters - have you seen what the weather's like out there?

New Year's Eve is probably my worst night out. From when I can remember, I always wanted to go to a glamorous party, everyone in cocktail dresses (well the ladies) having a sparkling and sophisticated time. The party in When Harry Met Sally - that type of thing - the one where Harry ends up running through the streets of New York to find Sally and tell her that actually he really does love her. Sigh.

I have never been to a party like that.

Not that I have had many bad New Year's Eves, but there seems to be this massive pressure to have absolutely the best time ever on this one night. I've spent New Years Eves in clubs and at parties. I've spent them at home on the sofa, toasting the New Year early and going to bed at 10.30 with a warm cup of cocoa and (skip over this part, Mum) on one occasion, had to leave the festivities early after a mortifying "being sick in the street between pubs" incident in York. Let's draw a quiet veil over that one, shall we, particularly the bit where I tried to argue with the bouncer on the door of the second pub (who had witnessed everything) that I was completely and utterly sober and had every right to be in his establishment? It was a long time ago.

The best times have been those spent with one or two good sets of friends - drinks, dinner and low key amusement. Particularly since the arrival of Blue and Pink, and with babysitters at a premium on NYE, something at home, has been the order of the day. This year, we were supposed to be spending this afternoon and evening in the company of old and dear friends who we haven't seen much of this year. Unfortunately, norovirus on their part has put paid to that, so our celebrations this year kicked off with me and the children "enjoying" a particularly wet and miserable dog walk while the Husband enjoyed an even better (and wetter) wade through the mud 'run' with a group of friends from the village where we live. 
Can we have some haribo NOW??

I tell you, there is nothing more dispiriting on a wet and windy afternoon than bribing 2 bedraggled and reluctant children with haribo to walk just a bit further...

the dog enjoyed it, though

We regrouped for mulled wine and mince pies, walks and runs over, and discussed plans for the evening. You see, having postponed our low key dinner with friends, I threw myself on the mercy of another friend who had previously invited us to their big party. Turns out it is likely to be THE party locally this year. The invite I had previously declined.

We have done more and more socialising with the children as they have got older - particularly parties where we all start out at, say, 6, and then end up carrying the home around 9.30. This has worked pretty well. We do most of our 'going to parties with children' in the village so there will usually be friends for them wherever we go, and the usual form is that the adults cram themselves into the smallest room possible and talk loudly and raucously, then, perhaps, dance, while the children rampage, Lord of the Flies style, around the rest of the house. We tend to not then see the kids apart from the occasional raiding party made up of the smallest, sent in between the legs of the adults, to swipe food and bottles of whatever fizzy drinks (the soft ones) are on offer.

Actually going out at 8, which is now the order for this evening, is new for us. As I type, the Husband is trying to keep them amused, but I know they are tired. They've had a busy day, to be fair - the first day of that holidays that I actually wanted them to be up and out so we could brave the shops early for supplies for the dinner we were supposed to be hosting, and they actually slept in - and I'm not sure if they will stay the course. Still, given how foul the weather is, I can confidently predict a duvet day tomorrow whatever happens this evening. 

Before the plan changed today, the Husband and I made soup and cooked chilli, and, spurred on by the overall success of the roulade I made a few weeks ago, I had another go, this time a chocolate sponge type one. All went well until, buoyed up on the post walk mulled wine, I set to, to make the final ganache.

Don't you hate it when a recipe is either wrong, or misses some crucial aspect out? I'd based my pud on one from an issue of  a Woman & Home publication: "Feel Good Food Christmas", although had decided to change the filling swapping raspberries for chestnut puree. The sponge cooked brilliantly, and rolled up

 and then rolled out perfectly.

I filled it with whipped double cream swirled with raspberry coulis, rolled it up and started on the ganache. A water ganache - where you melt the chocolate by pouring boiling water on to it and whisking furiously. Well, I don't know what happened, but I just ended up with chocolate water. I whisked and whisked but nothing. There was nothing in the recipe about cooling or whisking - the implication was that once the chocolate was melted and smooth, the whole thing would be spreadable.

It wasn't.

I added more chocolate. No luck.

I tweeted and googled, and the lovely Slice of Barnes confirmed something I'd read - whisk it madly and refrigerate. The whisk again.


I'm not going to add the recipe here because it's time for me to get on my glad rags and some make up (it does happen sometimes) and head out with the Husband and the children to the party. I'll take some time tomorrow to tell you how I did it, but for now, feast your eyes, my lovelies:

I wish you all a very happy New Year. xxx

[Update: here's the link to the recipe!]


  1. Your roulade looks fabulous, glad you got it sorted eventually. Can't remember the last time we went out for New Year's Eve - it will be our normal early night, especially as we've both got colds. Hope you have fun and Happy New Year.


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