Thursday, 28 March 2013

Visit to the past..

Hear yea, hear yea; I come bearing news of great joy! Here is a most wondrous missive for one and all to read!

Ok, so the whole reason for my attempt at “oldy worldy speak” is that last weekend, the lovely Charlotte and I braved the fantastical world of Wilfred Bagshaw’s Time Emporium, where we left the rain and traffic of Shoreditch to travel back to 1381 to prevent the death of John of Gaunt. This was possibly the weirdest way I have ever spent a Friday evening but considering my “eccentricity”, weird stuff is normally the most fun!

Anyway I feel I probably ought to rewind and do a bit of explanation. Obviously we didn’t really travel back in time (unfortunately), but we did get to spend our night in a Victorian Warehouse that had been turned into a rather convincing, medieval marketplace complete with tavern (selling mead and a plague cure), military tent thingy, creepy plague doctor and all other 14th century delights, whilst wearing full on cloaks and attempting to complete a sort of murder mystery. Charlotte and I did give up somewhat on our task of preventing murder (things went downhill after Miss Davey introduced me to a member of the militia as a prostitute in an attempt to extract both information and gold coins) and we were somewhat distracted by the food being sold outside, which included sausages or steak on a pile of salad with lovely wodges of bread and butter (wodge is such a satisfying, if non-existent, word in my humble opinion). We did end up making friends with a chap called Michael, who seemed rather normal at first, but, at the somewhat modern after party he, and his girlfriend, appeared to be some sort of sex pest swingers who kept trying to dance (in a rather saucy fashion) with anyone and everyone; I suppose one cannot assume that anyone is normal when they’re willing to dance around wearing a flowing cloak…
Charlotte and one of the militia!

Prior to this chaos, the luverly Lottie and I had great fun wandering round Covent Garden, which is one of my top destinations in town. We wandered round Joy, a shop that is filled with lots of lovely dresses and fun gifts, were slightly disgusted with the shoes in Kurt Geiger’s sale and finally stuffed ourselves with the rather delicious food found in Paul’s, the upper market boulangerie/restaurant chain. Millefeuilles fraises is too delicious for words!

That was the most exciting thing that happened to me recently anyway! I spent the weekend before feeling somewhat sorry for myself after the disastrous match between England and Wales which resulted in a rather delicate Imogen the next morning; drinking gin and tonic may seem like a wonderful and sophisticated idea at the time, but it is neither ladylike nor necessary to drink it at the same time as the boyfriend and his friends! As a result, I have been rather well behaved for the past couple of weeks, and have actually spent the past few days chained to a desk (well, dining room table), ploughing on with my research project. It’s not finished, but only a few hundred more words ‘til I’ve done my first draft at least! It’s rather satisfying to get that much work done, and with the weather being so dreary, it has at least kept me somewhat occupied.

I suppose I ought to return to my project or go to bed! Easter is fast approaching, and with Mother intent upon feeding (and watering…well wine-ing) the 5,000, I am going to be busy helping with lots of cooking! My priority tomorrow is to attempt a Simnel cake (complete with homemade marzipan hopefully!) and Saturday will be choccy-orange cheesecake day. Goodbye waistline me thinks!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Food...and baking...and food...

Evening all! Now after a promise to try and be a bit more regular in my blogging, I appear to have failed miserably! I do have an excuse that comes in the form of the horrific Research Project 1 that forms part of my course this year; every time I sit down in front of my laptop I feel that I really ought to be tackling it! As well as this, I have been trying (and failing) to revise and most of my weekends have been spent baking, watching rugby and eating too many biscuits! Anyway I really ought to be revising right now but I can’t quite face it so I thought I’d give all you lovelies a bit of an update.

Now as I mentioned, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and I want to share some of the recipes. The first thing I baked was my first attempt at Irish soda bread. I used a James Martin recipe from the BBC website but as I actually took photos, I want to have a go at writing it out…blog style! I’ll pop the recipe at the bottom but in order to tempt you to carry on reading here’s a picture of the finished product. It was demolished by the end of the evening and literally the best thing ever eaten with butter whilst still warm from the Aga!


I also tried a couple of wonderful Joy the Baker recipes including Lemon, Lime and Thyme biscuits (which can be found in her recipe book) and her Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies (  I managed to not take any photos really which was a shame but I can recommend both recipes as producing really scrummy biscuits! I did however, have a slight problem with the “Cloud Cookies” which I think was down to the differences between English and American products; the recipe called for almond paste which appeared to be very similar to marzipan according to the wonderful worldwide web. Up to the point before eggs were added it was fine but afterwards the mix became very runny and would not thicken leading to very flat, sticky biscuits. I, being a slight perfectionist, was most unhappy with their appearance but they did taste lovely! Next time I’m going to try fewer eggs, whipped to a tougher consistency, maybe some flour or failing that, make flat biscuits but stick them together with whipped cream! I also found a brilliant recipe for Victoria Sponge by the Hairy Bikers on the BBC website ( which made a lovely moist, dense but somehow still light creation (word of warning: do not put cream and jam in the middle while cake is still hot….does not work out well…). The batter was really thick so I added a drop of milk to thin it out but I’m not sure it was necessary!
Such thick batter!
This is when the best bit of baking occurs...hell yeah I still lick the bowl!

Cake looks good...but you can also see why whipped cream and warm cake don't mix :(
I suppose I ought to stop going about food but just before I do I have a website to recommend…

Right, must stop talking about food (well until I write out my lovely bread recipe!). What else is there that I can discuss? The rugby is obviously fantastic at the moment although I’m getting increasingly nervous for the match on Saturday….Come On England!! Please win the Grand Slam! I feel that at some point I will have to do a women’s guide to rugby; a way to entice the uninitiated into this fantastic sport. Despite growing up with rugby fanatics, I still don’t understand most of the rules or know any of the positions (apart from hooker of course), but I feel that ladies will always appreciate a game with good looking chaps in shorts that must be watched with an alcoholic beverage preferably in the freezing cold whilst wearing a rugby shirt. Such fun!

Chaucer likes rugby!
I’ve just seen how long this post is! Apologies mes amis for this; I’ll stop rambling and just write this recipe and leave you in peace. Once hols start and the dreaded project is complete I shall try to write a proper, non-food obsessed post!

Recipe for Irish Soda Bread (adapted from
  • 170g/6oz wholemeal flour
  • 170g/6oz self-raising plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 290ml/½ pint buttermilk (I’d maybe have a bit extra on hand/ some normal milk and I found the dough I ended up was a little dryer than I could handle!)

Now according to this recipe you have to set the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6…if it’s an Aga do what I do and ignore this and just accept that you’ll have to keep a closer eye on it!
Of course this is how I always dress when cooking (actually it was Christmas two years ago..)

Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir. 
Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a fork to form a soft dough. This is when I found I had to add extra buttermilk but you may end up having to add extra flour instead! 

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. I love this bit because I feel like I’m making proper bread….

Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.

Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. It’s recommended you then cool it on a baking rack…however if I were you I’d cut a slice immediately and eat it with lashings of butter. Then cut another slice. Then wrap it in a tea towel so you can have another warm slice later. And don’t tell anyone else you’ve made it…cos they will eat it all! 

  Oh..then wash up.

I’ve also just realised it’s St Paddy’s Day on Sunday so this is the perfect recipe to celebrate, complete with Guinness and lots of potatoes!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Please say that it's Spring in the air?

Hello my lovely Readers! I have been terrible at doing regular entries so I’ve found some time this afternoon to update you all on everything including walking, a kept NY’s resolution and some of my lovely friends! I’ve just returned from brunch (Kentish Canteen of course) with two of them so am feeling rather full (a full English, chocolate brownie and two pots of tea didn’t seem greedy at the time) and disinclined to do anything productive such as work, packing etc.

Anyway the first exciting bit of news is that, for the first time EVER, I, Imogen Wainwright-Jones, have actually kept a New Year’s resolution! I promised in my last entry to attempt a dance class such as salsa; I didn’t quite manage that but I have actually started Zumba and I am thoroughly enjoying it! Not shifted any of the pounds yet but I suppose that stuffing myself with chocolate/ cake/ bread beforehand probably isn’t the most productive way to go about losing weight. Anyway, despite this, if you’re as much of an exercise-phobe as I am then I highly recommend it; it’s actually fun and very few of the people take it particularly seriously (bar that eager one at the front…there’s always one!) I haven’t got any further with any most of the other resolutions but I suppose I have 11 months to become a political and economic linguist! I did also promise to find a second follower which I have somehow managed. I did promise to give Miss Ellie a bit of a mention so I thought I’d actually devote a paragraph or two to both my lovely followers!

For those of you mad enough to have read my blog from the very beginning, you will know that Charlotte is my reason for having started blogging at all! She and I met a few years ago at a choral course where we became firm friends, probably due to the fact that we didn’t seem to take things nearly as seriously as we should and we have mutual obsessions with afternoon tea, period dramas, Colin Firth and vintage clothing! She writes an amazing blog which I highly recommend (although it makes mine look horrendous) and there’s now a follow up here: Anyway she’s ab fab and if we are both unmarried by the time we hit our 40s, I am forcing her to live with me and keeps numerous cats, dogs and goats so we can eat lots of cake and stalk the male “youth”. She also shares my baking obsession, which was reflected in her AMAZING Christmas pressie to me…watch this space for piccys when I actually getting round to balking some of the things in here!

Best present EVER!!

Now my second luverly follower is, as mentioned, Ellie! Ellie had the misfortune of meeting me last year when we started university together. We are both Surrey girls so share a sense of humour that is anti Northern (just to classify…North is anything above the M25…I don’t care if you consider yourself from the Midlands or East Anglia…you’re still Northern!) and have mutual acquaintances which is always useful! Anyway she and I tend to spend the time madly giggling and she, like everyone else, takes the mick out of me lots and lots, but I like to think it’s affectionate abuse!

I don’t want to jinx things but it finally feels like Spring is in the air! I had lots of fun in the snow but I am so looking forward to cracking out the summery skirts and floaty dresses! I’ve had a lot of lovely walks recently in the outbreaks of sunshine including one up to the heath yesterday which cheered me up no end! I also keep dragging my boyfriend out for walks which I’m not sure he appreciates but it gives him the opportunity to wear his new shoes which I hate. Seriously, am I the only one who has a problem with these?!

Jacket! Sorry for the embarrassing "selfie"!

I suppose I really ought to tackle some work although I’d really rather go for a stroll! I shall leave you with a few pics of snow and one of my red jacket that I mentioned in my last entry!
Doggies in the snowww! cute!

London Victoria...waiting for the bus!