Newton’s First Law of Motion

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion…

I’ve never been good at staying in one place.  My parents always told me that the world keeps on moving even if you try to stay still, so you’ll never be in the same place for long.  I can honestly say that I’ve never been fully unpacked in any place I have lived since I was ten years old.  Home isn’t where your stuff is; it’s where you can relax and spend time with the people (and even things) you love.

In this house, it is also where my kitchen is.

new kitchen photo

Remember how lovely it is?

I have documented the process of creating my dream kitchen. I may have said it was finished in January, but I meant it was *finished (as long as you don’t look up or down or over there)*.  The ceiling was only just painted — four times — over the past fortnight (thanks, Mum!), and Dad and I just got the door frame in place last week.  It needs a few pieces of quarter-round around the bases of the cabinets, and we’ll be in business.

I get to put into action all those fancy words of wisdom.  We’re moving on, selling up, shipping out — and soon.  We need to be at-least-a-little settled in our new locale by 1 September.

Why are we going?  Well, mostly because we can.  With all the work we’ve done in this house, we should be able to sell it fairly quickly.  We don’t have any other financial obligations in Belfast.  We don’t have children who we have to pull out of school.  We’ll only be a couple of hours’ travel away from our friends and family here.  I know CB worries about taking me away from the home we’ve created here — it’d be much easier to stay — but I’m not worried.  I first moved here almost six years ago with nothing but a suitcase; I didn’t know a single person in Northern Ireland when I arrived, and I’ve built a life here.  I have a family here.  Family doesn’t just stop being family because you don’t live in the same town.

Plymouth

Ho hum.

Where are we going?  CB got a job at Plymouth University in Plymouth, England.  It’s more secure than his current job, and it will open more opportunities for funding and research.  From all appearances, it’s a lovely place.  When CB was interviewing there, he sent me pictures of him having pizza on a boardwalk and riding the train up a cliff-filled coastline.  They seem to have a bit of a gluten-free community, and there’s even a River Cottage restaurant to try to spy my husband’s TV chef/farming doppelgänger.  They grow apples by the tonne there, so maybe I’ll get inspired and give this guy a permanent spot in my new kitchen [note: I just saw that post mentions how I’ll never stop moving!].  It’s much further south, so we won’t have any of this freezing rain in June mess we’re experiencing right now, and our little sunbathing queen will have more cause for celebration.

Zoe in sunshine

I call her Squints McGhee.

So … know anyone that wants to buy a house?

Kitchen Progress, Life Progress

Things are happening so quickly!  The giant week (which is so giant that it actually encompasses 9 days) kicks off Friday when I see Van the Man receive his Freedom of the City.  Two days later, I’ll be taking in They Might Be Giants in my third country — this time, only down the street, no airplanes required!  Thursday brings the Lumineers, and Saturday is the Doctor Who 50th anniversary.  Somewhere in the middle, I have a sewing class to attend, parents to retrieve from Dublin, tons of crocheting to do (speaking of crocheting, if that’s your thing and you want to order for Christmas, you need to get on that.  Really.), and, oh, some houseWORK to tackle.

Tearing out kitchen

Clearly, one of my favourite parts of the process is the WORK.

So much to do — should I say ‘so much to be done’ — but it’ll all end with a brand new shiny kitchen for me to mess up during Thanksgiving.  The first crumb will be a tiny heartbreak, but then I know I’ll dive right in and make it my own.  And my own kitchen is nothing short of a workshop.

Kitchen newly plastered

The current state of the kitchen — yes, new plaster is meant to look like that.

Radio Silence

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and there’s a reason.  This is my kitchen:

Kitchen

Yes, that’s a bottle of Pepsi and a package of string cheese. No, I’m not ashamed.

Well, if I’m honest, THIS is my kitchen:

Kitchen full

Doesn’t everyone keep mattresses on their countertops?!

You see, CB and I bought a house.  A big house that requires a lot of work.  What it means is that I have not properly cooked in close to a month.  Since I don’t have as much as a stove, I have also tried not to think too much about food in general.  We are working too much, not eating enough, and not sleeping enough.  It’s taking a toll, but it’s our house.  Every wall that is plastered and painted makes me fall more and more in love with it.

What I do have is a date for my kitchen installation!  About a week before Thanksgiving, the final touches will be finished.  I get to demolish the existing kitchen, too, which is just too much fun to me.  As soon as things get moving, I’ll start updating again, I promise.  Until then, send me all the good surviving-the-mess vibes you can manage!

The Weirdest Bread

My mother finds all these things on Facebook and tags me in them. I am always tempted to keep them open in tabs until I realise just how slowly they make my computer run. I’ve only recently started using bookmarks; my thinking has been that I’ll never actually go back and click on them. So far, I’m kind of right.

One post was intriguing enough that I didn’t have to keep it open for long. Here is the original post, though I should warn you that it’s confusing. I’ll fill you in on the details.

So, basically, “oopsie breads” start as meringues and ends as airy breads. I don’t know how it works. I put my scientist-analyst head on my shoulders (In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t have a scientist-analyst head anywhere in my bag of tricks.), and I still didn’t really get it. When I tried it, I think I might have overwhipped the eggs whites, if that’s possible. The recipe suggests that you could make 6 large breads or 8 medium ones. I had 8 really big breads that, as I later learned, were probably a bit too tall.  You might want to smooth them down with the back of a spoon to make them shorter.  I probably could have made 10 of the right size had I known.  They are really light and airy and kind of felt like foam.  I did NOT have high hopes.

I’m happy and surprised to say that they were really nice. CB liked them, though I only let him have one and half. They work really well as hamburger buns. I even sprinkled sesame seeds on a few of them to harken back to childhood barbeques.

Oopsie Bread

Yes, one has a bite taken out of it already.  How else was I to know it was done?!

Yes, one has a bite taken out of it already. How else was I to know it was done?!

Ingredients:
3 eggs
100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cream cheese
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon psyllium husk powder

Hardware:
Stand mixer
Spatula
Spoon
Small bowl
Baking pan
Oven

Directions:
Separate eggs.  Place the whites in the bowl of the stand mixer with the salt and whip together until you achieve stiff peaks.

While the egg whites mix, place the egg yolks, cream cheese, baking powder, and psyllium husk powder in the small bowl and mix until combined.  When your whites are whipped, slowly spoon the yolk mixture into it and stir together with the spatula.  Try to do it with as few motions as possible to keep in all the air you have created.

Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet in dollops depending on your desired size.  Like I said, the recipe says that it will make 6 large or 8 small breads, but I had 8 large ones.  It’s possible that my eggs expanded in the mixer more than expected.  I imagine you could top them with any spice or herb you want; I only tried the sesame seeds on a few.

You can see they didn't expand much in the oven.

You can see they didn’t expand much in the oven.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.  I thought they looked like they would be done much faster, as they had a real shape after about 10 minutes, but they needed the entire time.  If they stick to the pan, use a metal spatula to pry away.

It doesn't feel like bread to the touch, but my mouth was fooled!

It doesn’t feel like bread to the touch, but my mouth was fooled!

4th of July

Happy 4th of July to my American friends! It’s a bit odd celebrating here, but I do it anyway. Tonight, we’re going to have a mini-BBQ on my father-in-law’s new grill — and it looks like we have been given a tiny dose of sunshine for the occasion!

Apple confetti cake with caramel buttercream frosting

As American as apple pie — Apple confetti cake with salted caramel buttercream frosting

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it!)
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup double cream
115g unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups icing sugar

Hardware
Medium saucepan
Stand mixer
Wooden spoon
Various measuring cups and spoons
Stove

Directions
Stir together the sugar and water in the saucepan.  Have the vanilla extract and cream ready beside the stove.  Place on medium-high heat and don’t touch it! (If you stir it, it’ll be harder to see when it turns dark, and it’ll burn if you miss it.)  Keep your eyes on it, and remove from heat as soon as it turns a dark amber colour.  Very slowly (exercise your patience), add in the cream and vanilla extract, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon.  Continue stirring until you have a smooth consistency and even colour.

You now have caramel!  Let it stand for 20-25 minutes until it is cool to the touch.  Avoid eating it by spoon.

Cream the butter in the stand mixer (paddle attachment) on medium-high with the sea salt.  It should take a few minutes and might require stopping to scrap the sides.  When smooth, lower the speed and add the icing sugar a bit at a time.  Once it is completely incorporated, pour in the caramel.  Mix until light and fluffy — at least 2-3 minutes.

This frosting is best if you let it stand at room temperature for a few hours before using.

How are you celebrating?