Thursday, January 28, 2010

liar liar

Not so long ago I said that this was no longer a food blog. I'm obviously an outrageous liar, as I have all of these food posts to give you. Above is my offering for my Australian Day BBQ - it was bring a salad or bring a desert, and so I made a trio of Australian Deserts.

On the far left is a lamington cake. It's fairly straight forward, vanilla cupcake, chocolate ganache with coconut. I'm sure you can work this all out. Although it does make me wonder how coconut companies think I'm going to use a kilo of shaved coconut, as this seems to be the smallest quantity available in your average supermarket. I would suppose my dozen cakes used about 15gm, so if you're ever in need, please let me know.

I got the ganache recipe from Joy the Baker. Most people thing ganache a doddle. It's always failed horribly for me and been runny and useless, even after a spell in the freezer. Joy pours the hot cream over her chocolate, rather than melt them both in a double boiler, and for me this made all the difference.

Also thanks to Joy for the middle cake, my Cherry Ripe cake. Cherry Ripe is apparently the oldest chocolate bar still being produced in Australia. I made a red velvet cake, using Joy's recipe below, but pushed a glace cherry just below the surface of each cake before putting them in the oven. The icing is a sour cream chocolate icing. This was too runny. Next time it's ganache all the way

Joy's Favourite Red Velvet Cakes

60gm unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 Tablespoons red food coloring

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Turn mixer to high and add the egg. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl mix together cocoa, vanilla and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter, mixing thoroughly until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.

Turn mixer to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.

Turn mixer to low and add baking soda and white vinegar. Turn to high and beat a few more minutes.

Spoon batter into a paper lined cupcake baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean.

Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then place them of a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

On the far left are my Violet Crumble cakes. Honey cupcakes with the same average icing as the Cherry Ripe ones

Honey Cupcakes
120gm unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup honey
3/4 buttermilk
1tspn vanilla
1 egg
2 cups SRF

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and honey. Beat for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Beat in egg, scrape down sides after blended. Add in vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds. Starting with the flour first, alternate between flour and milk, ending with flour. So 1/3 of flour,
½ of milk, 1/3 of flour, ½ milk, 1/3 flour.

Blend until fully combined.

Bake for 20-22 minutes.

Both of these recipes worked divinely, probably largely because I followed the instructions and blended as long as I should have and didn't cut corners. The honey ones in particularly were incredibly light and fluffy, and I allowed the sugars and butter to beat well together. The honey gave it a much lighter texture than just sugar creamed in butter.

So, Advance Australia Fair. Let us all eat cake

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

kids kicking arse, and winning

Let me start with some banality. It's Australia Day, the day that marks either the arrival of British settlers in Australia, or the day that marks the start of genocide, murder, rape and pillage. Depending on your point of view. Having just re-read last year's 26 January post, I am saddened to note that my fellow countrymen have not adopted my flag-phobia. I went to a BBQ today, hosted by a kind and lovely work colleague and the flags were everywhere. She is certainly no fascist, but it still worries me.

So, today I ate BBQ and a silly amount of dip and crisps and olives and things and now I feel quite unwell. You'd think after 39 years I would have learnt? Apparently not.

Back at home, tired and full and lazy I went into blog-o-sphere, and at Joy the Baker, whom I like incredibly for her style, her generosity of spirit and killer catering tendencies, I noted that Joy is nominated for a 2010 Bloggie. However I do not mention this to encourage you to vote for Joy - this is up to you - but because I checked out some of the other blogs up for a gong.

When We Were Beautiful is up in the music blog category, written by a young guy in Southampton, who like lots of young guys everywhere is into his tunes, and not necessarily the tunes that big record companies want him to be into. They want to him to be into Australian Idol winners, or the next boy band, because these are cheap eats, which require no sustainability, investment or thought. Those of you who have lived in the UK will know that which one of this quick bites ends up at the Number 1 spot on the charts on 25 December any year is a bit of a big deal and the pundits will debate who will occupy the 'top spot' from about mid November. Last year the latest X-factor winner was highly touted.


Some guy in Essex started an online campaign to get Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name Of to the top spot. And won!!!! More than a decade after it was released this catchy, funky, heavy protest song that shouts 'fuck you I won't do what you tell me' more times that most draft offices would care to count made it to the number one spot.

I must say, dear readers, this took me to my happy spot. You may have known this for some time and have been in your happy spot for so long that the floors need mopping, but this is very new for me. What a victory for us all, and how wonderful that someone thought to stand up against the corporations in such a very, very, very public way and won. There can't be a soul in Britain who doesn't know about this, what a fantastic way to bring the concepts of artistic integrity and mass consumption into every lounge room and work space. Not to mention the message of RATM's song in the first place, which unfortunately just as relevant today as when the track was first released.

This song is best listened to LOUD and somewhere where you can jump around and swing your hair about (if you have as much hair as me of course). Please enjoy this immensely!

PS: I was just called by the sound of a significant appeal to the lounge room to find that Pakistan have six out (and a ripper little clean bowl by Clinton McKay). Pakistan need 118 of 90 balls or there abouts. This could a heart racing fight. But I suspect it won't be. Again.

Monday, January 25, 2010

praise Jebus

I think I may have found a miracle cure for my insomnia.

It's an old fashioned, traditional method. I'm not 100% sure of the pronunciation, as it's probably form ancient Aramaic or demotic Greek or something but in my best estimation, I believe it's called wine.

Nighty night.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

the greatest curse of all aka what a loser

I can't sleep. Not just now, not just tonight. All this week. Insomnia.

Sleep is my best friend, my best work, my secret love. OK, not that secret, I am famed for my ability to fall asleep anytime anywhere, and through anything. I am regularly known to lock the door of my office and take 45 minute cat naps in the middle of the day and still be in bed at my normal time. Which is 8.30 for god's sake. I have also been pretty sick, and went for a reasonable casual bike ride yesterday, so I should be nodding off no worries.

And yet here I am, at 12.08am on this fine Sunday wide, wide awake. I've had a lovely night with Vietnamese noodles, Chinese icecream, bad South Australian champagne, good coffee and almond liqueur, each at a different venue. I am well sated. I should be weary, dead on my feet.

But yet I am wide awake with Apollo the Wonder Cat gazing at my, wondering what the feck I'm doing at the computer at this time of the night. Am I preparing my ethics proposal? Am I finishing outstanding assignments? Am I tweeking course restructure?


I am playing freecell. Hundreds, and hundreds of games of freecell. My secret shame, my addiction. I love it. Really really love it. I have no idea why people pay fortunes for x-boxes and the like when they have this on their PCs. For Free. I have even got it to such a perfection that if I don't have all of the cards from King to at least five or six lined up ready to drop down in a gorgeous waterfall of mathematical perfection, I go back to the beginning and start again.

What a loser!

Friday, January 22, 2010

two wheeled fabulous

Today was the Mutual Community Breakaway Leg of the Tour Down Under. 'Mum and Dad'* cyclists got the chance to ride the same route as the professionals - while the professionals were still in bed.

Not wanting to be at the Norwood Shopping Centre at 4.30am I instead visited a chum with a summer house at Port Willunga. Instead of riding 145km through the Adelaide Hills we rode 40km through the McLaren Vale and stopped for lunch at the Currant Shed Restaurant at Hoffman's Wines. I had stuffed zucchini flowers for starters and a lamb backstrap thingy for main. But to start with we had a portion of turkey liver pate to share.


This was without a doubt one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. Divine. I am too sweaty and tired and slightly sun burnt to write much more than that, but it was fabulous. If ever in Adelaide you must visit and you must have the pate. Ring first to make sure it's on the menu.

* I hate the phrase 'mum and dad'. 'mum and dad investors', 'mum and dad business people'. Just because you're neither a mum nor a dad doesn't make you some kind a freak. Yes, I'm talking to you, people at Today Tonight.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

hello, are you fabulous?

mmmmm...... so just how is the 2010 International Year of Fabulousness going? Were you fabulous today?

My acts of fabulousness:
1. got off my fat, lazy arse and pushed my bike up the hill to work for the first time in months
2. ate all my vegetables
3. refused to feel guilty for spending lots of time talking with my friends at work about important, but non-work-related stuff
4. purchased new reading material
5. bought someone else a coffee
6. enforced the 'a hyphen is not an n-rule' rule (this is very important to the future of fabulousness)
7. booked dinner for me and my great chum JC at a well known, but yet unexplored, eatery
8. remembered my dad's birthday (my father works hard to make us, and him, forget his birthday, so this is better than it sounds)

OK, this is a pretty pissy list, but it's not bad for a start (yesterday was excluded from fabulousness).

I have also come to the realisation that I am no longer a food blogger. I love food. I love to cook. But I only like to blog about it sometimes, and less and less all the time. I'd rather bore you with lists of fabulousness, and occasional political/social musings, and really just the boring crap that goes on in my life. Really, isn't that what blogging is all about, excuses for us all to think that the cyber world is actually interested in the insignificant minutiae of our lives. Do you care that I bought someone I only sometimes like a coffee. I suspect not, but it made me feel fabulous because I put her foibles aside and was fabulous. So, hurrah me.

God, I'm like those chicks who have weight loss 'journey' blogs aren't I.

Sorry sister, if you're on a journey you end up in a pub in Soho, or a temple on a mountain somewhere in China, not in size 8 jeans.

Fuck! I've become boring!!!!!* Go on, you can tell me the truth. Does my blog look big in this?

OK, in my journey to fabulousness I will attempt to limit the amount of times I mention the consumption of f'n'v - unless it's baked in a pie or covered in white sauce. I will not talk about my riding feats, unless it's to somewhere fabulous, like a temple on a mountain in China. I will not tell you all about my victories of design sensibilities, and will limit my descriptions of academic procrastination**

I will be fabulous in a quiet, unassuming manner.

And this is my promise to you.

*the boring in my name refers to the history, not the girl. Not that I think history is boring. It's just that everyone else I know does.

** this is a lie. I will always prattle on about my acts of academic procrastination. I don't care if you don't read it, but damn it, it makes me feel good.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

the international year of fabulousness

In the past 24 hours I have two very poignant encounters with work colleagues. Although very, very different people, both of them extraordinarily intelligent, giving, wonderful people.

Yesterday Dr Space Junk returned from family Christmas sojourns in the Eastern States and we sat by the beach and drank a few glasses and ate fried potato, before I drove her home where we drank a few more glasses before I abandoned my car in her driveway to get a cab home.

But don't let the glasses stand in the way of our conversation. We have declared that in 2010 we will both be fabulous - at work, at home, everywhere. We will simultaneous exercise and eat well while still living the high life. We will quaff expensive champagne and hang the expense, but still have our five serves of veggies. DSJ is determined to be organised (and she has the kikki-k organiser to prove it), and I have vowed that work take much more of a back seat in my life. By December you will not know us from the fabulousness.

Today we put another wonderful member of our university clan in the cold, cold ground. Less than four weeks after being diagnosed with a brain tumor he died last week. The number of bums on seats and the total absence of dry eyes a testimony to just how much this chap could get under your skin. So again, there are vows to not end up at 55 and looking down the barrel of death without taking every opportunity. No more taking work home. No more worrying about the small stuff - not that he did, his life was no doubt full of outstanding personal and professional achievement, and the wickedest sense of humour ever. I'm not sure who I will practice my shocking Chinese with now - his tones were even worse than mine if that is possible.

So, 在见老师 , and bring on the International Year of Fabulousness.