And so the lazy days of summer continue. Here we are, home again, in the Big House. It was with heavy hearts we bid farewell to my dad and stepmum in Newcastle after a wonderful 12 days and 11 nights at their new house.
12 days of lounging about, eating chocolate, visiting friends and inadvertently boiling ourselves over the coffee plunger. 12 days of babysitting - not continuously mind - we're not complete sponges, it's just that we know how much Tricky adores his grandparents, and they him.
From the moment he woke at 6 am it was their names on his lips (more so Aphwa than Poppy it has to be admitted) and many times during the night it was their names he shrieked as he thrashed and rolled about on his mattress by our bed.
They didn't need us to tell them of his great, megavolume love - in this new house their bedroom is situated almost directly underneath.
As we kissed them goodbye on the street outside their house my stepmother hugged me and insisted loudly that Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without family and also that it was a wonderful thing to have family as the first guests in the new house. My father also hugged me and told us to mind how we go on the freeway that led us home.
Because I knew how much PLEASURE it would give them, I made a Summer Pudding on our final evening. And since readers have asked, this is how i did it, as recalled from that rather hazy New Year's Eve where I bullied Blob(pudding maker) into explaining the recipe.
Obviously there are no measurements or actual amounts called for, you just sort of make it up as you go.
BLOB'S SUMMER PUDDING
Italian Sponge Finger Biscuits.
They have got a name, it's pretty common but buggered if I can recall just at this moment. They come in small packs and large packs. I used a large one for 8 adults and had a few broken bits left over. Some use "stale white bread" instead of spongy fingers and I cannot think of anything more disgusting.
A pack of frozen mixed berries was my choice but i think in Blob's Boxing Day Picnic extravaganza he used real ie. unfrozen ones. He's such a showoff.
A Sugar Syrup.
I vaguely recall Blob saying half sugar, half water. Well how does that help anyone I ask you? I put a mug of water in a saucepan to boil and added nearly a mug of sugar and hoped for the best.
Whipped to billy-o
Get puddingy shaped bowl and pretending the Spongy Fingers are a curious 3D jigsaw, lay them in and around the bowl.
Trim where necessary and eat some of the trimmed bits before you click that you can use them to wedge into gaps. I actually dipped the first few biscuits in orange juice so that they were a bit soft so that I could make them fit together perfectly. This was a bit unnecessary frankly, it was an instinct born of panic, and it meant that the very top of my pudding was an unsightly orange colour. This step will take longer than you think it will.
Add your berries to your boiling sugar water.
Move around berries indolently with spoon, make pouty lips face and feel vaguely Nigella-like. Turn off heat immediately. Berries are officially poached. At this point you may feel moved to add splash of appropriate alcohol. I felt thusly moved but then realised that Tricky may get to eat some so instead I poured it into a glass and drank it.
Pour berries into charmingly arranged spongy finger pudding bowl.
Add last lot of Spongy Fingers to make lid.
Hunt up heavy plate to weigh pudding down.
Hint: do this first, otherwise you will be running round like blue arsed fly calling out "ooh ah! Is there a plate that fits this bowl?" Also you will find yourself using plate after plate and flattish bowl after flattish bowl, trying them on the pudding for size (it has to fit inside the bowl) and leaving a great trail of washing up in your wake since the pudding will leave a small smear of berry juice on each attempt. You will also, at one point, desperately reach for the dog's dish and try to fit that into place only to find once again that it is that bit too big. Half an hour later your father will work himself up to Full Mutter as he searches in vain for the missing dog's dish. God knows where you have put it.
Put weights on top of heavy plate and place in fridge...
Cans work well for this. Try and make the weight even else you might skew the pudding and gobs of berry juice may come streaming out the side and drip over your dad's bottles of wine and the rest of the holiday drinkies that are stacked beneath. This will take some time to wipe off. And because you move the cans to redistribute the weight, the same thing will happen on the opposite side. More muttering and some heavy sighs, but no harsh words because this is the holidays afterall and also you and your toddler are leaving the following morning.
...for quite a while.
My pudding was refrigerated for nearly 4 hours and I think this would be the minimum time to ensure good berry saturation. Overnight would be better.
Serve with whipped cream.
Turn out onto plate. Get brother in law to whip cream because frankly by then you are knackered and just want to enjoy effect. Make husband serve up pudding and cream and also lead hearty chorus of approval.