Sunday, 18 August 2013

An Apology and a Confession...

I am going to start this post with an apology. A big fat sorry for neglecting the blog and leaving you all in the dark on the particularly important musings on what I have been scoffing with my afternoon tea or hiding in my under-the-bed box of random crockery for more time than is really acceptable. I could blame the sunshine (more feasible this year than last, I suppose), or perhaps my recent purchase of a new pair of trainers and gym membership that has led me to break a sweat for the first time since year 6 sports day. Or, I could just face the brutally honest music that has not been blaring from my laptop as I have been avoiding putting any words to virtual paper and tell the truth; I mean, the trainers have not been that busy- I have simply been a little teeny bit lazy of late...

But, let’s not dwell on the past; I am back, and as means of apology for my lack of commitment, I am going to kick off this post with some deep and meaningful  questions to really get you all thinking. Only joking, you don’t need that on a Sunday; but I would like to air a few concerns about whether my car-boot-sale-loving, quilt stitching (yes, really) 24-year-(supposedly)-young life is entirely normal. I have based my concerns on a few tendancies that seem to have emerged in the past 6 months, tendancies that seem to rear their blue-rinsed, permed heads on Sundays more than any other day of the week. Of course, a preference I share with all my Grandparents (there are a few, it seems) the day that signals guilt-free lie-ins, papers in plastic wrappings, roast potatoes and early mornings spent riffling through people’s old junk in fields across the land is without a doubt the day for me.

And herein lies my concerns. Take this morning. I started the day, as you do, furiously scrubbing the labels of two rosé bottles that I was adamant were to be brought all the way back from my recent holiday in Brittany to be transformed in to olive oil decanters. The fact that I do not yet own a house, let alone any olive oil is, obviously, beside the point; as is that fact that I also insisted on fragrancing my boyfriends overstuffed car with a Camembert box, minus any actual cheese but with a very distinctive lingering aroma, just because I took a fancy to the label. Normal? I’m not so sure.

But that’s not all, after the scrubbing had ceased, and a nice cup of tea had soothed my nerves; I trekked, old carrier bag and purse of 10p coins in hand to the car boot sale down the road. Pennies worth of floral plates later I was happy, but still left wondering if I have somehow flicked the switch on my biological clock to dog years and am in fact 109 years old.

And my worries about my old-age pensioner inclinations do not stop there. What other 24 year old gets excited when LOOK magazine declares that the ‘Granny Sandal’ is the new Fashionista footwear of choice (I already have several pairs of said sandals, one of which are so convincingly on-trend that my Mum started making my ‘Grandma’ a cup of tea as soon as she saw them next to the door.) Then there is the fact I have had to turn off the Radio 1 breakfast show on the way to work, my all consuming love of tea and cake, my insistence on wearing midi-skirts even though I know my boyfriend hates them with as much passion as he hates the granny-shoes and any kind of second-hand floral crockery. Is any of this actually, you know, alright??

But what I really want to talk about (so excuse all the wittering on, it must be my age...) is my obsession with breakfast. Is it ok that even before the last spoonful of muesli has left the bowl I am planning my next morning meal? Is it really allowed that my favourite thing is sitting down with the crossword, a mug of tea as big as my face and a bacon sandwich ready and waiting to soak up any whisper of overnight hunger, at 24 years old?

Well, whatever, I don’t care...Just as Sunday is my favourite day of the week; breakfast is without a doubt my favourite meal of the day. I’m sure I am not alone in revelling in those magical mornings when there is time to stew over some French toast, or dreamily dunk those soldiers in to a perfectly boiled egg yolk, slowly and deliciously apologising to your body for all those bad glasses of wine you seemed to consume the night before (See, not so OAP). Honestly, I would eat toast and peanut butter at every meal if it was allowed. I have no doubt that if the Breakfast Club actually did what it says on the tin I would be first on the list to sign up- After all, there is very little else that makes turning off the electric blanket and getting out of bed worth all the effort.

Thankfully, one of my absolute favourite breakfast recipes is about as far from meals-on-wheels as you can get. A pretty wicked hangover cure for those days when a fry-up is just no cutting it and your sweet tooth is winning the battle of the breakfast table, this honey scented Brioche French toast, crowned with glistening roasted apricots and speckled with flaked almonds is almost enough to transport you, spoon in hand, to the whitewashed rooftop of a Greek island villa. But if you are not quite that lucky, and the never ending sky that accompanies your breakfast is more an English shade of grey that a sun-soaked azure blue, one whiff of vanilla spiced apricots, drenched in honey and sitting atop the fluffiest French toast will make everything seem that little bit brighter.

Make the roasted apricots the night before, and your path to a sunnier morn and a clearer head will be on the table in no time. All you will need to do is fry the egg soaked brioche, pile the sticky apricots, big pillows of creamy, gorgeously rich Greek yoghurt, honey and toasted almonds in to bowls, gather around some friends and get stuck in. Just what a Sunday morning calls for...

PS. Don’t worry too much about me; I am moving to London in 2 weeks so will endeavour to curb my car-booty habit and turn off Countryfile asap. Perhaps I will find all those elusive, sandal wearing Fashionistas and finally not be the only person in the same shoes as Vera from next door and the rest of the local bowls club...

Brioche French Toast with Honey, Apricots and Almonds

2 tins halved apricots in juice, drained
2 tbsp honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod
4 thick slices of Brioche
3 eggs
600ml milk
1tbsp caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Greek yoghurt and a handful of toasted almonds, to serve
Preheat the oven  to 180oc

To make the spiced apricots; arrange the halved fruit in a dish, drizzle with the honey and add the cinnamon stick and split vanilla pod. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the fragrant spices have infused and the fruit is soft.

Meanwhile, make the French toast. In a bowl, beat the eggs and milk until evenly mixed, before stirring in the sugar and lemon zest.

Dip each piece of bread into the eggy mixture, before frying in a hot saucepan and a little butter. Turn when golden, after about 5 minutes, and cook until evenly coloured.

To serve; top the toast with the baked apricots, a spoonful of yoghurt, some chopped almonds and a little honey.

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