Friday, December 08, 2006
Watch out for Super Sunday

Yes, this week's Root Shoot Marry will appear on Sunday: not just any Sunday, this will be a SUPER Sunday.

I've had this RSM in mind for a while and want to do it justice, so you're going to have to wait till the most underprepared party SINCE TIME BEGAN is over. Please bear with me.

This groovy fellow is the party's mascot. Isn't he jolly?


Blogger just offered me Beta and then took it away, claiming I have one or more blogs that can't be moved.

Blogger, as we know, sucks AND blows.

I want categories even more than I wanted this pretty template.

They won't get away with this.

Anyone else have their offer retracted?


I'd like to thank Joke for his contribution to both baking and engineering with his suggestions for turning out the un-turnable cake from a tin.

Having thanked him, I have to note that only a man could have come up with such a solution.

Read that how you like.


My home email is not behaving.

If you were expecting something from me and haven't seen it, it's because of the aforementioned malfunction.

Or because I forgot.

One or the other.


We moved the furniture last week and I like it a lot more.

The lounges now face each other rather than being at right angles.

I leave you with this illustration of how we got the lounges the right distance apart.

And the proof that gravity works.


(remember, RSM is a Super Sunday this week - it may even include some totally unprepared, probably disastrous party pics)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The Ghost of Christmas Cake Present
Oh dear.

Well, at least I know where I went wrong.

It wasn't the recipe, which came from my grandmother, from her mother, and possibly unto the middle ages by the look of this piece of paper.

It did have its challenges.

And its moments of fun...

Translation: "Sprinkle extra brandy or sherry over cake while hot - keeps moist. (Also an excuse to have an extra nip!!!) "

So the fruit was found and the soak began.

And continued for a day or so...

the cake pan was lined...

and this was my first mistake.

I've never mentioned here before, but I hate Donna Hay.

I could devote an entire post to how much I hate Donna Hay. How I hate that I fall for her pretty magazine covers and her promising headlines, only to find I've purchase $7.95 worth of ego-driven twaddle.

Judging by what I actually use from a typical Donna Hay magazine, I should be paying about 33 cents. However, based on its value to me as pure food-porn, I think the price is about right.

Cutting a potentially major rant short, I hate Donna Hay especially this Christmas because a) she has a new magazine that advertises 'make ahead' menus that ARE NOT make ahead*, and b) I followed the instructions for double-lining a Christmas cake tin from one of her older magazines instead of going with my own instincts. More on this later.

Where was I up to? Ah, yes, the tin was lined, the stove was heated (and this involved calculus level maths to translate from my Nana's version of combustion stove temperatures), and the batter was made.

Yum. Five eggs, golden syrup, the vanilla that Nana forgot to put in her list of ingredients but included in the method and, well, lots of other stuff.

I saved the glace cherries til last.

And then we baked.

I should mention that by now it was 11.30pm because - well that last post explained it.

Nana's recipe strictly forbade leaving the cake in the oven to cool down (dries it out) so I resigned myself to being up another two hours or more until the slow bake was done.

Imagine how pleased I was when, turning and testing after just one hour and 40 minutes, I found the cake was cooked early! Yay! That clean-as-a-whistle-skewer gave me a much needed ticket to bed.

So off I went. Having dutifully left cake out of oven but in the tin to cool, and even more dutifully adding the extra nip of sherry while cake was hot, and covering it to keep the Christmas beetles off the top overnight, I went to bed.

First thing next morning, it hit me.

Fucking Donna Hay.

How on earth was I going to get the cake OUT of the tin since I had followed her baking paper instructions and cut four separate pieces to line the four sides rather than using at least one long piece to go from one side to the other so I could LIFT THE BLOODY THING OUT?


Now, if any of you have the genius answer to this problem, bearing in mind that tipping the pan upside down was NOT an option because of my beautiful glace cherries: keep it to yourself.

No, really, I.DO.NOT.WANT.TO.KNOW.

I can be peevish like that.

In the end I had to divide and conquer.

The Prof stood by, cautiously making helpful comments like, "Well, it smells great anyway" and "Will you be using those bits that dropped off?"

And indeed, bits were dropping off quite alarmingly.

Despite its delightfully cake-y texture on top, the bottom half was really feeling much, much more like pudding.

Turns out, the skewer lied.

It really should have been two and a half hours after all.

So. Here's my plan.

The pudding-cake is going into the freezer, to emerge on Xmas day as a dessert to be mixed through with fabulous vanilla ice cream. I expect it to be a senSAtion.

The fruit mix I'd kept out to make pudding will now go towards a second attempt at cake.

And I'll be listening to my dear departed Nana this time. That Hay woman can sit on her quaint and perfect Christmas tree and rotate.


*This is an alarming trend in cooking mags this year: has anyone else noticed? Note to all Food Editors - a 'make ahead' menu that involves making a chilli sauce the night before Christmas and doing the rest of the five courses four hours before Christmas lunch is a crime against motherhood. You should all be ashamed.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Piles of pendings
Things in my blogger drafts file: Christmas tree pics, the hall shoe trail, an Australian version (under construction) of a Christmas meme.

Things in my fridge: lamb mince waiting to be pre-made koftas for Saturday's party, drunken fruit and nuts waiting to be Christmas cake for same party, bottles of cleanskin chardonnay waiting to be drunk.

Things by my bed: Temeraire, Cloud Atlas, a pile of scripts for approval, waiting to be read.

Things arrived in the post: Shantaram, signed copy, waiting to be acknowledged with a HUGE thank you to the lovely person who sent it to me. You know who you are.

I'm running like a bear on green apples.

Gotta get to work.

Which seems like a waste when another beautiful sunny Sydney day awaits and my piles of pendings just continue to grow.