I was meant to spend last week cooking and having fun with my friends at school.
But then I got sick and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in bed.
Then at 2am on Thursday I had an epiphany of sorts - I wanted to go to school. By this stage I was well enough, still a bit tired but not so contagious. The only thing eating at me was a constant threat to teenage contentment: boredom. So, I had already baked my gingerbread on Sunday - this girl had a house to build and a day to do it!
I wore my gorgeous apron all day over my school uniform, got my fair share of wolf-whistles and constructed a decent gingerbread house.
It turned out well for a days work but it is a little scrappy. I piped using a star nozzle around the border of the roof (all done with royal icing) and applied the same nozzle with a different technique for the 'loops' done on the main body of the roof.
The color theme was red and green. A couple of other colors weaseled their way in but I don't really mind.
But I could not just do a house though that was what another girl did (hers was done a bit differently to mine, no piping, just lollies. It was a good effect and looked fantastic!) Because I love to feed people I also made some adorable 'Reindeer Cupcakes.' These are a chocolate cupcake iced with chocolate butter cream and decorated with jaffa's (nose) jell icing (eyes) and broken pretzels! (antlers) They look really cute and the year 5 and 6 girls who came to look at our expo devoured them before I could bat an eyelid - or take a picture! So unfortunately you will have to wait until I make another batch to see them but I got the idea off the internet so you can just Google it.
I also got up at 5am on Friday (being the day of our expo) morning to bake some fresh bread rolls. I have a wonderful recipe for a loaf of white bread but it also does delectable rolls. They went down a treat - I was even asked for the recipe!
The expo went really well; us girls sure are talented! There were things relating to architecture, street art, photography, music and even forensic psychology (which I had never heard of but is really fascinating!) One of my friends went around the city taking photos of street art. It looked really cool and I commissioned a print of one of her shots- it is so good!
One of my friends also started up a blog. I need to get her to email me the link so I can follow her. I had a look and she writes really well.
Recipes for the foods mentioned above...
Reindeer Cupcakes Recipe
Ingredients (for basic chocolate cupcake)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 ¾ cups Castor sugar
2 cups self-raising flour
⅔ cup cocoa
1 cup water
For the decorations...
Small salted pretzels
something for eyes (I used a tube of gel icing)
Method (This is just so easy - stick it in a bowl, mix and snap, cake!)
1) Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
2) Mix on low speed until all ingredients are combined, then mix on high speed for about three minutes until a colour change is obvious. This should create a smooth, relatively dense batter.
3) Pour into patty pans and cook for 15 - 20 minutes in a moderate oven
4) Ice tops of cakes with chocolate butter cream. (see recipe below) Then add a Jaffa for a nose and use some blue/green icing (glace works fine) or other sweets for eyes. Use pretzel halves for antlers to complete the look.
Chocolate butter cream
This is a really diverse icing, just take out the cocoa and you have plain butter cream, it is my favourite icing to use because it is fast, tasty and easy o pipe with.
125g unsalted butter (softened)
250g pure icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa
2-3 tbsp boiling water
Beat butter until light and fluffy, then add the sugar gradually, beating well after each addition. once all sugar is added, add in the cocoa and boiling water. Beat for a further two minutes until the icing is thick and creamy. Add a little more boiling water if too stiff.
Easy white bread
melted butter for greasing and brushing
500g (3cups) plain flour (organic is best)
2 tsp (7g) dried yeast
1 tsp salt
375ml (1.5 cups) lukewarm water
1 egg, beaten for glazing
poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling
Place the flour, yeast and sat into a large bowl and mix well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. pour in the lukewarm water. Water must be lukewarm to activate the yeast, but not hot, for that kills the yeast. Mix until water is combined then use your hand to bring dough together in the bowl.
Turn the dough into a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. You can tell when the dough has been kneaded enough by pressing your finger into the surface of the dough - if it springs back it has been kneaded sufficiently. If the dough hasn’t been kneaded enough the resulting bread will have a holey crumbly texture and poor structure.
Shape the dough into a ball. Brush a large bowl with melted butter to grease. Place the dough into the bowl and turn it over to lightly coat the surface with the melted butter. This will stop the dough drying out as it is left to rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then place the bowl in a warm draught free place. The ideal temp for rising dough is 30 degrees Celsius.
Leave the dough in the warm draught free spot until it size has doubled. It should take between 45-75 minutes. Once it has doubled remove plastic wrap and punch the centre of the dough with your fist. This releases any excess carbon dioxide formed during the rising process.
Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 3-5 minutes taking care to get out any air bubbles. When the dough is back to its original size the kneading process is complete.
preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Divide the dough into 2 equal portions for a loaf or smaller portions for rolls. Shape each portion into a smooth round. Place the dough rounds side by side in a greased 10 x 20cm loaf pan, or on a tray for rolls. Brush the tip with egg and sprinkle on some seeds of your choice then stand pan in a warm draught free place to allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.
Then bake loaf in oven for 30-35 minutes or about 20 minutes for rolls
When it is done turn immediately on to a wire rack to cool to avoid sweating
I heat my oven to 190, not 200 degrees Celsius. Each oven will cook things slightly differently
Keeps 2-3 days, but best eaten on the day prepared
Gingerbread house recipe
Cardboard cut-outs needed:
- one 13cm X 19 cm rectangle (for roof)
- one 11.5cm X 16cm rectangle (for side walls)
- one 16cm X 19cm rectangle, trimmed at one end to form a 10cm high gable
Each cut-out should be used to shape two pieces: you need two side walls ect.
3 ½ cups self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
185g butter, chopped
½ cup golden syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup pure icing sugar
1) Combine flours, ginger, cinnamon, sugar and butter in a small bowl. Rub this between fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2) Whisk golden syrup and eggs together, add this to the ginger mixture and combine with hands until it comes together.
3) Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, stopping when a soft, smooth dough is the result.
4) Cut the dough in two and refrigerate for 4 hours, or until well chilled.
5) When the dough is chilled, roll the dough, one portion at a time between two sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick.
6) Using the cardboard cut-outs as a guide, cut shapes from the gingerbread.
7) Place gingerbread on trays and freeze until firm, this process should take about 15 minutes.
8) Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Bake the gingerbread for about 15 minutes, of until firm and lightly browned.
9) Make icing, then when the gingerbread is cool, use it to stick the house together. Use the left over icing to decorate as you wish!
- To help keep the walls in position and stable while you stick them together, use un-opened cans of food to support the walls.
- With the decorating, less ain’t more, go crazy! Use brightly coloured sweets and elaborate piping to create pretty effects!
I also piped cream onto an ice-cream cake my mum made - using 3 different flavours of ice cream (rum and raisin, coffee, christmas pudding) and then shaping them into a bowl etc. It is a really pretty and tasty dessert - the frozen cream tastes good as well. I used what we call 'Nanna Cream' because it is how my Grandmother made it - with plenty of Vanilla and sugar!
Now - a diversion from all this tasty fattening food!
Recently, I went to watch the new Narnia film 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' with a friend. I really enjoyed it even though I haven't (though I must!) read the books. I have previously seen 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' and really enjoyed that as well. The friend whom I went to see the latest film with (a die-hard Narnia fan!) has promised to loan me 'Prince Caspian'
I love the dialogue in the film; each character has some memorable lines. Eustace is an absolute pain in the first part - the actor (Will Poulter) does a wonderful job; surely being that irritating takes great skill! As in every series of movies it is nice to watch the characters develop, the actors progressing with them. Lucy and Edmund are my favorites and have been since 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.' so it was nice to see them being kick-ass and yet so symbolic once more!
I absolutely adore the whole 'Christianity' thing running through-out the series. I don't think you have to be religious to appreciate the beautiful way C.S Lewis has tied all these things that exist around us in everyday life into a fantasy series filled with talking animals and sea-serpents. This film made me scream when the sea-serpent made an appearance, cry when Reepicheep goes to Aslan's Country and laugh when Eustace demanded to see a 'British Consulate Official'!
Oh yeah and the eye-candy is pretty decent. Caspian is pretty attractive especially at the start, dripping wet ;) Edmund (played by Skandar Keynes - OMG I want his name!) is not to bad, enough to keep a girl busy!
But, oh yes, there is a but. I could not help but compare it to 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1' that I have also seen recently. I am a die-hard HP fan but even I must admit that the Narnia films are better. I have not read the Chronicles of Narnia but I am sure the films do it some justice. Unfortunately as a HP fan I was disappointed by the films - maybe it is the director, or the story, who knows! But it is an interesting comparison none the less.
Let me stay true to the title and talk about something totally unrelated! I play guitar (acoustic/electric) and have recently been working on a song called 'If I had you' by Adam Lambert. So my guitar teacher gave me a copy of his cd so I could play along and familiarize myself with the track. Interested, I listened to some of the other songs and was pleasantly surprised. I prefer the more upbeat songs but he does have a really good voice. As I write I am listening to the track 'For your Entertainment' the lyrics are really good, a little risque but I kinda like that! He uses good amounts of guyliner, he has a great voice (everyone knows he only didn't win American Idol because of the fact he was gay. How stupid! Homophopia, grrrr) Sounds like my type of idol!
On Saturday I had a scavenger-hunt type of thing with my Youth Group (kaos) all around the water-front near where I live. Except instead of objects we are searching for our Youth Leaders whom were all in disguise! One guy even hid in a box with 'return to kaos' written on the front. Lets just say my group did not find him!
On Sunday, I decided to make Christmas bake packs for a few friends and my two favorite teachers. In the packs there were chocolate butterfly cakes with orange icing, passionfruit melting moments and battenberg cake(oh yes, fail cake has *briefly* pulled its head from the sand) They went down a treat! One of the teachers I gave the packs to was my English teacher of two years. She has been so awesome and put up with so much from me - I am going to miss her so much (I am moving to a different campus next year) that I cried in the last lesson we had with her! Go Mrs. G, we love you! T-T
So, all that baking managed to a) wear my parents patience thin with trips to the supermarket for ingredients and b) completely mess up the kitchen. There was icing sugar all over the floor, flour on every bench and something baking in every oven. Because of me, we had to have takeout for dinner! Oh dear, you must think we have takeout a lot! Be reassured that we do not. Plus, on any account the takeaway we had on Sunday night was from a Chinese place called 'Written in Tea.' It is the first time we have eaten from there and we were pleasantly surprised with the very tasty food. Pretty traditional and not westernized Chinese food with plenty of good flavors, we shall certainly write in our tea again!
Today was my third last day at school. In a special assembly we made an honor guard for the year 12 leavers to run through to ring the bell for the last time after they receive their graduation certificates. I always feel sentimental on days like this, one day that will be me leaving - I shall cry so much! I will have spent 14 years at the one school... and I am so very patriotic! I like the security that school provides, in a way I like being instructed in what I do. When you are at school you know exactly what is expected of you - it is similar to the comfort a young child might find in a fuzzy blanket.I luckily do not have to relinquish it quite yet.
This morning I had to give reading in Chapel for the 5-12's because my friend was unavailable to do so, she stuck a nail through her foot! She was even wearing shoes at the time, the poor thing! But she appears to be okay now, which is a relief. But for chapel I was sitting on the stage with another friend whom was also doing a reading. It is not the first time I have sat on the stage, but it is always an eye-opening experience. Girls forget they can be seen and end up dozing off or the like! But I can see how a principle is proud of their school, seeing them all in a hall, breathing together, singing hymns together. We always laugh when the teachers tell us we are a 'family' strangely, in a way we are. We look to those in the grades above us like an older sibling, the younger girls are the annoying but lovable younger sibling. Teachers badger us, but (mostly!) care for our welfare, just like any parent.
We complain, we moan. In reality though, we are all proud to be a part of the family!
having many different parts, elements, forms, etc
I hope I lived up to expectations ;)