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Scary Things in the Kitchen 1 - Caramelising Sugar

Fear and courage are subjective. What terrifies me doesn’t raise a shiver in you. What I am happy to face head-on may send you running to the hills. And while nothing is really life-threatening in a kitchen, unless laced with a solid dose of stupidity, there are some things that intimidate me and, as a result, I’ve never tried them. But today I conquered one: caramelising sugar. 
I had visions of uncontrollable breakers of sizzling caramel, of unexpected volcanic eruptions giving me 3rd degree burns. Then I read Nigella’s recipe for Caramel Croissant Pudding and her intro appealed to me so much on a drab, wet Saturday afternoon:
… this is such a fabulous pudding that I now think it should be every Monday night's supper. And I mean supper: with something this substantial, you certainly need eat nothing beforehand.
Just dessert. I’ll go for that. 
She also made the caramelisation stage sound like a doddle, and no messing about with thermometers: Caramelise the sugar and water mixtur…
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F*** It! Mud: a Mantra for Running & Life

Off-road runners know about mud. After rain, a squelchy footpath through woods or across a field that gradually clogs up the treads on your shoes until you feel you’re running with foot weights. Then there’s MUD: a whipped-up quagmire of slippery sludge and ankle-deep pools from edge to edge along a stretch of track with no hedgerow to clamber along, no parallel path to take. 

You can turn back, retrace your steps and find another route. Or you can try and pick your way through the best of the worst, aiming for the firmest looking areas. But, let’s be honest, the chance of getting through it without a soggy sock and shoe-full is unlikely. 

There was no chance of turning around while running through Hurst Wood in Kent with Meopham & Malling Ladies Joggers a couple of winters ago. A few of the group had tackled a really long muddy stretch without too much collateral damage and were waiting for the rest of us at the end of the track. I was attempting to pick my way across some likely…

Fish in the orchard

Fish in the orchard

I am not surprised to see him
in the long wet grass between the apple trees
because I know what we are all capable of 
when we act with conviction.

Not that we have to swim against the tide,
do the opposite of what’s expected
to be noticed. The same road or river,
the same worn path offers itself up

to us: bright green leaves of dandelion
in a crack of tarmac, the sound water
makes over rock, our footsteps adding
to the memory of other footsteps

on the hard packed earth. We are always
at the beginning of something.

My Honey Dilemma

When I was a child in the 1960s the honey sold in the local Co-op was Gale’s but I was only interested in the ‘thick’ one that I loved to spread on toast for breakfast. If my mother had bought the ‘runny’ one instead I’d pass on the honey in favour of Bramble Seedless jam. 
These days I use clear, pourable honey in my spiced tea. I add a squirt or two to my homemade vegetable soup to temper the acidity of tomato. I drizzle it on roasted carrots. I whisk it into cream to dollop on apple cake or pie. And I make hot toddies with it, adding lemon juice, nutmeg and a shot of whisky.
But I still prefer a creamy set honey spread on buttered toast. At least I thought I did until I tasted Sarah’s Acacia Honey with Mixed Berries.
‘Taste this,’ I said to my husband, handing him a slice of toasted corn bread.
‘Ooh,’ he said. (In a much more manly way than it looks on the page!) 
Because it seems that after 50 years I’ve found an alternative response to my childhood predicament of choosing bramble jam …

Rope, Running, Trees

I threw out a rope and gathered in the frost, the leaf-mulched paths, sunlight, the bumpy clatter of wood-pigeons overhead, ice shattered by cars over puddles, the sound of a golf ball before it flew through the air, Beechin Wood, Pigeon’s Green, Potash Lane, pot-holes, sudden hollows, a short stink of methane at the back of the quarry, the snuffle of a horse behind a hedge, a duck pond, dogs and their walkers, and all kinds of trees that accompanied my steps, my breath all the way out and home again. 

Running through History: Snodland, Paddlesworth, Birling

Let us praise the small roads, the ones we know by place names not numbers: Paddlesworth Road, Birling Hill, Snodland Road. Let us praise being sure of where we have come from or where we are heading to. And let us praise their raised shoulders of earth crowned with trees, a sudden slap of a red post box on a bend, a memory of quenched thirst sunk into an old stone wall.  Let us praise too those who walk, ride and run them, adding their footsteps to the centuries of history, to the stories sitting behind us, and the one we are moving through that never, even if we do, really ends. 

We Fly

The garland of plastic icicles
has yellowed to the colour
of old bones.

Less frozen water
and more the evidence of age
of lives lived

as if all our days
have compressed around the marrow
of joy and loss, fear and gain.

We are tough and brittle.
We walk and we fall and even 
without wings we fly.

With warm wishes for Christmas 2017 and the New Year


a tray of eggs
          homesick now 
          for middle age

          Modern Haiku 46.3 Autumn 2015

Strawberries in November

There’s a lesson here, perhaps,
that even the beautiful can be discarded.

Or another lesson, that there’s a time
for everything, or that change is inevitable,

and other dog-eared philosophical scraps
we try and make sense of the world with.

So let’s get back to the here and now:
the poly-tunnels empty, a shoulder-high

slump of bags and plants and then
the unexpected scent as I run past

like the sweet ghost of summer
lingering in the autumn sun.

Archive 2010 to 2017

You can read every single one of the original hungry writer blogposts, joyfully written between the Autumn of 2010 and Spring 2017, by clicking on the menu bars on the top right hand corner and choosing Archive.
A beautiful simmered reduction of the blog's first five years was published in October 2015 by indie Kent publisher, Cultured Llama. The Hungry Writer, in book form, will transport you from France to Wales and to rural Kent. It will tempt you with lovely colour photographs and personal recipes, and encourage both apprentice and practising 'hungry writers' to maintain or begin a daily writing habit and explore your lives, memories and imaginations with 365 writing prompts. You'll also find workshop guidelines at the back of the book for writers who choose to work with the writing prompts in a more structured environment.
Enjoy. Eat well. Live well.
Lynne x