Buy your Cake and Eat it!

Cake

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Bride Blogger Part 5

 

Hi brides-to-be, bloggers, readers and any other wedding goers! The wedding prep has died down a little, as with over a year to go still, there isn’t a lot to do in the present. We have the venue and the registrar. So the WHERE and the WHO bits of our wedding are taken care of – what else could you need? A lot it seems. One of those things being a cake. Cakes are used as part of a lot of English celebrations – and it seems at a wedding, not only is it a tasty treat for your guests, but it has to be a fantastic, wowing centre piece!

The wedding cake is traditionally cut by the bride and groom and eaten by the guests at the wedding reception. I have many memories of taking pieces home though – as you are usually full up of yummy wedding food. And with the price of the Wedding Breakfast food and evening food, people best be full!!!

I’ve also read that wedding cake used to be broken over/thrown at the bride as a symbol of fertility. Wasting a few hundred pound cake by throwing it about is like throwing money down a drain: who could ever afford a child?! Crazy ideas – again to me, it could be eaten not thrown about like a ball. Plus it could get on my lovely dress!

Wedding cakes are supposed to signify good luck and happiness for the happy couple and the guests. To me, it is important it is one thing: delicious! It  is a cake after all! No matter how pretty or magnificent it is, if it tastes horrible, there will be some disappointed guests.  And it isn’t good luck if you choke on some hard, dry sponge! So, yes I want it look good but it is equally important that it tastes good – and I feel I should be able to get both of these at a non-ridiculous price! Honestly, some of them can cost £1000 or more – for sponge! Crazy industry! I know, I know – you’re paying for their time and labour – but still. I was thinking a nice, simple one that fits with the colour scheme – with maybe a funny cake-topper on the top (funnily enough!) of maybe me reading/ Kenny rowing! Haha. Even though, that hasn’t stopped me looking at more elaborate ones:

1.) The first pic is hilarious and would be very fitting for our clumsiness! Love it! I imagine a lot of effort would have to go into that though.

2.) The one on the left is really cool. Pictures printed around each side of the couple. Kenny has an idea to get photos on a supermarket cake as a cheaper way of doing it! Mmmm…. will see about that!

3.) I’m not sure we would need this many layers, but I love how each one tells a story of the love between the couple! Love the colours too.

So, there are some cake ideas – will need to look at lots more and do plenty of testing I imagine too 😉 Any tips or ideas – please comment below!

XSXS

 

Losing It

Just a quick one tonight, to discuss the fact that I’ve lost ten pounds. Ten whole pounds. But I didn’t need them. I have plenty more to spare 😉 Because… looming up to holiday and that dreaded bikini time, of course, I am talking about weight and not money 😉

Don’t click off the page just yet! I am not one of these diet obsessed women or someone who puts on weight, gets depressed, moans about it and then comforts herself with chocolate 😉 No, I know that it is simple mathematics (my favourite kind of maths 🙂 ) and that if you put more into your mouth than you burn off from your body – then you gain the pounds!

More food + No movement = Over weight

I’m not saying it’s easy though. Most days, I feel I need chocolate and/or wine! But I have tried to get out of the habit of using these things as a treat. I have also started using an app called My fitness pal. It is great. You type in (or scan bar codes if you have a fancy iPhone!) what you eat and it tells you how many calories you  have eaten. Before this, you put in all your details and it tells you how many calories you (not the woman who is the same clothes size or height as you – but you personally) can eat in order to lose weight. You then put in exercise and gain some calories back. This is my favourite part because I am aware of what calories are in the foods I want, so I make sure I get off my ass for half an hour first!

1/2 hour of walking = a glass of white wine (perfect!)

My exercise mantra!

My exercise mantra!

So, I’m not a  saint  – I am just more aware of what I eat and burn off now! Some days, I’m over on my calories and I must admit, I had a 2 week break when I was off work at Easter. In those days, I tried to count what I ate, but I just wasn’t fast enough 😉 haha!

Good luck if you are trying to shift some pounds before our (one day of) Summer! Remember, you don’t have to lose pounds of money in the process – walking running, making your own meals etc – all free 😀

Happy calorie counting!

Oh and if all else fails……

cup cakes

XSXS

 

More Cheese Please!

I don’t know if any of you out there have heard of raclette? I only ask because I never had until we moved into our house and were given a Raclette grill. Raclette is the type of cheese. The grill and way of eating it seems to come from Germany/France/Austria. My boyfriend first had it when he was snowboarding in France and Austria and when we were offered this grill he was most excited! It is quite good actually and a very social way of eating.

Ours is like a teflon, round grill plate (some are made of marble/stone) – this is where you cook meat. Raw chicken, beef, pork etc. I know it is a bit weird to have raw meat on the table but the idea is to cook it together. Then underneath you have these heat elements and you put in little triangle trays full of the hard cheese and it melts. You then serve the melted cheese with your meat and we usually have cooked meats like salami, chorizo, parma ham etc with small, salad potatoes, salad and french stick. Yummy. If you break it down, I guess it is just potatoes, meat salad and melted cheese! But is the idea of cooking together and keep eating little bits. My boyfriend has boy’s nights and they get through nearly a wheel of cheese and have various rounds. They claim to get the cheese sweats! My boyfriend also claimed to have cheese ‘giggles’ once and he came to bed giggling uncontrollably…. it was the cheese, no not the beer of course 😉

This is the picture I found that is most similar to ours. Meat on top and cheese below!

 

You can be more adventurous too. I actually bought my boyfriend a Raclette book, which has ideas for social gatherings and different ways to use your grill. You can prepare vegetables/mushrooms/prawns and cook certain things in a pan before so they are a little cooked and finish them off with the cheese in the little trays after. Last night, I put some potatoes onto the grill to brown them and also peppers. So you can do what you like really.

We had Raclette on our French holiday in the summer. It was a little different though. you get a stand that holds the cheese (below) and then you scrape the cheese of either side. You get the cooked meats, potatoes, salad and bread but don’t cook raw meat. So not sure if that was something they added when they made these grills or what. It was still good though and nice to try it in a restaurant.

The raclette in France…. the cheese comes off either side….

The reason we had one last night, just us two, was that my workmate’s husband had been to France and bought us a pack of Raclette cheese back. So we thought it would be nice for a Friday evening. Sounds like we are getting old….. having a cheese evening! Haha. The cheese can actually be quite difficult to get. We have arranged to have 8 people come for a raclette evening before and then not been able to buy the cheese! Once, I was running round Lidl (who only seem to have it certain times of year), Sainsbury’s (who seemed to suddenly stop selling) and Aldi who didn’t have it at all! This may have been the time my friend bought some back that evening from a bigger Sainsbury’s in Conventry so the party could go ahead! At times. my boyfriend has gone to a cheese shop in a town 40 minutes away and then to Waitrose in another city! We are dedicated to our cheese!

You can actually use different cheeses in the grill and the book I bought shows this. But we just think that for how often you use it, you might as well use the proper stuff!

Hope, I’ve given you some new ideas for your Saturday tea. A tip: if you have a teflon one like ours, make sure you use plastic cutlery to put the meat on/take it off.. (my girl mates love making fun of my boyfriend who is the ‘fun police’ with his plastic on teflon!) Haha

Have a good day,

XSXS

British with extras….

Do we all consider ourselves to be ‘born and bred British’? (If we are British to begin with that is). What makes us British? I received a text recently; a  joke one. Some can be great but I hate those ones that you have to send to twenty people before midnight or you will die a painful death. Luckily, this was one of the funny ones. It goes:

‘Being British is about driving a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, then on the way home grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish Kebab to sit and eat on a Swedish sofa whilst watching USA shows on a Japanese TV.’

definitely something to think about! We think of ourselves as pure British and moan about people ‘coming into the country’, yet we don’t moan about all these things we use, eat and watch every day from other cultures and countries. Also makes you think, what actually is made in Britain?! Well we do get British cars and other made items and another take away could be fish and chips to be fair… and British TV wins over American a lot of the time. Whats makes you think of Britain though? I think of red letter boxes, Buckingham palace (and the queen inside!), good Cadbury’s chocolate (they have it in other countries but it just doesn’t taste the same), certain writers and books, roast dinners, amazing countryside and of course the unpredictable weather! It is important to embrace other cultures though. So the above things that we do are fine yeh, but we can’t complain about other people being over here. I don’t have a problem with it to be honest. There is no physical barrier or rule saying people have to stay living in their own countries. As long as people work, give to economy, pay their way and respect the people they are with, then that is just fine.

I work in a school where being a white and British is the minority. There are black Caribbean, Indian, African, Polish, japanese, Pakistani and lots more. I love it. It is great to learn about their cultures and religions. The names were very tricky to learn though, since I was used to being in a White British based school previously. Since January, I have learnt the names and noticed certain patterns of cultures and religions and the names they have. Hussain seems to be the British equivalent of ‘Smith’ I think. Two Japanese pupils have told me this week though that they are going back to Japan at Christmas and not coming back. This is the effect I have on the kids you see! It seems some come over for work and then go back after a certain period.

Oh to tell you the rest of the text by the way, it says: ‘Only in Britain can you get a pizza to your home faster than an ambulance. Only in Britain do banks leave both doors open but chain their pens to the counter. Supermarkets make  ill people walk to the back to get their prescriptions, yet ‘healthy’ people can get fags at the door. We might be British but we’re funny.’ So it seems we are excused from these things because they are amusing! Does seem daft, especially the bank one. My pizza always takes a while to come and luckily I haven’t had to ring for an ambulance so I can’t say about that one!

We may get some things a bit wrong but as I said above, we do roast dinner riiight! This weekend ,on Sunday, My mum is making Christmas dinner. No, don’t worry it isn’t Dec 25th already… we still have what? Ten weeks? Don’t panic. My mum wants to do this for the Aussie relatives to give them a proper ‘British’ Christmas dinner before they go back. And they need showing, since when we went there in 2005, we had a BBQ for Christmas dinner. Plain weird. So that will be nice.. and we will bask in our Britishness.

Tonight though… we are being oh so tongue in cheek British and going out for an Indian curry 😉 It is the most popular take away in Britain funnily enough, so it’s important the Aussies experience this too!

Have a good evening drinking Belgian beer, eating Swiss chocolate on your Swedish furniture 😉

XSXS

No Woman is an Island

 

Today has been a good day. It began in a solo way, which I like sometimes. I went swimming on my own at 8.30 and when I say alone, I was pretty much the only one in the pool, except one family and about 6 kids on a swimming lesson in a separate lane. It was nice to have so much room. It used to be packed at that time so I can only think that is the looming cold weather that has kept people in bed and away from the water.

With such few people, it didn’t mean there couldn’t be any drama though. It seems to follow be around. I was on length 16 I think when an alarm went off. I thought ‘noooo a fire alarm… does this mean I have to go out onto the street wearing one of those tin foil cloaks?!’ That was my initial thought as I got out the pool. I was so engrossed in this that I hadn’t realised that a girl had ‘nearly’ drowned and that was what the alarm was for. One of the life guards was wet but I thought he was just pulling the girl out for our ‘fire’. Haha. It didn’t occur to me why we stood still by the pool for the 5 min and why they kept asking this girl if she was OK! I felt bad that I didn’t ask because I didn’t realise until they walked off to fill out paper work. I blame it on being 8.30 am on a Sunday! Turns out anyway that the girl had just gone slightly too deep and panicked but she was fine. I continued my swim anyway after as normal.

That was my workout for the day and meant I could pig out guilt free at the family party later… including my cheesecake (see my post from yesterday, A Cake of Cheese (Part 2) ).

From being alone at swimming, I spent the rest of the day surrounded by people. All of my close family was there today except from two aunties and and uncle. So close. But it’s hard to get everyone together at the same time and place isn’t it? So this was the closest we had come so I insisted that we took a huge group photo. I sensed it would be more trouble than it was worth with trying to get my Grandad out there from falling asleep in his chair, to get my aunties out there and my uncle who hates photos. People kept offering to take it and I was like ‘Nooo, I want you to be in it!’ God bless the timer function on cameras. We had two cameras balanced on plastic garden chair at the top of the garden steps as we all gathered around the patio area. You know when it’s pressed and you only have 10 sec to get ready? Well we did that and actually managed to all get together. The tall, broad men at the back and the shorter ones at the front. But being quite a tall family, some ducked. But it all worked and we got some nice group piccys. My gran also took one of all her children, a grandchildren one etc. It was really nice to get some recent pics.

It is important to get together with family and it got me thinking about we all need each other, hence my title ‘No woman is an island’. We all need people to be happy and the more family members there are, the better. The quote, ‘No man is an island’ is used in the film About a Boy where the young lad says at the end that there was lots of them now and it was good, always someone to fall back on. Extra support. And that is what family should be; a support network.

Anyway, the family party was good and my cheese cake went down well….. hope some of you have had a go at making it today! We have lots of things planned for next weekend with the Aussies…. just wish that I didn’t have to go to work in between. Their holiday attitude is starting to rub off and I have to keep reminding myself that I have to go to work tomorrow. Oh well, as I say, I am not an island and all my family will be there when I return!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

A Cake of Cheese (Part 2)

Afternoon everyone. You may remember a while ago that I posted a recipe for a cheese cake in A Cake of Cheese. I have also shared with you, my love of chocolate in Sweet like Chocolate. I mentioned that I have a recipe for a dark chocolate cheesecake too….. one to take you to the dark side. 😉

It’s been a busy week with the Aussies. Tomorrow, we are having a huge family party and me and my Mum are sorting the food. This is where my cheesecake comes in. I am making one for tomorrow. The white chocolate cheese cake that I posted about previously is a recipe off my Aussie aunty, so it’s only right that I share my recipe in return right?

In the last few years, I have made this cheesecake probably ten times. I got the recipe from a Sunday magazine and it is a recipe of Tana Ramsey (Gordon’s wife). It requires a bit of messing and a lot of different bowls but it is so worth it! After making it so many times though, i still haven’t learnt that my cake tin is smaller than the one in the recipe so I always end up with too much! Hence, I make two mini ones too 😉 A happy mistake then really.

So without further ado… here is the recipe:

Chocolate Cheesecake

Preparation time: 15 minutes (though I swear it always takes me longer… must be the licking out the bowl!)

Cooking time: 45 min to 1 hour.

  • 300g of sweetened oat biscuits (they work well but I also use digestives a lot as some prefer them.)
  • 75g butter
  • 150g of good quality dark chocolate
  • 750g of mascarpone or cream cheese (Philadelphia or supermarket alternatives work well.)
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 3 beaten medium eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 (160C if fan oven). Line a 23cm nonstick springform tin with greaseproof paper (I just grease my tin with butter and it comes out fine.)
  2. Put your biscuits into a food processor until they are crumbs (or if you are unlucky like me, put them into a plastic bag and bash with a rolling-pin – another reason it takes me longer!) Then melt your butter, mix with the crumbs and press firmly into your tin to create the base. Put in the fridge for 10-15 min.
  3. Meanwhile, melt your chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water and set aside to cool (but not too much because i find it separates otherwise.)
  4. Beat you soft cheese and add the sugar and beat again. The stir in the beaten eggs and the chocolate and pour onto the chilled biscuit base.
  5. Put the cheesecake in the oven for 45min – 60 min (I find mine always needs the full hour.)
  6. When it is ready it will still have a wobble to it if you shake it slightly. It will continue to cook as it cools.
  7. Let it cool and refrigerate until ready to serve! Yummy.

You can add grated chocolate to the top too to make it really calorific! I put white chocolate onto mine once when it went wrong. This was when the dark chocolate separated from the cheese and it went speckly! So it was a hiding aid… but it makes it look pretty as an added extra.

My next challenge is to get the cheesecake to my Gran’s house without dropping it! 😉

Enjoy your chocolately treat this weekend!

XSXS

Life Up Over

Sorry, it’s been a few days folks. I’ve been very busy with mu Aussie relatives and fixing that damn car wiper blade arm (see Driving me to Despair). My Aussie relatives have had a good stay so far and it got me thinking that if we call Australia ‘Down Under’ then when they visit here, do we call it ‘Up Over’? Well they are enjoying their time up over anyway.

I saw them last night for the first time in 7 years. I met them at the Bed and Breakfast they are staying at. I went to meet them in the pub so I could then drive them back to my house for dinner. It was about 6.15 pm when I got there. I couldn’t open the bar door. Typical, I thought. I haven’t seen them in 7 years and I can’t get to them! I can’t even open a door when they have travelled half way across the world! Turns out the pub was closed to the public so that was why. I discovered this when I said to the barman ‘Woah, it’s quiet in here!’ He said, ‘it isn’t quite; we just aren’t open yet!’ Haha. Anyway, seeing my relatives was weird but for only a second. They looked the same as the most recent pics on Facebook and it was like I was talking to my aunty on Facebook chat but without the two screens, oh and thousands of miles, separating us.

You soon start to spot the cultural differences, as subtle as they are. My aunty said she thought I was very brave for driving round the small, hilly, villages with a manual car. Quite frankly, I don’t know any different. I know we have some automatic cars over here but in Oz they all are pretty much. My Dad gave his ‘clutch’ foot a huge rest when he drove over there in 2005. The thing was, I actually used to want an automatic because I struggled so much with the clutch when I was learning to drive (it took me 18 months worth of lessons to pass… that is many other stories for another time!) So for her to say I was brave for driving round in a manual car was quite nice. I had finally for there!!

I cooked dinner for them plus my Mum, Dad, sister and her boyfriend. It was nice to catch up. My aunty actually had some sad news yesterday, which she told us about. Her step father died rather suddenly that morning and her Mum told her that day. Typical that something like that happens when she is on the other side of the earth. Not a lot she could do and her Mum didn’t want them to cut the holiday short and go home. Very sad news though.

We had many topics of conversation through the evening. One was how to pronounce the city of ‘Derby’ as they were visiting there the next day. We say ‘dar-by’ don’t we? My uncle pointed out that it should be said like ‘der’ as in ‘der, how stupid are you!’ It makes sense if you think about it. i was just trying to find some examples to prove this point. ‘Deranged’ sort of is but it seems that we say ‘de-ranged’ so we pronounce the ‘de’ separately. Like in ‘derisive’ or ‘derail’.Even more complicated! And the query came from an Aussie who also speak English! God knows what second language English speakers. I think we make things more complicated on purpose.

Another thing my Aussie relatives find funny is thhe fact we have a meat product called ‘faggots’. This comes up every time! It also means gay. We have that meaning too but they only know it as that. So if we say we are having faggots for dinner, then it is highly hilarious to them. Just as when I mentioned that they call flip-flops ‘thongs’. Meaning can definitly be misconstrued there too!

They also find the names of beers and pubs funny. My aunty was telling me that when she was over here years ago with a friend, they found a pub called ‘The Nun’s Passage’ and then they started to drink a beer called ‘Bishop’s finger’. So they would say ‘Let’s go for a Bishop’s finger in the Nun’s Passage!’ Gotta love the English for puns and sexual innuendos.

Our town is tiny so when they said they had been there yesterday, me and the pub owner laughed when I went to meet them. We joked that had they seen all the charity shops (Aussie’s call them ‘Op’ shops) and the card shops! I then had recommendations that they go to Ann Summers (our fun and slightly rude shop) and also look out for the blue building that is the rowing club where my boyfriend rows. Those are some sights to see! Our little town doesn’t have a lot to offer but we are lucky because we aren’t far away from a lot of pretty places. I would love to take them to Lincoln. I lived there for three years when I was at Uni and would love to show them the Uni, the castle, the cathedral and even more historic, the places I used to live! Working in a school though, as huge number of weeks off we get, we can’t choose when to have a week off. So, I’ll have to wait til they return when I am off school and can go out with them in the day too.

But they have the rest of my family to go out with and I hope they enjoy the rest of their visit Up Over!

XSXS

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