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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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All Grown up

On Monday I graduated. Four years at uni all building to that one ceremony and now it’s all over. After the late nights (of studying and partying), after so much use of Google translate, after all the stress, it came down to a couple of hours wearing a stupid hat.

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Dat hat tho.

Graduation was good. It really was. Even if I did feel like a dork in a mortarboard. Everyone was dressed up, everyone was struggling with gowns and hoods, and everyone was just as confused by the fact that we had to bow when we walked across the stage.

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My shoes were the prettiest. 

I feel like, to keep with the grand tradition of this blog, I ought to write a semi blow by blow account. But to be honest, it was a lot of talking to friends, waiting for the ceremony to start and clapping. I was seventh on stage so that was stressful. Nothing like having to walk, bow and shake hands in front of over a hundred people to make you want to have a practice.

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My uni’s twitter reblogged my graduation selfie. What.

My Dad came to watch, which was great, while my grandparents and aunts watched the live stream from the comfort of their living rooms, and then later, we went back to the West Midlands for a family meal where I got given not one but two stuffed toys with mortarboards on. One’s a bear and one’s a bear/monkey hybrid…

This week has been super busy, mostly because while graduation has only just happened, I’m starting a job tomorrow. Which meant moving out of Nottingham, moving home, and buying work appropriate clothes because I can no longer live in jeans…

I have a tax code. A tax code, guys. I think I’m officially an adult. But you know, I still have a Johnny Depp poster on my wall and too many stuffed toys to count. Ah, the joys of moving back into your teenage bedroom. So this blog will be coming to you from the Birmingham area rather than Nottingham. Seeing as we managed the transition from Germany to the UK, I think we’re going to cope. Stay tuned for posts about me failing to adult.

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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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Easter Holidays, part two

As I’m sure anyone who’s talked to me since Christmas can tell you, my Dad was coming to see me for my birthday. And my birthday happened to fall during the Easter holidays. So this was an excellent plan. Dad was going to pick me up on the morning of my birthday, so I could go have breakfast with him at the hotel. Solid plan.

Dad picks me up, takes me to the hotel, I walk into the breakfast room. And bam. Surprise family. My grandparents and aunts had made the two day trip as well. Huge surprise. Think I’m still a little in shock over it, a whole week later. But yes. Huge surprise. Good surprise. Huge good surprise.

The first thing we did, after breakfast and presents and me trying to stop being surprised, was head to the Kickelhahn. It’s a tower on a hill that looks over Ilmenau and it’s important for reasons, and there’s a vague thing that if you’re at the university here, you have to go to the Kickelhahn once a year (or maybe once semester) otherwise you’ll fail. I had not yet been to the Kickelhahn, because walking all the way up sounded a lot like D of E, and I’m not doing that again. So we drove towards it, only to find that you can’t get all the way up there by car. Walking up took a lot of energy, but I think the view was worth it.

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Behold the Kickelhahn.

Afterwards, we headed into Ilmenau so I could show my family around the town that’s been home for the past few months. Then in the evening we went out for tea, which was lots of fun, and an excellent end to my birthday.

Thursday we went to Erfurt, where the weather was all kinds of bleh. But the cathedral was beautiful as always.  It was, however, May Day so most shops and things were shut which made wandering a little aimless, but with good company it didn’t really matter.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Erfurt cathedral looks like something from Lothlorien or Rivendell.

Friday we went to die Wartburg, a castle in Thüringen important for many reasons, not least among them that Martin Luther translated the New Testament there. It was my third time there and by this point I know the English tour of the castle pretty well. However, it’s always interesting, and I got to show off my epic knowledge about St Elizabeth of Thüringen, which, shockingly, I don’t get to do often.

Saturday was the final day with my family, and it involved ice cream in Ilmenau and then lunch at a restaurant in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig, which was possibly the best food I’ve ever had.

Having my family around for my 21st was a massive surprise and super good. Even if I did end up speaking so much German in cafes and restaurants. Though that is the point of a year abroad. 

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The Revelry Continues

Happy New Year! Long time, no blog, huh? I do apologise, I was busy trying to cram as much as I could into a two week visit to the motherland. I hope you had an excellent Christmas time, where ever you were. Mine was pretty darn fantastic, so I’ll run through the edited highlights.

  • Going to Birmingham Christmas Market with Dad on my first day back in England. It wasn’t as good as the actual Christmas markets, but I’ve been going to the Brum Christmas market annually for about 9 years now. And wandering round comparing it to Germany was a lot of fun.
  • Getting to help in the Christmas carol service at my grandparents’ church. During the service, the figurines get taken down the aisle to be put in the crib. And guess who got to carry one of the shepherds? Yes, that would be me. Thankfully I wasn’t in heels, because I didn’t want to trip and be responsible for breaking a figurine that I’m pretty sure is older than me.
  • Christmas dinner at Wetherspoons. Like many students, me and my friends have a local wetherspoons and we decided we should have Christmas dinner there. Because why not? With the only table decorated with tinsel and crackers, we kind of stood out, but it was so much fun.
  • Seeing my family. This one kind of goes without saying, but Christmas Day and Boxing Day were spent with my family and it was great to see them without a pesky computer screen getting in the way of hugging them.
  • Meeting up with uni friends. Some of my mates braved the terrible weather and delayed trains to hang out in a pub in Birmingham for a few hours. Catching up was awesome and it was great seeing them again.
  • London, baby. So I have the misfortune to be friends with quite a few southerners so I spent a few days in London, hanging out with them, having my accent taken the mick out of, losing at Tekken. The usual really.
  • New Year’s Eve. Usually we take over someone’s house in order to play Mario Kart and drink whilst ringing in the New Year. This year we went out. To Birmingham no less. Dancing in the New Year was a lot of fun and I would wholly recommend it. Especially when the DJ busts out Queen.
  • And finally, the TV. Sherlock, Doctor Who, catching up with S3 of Castle. So much good TV, so little time.

I am now back in Deutschland, so the blogging will be more regular. Though at the moment I am without laptop cable, so until that reappears in my life, it might not be back to usual once, twice, thrice when I’m super bored, times a week. But I hope the New Year brings you happiness and does not punish you for being unorganised by taking away your laptop charger.

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Home is a far off land

I’m flying home on Friday. And I’m so excited. I can’t wait to see my family and my friends and be able to hug them and not have to get mad at the fact that there’s a computer screen between us. It’ll also be great to talk to them without Skype deciding that we’ve talked enough and closing down on us.

I miss fish and chips and having carpet and wifi and… I can’t think of anything else. I’m sure there’s other things. Baskets in supermarkets! I miss baskets in supermarkets. Never thought I’d say that. But other than that, I’m struggling to think of things I’m looking forward to about England.

When I’ve been homesick, it’s been for people, not for the motherland. If I could transport every person who matters to me to Germany, I’d be a very happy Kat. And this means that although I’m super excited to be going home, there’s also part of me that doesn’t want to leave.

What’s most ridiculous about this is that I’m coming back. I still have another five months to go. So why am I already stressing about leaving? I don’t know. All I can say is that, for all my moaning, I love it out here and England may have to up its game if it wants me to stay there for the rest of my life. But the most important part of this post is that though I’m hesitating about leaving already, I am so looking forward to seeing people. Never doubt that. Coming home at Christmas is what’s got me through bouts of homesickness. Well, that and the Johnny English theme tune.