- A surprise parcel in the post for the mister.
What could be inside, he wondered?
Surely not his favourite, cheese?
- An evening with Kathy Lette in the central library as part of the town's literary festival.
I'd only just discovered there was such a thing. I mean, this is one of the most deprived areas in the country with very low levels of literacy in some parts so maybe not the most obvious setting for a week or so of literature and writing related events. Whilst waiting for chatty Kathy to appear I realised the last time I was in this particular library was when I was 16 and meeting up with my best friend, who had a Saturday job there, in her lunch hour. (After leaving school she went on to be a proper librarian and we lost touch.) Funny how it seemed so much bigger back then.
- A couple of baked treats. First out of the oven was a blueberry cake using this recipe but adding just a small punnet of blueberries and topped with a drizzle of lemon icing instead of sugar. Tasted mid morning with mugs of strong coffee.
Next, a batch of perfectly round cherry, chocolate and almond cookies, another variation of the oats based recipe (see below) which seems to go down well in this house.
- A long lunch here with a friend where we caught up on each other's news and came up with a cure for the ills of the NHS. Next month: how to stop global warming.
Cherry, chocolate and almond cookies (amended from here)
Makes 12-14 decent sized cookies.
1 cup plain flour (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter)
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 cup soft butter
Scant 1/3 cup caster sugar
Scant 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 egg at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (you could up this to 1tsp if you prefer a stronger almond flavour)
1 cup porridge oats
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Small packet (75g) dried cherries
Small handful of flaked almonds
Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 .
Sift together the flour and baking soda and set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugars until smooth.
Beat in the egg and both extracts.
Add the flour mixture in two batches and mix until fully incorporated.
Stir in the oats, cherries, chocolate and flaked almonds. You should end up with quite a stiff mixture.
Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough (I used an ice cream scoop) onto 2 parchment lined baking trays, placing well apart to allow for spreading. Bake for 10 minutes, switch sheets (alternate top/bottom and back/front) and bake for 6 more minutes or until the cookies are golden in colour.
Remove from the oven and immediately press the top of each cookie lightly with a metal food slice. Leave for 2 mins then transfer to a cooling rack.