Cups, Spoons, Weights and Measures

China measuring cups with a silver spoon

It’s the sea­son to take stock, count up, meas­ure out, pledge, prom­ise and decide. I’ve made res­ol­u­tions for the first time in five years and on my list is ‘read more poetry’. Expert resolution-makers say that simply vow­ing to do more of some­thing is cheat­ing. But I’m happy with my slightly vague ‘more’ and who­ever said that poetry con­sump­tion should be cal­ib­rated, anyway?

Stems of red berries in a white jug

Stems of fresh red ber­ries on my kit­chen table are throw­ing a new shadow on the wall, but the sil­hou­ettes of the Christ­mas candles are still there too. It’s that time of year when old passes to new and, for once, we actu­ally take note.

Three spoons on a cloth

With all the fren­zied men­tal meas­ur­ing that’s been going on, I wasn’t in the mood to do too much weigh­ing and meas­ur­ing in the kit­chen. For times like this, I have the per­fect recipe.…. Chocol­ate and Crunchy Pea­nut Ice-Cream. It’s an adapt­a­tion of a David Lebovitz recipe, from his inspir­ing but depend­able book The Per­fect Scoop. In fact, while I’m on the sub­ject of New Year’s res­ol­u­tions, to aim to be both inspir­ing and depend­able sounds ideal. I may add that to my list.

Chocolate ice-cream with almond brittle

This is the kind of recipe that you can make while read­ing a book of poetry at the same time, so easy and mem­or­able is it. A cup of this, a half cup of that and you’re almost there.


  • 1 cup double cream
  • 1 cup semi-skimmed milk (you can use full cream if you prefer. I’ve even tried it with skimmed. All three grades of milk work per­fectly fine)
  • Quarter cup pure cocoa powder
  • Half cup caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Half a jar of crunchy pea­nut but­ter — this equates to roughly 175g, but a little more or a little less really doesn’t matter

Tip all the ingredi­ents, apart from the pea­nut but­ter, into a pan. Over a mod­er­ate heat, stir with a whisk and bring briefly to a hearty sim­mer. It will bubble up in the pan, at which point take off the heat. Mix in the pea­nut but­ter, allow to cool and churn in an ice-cream maker. It’s as easy as that. My chil­dren have asked if I will make a New Year’s res­ol­u­tion to cre­ate it even more reg­u­larly than I already do.

If in fanci­ful mood, make some almond brittle to poke in the top. Toast the almonds in a small non-stick fry­ing pan. Put to one side. Pour half a cup of caster sugar into the same pan. Without stir­ring, heat the sugar and swirl it around the pan until it melts to a light car­a­mel liquid. It burns eas­ily and also gets fero­ciously hot, so be care­ful. Stir in the nuts and quickly spread out onto a piece of bak­ing parch­ment with a pal­ate knife. It will set almost imme­di­ately. Snap off a piece to suit your appet­ite and your conscience.

Almond and toffee brittle

To my mind, the true meas­ure of a good piece of brittle is that it should be trans­lu­cent enough to read a poem through it. That way, if your New Year’s res­ol­u­tion is the same as mine, you can have your cake while read­ing it at the same time. And who could argue with that?

Scoop of chocolate ice-cream with shard of almond brittle

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19 thoughts on “Cups, Spoons, Weights and Measures

    • Achieved a res­ol­u­tion by Janu­ary 4th? How won­der­ful. Thank you, as ever, Sally for your gen­er­os­ity — it’s hugely appre­ci­ated. And I hope 2012 is a great year for you.

  1. What a beau­ti­ful post, Charlie. Your words are beau­ti­ful, gentle, poetic and your pho­tos abso­lutely beau­ti­ful and per­fect. I have also been toy­ing with the idea of buy­ing David’s ice cream book — I adore ice cream — but no ice cream machine and barely enough freezer space to store a con­tainer of ice cream. I will enjoy your per­fect scoop vicari­ously. But prom­ise me that one day you’ll invite me over for a bowl. Happy New Year xo

    • Thank you, Jamie, for your won­der­ful words. And yes, that’s a deal. The ice-creams are on me. Happy New Year to you too.

    • I’m so pleased you’re feel­ing inspired… After years of mak­ing ice-cream with a mini machine that needed refreez­ing for 24 hours between batches, I bought a Gag­gia Gelateria. It was expens­ive, but it has an inbuilt freez­ing device which means it’s pos­sible to make large quantities

        • Ok, took deliv­ery of the ice cream maker just now, got ingredi­ents ready but .…
          Not hav­ing cooked using cup meas­ure­ments before need fur­ther assist­ance please. Any cup? Do I assume this as long as I’m con­sist­ent? Or does it need to be a par­tic­u­lar size ? Sorry to ask what to ser­i­ous cooks might sound pathetic Q but …am not a ser­i­ous cook!

          • I hope you enjoy your new ice-cream maker. Cups are an Amer­ican form of meas­ure­ment, so they’re not just any old cup. But as long as you keep the pro­por­tions the same, you will be ok. Think of an Amer­ican cup as more or less the size of an old-fashioned teacup.

  2. That ice cream looks far too deli­cious to be good for me! My main res­ol­u­tion this year is to do more…eating well. How­ever, res­ol­u­tions are good to give up for Lent! Love your blog!

    • Hi Lynne
      I’m so glad you like Eggs On The Roof — your com­ment is hugely appre­ci­ated. And what a great idea about Lent — perfect!

  3. OK, never mid the ice-cream — I am struck down with ser­i­ous prop envy (again!) — that BOWL! Come to think of it, I’m pretty envi­ous of your trans­lu­cent brittle too :) As for poetry, to read more has often been on my list of res­ol­u­tions — I have a shelf of much-loved poetry books at home that often do not get the atten­tion they deserve. If you are not already in love with him, I sug­gest start­ing with more Roger McGough (my poetry hero), Wish my inclin­a­tion to write poetry was more reg­u­lar. Sadly, it comes in fits and starts with a hugely pro­duct­ive period in 2010 and very little in 2011… I feel a res­ol­u­tion com­ing on!!

    • Oh yes, do please make a res­ol­u­tion to write more poetry. I’d feel a vicari­ous pleas­ure in think­ing that you had pro­duced some more verse this year. As for the golden bowl, it’s a sau­cer that a great friend bought for me in a junk shop…

  4. I have some­how missed sev­eral posts, as my move from blog­ger to word­press was tak­ing place, your latest posts were not being updated.……I so wish I had seen this at the begin­ning of Janu­ary, it is a post full of hope for the future whilst fondly remem­ber­ing the past.……lovely Charlie, thank you, and stun­ning pho­tos as well as words, as always.

    • I’m sure you’ll love the move to Word­Press, once you’ve got over the phase of ask­ing why you’ve inflic­ted all the upheaval on your­self. Thanks for your lovely com­ment, Karen

  5. Pingback: Lemongrass and lemon thyme ice-cream with mango milkshake | Eggs On The Roof

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