Category Archives: baking and mixing and kitchen stuff

Things that happened today

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Oreo butterfly cakes ūüĎć

Also a smashing afternoon en amité but largely it was about Oreo butterfly cakes.

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Try something new today…

Having a domestic moment last weekend, I sorted out the kitchen shelves where our cookery books live. In doing so I found myself reminded of the time one of my ace chums challenged herself to make one recipe from every Cook book she owned (she has considerably more than housemate and I but that’s by the by). Since I’ve got back into cooking lately this seemed like the optimum moment to challenge myself to justify the continued existence of all the books on the shelves… Watch this space for fruits of my labours. Or tales of woe. Or both.

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On the subject of trying something new, you may recall that I’d fallen in love at first relev√© with my freed classics. They’ve died a sad and tragic death since and I’ve replaced them with another pair (different maker, more paste, hopefully lasting a little longer but I do feel like I’m cheating on my first maker). After a little more than a year, I think I’ve found my shoe…

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February, by numbers

Books read: 17 (vg)
Books bought: probably more than 17, ffoqs given: precisely zero
Ballet classes taken: 15 (excellent given I was on holiday for a week)
Times I skived barre stretch during class: 1 (excellent, and it was only because my spine was completely unhappy everywhere)
Pairs of pointe shoes killed: 1, must replace
Ballets seen: 4 (Giselle with Laura Morera in the lead, oh my ~feeeeeeeeeeeels and a triple bill)
Ballet companies seen: 1 (Royal Ballet)
Knitting projects completed: 2 (an iPod cover and a phone case)
Knitting projects cast on and in progress: 2 (a shawl for me and a hat for my mother)
Metres of alpaca silk I bought because my feelings were so strong I almost licked it: 800
Times I cut my own hair off before a job interview: 1
Times I accidentally got a new job in spite of hair cut: 1
Times I made cake for work: 2
Times left london: 3 (vg: Derbyshire, Orkney and Hampshire)
Days spent getting to Orkney: 3
Cameras left behind on Orkney: 1
Nephews acquired: 1

Today it is March which I don’t quite understand. BUT that means tonight I get to go and see Ballet Black! In the LINBURY! Bring on the capslock and the ~feeeeeeeeeeeeeels

Anyway, have a picture o the sea on Orkney:

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2013 By Numbers

Ballet classes: 191 (good but could do better ;))

Pairs of pointe shoes since restarting pointe: three (good, well not the Freed Studios II which, it turned out, were not the right choice for my feet. The Bloch B Morphs and Grishko Proflex were/are great though)

Ballet performances seen: 29 (average)

Ballet companies seen: 11 (vg)

Books read: 221 (could definitely do better)

Knitting projects completed: EXCELLENT QUESTION (why do I have no method for recording this? Must do better)

Baked good produced: my colleagues’ answer to this would be “not enough” and I’d probably be inclined to agree!

TV programmes fallen in love with: Call the Midwife (my ovaries are SO on board the Good Ship Turnadette it’s not funny) and Sherlock. On the downside all my long standing favourites are starting to Jump The Shark (yes, Homeland, I’m looking at you. Also Bones)

Number of times my ovaries were damaged in some, way, shape or form: innumerable (must gird better)

Occasions on which I was forced to break out the CAPSLOCK SQUEE: many

Niggling injuries: numerous (must do better)

2013 has been… well it’s not been terribly bad. It’s had a lot of good points, a few slumps but mostly it’s been a nice year of middling along in an average kind of fashion which suits me just nicely. I don’t think I have many particular aims and ambitions and resolutions for 2014. Well, you know the usual things: Be Less Fat, sleep more, stop playing stupid games on my phone instead of going to sleep, knit more, work harder, keep my bedroom tidy, keep my desk tidy… ¬†oh and BLOG MORE (because I have been a total Slack Alice).Well, maybe there’s a few balletic aims but nothing silly, all (with any luck and a following wind) fairly achievable:

  • manage a pirouette en pointe without getting up to pass√© and freaking out
  • achieve some kind of consistency with pirouettes (at the minute there are some classes where I just settle for hitting a decent balance and I’d quite like to get over that now thank you)
  • manage an attitude pirouette
  • achieve consistent doubles en dehors both sides
  • get my demi pointe balances more consistent
  • start jumping again (my patella tendon/ITB have been… niggly so jumping’s been out since about October which is galling)

It’s still a bit funny to look back to two years ago when I was in the deep throes of my emo meltdown and all “I NEVER WANT TO DANCE AGAIN”. What a drama queen! Mind you, what a change too. I think 2013, in all honesty, was my happiest dancing year – it’s amazing the change that dancing in the right environment can bring. I have incredible, exceptionally supportive teachers and some completely awesome in class chums and, no matter how lousy the day has been up until Ballet O’Clock, I never fail to leave without feeling at least a little lifted and I know that I am so very, very lucky. Dance wise, there’s a long way to go – at the moment I’m settling for ‘competent. As one of my teachers said “no, not great but definitely better”*.

Here’s to 2014. And “better”.

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Ballerina baking

Because normal people stay up past midnight making meringue to serve up a dessert named after a ballerina to their chums the following day, right?

Mes pals, I present my pizza de résistance: pavlova.

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Last time I made pavolva it was an emergency affair one Christmas morning following the Lamentable Tragedy of the Unsettable Champagne Jelly. This time may have involved post class, late night kitchen adventures but a vastly more preferable state of affairs… I think.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding and we’ll see how my victimschums feel about it later!

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Memories are made of this

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What’s better than birthday cake? Nutcracker birthday cakes. In ‘summer’. I use the term summer lightly given that I don’t trust the fact we’ve had two nice days in a row (also it was good weather for my birthday party and we sat in the garden which was true weather witchcraft).

The other night I went to see Sylvie Guillem in 6000 miles away a programme of three pieces: Kylian, Forsythe and Eks. I enjoyed the Kylian, was utterly nonplussed by the Forsythe and fell head over heels for Eks’ ‘bye’. The latter was a sole piece for Guillem who is magnificent and the whole thing blew me away into serious, serious ~feels. And it hurt my ovaries a little to think I’d never get to see Guillem dance a real dramatic classical role live.

But yesterday featured plenty of cake and cocktails to help me get over that a little…

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May 26, 2013 · 13:25

At some point I got sidetracked…

Despite all my grand promises (to myself at least) about being less of a Slack Alice on the blog front, I got a bit distracted by my new knitting project…

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I was in a meeting the other week, idly doodling to keep my focus on what was going on and I ended up with this. My fingers got twitchy, desperately twitchy. The need to rush out INSTANTLY to buy all the yarn and cast on.

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I am really quite excited by this and how nicely it’s turning out. Mostly I can’t wait to finish it so I’m knitting unto like the proverbial loon, which is daft as summer keeps trying to put in an appearance and a great big blanket would be the last thing I’d need right now. Mind you, this is Angleterre with it’s ludicrous weather system so I’ll probably need this in August…

In other news, I hung another year on the line last weekend (not sure how that happened) to slightly misquote Paul Simon. At my grand age birthdays are really just another day, but getting to spend this one with my nephewits was super special – even being dragged out of bed at some unholy hour of a Saturday because they were too excited for me to spend any longer in bed. And they decorated my birthday cake…

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Today I have to make cake of my own to obey the Work Birthday Law (Thou Shalt Bring Cake) as I was parted from my kitchen last weekend. Much as I love baking, I’m slightly loathe to be parted from my knitting for the afternoon. OH LIFE, Y U SO HARD?

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What do you mean we need a break from the old routine? Happy 2013!

Somehow 2013 is only ten days old and I swear it already feels like mid-October. I suspect that this is come kind of internal protest against the fact I was back at work on the 2nd and my soul feels a little destroyed as a result. NEVER MIND.

As usual, I am making half-assed resolutions of things I intend to do. Things like… I will get up early and have a little stretch before work. I will stop eating rubbish all the time (aka Operation Be Less Fat). I will learn to crochet (I actually will this year). I will take up running to increase my cardio fitness so I stop wanting to die during allegro (once I’ve been back to podiatry to see if my ridiculous feet can handle it). I will not have giant strops about having to do physio (we’ll see). I will be motivated and do my work properly and not doss about on Sporcle leaving everything until the last minute (erm… we’ll keep working on that). We’ll see how we go, I rather suspect any vague enthusiasm will peter out by the end of the month!

The year is already three ballet classes, four books, half a knitting project and no baked goods old. I find it slightly incredibly weird that this time last year I couldn’t have cared less if I never took another ballet class again. My last class before Christmas in 2012 was completely different: I couldn’t wait to get back to it. I’d finally worked out what I wanted from ballet and I’ve found classes that support me in this – I consider myself to be really quite incredibly lucky. I’d spent 2011 taking it all too seriously – I’m still serious about my ballet but not to the extent that it’s the be all and end all of my life. I spent 2012 walking a fine line with ballet but it’s all good now.

I finished my first book of 2013 at the weekend – Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise, if anyone’s interested (and yes, I watched the looseley based thereon TV series and loved it ;)). Is it just me or is there something so¬†totally satisfying about finishing the first book of a year?¬†It also transpired at the weekend that my mini-me and I are really quite bad influences on each other, to wit (in Waterstones, much to the amusement of the shop assistant): “I’ll get one [Kindle] if you do” “Two of your finest Kindles, please, shopkeeper”. I¬† paraphrase slightly but that was how it went. So yes, I’ve now joined the 21st century of reading matter although I haven’t actually read anything on it yet owing to my slightly overwhelming ‘to read’ pile (largely borrowed from my mother). And for anyone with concerns, it’s the basic Kindle – none of this touch screen nonsense, if you please! (For reference: touch screens give me the creeps. So do dolls but that’s a different matter entirely.)

I say the year is half a knitting project old, technically it’s two half projects old but I’m not wholly sure how much continuing a carry over from 2012 counts. The half completed project begun in 2013 is a baby hoodie. As with previous adventures in baby knitting, this is mostly about every ten rows me waving it in my housemate’s face and declaring ‘LOOK, ISN’T IT CUTE/WEE/ADORABLE’. Poor housemate. I have some half-assed intentions about knitting for 2013 but I won’t blog too much about them in case my default setting of pathological laziness wins out… or maybe I should then I can be browbeaten into carrying them out. Huh.

Before Christmas I was presented with a make your own gingerbread house kit by a colleague who’d been sent it by some company he uses claiming that it would never get made in his house. It’s been stashed on my bookcase ever since but I think that will be my first proper taking to the kitchen of 2013 (that isn’t for pasta or cereal, maybe I should add ‘sort my diet out properly’ to my list of half-assed resolutions) this weekend. It seems to be a lot of decorating which I freely admit is not my forte… impatience rules!

And in case anyone was missing it (I doubt it), I won’t be liveblogging Dancing on Ice this year. I realised it was killing my enjoyment of the show so no liveblog, also (let’s be honest) I need more knitting hours in my life and a few hours in front of the telly box with something mindless on is idea for that. I’m sure you’ll all survive…

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Festive cheer? [A post mostly about cake and a little about ballet]

Somewhere along the way I appear to have misplaced my festive spirit – I think mostly because I am quite confused as to how it is so nearly Christmas (2.5 working days left to go – WOOHOO!). I was away for the first week of December and¬†I kind of forgot things like Christmas were happening because¬†I had my holiday to get through first. On the plus side, I’m not the only hopelessly disorganised person in my life as discussions over the past week have shown and I think after several chaotic lunch breaks charging about the metrop I am pretty much sorted and ready to¬†leave for the wilds of Rural Derbyshire on Thursday.

Berlin, incidentally, was ace – I may even find words about it once I’ve got back to Rural Derbyshire and have time to stop and think.

This weekend I dashed from one¬†harebrained attempt at organisation to another, thwarted somewhat by accidentally sleeping in until almost lunchtime on Saturday and thereby losing half the day. I wrote cards, wrapped presents, cleaned, cleaned some more, went to the supermarket TWICE, went out to visit friends and – perhaps most crucially if you’re in my office this morning – I made cake (and had to clean the kitchen three times as I went along, so more cleaning).

My default setting in life is pathologically lazy and the prospect of sitting down and writing Christmas cards to everyone at work (it’s a small organisation) fills me with dread as I attempt to negotiate the most political of minefields. Last year I realised there was an easier solution: cake. So that was that, I took to the kitchen yesterday and baked as though my life depended on it. Like a less bearded version of Father Christmas, I’ve made a few colleagues’ wishes come true this morning…

Yep, I love working with me too...

Yep, I love working with me too…

More crucially, perhaps, I have only one ballet class left before Christmas! To be perfectly honest, when I look back to last Christmas when I didn’t care if I never took another class again, it seems a little surreal. The break was the right thing to take and I think my sense of perspective about where ballet fits into my life is a lot healthier now. I dance up to four evenings a week in classes I kind of wish I’d found earlier, but hey ho that’s all water under the bridge. Three of my classes kick my butt seriously, and one is fractionally more sedate where I have more time to stop, think, focus and work on things like technique, placement and the whys¬†but even occasionally (when I’m least expecting it) that class will turn round and kick my butt too. It’s a good balance of classes with a good balance of teachers and I can’t wait to get back to it all in the New Year…

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Chocolate rainbow cake and chilling out

Since my last post was quite definitely written in a haze of self pitying misery and woe, I figured this one really ought to be the polar opposite and, frankly, what is more cheering than cake? So this will be a post about cake.

I’ve just got back from ten days in Rural Derbyshire which has been a much needed respite from the world in general. I didn’t get a decent stomp in as the weather mostly conspired against me but on the plus side I did have a lot of familial obligations which meant oodles of time with my nephewits. Little Nephew renamed me ‘Auntie Boo’ at one point which has nothing to do with Bunheads and everything to do with the fact that I spend a lot of time hiding behind things, jumping out at him and yelling ‘boo’. I’m a good auntie like that.

 

 

 

 

Shortly before my sojourn to the frozen wilds of Rural Derbyshire, my little brother had the nerve to have yet another birthday – something I am never going to wholly approve of. Anyway, we all know that birthdays mean cake, right? Good. Since there was going to be a small birthday related familial gathering, my mother suggested cake and somehow I wound up volunteering to make it. With my mother as my apprentice in some kind of weird role reversal situation… Have a family recipe!

Chocolate Rainbow Cake

  1. Take 8oz caster sugar and 8oz butter. Have debate with mother over how to work the scales, drive mother to despair because I cannot work her new fangled hi-tech scales.
  2. Cream butter and sugar, admire handiwork. Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time.
  3. Be interrupted by mother declaring ‘your granny would be spinning in her grave! Put the flour in now!’.
  4. Roll eyes, add in 80z self raising flour.
  5. Be asked how much baking powder you want in. Without thinking reply ‘just under a level teaspoon’, think something is vaguely wrong as your mother chucks in a well heaped teaspoon.
  6. Stand well back as your apprentice (mother) approaches with a quarter cup of hot chocolate and bowl of melted dark chocolate to add. Obligingly mix in.
  7. Pour cake mixture into tin premixed by your apprentice and put in the oven for something over an hour whilst it rises impressively. Transfer to wire cooling rack, continue to be impressed by rising, leave for a while to watch Terrible Man Film on Movies 4 Men (available on FreeSat only!).
  8. Return to admire cake some more and muse aloud ‘I think I ought to make a rainbow cake, you know, like when we were kids’. Hear despairing wail from mother of ‘oh no, does this mean I have to spend forever sorting Smarties into colours?’. Conclude Little Brother is big enough to get over not having his Smarties sorted by colour and accept proffered glass of wine. Forget about cake overnight.
  9. Arise the following morning and decide the best idea you’ve ever had is to trek the mile and something down to Tesco to buy Smarties and chocolate buttons, regretting it every step of the way on the trek back up the hill as the air is close and oppressive. Wish for storm.
  10. Cut top off cake. Cut remaining cake in half and use the last bit of jam in the jar to stick halves together. Melt bar and a bit of dark chocolate and smother cake liberally. Place Smarties and buttons in alternate rows over cake and admire handiwork. Top with candles, insisting that Little Brother NEEDS a pink one because, well he does.
  11. Indulge in familial outing for pub lunch before decamping to Favourite Auntie’s arriving just as the threatened storm breaks (THANK YOU, WEATHER GOD). Entertain small family members until official cake cutting time is declared. Watch family members devour cake, accept compliments, watch ego swell to size of small principality √† la Lichenstein.

Don’t take my word for it that it was ace, have some photos although sadly I neglected to take any of it in its well risen splendour:

 

 

 

 

Coming soon: new knitting pattern! It’s been¬†far too long since I last wrote one properly but this deserves one. Huzzah. I haven’t quite finished the end product yet, close but no cigar…

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