Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Hound for a Heroine

Dolly is puffed up with pride. Her brother Bunker has been chosen to be in a squadron of just 5 puppies to be trained as a Hound for Heroes. Apparently they scour the length and breadth of the UK looking for the perfect puppies, and out of some 140 labradors, Bunker, yes Bunker, was chosen.


Hounds for Heroes can apparently do remarkable things, such as posting letters, collecting bus tickets (not sure if they can swipe Oyster cards), supermarket shopping, getting your cash at the ATM and doing the washing (again, not sure if they can hang it on the line). So far Dolly has only mastered shredding papers, collecting shoes and trailing Lily's tights around the garden, but she is willing to learn. The training is pretty labour-intensive for over a year, but as of ... let's say tomorrow, Dolly is going into training with her handler, Eliza Gray, to become a Hound for a Heroine.

Dolly is willing!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Brownie points

Lily and schoolfriend decide to do some baking while I'm out this afternoon. When I get back, the kitchen is spotless and they're watching Mamma Mia.

'There's a surprise over there for you,' says Lily, not looking up from the screen.

I search the kitchen and find in the warming oven of the Rayburn a large baking tray of chocolate brownies (or, strictly speaking, chocolate brownie, as it has not yet been cut into pieces). I take it out and scrutinise it for flaws. There don't seem to be any. I am surprised, however, that the mixture has filled the entire tray.

'Which recipe did you use?' I enquire.

'Nana's usual one,' says Lily.

'Because there isn't usually enough mix to fill a tray this size. Did you increase the amounts?'


I cut up the brownies and when they're cooler, try and transfer them to a rack. They collapse. I squeeze some of the mixture that's stuck to the pan into a ball and pop it in my mouth. Mmmm. Delicious. Incredibly rich and gunky. Much richer and darker than our usual recipe. I am puzzled but let it go, not least because Colin Firth is singing Our Last Summer.

Later, we're having sausages and baked potatoes. I ask Lily to get the butter.

'There isn't any.'

'There's some in the freezer.'

She does her 'Oops, guilty' face. 'We used it all.'

'But there was a whole new pack.'

'I know,' she says sheepishly. 'We used the whole thing and the one in the fridge.'

'But the recipe only needs half a pack,' I say, getting up to go and check. I pull out the bulging recipe folder from the cupboard. Yes, here we are. On a much-stained handwritten sheet torn from a notebook is the list of ingredients.

4oz butter
2oz unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs
5oz sugar
2oz plain flour
1 teasp baking powder
1/4 teasp salt

'There,' says Lily, pointing to the butter. '402.'

The girls have diligently weighed out 402g butter, 202g chocolate (creatively topping up the dark chocolate with cocoa powder and a good splash of milk to give it a melted chocolate consistency), 502g sugar and 202g plain flour.

Delicious, though. Must try same conversion technique for future recipes.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Bin there

I empty the bathroom bin, then try to put the bin in the new liner instead of the new liner in the bin. This is what it has come to.