Tuesday, 27 September 2016

How to make an apple crumble... when you don't have any of the ingredients

This could have just as easily been titled "winging it". Because that was how that this recipe came about.

The story

If you were here with me last time, you will know that I am only a few weeks settled into my new home. One of the more pleasant surprises from the move was that my garden actually has all the fruit. There are two pear trees, a cooking apple tree, rhubarb, wild strawberries, some fruit that I can't even identify, and two separate patches of raspberries which are quickly devouring the whole garden. I am up to my elbows in fruit, and it's bitter sweet, because there are only so many raspberries you can eat before you get bored. It was time to take action.

At the weekend I was faced with two new apples and again, all the raspberries. Then I had quite the light bulb moment: what better weekend for an apple crumble?

It was a fine idea. Until I discovered I had zero ingredients for any sort of crumble.

I didn't have the right sugar. I didn't have the right butter. And once the apples were peeled, cored and de-bruised, there wasn't a whole lot of apple there.

But I am no quitter. Such a trivial thing wasn't going to faze me.

The lack of apple was easily recovered by adding raspberries to patch up the crumble base. I'm not sure that using Bertolli olive spread was ever for recommended use in a crumble topping.... but I went with it. And you know what? It looked and tasted like a traditional crumble. And oh my, it was delicious.

Not too sweet, and not too sharp, the fruit seemed perfectly fine despite using the wrong sugar. And apples and raspberries were a winning combination which I'll be using in crumbles time and time again. In the meanwhile, if anyone wants any raspberries, you know where to find me...

Thursday, 22 September 2016

UPDATE // Buying my first property

It feels like ages since we last spoke to each other! Long time readers will know about my latest purchase - The House. Looking for a new flat or house is all very exciting when it comes to going to look at properties, but nothing could have prepared me for the stress of placing an offer and the overall buying process. Having been unsuccessful on one property (being outbid at the last minute) and then facing a bidding war on house #2, thankfully my final offer on house #2 was accepted. That was November last year. There wasn't a particularly long chain, but the administration, fees, and waiting time un-romanticised the whole exciting buying your first property notion.

The original memo was to complete over the May 2016 bank holiday weekend. But a few days prior to the Bank Holiday, there was silence. And silence is never a good thing. Turns out the other end of the chain needed serious medical treatment which would span May - July. So instead July was the suggested month. Nothing. The majority of August passed and then suddenly it all happened in a flash. The exchange was finally made.

For those not familiar with the whole buying process, the exchange is where it all becomes legal and official. The completion date was set for 1st September and the guy in my now home confirmed he had booked his removals van. It all became very real very quickly.

But despite it all being locked in and technically legally binding, there was still that niggling feeling and ALL THE ANXIETY. Only earlier this year did I read an article about someone who had exchanged, had a completion set in stone, and booked their removals, only at the last minute for it all to come crashing down. The result? They lost their apartment and had to start their property search all over again. So despite exchanging, I couldn't relax. I was super paranoid and had that awful, awful feeling that it was all going to go tits up.

Fortunately I was proven wrong. I picked up the keys on 1st September and stood inside my new home, amazed at the prospect of owing a house before hitting 30. It still doesn't quite feel like 'home', but it's getting there. Some rooms initially smelt stale so over the first two days, a vigorous cleaning regime was put in place. Every inch of the house was cleaned. I hired a carpet cleaner and spent a whole day cleaning carpets. I have added lots of my own touches like reed diffusers and candles, and those things combined with the smell of your own cooking (in my case, largely red wine based meals!) really helped eliminate that new home smell.

There is still a lot that needs to be done. Rooms are still looking fairly empty, and will carry less echoes once filled with furniture. The living room and kitchen are no longer filled floor to ceiling with boxes, which is a start. Only on week two did I unpack my clothes and buy an ironing board. It's been so nice not to wear the same old things and to be crease free! FINALLY got Internet at the end of last week, so normal service at Curiouser and Curiouser can now be resumed!

As well as the usual food, fashion and lifestyle content, I have got lots of house and home related posts and advice coming up which hopefully those of you looking to get onto the property ladder will find useful. Thanks for bearing with me!

*image source Pinterest