I’m feeling much, much better than when I last posted! My mother is visiting this weekend and yesterday we went out to lunch and then to the Royal Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker – wonderful and sparkly, we had a lovely time. I’m making the most of the ballets on in London this December: next week I will be going to the Snow Queen, and the following week to the Nutcracker, both by the English National Ballet (at the Coliseum). In the past four years going to see a performance of the Nutcracker has become something of a pre-Christmas tradition for me – and I enjoy it every time. Before that I had never seen a ballet, but like many little girls when I was around 5 years old I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I grew up. This was solely because I had the Ladybird book about Ballet with its picture of pretty dresses and pretty ballerinas with lots and lots of stage make-up – as a five year old I thought these were just about the prettiest ladies I’d ever seen!
I had a cooking afternoon at the end of last week, making several meals to freeze – the first time I’ve one this. I made and froze two weeks’ supply of bread, a cottage pie, a shepherd’s pie,* and two salmon en croute (salmon pieces in a sauce baked in puff pastry). It has given me quite a bit of satisfaction to see four night’s worth of food sitting ready in the freezer, and I am so grateful to have the freezer space to do this. Definitely something to do again. My bread making has come on dramatically and I am finally turning out some nice light-textured wholemeal loaves. I’m adding more water and leaving them to rise for longer, and that has made a big difference to the texture. My white egg-enriched (challah) bread is still everyone’s favourite here – I might start sneaking some wholemeal flour into that recipe to make it healthier!
*shepherd’s pie and cottage pie are both dishes of mince in savoury sauce (sometimes with peas/carrots added) topped with mashed potato. Cottage pie is made with beef mince, shepherd’s pie with lamb.