Friday 22 January 2016

Please Do Something with this Cake!

Liz is, as we all know, a lady of many talents, one of them being baking, cake making and all things kitchen. But that is at home - it does not normally impact on working life. This week, though, she was amazed to arrive at work one day for her 11:00 start to be be met by work colleague and boss flapping around  a very ordinary (but perfectly good) Victoria sponge (cream, strawberry jam, caster sugar 'frosting' etc) armed with a tub of whipped cream and a punnet of fresh strawberries.

If it wasn't so tragic, we'd be hooting with laughter - our
broadband locally has recently struggled to top
half a 'meg'. i-player TV is a total 'no-no'.
The story went that the indomitable ladies and gents of the local "Active Age" group were having one of their regular meetings and, as it was one of their birthdays they were going to serve Black Forest Gateaux as they ALWAYS do. A runner had been sent off to town, to the bakers they ALWAYS use to buy the gateaux but the bakery were running late and did not have one ready yet. Disaster. The runner bought the Victoria sponge instead and phoned 'base' whereupon another shopper was despatched to buy the cream and strawberries with which to enhance the cake to make it a bit more gateaux-like, all be it devoid of black cherries and kirsch. It was at that point Liz showed up and both shoppers were expressing concern about their inability to make cakes or decorate them, so a rather flustered Lizzie was pressed into service. Toughen the sinews, Summon up the blood.

A 'downside' of fully free range chickens?
Eggies all over the gaff
She carefully separated the two cake layers and sneaked a new rim of crescents of strawberries all around the edge. Then she created a lovely 'scree' of strawberry chunks at one end of the plate and scalloped the cream all around to create a vison of strawberry and cream loveliness. The staff were delighted but still had to present this gateaux to the Birthday Girl rather trepidatiously, fingers crossed that she'd not be disappointed by the lack of Black Forest. Well, history tells that it all went brilliantly and BG was delighted at the choice ("It makes such a nice change from Black Forest Gateaux"). More brownie-points too for our 'chef' when the left over cream was hustled into an option on the usual plain 'hot drop' (hot whiskeys) at these events, Irish Coffees. I think we'll call that snatching glorious victory from the jaws of possible defeat. Well done Lizzie. No pressure for the next Birthday Party, then.

First fruits from the Dylan carcass. This rack of chops
got roasted wrapped in a lovely bread-crumb and herb cover
I can claim no such heroics for myself. In fact, if you don't do Twitter, I have probably been more than usually silent, unavailable, un-engaged and hidden. If you do Twitter and you have been anywhere the SmallholdersIRL account you will know that we have been having a blast. I have fired off dozens of 'tweets' and pictures and we have shared stuff, discussed, bantered and made some good friends. I have spent more time at the PC (and glued to Liz's i-phone 5) than is healthy for me and I am tired out but I have enjoyed it immensely. I am not sure I would want to do it again too soon and I may be quite happy to hand it over to the next 'curator' on Sunday evening, but I'd not have missed it for anything.

George gets himself noticed for the
Twitter account.
Apart from that, a fairly normal week. I was out at the buildering the last couple of days, mainly 'labouring' while the main man and a builder-mate from Dublin clambered over the roof or up ladders installing new window frames upstairs. The house is coming on a storm. The roof is completely battened out ready for the (trad) slates, the guys have done all the stonework they are able to do on the north gable (we need the Electricty Company (ESB) to come and do their stuff dismantling the old supply which looped across to the chimney) and have created a natty stone arch indoors at the entrance to what will be #1 daughter's bedroom, plus created the wooden 'bridge' which runs between the two mezzanine floors. My jobs were passing concrete blocks to the "brickie" making the porch and 14 foot 2x2 battens up to the guy on the roof, plus clearing the (deliberately) fallen chimney rubble from the bedroom and the old soft-board ceiling and tar felt from what will be the kitchen. My ankles ache from all the heavy barrowing across rough ground and up hill.

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