Friday, June 25, 2010

Not too shabby skinny chocka-mocha cake

This cake is properly low-fat (unlike this pretender). Amazingly, there is no fat in the cake itself apart from the eggs, and not much at all in the icing. In fact, I was so worried about the cake being too dry that I added the crème fraiche and raspberries at the last minute, which I figured would make it more palatable as well as looking prettier. Actually it turned out quite nice and soft (if slightly chewy), and very light, despite collapsing in the middle a bit! Nothing a dollop of crème fraiche couldn't disguise...

3 large eggs
85g golden caster sugar
70g plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp cocoa
½ tsp baking powder

For the icing:
40g dark chocolate
1 tbsp strong black coffee
100g low-fat yogurt
2 tbsp icing sugar

To finish:
Low fat crème fraiche
raspberries (or any other berries/fruit pieces)

Heat oven to 180c. Lightly grease and line the base of circular cake tin. Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy (takes about 10 mins using an electric hand whisk). Mine never quite got beyond the frothy stage, so I would recommend whizzing the eggs before adding the sugar.

Sift the flour, cornflour, cocoa and baking powder and fold in gently. Pour mixture into the tin and bake about 25-30 mins, or until it is well risen and has begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin.

Microwave the chocolate and coffee together for 20-30 seconds until the chocolate has melted. Gently stir until smooth, then cool slightly. Beat the yogurt and icing sugar until smooth, then mix in the chocolate and spread over the top, letting it run down the sides.

I let the icing set in the fridge overnight, then added the crème fraiche and raspberries before serving.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Just another day in the big, bad city

Pedalling to work this morning in the peak hour rush, I see a couple of stretch limo's ahead trying to pull out into the traffic. The first one gets though, but the second nearly runs into the cyclist in front of me and honks his horn - even though he's supposed to give way. Dickhead. I keep pedalling, following the first cyclist and giving the limo a wide berth, but unbelievably he is still pulling out and nearly knocks me down 'cos he's too busy staring after the first cyclist. I veer sharply to the right to avoid being crushed by his huge fender, and yell "HEY, WATCHIT!! DICKHEAD!" and pedal past him, shooting him a furious glare all the while.

I pedal on, shaky but righteous. I miss the turn-off in my rattled state and adjust the map in my head to compensate.

Hmm, those people in the back of the limo didn't look very happy. Aren't you supposed to be having fun in a limo? Isn't that the whole point of a limousine, getting tipsy in the back of a big car on your way to a party?

It's pretty early to be going to a party.

Oh my god, I think I just swore at some people in a hearse.

I am definitely going to hell.

Friday, June 18, 2010

6 ultra-basic beauty products (for lazy ex-tomboys who don't like spending money on beauty products)

Beauty products

If I had one bugbear about the practicalities of modern life (ooo, the list of things I could rant about!), it would be the utter bullsh*t that surrounds 99.99% of beauty industry marketing, most of which has been designed purely to make women feel unnattractive and inferior in order to con them into buying all manner of chemical gunks.

Because we're worth it! Right? Well, I don't buy it, and neither should any thinking woman. Here are some simple, low-hype products that actually do what they're supposed to. None of them will make you look 10 years younger, but Newsflash! Neither will that miracle cream you just spent your bonus on.

1. Blistex lip balm
Without it I wouldn't be able to smile all Winter, ie. 6 months of the year in the UK - which I think you will agree is a long time to look grumpy. All the other main brands of lip balm leave a greasy layer that comes staight off, without moisturising properly. Blixtex is King. About £2.

2. Vaseline hand & nail cream
When my nails started splitting and peeling a few months ago, I couldn't work out why they had suddenly turned so ratty.Then I remembered that I have been a little obsessed with nail polish since NY and cheap manicures came into my life. So I've ditched the polish (for now) and started using this, and they have improved 100%. Nice to see a product that actually does what it claims to. About £3.

3. Exfoliating gloves
My brother's girlfriend always has incredibly soft skin, and I noticed when I stayed at their flat in Gothemburg (STALKER ALERT, sorry Anny) that she uses exfoliating gloves with a moisturising body wash. I have never been a fan of "body wash", preferring good old fashioned austerity-style SOAP which does a perfectly good job thank you very much, none of your fancy pants, overly packaged modern rubbish here if you don't mind. I am prepared to admit here in the public blogosphere that I WAS WRONG. About £2.

4. Johnson's holiday skin
Gently tans pasty skin to a light glow, without being too streaky. Haven't needed it this Summer however due to the Barbados sunburn incident, which has since faded to a 'healthy' tan. About £5.

5. Neutrogena beauty bar
I have used loads of different facial cleansers in my time and recently rediscovered the simplicity of a block of transparent soap, at about 1/100th of the price of most fancy-pants cleansers. You're right Mr Kellogs, the simple things in life are often the best. About £2.

6. Facial oil
I use Neal's Yard orange blossom facial oil. At £20 a pop, it isn't cheap - but considering you only use 2 drops, literally, on your whole face, it is well worth it. A little vial lasts for ages, and it's almost 100% organic. And it smells wonderful.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Hot List - appended

Chris Rock
Lovely Chris
"I prefer dark topics when I'm doing comedy. I like to kind of dig myself out of a hole. And I don't take it for granted that people are going to laugh … so if you're up there and no one's laughing, wouldn't it be great to be talking about something interesting?"

Guillaume Nery

Jason Segel
Devouring Freaks and Geeks right now, which I adore. Adore! Look at me with the enthusiasm.

David Eagleman
dave eagleman
I love him for his MIND. His amazing, creative, playful mind.

Jack Donaghy
He makes me laugh - and if a man can do that, he's golden. Although, Tina's the writing genius behind 30 Rock, Alex just brings the silver fox to the mix - so I guess I should transfer at least 50% of my crush to her.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Joy of Wordle

Melbourne dreaming 2010's top words

My most used words in 2010, presented for your visual pleasure by the rather fun Wordle.

I was having a conversation with some primary school teachers last weekend and I suggested that there are three streams that most people fit into from a young age: pictures, numbers and words (or, to really force those little tackers ever tighter into their respective pigeon-holes: graphic designers, accountants and journalists). I guess I am part word, part picture - which goes some way to explaining why I love these word cloud diagrams so much. That, and it really rams home the fact that "sugar" is my most frequently used word, followed closely by "cake". Hmm.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Week 5: Low fat (?) choconnaise cake

Another triumph from the house of Dave!

225g self-raising flour
75g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
150g golden caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
200g low fat mayonnaise
1 large free-range egg

Optional: 100g dark chocolate cut into small chunks

300g low fat cream cheese
200gm icing sugar
100gm dark chocolate, melted

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a large bowl then stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre. Add the vanilla, 150ml cold water, mayonnaise and the egg. Beat with an electric mixer until it is smooth, then mix in chocolate chunks. Spoon into a cake tin and bake at 180C for 45 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Look: *** A big old chocolatey mess! In a good way.
Taste: **1/2 Rich and sweet. Not convinced that it is truly low fat though - I would cut the cream cheese, and just use cocoa rather than 2 (!) 100gm blocks of chocolate to make it slightly less indulgent.
Texture: ***1/2 Fudgey and dense with chocolate bits. Lovely creamy icing.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The thick blue line

I was quite excited when I started noticing some buzz about Boris' fabled Cycle Superhighways in London. I have been doing a lot more cycling on main roads since the move South, and I am aware that my risk of accident and/or injury is higher than it was previously. Unfortunately, there just isn't a nice, quiet, straight road that goes directly to my work like there was when I lived oop Norf.

[think of the cake Kelly, think of the cake!]

Cycle superhighways! Don't they sound super-whizzy and safe? Doesn't it conjure images of some sort of futuristic elevated monorail type thing far above the traffic and particles and stop lights and clueless f*ckers pedestrians? It does for me. I could picture myself sailing along the Cycle Superhighway to work, a gentle downward slope obviating the need for pedalling as I high-five other like-minded cyclists all the way. Rainbows would shimmer on the horizon as the sunlight winked off lovingly buffed spokes and handlebars.

The reality is turning out to be somewhat different to my shiny happy daydreams. Somehow this initiative - which, bear in mind, may cost as much as £150m - amounts to painting the side of some roads blue. Not even clear roads at that; roads which have parking bays along them for Chrissake, which renders the whole exercise depressingly futile. Not to mention, it's a blue freakin' stripe. This isn't a toothpaste commercial, Boris. How is a blue stripe going to protect me from homicidal bendy bus drivers? How is a blue stripe going to make my journey any faster, especially when I am still weaving around traffic and parked cars like a third class citizen of the road-nation? How, in fact, is this any different from my commute right now, except that I will have a different colour to gaze at while I lay on the ground waiting for the ambulance? "Oh look, a bit of blue to comfort me before I die of being run over by a bus. How nice and calming. Reminds me of..." [fade to black]

If you want to discuss a more sensible mono-rail cycling system, Boris, you know where to find me. I am prepared to be flexible on the rainbows.
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