Sunday, 19 January 2014

Baking disasters of the restless mind.

It is nearly time for TMA03, this is my third tutor-marked assignment for my Open University course. Of-course it is around this time, when I should be planning and constructing my essay; I am predictably obsessed with some unrelated activity. This week it has been baking and marmalade making, spring bulbs and where to plant them and why do people put coats on dogs. Today, has been a beautiful sunny morning, mild for this time of year so why the coats people? Don't dogs have coats already supplied? I have just seen a springer spaniel with a nicer coat than most of the humans I have seen today.

Anyways, yesterday, I have made coffee cake, honey and pumpkin seed flapjacks and no-knead bread and every flippin one a disaster. The cake tastes like sponge, dishwashing sponge. The flapjacks refused to stick together in spite of copious quantities of honey, golden syrup and molasses and are more suitable for a granola style breakfast than lunchbox snacks. The bread is inedible due to the baking paper welding itself to the base of the loaf. Mr S says that the cake could be saved with the timely addition of ice-cream, chocolate sauce or icing. But then doesn't everything taste nicer with those? Mr S would eat anything, anything! E likes the flapjack granola covered with yogurt and O was content to lick the bowl.

I am now terrified of ruining the Seville oranges. They have been sitting around patiently beautiful waiting for a week now. For most of that week I have been desperately pounding the streets looking for jam sugar. I finally found some this morning, embarrassingly announcing my success to the bemused looking man stacking the shelves, 'Yay, Jam sugar!' only to remember when I got home that oranges and lemon are full of their own pectin and to cringe at my triumphal exaltation. Shame.

However, to cheer myself up I had to pop into the charity (thrift) shop and rescue the delightful little planter I have been obsessed with since before Christmas. Look, SylvaC!

We don't have  front gardens on our road, most of the houses are pre-1930 and some people have nice thoughtful displays of decorative objects or flowers in their windows so this is where some tulips will be and I think it will look very sweet and granny-chic.

This was my third trip to the shop to look at it which is not normal behaviour for me, normally I just breathlessly scoop up the goodies and bring them home. This piece however was an eye-watering 20euro and it's January so I am supposed to be watching the budget very very carefully. Still I also bagged a scrabble set for crafting purposes for a tiny amount of money. It is so nice, the previous owners had left a scrap of paper in with their scores, Padraig was playing Mam! Mr S thinks we should play scrabble but I have an idea for a lovely present for two special little people I know.

Still choosing some tulip bulbs will have to wait till later. I'm thinking some pale pink and darkest crimson or maybe black and apricot? What do you think? I would love to spend the rest of the afternoon browsing through seed and plant websites but I have got to get a move on with this essay.

The more I read about the complex power struggles of the international system and the extent of the dominance of Western 'thinking' the more incredulous and furious I become. My blood pressure is particularly raised when I am reading about the 'help' given to developing states by the EMF (sic) and the World Bank. I did not expect to be shouting at my text books. As part of my feedback on the last assignment, my tutor commended me on my 'neutral' academic writing. Really, I don't want to be writing neutral words, I want to be critical, acerbic and partisan...Oh it is so hard to study when the sun is shining and there is marmalade to make! xxx
EDIT: Of-course I mean the IMF as in International Monetary Fund not the dance band from the 1990's. Unbelievable.


  1. The marmalade is excellent, especially on the home made bread.

    1. Hello Mr S, fancy seeing you here! Thanks though, one triumph does make up for all the rest of the failures. x

  2. This sounds so familiar! I baked the bread, too, and just couldn't get the paper off - my teenage son ate round it but it wasn't a success at all, sadly...I also studied with the OU and the very mention of 'TMA' brings the memories flooding back. I hope your assignment is going well and indeed your whole course does.
    I can't remember how I came across your blog but it's always interesting to read about other people, to see photos of what they do and to learn of their lives. Thankyou! Louise.

    1. Hi Louise, thank-you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to leave a comment. I love it when that happens! You made me chuckle about your son eating around the paper, fair play to him. Tomorrow is the cut-off day for the assignment-remember those-so I am burning the midnight oil. Take care, and hope to see you soon. x