January 27th, 2011

Hope to see you?

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Hello!

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My one month winter hiding is almost up!

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From this coming Saturday (29th) you’ll see me regularly down at the market again!

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I’m really looking forward to going back to work (did I just really write that??! Lol). As much as I enjoy being cocooned at home, there’s so much of it that I can take, I become a total lazy so-and-so! I hate myself for it, but I think my head still thinks it’s Christmas! I hardly touched on the loads of “To-do’s” & the exciting projects I have in mind… There’s intentions but no actions, just lots of ineffectual stomping on the same ground… And perhaps it’s because it’s winter, I’m just eating eating eating! (Needless to say that I have a sweet tooth…) I know it’s not good but I can’t stop! I think I need to get busy with work just to keep my weight in tow!

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And ofcourse, when I go back to work, I should hopefully meet lots of you too? xx I’m very happy to say that last year there were so many blog-readers who came to the market to see me (currently, on average I receive around four blog readers every Saturday – & that’s just counting the ones that do reveal their identity!). Astonishingly quite a number are from abroad, especially America & Asia. I should also mention that there are lots from this country too! It’s SO amazing. I know it might sound odd, but I am still blown away by it all. Every single time, I’m struck with a dose of happiness to find out that they came via knowing me through my blogging.

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Here’s a picture of one blog-reader who came to the market last Autumn – all the way from Minnesota!!!!!!!

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Coco&Me - Coco & me - www.cocoandme.com - Tamami and Mrs. L at the cake stall - Broadway Market(Mrs. L)

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She & her husband were such smiley & happy people. I felt the connection straight away. After this picture was taken, they presented me with a gift. What?! Wow wow wow!!!!! I mean, I totally didn’t expect that obviously. – It had a red & green ribbon on the box, so I kept it unopened ’til Christmas day. Keeping an unopened present for a month in the house was a bit of a suspense, in a good way. I must admit, on quite a few occasions I almost opened it, especially days when I felt tired & in need of a ‘pick-me-up’, but I kept true to my promise to Mrs. L. – When I did open it on the morning of Christmas Day, I was enchanted to find a set of silver measuring spoons, delicately engraved! Wow, it’s beautiful & truly special Mrs. L! Thank you!! xxx

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I’m not sure how it’ll exactly pan out for me (I’m still everywhere with my ideas), but I’m thinking of retiring from selling cakes in the next year (or perhaps two), so if you’d like to, please visit! I really would love to see you!!! (Ps: I should point out that, no, you don’t need to give me presents to see me! Really! Lol!! Like I say, your “presence” is the “present”! Geddit? A bit naff?? Lol, oh well, it’s true though.)

January 14th, 2011

Last Winter

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I know it’s some time ago now, & it certainly feels like it, but I thought that for this post I’ll write about how it’s been at the market last Winter.

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Although… well, in short, I can simply put it down to one word: ‘crap’.

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Saturday 18th of December:

Coco&Me - Broadway Farmer's market chocolate & cake stall snowing E8 - Coco & Me - www.cocoandme.com

(picture taken earlier in the day)

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The weather during the week leading up to it was not good for starters. It first snowed on the Wednesday I think, & I remember at that point I deliberated on wether to turn up at the market. But my books showed that I ALWAYS do ‘more than a good-day’ around this time of the year, afterall it’s meant to be THE cushiest day of the year for retailers, & I thought snow or not, surely people still need cakes for dinner parties & chocolate boxes for presents…, right? So I decided to go, but chocolates-wise made just 360 truffles, which is slightly more than the usual but a lot lot less than last years’ 700+.

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Come Thursday, as I was prepping the tart dough to rest in the fridge overnight, big clumps of snow started to fall, & within just half an hour everything outside was covered in white. It looked so dreamy & so romantic! But straight away alarm-bells were ringing in my head & I was thinking: ‘$%!t…, this is gonna be waaaay bad for Saturday’s trade…’

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Waking up to snow-wonderland on Friday morning was, let’s just say an official booking for the doom & gloom ride for Saturday. At this point, I made an executive decision (ahem!) to bake as little as possible – so there were no lemon drizzle cakes, cheese cakes, brownies & lemon tarts, & generally less of everything else, especially small heart tarts.

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First thing when I woke up on Saturday morning, I looked out of the window. Good, it’s not snowing. Hm, it might be alright. So I psyched myself “Right! I’m gonna do this! Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it!!!” & got in to my battle-gear (Lol!) of heat-tech, turtle-neck, fleece jumper, multiple layers of leggings, woolly socks, & the ‘pièce de résistance’ stick-on heat pads… – D was really great about all of this snowy situation & without a single moan carried everything in to the car & scraped the snow off the car windows. But as we tried to set off, the engine… wouldn’t start up. “Crap…” (I very very rarely swear, but on this occasion I was). On reflection, this perhaps was the tell tell sign of things to come that day.

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Miraculously (& with D’s persistence to try turning the key numerous times) the engine decided to play ball with us. When we got to Broadway, the market boys had been busy removing the snow off the pavement already! Ha! Good work! ~ Feeling uplifted by their spirit & seeing all the other traders who braved it out, I set up my stall. And from early on, big cakes were starting to be sold – Hm, maybe it’s not as bad as I feared??

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But Tamami, learn, please, follow your instinct. You shouldn’t ‘ve come. For as yes, it’s started to snow HEAVILY & it’s way earlier than what the weatherman said. (Mister said it’ll hit the East around 3pm, but in reality it was 10:30am.) At first it was lovely in that ‘oh wow, this feels like a proper Xmas Market.’ kind of way. Everyone was smiling & enjoying the experience.

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After thirty minutes or so, the tarpaulin roof cover over us was sagging with the weight of so much snow. I saw fellow stall holders using a broom stick to shove the snow off it. Thinking, wow, what a great idea to foresee it caving in, I asked if he could broom my roof too.

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Soon as it happened, I regretted asking. – Just above my stall is where two sheets of tarpaulin connect, & with the force of the broom it separated like a flap & a load of snow was dumped on to one third of my table, yes, disastrously on to quite a number of tarts.

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“Oh £v<k.” (ps: so sorry for all the sign-hidden swear words in this post, like I said, I very rarely swear, but I like to portray it as how it really went…) The man with the broom profusely apologized, poor bloke, but it really wasn’t his fault, if anything it’s the stupid roof. I told him so & to not worry. But I think my facial expression must’ve been so awful looking, he walked away looking unconvinced of my words & ever so sorry. – It must’ve been because in my mind I was repeating ‘this..is..not..good.. this..is..crap..”. I quickly put all the affected tarts aside (which got given to fellow stall holders to consume – they didn’t mind) & got the market boys to fix together the roof.

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But aw gawd, what ever next? … What!? Gaaaaa!!!! The snow is now blowing INTO my stall!!! And not just a bit but big time! It’s going all over my things! Sa~ve me….

Coco&Me - chocolate tart covered in snow at Broadway farmer's Market E8 - chocolate & cake stall - Coco & Me - www.cocoandme.com

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It took a while to figure out a solution (which was to buy cling-film & cover the goods). By that time more things were too damaged for selling on. Even the ones that were not directly hit by snow was also damaged as the moisture in the air was making the tart bases soggy to the touch. Might as well really, because to top it all off, the early heavy snow detracted visitors it seemed & the foot count was bad anyways. Later in the afternoon, I heard that the public transport had come to a halt & fellow stall holders started to talk of how on earth they’d be getting home. Some packed up early so they have a head start & obviously because they simply had enough of a bad day.

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  1. 3pm, D telephones me. He can’t get the car to start up again.
  2. 3:10pm, the car finally starts but he now couldn’t roll it out of the parking position because there’s too much snow under the tyre, it’s slipping.
  3. 3:15pm, standing outside in gusty wind which felt like -6 degrees, I started my ‘end-of-day saaaaale….!!’ call. I think it’s the earliest I’ve ever done so.
  4. 4:20pm, D had only moved about 1.5 miles from our house due to extremely bad traffic.
  5. 4:45pm, pride shunt aside, I managed to sell almost everything except for two chocolate heart tarts.
  6. 4:50pm, but panic!!!!! D is still stuck in traffic & he’s going to be very late to pick me up. But the market finishes at 5pm…!! Do I stand by the side of the street with all my bags & wait?!
  7. 4:55pm, I then remembered that our friends D & L who lives near to the market dropped by earlier saying that if I ever needed help today they’d be around. I phoned them & within ten minutes they came rushing to my rescue… Friends like D & L…, are a God-send… THANK YOU.
  8. 5:20pm, in D & L’s warm house, feeling relieved but exhausted. I just couldn’t get over how lucky I am to have them as friends. L swiftly hands over a mug of hot mulled wine, orange slices an’ all. I’m so lucky… It could be because my cold body was getting back to normal temperature, but I felt a tad mushy.
  9. 5:50pm, my D arrives at D & L’s house. In the end it took him OVER FIVE times longer than usual to drive. I’m so sorry… & thank you for not complaining…

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Friday 24th of December:

Coco&Me - picture of stall table selling chocolates and cakes at Broadway farmers Market E8 - Coco & Me - www.cocoandme.com

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In my mind, I knew it was always going to be a gamble, the fact that the market day being a Friday instead of the usual Saturday. ~ Would it be busy or quiet? ~ I knew there’d be quite a number of people that had already traveled away to spend Christmas with their parents. But Broadway Market being loved by the locals, there’d always be shoppers too.

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I decided that this 24th for me would be about having fun & not stressing out on stuff not being sold. I wanted 24th to be plain-sailing, a nice finish for the year. So I didn’t make any lemon drizzle cakes, nor brownies & lemon tarts. Generally less all round, which was the right decision as the foot-count was great in the morning but trickled in the afternoon. Which infact suited me fine. I’ve already left my pride somewhere last week I think (!) as I felt so easy about calling out ‘saaale!!!’. … well besides, anything’s better than last week isn’t it - atleast it wasn’t snowing nor so windy.

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The market ended early at 3pm. Wishing “Merry Christmas” to so many people during the day ofcourse has a knock-on effect, & I’ve been feeling festive all the time, but it was when D with the two children came to pick me up that I truly felt festive & loosened up. Seeing them approaching the stall, all happy to see me, I vowed never to work on a silly day like the 24th, I really should’ve been with them. To somehow make-do with the time left, we went to sit at ‘Off Broadway’ (a café/ bar that is just a few steps away from my stall). The children drank hot apple juice (their favourite), I had red wine (my favourite), & D was coffee with milk on the side (his favourite non-alcoholic drink?!) as he was driving. It was a nice little moment there & I’m glad we did it.

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(ps: I read some where online long time ago that a guy couldn’t access my blog at work as it got caught up by firewall or something – well, perhaps this post with the occasional naughty words won’t help… lol, oh well.)

January 7th, 2011

Galette des Rois 2011

Coco&Me - Galette des Rois 2011 homemade puff pastry - Coco & Me - www.cocoandme.com

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Hello! How’s the first week of the year panning out?

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Mine? Well, it’s been pretty relaxing & I generally have more time for myself as I’m not back at Broadway yet (I’ll start on 29th)! So far I’ve been reading about Shaker interior (I borrowed this book from my neighbour). I love the book & I can’t get over my love for their black stove with thick piping going across the room. If I’m allowed to, I’d love to do that in our house!

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And then culinary-wise, I’ve been test-making a recipe for puff pastry! I won’t publish the recipe just yet because it needs some work on it still & it also needs a loooong write-up for all the tips & tricks – - for example; – - even down to a simple thing like how to hold your rolling pin = most people would probably hold at the edges, but actually you have to rest/ grip your hands at the same distance as the width of your pastry. This way you can apply the same pressure on both sides, resulting in same thickness throughout. – - Anyway, here’s some pictures of Galette des Rois that I made with my handmade puff pastry, in time to celebrate Epiphany!

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As you can see from the picture above, I’ve left it in the oven a tad too long! Lol, oh well, I still like it for it can look… ‘rustic’!? For the filling inside, I made two creams (crème d’amandes & crème pâtissière) & mixed it together to create crème frangipane, in to which I then mixed in a tiny amount of dark rum. The rum is gorgeous with its distinct sweetness & it’s a fabulous way to lessen the eggy taste/ aroma.

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Coco&Me - Galette des Rois slice with cup of tea - homemade puff pastry - Coco & Me - www.cocoandme.com

For me, a strong tea with no milk or sugar goes really well, it cuts the buttery-ness & refreshes the palette.

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Coco&Me - Galette des Rois 2011 cute feve couple - Coco & Me - www.cocoandme.com

Meet Lyla & Roger, my favourite fève charms. I put both of them in the same galette, side by side, because I think that they are made for each other.

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January 4th, 2011

Happy 2011 everyone!

How’s your holiday been? Mine was alright-ish I guess, just pretty much stayed at home, which to be honest just felt like any other usual day with the family.

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Today, I took down all the Christmas decoration around the house & D chopped up the Christmas tree to a manageable size to take to the recycling centre. The living room feels stark without the 6 foot tree that was festooned with “un”-colour-coordinated baubles, but having them tidied away feels so ‘right’ in that “New year = fresh start” kind-of-way, it’s good. I feel ready to tackle things again.

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Coco&Me - vintage Christmas baubles - Coco & Me - www.cocoandme.com

(The baubles)

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The baubles for the tree are all vintage, purchased on several occasions on eBay. That’s why it’s all different sizes, colours & textures! I decorate the tree with these & with multi-coloured fairy lights thrown in the mix too. It is very definitely colour-overkill & uncoordinated. Lol! But y’know what, I like it just like that – ‘uncoordinated’. I wouldn’t want top-to-bottom colour coordination or an expensive ’gold-theme’. Mish-mash & haphazard, that actually suits me.

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Most are plain coloured silk woven baubles (perfect for a house with children because it doesn’t break!), but I also have some unusual ones in the mix that I love love love! Below are pictures of some of them!

Coco&Me - vintage Christmas baubles - Coco & Me - www.cocoandme.com

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There’s apple shaped one, pointy one, disco ball one… Then there’s frazzled ones that’s seen better days, & a bauble that I can’t bring myself to take its old sticker off (…17… maybe it used to be 17 pence??). There’s also a gold bauble that got transformed in to a Santa face! Cuuuute I think & it deserves a noticeable part of the tree to hang from, but my son is unbelievably spooked out by it (!!) – he thinks it looks like a head that is chopped off, so it got dangled out of sight at the back of the tree … (maybe this year Santa face has centre stage hopefully??)

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The beauty of eBay is that all of these were dead cheap (for example just 99p for 20 baubles!). And now & again there’s a nice little surprise – unexpectedly amazing bauble in the mix (the apple-shape), or like one of the bauble box had ‘Made in GDR’ stamped on it – that’s German Democratic Republic, former East Germany! To think that these baubles & box had been around for atleast more than 21 years…!!

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Dearest readers, I was going to write about how my trade went in the last two Saturdays leading up to Christmas, but I’ve run out of time, so that’s ’til next time I guess!

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On that note, I’m signing out for the night,

Tamami xx