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Monday, 3 September 2012

Summer 2012

Summer 2012 has been a summer of firsts - a summer of new and exciting experiences, which have opened my thirty year old eyes and made each week (or, at least, each weekend) a mini adventure. I want to share some of the highlights with you:

- Sister Mini and I shared one of Kitty Travers' banana parfait choc ices last Saturday at Maltby Street. The first bite made Sister Mini audibly giggle with delight at the creamy banana-ness of the ice cream, half dipped in chocolate. Food that makes grown women laugh out loud cannot be recommended highly enough;

- My apricot tree produced its first apricot (and it was possibly the most delicious apricot I have ever eaten) (like any proud mother, allowance may need to be made for bias however, on anyone's reckoning, it was a very tasty apricot);

- I made Michelle Obama's buttermilk and blueberry cake. And having made it once, I made it again and again, alternating the blueberries with strawberries, peaches, nectarines, raspberries or whatever other summer fruit took my fancy;

- I had a wonderful dinner (my first) at Upstairs at the Ten Bells. The menu was original, the food delicious and the company some of the best. Go if you can...

- I cycled home through London at 3am having rowed as part of a 24 hour charity rowathon from 11pm (following dinner at Upstairs at the Ten Bells...). London looked beautiful and eerily quiet in the dead of night;

- Alison Krauss was the support act to Paul Simon in Hyde Park. I bought her album the following day and have listened to nothing else since. I was also introduced to Imelda May. If I'm not listening to Alison, it's Imelda singing her heart out on my headphones;

- I cycled for the first time on the right, on my first visit to the south of France, on my first cycling holiday (many more to come) and on my first solo holiday adventure (not nearly as daunting as I feared...);

- My courgette crop failed for the first time. Usually courgettes are the staple of my summer diet but this year I had to make do with tomatoes, peas, broad, french and borlotti beans, chard and...my local farmers' market!

- I invented a safari supper in Soho, starting with pinxos and a glass of cava at Pix, followed by fritto misto and bowl of the best pasta outside Italy at Bocca di Lupo and completing the safari with a gelato at one of London's many fine gelateria (ok, so it's a European safari);

- it wasn't my first Olympics but it was my first London Olympics and I felt so lucky to live in London during those brilliant two weeks.

Summer is giving way to autumn all too quickly. I am planning a winter of firsts to distract me from the short days and rainy cycles to work. All suggestions gratefully received... x

Michelle Obama's Buttermilk and Blueberry Cake

225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
325g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
350g caster sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
125ml buttermilk
450g blueberries

Preheat the over to 180C. Line and grease a 23-35cm tin (or two loaf tins).
Beat the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a bowl.
Add the eggs to the butter and sugar, one at a time, beating well after each has been added. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
Continue beating the mixture gently - add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively.
Fold in the berries and pour into the tin.
Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the tin for 20 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool.

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