Monthly Archives: July 2011

Revolutionary new treatment for verrucas!

Bet you’re glad you discovered this blog. It’s so full of useful, glamorous things. Don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll sneak a designer bag in next week.


In the meantime, something more useful. How to treat a verruca without spending very much money at all.

Despite growing up next to a swimming pool (and using it regularly) I have never had a verruca. But my eldest caught/grew/developed one a few months ago. Now for those that don’t know, a verruca is simply a wart that grows inwards (because the weight of walking on your foot means it can’t grow outwards), and those black bits you see are the blood vessels.

So we did the usual and bought Bazooka that Verruca and nothing really happened. Then another verruca grew and I started to worry that my child would become like one of those freaks that has a verruca farm on her feet (this happened to my cousin, she had about eighteen of them). So after a few months of painting on Bazooka and nothing happening I texted my friend Mary, who is a GP, and asked her if I should take my daughter to the docs to have the verruca frozen off with liquid nitrogen. “Yes, you can,” she texted back, “or you can try something else that seems to be having lots of success.” I bit my fingers whilst I waited to hear what that something else was. Perhaps something illegal. That would be exciting.

“Electrical tape” she texted.  She said it would take a few months, but the Bazooka had done nothing in a few months so thought it was worth a try. So I bought some, from the market stall. It was 35p (yellow, if it matters) and I swear in less than a fortnight, all the verrucas had gone.

This is, of course, ground breaking news because it could bring down the fortunes of various over the counter remedies. I don’t know, perhaps it was fluke, but try it. I’m guessing electrical tape works the best as it’s very sticky and watertight, but all you do is cut a little piece, stick it over the verruca and replace every day/few days.

Let me know how you get on.

A 2014 update: we only use this now for verruca treatment and it’s amazing, especially if you can catch them early. For us it’s effective in less than a week.


Spot the eager small child trying to reach up for a madeleine

It started with the purchase of a madeleine tray. Because, ya know, I don’t have enough baking tins. Then came the hunt for the perfect madeleine recipe.

Big disappointment. Many were nothing more than a sponge recipe that you then baked into a shell-shape.

Then I came across a recipe by Heston Blumenthal in, I think, The Times. If I recall the tale correctly he made these for his wife when he was courting her. They are exquisite.

Here’s what you need:

125g unsalted butter, plus a bit extra for greasing the mould
100g icing sugar
40g ground almonds
40g plain flour, plus again a bit extra *
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons of honey
Finely grated zest of a lemon

*I have made these, really successfully (like can’t tell the difference successful) with rice flour for those that can’t have wheat. I made these for the super talented opera singer Sarah Connolly with rice flour and she LOVED ME FOR IT. I think she may have even shed a tear, although that may have  been at my singing.

This is what you do.

Don’t preheat any ovens just yet.

Put the butter into a small sauce pan over a medium heat and melt it, keep it on the heat until it starts to sizzle and, Heston says, have a nice nutty scent to it. I have an atrocious sense of smell so this never happens for me and I do it by eye, it goes darker is the only way I can describe it and takes about five minutes. You’re making beurre noisette.

Don’t panic. It’s not like making caramel. Set it aside and take a deep breath. You’re about to make something delicious.

Take your madeleine tray and grease it with some of that extra butter. Unlike when you make friands (more on them another time), don’t be tempted to melt the butter and brush it on. It makes the mads too greasy. Once you’ve buttered the moulds, sprinkle some flour over and tap off the excess.

This is where a flour duster must really come in handy. A flour duster is a kitchen gadget I do not (yet) possess.

Now, sieve the icing sugar, ground almonds and flour into a bowl. You’ll no doubt have some bits of round almond left over in the sieve, just chuck that in too when you’re done. Using a fork, whisk the egg whites into the sugar/almonds/flour. Just lightly and with no panic. You’re not making meringues.

Now add the honey, whisk it up a bit more. Now add the butter which should be warm, but not hot. Now the lemon zest and mix until everything is homogenous. To use Heston’s very particular word. Now add a bit of salt. I grind up some rock salt for this.

Now press some cling film or baking parchment onto the surface of the mixture and rest it in the fridge for at least an hour. I’ve left it overnight and longer. The gluten relaxes to produce a madeleine that is, to quote Ross in Friends (The “Manny” episode) “Lighter than air”.

I have, at this stage, transported the mixture on holiday, or to friends’ houses so that I can cook up fresh madeleines on a whim. But what you’re meant to do next is fill the moulds (which you could of course grease whilst the mixture is resting) with the mixture. Heston says they make 10 but I’m sure I’ve made 12. Anyway you fill with madeleine mixture and put it in the fridge again for half an hour (or longer if need be).

No-one said this was going to be quick.

Preheat oven to 170C.

Cook for 10-15 minutes. They should be dark brown around the edges but golden otherwise. Turn out (you may need to prise the edges with a knife) and leave for five minutes before eating. You REALLY need to eat these warm from the oven, they will never be that good again.

Nearly all gone..

Update, 24 June 2012

After several requests from my children to make chocolate madeleines, I decided to try to adapt this recipe. What I did was melt 50g of plain chocolate and divide the mixture made above into two.

Into one of the halves half I drizzled the melted chocolate and stirred it well. I then dolloped a spoon of the chocolate mixture into my madeleine tray, a spoonful of the plain mixutre and cooked as above. Result: fantastic. The chocolately bit was really chocolately. I had worried it might alter the mixture in some way, but only for the better!

The only thing I’d change is that, next time, I’d swirl the chocolate mixture into the plain mixture using  a skewer or something, to make it more marbled. Dunno why, just think it’d be nice.

But generally, I feel really very clever.

You can also add a handful of chocolate chips to the plain mixture.


I love these tea towels

It’s a joke in our house that whenever I’m on a particularly scary deadline, I iron tea towels. My partner can always tell when I’m procrastinating wildly because he comes home/downstairs/in from the shed and everything is ironed to within an inch of its life.

I only like industrial looking tea towels. The ones with the red or blue stripe and something (I’ve never worked out what) written down its length. I loathe cutsey, jokey ones. They are completely wrong. But I love these mid-century modern styley ones from M&S with their bright, graphic designs: £9.50 for three. I’ve seen similar for about £15 each so buy before they all go.