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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 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.

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.

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.


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.

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?


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