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Ad hoc Trifle

It’s Easter and that means a four day weekend. Days of lie ins and family and spring finally being here. To celebrate (and because I haven’t seen my family in a while), I cooked yesterday for my Dad and Grandparents. And I made an ad hoc trifle, that I’m super proud of so have an ad hoc recipe

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Ad hoc, home made trifle

Stuff You Will Need

Jelly cubes, fruit, Swiss roll, jam, blancmange powder, custard powder, whipped double cream

Stuff to do

Okay, so as you can see in the picture I used Highball glasses, so everyone got a mini trifle each. Obviously you can do this in whatever dish, glass or receptacle works for you.

First things first, make the jelly- I used strawberry. It’s gonna take a while to set so you need to make it first. Though be warned, you don’t want to let it set completely, because you’ll need to pour it in a bit.

It’s probably a good idea at this point to make the custard and blancmange as well, because they need time to set too. I ended up with a pan of custard, a pan of blancmange and a dish of jelly all cooling at the same time, which took up a lot of room. But at least it looked colourful, with yellow, pink and red.

While everything’s starting to cool and set, you can put jam at the bottom of your dish, glass or receptacle. Then put a layer of fruit (I used strawberries, raspberries and blackberries) and cover that with swiss roll. If you’re using a glass, one slice’ll probably do. Then put more fruit on top because fruit is delicious and trifle should definitely count as part of your five a day.

When the jelly is starting to set but is still kind of runny, pour it over the fruit and Swiss roll. The fruit may rise a little bit, but the more set the jelly is the less this will happen. Stick the trifle in the fridge and wait for the jelly to set.

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Fruit, Swiss roll, strawberry jelly, blancmange makes a very pink dessert. 

When the jelly’s set, you can layer the blancmange and then fridge the trifle again. When the blancmange has set, you can layer the cold custard on top and then fridge again. Finally, before serving, add the cream on top.

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Looking glorious.

So I used packaged versions of everything (namely custard and blancmange) and shop bought Swiss roll, and it tasted like childhood parties aka delicious. You can, of course, make everything from scratch, including the jelly, Swiss roll, jam, blancmange and custard. But if you don’t have the time or the inclination, the packaged versions work great.

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Super great.

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Expanding Empire

We live in a digitally connected world. And as such, I’ve started to build a social media empire. Hopefully with less of the invading and colonising that normally goes along with empires, because imperialism isn’t a good thing. In fact, it’s decidedly a bad thing.

And so, in the name of spreading my social media wings, I now have a Facebook page. Yay! You can find it here and I’ll be linking to my new posts on there, maybe sharing Instagram photos, generally doing the interconnectivity thing. By the by, the cover photo was made by the lovely Oh Look It’s a Kyle, who was very good at taking my word vomit and making a banner that was exactly what I wanted. You can find about using him him for all your graphic design needs here. (Well, maybe not all. I don’t know. He does a lot of things.)

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So cool. So very cool.

That’s Facebook down. Where next? Well, I already have Twitter where I tweet about life. It’s like my blog but limited to 140 characters. I also have Tumblr where I reblog a ton of language, dance and interesting things. And lastly I have Instagram where I mostly post pictures of pretty things – like cake and sky.

I hope if any of these are your favourite sites and you like this blog, you’ll think about liking/following me on there. Are there any others you think I should check out? I do have Google+ though I’m still figuring out how it works. And what the point of it is.

Happy social media-ing.

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Christmas Chocolate (slightly alcoholic) Truffles

It’s nearly Christmas. Either that sentence made you feel annoyed or excited, but either way, have I got a blog post for you. It’s a family habit to make sweets at Christmas and seeing as how I’m technically an adult now, I figured it was about time I ought to join my Dad and Grandma in a delicious tradition. So my Grandma sent me a recipe for truffles and three batches later and some very happy housemates, I decided I ought to share it with you guys.

Now I’d like to state for the record that I am not a recipe blog, that I hold no responsibility for your capability to follow my (potentially shoddy) instructions, and that if you are looking for a recipe type blog you should check out Hollie’s Home Baking or A Fresh Degree.

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My artful staging of the recipe. 

So these are chocolate, alcoholic truffles. You can make it without alcohol, if you so wish. But the chocolate part is important. Paramount, even.

Things you’re gonna need:

– 4oz/100g sultanas – 2 tablespoons rum/brandy/sherry/alcohol of some kind – 4oz/100g plain chocolate – 2oz/50g butter – 4oz/100g digestive biscuits – 2 teaspoons apricot jam – 6oz/150g icing sugar – 2oz/50g chocolate vermicelli/cocoa powder  – small sweet cases – music to dance to while you make them

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I promise the Vanish wasn’t used in the cooking.

Recipe

First things first, the sultanas have to soak in the alcohol overnight. It means you have to do have to put some planning into when you’re going to make these. But yeah, stick the sultanas in a bowl, add the alcohol, stir a few times. Personally, I made two lots of truffles, one with Disaronno Amaretto and one with Absolut Raspberry Vodka.  Also, if you don’t want alcohol in your truffles, you can skip this stage. Obviously.

The next day, before you do anything, put the sweet cases out, ready for the mixture. Also, tip the vermicelli or cocoa powder into a bowl. You’ll need all this later and I learnt the hard way that it’s best to organise them first.

The next step is to melt the chocolate and the butter together. Easiest way to do this is to put them in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. As I’m in a student house and not the most well equipped for baking, I put them in a pasta bowl and balanced that on a pan.

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I’m not the tidiest of cooks.

As the chocolate and butter is melting, crush the biscuits. Suggested method is to put them in a polythene bag and bash with a rolling pin. Is an easy way of getting all your aggression out and scaring anyone else who happens to be in the house. Because I was super unorganised I didn’t have a polythene bag or a rolling pin, so I crumbled them with my bare hands. Obviously having washed my hands first.

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What the chocolate and butter looks like when ready.

When the chocolate and butter are melted together (you will have to stir the mixture a bit), take the bowl off the heat and then add the jam, alcohol soaked sultanas, icing sugar and the crushed biscuits. Stir it together till the mixture is firm enough to roll into balls.

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Looks a bit weird. Tastes delicious.

Roll the balls in vermicelli or cocoa powder and then put into the sweet cases. You hopefully got these out earlier, because although the mixture is warm, you need to move decently fast, otherwise it won’t roll as well, and your truffles, though still delicious, become less aesthetically pleasing. Once you’ve filled all the sweetcases/run out of mixture, have a dance party for a while until the truffles are hardened.

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The finished product.

Then eat eight in one go, pretend like you didn’t and blame your housemates. Enjoy. Have a great holiday season, no matter what you’re celebrating or where you are. Try not to OD on truffles.

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Revolutionising Fairy Tales

University of Nottingham has a German language newspaper called Die Nottinghamer Rundschau, which recently held a competition, asking for modernised fairy tales. I am a sucker for fairy tales and I study German at Nottingham so I had a crack at it. I didn’t win – probably would have helped if I’d written it in German – but I’m still quite proud of my entry, so I thought I’d share it with you. Thoughts, suggestions, constructive criticism are all welcome in the comments box.

Sleeping Beauty

Rose’s godmother wasn’t psychic. There was no such thing as psychics. Any prophecy she spouted wasn’t an actual prophecy, it was just the ramblings of a woman who’d watched too much bad television. Which was why it was fine for Rose to be walking through the park this late at night a week before her twenty first birthday. Because her godmother’s prophecy wasn’t real. That was what she was telling herself even when the hand clamped over her mouth.

*

“She’s in a coma.” The doctor looked tired, as though she had been on her feet for far too long. “At the moment, it’s too early to say whether she’ll come out of it. If she does, it could be days, weeks, possibly even months.”

Rose’s mother started crying, burying her face in her hands. How had this happened? Why had Rose even been there? She knew what her godmother had always warned of. Maybe she didn’t believe it, but her mother had always thought she wouldn’t be stupid enough to test it. No, not stupid. This wasn’t Rose’s fault. This was the fault of whoever had attacked her beautiful daughter. The police had better get him, otherwise there would be hell to pay.

                                                                                                   *

Days went by, becoming weeks which passed, eventually turning slowly into months. The weather brightened, the sun shining through into Rose’s hospital ward. It was late afternoon when the dark haired girl gently sat down in one of the hard plastic chairs. “Hey Rose,” she said quietly. “It’s Philippa. Long time, no see.”

Rose slept on, not even stirring as Philippa took her hand. “I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner. They didn’t tell me. Not for an age.” Her voice shook, as her thumb traced Rose’s knuckles. “I thought you were breaking up with me.” Either a sob or a laugh escaped her –  it was difficult to tell. “Then when your Mum bothered to let me know, I had to try and get back. Japan’s a long way away you know. You couldn’t have waited till I was back in the country to pull a stunt like this, could you? No, no that’d be too simple.” She angrily pushed away tears that were gathering in her eyes. 6000 miles, three planes, two trains and a bus. She hadn’t cried during any of that, why was she crying now? Even when she’d had to sell most of her things to afford the journey home, even when her passport had been stolen during a layover, even when Rose’s mum had tried to stop her coming onto the ward. There had been no tears then and she refused to start now. “I know you’re still in there. They said you’ve got brain activity. Always thinking away. So just wake up. Just…wake up.”

Nothing. Philippa’s face crumpled as she fought against the tears. “Look, I came back from the other side of the world,” she almost snapped. “The least you could do is wake up to say hello. I’m the selfish one. Not you. So wake up. C’mon.” Her voice broke on the last word. “Please, Rose. Don’t leave me.”

“I’m sorry, visiting hours are over.” A nurse had appeared at the end of the bed, his glasses badly in need of cleaning. “If you could make your way out…”

Philippa nodded, biting her lip. “I’ll come back,” she promised to Rose, bending to press a kiss to her lips. “Don’t go anywhere.”

“Like I could.”

“Rose, Rose, you…” Philippa was pushed to one side, as the nurse began to check Rose over. “You woke up!”

“You came all the way from Japan,” Rose smiled at her girlfriend. “It would have been rude not to.”