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THE WORLD’S MOST DISTRESSING GINGERBREAD MEN

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This week, we’re very excited to have Stuart Heritage (of Luv & Hat fame) as our guest blogger; especially as he is now a proper foodie with his own food blog and everything. Personally, we think that trumps the small fact that he writes for The Guardian.

So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to the very capable creator of the world’s most distressing gingerbread men…

If one thing characterised the summer of 2012, it was the gingerbread man. To mark the Queen’s jubilee, Sainsbury’s launched Mr & Mrs Jubilee – a pair of upsettingly malformed, boggle-eyed, jizzy-looking gingerbread arseholes. Then, for the Olympics, Sainsbury’s launched Mr & Mrs Sport – the same malformed, boggle-eyed, jizzy-looking gingerbread arseholes as before, but wearing medals. They made me proud to be British.

So, to continue the golden spirit of the summer, I decided to make my own gingerbread men. And because I made them, they’d obviously be much better than anything those supermarket dicks could come up with. Right?

HOW TO MAKE GINGERBREAD MEN

STEP ONE – Combine a load of gingerbread ingredients (like these) in a bowl. Decide that you don’t actually want to make 20 gingerbread men, so half all the quantities. End up putting way too much of some stuff and way too little of other stuff in because maths has never been your strong point. Dump it all onto some clingfilm.

STEP TWO – Roll the dough out until it’s the same thickness as a pound coin. Put in the fridge and plan to leave for two hours. Get bored after ten minutes and remove from the fridge.

STEP THREE – Realise that you don’t actually own a gingerbread man cutter. Attempt to cut the shape of a gingerbread man out of the dough with a knife. Fail hopelessly because you messed up the quantities of the ingredients and the dough’s still warm. This wouldn’t have happened if you’d just followed the instructions. But oh no, you think you’re better than that, don’t you?

STEP FOUR – Instead, just kind of hamfistedly fling a load of gingerbread men together limb by limb like some sort of awful surgeon who wasn’t hugged enough as a child or whatever. Do your best to ignore the fact that they look like little shiny poos because you’ll have to eat them soon. Bake at 180 C for ten minutes.

STEP FIVE – Forget that the gingerbread men will spread out in the oven. Stare at your wodge of mangled gingerbread for a couple of minutes, realise that you shouldn’t have taken the piss out of Sainsbury’s as much as you did because gingerbread men are actually quite hard. Briefly toy with the idea of inventing the gingerbread human centipede. Remember that you’re writing this as a guest post and that you should be on your best behaviour. Cut them apart with a knife.

STEP SIX – After spending about 20 minutes working out where the head is, ice sad faces on your pathetic mangled gingerbread stumps, and give them Smarties for buttons. Even though they don’t have hands. Or any discernible limbs to speak of. Maybe they’ve got a helper who does their buttons up or something. Look, shut up.

STEP SEVEN – Repeat for as many gingerbread men as you’ve made.

STEP EIGHT – Apologise to the readers of Kitchen Bitching, who are probably used to a better standard of cook than you, you jumped-up bimbo.

Putting the ‘ho’ into ‘hostess’

There’s a new Kitchen Bitch in town and her name is Babe Scott. She’s our kind of girl: a self-styled Kitchen Vixen and “card carrying manthropologist” who’s written a book on how to have a party without breaking a sweat or breaking the budget. And it’s published today.

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The Lazy Hostess puts the ho into hostess. Full of laugh-out-loud advice, food, drink and wise words from Homer Simpson to Winston Churchill, Babe’s chatty style belies a ruthless pragmatism for all manner of party planning and tantalising recipes (in party-sized quantities). Bacon-wrapped jalapeños and lychee Martinis? Yes please!

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The premise of the book is that the hostess should enjoy the party as much as the guests. She advocates roping in a friend or 2 to help with the food, music and decorating, and – most importantly – making sure you look your best. “The hottest dish to come out of the kitchen should be the hostess.”

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With ideas to pep up any party, from a small, informal affair to a major life event, The Lazy Hostess covers planning; guest lists; themes; dress codes; entertainment; toasts; clearing up; and even hostess gifts. My favourite bits of advice were how to get rid of people at the end of the evening (brilliant – but you’ll have to read it yourself to find out) – and the importance of preparing your boudoir for the man you will inevitably pull!

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This hardback tome is just the right size to hold in one hand while you hold a glass in the other, and is beautifully illustrated. It would make a great Christmas present for anyone you know who’s planning a party, anyone who owes you hospitality, anyone who loves to eat or drink, or for yourself.

For more on Babe Scott visit BabeScott.com or follow her on Twitter @TheLazyHostess

Published today by Bantam Press and priced at £12.99

Aural gratification

Sometimes I actually like cooking… when it’s just me and my iPod behind closed doors. I turn it up loud, sing the wrong words and forget that I’m just creating another pile of washing up.

But what’s best to play? Slow and smooth, electronic, hip-hop, anthemic rock? I haven’t got a specific kitchen playlist, but if I did it would probably go something like this:

Dark Side of the Spoon by Pink Floyd

Artists:

Tofu Fighters

Cream

Pastille

The Jam (Eton Trifles, Meat Surrender)

Spinal Bap

Hot Chocolate

Steak That

Plaicebo

Swedish House Ratafia

Salmon & Garfunkel

Milli Vanilla

The Peach Boys (Cod Only Knows)

The Rolling Scones (Brown Sugar and Street Fighting Ham)

Bananarama

The Smashing Pumpkins

Spice Girls

Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Bagel by Mumford and Sons

Albums:

Dark Side of the Spoon by Pink Floyd

Pies Open by Snow Patrol

The Edge of Knickerbocker Glory by Lady Gaga

The Edge of Knickerbocker Glory by Lady Gaga

Singles:

Little Red Courgette or Raspberry Beret by Prince

Being Boiled by the Human League

Bagel by Mumford and Sons

Is There Life on Mars Bar by David Bowie

You Don’t Bring Me Flours by Barbra Streisand

Blurred Limes by Robin Thicke

You Don’t Bring Me Flours Any More

 

I don’t like the Beatles, but would consider Strawberry Fields, Ate Days a Week, from Meat to You or A Lard Day’s Night.

The Fab Four

If you’re not yet feeling sick with groaning, how about something really cheesy… The Beatles’ Cheese Cheese Me or Lionel Richie’s Is it Brie You’re Looking For?

I’d love to hear your own kitchen favourites!

Guest Post: If I knew you were comin’ I’d have baked a cake …

We’re thrilled to have Aimee Claire guest blogging for us today – Aimee has guest blogged for our sister sites DIGITAL bungalow and live.love.space. already – Bitches, please make her feel super welcome!

Mmm cake! (image Ardfern via Wikipedia)

Mmm cake! (image Ardfern via Wikipedia)

If you are bored with your modern looking kitchen and thinking of a re-design that is a little bit quirky, a little bit funky, then consider creating a ‘50s style kitchen. Yes, I know it’s kitsch, but a ‘50s kitchen also has loads of personality, can be just as practical and functional as a modern one and its bold and vibrant colours will really make your home come alive.

Retro delights! (image Holger.Ellgaard via Wikimedia)

Retro delights! (image Holger.Ellgaard via Wikimedia)

Where to start

The first thing to do is decide on a colour theme for your kitchen. Original colour palettes from the ‘50s used lots of pastels, so think pinks and blacks, soft greens, creams and yellows. A typical floor from the ‘50s would have had a black and white chessboard design or pale coloured lino. However, although you want to go retro, a lot of pastel colours might be too much, so why not try black and white with a bold red as your base colours? Personally I would go for a really bold, ‘50s colour scheme, such as red teamed with turquoise.

After colour, you need to think about kitchen cabinets. If the existing worktops are in a pretty good state of repair, I wouldn’t bother replacing them; the same goes for the cupboard doors. There are plenty of paints now available, which can be applied to worktop and door surfaces, which will make them look as good as new.

Beautiful blue!

Beautiful blue!

The essentials

Once you have decided on a colour theme, there are some essential elements you will need to include to make your kitchen look truly ‘50s. An absolute must is a freestanding refrigerator; I love the ones in the current Smeg range and I have a bright red one in my kitchen!

For the table, I would suggest you think in terms of American diner furniture. So, you should be looking for dining table sets with stainless steel legs and Formica topped tables, matched with PVC padded chairs. I prefer booth or bench-style seating, although this will have to be fixed in one permanent position in the kitchen.

Get that diner feel!

Get that diner feel!

Split-level ovens are typical for a ‘50s kitchen, but more in keeping is a range or a cooker with an eye-level grill. Again, you have to remember that it should be in either a pastel colour, in keeping with your theme or white. I realise that some of you might be tempted, but black will simply not do.

Going back to your kitchen roots (image Infrogmation via Wikimedia)

Going back to your kitchen roots (image Infrogmation via Wikimedia)

The little things that make all the difference

Textiles are an easy way to bring the 1950s into your kitchen. I particularly like the vintage style tea towels and fabrics you can find in second-hand or antique shops. Hang pastel coloured or printed aprons from hooks on the wall. Extend the pastel theme to crockery and utensils; there are plenty of shops selling blue or pink mixing bowls and even tableware now and I have found there are plenty to choose from.

Who *doesn't* love a KitchenAid?!

Who *doesn’t* love a KitchenAid?!

I hung an Arabic numeral clock on our wall, one with a plastic, pastel-coloured surround. Modern toasters are available in a retro style now, as are salt and pepper pots, bread bins and tea and coffee canisters. In fact today, I reckon it is probably easier than it has ever been to create a retro kitchen!

Stop bitching, start whipping

The great British summer has reverted to type, with that special extra-wet rain that Mother Nature seems to reserve just for bank holiday weekends. So take shelter in the kitchen and whiz up a lip-licking luscious taste of summer with minimal fuss; strap on your pinny, grab your whip and make a creamy dreamy mess. Satisfaction guaranteed.

These creations were inspired by the purchase of a jar of Bonne Maman peach compote on special offer. Sunshine in a jar. You will also need some meringue nests, cream and fruit.

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Eton Pavlova

Start this and all the other recipes by whipping a tub of cream (double or whipping) until floppily stiff like an Etonian’s fringe.

You will need 2 meringue nests for each person. Place one on a plate, then crumble the other into the cream and mix, adding a few drops of vanilla or a splash of Amaretto if you fancy. Top the meringue nest with a spoonful of peach compote, a generous dollop of cream-meringue mixture, and finally some strawberries or raspberries.

Alternatively, just add compote and crumbled meringue into the cream and mix together. Then spoon into a glass, stop halfway and add a layer of fruit (I used strawberries), spoon some more on top and add a berry for decoration.

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Fool’s fool

To your whipped cream simply add some puree. Fold together until it is a) a pretty colour and b) it tastes nice (add icing sugar to sweeten if necessary).

Most English summer fruits – strawberries, gooseberries, peaches and apricots – taste much better for being cooked gently, which makes them easy to puree. Add sugar and a little water (except to the strawberries which just need a squeeze or two of lemon juice and some sugar) and cook over a low heat until the fruit has softened. When cool, strain off the juice and blitz in a blender. Or simply blitz some of the aforementioned peach compote.

These will all be much better if you give them time to chillax in the fridge before tucking in.

Competition Corner! HamperGifts Great British Hamper Tower Up For Grabs

We’ve teamed up with the guys over at Hampergifts.co.uk to offer you lovely Bitches the chance to win a gorgeous food hamper -the Great British Hamper Tower to celebrate the fact that the fabulous British summer has (finally) got its hat on.

Win this gorgeous Hampergifts.co.uk Great British Hamper Tower

Win this gorgeous Hampergifts.co.uk Great British Hamper Tower

The hamper contains a whole host of traditional British goodies – perfect for a picnic:

  • Cottage Delight Bramley Apple Sauce 200g AWARD WINNER GOLD MEDAL at the Great Taste Awards
  • Simply Delicious Yorkshire Butter Toffee 125g
  • Buchanan’s Chocolate Caramels 100g
  • The Wooden Spoon Wholegrain Mustard & Spitfire Ale 42g
  • Chunky Apricot Flapjack 120g
  • Honey Baked Flapjack 120g
  • The Wooden Spoon Citrus Grapefruit & Lime Marmalade 42g
  • Lancashire Crumble Fudge Cubes 140g
  • Edinburgh Tea & Coffee Co. Medium Roast Coffee 56g
  • Cottage Delight Summer Berries Jam 340g AWARD WINNER GOLD MEDAL at the Great Taste Awards
  • Triple Chocolate Cookies 100g
  • New English Teas English Breakfast Tea x 10 Envelopes
  • Spicy Tomato Chutney 42g

All these delicious offerings are presented in seven blue and silver boxes piled high to build a fabulous gift tower of loveliness!

All you have to do to be in with a chance to win this fabby hamper (worth £42.50) is follow us on Twitter and say hello! Every follower who has mentioned us in a tweet between 9am on Wednesday 17th July 2013 and 9pm on Sunday 4th August 2013 will be in with a chance to win and we’ll pick a winner, at random of course (we use http://www.random.org/) – winners will be told via Twitter.

GOOD LUCK BITCHES!

Don’t forget the Ts and Cs!

1.    Competitions and prize draws are open to UK residents only.

2.    The winner can choose to deliver the hamper anywhere within the UK & Ireland.

3.    No persons under 18 years of age may receive the winning prize if it contains alcohol.

4.    Prizes are non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.

5.    Employees and agents of Hampergifts.co.uk Ltd. and their immediate friends & families are excluded.

6.    The decision is final and will not be entered into.

Mad Hatters

Just like buses, you wait ages for one to turn up and then two come together. Not buses in this case, but Mad Hatters’ tea parties. Two of them. In one month.

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Warning: contains shrinking agent

The first was a birthday tea I organised for my 9 year old daughter (who happens to be called Alice). If you’re short on time and creativity, this is a great theme because literally anything goes.

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Half baked?

We went garish with the colours, and had sandwiches cut into heart shapes with cookie cutters, J2O served in teapots, fancy mini cakes, necklaces made of Hula Hoops (threaded onto strawberry laces), two-tone jellies, cocktail or ‘shrunken’ sausages – and the obligatory dormouse. All served on normal sized and dolls’ tea set china.

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The dormouse came out of the teapot

I printed out some pretty ‘Eat Me’ and ‘Drink Me’ labels from the internet, scattered heart shape confetti on the table, set up a game of long-discarded animal croquet in the garden and put my feet up for a couple of hours!

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“Yellow and green should never be seen…”

The second taste of madness was at The Sanderson. This was the real McCoy: weird and wonderful in equal measure. We walked past the Jelly Wonderland (!) to our table where you are given a tea (as in the hot drink) menu including flavours such as Mint Choc Chip and Rhubarb & Custard. Then comes the food-tea which includes ‘magic mushrooms’, rolled up sandwiches, herb scones, ginger and white chocolate scones, a ‘drink me’ potion served in a little bottle with a straw, and various cakes and miniature puddings. The menu is concealed within a (genuine) old book, the napkins are wrapped with paper containing riddles. A refreshing change from the ubiquitous posh hotel afternoon tea.

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Eat me!

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