Sunday, 27 May 2012

Lemon drizzle traybake with pictures

The best bit of a lemon drizzle cake is the lemon drizzle.  Frankly, the cake is nothing without the drizzle.
I've often felt that there is not enough drizzle for the average lemon drizzle cake, but happily I have found a solution.
This is Andrea's recipe but she freely admits she stole it from the wonderful Mary Berry.
If you have struggled, as I have, to find a suitable tray bake tin, then I recommend you invest in a Silverwood tin which gives you all sorts of cake size options and is also good for those strapped for storage space.

  • 225g margarine (I use olive spread)
  • 225g sugar (granulated or caster)
  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsps. milk
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • For the crunchy topping: 175g granulated sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Line 30cm x 23cm traybake tin with baking parchment
Lined Silverwood tin
  • Heat oven to 160’ C/325’ F/ Gas Mark 3
  • Beat margarine and sugar until light and fluffy
Light and fluffy
  • Add the eggs 2 at a time with a spoonful of the SR flour to stop the mixture curdling. Continue adding the flour and baking powder, mixing well after each addition

  • Add the milk and the lemon zest, mixing in well so it is evenly distributed
Lemon zest
  • Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top gently with the back of a spatula
Ready for the oven
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 35 – 40 minutes until the traybake springs back when pressed lightly with a finger in the centre and is beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin
Fresh from the oven
  • To make the crunchy topping, mix the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to give a runny consistency
  • Spoon this mixture evenly over the traybake while it is still just warm
After the drizzle is added
  • Cut into squares when cold
Cooled drizzle
  • Eat
If you have struggled, as I have, to find a suitable tray bake tin, then I recommend you invest in a Silverwood tin which gives you all sorts of cake size options and is also good for those strapped for storage space.

Killer brownies recipe with pictures

Killer because they are capable of inducing heart attacks.  Brownies because they’re brownies.  Recipe because…

  • 250g unsalted butter (I use organic but you don’t have to)
  • 200g dark chocolate (recipe actually says Fairtrade 70% cocoa solids and in handwritten capitals it says Green and Blacks but I didn’t use Green and Blacks)
  • 50g chopped pecans
  • 80g cocoa powder (don’t know why recipe doesn’t say Fairtrade for this)
  • 65g plain flour (I use organic)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 360g sugar (recipe says caster sugar but I used golden granulated sugar, whatever that is)
  • 4 large free range eggs (recipe says free range or organic whereas I didn’t think they were mutually exclusive)
  • Recipe states 25cm square tin and I’ve bought a lovely one from Lakeland which has a removable base.  
  • Line your tin with greaseproof paper and grease tin and greaseproof paper (I know this is a faff) and turn the oven on to 180 degrees (or 160 degrees for fan oven)

Lined tin
  • In a bain marie (large bowl over a saucepan of simmering water) melt chocolate and butter then stir in your nuts (the chopped ones).
Butter, chocolate and pecans in bain marie
  • In a separate bowl mix cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar.
  • Sieve flour and cocoa mix onto melted chocolate and butter. (I tip melted stuff into Kenwood Chef bowl and then add flour and cocoa mix).  Mix until combined.
Chocolate mixture with flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar
  • Beat eggs then add and mix well until silky consistency (I don’t really know what a silky consistency looks like so I just mix for a bit until I get bored - I have a low boredom threshold).
Silky consistency?
  • Pour and scoop and scrape your mixture into the baking tin and chuck in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.  There is no point in guessing whether it’s “done” because with brownies it’s a dark art so just stick to the 25 mins.
Fresh from the oven (will sink/sag after about 10 mins)
  • When the killer brownies emerge from the oven, allow to cool before cutting into heart attack inducing chunks and serve to your murder victims.  The brownies can be difficult to cut.  The brownies are much easier to cut (with pizza cutter) when frozen.
  • The brownies freeze very well.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

It's better this way

I used to try and persuade my husband to join and use social networking sites.

I was partially successful. He has a Facebook account and even a Twitter account. But that's it.

He uses the Facebook one when he's drunk and the Twitter one, well... never.

I've decided it's better this way. Imagine if he read all of my posts when sober.

It really doesn't bear thinking about.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Shane's (edited) 46 stages of Twitter

1. Hear the word Twitter.  Scoff.
2. Hear it again from someone else.  Scoff again.
3. Hear about famous celebrity who is apparently "On Twitter."  Scoff, but make mental note to check it out.
4. Log into Facebook to comfort self.
5. Sign up for Twitter.
6. Give up because it seems dumb.
7. Loudly criticize others on Twitter.
8. Follow @stephenfry, @jimmycarr, @schofe, @Lord_Sugar, @alancarr, @richardpbacon, and one other person you actually know.
9. Post tweet that is a variant of: "Trying out this Twitter thing."
10. Attempt to dig a little deeper into Twitter.
11. Notice rampant usage of words: "Tweet," "Twitter," "Twitterverse," "Tweetie," "Tweetdeck," and something called "RT."
12. Scoff again, this time in confusion.
13. Tell friends you "tried that Twitter thing, but didn't get it and it's stupid anyway."
14. Log into Facebook because that site at least makes sense.
15. Read story about Twitter somewhere.
16. Log back into Twitter.
17. Try to avoid saying Tweet, Twitter, Twitterverse, Tweetie, Tweetdeck, and ReTweet
18. Respond to @stephenfry.
19. Curse self for fanning out.
20. Log off for 4 months.
21. Come back, just to see.
22. Post something relatively funny.
23. Get RT'd.
24. Discover that RT means ReTweet.
25. Make it your life mission to get RT'd.
26. Install Twitter app on your phone.
27. No longer ashamed to say "I've got to tweet that."
28. Attend events with the sole intention of "Tweeting" them.
29. Pray to get RT'd.
30. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.
31. Close computer.
32. Open computer.  Refresh.  Refresh.  Refresh.
33. Think in 140 character sentences.
34. Compulsively check phone all day every day.
35. Tweet that you compulsively check phone all day every day.
36. Alienate actual people in your life in an attempt to impress ones you don't know.
37. Lose weight because you forget to eat.
38. Place phone by bed so you can check first thing in the morning.
39. Defend Twitter to the death from detractors.
40. Hear self, and vaguely recognize that you have become "That Guy/Girl."
41. Feel like, and start to behave like a geek. 
42. Vow to quit Twitter to preserve sanity.
43. Read this and change mind.
44. Think to self, "I should tweet that."
45. Recognise irony.
46. Tweet it.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

If I can't take it with me when I go…


Eartha kitt that bad eartha 3

Unlike Eartha Kitt, I know that when I have to go, I won't have a choice.  I also know that I don't want to take things with me when I go.  All of which begs the question "So why is my loft full of stuff that I'm keeping for posterity?"

What should one keep for future generations?

My loft has a few different categories of "stuff".

Christmas decorations - I have too many of these but can't bring myself to let go.  Additionally every year I see more that I want and, whilst my willpower is strong, I occasionally crack.

Camping gear - We started with basic camping gear and, over the years, our camping gear has grown, like Topsy.  If I were starting afresh then I would have a lot less gear and it would stack nicely and pack neatly into the back of a Ford Fiesta.  As it is we're pushing our luck when we try and fit it into an S-MAX.

Baby stuff - We are a two child family.  If a third child appears on the scene it's either an accident, or it was the only way to escape a job I wasn't enjoying.  We have disposed of most of the major baby items but we do have some things.  We have a travel cot, baby toys and books, a potty, bottle steriliser, disposable bibs, toddler plates and bowls.  Because we might have baby and toddler visitors and, if we do, these things may be useful.  When our children were small we never expected people to have anything when we visited them and yet I want to be prepared for the "just in case" scenario.

I have ornaments that we have bought over the years that have been relegated to the loft.  We don't have space for everything it seems so things languish in the attic.  Some of these things were chosen on holiday or given to us.  It seems wrong to get rid of them.

Ski gear - We don't ski a lot.  We hardly ski at all.  Our loft has skis, poles, ski bag, ski boots, ski clothes.  Why?

Suitcases and backpacks - Everyone has these don't they?

Sports gear - The badminton, tennis, racquetball and squash gear.   The rollerblades and diving gear.

Spare bedding - Duvets, pillows and stuff.  Surely this is normal too?

Books - Kids' books that belonged to us as children, kids' books that belonged to our children, adult books that belonged to us, adult books that belonged to adults who have died but that we think are books "of note", educational books that remind us we were clever once.

Childhood memories - cards, letters, certificates, school work, souvenirs, toys (for us and the children).

Things that other people valued because they kept them and they're now dead and we now feel bad about getting rid of it.

Surely this is normal hoarding, or do we need help?

Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the stuff we store in the garage and the shed.