Friday, 22 June 2012

Hayley's Film Club- Prometheus

Dudes, it’s time for a film review

“on a baking blog?!” i hear you ask... Well, i know but theinside of my head isn’t organised enough to keep to the one subject all thetime. And  everyone else in the worldseems to be posting about this film, so i am ungracefully leaping on thebandwagon. I warn you, there will be spoilers.

The film in question is Prometheus. Now, I’ve never seenAlien or any of the other Aliens, Alienz, Aliens & Friends, Alien Partyseries but i’m told that some are good and some are rubbish. So, on the basisthat Prometheus is a Not-A-Prequel-But-Actually-Really-A-Prequel sort of film,I thought it might be worth a shot.

Before you start reading this if you can be bothered, ithink it’s worth saying that on the whole i did enjoy Prometheus. I did getquite into it when there was running around alien goo shizz going on, but thenthey kept stopping running around and talking about God and Important Stufflots, which lost my interest every now and then. It seems like a few of my points have been discussed already on the t;interweb. But hey ho, here are my thoughts for your reading joy:

So, off we go. Whhhheeeee we’re flying through New Zealand,and now there’s some baldy geezer wearing weird pants made of bandages. Andhe’s drinking some wormy goo stuff, and then bad stuff happens to him. And hisDNA goes all floaty light into the water and so life is born. Wor Ridley hasapparently said this:
“No, it doesn’t have tobe. That could be anywhere. That could be a planet anywhere. All he’s doing isacting as a gardener in space. And the plant life, in fact, is thedisintegration of himself.
But but but but but but.... ummmm, so the camera swept overthis landscape, which we all really know is New Zealand, AND THERE WERE PLANTSTHERE ALREADY! Lots of them! So baldy geezer could have made them. And why doeshe look like Voldemort? Why isn’t  RalphFiennes playing him?

And here’s the main issue: Those pants. If these baldyfellas, sorry engineers  (and where arethe lady engineers?) can make life happen just by drinking some tarry stuff,they have no need for genitals surely, especially if there are no ladyengineers lolling about on chaise longues anywhere. And if there’s no genitals,why do they feel the need to wear pants? And even if you did have genitals, ifyou knew fine well there wasn’t any life on a planet BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T MADEIT YET, wouldn’t you kick back, relax, and wander around  letting it all hang out JUST BECAUSE YOUCOULD? It’s the equivalent of getting home, drawing the curtains, and wanderingabout in your underwear because you can’t be bothered with getting dressed whenno one is going to see you anyway. And, let’s just say that these guys are deadclever and all, and have created life, surely they can create some stylish formof boxers to wear instead of those godawful white wraparound bandage-y affairs.

So then there’s some people on a ship, and then they get tothis planet and some stuff happens. Most of which i don’t understand, but whichis in the main quite entertaining.
Then, shortly after having fairly major surgery involvingstaples, Noomi wifey is wandering around in a matching set of bandage-underwear(seriously, they don’t even have underwired bras in the future?!?!?),apparently from the same designer as that of the engineer in the first scene.Eh? After 2000 years, pant design hasn’t moved on at all and still doesn’tappear to involve elastic? Anyway, whilst shambling around, wifey stops in thekitchen for a nice chat with someone. And herein lies the revelation ofPrometheus, the real life lesson that it is trying to teach us:

And the Lord said unto them “ Thou shalt create a line ofkitchen ware which is stylishly clever in its design. And lo, it shall last forhundreds of years, and it shall be named Joseph Joseph, Amen.”
Whatever they were nattering on about (oh, what a surprise,they were on about God again) i got a bit bored with looking at them and wasgazing into the background, and observed that their kitchen was equipped with anice Joseph Joseph hanging utensil kit. So, obviously it’s worth investing in anew chop 2 pot as now we all know that they are such good quality they willstill be there in the future.

Now, i don’t purport to be any sort of archeological expertor anything, but i am fairly aware of the fact that if you’re going into animportant historic site you need to be fairly careful about  conserving the environment if you want toproperly research it. But nay, our hapless crew are blithely traipsing about,breathing everywhere, stepping where ever they like, and just generally beingrather retarded. “we’ve changed the atmosphere in here” wifey says, and this issupposed to be something to do with human evilness and a Space Jesus. Well, yesdarling you have changed the atmosphere, but it’s nowt to do with Jesus... Thedoor’s been shut for 2000 years, i imagine it did get a bit musty inthere.  And i should imagine a bit offresh air along with all of your fresh breaths would change the place a bit.
Oh, and i’ve also read somewhere that the dead head theydecide to electrocute asplodes because it can’t bear the pain and anger at howterrible the human race are. ORLY? Nothing to do with the fact that it’s 2000years old, exposed to a whole new atmosphere, AND HAS JUST BEEN ELECTROCUTED?
I’m actually not even going to start with the most obviousplot hole-  how comes her oxygen doesn’trun out when it said it was going to and she doesn’t appear to recharge itwhilst she goes off to see what behbeh is up to?
And thank fully my friends, that is all for Hayley’sbakingbeautiful film club this time. Think yourselves lucky i actually did likethis film- imagine how long a blog post there would have been if i feltotherwise.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Walking in Glasse Slippers- Chapter Two

So, the first step in modernising Hannah's recipe was conversion. Her recipes include huge quantities, presumably because they would be feeding a large household for banquets. A quick glance at the recipe made me panic slightly... what on earth is a peck? a pennyworth? aaargh!

So the only solution was to grab a calculator, do some googling for conversions, and make a table.

I found the following conversions:

1 peck= 9.09 litres
1 pound= 453.6 grams
1 ounce = 28.3 grams
1 quart= 946.4 mls

So this was my starting point. And from , the Grand Table Of Ingredients was born. I thought I would divide the whole thing by 4 to make a reasonable sized cake.

Original recipe
Original recipe- metric
Fine flour
¼ of a peck
2.27 l
1 ½ pounds
Carraway seeds
3 ounces
1/8 ounce
1/8 ounce
1 pound
0.45 kg
Rose water
1 ½ pints
1.5 tsp baking powder
236.6mls be continued....

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Walking in Glasse Slippers Chapter One

Next month's Clandestine Cake Club is going to be a very special affair. It's part of the Newcastle EAT festival, and people have snapped up tickets for the event at only £10 each for all-you-can-eat cake. The theme for this meeting is 18th Century Cakes.

Last year, someone told me about Hannah Glasse, who I had never heard of before. She was an 18th century food author who wrote a book called The Art Of Cookery Made Plain And Easy. And as she grew up in Northumberland, it seemed like a good idea to try out some of her recipes.

During a quick scan of the contents of the book, a seed and saffron cake caught my eye, so I decided on making that one. The recipe?

To make a fine ſeed or ſaffron-cake. YOU muſt take a quarter of a peck of fine flour, a pound and a half of butter, three ounces of carraway ſeeds, ſix eggs beat well, a quarter of an ounce of cloves and mace beat together very fine, a pennyworth of cinnamon beat, a pound of ſugar, a pennyworth of roſe-water, a pennyworth of ſaffron, a pint and a half of yeaſt, and a quart of milk ; mix it all together lightly with your hands thus : firſt boil your milk and butter, then ſkim off the butter, and mix with your flour, and a little of the milk ; ſtir the yeaſt and ſtrain it, mix it with the flour, put in your ſeed and ſpice, roſe-water, tincture of ſaffron, ſugar, and eggs ; beat it all up well with your hands lightly, and bake it in a hoop or pan, but be ſure to butter the pan well. It will take an hour and a half in a quick oven. You may leave out the ſeed if you chuſe it, and I think it rather better without it, but that you may do as you like

Read more at Celtnet:
Copyright © celtnet

I had assumed that there would be a modern version of the recipe, but after a fairly lengthy search, I've been unable to find one. However, I was determined that this was the recipe i was going to use. So I got my calculator out....

.... To be continued.

Cream Tea Scone Cake

I wasn't intending on going to last month's cake club, partly due to the diet but mainly due to my lack of organisation which meant i didn't get my name down on the list in time.

However, I bumped into Nelly (of Nelly's Cupcakes fame) on the way into work one morning and we had a bit of a chat about cake club. Then it turned out that her guest cancelled on her so i could go as her non-baking guest- Hoorah!

The theme was An English Country Garden. Although i was a non-baking guest, I wasn't doing anything the night before so i thought i would bake a cake, see how it turned out, and bring it along if it was ok. It was a nice feeling, as i didn't have any cake-based pressure. If it didn't work, I just wouldn't bring it, and no one would ever know of the failure, yay!

This begged the question: What am i going to bake? Well I thought about the sort of ingredients you might find in an English Country Garden, but i thought that would be the sort of tactics everyone else would be using. So then i thought- what would you do in an English Country Garden? Well the obvious answer is afternoon tea. So I struck upon the idea of making a giant scone with cream and strawberries.

I managed to find a recipe from good old BBC Good Food, which is here. And the cake turned out beautifully.

I assembled it when i got to cake club, added a couple of fresh strawberries, sugar daisies, and patriotic picks as it was nearly the Jubilee weekend. It sounds daft, but because it was cake sized i expected it just to taste of cake, even though it was made using different techniques. However, it really did taste like a scone, a really massive one. I got quite a few complements from the other bakers, which is always really flattering considering how they are all such good bakers. And, the most pleasing of all was the fact that there was NONE leftover AT ALL by the end.

A highly recommended recipe, if only we could get the weather to match.

Hayley's Italian Kitchen

Mamma Mia, a new addition to my kitchen family arrived the other week:

A shiny silvery new pasta machine! I sort of bought it by accident- we were planning to make homemade pasta again using the bicep building pastacise method we've used before. But, we were having a bit of a wander around the metro centre and ended up in Lakeland, where it was quite reasonably priced.

So we made lasagne, entirely from scratch. I've never really made lasagne that often in life, as it seems rather faffy- by the time you've made the ragu, you've then got to put it in the oven, but you could have been eating it already if you were having good old spag bol. When I have made it in the past i've just used jars or pasta sauce and white sauce, with dried pasta sheets.

This time however, we made everything. Red sauce, white sauce, and pasta. Short of rearing the cows to milk them then mince them, we couldn't have homemade anything else in this lasagne.

The pasta dough is made

My saucy kitchen
The finished product was definitely worth all the effort- much better than a mangey microwave lasagne. The pasta was beautifully cooked, and it just tasted so much sweeter with the smugness of knowing you've made it all yourself.

Nom nom nom

Hayley's Life Lessons: Film Reviews

Welcome, dear folks, to the second installment of my Hayley's Life Lessons series of posts.

Not content with simply preaching the best way of slicing pizza to the world, I now want to teach you to be VERY suspicious of film review quotes.

I think everyone does know to be suspicious of the one word quotes that appear on film posters: "BRILLIANT!" the poster says. And most people do seem to know that this may well actually be taken completely out of context and the actual quote may have been "Brilliant this film is not."

I came across a much more complex (and disturbing) example of this same thing recently. As part of a research project for work, I’ve been looking at some information sources about a particular doctor who operates in the US. His name is Stanislav Burzynski, and he claims to be able to cure cancer with his antineoplaston therapy. I’m  going to attempt not to make any judgements of him or his treatment in this post as its a bit of a complex issue and i can be a real bore on the subject. I just want to share with you this tiny part of the whole affair that i’ve come across.

Supporters of Burzynski point to a film made by Eric Merola  (The Burzynski Movie- Cancer Is a Serious Business) as evidence of the benefits of Burzynski’s  (expensive) treatment, despite a lack of robust, reproducible trial evidence. If you were to go to the website for the film, you would see a range of seemingly impressive reviews from various newspapers or film review websites.

Let’s just pick one of those: The New York Times review seems like a good place to start. According to the website they’ve said:

Wowser: so from this we can see that The New York Times thinks poor, stoical Dr Burzynski is struggling to use his highly effective treatment against the will of the evil FDA and Big Pharma.  Shall we have a little look and see if that is what they’ve actually said? If you want to, you can find the actual review here. I’ll pick out the main bits here:

"Plain, plodding and relentlessly expositive, “Burzynski” tries to wrestle medical clarity from a snarl of science and human suffering. The price paid, however, is a documentary as visually arid as it is topically fertile.

Like a bloodhound following a redolent paper trail, the director (and writer, cinematographer, editor and narrator), Eric Merola, presents Dr. Burzynski as a stoic victim of patent fraud, government harassment and scientific sabotage. No one appears to contest the efficacy of his treatment; the problem, the film suggests, is a pharmaceutical industry with nothing to gain — and much to lose — from the introduction of a highly successful, nontoxic competitor to chemotherapy and radiation."

And so, with a few words taken out the Burzynski website seems to suggest something completely different to what the review is actually saying.  With any other film it would be funny, but the sad fact is that desperate, ill people are turning to this problematic form of evidence to make treatment decisions. 

Porter Cream Pie

Our last Private Pie Club meeting's theme was "Local Tipples"

I am a HUGE real ale fan and always have been, so this theme really excited me. Beer and pie are obvious partners but i was really excited about how our members were going to be creative with the theme.

I had set my heart on making a sweet pie with beer, but wasn't quite sure how to go about it. As usual, the first step in researching was google, and i stumbled across this beer cream pie blog post. I knew this was the one.

I was fairly short of time, so I ended up making the pies for the meeting the night before without doing a practice run. I was a bit nervous to start with that it was all going to go horribly wrong, which may explain the events that followed.

I merrily made a chocolate shortcrust pastry and blind baked the crust. Nothing untoward here.

Then I mixed the melted chocolate with the porter and brushed a good thick layer of this divine stuff onto the pastry case. Again, all went smoothly. The porter i was using was Hadrian and Borders Ouseburn porter.

Then it came to making the custard. Here, total panic and disaster struck, as the custard just wouldn't set at all (in reality, I think i was too impatient and didn't really let it cool down as much as i should before taking action). For some reason, it seemed like a good plan to put some gelatin in... So in went one sachet... Then i thought i needed some more (again i clearly hadn't left it for long enough to make this decision rationally)... and some more.... so in total i put in three sachets of gelatin.

Eventually, the custard started setting... And then it continued setting, then set a bit more. Undeterred, I
went ahead and decorated the tart with some of the leftover porter chocolate mixture and some gold leaf. It looked pretty good in the end:

The verdict at pie club was that it tasted nice, but had a very odd texture. Emergency gelatin really wasn't a good plan at all. One member put it very nicely: "I think you might have invented a new material for breast implants"