Millionaire’s Flapjack

There’s something about it being pay-day that makes me think about the future.

I’m an educated woman (we all hope; that I’m a woman, I mean. I’m clearly educated…), and I don’t intend to work in retail for the rest of my life. I don’t particularly intend to still be working in retail by the end of this year. Don’t get me wrong, I quite liked working in my card-shop in December. A lovely atmosphere, everyone happy and friendly. Kind of like after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve/Morning. When everyone’s just genuinely cheerful, even though it’s, like, 1am and we’re all tired because no-one had a nap before going to Mass. But that doesn’t mean I want to do that every day.

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I agree. He doesn’t have much to do with the post, but I can’t find a suitable picture that does!

But, then, what to do? I must admit, I’m not hugely enamoured of the idea of a 9-5 job. I like to be able to sleep until I wake up naturally (at the moment, about half 10). To be able to spend whole days just sat reading because I want to finish my book. Which I want to do pretty much every time I pick a book up. Some people get lost in computer games. I get lost in books. Which is probably why I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. To have time off when I like.

In an ideal world, I’m a writer. Hence my novel. And this blog. Not that either are currently paying the bills. That’s the card-shop. One day, perhaps. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

But anyway, the point, which I’m slowly getting to, is this. I’m going to attempt to restructure this blog and make it more focused. To give it better direction. Obviously I don’t intend for it to make me my fortune. That’s not building a castle in the sky. That’s an entire citadel. And then some.

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Right now, the aim is for me to practise my writing. Finding a subject every day, or every other day, though, is difficult. Especially when I have almost no limits on what this blog is about. So this reordering of my Hall will go something like this: Food and Fiction. They are the main points of conversation.

Think of this as a Reading-and-Tasting Club. We shall discuss the books we’ve read or are reading or are writing, and the food we’re eating. (Well, OK, let’s be honest: I’ll be the one leading the discussions, so what I’m reading, writing, and eating. Feel free to add your comments though. I’m always interested in other people’s opinions. Just keep them friendly, though, would you? I’m a sensitive soul. Us creative types are. But I expect you know that anyway, as a creative-type yourself.)

So, without further ado, today’s recipe, in keeping with the thoughts of money: Millionaire’s Flapjack. Which is a layer of flapjack, a layer of caramel, and a topping of chocolate.

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For the flapjack: 330g oats, 200g unsalted butter, and 6 tablespoons of syrup or honey. I used honey. Melt the honey and butter together and stir into the oats, getting it all nice and sticky. Press into a baking tin and bake for about 20 minutes at about 200C. Allow to cool.

For the caramel: 125g butter, 125g brown sugar, and 1 400g can of condensed milk. Apparently, you’re supposed to make it like a sauce, by melting the butter, then dissolving the sugar in it, then adding the milk and stirring until thick. I might have misread this (or ignored it) and just plonked it all in the pan and mixed together until it was all liquid and beginning to thicken. Pour this on top of the cooled flapjack and allow to set.

Then, melt your chocolate. As much or as little as you like, in whatever combinations that you like – as you can see, I used white and dark. Pour on top and leave to set. If you can. Cut into squares and eat with a cup of tea.

Best Laid Plans

I had plans for today. I have plans for the rest of the week. I have that novel to finish editing.

So I’ve spent this morning pottering about on the internet, not doing any of that. I’ve been perusing others’ blogs, and crafty sites for rings, like Etsy and Not On the High Street. And I’ve been generally window-shopping on the Net. I’m too lazy to actually go out window-shopping. Especially as there’s a greater chance I might actually spend money I don’t have if I can physically see the item. If it’s online I can umm and ahh about it and dither while I make a cup of tea and save it somewhere for another day.

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Technically, we got my wedding ring way back in November. I just like to look. And find ones which I think might be more suitable, or look better alongside my engagement ring. Or which I just happen to like. I’m more of a ring sort of person anyway. I normally forget about earrings and necklaces, and bracelets usually annoy me. They’re still pretty to look at though. And nice to wear for special occasions, obviously. Just not every day.

See, the thing is, I’m a bit of a magpie. I like pretty shinies. Like I like to go hunting for pretty vintage and vintage style dresses. Mostly I just look though, which isn’t much better since then I’m easily side-tracked from everything else I’m supposed to be doing. Like editing.

It’s not that I’m a high-maintenance sort of woman. I don’t spend hours getting ready, or fuss about my hair being messed by the weather or anything like that. I’m a woman of fairly simple needs. They’re just sadly expensive needs. I like nice, well-made clothes – which I can rarely find on the high street; I’m a bit fussy, you see – and pretty jewellery – which isn’t helped by sensitive skin not liking base metals.

And steak. I’m a simple creature, me. Oh well, back to the editing!

The Superhero Child

I met a superhero today.

She was all of about two years old, and she’s going to save the world.

Probably with her cuteness.

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I like it when a child doesn’t need help in having fun.

I don’t know about you, but I spent hours in the Fairyland I imagined as a child. Or I was on Mt Olympus being Athena. Or Odysseus. I wasn’t fussed. I was off having adventures.

I think reading’s an important part of this kind of imagination. The games I played, on my own or with my sister, were inspired by the stories we read. Reading encourages creativity and exercises the imagination.

(You know, while I was thinking about this post, because the little superhero made me smile so much, I made a list of things to include. But I’ve left it somewhere and I’m sadly too lazy to go and fetch it.)

Oh yes! Boredom. I was going to say something about that. About how an ability to imagine exciting adventures or stories can save you from any amount of tedium when there’s nothing to do and little to distract you.

But yes. Go, read. Exercise your imagination.

It’s more fun than running. I should know. I do both.

Cream Cakes

It’s been quite a busy week this week. I feel like this wedding is really coming together now. Leastways, we’ve sorted one of the most important parts of it: The Menu. Because let’s be honest, as long as the food is good, it’ll be a good day.

The other thing I sorted this week was the dress. Now to find some shiny shoes! (Sorry other people watching that dress on eBay, but you were making me nervous. So I bought it.)

The dress and the food. That’s all that you need for a wedding, isn’t it?

Anyway, the recipe up for testing this week is a sort-of-cheesecake. It’s a sort of, because there isn’t actually any cheese in it. Cream cake is a more accurate description, but even that’s not quite right, since there’s no cake. It has that nice biscuit base of a no-bake cheesecake. It’d have been cheesecake, except I couldn’t find any soft cheese.

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You will need:

1 packet of digestives/your preferred biscuits

Butter

Double Cream

Clotted Cream

Berries. Keep some for decorating.

In the normal way of easy cheesecakes, bash the biscuits into crumbs. I know most recipes say put them in a food-blender-thing, but bashing them’s much more fun. Once they’re all bashed up, you need to melt the butter. You’ll probably need about 100g. When it’s melted, stir it into the biscuit crumbs and then use the mix to line the bottom of a tin/cake-cases, if you’re making individual ones. Put in the fridge to set.

Meanwhile, pour all the cream into a bowl and add berries. Mix until it’s all smooth and the berries are nicely smooshed. Spoon into the tin/cases, decorate and return to the fridge to set further. Or the freezer. That works too. If you can wait, that is.

Eat. Enjoy the decadence of so much lovely cream.

The End of the World is Nigh!

Apparently it’s the end of the world at the weekend. Again.

This time, though, it’s a Northern end; Ragnarök. With giant sea-serpents and wolves (well, one of each) doing battle with gods and warriors. I’m not quite sure where the goddesses are (or indeed, about the warriors chosen by Freyja and taken to her hall). And the souls in Hel’s hall being released into the world. And lots of flooding and general natural disasters. All quite exciting, really.

All to be, as normal, reborn into a shiny new world with the resurrection of Odin’s son Baldr, whose death caused this end, and who will be the ruler of the New Order. It’s all laid down in Völuspá, complete with the list of dwarves which Tolkein used for naming his band in The Hobbit.  

I don’t know about you, but what’s wrong with living life and not worrying about the end of world? Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die, kind of thing. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about or fear death. It’ll come, eventually. It’s something we all have to face, in our own time. There’s nothing you can do about it. So have some fun in the meantime.

Cake?

If Music Be the Food of Love…

Why isn’t it easier to choose wedding music? I’m not talking about hymns for a church-ceremony. I’m talking about the processional and recessional pieces. You know, the grand entrance and happy exit. I’ve been tune-hopping on YouTube all week.

I love Wagner, so his Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin is the obvious choice. Except that the vulgar lyrics have the bride being “all fat and wide”. That may not describe me, but seriously? What bride in her right mind wants to walk down the aisle to people humming that? So that’s out.

Searching for Marches and processionals offers up suggestions. The Grand Marches from Verdi’s Aida and Wagner’s Tannhauser. There’s a fun one by Grieg. It’s quirky. Troldtog, or the March of the Dwarfs (or Trolls, depending on the translation you find). Marcello’s Psalm XIX. Strauss Snr’s Radetzky March (which I’m tempted by for the recessional). Various trumpet voluntaries. Meyerbeer’s Coronation March from La Prophète. Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

Then there’s Pachelbel’s increasingly popular Canon in D. Or his Fantasia in C. Holst’s Jupiter. Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Handel’s Royal Fireworks or Water Suite.

So many choices. While I ruminate and think about all these nice tunes, how about some tea and cake?

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This week’s test-recipe is a chocolate malt cupcake, mostly because it uses up the buttermilk left over from last week’s Red Velvet Cake.

So. Ingredients.

150 ml sunflower oil

75ml whole milk

75ml buttermilk

1 large egg

1 ½ tsp vanilla essence

240g plain flour

25g cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

330g caster sugar

150ml boiling water

I’m not entirely sure about the measurements that I used, because apparently I managed to buy measuring jugs which start at 200ml. So I had to guess a little about the liquid measurements. The cakes turned out all right, though. Quite tasty.

Anyway.

Put the liquids (minus the boiling water) and egg into a bowl and mix thoroughly.

Stir together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add a third to the liquids, followed by a third of the water. Alternate until all is thoroughly mixed and you have a nice, chocolatey cake-batter.

Spoon it into cake-cases and pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.

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Decorate as desired. Really tasty with a lemon and lime marmalade and maltesers. Although the marmalade is a bit slimy to keep the maltesers on, or indeed for generally staying on the cake. I tried to make them into butterfly cakes, but it was quite slippery marmalade.

Coriolanus

I’ll be honest. Going to Vivien of Holloway was not my primary objective for my jaunt to London last week.

You see, last summer, in the heat of July, my friends and I did some serious forward planning. We got tickets to see Tom Hiddleston (otherwise known as Loki) in the title role of Coriolanus at the Donmar (accompanied by Mark Gatiss (Mycroft Holmes) as a friendly Menenius, with some quite nice snippy remarks). Sadly, these were not tickets for the live show. Despite being up and ready to buy them at 9AM sharp, such was the way of internet connections that we failed. So we did the next best thing. We procured tickets for the live screening to the cinema around the corner from the Donmar Theatre.

Coriolanus, despite being one of Shakespeare’s lesser known works, seems to be having a revival. Have you seen the Ralph Fiennes/Gerard Butler film? That film was the first I’d heard of this play. I have the DVD. I haven’t yet watched it, but the trailers do make it look good. And now I know how it goes.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to procure day-tickets for Coriolanus in the next ten days or so, do. It was a fantastic performance by all concerned. For such a small theatre (it seats about 250 people, so you can see why the tickets sold out so quickly), it was well-staged, given the space available. 

The only potential “bad” point is that the fake-blood looked something like raspberry jam, and the wounds like red slugs. But then, how realistic do we really need such things? I did think that perhaps a string of sausages would make some equally credible guts.

If you get the chance, watch this.