Monday, 30 November 2009

Compelled By Twilight

First things first. Apologies for being so long with the giveaway results. I've been mown down by the lurgy this last week and blogging action has not been high on the agenda. A quick bit of random interger generating though - and we're good to go. So here it is:




Random-Number-Gen_Morsbags

So that gives us:

Comment #9 Kate - who doesn't have a blog link

Comment #11 Elizabeth

Comment #3 Daisie

If you email with your addresses (email address is in the side bar) I will get your morsbags sent out to you. Thank you for all the comments left on my 300th post - Here's to 300 more! Hurrah!


Right then, now that's out of the way, onto other things, including an explanation for the randomness of today's post title.


The Sunday before last I went on a little jaunt to the cinema picture house (that's what the cinema gets called in our house for some bizarre reason), with my good buddy and fellow Twihard Louise, to see this long awaited release:




You may recall I've mentioned before that I am totally in love with the Twilight Saga (books and so far, the movies too). I've been trying to work out for a while now what it is about these books I find so completely compelling (I've re-read the entire series again in the 4 days I've been off sick!). It wasn't until seeing New Moon that it hit me exactly what it was that draws me in so much about the story.

~~And here there was going to be a lot of waffle about what exactly that is, but you know what? I'm not sure I'm going to write about it just now. I can't seem to put it down into words properly. I think I might have to get back to you on that one. Raincheck?~~

About the movie though. Seriously, absolutely, completely AMAZING! I loved every minute of it. So much so that I'm going back to see it again with Kendo in the post Christmas/Pre New Year lull. Hurrah! I do have slight concerns over the fact that this movie has me lusting after a 17 year old! It's just wrong! But Taylor Lautner is just too buff for his own good. His six pack has me all a flutter! I think I might have to go for a lie down ;)



Thinking about something else. Thinking about something else. Thinking about something else.

Okay, better now.

So, my complete lacksidaisical attitude towards blogging of late has meant that the end of November has snuck up on the Cookie blog quite quickly (How can it be the 1st December tomorrow?? How??). Being that I've been totally organised this year (to the point of scaring myself with how much is already done) December around here will mean that this will be going on, for sure:




Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas 2009 Class starts tomorrow, and being that I actually managed to finish my LSNED class this year, I'm allowing myself to take part again (along with my lovely mate Louise who is taking part for the first time).

I've gone for a different sized album than I'm used to using for this year. 6x12. Not a size I scrap every often, but definitley the most frugal when it comes to cardstock! Rather than buying an album I've opted to make my own post bound album (do you remember the Tricia Morris fixation..... still comes in useful that does!). I've used mountboard for the base of the album and it's covered in watercolour paper which gives a great texture.

JYC-Album-Cover-2009

JYC Cover 2009_Close Up

The cover is quite plain really, but it does the job. I'm really pleased with how it came out. I can't wait for tomorrow so I can get started on the first prompt, but for tonight........37 page numbers to make! I'd better get cracking!

See you soon for JYC page updates (I hope!)

TTFN

Monday, 16 November 2009

Battenburg Heaven

I love Battenburg. In fact I love anything with an abundance of marzipan-y goodness. If I could have my dream piece of Christmas cake it would have 3cm thick marzipan and 1mm thick icing. Marzipan....mmmmm.

So, two of my faveish things in the world.....cupcakes... and Battenburg. How about an amalgamation of the two?? I've been tossing the idea of Battenburg cupcakes around in my head for a while and after catching the baking bug again last week with the raspberry choccie goodness I thought I'd try to get the idea from my head and into the muffin pan. They worked out pretty well for a first time out. Maybe a little tweaking required for next time but they were yummy and pretty and did indeed taste of Battenburg so I will declare them a success. Here they are in all their pink and yellow glory (terrible photos again, sorry):

Battenburg Cupcakes


and the inside, just to prove they looked Battenburg-y there too:

Battenburg Cupcakes_inside


Here's the recipe. It's a bit of a mish-mash of weights and measures I'm afraid, mostly because it's easier for me to think cake recipes in grams and frosting recipes in cups! Method in my madness I'm sure. If you want to convert them then I'd recommend you go here. That'll do the job.

Battenburg Cupcakes

For the cakes:

150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
3 medium eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
Red food colouring

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together.
Add the flour, vanilla, eggs and milk and beat until smooth.
Split the mixture into two and add a drop of red food colouring to one half (I added one drop, next time I will probably add two so it's a little more pink).

Line a muffin pan with cake cases. Using two dessert spoons pick up a spoonful of each colour mixture and pour the pink mixture into one side of the cake case and the yellow into the other side at the same time (quite hard to do this without spilling which makes the cakecases look a little messy when baked, hopefully I'll have a steadier hand next time).

This mixture made 11 cupcakes but I could have made 12 if I'd been a little more even with the pouring. As a random tip if your mixture doesn't make enough to fill each mould in the cake pan fill the remaining ones half way with water. This will ensure the heat is distributed evenly still and the steam from the water also helps with rising).

Bake for 20-22 minutes at GM 4 (180oC, 350oF)

Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn onto a wire rack.



For the Topping:

2 tbsp Apricot Jam
4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
4 cups icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 almond extract
1 cup ground almonds
double cream

Melt the apricot jam in a saucepan until runny. Brush the tops of the cooled cake with the mixture (this would be optional I would think, I included it because I think the jam that normal adheres the marzipan to the cake in a Battenburg adds to the taste).

For the frosting:

Beat the butter until fluffy
Add the icing sugar a cup at a time until you get to quite a thick consistency (stop when it's quite thick).
Add some of the double cream and the almond and vanilla extracts and beat
Add about half of the ground almond and beat
Now keep adding icing sugar, ground almonds and double cream until you get to the consistency and sweetness that you want, thick enough to hold its shape but runny enough to pipe (difficult to be exact on this. If you taste it and it reminds you of over sweet marzipan you're on the right track).

Remember, the sweetness of the icing sugar will fade over time so make it sweeter than you think it needs to be if you don't want to be eating butter frosted cakes come the morning.

Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes, or spread on with a palette knife. I my head these had piping with a star/flower shaped nozzle but I need a new piping back so they just ended up with the circle nozzle. I don't think I'll lose any sleep over it though.

If you're really sad and phaffy when it comes to decorating your cupcakes (as I clearly am) then you could go the whole hog and make the little marzipan Battenburg toppers. If you want to make these then take some natural marizpan, cut three equal pieces about a half inch thick. Add a drop of red food colouring to one piece. (Use some icing sugar to ensure you don't stick to the marzipan and to "flour" your work surface). Split the pink marizpan and one of the yellow blocks in two and then roll each piece into a sausage (make sure they're equal thickness). Flatten the four sausages so they're cube shaped and stack them so they look like a Battenburg (yellow on pink/pink on yellow) using some water to stick them together. Roll out the remaining yellow piece into a rectangle wide enough to wrap around all four square pieces. Lightly rub the surface of the flat piece with water and wrap round the squared sausages. Seal along one edge. Now carefully slice the mini Battenburg "log" into pieces and use them to top your cupcakes.

Eat them.

They went down a treat at work, with my boss declaring (once again) that they are the best cupcake's to date (she says that with EVERY new flavour!). I have to say I'm particularly proud of them because this is the first time I've really had a recipe I can call my own to post. Go me!

I did promise you scrapbook pages too didn't I?? Oh, go on then......

Evolution_upright


Evolution_Close up 1


Evolution_title


Model Behaviour


See, I do put herma to paper around here sometimes. Honestly.

Right, I'm off to do the work the I brought home with me tonight (being as we're being inspected (audited) at work tomorrow and I've had the sudden and scary realisation that there are no work instructions for my role. Eek!!). Roll on Wednesday at 4.30pm when the inspectors have left the building and there won't be a damn thing we can do about their verdict!!

TTFN

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

300 (with a Giveaway)

Nine hundred and thirty eight days ago I stood in our back garden one evening and declared I was going to start a blog. Kendo questioned what on earth I had to say to the world...well, lots, clearly. 300 posts worth of lots in fact. 300 posts worth of inane babble about babies, motherhood, puke, paper, card, yarn and fabric all mixed up with some laughter, some tears and some days were I could barely remember my own name, let alone type it!



So, in keeping with blogland tradition - A Giveaway for my 300th post. Inspired by this post from a little while ago I'm going to giveaway three of the Morsbags I've been working on. You get some Cath Kidson-esque shopping bag goodness and I feel better about saving the planet. It's win-win!. These are the bags I've been working on:



Morsbags 1




If you'd like to get one then leave a comment (come on all your lurkers - let me know you're out there listening....er...reading...whichever) and I'll pick out three people to get a bag.



Right, that's the formalities out of the way. In other Cookieland news - well, there isn't much really, hence the not much blogging. We had a fabulous visit from our good buddies Louise, Emily and Xander - of which I took practically no photos, fortunately Miss Lou is much more organised that me and has blogged about our little get together here.

Halloween has come and gone (Grace was a witch, Egg was a vampire, there was chocolate and sweeties and falling over).

Bonfire night has come and gone (there were indoor sparklers and watching some fireworks from the window - not much else though it was too bloomin' wet around here!). I figured I'd better get blogging something or Christmas would be come and gone at this rate!



The big news yesterday was that this guy:



Dan_birthday




My (much tormented by me) oldest nephew, has passed his fitness test to be accepted in the Royal Navy. He's waiting to get a start date so he can head off down to HMS Rayleigh for his basic training. We're so proud of him. He worked really hard training to pass this fitness test and we're really proud that he's choosing to serve in our armed forces (if a little scared that he's chosen this time of war we live it to do it).



Mostly though? I'm looking forward to being able to tease him about wearing this get up:

Kendo_Navy-pic


Because trust me when I tell you that taking the mick out of someone for wearing this silly hat and flares never gets tired. It just doesn't. It's quality torment material to last a life time. Flares I tell you! (Okay, the fun does kind of wear off when they spend 30 minutes lecturing you on the reason they have to wear the flares (easier to turn up when you're swabbing the decks, in case you're interested) but for the most part it's fun).

The final thing for this 300th celebratory post? Baking. Mmmmmmmmm. Cupcakes were requested by my hubby yesterday as his minion at work is leaving (moving across the country) so he thought cupcakes would be a nice last day treat.

Devil's food cupcakes with raspberry filing and vanilla mascarpone frosting. Mmmmmmm.

Choc and Raspberry

They weren't quite this green looking, I swear. The lighting in my kitchen is appalling at 9.30 at night!



Next time I will have some finished scrapbook pages to share (scouts honour).

TTFN