I wasn’t planning a trip back to the UK quite so soon, but as always something came up that forced me to make an entry to my carbon trail log. I flew into Heathrow at 6:30 am, and breathed a sigh of relief. I was home. This was followed by a wait of 30 minutes to disembark the plane, a sardine-tin ride by bus to the terminal, a 30 minute scrum to get through immigration, an hours wait for bags because the baggage trolley had to cross an active runway and was finished off by an extortionate fair on the Heathrow express and a sweaty ride on the Bakerloo line with the mornings commuters. Yes, I was most definitely home; sweet home.
I was going to spend the rest of the week in the countryside and I was delighted by the thought of hoiking on my welly boots and being covered in dog hair and barnyard smells again. Since being in New York, I’ve missed my little country retreat and it was lovely to gulp in the fresh air and be able to see all around instead of just straight ahead or straight up. My aunt has my dream kitchen, stone-tiled floors, an Aga, a large wooden table to eat around and washing-up sink looking out over the fields and Levington marina. Bliss. My ‘kitchen’ in New York is the length of an outstretched arm- not both arms, one. I stare into a cupboard when I wash up in New York and there isn’t space for my 6ft tall boyfriend let alone for an aga or a communal table. I worked on a job last week and the publicist commented on how few props I appeared to have at home- ‘well, my kitchen is the size of my one out-stretched arm’ I replied. ‘Up.” She said. ‘In New York you have to build up’. Ah yes, that famous New York real estate dilemma- must build up not out.
Based on the size of my quasi-kitchen it makes me wonder how many people in New York actually cook- everyone delivers (even up to your six-floor walk-up apartment), eating out is cheap and a kitchen isn’t really a kitchen because most places don’t even give you a place to chop an onion! When I viewed the apartment I now live in one of the landlords biggest selling points was that every restaurant delivers here. There’s no washing machine or dishwasher and the apartment is only 6×6 (feet that is, not meters) but that didn’t matter because ‘everyone delivers’. My strives towards being Martha Stewart-esque were thwarted right in their tracks. I read somewhere recently that 90% of Americans don’t own a set of scales- which I now know that in New York is because if you own a set of scales then you don’t have room in your solitary kitchen cupboard for tin of beans! My kitchen consists of an oven, a sink and a fridge-freezer. There’s no surface to chop anything you might cook and no place to dry up the dishes you might want to wash-up after eating. The lack of space causes no lack of stress and arguments with my boyfriend as we try to navigate around one another without breaking yet another plate. So, I’m feeling a tad-bit homesick for space after a week of cooking heaven- friends and family go without saying but mostly I just miss my old kitchen. Too be able to spread out my ingredients and not have to take each out one at a time because if you have a bag of flour on the table at the same time as a bag of sugar then there’s no room for your mixing bowl! Oh, and there’s even room for a set of scales. What a novel idea.
I tested these flapjacks 3 times this weekend- my expert taste team of hungry teenage boys helping me to fine-tune them. All the batches were scoffed enthusiastically but this one came out on top.
P.S. You don’t need a large kitchen to make these.
300g porridge oats (the finer quick-cooking ones not the thick ones’)
1 heaped tbsp flour
Pinch of salt
1 tin condensed milk
200g plain chocolate or a mix of dark and milk, broken into pieces
1/ Preheat the oven to 170C/ 300F/Gas 3. Grease a 9-inch square tin and line the base with parchment and grease again. In a large bowl mix together the oats, flour and salt and set aside. Over a gentle heat, melt the butter until beginning to bubble then whisk in the condensed milk until combined and warmed through (about 1 minute)
2/ Add ¾ of the chocolate pieces and take off the heat. Gently stir, allowing the chocolate to melt and cool the mixture down. Pour into the oats and mix until completely combined.
3/ Add the remaining chocolate chunks and fold through. Pour into your greased tin and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until set on top. When you gently press the top they will still seem wet but will set once they begin to cool. I’m not sure how long these keep for- they never lasted that long.