There's a reason I'm not a poet

Posts tagged ‘#sepiatone’

This little light of mine

… It has been a while since I last blogged. I’ve had a nice few months! Work has been great, plenty of fun times with my friends, and lots of good wholesome family moments- really enjoying spending time with the nephew. 

I’m unlikely to say much more than that cause let’s face it I’m a lazy sod. So instead let’s talk about my wee winter trip! I’m just back from a couple of days in the French city of Lyon, which is a really beautiful city. Aside from the fact that it’s the gastronomic capital of France (obviously nothing I’d be remotely interested in), part of the reason I went to Lyon specifically was to see a French friend of mine I’d made earlier in the year. 

I was sitting in the park one day on the grass when a guy comes down and sits next to me. I did the standard British thing of thinking “what does he want is he selling something check if he’s crazy do you think he’s in a cult”, as well as the standard Irish thing of talking away to him. It turns out he’s just really friendly and perhaps was missing his family/girlfriend. Anyway over the few months he was in NI on placement I got to know him and he met my friends a few times. So PJB and I decided we’d pay him a visit in Lyon!

I’ve been to France a couple of times: Paris maybe three or four times, Val Thorens and Tignes for skiing, and Nice earlier in the year. Each time I had a bit of interaction with the French people but it was usually in the form of me being a customer. But my friend invited us round for a family meal and I was able to see what PJB (who’d spent a year in France on her year abroad) meant when she was talking about French hospitality. My previous experience with French people has been somewhat variable when it comes to how nice they’ve been, but it turns out that’s cause most of the ones I’ve met have been Parisians.. The family were so ridiculously welcoming. His niece was being baptised the next day, so we were greeted by his immediate family, his cousins, aunt and uncle, and his kickass granny. I had a wee moment reflecting on how a chance opportunity had led me to having such a rewarding experience. They were all so nice, so attentive, and they ploughed us with so much food. And wine. Oh man the wine. 

That actually brings us nicely to the next topic: the fooooooood. Sweet Lord almighty, did we eat well over the four days. As with anywhere in France, you don’t have to walk far to find a glorious bakery, or a patisserie with a window display that’d make you mug your granny just so you can buy something. We subscribed to the standard Michael philosophy of “why have three meals a day when you can just eat constantly”, and there was no lack of options. We dropped into a bakery at almost every available opportunity, and hunger became a distant memory. Lyonnaise food tends to be a little rich: cured meats, pâtés, obviously lots of cheese. There’s also a classic dessert which is a tart made from candied pralines, and as a result of the sugar the tart is a beautiful red/pink colour. Hoping to make it myself some day! Restaurants commonly call themselves “bouchons”, which are small traditional taverns serving local fare on checkered tablecloths accompanied by lovely bread and the warm greeting of the host. We tried two out and it was definitely worth it. Now that I’m home, the plan is to try and train my body to not expect the constant infusion of butter that it’s been treated to for the past few days. 

The reason we visited Lyon when we did is for their annual Fête des Lumières (festival of lights). In commemoration of the installation of a statue of the Virgin Mary, the whole city is covered in lights, be they candles on windowsills or artistic light shows projected onto the beautiful Renaissance architecture of the city. And it’s class! The city is full of hundreds of thousands of people, so there’s a fair amount of crowding/security presence, but it was a great atmosphere and really beautiful. I’ll leave you with a wee snap or two.


M

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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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Michaelday XXVI

My birthday was last week. I think. I was on nights this weekend so I’ve no concept of which way is up never mind what day it is. But the birthday was fun! As is my way, I had three birthdays: first was in work with pizza and cookies (I do actually do work I promise), the second was Eurovision party on the Saturday, and then the actual birthday itself on the Monday. Went out for drinks and lunch with the family and in the evening saw Derren Brown!

The man made us promise not to put spoilers on social media but needless to say the guy got up in front of everyone and performed blatant witchcraft. People of a delicate or religious constitution need not apply. I spent my time trying to work out exactly how he manipulates people. After communication skills training at uni, my knowledge of non-verbal communication and cues etc. has made me more aware of how these things work , but this was a complete other level. Like Super Slytherin times seventeen. It was interesting when he looked at people and assessed (or at least pretended to) how easy or hard it would be to manipulate them, but he was pulling off ridiculously complicated stunts that it can’t be anything remotely simple. So eventually I decided it was actual shamanic ju-ju.

Eurovision was also brilliant craic! I went out shopping beforehand to try and get a bunting of different flags but couldn’t find anything. This being Northern Ireland, the closest thing J could get was a bunch of red white and blue flags. Which is fine, I passed them off as France. My housemate had the national flag of the gays though so we had a nice relevant rainbow sitting above our fireplace in honour of Eurovision.

We’d crafted a bunch of drinking rules to make the event go by smoothly (or not smoothly) and they ended up being bloody well brutal. By the end of the night I’d lost my voice from shouting DRINK every time lasers or a granny came on screen. I’d dressed up in my Lederhosen so it probably didn’t make a very imposing sight. But the night wdnt on until about four in the morning so it was a success anyway. And more importantly I had fun.

As a birthday present, I got some money together from the fam and myself and bought a DSLR camera! It arrived the other day amd I’ve been playing about with it today. The aim is to be able to take semi-decent photos by the time I get to China so I can come back and not only be annoying talking about what a wonderful time I had and how much of a voyage of self discovery it was, but also be annoying and upload 732 photos in sepia onto facebook and make people sit down and watch my PowerPoint show.

Don’t go thinking you’re safe.

M