Keep Calm, (Wo)Man Cooking…

Keep Calm, (Wo)Man Cooking...

So I’ve never claimed to be a domestic goddess.

I’m no Nigella.

Thankfully, my husband doesn’t have a sweet tooth, so baking is never something I have really ever had to master.

Problem being, that I am partial to a dessert or two.

So recently I decided to try it out again; my last foray into baking and dessert-making being back in school with some butterfly cakes – anyone remember those?

Butterfly Cakes
Photo from http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au

Anyhow, I decided to start off slowly, and made a relatively inoffensive cheesecake.

It looked a little lumpy, and a little broken around the edges, but surprisingly (to me, and everyone else that tried) it tasted actually pretty good!

So it spurred me on to try a slightly more challenging recipe – chocolate  fudge brownies.

Hardly rocket science by any means, but to a rusty baker like myself, you have to walk before you can jog right?

Anyhow, tried to keep it as simple as possible for myself – as I realised that I had no scales and no square baking tin to be found….

So butter and cocoa melting in one pan, I whisked eggs and sugar up.

When both were ready, I folded them in together, and sifted in some flour – and when I say sift, I mean I dumped in slowly, whilst frantically mixing. (Note to self, sieve would be easier next time.) There was no exactness to my method, as all measurements were pretty much guestimated…

Chocolate fudge brownie mixture
Mixing bowl..Chocolate fudge brownie mix - close upLooks a little lumpy, but had a quick taste- not bad!

Then due to not having  a square baking tin, I figured that this brioche pan would have to do.

Popped it into the oven to warm it up, and greased it with some of the finest butter – Kerrygold.

Another note to self, pastry brush would have made the greasing a little easier….

So in it all went.

Brioche Pan - not designed for brownies...
Brioche Pan – not designed for brownies…
Keep Calm, (Wo)Man Cooking...
Keep Calm, (Wo)Man Cooking…

So then with oven at 160, I just had to wait … and wait a bit more … and take a peek … and wait a bit more..

Nervously awaiting...!
Nervously awaiting…!       Chocolate brownie mix raising nicely..Chocolate brownie mix raising nicely..

And eventually, I couldn’t wait any longer.

I figured – what’s the worst that can happen? And immediately thought of both Dr. Pepper AND Murphy’s Law simultaneously..

But as it turned out – against all odds, it wasn’t so bad.

Letting it rest a little, while I decided how best to go about this..
Letting it rest a little, while I decided how best to go about this..

I knew that these were never going to be your typical square or rectangular “homecoming queen” style brownies, but I reckon they did ok… 🙂

Chocolate fudge brownies (from a brioche pan!) with some delicious seasonal cherries.
Chocolate fudge brownies (from a brioche pan!) with some delicious seasonal cherries.
I heart my brownies... :)
I heart my brownies… 🙂

Catch you another time…

Hopefully any other baking related posts won’t be quite so dramatic…. 😉

Shar XO

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Street Art or Graffitti?

On a recent trip to Greece for a wedding of two friends of ours, we spent an entire day wandering around the streets of Athens.

My husband lived in Athens for ten years, and as a result knows the city quite well, and would in many respects regard it as home.

Having been there myself several times, I too have come to love the city.

It’s hustle and bustle, the noisy comings and goings, the “ella malaka” to be heard everywhere over the sound of traffic – I had come to like this within an ancient city with so much to offer.

Leo and myself at the Acropolis in Athens back in 2010.

Our most recent trip both saddened and angered me.

I was sad to see this once proud city slipping to its knees, a shadow of its former self. The atmosphere in the city is tense – people who once walked with eyes firmly ahead, proud of their city and what it stood for, now walk with their heads down, eyes downcast on the ground. The city is much quieter than when I have been previously, everybody just seems to want to keep their head down and stay out of trouble. Yet there is a undertone in other parts of the city, where you feel a vague undercurrent of something much darker at work. People are angry, and a lot of that anger has materialised on walls, buildings, windows, billboards – any surface available – where the feelings of Athenians are expressed in the absence of any real presence of anybody listening to what they have to say.

Theodor Adorno said

The task of art today is to bring chaos into order.

If Adorno was right, then the artists of Athens will have to put in a good few extra hours.

My question is – does this freedom of expression help or hinder? Does a daube of paint expressing hatred of the police assist the people in getting on with their lives? Or is it simply inciting more bad feeling?

Some of the articulations are certainly beautiful, and created by genuine talent. Some messages however may be doing this city more harm than good.

I for one, hope that things will only get better for these wonderful, warm, funny and proud people, and certainly, sooner rather than later.

Shopping – the most dangerous addiction of all…

I love shopping.

I’ll be the first to admit it – I have a sinful amount of clothes sitting in my closet, in my drawers, on shelves, on the floor.

Yet for some reason, every time I’m in town, I still find myself shopping.

Sometimes browsing, sometimes just having a look – but always on the lookout for THAT elusive piece of clothing that will spin my whole wardrobe on its head, and change everything. I will then be that fashionista. I will finally feel like the glamourous persona I have always wanted to be.

Image
Quite the fashionista..ahem, or not. No amount of attitude was going to get me to pull this one off..!
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Me, ridiculously excited at Louis Vuitton store in Singapore.

This, of course, is absolute codswallop. Codswallop is not a word I use lightly, or at all for that matter, as it’s a word that seems absolutely ridiculous to me, much like the mindset that we con ourselves into every time we traipse around the high street.

That blazer is going to completely transform all my trousers/skirts/dresses/t-shirts/blouses

Doubtful, my dear – if it did, it would be a snip for €90, and sure, wouldn’t we all have one!

This all came to mind for me today, as I led my fashion-conscious-yet-challenged younger brother around the shops, trying to dress him up to make the most of himself, whilst still trying to stay within his student budget. A tough job, but a cinch for a seasoned fashpert such as myself. As we walked around, I told him the old chestnuts of “don’t just buy those shoes just because they’re a bargain, because if you never wear them then they’re not such a bargain after all” and the other one: “decide what you’re looking for before you hit the shops”. In the meantime, I ended up buying two tops, a dress and a pair of trousers for myself. Which I did not need.

Where do we get this constant compulsion? Is it a female thing? Do the likes of Penneys, Matalan, Forever 21 actually know us better than we know ourselves? Is it the physical act of buying that gives us the adrenaline rush, or is that slinky top really the thing that keeps us going back?

The fact that I am probably subscribed to at least thirty fashion websites that send me daily updates on all of the bargains that I am missing probably isn’t helping any compulsions that may otherwise be content to lay dormant.

I really enjoyed myself today. Not because I went on a spree – it was only a little one… – but because I was helping others buy for themselves.

Which reminds me – I should be on commission in Zara, for the amount of business I’ve accummulated for them at this stage.

Either way.

I will be starting a clearout this evening in my wardrobe.

Not a job that I relish – it’s one of my pet hates, and I feel so guilty every time for having let the state of it get so bad.

I will be rubbishing all that cannot be salvaged, donating what cannot be sold, and the small remainder shall go on eBay – one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure and all that.

I shall also, forthwith*, be under a self-imposed clothes^ shopping ban.

I shall check and report any withdrawal symptoms – fever, shakes, etc.

Wish me luck.

Til next time, sayonara.

Shar XO

*For future reference, fancy words such as forthwith, show that I am at this moment, very determined to do as I say.

^ When I say clothes, I do have to remind myself that included in this ban are bags, shoes, accessories. Any loopholes and I’ll be back to square one.