Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Jubilee Day Looms . Cake Required .

Memo to self .... Find recipe for photogenic chocolate cake asap , present recipe ( below ) providing delicious but weirdly squidgy slices .

Not that Husband's complaining . But then his appetite for sweet things is legendary . We all sat fascinated one evening as he consumed an entire family-size container of chocolate chip ice cream , while telling stories about playing jazz in a youth festival in Moscow in the '50s .

__Chocolate Cake Recipe , origin unknown __

100 grams butter

80 grams sugar

100 grams plain flour

30 grams cornflour

1 tsp baking powder

100 gram bar of plain chocolate

2 eggs , separated .

Cream butter and sugar . Add egg yolks and flours alternately ( having already seived flours and baking powder together ) Add grated chocolate . Finally fold in stiffly beaten egg whites . Put in greased and floured loaf tin . Bake in hottest oven for 12 minutes . Rest before taking out of tin .

Or I'll have to revert to plan B . A large muffin decorated with a Union Jack ( I've already made some just in case ... and yes , Husband's eaten some of these , too . He'll only turn down a muffin if you tell him it's a muffin .... if you call it a cake , he'll eat two ) .)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Knee Deep In Possible Cakes

On June 2nd , Rattling On is staging a Jubilee Cake Event on her blog .... the idea being that those interested bake a stunningly decorated cake for the Queen's Jubilee and post a photo or two of the result , which she will then link . A sort of virtual street party .
Now , why I put my hand up for this I couldn't begin to tell you . I very rarely bake a cake and , when I do , it's something fairly basic and hearty like a fruit loaf or bran muffins ( and my scones aren't bad ) . And cake decoration is a totally foreign and arcane idea ..... I've never piped icing in my life and don't think now is the time to start .
But I love the idea of everyone , as one , going "Ta-Dah!!" and whipping the cover off their signature cake . So I've been trawling the web for cake recipes .... exactly how many million do you think there are out there ? I did eventually find an elegant choco-strawberry creation and it looks suitably regal ... not to mention lethal . ( Have I told you I'm a diabetic ? )

Then there are cookery books scattered all over this house full of baked goods . A fair few are from the '50s to the '70s and have suitably nostalgic offerings . Though I'm not sure if H.M. is ready for Grasshopper Cheesecake , a sort of After Eight-ish affair flavoured with creme de menthe on a chocolate biscuit crumb base ... let alone Amaising (sic) Raisin Cake which seems to contain mayonnaise ( instead of butter? ) . So I'll put "Collections From Naples On The Gulf To You " back on the shelf .
Then there's the WI Recipes Round The Year with a very tempting Blodwen's Canal Cake ( lots of dried fruit and a quarter of a pint of stout . Husband would definitely like this ) and Rhubarb Streusel Cake and Ginger Marmalade Cake ( first make your Ginger Marmalade ) and ... But no real party cakes .
There's The Scots Kitchen by F. Marian McNeill which has Scot's Snow Cake which sounds wholesome , but involves beating the mixture for 20 minutes . On the plus side though , it's light , pale and fluffy and plonked on a doiley with a sprig of white heather tucked beside it , might look minimalist and very chic .
And then there's always Jane Grigson ... any one of these would please the most demanding guest

All I'd have to do is make praline powder , proper butter cream and one of three sorts of pastry .

We'll see . The final choice will be appearing here on June 2nd and throuh Rattling On you'll be able to admire them all .

Thursday, 17 May 2012

What ?


Husband and I met in Spain where he , having arrived from Holland via Belgium and the Congo , had a book shop in one of those "I remember when it used to be a little fishing village " places . We stayed another twenty years and , since I spoke no Dutch , Husband's English was erratic and the world outside our front door was Spanish speaking , we developed a sort of "home language " .... basically bits of all three with French added .
Then we moved to Holland , the children left home .... the elder two to England and the youngest eventually to Amsterdam ... and he and I are the only ones now who tend to revert to EuroBabble .

This evening , my ballpoint pen having exploded , bits flying everywhere , I was hunting under the table for the spring and having no luck seeing it on the grey carpet . Husband came in and asked "What are you looking for under there ? " " The spring ... the spring from this boli "( boli , short for boligrafo , which is the Spanish for ball point ) . " The spring from your body ? "
After forty years together , I'm not taking this personally .

But the other day Elder Grandson , talking about his baby brother to Smitonius , said "He's fine but sometimes , when he cries , it's difficult to work out just what he wants . When he starts talking , I wonder what language he'll speak ? "
Let's hope it's one we're all fairly familiar with .

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

By Their Tablecloths Shall You Know Them


Have you noticed how rare it is these days to find a proper fabric shop ? It's been a while since I've been in one like this , now that everyone this age shops in H & M . But , thanks to recycling shops and Collectors Fairs , there's still fascinating stuff to be had , if not in vast quantities .

Last week , in Leiden , after walking past this splendid statue ( Leiden was a textile town , years ago ) , I found the red piece in this trio in a charity shop ... I have no idea when this design was manufactured . I should imagine it was used for household linen for quite a few years , since you see it fairly regularly . 1940s , perhaps .

But I couldn't resist this either .... a 1950s kitchen tablecloth .... this must have been so modern when some young housewife dished up supper on it ( something with a glacè cherry on top perhaps , followed by a bowl of lime jelly ? )

Then there's this tiny piece ... remember when everything had to be orange ? There's something rather Mary Whitehouse about the print , though , rather than trendy

On the 20th , Friend and I are hoping to go to the Amsterdam Traditional Textiles Fair at the Duif church , but it'll be just to admire and yearn . Vintage textiles are .... justifiably ... rather expensive , but nothing brings a period more to life than the clothes they wore and the sheets they slept in .

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sloth ... A Progress Report

This new Blogger is a monumental pain . I don't want Google Chrome and can't keep on installing and uninstalling it . Any tips ?
Meanwhile my slothfulness ( St. Thomas Aquinas defines it as torpor but The Catholic Dictionary , rather more accurately, as disinclination to labour ) has been leavened by the odd twitch .
Yesterday , I ventured as far as the center of town and wandered round the vast flea market that is the traditional way to celebrate Queen's Day in Holland . And I didn't buy anything ! Well , nearly nothing ... though three CDs came home with me , possibly to escape the noise and the cascade of chocolate covered rice-cake crumbs the seller was sprinkling everywhere . There was a girl in a beige nylon bunny suit pole-dancing next to the town hall , hundreds of orange sequinned hats and matching feather boas , thousands of children playing the recorder and millions of people eating hamburgers . And a David Attenborough moment when I was surprised by a rubber hippo

Oh , yes . I finished my dog ... and decided that , lovely though Charlotte Rion's book * is , maybe soft toy making might not be my thing . Though my mouse turned out rather better .

And , having discovered a dried up butterfly in the back of a cupboard upstairs

I've been hoovering for hours today which lead to tidying and dusting and throwing things out . Which makes a change which , after all , is supposed to be as good as a rest . But I think tomorrow me and my book are going off on a train . It might be quieter ....

* In case you're interested, it's original title is Doudous à Coudre . ISBN 978-90-5877-930-4 .