Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Real Mitt Romney

Everyone can go home now. Its all over now… In all seriousness kids, politics is important. Go be involved. Seriously though, how long would this video have taken to make?

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March 28, 2012 · 6:31 pm

There’s been a lot of hype about The Hunger Games movie that debuted this past weekend. I personally have read the books a couple of years ago and saw the movie last night. I must admit I was blown away. There have been very few times that a movie based on a novel has lived up to the novel and the hype surrounding it, and this fortunately was one of those times. I thought the movie was done incredibly well and stayed true to the spirit (and letter) of the book. Obviously in a film some things are left out due to time constraints, but I thought this was handled very well and likely would have been just as enjoyable a film had I not previously read the novels.

What shocked me upon getting home from the movie last night was an article that popped up on my news feed on facebook about The Hunger Games. Apparently young people everywhere were upset about some of the casting choices, particularly those “making” certain characters black, namely Rue, Thresh and Cinna. I say making in quotations because it’s quite clear from the novels themselves that these characters (perhaps not Cinna but certainly Rue and Cinna) were intended to be black. They are described as having dark skin, hair and eyes (unlike olive or tan, which is used to describe other characters) and their district is reminiscent of an old plantation. I must say that I always imagined them to be black characters and I was a little shocked that others who read the books hadn’t picked up on this. What really shocked me however were the comments that followed that demonstrate just how ingrained certain ideas are in our society. The most horrific tweet for me was one that said Rue’s death wasn’t as sad because she was black. This article I think does an excellent job of discussing cultural white-washing and the “ubiquity of whiteness” and I hope that you all will be as enlightened and shocked as I was after reading some of those tweets.

Racist Critiques of The Hunger Games casting

Read this article!!!

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March 28, 2012 · 3:31 pm

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

I adore Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. So does my roommate. So I decided to make chocolate orange cupcakes. Because everybody like chocolate and fruit. And those who don’t are like people who don’t like dessert – just untrustworthy… Seriously people, who doesn’t like dessert? These are amazing cupcakes: rich, moist, and intensely chocolate with a hint of orange. I decided to top these with a beautiful white chocolate buttercream also flavoured with orange. These were devoured by my coworkers. Baking is the perfect way to bribe the boss. Italy here I come! (Just kidding, I asked for time off before I told him about the cupcakes) I’m not doing very well with updating as often as I’d like and I’m off to London and Edinburgh the next two weekends so I’ll have new material, but I may not get around to posting about it for awhile.  Anyways, just try these cupcakes. You’ll love them!

Yum!

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 175g plain chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups ground almonds
  • 4 oranges, rind and juiced
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
1. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually beat in egg yolks followed by melted chocolate.
3. Fold in almonds. Next add the rind and juice.
4. In a separate grease free bowl, whisk egg white until it forms soft peaks.
5. Fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
6. Sift flour and cocoa powder and add the to wet mixture slowly using a spatula.
7. Pour into cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 minutes at 170C, preheated oven.

White Chocolate and Orange Buttercream

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 50g/1¾oz white chocolate, melted
  • 1 orange, zest only

For the white chocolate and orange buttercream, beat the butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Carefully stir in the icing sugar and continue to beat for five minutes. Beat in the milk, melted chocolate and orange zest.

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Best Rice Pudding Ever

Much to my father’s chagrin I love rice pudding. Its one of my favourite desserts and I used to ask for it regularly when I was young. Unfortunately my father is not a fan, so the only time we’d have rice pudding at home was when we had a lot of leftover cooked rice. When I moved out I experimented with lots of different rice pudding recipes. I have developed a clear favourite that has lots of possible variations. Its creamy and sweet, but doesn’t seize too much once it cold. Be sure to use a medium grain rice (any regular rice will do). I use 2 percent milk, but whole would give a creamier texture. The egg yolks added at the end enhance the flavour and texture, but be sure not to let the eggs cook too fast or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs in your pudding.

I know it doesn't look very appetizing, but I swear its delicious!

Rice Pudding

4 cups milk
1/2 cup raw medium-grain white rice
Pinch salt
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar

Dump the milk, rice and salt into a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue simmering, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and the pudding is reduced to about 3-1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Stir to prevent scorching and watch closely.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract. Slowly add the cooked rice mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, making sure to scrape the bowl. Set the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring and scraping the sides and bottom of the pan constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of the spoon, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the pudding to a bowl or serving dish and lay a sheet of plastic wrap right on the pudding’s surface to prevent a skin from forming. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

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Weekend in Wales

A weekend break! I’ve been promising to write about this for ages because it happened while Kelsey was here the first time and since I’m such a fail, Kelsey is coming back soon and I still haven’t written about our first mini-trip together. We went to Wales! Specifically we were in Cardiff. Wales – a whole new country (at least it once was… not so much anymore) but still, it was awesome. We went out the night before and then got up in the morning to take a bus to Wales. I’ll admit I slept through most of the drive, but I woke near the Welsh border and it was very worth it. When we left Notts it was raining and grey, but in the afternoon the sun came out and lit up the spectacular countryside. You know when you see those pictures of Wales or Ireland and the rolling hills are an impossible shade of green and all you can think is ‘boy, you can’t pull one over on me, I know that photo is doctored’? We were fools. It really is that green. I have no idea how, but I know a lot of people who want that grass! And the green-ness of the grass only sets off the white sheep. It’s some fairy-tale land with impossibly coloured livestock and foliage!

Caerphilly Castle, Wales

Wales, albiet with clouds

After we found and settled into a hostel, we headed back into town and went for a walk in the park by Cardiff castle where I ran into another traveller I’d met before in Nottingham – odd chance encounters!  We went for dinner in a local pub and then headed back to the bar at our hostel to start our night out. Our hostel turned out to be an excellent choice because our very friendly bartender definitely enhanced our Wales experience. When he found out we were Canadian (he had Canadian roommates) he refused to serve us just any cider, and insisted on a local Welsh cider. I can’t remember the name, but it had a dragon on the bottle and was dry, crisp and very strong. We headed out to start out pub crawl and went to a handful of Cardiff’s best establishments – meeting some interesting Welsh characters along the way. The Welsh are very cheeky – one guy walked brazenly up to us as we were coming up out of a chip shop and stole some chips. He even told us he was being cheeky! We also met a group of guys who bought us strange (and unnecessary) plastic roses from someone on the street. We went back to our hostel later that evening and hung out with our new friend the bartender before hitting the sack.

Cardiff Castle from the outside

Funny animals on the castle walls. Yay beavers!

The roses we were given

The next morning we got up and headed straight for Cardiff castle. It’s a pretty interesting site with a gothic Victorian mansion as well as an earlier Norman keep. Kelsey and I enjoyed walking inside the fortress walls looking at the exhibitions on WWII and the former bunker that was built in the walls to keep the citizens of Cardiff safe. The old castle keep was also incredibly beautiful set against the clouds and the view from the top was pretty amazing – but we did have to climb and descend the steepest stairs ever to get to the top!

The Norman Keep

In front of the manor house

The ceiling of a guest bedroom in the manor house

Kelsey trying on the armour

Later in the day we took a train twenty minutes outside of Cardiff to Caerphilly, a tiny little town with a very large castle. It’s one of the great medieval castles of Britain, if not Europe – the second largest in Britain with large water defenses. It was built by Gilbert de Clare and is apparently an excellent example of late 13th-century military architecture (not that I know much about that). What I know is that there were pretty ruins! It was such a pretty castle with blue sky and clouds and water against the grey stone, so Kelsey and I wandered around the perimeter before heading in. After exploring for a couple hours we had lunch in another pub before heading on the train back to Cardiff and then back to Nottingham – the end of our adventure!

Caerphilly Castle

The ducks on our walk. Kelsey ran from the geese.

Entrance to the Castle

Climbing on the ruined walls...

On top of one of the towers

The end of our adventure! Till next time!

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St Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s day in most of the world seems to be a celebration of excessive green and excessive drinking while everyone pretends to be Irish. And before anyone says I sound unimpressed – I do actually like all those things! To be fair, I don’t have to pretend to be Irish – that comes naturally from my mother’s side. But as for green and drinking – those I can embrace wholeheartedly! So of course for St Patrick’s day I celebrated by making green food, although technically I made said food earlier in the week. My reason for this was so I could share my green alcoholic cupcakes with my coworkers (yes drinking at work is for the cool kids) instead of eating them all myself… Earlier today I went to the St Patrick’s day parade and outdoor concert in the city centre, but as luck would have it, I completely failed at photos due to dead batteries. Must remember to check batteries before leaving the house. However, the parade was a sea of green and the Celtic music was lovely and lively. But today I’m going to share my recipe for Guinness and coffee chocolate cupcakes with Bailey’s Buttercream. So good… I’ve been bribing all the delivery guys at work with them so they’ll be nice to me. Pretty sure it’s working! This recipe is adapted from one I found on the Brown Eyed Baker’s blog, so if you want the original, head on over there!

Yummy… and Green!

Chocolate Coffee and Guinness Cake with Baileys Frosting

For the Cake:
1 cup Guinness
½ cup strong coffee
1½ cups unsalted butter
1 cup cocoa powder
3 cups flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used Greek style)
For the Frosting:
1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
4 Tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put liners in cupcake tins (makes 24-36).
2. Place the stout, coffee and butter in a large, heavy saucepan, and heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the cocoa powder. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream. Add the stout-cocoa mixture, mixing to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix together at slow speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix again for 1 minute.
5. Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out of their pans and returning to the rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.
Frosting:
1. Cream butter and slowly add half the icing sugar beating well. Add the Bailey’s and vanilla. Continue adding icing sugar and beating until the proper consistency is achieved. (Add a few drops green food colouring if desired)
2. Decorate cupcakes.

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Pizza

So recently I had a hankering for pizza. But being lazy and unwilling to wander beyond the confines of my home once I get back from a long day at work, I didn’t want to go out and pick up a pizza. Plus I find commercial pizza is rather heavy and greasy – not qualities I was looking for. Luckily, making your own pizza (including dough) is incredibly easy, cheap and quite quick!
To make pizza dough, just toss together a few ingredients and wait. It’s super forgiving.

Easy dough. Takes about 45 minutes.

Dough

• 1 cup warm water
• 1 tbsp dry active yeast
• 1-2 tbsp sugar
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp salt
• 3 cups flour
1. Mix water, yeast and sugar in a bowl and let sit for a couple minutes to get the process going.
2. Add the oil and salt and then use a wooden spoon to stir in the first two cups of flour.
3. Once it comes together into a ball (adding more flour if needed) take it out and need for a couple minutes until smooth but not sticky (adding more flour as necessary). Just remember it’s better to have less flour for better textured dough.
4. Rub some oil in a large bowl, add the dough ball and flip it to cover with oil. Let sit for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
5. Once it’s doubled, roll/ press the dough out onto your pizza pans being careful not to rip the dough. Top as desired and bake 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

I topped my pizza with an easy tomato basil sauce, fresh mozzarella slices and some chopped up basil. Yummy!

Mmmm

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