I've had a fairly serious break from blogging. The past 18 months have seen some fairly serious changes in my life and, to be honest, I haven't much had the time (or inclination) for my blog. First there was the flower-sender. We met just 19 months ago, were engaged after four months and in May we got married...
Prior to the wedding, we took stock and decided that we both needed to lose weight. We've lost over 6 stone between us and I am feeling decidedly lighter on my feet. Our diet is certainly much healthier but, fear not, I still enjoy the occasional treat! For some reason, I didn't much feel like blogging during this period. I wish I had though as I miss having all my recipes in one place for reference.
Whilst all this was going on, we decided it would be a good idea to move house. I've lost count of the number people who told me that moving house is one of the most stressful things one can do and was I really sure that getting married, changing job and moving house all in the same year was a good idea. I suspect they may have had a point. Particularly as we were moving to a whole new area. From start to finish the process took almost a year but I'm pleased to say that we've finally sold my London flat and are now renting a house in a chocolate-box village in the Cotswolds.
The trees in the garden are laden with apples, pears and plums. I finally feel like I can breathe out after all the mahem of the past year. Above all, I feel reinvigorated and newly inspired. I can't wait to gather in the autumn produce from the garden, forage in the hedgerows which are laden with blackberries and sloes and install myself in the kitchen.
The kitchen. The new kitchen. It is twice the size of the London one, plus it opens out onto a large dining area. It is a proper, sociable kitchen which is flooded with light. I look out onto the garden. Installed in the 1970's, it is not the most attractive kitchen in the world but I love the feeling of space.
But then I realised that I didn't actually know how to use an Aga. It couldn't be too complicated, surely. My husband kindly gave me a book on the subject for my birthday. I read that the secret to successful Aga cooking seems to lie in never opening the top lids and investing in a whole new set of expensive pans. Not good.
I'm being unfair. This isn't really the case. I'm certainly not buying new pans just yet (especially as we were lucky enough to receive some extremely smart ones as a wedding present). But I do need to learn the Aga way of cooking. It is different. I find that I am allowed to open the lids and cook on the top after all. I just have to understand that when the lids are open, I'm losing heat from the ovens. The 80:20 rule is apparantly what I need to follow. 80% of cooking should be done in the ovens, a mere 20% on top. Follow this 'rule' and I will, so I'm told, learn to love my Aga. I don't doubt it. Anyone I've ever met who has one is completely wedded to it. I suspect I will be too in due course.
We are lucky enough that there is another oven to use as a backup and we're waiting for the temperature to drop a little before we fire up the Aga. I'm excited about the challenge and looking forward to sharing the results of my efforts here. I hope you'll enjoy reading about them!