Friday, February 25, 2011

Birthday Cake Joy!

birthday = birthday cake. presents are great but for me its all about the cake. this one was for ollie and her birthday celebrations. the cake was preceded by lunch in ten fourteen, where i had the most amazing sea bass. really good food and a really good cause : . thank you mr. and mrs. lyes!

yoghurt and lemon cake (adapted from a darina allen recipe)

200g self raising flour
4 eggs
225g natural yoghurt
200g golden castor sugar
110ml flavourless oil (i used groundnut oil)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest 1 lemon
8" cake tin

to dress the cake:
whipped cream
lemon curd

- whisk the eggs and add in the yoghurt, vanilla essence and zest.
- next sift the flour in and add the sugar. then add the oil in one steady stream, mixing thoroughly.
- pour into the tin and bake for about an hour in a 180 oven. (it might take longer or shorter depending on the oven. its done when a cake tester or knife, tested in the centre of the cake, comes out clean.)
- when the cake cooled i spread a generous layer of lemon curd on the top, then covered it in whipped cream. topping it off with fresh blueberries.

the big cut:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Toni Morrison on writing

"After I finished The Bluest Eye , which took me five years to write, I went into a long period of ... not deep depression but a kind of melancholy. Then I had another idea ... and the whole world came alive again. Everything I saw or did was potentially data, a word or a sound or something for the book, and then I really realized that for me writing meant having something coherent in the world. And that feels like ... not exactly what I was born for, it's more the thing that holds me in the world in healthy relationship, with language, with people, bits of everything filter down, and I can stay here."

Toni Morrison


every week as i make my shopping list i ask the same question: 'what the hell am i going to make for lunches this week?'. so i've decided to start sharing what i make and hopefully whoever is out there can send me back some more inspiration.
i try to make them as healthy and balanced as possible, with as little meat as possible and something exciting enough that i still want to eat it on day four. (only four days needed as i usually take a jaunt out for lunch of a friday.)i believe any disadvantage in taking a little time out to make the lunches is counteracted with a saving of money and time during the week. also i think that what you can make at home, no matter how simple, is for the most part, better than what you can buy. ok so here goes week one of lunch reporting:

cheats quiche pie thing with roasted vegtable lemon couscous (and leftover tarts).


3 eggs
half a container cottage cheese
1 courgette, sliced finely
6 asparagus spears, into bite size chunks
1/2 an onion
1 clove of garlic
1 packet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
salt and pepper

- roll out pastry to fit 8in tin, you will have some left over, and blind bake for about 10 mintes at 180.
- meanwhile saute onions, garlic and courgette until soft and cook the asparagus in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
- in a bowl combine the three eggs and the cottage cheese, season.
- take the pastry out of the oven and put in the vegtables, then pour on the egg mixture. put it back into the oven for around 30 minutes or until the centre is firm and the crust is golden.

roasted vegtable lemon couscous

1/2 cup couscous
1 courgette
1 pepper
1/2 onion
tin of black beans
chilli flakes
salt and pepper
olive oil
boiling water

- chop vegtables roughly, season them with chilli flakes, salt/pepper and drizzle over olive oil. put them in the oven at 180 for about 25 minutes or until brown at the edges.
- meanwhile put the couscous in a bowl and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over it and then cover with boiling water (coming a little over the top of the couscous) and put a towel over the bowl. leave it to do its thing for about 10 minutes. fluff it up with a fork when its done.
- once the veg are done, slice them and add to the couscous with the black beans, mixing through well, adding more lemon juice and seasoning if needed.

left over tarts (makes about 6)

with the left over pastry from the quiche use a cookie cutters (or a mug!) to cut out circles and out them into a bun tray. i put a teaspoon full of my homemade apple and blackcurrant jam in half of them and lemon curd with a sprinkling of brown sugar in the other half. if you think of it brush the pastry with milk or egg wash to help it brown up. put them in the oven at the same time as the quiche. they're done when the jam is bubbling (hmmm) and the pastry is golden.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Forthcoming Election

i feel as though this has to be the most contientous civil duty to date in my little life. and yet i have been avoiding everything electoral by about a mile and a half. i'm not going to lie the fact that i don't have a television or a working doorbell has been a god send. but there in lies the guilt. the stupid guilt of ignornace, and in my supreme irishness for now its nothing more than a cup of coffee won't cure. but time is marching on.

A Dead Statesman
by Rudyard Kipling

I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies have proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Zadie Smith On Writing

1 When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.

2 When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.

3 Don't romanticise your "vocation". You can either write good sentences or you can't. There is no "writer's lifestyle". All that matters is what you leave on the page.

4 Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can't do aren't worth doing. Don't mask self-doubt with contempt.

5 Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.

6 Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won't make your writing any better than it is.

7 Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.

8 Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.

9 Don't confuse honours with achievement.

10 Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pesky Time

Damn it there goes another month! I now officially sound like parents and real adults through out the land. Where does the time go at all at all? So january what was that all about? It included the best (albeit the most expensive) day off in the history of days off; it started with a hot stone message, followed by lunch at the house ( ), (I really don't know what can be said about their chocolate raspeberry brownie, tasting is believing. go there.) then the black swan, then dinner and a dance around the kitchen to graceland. Top. The black swan is still lingering in my thoughts. what a fantastic film, one of the best i've seen in a long time. So many things to say... reliability of the narrator, mother/daughter relationships, demonisation of sexuality, the perils of perfectionism; which i think any creative person will understand, but all of that is another days work ...
In booky stuff i have been doing a rather slow trawl through the finkler question. The gaping chasm in my knowledge of judaism and its culture is astounding. It also doesn't seem to matter how many documentaries i watch i still don't understand the israeli/palestinian conflict. Got a mini glut of books from amazon and have already started into sam willets debut collection, so far so stunning. I'm rather excited to start carsom mccullars the heart is a lonely hunter. I saw a photo of her yesterday and i loved her hair so ergo i will love the book.
And now i dream of travel again. Have particularly been dreaming about cuba. Will get booking as soon as i am feeling brave enough to take the financial plummet-oh no i mean plunge.
Once i have the dream i know i have to do it.
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