Friday, 22 August 2014

Blue Macarons and Cabbage Whites

I said I wouldn't show you these but perhaps if I do, it will help prevent you making the same blue boo boo.  How did this happen?  Well I got a bit cocky with my colourings!  In her book Mad About Macarons, Jill Colonna  talks about not adding too much colour because if you use too much extra liquid  it can mess with the macaron batter. I was aiming for a gentle rose colour to complement the strawberry flavour and started with 3 drops of blue and added 3 red but the blue was soooo strong I ended up emptying half the (small) bottle of red to the mix in a panic to make it ummm...less blue.  Didn't work lol!  This batter was looser than my first version which I think was because of the excess colouring and had more air bubbles. I decided to press on regardless and this is what went in to the oven.  
And this is what came out.  Ugly huh?  They were brown round the edges with splattered out little feet so I suspected I'd baked them on too high a temperature but some reading online suggested it was the liquid colouring I'd used which although fine for icings, wasn't necessarily heat resistant.  Further searching suggested using a paste or even better, powdered colour and this is Jill's preferred option too.  Good enough for me until I saw the prices, ouch!  So I've started with the two cheapest colours, red and yellow and if they're wonderful and if I think I'll keep making macarons, I'll take a deep breath, empty the piggy bank and order some more.
Don't be fooled by the Ugly above.  Once filled with the strawberry cream, these tasted terrific.  You just had to close your eyes to eat them!

We've just returned from camping in Cornwall so we've had our fix of being woken by crashing sea waves and screeching seagulls and with a freshness in the air it feels as if summer is ending.  The drift into lazy autumn is one of my favourite times of year and I'm watching the elderberries and sloes ripen ready to be picked and bottled.  Our produce has been varied with sweetcorn, black French beans and apples.
There are more apples to come and they're creating a bright splash of red in the otherwise green garden.
The sprouts are starting to look more sprouty and have survived a damaging onslaught of cabbage white butterflies laying hundreds of eggs.  At first I was able to keep up and wash the eggs away when they appeared under the leaves but inevitably I missed some and the caterpillars that survived turned the leaves to lace.  So I fought back with an organic spray and a deterrent!
You can see just how badly chewed the leaves were below and see those two cabbage whites?  They're the deterrent!  I read that cabbage whites are highly territorial and if they see another cabbage white they'll fly off.  So I printed and laminated pics of CW's and wired them to the top of a stick.  One afternoon, we sat and watched several CW's flutter around the sprout patch and not one settled so I think my deterrent worked! Himself said the neighbours would laugh but perhaps they did, I would have, but there have been no new eggs laid and the leaves are beginning to recover. (Or it could have been the organic spray!)
The preparation for colder weather has begun.  Our log store was helped by a luckily timed trip to the local recycling centre where we parked next to a chap dumping this fantastic pile of logs.  He said he couldn't get a chainsaw through them so we were welcome to take them. We didn't need a second invitation and we took home more than we'd unloaded.
And to bring you right up to date, I wrote a very rushed post earlier about what we built in the garden this summer and here's the finished item.  It's our big shed!  It's been about 4 years in planning, two years of saving and two days of constructing but now it's installed!  The chintz curtains are slightly embarrassing and not what I had really wanted but this was the only fabric big enough (Ikea I think) to cover both windows.  Having the shed gives us storage for all the things we don't have space for in the cottage, like potato sacks and rusty cement mixers (it's a man thing).
We're hoping to soften its impact with honeysuckle and below we're just starting to train the plant to crawl along the side of the shed.  Hopefully next spring this will provide wonderful scented evenings as we potter about in the garden.

1 comment:

  1. A double-bill congrats is in order, Deb. Well done on the macarons. I understand your colour frustration here but now you know on the powdered colourings - it does make a huge difference. They look super and bet they tasted great. I can just see you sneaking macarons into your splendid new garden shed with your feet up! Bravo!