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Cupcakes vs patty cakes. They’ll always be “patty cakes” in my mind or perhaps “fairy cakes” like they were when I was a little kid. However the term “cupcakes” seems to have invaded from the bad old US of A, just as “cookies” has almost replaced “biscuits” in good old Oz.
In our household we’ve always made muffins- by our definition these have been un-iced small cakes made in multiples of 6 or 12, depending on the compartments in the tray. Here's a tasty banana choc-chip muffin from the last batch I made- it's actually a giant one that had to go in a souffle ramekin! Noms, it was good!
Muffins (as opposed to patty cakes), also seem to have something included in the mix besides the usual flour, eggs and sugar- fruit, herbs, leaves, frozen stuff, flowers, seeds etc. I’ve made muffins with some lavender in them, pumpkin seeds (plus a bit of pumpkin pulp and raisins), various combos of nuts and fruit (like apple and walnuts; macadamia and pineapple); savoury ones with bacon and garden herbs, frozen raspberries, blueberries or blackberries; fresh raspberries, stewed dried apricots; I’ve put chunks of fresh coconut in them or lots of desiccated coconut; almonds and chunks of marzipan. Why would I want to hold back from eating any of these by waiting to put icing on top? They don’t need it.
OK- so I’m going to make little patty cakes/cupcakes just for a giggle. Should I make a madeira cake mix (the usual basis for muffins as its quite robust), or should they be based on sponge? I think sponge ones might get too tough as the outsides are big compared to the insides… So maybe I’ll stick with the madeira cake/butter cake style. Then I have to decide on a flavour- plain vanilla (yummy) or an “artifical” flavour from some of those essences in the pantry- we have lemon, coconut, aniseed, almond, raspberry as well as fake vanilla. If its plain vanilla, I usually have some vanilla pods stored under the caster sugar in its 2-litre container- legacy of several trips to Tahiti where we bought great wodges of them at a vanilla orchid farm or roadside stalls. I also try to buy the lovely Bourbon Vanilla Essence (either from Madagascar or Jamaica, I think) although that’s a bit bl**dy expensive these days, so I settle for the Queens Real Vanilla Essence. Do people make their cupcakes with self-raising flour or plain? I'm a fan of plain myself, with some bicarb and plain yoghurt to get the rise. I always forget with muffins that have wet ingredients in them (like frozen raspberries etc) that you need more solidity in the mix, plus more rising power! at least cupcakes shouldn't give this problem.
Now I'm madly searching for different recipes to see if I can inspire myself to make something yummy! Perhaps someone might like to pass their most successful recipe on to me? All offers gratefully received!
Hmm: http://chockylit.blogspot.com/2005/12/browse-cupcakes.html had been closed, but had this gorgeous recipe: Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache , which really appeals to me! This blog became cupcakeblog, but had then been superseded by http://idreamofdessert.com/
For the T-shirt types, I even discovered a cupcake one. A certain blogger/Plurker who knows who they are (well, I hope she does), may appreciate this link! T-shirt at: www.mrcloud.com
I'll keep adding to this, but I needed to get something up here to motivate myself! Duuuhhhhhhhh!!
There's this assignment I'm writing as well- I've got the outline, written about a third and am ploughing through more reading so I can formulate the rest of it. I'm writing about the ethics of prescribing certain medications without doing tests which would tell a doctor whether the patient was likely to benefit from the drug at all. There's a whole lot of stuff about the cost of the drugs, the cost and availability of the tests and the problems when something is prescribed to someone who won't benefit or might be harmed- even die!
Ah- the other blog is about the current "cupcake" epidemic! I'm all for "patty cakes" and "fairy cakes" but this Yank talk of "cupcakes" takes it a bit too far for me. However, media perusal tells me I'm fighting a losing linguistic battle- current mass usage will win, I lose.
There is a red kitty shouting at the door because she has eaten dinner in two seconds flat and wants to chase moths. No go, bubba!
Thommo has "Totally Addicted to Bass" playing on YouTube while he gets us cups of tea and "Criminals In Tents" is on OurTube. In fact it's a tad over stimulating around here.
Oh yes- I'm simultaneously uploading a few nonsense photos onto Flickr. I took them last night in the dark after we came out of Wah Hing restaurant in Gouger St where we had the best Chinese feed you could hope for. Nom noms- shallot pancakes!
OK, back to the assignment.
Yesterday we went to a barbecue with our mates from various internet social sites- Plurk, Facebook and blogging. It should have been really fun for me- but I couldn't get involved in the jollity. I tried, but didn't feel anything. Today I'm as meh as I've ever been- would rather just curl up in bed for about 2 weeks with a good pile of books. Instead I have an intensive uni course to go to 8 hours.day for a whole week! My brain could engage with it OK, I'm sure, but I have no enthusiasm for engaging in discussions with the other students. I'll go along and do my stuff, but I'm not relishing it.
This afternoon Thommo took us both to a wine tasting put on by a colleague of his from work- they had bought about five tonnes of sauvignon blanc grapes from the Adelaide Hills, had a winemaker in the Clare/Barossa make it for them, and bottled it under their own label "Bullock Track". It was a fine little white wine- fresh, grassy, nice acidity, a little pale- but it's a 2008, so it's excused! I wouldn't mind drinking it with summer lunches and dinners- very pleasant!
However, I had no inclination to be sociable with the other people there- I just wanted to taste the wine and go home.
Several people at the barbecue yesterday spoke of reading various things to help them overcome feelings of hopelessness and depression, rather than taking their tablets or doing talking therapy. This is just NOT for me- I cannot read any of this "spiritual" and pop psychology stuff about souls and other selves and "becoming" without thinking of all the basic psychology I know; and of my basic beliefs. To me there are people, their minds, the world and time. That's it- no souls, spirits, lives before or after death, no mysterious powers, mystical whosy whatsits or whatever. I need to go my way and they can go their's. I wish my way was quicker- but there doesn't seem to be a magic solution.
Now 4 days later I feel more calm- I was never anxious about anything- just pushing myself hard to appear normal-ish. I had the BP checked and sure enough, it was down masses already- from 173/103 to 117/73 and my pulse down from 88bpm to 54! He sure had figured what my problem was! I've also given up coffee, alcohol and added salt temporarily and started some mild exercise. I hope I can keep it up and eventually halve the medication! Wish me luck!
I got more motivated about life yesterday- scanned all my reading for next week, threw out old magazines and paperwork, rearranged some craft materials and organised clothes and crafty stuff into storage. Today I wasn't so useful, but managed to meet a friend for a cuppa and have a 1.5 hour photo walk around my neighbourhood.
I've been Plurking a bit as usual- great way to be sociable in your own home without the mess! Had a chat with Maljam about our mutual difficulties with life- depression surely sucks in middle aged work-hungry, educated adults! If only all my life motivation would come back. Almost my only joy comes from photographing stuff and patting my cats. Company is good, but I'm not lonely- just needing others to stop me brooding or lying around like a slug.
Stuff like housework is just soul-destroying and mere physical exertion to make myself tired is a ridiculous ask.
I'll just keep plodding on the new pills and see how everything pans out.
I've been inspired again by Shai Coggins' Blog [http://shaicoggins.com/] to blog today. She has the theme "Flowers" for her blog and I realised that flowers REALLY DO play a large part in my life, especially with Spring starting. I took the photo on the left last night after I'd come home from having a coffee with a Flickr friend [princessbren2006]. In the backyard, the last rays of the sun were disappearing behind sunset clouds while the last tree-dahlia flowers were hanging down from their 4 metre tower! The colours of sky, clouds and flowers all melted into each other and looked quite romantic.
I tried to organise a visit to the Botanical Gardens today for a walk, but after I'd completed a list of chores around town, I found I had lost my motivation, even though my friend Sal had offered to accompany me. It just felt too late at 3.30 to drive back into town and see the gardens during sunshine before the shadows crawled across and made me sad again. Perhaps I can try to go around lunchtime tomorrow IF the sun stays with us.
My mood has been fairly meh this week since Monday afternoon, although I had been quite energised over the previous 3 or 4 days. I had done cleaning up both inside and outside the house, weeded paving and parts of the back garden, plus planted a new magnolia tree plus several punnets of seedlings. That effort must have depleted my inspiration neurotransmitters so I'm forced to lie low while my brain manufactures more. Now- what ful can I use to fire those danged brain cells? Coffee is the complete anathema for me- tea works better or tonic water- but how many litres must I drink before it takes effect?
I want to have a look at what's happening with that Gustav tropical storm off Cuba
http://hurricanegustavo.ning.com/- I tracked Katrina on all the various reporting services a few years ago and watched the webcams on the beaches as it came in- terrible. Now I must check the wave heights on the ocean buoy monitors and see what's going on- it's interesting to see the information the "experts" are using to advise the citizens in the storm's path and see what their opinions and advice are regarding evacuations etc. Morbid old me? Anyway, I just saw on Plurk (thx @stevebob) that a lot of people from Louisiana with medical conditions (plus their pets) have been taken to Dallas-Fort Worth already so they are safe meantime. They are even putting identity chips on the animals as they arrive so there won't be the same problems as after Katrina (unmentionable).
I'm also intrigued by the amazing money being made in Western Australia from the mines at the moment- and of course the jobs people can get. A fellow Plurker (female) is driving one of the big frontend loaders down a mine right at the blasting face. She has 2 weeks on and one off I think. She is supporting herself as an artist by doing this. I was seriously thinking about learning how to drive one of the monster trucks up at Roxby Downs Mine and having a commute every few weeks back and forth. Then I could have a decent income to do MY art (glass work).
Another aspect of the worldwide mining scene is the mystery of tantalum and its extraction. Australia is actually the world's biggest producer of tantalum concentrates. I thought some African country was- but no, they just have huge "goldrush" type phenomena where the poor people tear off to the jungle and try to mine tantalum from all sorts of dangerous spots, then either die in the attempt or sell it at unfair prices to unscrupulous middle-persons on the international market. There is terrible erosion of the landscape and of people's health in several African countries because of this. You can have a look on Google Earth. I'll stick links in later. www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/19/8
In Australia 92% of tantalum production comes from the Sons of Gwalia group in Western Australia. They are massively well remunerated for this stuff and I'm always hearing their name (which seems quite a nutty moniker!) on the news and Stock Exchange reports. This tantalum stuff was unknown (well, to me and nearly 100% of the rest of the universe) until recently- but is actually the guts of mobile phones. Therefore all those phone-chip making companies need to buy it- so they need to charge a lot for their components; then the assembly companies need to pay for the chips, pay their workers and also make a monster profit in Asia, so we pay through the nose for the phones. However, we don't pay up front- otherwise hardly anybody could aford an iPhone- we pay through the mobile carriers who subsidise the phones to get our custom. The world is so bl**dy complex!
And just to make you feel better- some guys are making artistic statements about ti too! www.worldchanging.com/archives/008422.ht
Oh- and by the way- while I was looking up my leads on tantalum I discovered that Nick Farr-Jones (the famous Sydney lawyer, Rugby player and Order of Australia Award recipient) is a director of this company:
Central Rand Gold which is the holding company for a group of companies engaged in gold mining and exploration, plus tantalum and rare metals. It's incorporated in Guernsey of course so F**K knows what they're really worth...
So he is one rich cookie, with South African connections right up to his eyeballs. And sooo... with continued browsing I discovered that this Central Rand Gold also has an interest in this new batch of mining licenses that are drilling beneath the city of Johannisberg to extract the rest of the quartz pebble gold (plus any tantalum and uranium they come across) left behind by previous inefficient mining. They expect 120 million ounces of gold over the next 50 years. There is a small exclusion zone right under the centre of the Jo'berg CBD, but all areas under the suburbs and villages is fair game. It fairly freaks me out! Where's my share of all this, eh?!
I attacked our front room- which had become an absolute tip over the last six months. We had kept a small patch near the from door relatively clean but the rest was totally messy, hairy and dusty! I moved heaps of stuff, threw out, packed away, stacked etc. Then I vacuumed first with the smooth cleaner, and again using the big noisy turbo head on the Dyson! I sprayed orange goo on the sticky floorboards where something unmentionable must have been trodden inside and mopped furiously until it cleared! Then I attacked further rugs in the hall, plus all the fluff out of the bathroom; I sprayed anti housedust mite spray over everything and felt very pleased with myself! I guess other people do this stuff every week, but for me it was a momentous occasion and I'm blogging it to reinforce myself!
As soon as I finished, a friend's husband arrived to collect her photo from our exhibition. It was a really interesting pic which she took from a moving car and caught a bird in flight quite serendipitously! (That's it at the top, she is Off Beat Mum on Flickr)
As I handed over the pic, I noticed the stormy sky outside, so I grabbed the camera and took pix of that as well!
Then I rushed out the back to rescue any gardening gear in case it got rained on tonight, shortly after which Spotrick arrived home- and here we all are.
I've decided to dispose of most of my potted roses as they look awful most of the year and stop us from having anything else, given the limited courtyard space. There are so many beautiful roses I have photographed in the neighbourhood, I think I can live without most of my own now. I'm going to put yellow petunias and lilac lobelias in pots, with a row of lilac lobelias all around the edge of the courtyard. Currently our giant tree dahlias are finishing their huge sprays of mauve-pink daisy flowers so I can chop them right back for summer. The climbing roses in the corner need tidying, then we will have cream and yellow flowers against the pale ochre garden walls during the hot weather. We only have a row of tall pencil cypresses, 2 giant yucca elephantipes and a maple tree in the back courtyard, so there is scope for adding seasonal colour. My tulip and daffodil pots are just coming into spring flowers, with the white double tulips being first. I'm looking forward to the other bulbs coming out over the next 2 weeks when the courtyard is all neat and clean looking. I can put in a few pix from last year just for a taste of what is to come.