Wacky Wednesday

Standard

Below is the work of the fabulously talented artist Nacho Diaz, also known as Nao Lito. He’s clearly very talented, but has also got his wacky streak, as seen in his very definite style and sense of humour.

For more pictures and information click on the images above, his website or his deviantart profile. you can buy his work here. I think my favourites the slug and also the ice cream cone iceberg. Do you have a favourite?

Soup love

Standard

I’m developing quite a love of soup. I never really used to like it. It just seemed a bit watery, lack lustre and ho hum, not the warm, fulfilling, homely concoction most people seem to know. However that changed last year when, going through yet another of my healthy eating phases and being enticed by the microwave I now had access to in the sixth form, I decided to start bringing in soup from home. Yummy. Let me tell you, the soup for lunch has lasted a lot longer than any of my healthy eating stages put together. It is warm. It is tasty. It is delicious. And, according to Ludwig van beethoven, soup is even a test of character:

Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup.

Happy Bonfire Night

Standard

406 years ago, a man named Guy Fawkes was fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point a view) found beneath the houses of parliament, guiding gun powder which was going to be used to blow up the king and parliament. Guy fawkes and his co-conspirators were rather violently protesting against the treatment of roman catholics in England. Since Henry the eighths split from rome, religion had been a rather turbulant issue in England; catholics had hoped that when James the 1st took the throne he would repeal some of the previosuly made laws such as fines against those who didn’t attend a protestant church on sundays and holy days. This didn’t happen so the gunpowder plot was born.The plan was to blow up parliament on the day of its reopenning, which would mean that most MPs and the King would definitely be there. If  this took place then they could reinstate a catholic monarchy. Unfortunately, some of the conspirators warned family members who would be in parliament that day and word got to King James, who ordered the basement to be searched. Guy Fawkes was found and broke his silence under torture several days later revealling his true identity and those of his conspirators. He jumped to his death before being hanged the following january, so he could avoid being hung, drawn and quartered (which was a particularly nasty fate).

Since then us Brits have been celerbating the failiure of this dastardly plot (quite ironically in my case, as I am from a Catholic family!) There are several rhymes that we know have been around in different variations since around the 1700s. Including this delightful ditty:

Remember, remember the fifth of November 
Gunpowder, treason and plot 
I see no reason why gunpowder treason 
Should ever be forgot 

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent 
To blow up the King and the Parliament 
Three score barrels of powder below 
Poor old England to overthrow 
By God's providence he was catched 
With a dark lantern and burning match 
Holloa boys, holloa boys God save the King! 
Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! 

A penny loaf to feed ol' Pope 
A farthing cheese to choke him 
A pint of beer to rinse it down 
A faggot of sticks to burn him 
Burn him in a tub of tar
 Burn him like a blazing star
 Burn his body from his head 
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead. 
Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!

Nowadays its more of a chance to watch fireworks and warm ourselves by a big blaze rather than rouse anti-Catholic spirit but its certainly a big part of English history and one, thanks to its rather good propaganda programme (who can reists a bonfire and fudge?) I think probably will remain in very much in the public consciousness.

And just because the horrible histroies really shouldn’t be missed:

 

 

Wakey Wakey!

Standard

Does anyone else have an unreasonable hatred of their alarm tone? I do. I had the misfortune of hearing my alarm, courtesy of my phone, while wide awake. Boy did it make me want to kill someone. I’m not sure if that is due to the annoyingly high pitched cadence and whiney undertones that it posses or simply due to the fact it pulls me out, way too early from my much needed sleep. The fact that I set it for that time and I go to sleep at that time is neither here nor there in my eyes.

Perhaps one reason why very little money appears to be spent on creating an attractive alarm tone is because we will always intrinsically hate our alarm whatever happens. I think that this is why I could never have my radio as my alarm; I’d come to hate the song or show that woke me up. That said you can’t really hate the Chris Moyle’s show any more than I already do… (don’t get me started!)

I did once have three alarms, although I’m not quite as bad as this:

Croque – en – Bouche or Tales from a Mutinous Kitchen

Standard

Inspired by our great love of culinery adventures and The Great British Bake Off season two, my friend and I (Also called Hannah!) decided to tackle that great monument of choux pastry and french weddings – the Croque – en -Bouche (also spelt croquembouche!). For those who have not yet met this esteemed delicacy, it is quite literally a mound of profiteroles, filled with a creme patissiere (in our case chocolate flavoured) and bound together into what is hopefully a cone by using caramel. After all, its name literally does mean crack in the mouth. Delish.

I started off with visions such as the following floating before my eyeballs:

The other Hannah did eventually manage to talk me down from such dizzying heights but not before showing me this gem of a photo:

Yep, one whole wedding dress made out of croque-en-bouche. Now thats dedication. Especially from the lass in question – she wouldn’t have been able to sit down the whole time!

So, having decided on a more modest sized croque-en-bouche we found our recipe – we used this one – and got going. Disregard the 35 minutes prep, 15 minutes cooking time frame. Believe me, this sucker is an all day project! Feeling fresh and prepared, having picked up some ingredients at saisburys which we never actually used, we cracked on with the choux pastry. Inside out piping bags, gloopy mixture and over acheiving profiteroles were to await us.

As my scales weren’t working, we had to do a bit of an internet translation job into cups which took a little bit of brain power, but thankfully we suceeded a happily decided to pipe the profiterole idea Bad idea. Slightly too runny mixture had me with a finger up the piping bag nozzle (no euphamisms please ;) as my friend desperately tried to fill the rest of the bag up. Only to realise it was inside out. Whoopsie. not to be deterred we womanfully continued on with the perilous job. With rather fewer than expected, we sat down to discuss interrailing and waited for the grand profiterole reveal. Well, the profiteroles were certainly grande if not quite grand! They had clearly had a bit of a rebellion in the oven and decided that profiterolling wasn’t for them – no they wanted to be yorkshire puddings!

The Mutinous Profiteroles - so mutinous that they wouldn't even sit still for a decent photograph on their own

Taking a few deep breaths to calm ourselves, we moved swiftly forward. The making of the creme patissiere was when the internet conversion really to a dislike to us. It translated 30 grams of flour into 4 tablespoons. Unfortunately we were half way through before we decided that might not actually be correct. We rectified the problem in a suitably slap dash way – just add a bit more milk and another egg and it chould all be fine. Maybe even a little bit more chocolate for good measure. It was thankfully and we actually created something quite tasty which had the resemblance of chocolate custard. As we piped it into yorkshire pudding look alikes the piping bag decided to divorce the piping nozzle. Not that I like to interrupt private affairs but waiting a little bit longer wouldn’t have been so bad. We resorted to teaspoons.

Anyone want beef with that?

Now for the caramel. I think the food gods were against us because the caramel prroved to be the most devilish bit of it all! Who would have thought that melting together a bit of sugar and water would nearly defeat us in the home run. Our first batch wanted to run before it could walk, turning golden well before all the sugar was melted. That said it would probably have been all right if it hadn’t turned on us. The second bacth tried my non-stiring patience to the limitl. It was just so hard to resist the urge to stir (which apparently causes crystalisation); I think I need to invest in some handcuffs!

The two batches

It worked in the end though!

It spread the whole length of the kitchen! Do you like my crazy flowery apron by the way?

And so, the profiteroles were assembled, the caramel set and the spung sugar adding just a leetle bit of height. *Drum roll please* TADAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

Look! It turned out pretty - we tamed the mutinous profiteroles!

Spun sugar - working just like a hat on a short person!

And so the adventure ended. The kitchen was finally tamed (if not cleared up). And all that was left was devouring. And then. Well, then, there was none.