Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tickled Pink!

I have received my first blog award from Maria, from The Goddess's Kitchen! I am so excited!! Thank you Maria, it has made my day even better. (And I was already having a pretty great day too! - imagine how good it is now!)

The rules of the award are:
1. Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and their contribution to the blogging community.
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog.
3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.
4. The award winner and the one who has given the prize has to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5. Show these rules.

I am not going to pass this award on to any blog in particular, but I really encourage you to scroll down and have a look at the "Blogs I Enjoy" list on the side of the page. I think all of them are worthy of the award!! If your blog is on there, please feel free to put the award on your own blog.

(That includes you, Maria, even though you already have it!)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Birthday Time!

It was my sister-in-law's b'day the other day (check out her blog here). She and her family have just moved house, and my husband (her brother) offered to set up their computer and internet. So anyway, he asked me if I minded him going over there after soccer training, and I said "Yeah, that's fine. Ask if she wants me to cook tea for them. It will be soup." So he asked her and she said "YES!"

So my SIL thought she was getting this: But she didn't know she was getting this as well: A bit belated but only one day late :) (Please ignore the stuff in the background! I was in a rush!!)

I have done a seperate post about the cake, NOT that it deserves it, but the frosting does!

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and Spiced Yogurt Pound Cake

The making of this cake reminded me of the story of the Ugly Duckling.

The Spiced Yogurt Pound Cake was awful to make (1 cup butter = 225grams and 325F = 160C). It would have been fine if I had electric beaters or a mix master. But I don't have one (though now I want one more than ever!) I just have a stick blender with some attatchments, which works fine for just about everything I usually make. Anyway, because of the huge amound of butter and sugar that need creaming, it was really difficult. I ended up putting it in a tall jug (the yellow one that used to belong to you, M) and used the whisk attatchment on the stick blender to "cream it". Beating the whole mixture was pretty much impossible and very messy. I have pretty much cleaned my carpet now though :)

I had to use my 25cm springform tin to cook it in, which was fine, but after following the instructions and greasing and flouring the tin the cake was stuck to the bottom after being cooked!!! Well, I was in despair and thought I would have to make another cake, but it eventually come off - though there was a fault line running through the middle!

Here is the brute after being seperated from the tin:Hmmm, bit UGLY!!! (btw that is the bottom of the cake - the top is prettier!) So I went on the search for "fluffy" Chocolate Frosting! Why? To give the cake a bit more height. It looked a bit short, especially on that huge platter :) I eventually found the perfect recipe, and I had all the ingredients. Yay! This is one frosting I will be making again. Here is the cake after it has been frosted: Much better, don't you think?? And a little decoration: It really is true that icing can fix anything (particularly if it is chocolate icing)! I was a bit worried the person I made the cake for would think the petal girl was a present, and wondered if I should announce that "The girl is not a present" as soon as the person saw the cake, but I didn't and the girl is still mine... (she was a present from my mum, so it is not like I am just really greedy and possessive).

Anyway. The cake, despite being horrible for me to make, was really delicious, and once I get some electric beaters I think I will make it again.

Here is the recipe for the frosting (which I originally found here) with a couple of little adjustments (i.e. weight conversions):

110 grams butter, softened
2 2/3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk/half-and-half/unwhipped whipping cream (I used milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

With either 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (for light choc flavour)
OR 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (medium)
OR 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (dark rich)
(I used between 1/3 and 1/2 cup. Result? Choc-a-licious!!)

1. Cream butter.
2. Blend in cocoa, icing sugar and vanilla, alternating with the milk.
3. Beat until desired texture is reached.

This recipe makes a quite a lot, but apparently it freezes well. I think I have enough left over from the cake to ice a bunch of muffins. But first I need to make some muffins!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Do you think he is comfortable?

Okay Dougal, I'll stop disturbing you now...

(While I was writing this he changed position so he is Right On Top of the back of the recliner, getting all the sun he can. This is in brackets so he doesn't realise I am still writing about him... don't want to make him grumpy!)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Best Banana Cake (or Muffins) in the WORLD

I had some bananas that were getting a bit ripe. I decided to see what the internet would turn up in the way of recipes. Hmmm... Banana Bread. No thanks. Hmmm... Banana and _____ (insert something either expensive or exotic) bake/dessert/muffins/whatever. No thanks - I didn't have the ingredients or the money to get them (ah, the student life!). All I really wanted was a recipe for banana muffins or banana cake, but nothing I found was quite right. Finally I came to my senses and turned to my bookshelf. I pulled out the Kids' Cookbook that I have had since I was eight years old. And in it was the perfect banana cake recipe. And I didn't even have to print it out! Yay!
This might be a picture of the first time I made this recipe, but I think it is actully of a banana and ginger cake I made (and slightly overcooked...) hence the crystallized ginger decorating it.
I made the recipe a couple of times as a cake (each time I doubled the recipe), but the third time I made muffins! Well... I used paper cases on a tray so I wouldn't have to washup the muffin tin, but they are not what I would consider cupcakes. Anyway, this recipe make the Best Banana Muffins Ever! So moist, delicious, yummy, simple to make (seriously, you do it all in a saucepan). And the recipe is so easily doubled. Just a note: if you do double it, cook it in a round cake tin instead of a ring tin. Unless you want a very tall cake. I learnt the hard way :)
See some more photos here.

Well, here it is in it's original form, with my extra notes in brackets:

Banana Cake

60g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar (I often use raw sugar, which works just as well. Plus it adds a 'rustic' element)
1 egg
1 tspn vanilla essence
1 cup SR flour (For each 1/2 cup of plain flour I add 1 tspn cream of tartar and 1/2 tspn bicarb of soda)
1/4 cup milk
1 ripe banana, mashed

Turn oven to 180'C (350'F) and grease a 20cm ring tin.
Dust all over the inside of the tin with a little flour. (Use a round tin if you double the recipe, or a muffin tin if making muffins - a single batch makes about 9 muffins)

Gently melt butter in a big pan. Don't let it boil.

Take off heat and add sugar, egg and vanilla. Beat it well with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Sift in flour. Add milk and mashed banana. Stir until just mixed. (This explains why it is so good for muffins!)

Spread evenly into tin. Bake 30 minutes (about 15 if making muffins).

Take photos so you can share your achievement with the blogging world.

Eat them all before anyone else gets home!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Blog "Finds"

In my eratic ramblings through the blogging world I have found two blogs which are funny. They make me laugh... and cringe a little... they might make you laugh (and cringe) too!

First there is The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. As a student halfway through completing a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in English, how can I go past this? Looking at some (okay, MANY) of the blog "entries" I think that people use quotation marks where they should actually be "underlining"...Second there is Cake Wrecks. Some of these cakes are gross, others are morally wrong (one is even censored!), but there is an occasional gem. Here are some pictures from the site to inspire you to take a look... Enjoy!!