Sunday, 22 January 2012

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I took this recipe from a free booklet in The Guardian 2007, the original recipe listed double-quantities, but I've reduced it as I can only manage to bake 12-13 of these at a time with my baking trays.

  • 112g unsalted butter
  • 190g light soft brown sugar
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 150g broken chocolate pieces
Oven temperature 170°C (150°C for fan-assisted)

  1. Beat together butter, brown sugar, caster sugar & vanilla extract until light and fluffy (save time and whack it in a food processor).
  2. Add the egg.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarb and cocoa powder together and add to food processor (or bowl, if you're feeling strong fore-armed).
  4. Stir through your chocolate chunks.
  5. Prepare a baking tray (cover in greaseproof paper, or grease it)
  6. Scoop ice-cream scoop sized blobs onto the tray, spaced evenly apart.
  7. Cook for 12-14mins until puffed up and coloured at the edges.
  8. Remove, cool & eat!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Last night I dreamt I went shopping with Alison Goldfrapp

Last night I dreamt I went clothes shopping (in London I think) with Alison Goldfrapp.

She arranged to meet me in a small unassuming boutique, but when I got there it was full of plush carpets, and fancy wallpaper and personal staff.

What seemed to happen is, Alison would try something on, then suggest I tried something on, and whilst I was in the changing room she'd go to the next shop without telling me.

I don't think she meant to do it on purpose, but I did get a little bit sick of trying to find her. And after a while I went home.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Last night I dreamt I rescued a duck

Last night I dreamt I rescued a Drake (male mallard duck) that was being choked on some string.
The string was attached to a tractor which was driven around a field. The string was wrapping around something, reeling up and this duck got caught in the way.

First I had to grab the duck, then stop it stoggling (the word I use to describe a bird/rabbit/small animal that's getting cross when someone is trying to hold it firmly). Then unwind the string, and gently stroke it and talk to it.

Once it was free from the string I let it go. I half expected it to waddle off, bit it took a run, flapped, quacked loudly and flew off.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Last night I dreamt about snakes

I was running over some moorland, and whichever path we took there seemed to be either a grass snake or adder on the pathway. Both types of snake were fairly docile, and didn't seem bothered by us.

But what was odd, was that some of them were the size of a boa constricter or python; really long and thick bodies.

What I ate last night:
Macaroni cheese, cauliflower, carrots & a piece of dark chocolate

Saturday, 14 January 2012

How I managed to recover a (published) blog post I deleted by mistake

I deleted 3 published blogposts by mistake.

How? I thought I was deleting the label "beer" but instead I actually deleted the posts (& all the comments & stats). I wanted to replace the label "beer" with "real-ale"

When I discovered that my posts were gone, and hitting the back button didn't make a difference I was pretty worried that they were gone forever. 

After a frantic google search (in a new tab) I found and this lifesaver of article on recovering blogposts:

There are different options depending on how long ago you deleted them, whether you're using the same computer etc.

For me, I couldn't get to them by just clicking the back button, I think it was because I was doing a batch edit, rather than an edit to an individual post.

What I had to do was find a cached copy of the post through google, and locate the PostID (view the source, search the source (control + F) for "blogspot" and locate the PostID, 19-digits long & located towards the bottom of the source).

To reinstate the post, I edited an existing post, and replaced the PostID in the URL bar with the ID from the deleted post, this found the post and allowed me to edit/save/publish the original again.  Success!!

There was a moment when I could only locate 2 of the 3 posts, and after a bit of detective work (on my part) I found the other one.

I'm blogging about it, in case I (stupidly) did it again.

Pea & Ham Soup

Pea & Ham SoupIf you've got some ham that needs using up (and have some potatoes, bacon, frozen peas & chicken stock) then make pea and ham soup.

I don't ever remember having this as a child, but I remember the lyrics of a well known TV commercial for Dulux...
"The walls of Birmingham wipe clean of pea and ham, and the skirting boards of Fife have a long life.  So brush in hand, decorate this land with Dulux paint"

Yes it is sad that I can still remember TV adverts from the 1990s.  But I can't remember useful information, like how to use the SLR camera we have at work (even though Hanna gave me a great lesson yesterday in the pub).

So back to pea & ham soup.

I used the recipe at the BBC Good Food, I didn't measure things out too exact, but if you do - the measurements are all on the BBC Good Food Website

It's a lovely hearty recipe, for cold wintery days.
    Pea & Ham soup
  • Garlic, onions, bacon & oil heat for 10mins
  • Add peeled and chopped potatoes and stock and simmer for 10mins
  • 500g frozen peas and 250ml of milk and cool gently for another 5-10
  • Add chopped ham, and blitz with a hand blender.
  • I added some more water to mine because it was really thick, and I only needed to add pepper.


Yonks means "a long time"

I haven't eaten a Curlywurly for yonks

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Dutch Apple Cake

Apple cake made on tour, Oct2010
Adapted from a recipe I found in Red Magazine (Nov2008)
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g caster sugar (plus 15g more for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 75g butter
  • 75ml milk
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 20cmx20cm square cake tin (lined with greaseproof paper)
  • 4 cooking apples (peeled, cored & sliced)*
 Oven temperature: 200°C/400°F/Gas 6
1.       Whisk eggs, 175g caster sugar and vanilla until thick & 'moussy' - it takes about 5mins with an electric whisk.
2.       In a pan: melt butter and add milk, then pour onto the egg-mixture & whisk it all again.
3.       Sift the flour, cinnamon and baking powder and fold carefully into the egg-mixture, make sure that there are no lumps of flour in the mixture and pour it carefully into the tin.
4.       Chuck on all of the apple slices: some will sink, some will stay on the top, don't be pretty - just chuck them on.  By the time you've put all of the apple on - you might not see any cake-mixture - this is good!
5.       Sprinkle the last 15g of sugar on the top of the cake (which will be mostly apples)
6.       Bake for 10mins on 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 THEN reduce the temperature down to 180°c/350°F/Gas 4 and bake for a further 25minutes.
7.       It will be golden brown when it's ready, and it'll smell delicious too.
8.       You can serve it warm with cream (or ice-cream).  Or from the fridge (chilled).

*The original recipe says 2 cooking apples (peeled, cored & cut into thin slices), but this supposed to be an apple cake, and we want apple!  The last cake I made had at least 4 cooking apples in it and they weren't thinly sliced either (some 1cm thick), but it tasted delicious!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

My 1st attempt at a Rainbow Cake

I've seen pictures of a rainbow cake, google it for yourself, or if you're lazy just click here  And I've read the wonderful blog posts from Ms Marmite Lover  and Clandestine Cake Club regular, Cake Poppins

And so I decided to have a go myself.  As with most cakes I bake, I like to have a purpose, other than "just because I fancy a cake" because I feel guilty (greedy?) If I'm just making a cake for the hell of it.

So I decided to make mine for Boxing Day 2011, I was going to do my Christmas visit, see my family: mum, dad, grandma, great aunt, sister, brother-in-law, nephew, niece, brother, sister-in-law, niece and Mr Lisa.

My mum and sister were going to put a buffet together and I promised a "cake" - this meant that I could keep it a secret until the moment of cutting!

Rainbow cake - layered & creamed
I can sing a rainbow...
I had to plan early - I have 4 round tins, 2 which are 17cm and 2 which are 19cm.  I decided I'd use the 17cm round ones, bake (when I had the oven on) and freeze until I needed them and this worked quite well.  I made double quantities, halved the mixture, added the colour, baked, cooled, bagged and froze.

For some layers I used colour paste and for other layers I used bottled liquid colouring.  If I was baking it again I'd use paste colours, they are more intense (which means you use less) and they make the cake less sloppy (for the liquid coloured cakes I added a bit more flour to the mix). I also struggled with my Indigo cake, the one I made was a bit pink.

As you can see, six cakes looks great, no one questioned or complained about there only being 6 layers.

Rainbow cake (in disguise)

When asked, I told people it was a cream layer cake, and the cream filling and outer I used was from the Ms Marmite blog (marscapone, cream cheese, double cream, vanilla and icing sugar)

Rainbow cake - cut 
The reaction:
There were a few "WOWs" and "LOOK AT THAT" and then a few photos taken.  I think everyone had a slice, even the people who don't really like cake and they commented on how tasty it was.
The cream covering was described as "GORGEOUS"

My sister in law warned me that she might ask me to bake one of those for Brook's birthday in June (I also made her Princess Barbie Cake), which is perfectly fine, because I loved making it!

Rainbow cake - cut 4

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Last night I dreamt I was playing cricket

Last night I dreamt I played cricket with some members of the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club, I only fielded but took a few catches (including a diving catch) and bowled a couple of people out.

I have played cricket, a while ago, and was quite useful. And I know that if I played again I'd be quite good as I can catch.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

This is why they call me loopygirl

  1. I am afraid of spiders that I find in my house, but I can quite happily ignore them outside.
  2. I have never ever wanted to go skiing or snowboarding, and would much prefer to build snowmen.
  3. I loved making dens when I was young.  One of my earliest memories of my first den was my matress wedged against the airing cupboard in my bedroom.
  4. When I was about 8, I slipped in the bath and sat on a tap and had to go to hospital to have stiches up my bottom.
  5. I have an obsessive compulsive disorder; I must have the wardrobe and cupboard doors closed properly before I can go to sleep (unless I'm drunk & then I don't realise).
  6. I sometimes wake up in the morning, with the feeling that I've killed someone, and I need to dispose of the body.
  7. The milk must go in the tea after the hot water.
  8. I don't own a microwave and don't feel I'm missing out.
  9. I have always wanted a Mynah bird, and if I had one I would call him Verloc.
  10. I have size 9 feet and tend to put up with size 8 shoes.
  11. I used to have a teenage crush on Terence Trent D'arby.
  12. I love surprises & hate it when people spoil them.
  13. I don't like losing.
  14. I like having bonfires at my allotment.
  15. I only started eating bacon in 2003, but I wasn't a vegetarian.
  16. I used to look into the shiny glint in the chain on the bath plug and imagine a world inside it.
  17. I once put my finger in a washing mangle to see what would happen.
  18. I like the smell of play doh, freshly cut grass, coffee and leather.
  19. When I was young I told the old couple who lived next door that if you rubbed the corners of your eyes & closed them, you would see your angel wings.
  20. If I can't explain how something works, then I'm quite happy to accept that it's magic.
  21. I once made cake mixture and ate it (without cooking it).
  22. I always play word-association in my head - and sometimes I say the results out loud, often an inappropriate moments (or in meetings at work).
  23. I love spring: catkins (little lambs tails) and pussy willow (bunnies ears) on the trees & spring flowers.
  24. I shock myself sometimes when I hear my chicken impression played back to me.
  25. I always wanted to do the assault course on the Krypton Factor

Halloween fancy dress
Portrait drawn by my niece Emily