Gah! It’s nearly time for my half term idyll to come to an end. It’s only by the grace of God – or an inset day – that I am able to bring you this, from my dressing gown, at the shocking hour of 10.30. I have no idea how I’m going to manage waking up at a normal – ha! – hour tomorrow, let alone muster two reluctant teenagers, desperate to hibernate in their lovely fluffy duvets.
Still, we’ve had a good run for our money. Though not literally, that would be far too sweaty. But we’ve had a lot of bloggy fun during the holiday.
So far, we’ve acquired a fabulous Philips Airfryer, and thoroughly put it through its paces. I must admit that, when the kind Philips folk rang up and asked if we’d like to have one of these lovely new thingamies, I thought it would be the size of an ordinary frying pan. Not so. It is about the girth of a young Dalek, and sits, squat and a bit forbidding, on the kitchen counter. Now as you know, I have a bit of a thing about appliances. I like them to be stuck in cupboards. So far I’ve put tellies in cupboards, stereos in cupboards, the microwave in a cupboard and, rather triumphantly, the bread machine into a cupboard. So every time I look at the airfryer, I think ‘cupboard’. Particularly as it is black, a colour I am not at all keen on. But that is my only quibble. The fryer itself is absolutely brilliant, which is really the whole point after all.
We are not a great family of fryers. My mother would occasionally, very occasionally, get out a mysterious black pan, full to the brim with oil, when she made chips. The whole thing was laborious, and fraught with danger. If the pan caught fire, we would all be in big, big trouble and the world would almost certainly come to an end. With this lurking in my memory, and with the health implications of frying in mind too, I’ve always tended to grill rather than fry.
The airfryer, though, is a closed unit, so no danger of the universe going up in flames. And it uses hardly any oil, amazingly. Half a tablespoon is enough when cooking enough chips for a family of four – yes, really – and they come out delicious.
So far, we’ve done the chips twice, with two different thicknesses, and I’ve also made chicken nuggets, with some breadcrumbs provided by Philips but jazzed up with my own combination of chopped coriander, Dijon mustard, a bit of paprika and some lemon pith. No fat at all, not one drop. Move over Colonel Sanders.
I’m looking forward to trying out fishcakes, and there are also recipes for all sorts of unlikely things, like brownies and cakes, which we’ll have a go at. It’s very easy to clean, with non-stick surfaces, and to use, with a simple timer on the front and a temperature gauge. Couldn’t be less scary, and it produces great results. We’re supposed to be scoring my culinary efforts and probably taking pictures of everything, but so far I’ve failed to have a camera on hand at any of the crucial moments – black mark there. I did ask for scores out of ten last night and was awarded 101 and 910, and you can’t say fairer than that, can you?
As well as all the exciting stuff coming out of the kitchen, our smallies were invited to Build-A-Bear Workshop to make their first ever bears. A proud moment. We arrived to find a bit of a hoo-ha as the stuffing machine had broken. Build-A-Bear devotees will know that the revolving drum of stuffing is an integral part of the bear creation process, and I felt very sorry for the staff as they had three large parties booked over the day. They were absolutely gorgeous with the small folk though, showing not a trace of panic or rush, and helped them create two very fantastic bears, Tabby, who is actually a cat and is wearing very natty high heels, and Bear, who has fetching camouflage markings and is wearing a Spiderman outfit. As you do. This year, as usual, Build-A-Bear is helping the BBC’s Children in Need, with its own Pudsey bear. Every Pudsey sold will add £5 to the Children in Need total. Pudsey also has a range of clothes, slippers, bits, bobs and fripperies which also contribute to the charity. TL was a bit taken aback by the oath of eternal fealty the children had to swear to their bears,but I pointed out that it was no bad thing that the smalls had agreed to take good care of their bears and, so far, they have stuck by their words.