Thursday, September 09, 2010

Aga saga

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.

In the midst of the wedding preparations, Sinbad arrived. Deeply naughty, very cute and completely lovable, we were totally unprepared for the chaos that comes with an eight week old puppy. We wouldn't have it any other way though and he is now a fully-fledged member of our pack.

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.

In London I woke to the sound of planes coming in to land and opened my curtains to the charming view of a brick wall. Now I wake to the sound of silence and open my curtains to this...

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.

There is however, one rather large problem standing between me and a coruncopia of culinary delights. Let me introduce our Aga...

Many people dream of a kitchen with a range such as this. Until we moved here, I considered myself one of them. What could be nicer than a permenantly warm stove? The heart of the home. I pictured myself as domestic goddess extraordinaire gliding around the Aga with the dog at my feet, casserole in the bottom oven simmering away. Life would be good.

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!


lynn said...

Antonia, I'm soooo happy that you're back. Your garden looks beautiful, ditto Sinbad, and that wedding dress.........stunning (but we need more photos). Looking forward to lots more posts.

Antonia said...

Thank you Lynn. I'm happy to be back too and feeling much more enthusiastic about the whole thing. I got rather bogged down in our move and now I'm here I am re-inspired!

miss mary said...

Toto! Sooooooooooo glad you are back! I can't wait to read more of your blogs and to catch up next time Sam and I are passing your way!


Maria♥ said...

Welcome back Antonia, I've missed your posts!

Congrats on your wedding, your dress looks gorgeous. Sinbad is a cutie, love labradors. And I wish you much happiness in your new home and fun with the Aga ;o)


Margaret said...

Ah you both look lovely, even though you only gave us a back view of yourselves!!!
Pleased that there is a dog, otherwise there would have been three of you in this marriage - you, your husband and the Aga!
I love the Cotswolds and hope you embrace the change. Great to see you back Antonia.

bellini valli said...

There certainly have been a lot of extraordinary changes Antonia. It sounds like things are getting settled and you are as happy as ever. Congratulations on all counts!!

Lucy said...

It's good to be reading your posts again - so much has changed, congratulations! Your new house sounds gorgeous I can't wait to see what delicious things you can make with all that glorious food :)

Antonia said...

Mary - hope you are well! Do call in if you and Sam are passing nearby - we're near Cirencester. Be lovely to catch up.

Maria - thank you. I'm pleased to be back too - it has been far too long.

Margaret - nice to hear from you. Am excited about getting to know the Aga and am sure I'll enjoy getting to grips with the new cooking techniques.

Val - many thanks.

Lucy - I'm planning a picking session for this weekend and am looking forward to creating some delicious goodies with my haul.

Jet said...

I'm sure it won't take you long to learn to love your AGA.

Might be worth going to your local AGA shop and partaking in a demonstration or something.

Good luck!

Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

Lovely to see you back Antonia.

And congratulations on your wedding, Sinbad and moving.

I am sure you will learn to love the aga in due course!

Antonia said...

Jet - that is a great idea. We do have a local one and I've picked up a list of their demonstrations and courses. Just what I need!

Helen - Thank you and I'm sure you are right and that I'll learn to love it!

Wendy said...

Oooh, congratulations on the wedding and the weightloss and (most of all!!) the dog! Lovely news. Glad to see you back. :)

Brownieville Girl said...

Congratulations on all your happy occasions.

Mary Berry is your only woman for Aga cooking!!

Nicisme said...

Many congratulations!
What an exciting year you had, glad to see you back and blogging again.