Buy your Cake and Eat it!

Cake

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cake 3

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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

 

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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

 

Happy Feast-er Part 2

Along with all the lovely food and drink that we buy at Easter, people seem to have wanted to get involved with baking this year in order to make even more yummy Easter treats. And I’m not just talking about cakes. But chocolate, Creme egg Brownies. They seem to be all the craze this Easter so I just had to make my blog post a two parter and share it with you. The recipe and the photos that is – not the brownies themselves I’m afraid 😉

I think they have been popular because they combine our favourite things about chocolate and indulgence. They are typically Eastery because they have the Creme egg in but are also gooey and chocolatey and comforting. Perfect for the cold Easter we have had. They will also go amazingly well with ice-cream as a dessert (loved by adults and kids alike). And of course they aren’t just for Easter but can be made purposefully as a yummy treat. I was going to say they are great to ‘use’ up ‘left-over’ Creme eggs, but that is crazy! Left over? Use up? I bought a six-pack especially for the occasion!

egg brownie 5

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook… I like the choppiness of these ones!

My boyfriend and I made some this morning – it was nice to bake together really. I think it was the first time we had done that actually. Spilt sugar, lack of electric whisk and a messy kitchen aside…. it was a pleasant experience with a delicious looking outcome. I feel a fraud really because I haven’t tried one yet. But like lots of others, I saw previous pics and just had to make them – so you don’t need my word of mouth dribbling with saliva. You’ll probably want to make them anyway.

Here’s the recipe:

AMAZING CADBURY’S CREME EGG BROWNIES! (This was the title that I found on Facebook. I can’t argue with the excitable enthusiasm, capitalisation or exclamation mark…)

  •  185g unsalted butter
  • 185g best dark chocolate
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g  caster sugar
  •  6 Cadbury’s Crème eggs cut in half. (we put them in the freezer for a couple of hours – which apparently makes them easier to cut.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C (Gas mark 5)  and grease a 20 cm square baking tin. (we lined with baking paper)
  2. Melt the butter and dark chocolate together either in the microwave or in a bowl over boiling water.
  3.  Break 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in 275g caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 3-8 minutes. (or 20 if you don’t have an electric whisk – but we figured it was burning off the looming calories!)You will know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume.
  4. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, and then gently fold together.
  5. Hold a sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and sift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly.
  6. Gently fold in to the mixture.
  7. Pour into the baking tin and cook for 15 minutes then take out of the over and gently press the Cadbury’s Creme egg halves into the mix, spacing them apart evenly.
  8. Put back in the over for another 5-10 minutes.
  9.  Leave to cool before removing from tin and cutting into squares.
Our version - it made 6. Two are waiting to be eaten with ice-cream this tea time :D

Our version – it made 6. Two are waiting to be eaten with ice-cream this tea time 😀

This was a version another friend made….

egg brownies

These are neat ones made by my boyfriend’s brother and girlfriend…..

egg brownnie 3

My sister made these. I did make fun because I thought they looked odd – but now I look again, I like how they have all the little eggs in. (She used caramel ones too).

So yes, I’ve acquired an unhealthy obsession with Creme egg brownies (and other people’s Facebook pics!) Luckily I haven’t eaten all these… or I wouldn’t be here to tell the sickly tale! But some baking inspiration for you all 😀

Keep feasting… 😉

XSXS

Christmas: The good, the bad, the funny and the damn right inhumane!

Well the world didn’t end and Christmas 2012 is going to happen. I want to share with you my views on Christmas and what it means to me. I also want to tell you various stories that I have heard this festive period… the good, the bad, the funny and the inhumane – you can decide which is which 😉

I’ll start with one that was to do with the end of the world because it really made me laugh. Someone told me that they had a friend who completely and utterly believed that the world was going to end at 11.11am on Friday  – like some others I am sure. The person decided to test this belief and said that their friend should buy a sex toy for their Dad and have it ordered and delivered to his address ready for Christmas Day – because if the world was going to end like they oh so believed, it wouldn’t matter would it?! I think the friend took up the challenge and I now think he will have a very awkward present opening session on Christmas Day. But not to worry, it’s not the end of the world 😉

So yes Christmas is going to happen. Christmas is, in literal terms, the birthday of Jesus Christ but as time has passed over centuries, it is not just the Christians and other religions who celebrate it. Some people think it is wrong and that we should remember this actual meaning. Being a non-Christian and un-religious individual myself, I don’t think you have to believe in Jesus in order to appreciate Christmas and I don’t think that you should have to believe in order to celebrate it. As for believing in Santa – well that is a whole other issue! I think Christmas has evolved and it is now about what it represents to each of us. For me, it is about family and friends and having time off work and very good reason to spend quality time with these groups of people. Not that we need an excuse but I am sure you know what I am trying to say….

Christmas has become commercialised and it shouldn’t be about the presents – well in my opinion it shouldn’t be about expensive ones. People who get into debt because they feel they have to spend money to keep people happy are just ridiculous. It is a little bit about the presents though, treating your loved ones, giving and, if you’re lucky, receiving some in return. One of the things I look forward to the most on Christmas day is people opening the presents that I have bought them…. very exciting. So it is about being generous yes, but you should only ever spend what you can afford. My boyfriend’s mum told me a great story. She does a lot of work for the Border Collie Trust and goes to pet shops in order to fund raise. She noticed this one woman at a store she was at and she went round the store with a huge trolley. She filled it with dog food, blankets, toys. She then paid for it all and gave it all to the charity. Now that is an example of a season of goodwill.

Another good will story I heard was about a homeless man.  Someone posted on Facebook that he walked past a homeless man and then felt such guilt as he saw him shivering in the Decemeber weather that he walked straight to the market and bought gloves, a scarf and a KFC meal for the homeless man. He was overjoyed and touched and asked the generous man to sit with him while he ate. He told the story that he was on the streets because he had a drug problem and he was getting over it before he returned to his family. I don’t know a lot of details and I won’t judge. Naturally, some people did and called him a ‘waster’ or whatever but we don’t know the background and I hope he gets over this and his family accepts him back in time for Christmas. The man who bought the items and and gave up his time is compassion personified in my opinion.

Food is something we all go crazy about this time of year and it does make you think, when you hear of people on the streets who don’t have any, let alone luxury and an endless supply of chocolates and snacks. I am the same, I admit. Being whisked into the buzz of western society, I am conditioned to believe that we need to have all these special foods in order to make Christmas perfect, when really that is nonsense. Friends and family will do that, like I mentioned above. But anyway, yesterday I sent my boyfriend to the supermarket with a long list of food to get. I added little notes next to it so that it was just right. I talked him through it before he want (control freak, moi?!) He came back with the shopping and I couldn’t find the Chocolate log for Christmas Day. I also found a couple of bars of chocolate that weren’t on the list. He explained that he thought ‘chocolate log’ was in fact ‘chocolate 10g’ so he bought me a bar of chocolate so I could get my 10 grams! Ha! He said he wondered why I wanted just 10 grams!

I also read a story about a young woman who dropped a bottle of wine at the entrance to the supermarket. We can all picture the scene. Shopping done, paid up and juggling all the bags as you stumble out to the car, dying to get home to put the kettle on. The bottle smashed to the floor and did anyone help?! No. They complained about her being in the way, made jokes about needing a straw  or just shuffled by. My friend, who posted the story, went to help. She seemed shocked – says it all really. My friend also said he thought humans are ‘such twats’. From this story, I tend to agree.

Like this young woman, I am not so fond of supermarkets myself at the minute. I crashed my car into a trolley bay yesterday and I have a huge dented and scratched door on the passenger side. I don’t blame the Christmas rush, I don’t blame the mad Christmas shoppers and lack of parking spaces, no I blame myself and the fact that I didn’t even need to go to the supermarket anyway oh and my awful parking skills! Happy Christmas to me! But it was all put into perspective when I thought that at least I wasn’t in an accident, I wasn’t hurt and  I have a home to go to (not like the people in the floods). So, it’s nothing really – not that that stopped me sobbing, shouting and swearing at myself for the whole morning!

Today, has been a lot nicer. I have spent the afternoon with friends exchanging gifts, playing games and listening to Christmas songs. I also received a lovely bunch of flowers and a card from my boyfriend’s rowing club. This was to say thank you for supporting my boyfriend, not complaining (too much!) about him being away a lot and a general thanks. My boyfriend received a card and a sat-nav for his efforts too 😉 So that was a very touching thing to happen today.

So there you have it… many festive moments and they are all what life is about I guess. Christmas can mean lots of things to us and it is interesting to see what it means to you. Oh and …. ‘Remember, if Christmas isn’t found in your heart, you won’t find it under a tree.’

Merry Christmas readers, visitors and bloggers!

My lovely flowers that gave me some Christmas cheer….

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

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