There's a reason I'm not a poet

Archive for June, 2016

Let them drink cake

Monday was the season finale of Game of Thrones. True to form, there were shocks and deaths a-plenty, and as we’ve done with previous Big Deal episodes we stockpiled a bunch of food beforehand to eat during the showing. In the books, George R. R. Martin showcases his tubby diabetic nature and writes paragraphs upon paragraphs about the exquisite food that his characters munch through. One often-mentioned delicacy is Sansa’s fondness for lemon cakes, so often our feast involves several lemon themed noms.

So when thinking of what to make for the finale, I started with a lemon drizzle cake and thought about how I could make it more interesting. I decided to add walnuts, and then decided that the icing would be made better by the addition of vodka.

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Aw yis.

I ended up not really doing the vodka icing as well as I’d hoped, but the rest of cake turned out pretty tasty, so here’s my recipe.

For the cake:

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 275g SR flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 100g chopped walnuts

For the drizzle:

  • 175g granulated sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • (Additional bit of vodka if you like)

For the icing:

  • 250g Icing sugar
  • 250g cream cheese
  • Splash vodka (better quality stuff messes things up less)
  • ½ tsp vanilla

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Start by shaving your lemons down to their birthday suits and mix the dry ingredients (apart from the walnuts) together before adding in the eggs and milk. Mix until smooth and then add in the walnuts at the end.

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If you’re making a tiered cake, grease two parchment papers and line your cake tins, and put them in the oven at gas mark 4/180. Bake for about 40 minutes or until done.

While you’re waiting, juice your two lemons. To make the drizzle, mix in your granulated sugar, stirring constantly until you get a runny consistency.
When your cake is finished, take it out of the oven and give it time to cool. Spoon the drizzle over the cake evenly while it’s still just warm. As I was doing a tiered version rather than a loaf, this is me putting the drizzle on upside down so it soaks into the cake more and changes the flavour a bit.

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Mix your icing ingredients together, being mindful of the volume of vodka used and the desired consistency of your icing. Once the cake is cooled, ice your cake however you want it and try your hardest to find a use for the leftover vodka.

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And we’re out of here

So last week I woke up to be nicely horrified at the result of our EU referendum. I guess I had kind of been hoping that the media had been over-hyping the chances of Leave, like with previous general elections. But no. And it’s left everything in a mess

I had a few specific concerns about the exit from the EU. For one, I’m worried about what will happen between Northern Ireland and the Republic. I find it really difficult to imagine there being a border again; I was in Dublin the day of the referendum vote and it was the simplest thing just to drive down, but I can’t picture how life will work on this island if a bigger divide between the two places is erected. Would there be a border poll? Which way would I vote?
I was also thinking about the logistics of things such as passports and immigration in airports, the European Working Time Directive, the effect that a loss of EU funding is going to have on heavily-reliant areas such as rural Wales, the loss of the single market, and the real worry that Scotland is going to leave the UK.

With a bit of thought, I’ve thankfully gotten past some of these worries. It’s in no one’s interests for there to be any real tenable border between the north and south. The UK is RoI’s biggest trading partner, and people aren’t going to realistically negotiate any deals that leave more of a barrier between the two places. I’ll be applying for an Irish passport to help with those airport queues, but I suppose it’s unlikely that there will be a hugely significant change in the relationship between the two countries.
And apparently the conditions of the European Working Time Directive have now been indoctrinated into British law (I think), so I suppose that’s reassuring. Especially given the current government’s attitudes towards junior doctors.
At the minute it also seems like remaining in the single market is the foremost issue of importance on the agenda of Parliament in the future’s negotiations. Whether or not that’ll turn out to be true when it comes to the new prime minister negotiating these remains to be seen of course.

So I guess I’m making a degree of peace with some of the issues that will be disturbed. And to be honest while I’m scared about the economic situation, I don’t know enough to say for definite how much or how little hope there is.
However, there’s one theme of this whole thing that I’m really not able to get past. Since the result was announced, I haven’t been able to shake the thought that on this day, racism won.
I understand that there are plenty of other reasons behind wanting to vote Leave. Particularly if you’re in a northern mining town and feel disconnected from today’s politicians down in the London-centric South of England. Or perhaps you’re more in-tuned to economics than I am (not difficult) and can see this as a reasonable risk to take, that we can reach a higher peak on a fitness landscape if we just change x, y and z, and weather the storm of economic downturn until we get there.
But despite that, you have to be aware that there was a lot of scaremongering going on in the Leave campaign, with at times subtle (and other times blatant) xenophobic attitudes pervading their arguments. That immigration is bad because these “dirty foreigners” are coming in here, and a line needs to be drawn to stop this from happening. That Britain needs to be Great again, and the way to do that is to make sure that it only contains British people.

Racism happens every day, everywhere. And it could be a biased view from the media/the internet, but there are people arguing that there’s been a surge in racist attacks or events across the country since last Friday. I believe this is because a xenophobic campaign has won, making it seem an acceptable viewpoint to have that foreigners should leave our country. Racist people’s attitudes are legitimised, because now “the majority of the British public” agree with what they voted for. In turn, “the majority of the British public” can be seen to agree with the opinions that drove them to vote that way.

Far Right parties in the rest of Europe are looking on with glee. Le Front National are calling for a “Frexit” referendum, and there are similar Dutch and Italian voices. That’s what we need, isn’t it? More far right nationalism. I wonder which future dictator this current situation is providing the context to the rise of.

I just feel like humanity is really not worth a thing right now. Are we really so backwards and idiotic to not see people of colour as human beings with just as much right to be here as we do? My godson rightly said today about people in other countries that “we’re all a family, with God as our father”. While I mightn’t put the same religious slant on it, that sense of unity and knowledge that deep down we’re all the same is so important. So when I see these racist attacks or xenophobic slurs being thought of as valid opinions, it just sickens me.

I’m just really ashamed at us right now. 4 bloody percent.

M

Like the sun on the weekend

I’m a bit shattered this evening: had a few late nights recently, and long days in work. Sunday’s night was a good excuse though: went to see Lisa Hannigan! I’m a big fan of this woman, and remember how supremely excited I was when her debut album Sea Sew came out in 2008. She’s due to release her third album soon- I think the drop date is August 19th (unfortunately just after I go to China so I’ll likely miss out on it!) and this tour was to get back in the swing of things and get the album publicised.

My friends and I went for dinner beforehand (Coppi, was dee-lish) and had the best of intentions of being there early to get a front-row table. Unfortunately we ended up being late, because of ticket failure (by which I mean brain failure: I’m a dope and forgot to bring my bloody ticket). So we were standing, but we were right behind all the tables and it was a small venue so we had a good view.

She came on and opened with Lille, with just her on stage in comparison to the glockenspiel entourage I’ve seen her perform this song with before. Everyone was captivated and silent, and she carried on her control of the audience. Her cutesy shoulder dancing during Ocean & A Rock had us all grinning, and I have to say seeing the new engagement ring on her finger was a bit of a blow. All hope is lost.

She involved the support act Ye Vagabonds quite a lot, and had them playing key roles in multiple songs (at one point one of them looked like he was going to choke on his fiddle out of fear) and at the end the three of them did a stellar performance of Passenger. Her setlist was quite interesting: there was a large proportion of new songs and her choice of known songs was a bit different too. She didn’t play one of her big ones I Don’t Know, for example, and included a few others that it was great to hear. She’s crafted some lovely tunes for the upcoming LP so I’m really looking forward to hearing it. Good oul’ nautical folk, it’ll do a good job of reminding me of home while I’m off climbing in mountains and drowning in cramped Beijing buses.

M