Ok so I'm rubbish and it's been forever since I updated the blog. No excuses, it's not as if I've been ill and not able to lift my head off the pillow, or in a foreign land with no access to the internet. I've just been lazy and not baking much as I'm on a diet!
Well I am back with a vengeance and have photo's of the most decadant pudding I've ever made. It is all thanks to my lovely trifle bowl (from Pampered Chef of course!) I ended up with 2 of them as I won one at a PC meeting so I decided to have a Pimms and Puddings show at my own house. It was great, I had 1 trifle bowl full of Pimms and the other filled with an amazing Banana and Chocolate trifle. The funny thing is I never even tried the trifle myself, firstly because I'm on a diet, and secondly because it has Angel Delight in it and if there is one thing I can't stand then it's Angel Delight. Yuk!!!!!
It did look great though if I do say so myself and the empty bowls showed there were no complaints.
Making trifles is not the only thing that's been going on recently. I have finalloy found a man! Well, one to come in and do the garden anyway. So prepare yourself for a few shots of before and during. I don;t have an after yet as we are still waiting for the slate to be delivered so it's not a finished article yet.
Please can you all make sure that you do not turn into a blonde!!! I say this only because it can be my only excuse for what happened at my cooking show this week.
For the first time ever I tried to make 2 recipes at a show as I wanted to show off my new yorkshire puddings baked in the pampered chef stoneware. Well the show started well with lots of people joining in and chatting about the products. I whisked up the batter ingredients, only slightly confused when I had to ask for more milk as the pudding batter was quite thick, but no worries I carrried on. I did my neat trick with just spraying the cold stoneware with a little oil before I put in the batter and put them in the oven. That was it, I could forget them for the minute while I carried on with making the Banana & Toffee Bottom (It's a gorgeous cakey pudding, I'll take photo's next time and put the recipe on here.)
So we slice the banana's and make the tofffee then I start to add the ingredients for the sponge to the mixing bowl but I can't find the flour, where is the flour. I'm sure I measured it out into one of my square white bowls. I know I did. I remember quite clearly that I put the pudding batter ingredients in the small prep bowls and the cake ingredients in my square bowls. Then it hits me and I pick up the small prep bowl that still has some flour in it. Oh no, Instead of the 3 oz of plain flour I had prepped for the puddings, I actually added the 6 oz of self raising flour I prepped for the cake. No wonder I needed more milk!!!!!
All this is going through my head as I am facing a room of 10 people eagerly watching what I am about to do next. I step back, take a sideways glance at the oven and my spirits then become as flat as the yorkshire puddings baking in the oven. What to do? All I can do is face the audience laugh and explain everything. Fortunately they were a good bunch and soon we were all in hysterics together. I soon redeemed myself as I weighed out more flour for the cake, mixed it up and put it in the oven. Fortunately the cake was a triumph and the crowd loved it, they even loved the yorkshire's after the hostess, Jayne, made some gravy and they all tried them. The fact that I was trying to illustrate that the stoneware was non stick got a little lost even though that part did work.
Amazingly I still had good sales for the night, who knows I may now be one of those silly little water cooler stories people tell at work, "You'll never guess what happened at my pampered chef show last night......"
I get so mad when people who work in a customer facing job are unhelpful or intentionally obtuse. I have just returned from the local council tip and I could spit!
Some slip of a lad who is probably young enough to be my son (god how old does that make me feel!) just had a go at me about putting a pan in the wrong skip. Fine I'd put it in the wrong skip but having a go at me! What's more annoying is that it was one of the other battered old men who work there who told me where to put it. He said put it over there and pointed in the direction of the skip I went to. How was I supposed to know he was actually pointing at another skip which was closed and didn't have a sign on it when all the other skips were signed?
Arrrgghh! Men, they are all rubbish!
Ok so maybe not all men are rubbish but it's hard to find the good ones. If you've found a good one please let me know what makes him good and how you found him?
I'm off to pound the hell out of an onion with my new chopping gadget to try and calm down a little, cheerio.
Have you ever had one of those weeks where you thing everything is going wrong?
Well that's me this week. 2 cooking shows cancelled and my sister was ill this morning so I went swimming on my own. Usually I take this kind of thing badly, thinking its something personl and reach for the biscuit tin or my baking cupboard. Instead I took it in my stride for once and got on with things. That's novel for me, let's hope it lasts.
If I had reached for the baking cupboard I would have been seriously tempted to make chocolate brownies or maybe even a pineapple upsidedown cake. In fact I really feel like reaching for the cupboard right now but I shouldn't, it's my weight watchers meeting in the morning and a severe slip like that could undo the good work I put in today at the pool. 40 laps and an hour of aquafit should hopefully help. Fingers crossed!
For those of you who can afford to eat the goodies here is the best brownie recipe I've found so far, and believe me I have tried loads of recipes trying to find the perfect brownie.
Best Chocolate Brownies......so far
4 oz or 100g plain chocolate 5 oz or 125g butter 10 oz or 275g caster sugar 2 eggs 2 oz or 50g self raising flour 1 oz or 25g plain flour 2 tbsp cocoa powder4 oz or 100g chocolate pieces
Before you start making the mixture you will need to grease and line a square or rectangular tin with sides which are at least 2 inches high. I use a rectangular tin which is about half the size of my roasting tin which works really well, in fact in the shop it was called a brownie pan, go figure.
If you are lazy like myself and you have a non stick tin then I just chance my arm by spraying the tin with a light mist of oil. The brownies have enough moisture in them so that they don't stick to the tin too much.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, don't let the bowl touch the water, for the lazy like myself try using a microwave, it works just as well then leave it to cool.
In a separate bowl cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Once this reaches a light and fluffy texture add the eggs a little at a time. This is to prevent the mixture curdling, however you will usually find that it still ends up a little lumpy but don't worry, the flour will sort this out.
In fact the next step is to sift and then fold in the plain and self raising flour and the cocoa powder. Try doing this in 2 to 3 batches as you will find it easier to incorporate everything together.
Next the melted chocolate can be stirred into the mixture, be gentle so that you don't undo all the hard work you have already put in to adding air to the brownies so they rise.
Finally add the chocolate pieces and mix again. You may want to reserve some of the pieces and sprinkle them on the top before you put the brownies in the oven, or if it is one of those weeks where you are saying 'to hell with the diet' then I say add extra peices to the top.
Well I am really tired and I have been trying to get to sleep for an hour now but I can't cos my head is buzzin. There are so many things in there at the moment and they are all milling around fighting to be heard.
Should I rearrange the living room, when will the radiators be done, what equipment should I take to my show tomorrow, will I be able to get in touch with Thursday's host tomorrow cos I still need to know what she wants me to cook, don't forget the car tax, pay the gas bill, will my stationery arrive tomorrow in time for the show, will my new stock arrive in time for the show, shouldI start painting the spare room while I wait for the radiators to be done, will the desk in the kitchen fit in the spare room, should I fit the kitchen flooring before the radiators are done, should I go for an oak effect floor covering to match the table I want, when will my gardener turn up to do the garden, can I afford to have the fence done too, can I afford to have all the work done on the house, will the Aviva shares ever get high enough so I can sell them to have the roof done, will I ever get any of the rooms in the house done to my satisfaction!!!!!!
Wow!! That's only the things at the front of my brain, there is way more if you dig deeper but I'm afraid I'll never get to sleep if I do. They say that writing down the things running through your mind helps you to get to sleep, if so then hopefully this was the therapy I needed. But I think not as I am now not sleepy in the least.
It's at times like these that I regret buying a house on my onw. I am not in the least bit a DIY enthusiast or a gardening enthusiast, in fact when I look at plants they die. Because of this I have to rely on others to help out. When you are strapped for cash you also tend to rely on friends and family to help out which always means you waiting until they have the time in between their work, family and obligations to help other members of the family. This is why the list in my head relates so much to projects in the house. But when I start to have the regrets I then try to look at the other side of things. I'm 36, I own my own car, no finance, I have my house, I have no credit card debts or store card debts and I am the owner of my own destiny. I've gotta be pretty proud of what I have achieved with hard work and determination, I've also got to remember that no one else is going to get me to where I want to be so I've got to go out there and do it myself.
That's got to be enough off loading to allow me to get to sleep, surely.
I really love muffins, that's why one of the first things I bought from Pampered Chef for myself was a stoneware muffin pan. Now if you know me you probably know that I am usually on a Weight Watchers diet so hearing me talk about muffins you'll be sat there asking yourself how many points are in muffins?!?!?!? Well I have a low fat recipe for muffins that works out at just 3 and half points per chocolate muffin, not bad eh?
So I bought this muffin pan and so far I have not made muffins in it, instead I got way too excited about the neat trick I was told about for the pan. See the yorkshire puddings in the picture? They were made in the stoneware pan. For me that is an achievement, I am inconsistent to say the least with my puddings and about 50% of the time they fall flat when I take them out. Since using the muffin pan I have had 100% success at getting perfect puddings to rise this high and not collapse. I am so pleased. But the most staggering thing is the fact that no oil or fat was used when making these and the muffin pan was stone cold when I put them in the oven. I kid you not!! This is a trick that the great Houdini would be proud of, and one I will be using in my shows in the future.
So the large muffin pan was such a success that I got really excited when I achieved my first sales bonus and recieved the mini muffin pan and tart stamper. I thought at least I would start making muffins, but then again I was sidetracked. Instead I made these gorgeous little jam tarts which came out of the tin like a dream and are so scrumptiously cute, and these are just the rejects where I added too much jam!
So for all those watching their weight, here is a recipe for gorgeous chocolate muffins for just 3 and half points each.
Chocolate Chip Muffins
9oz or 250g SR Flour 1/2 tsp or 2.5ml Bicarnonate of Soda 1/2 tsp or 2.5ml Salt 5 tbsp or 75ml Unsweetened Cocoa powder 1 Egg 5 oz or 110g Muscavado sugar 1 tsp or 5ml Vanilla Essence 3oz or 85g Melted butter/margarine 9floz or 260ml Milk 4 oz or 100g Chocolate chips
1. Sift the flour, bicarb, salt and cocoa together 2. Beat the egg and add the sugar, milk, vanilla and then the melted butter 3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until no dry ingredients are left 4. Add the chocolate chips and mix well 5. Bake for 20-25 minutes on 190 C/Gas 5/375 F
I am a chocoholic so making these cakes for others is such a nightmare, all I want to do is eat them myself but then I wouldn't make any money on them!! One of the greatest pleaseures in making them is the delight on the faces of my customers.
Strangely enough my chocolate cake started life the 1st time I was facing redundancy at work about 2 and a half years ago. On the day we were due to find out if we had our jobs or not I made a big cake for all the managers. I took it in and spent the day handing out cake to those nervously waiting. It gave us something to do while we waited and made me feel great because everyone raved about the cake. That time I kept my job so after that I started making it for my team for treats or on my birthday. This escalated into brownies for the guys in resource and before I knew it I was selling the cakes from a stall at work on an occassional basis. From there people started asking me to make cakes for them and I haven't looked back. Now I'm not working a 9-5 job I have more time to do this if anyone is interested, in fact I have branched out to birthday cakes for friends too.
So here it is, my first posting on my blog. I'm new to the blogging thing so please bear with me ifI ramble a bit.
The first thing I need to explain is my name. Yes I am aware I am female, and yes I am aware that I spell Joe with an e as if I was a bloke. This happened a long time ago while at uni and has just stuck. When you live with 17 girls and 4 of them are also called Jo you need to do something to stand out from the crowd, it was either add an e to my name or do something extremely drunkenly stupid to get myself known. I decided to do both, but that's a whole list of other stories to be told another day.
Ok so now the name thing is out of the way I should explain about the kitchen heaven thing. I lurve to cook and bake and I love gadgets so when I was made redundant it seemed the obvious thing to get into this arena somehow. Currently I am baking cakes for friends and their families and I am selling Pampered Chef products, take a look at www.pamperedchef.biz/joeskitchenheaven . This blog will hopefully track my attempts to build up a business for myself and to build a new life after the knightmare of a year I have just had.
If you are out there reading this please feel free to chime in with your comments, I'd love to hear your experiences if you have set up business on your own, or what happened to you after being made redundant or even if you are just interested in all things cooking/baking.
Watch this space for photos of my cakes and blatant plugs to buy the kitchen products I sell, and hopefully some funny bits too along the way.
I am a 30 something year old starting over again after being made redundant @ Christmas 08. I live in the village I grew up in with most of my family living around me. In fact my 21 year old great niece Emma recently moved into my spare room. Follow the blog to find out more!