Monday, 30 May 2011

Chocolate and cherry

This has been a productive weekend; chocolate cake, bread and knitting. The bread was too tasty to remain un-scoffed long enough for photos but I can't eat a *whole* cake in one sitting:

This is a wonderful cake for weekends - quick, easy and tasty!

175g soft butter or margarine
175g caster sugar
3 eggs (medium or large)
150g self raising flour
25g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder

Beat together the sugar and butter (I use a wooden spoon, you can use electric beaters if you have them)
Mix in the eggs
Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder until smooth
If it's hard to mix, add a splash of milk (couple of tablespoons) until it's nice and smooth

Put into two 7inch cake tins (lined with grease proof paper)
Bake at 170C for about 30 minutes - poke it with a sharp knife after this time - if the knife comes out clean it's done
Leave in the tins for 10minutes or so then cool the cakes on a wire rack.

I like to fill it with chocolate spread (easy!) but this weekend I went for cherry compote and creme fraiche. Then all you have to do is try to resist eating it before friends pop round to help ;)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Eurovision and other music

First of all I'd like to point out that I'm generally indifferent to Eurovision. However when a friend bought tickets and invited me along I couldn't resist. I was intrigued and also I really like Germany! Look, Cologne has random art in empty shops:

So that's how I came to be in Dusseldorf at the Jury Final of Eurovision 2011 (50% of the total score is based on a jury from each country, the other 50% is based on the public telephone votes). I actually found it a lot more fun than I'd expected - perhaps helped by the fact that there were several non-traditional Eurovision songs (i.e. they were musical rather than an ode to sparkle).

First for Finland was Paradise Oskar (real name Axel Ehnström) singing a song about saving the planet. Later on there were Sjonni's Friends from Iceland with "Coming Home". The song was written by Sigurjón Brink who died before it could be picked as the Icelandic entry. His musician friends put together a band and sang it in tribute to him.

Of course my two favourites didn't win - they were more singer-songwritery, boy with guitar type songs so not really in the spirit of Eurovision. It was interesting watching the jury final and wondering how different the total scores would be (in the jury final Italy and Britain were joint first). With jury and public votes combined; Italy came second and Britain in 10th, the winners were Azerbaijan.

On the Saturday night we watched the Eurovision final in a gay bar - they had score cards, pencils with flags on *and* transvestites (I may have been a little jealous of their dresses and hats...) Gay bars are the way forward - everyone is just lovely and friendly. Earlier in the day there had been a football match on with chanting fans everywhere, the difference was rather pronounced.

Whilst in Germany we did manage a little culture as well, we had a wander round Cologne cathedral:
Cologne Cathedral

Walked along the Hohenzollern bridge and looked at all the padlocks (each the symbol of a couple's love):
Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne

We even managed to spot an incongruous flying car:

All in all a bizarre but fun trip! I can't wait to visit Germany again later on in Summer - might stick to my sort of gigs in future though.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


If you know me in the real world (which admittedly is probably everyone who reads this blog) then you'll probably know I'm left-handed. Most of the time I don't feel disadvantaged by this, I have my computers at work and home set up how I like them, I knit right-handed (much easier to find instructions for difficult stitches), I play guitar right-handed. Generally if I want to do something left-handed it is possible, though sometimes it is easier just to fit in with normality.

Recently I found something that isn't available to left-handers - cake forks. Now most of you probably don't think this is a big issue - how often do people use cake forks anyway? Well actually I like cake a lot, and therefore eat cake quite a lot. In public I generally have to make do with a right-handed cake fork and don't often end up covered in chocolate and cream. However I do feel the whole event would be more relaxed and pleasant if I had the correct implement for the job.

Sadly, it seems I am too much in the minority to make this viable for cutlery manufacturers. If anyone does find a source of left-handed cake forks, please let me know!

Someone who probably thinks cake forks are silly is this little Adder, seen up Mount Keen on 29th April:
Adder, Mount Keen