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Crikey, how I used to loathe Sundays as a child. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. The battle against bathtime, the suffocation of five argumentative siblings, the spectre of The Antiques Roadshow, whose deceptively upbeat signature tune always seemed to bring the homework diary with it, and then the early night. Eurgh! Bar the occasional fun trip, it was just a stressful mess.

I feel I may have my British citizenship revoked when I say that the traditional Sunday dinner was no reprieve, and indeed, I’m still not much of a fan. Only really when there were mountains of Yorkshire puddings thrown in, or I found myself bribed by promises of apple crumble for afters, did the roast become anything close to pleasant.

Or indeed, when it was turned on its head and presented differently. Toad-in-the-hole, for instance, or shepherd’s pie. These struck more as more fun, and so were tolerable… just. Lesser evils. I used to keep my fingers crossed that they were coming instead – well, it was always quite transparent; if things were looking up, mum would tell me outright; if not, “wait and see” or “you’ll get what you’re given!” How harrowing those words were at teatime.

It’s been a little while since I brought anything to the table for the Doodlewash Dinner, and though the festivities are probably all the better for less of my cooking, I don’t want to look impolite. Hence, I’ve given you a hunk of a rather gooey-looking shepherd’s pie, in the hope that it’ll make your Sunday a touch more Funday (even if The Antiques Roadshow is bound to be on later, still doling out the heebie-jeebies). I’ve not made one of these for real since the age of about fourteen, back when I was at loggerheads with my Food Tech teacher (we didn’t get along), so don’t get your hopes up. Still, it may taste better than it looks – dig in if you dare!

And.. (taps glass)

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…now comes an after-dinner announcement, as it appears I’ve been nominated for my second Liebster Award. My thanks to the lovely Sissh at Sissh Art Journal for thinking me worthy of such an accolade – do go and explore her wonderful and fun blog.

I hope you’ll forgive Sissh, that, having been nominated before for this, I shall forego the full proceedings this time, and instead use the publicity purely for nominating those more deserving. Perhaps if any of the following would like to participate, they could respond to the questions posed by Sissh in her post? Of course, this comes with no obligation.

Now, go and take a look at all these champion chaps. With Who Wants To Be A Millionaire still coursing, I’ll expect you to wave awkwardly to us all as I announce you one-by-one:

Now, who’s got the fastest finger?

Congratulations to all nominees!

supersw-1We’re frantically picking up some items for tonight’s Doodlewash Dinner offering. But the big question lingers on our minds.

Can we find all the items on Dale’s Shopping List?

I’m sure anybody subjected to Supermarket Sweep with Dale Winton will still to this day have visions ingrained in the memory – visions of pastel sweaters, cheesy grins and curious inflatables. As you’d never have guessed, the format was poached from the US, and ran from 1993 to 2001 – who knew it lasted that long? – occupying a mid-morning slot on ITV. With the transmission as it was, my memories are sparse; I remember it solely as a ‘treat’ for being ill and out of school.

In the show, teams of two would tackle various puzzles – usually simple word games – in a bid to earn extra time and track down the items that Dale is looking for – the lazy sod can’t go find them himself.

That comprises round one; from round two, it’s unadulterated mayhem… by which I mean, even worse than your local supermarket on a weekend morning. The Big Sweep essentially sees the teams race off like lunatics, trying to fill their trolleys. A lot of things will get thrown around or broken in this round – tsk, such a waste. And how exciting it is to see expert shoppers filling their vehicle with turkeys – turkey-shaped emblems of greed. It’s here where the giant inflatables I’ve tried to recreate make an appearance, boasting cash prizes. The exciting bit is at the end of the round, where contestants peel off the ‘bonus’ tag and try to feign their joy at its underwhelming value. Was it really worth ramming that poor woman?

The team who have done the most expensive shop then progress to the denouement, the Super Sweep, which is rather like a miniature, sixty-second version of  Treasure Hunt; a trail of clue to clue, item to item, crash to crash. If they get to the last item they find the cash – a cool two grand. If they lose, they get to keep the cash won previously. And that’s basically it, excepting one or two corny catchphrases from our Dale in his farewell.

It’s probably best left in those weird mornings where I was removed from routine and wondering what my friends were up to. However, the idea of a real-life sweep often strikes tempting… goodness, that’d be a birthday party and a half.  But not the show. I could never survive the sweaters, nor the smiling.

Next time you’re at the checkout and hear the beep, think of the fun you could be having thank God you’re not on Supermarket Sweep!

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Yes, leave it to me to sally forth and bring the real dining delights to the table in this month-long Doodlewash Dinner. It should say much of my culinary skill and refinement in the kitchen that the first thing I thought of, when learning of the brief, was that staple of get-together noshes, the Alphabetti Spaghetti.

However, I shouldn’t give the impression that I’m hooked on the stuff. To be honest, I don’t think my mother ever bought me a can of the stuff after the age of about four, because I typically overlooked the eating part; if I were watching Countdown at the time, cool kid that I was, I’d try and find the letters being picked. Otherwise, the hunt would be on for a J, an A, C, O and B… then W. W was my favourite letter back then.

What am I saying? It still is. But yes, those memories as they are, the tasty letters now spell NOSTALGIA, even if I did have to ultimately make do with cold tea because of them.

Rather than simply drawing the stuff in a bowl or on toast, I thought I’d give the exercise a bit more depth and excitement by creating a usable Alphabetti Spaghetti typeface. As it was, it wasn’t really much of a typographic exercise, as I just drew the letters in Illustrator in a few minutes – precision isn’t paramount when rendering pasta, I suppose.

It was fiddling with effects in Photoshop to try and make it look like pasta that ate up the time. It didn’t turn out quite as I hoped, but then it rarely does! I wanted to take it into 3D, but the letters looked too solid and I wasn’t really sure how to loosen them up. I’ll explore though – I’ve actually just had an idea as I type this! – and shall report back if anything develops on that score.

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