Photo an hour: 19 November 2016

A slightly abbreviated photo an hour this time as I only took photos until 5 p.m.! We were at Jan’s mum’s birthday celebration for most of the day so at least there was something to photograph…

9 a.m. Reading while I wait for the shower to be free.

10 a.m. Getting ready to go. Do I have everything I need?

11 a.m. In the car. Snapshot of the view while moving.

12 noon. Almost time for the buffet. We were sitting in front of dessert so I took a photo of it.

Bonus noon photo! Inserting this to preserve symmetry later. My plate of food.

1 p.m. After the food, they brought out coffee.

2 p.m. The celebration took place in the cafeteria at Jan’s mum’s workplace, and after brunch we were given a tour. The photo was taken froom the roof terrace – pretty autumn colours!

3 p.m. When we got back to the cafeteria, cakes had appeared.

4 p.m. It took me another hour to actually fetch myself a piece of cake.

5 p.m. Admiring the table of gifts.

We arrived back at Jan’s dad’s house (where we were staying) at 5:55 p.m. so my 6 p.m. photo should have been taken there, but it felt weird taking random photos of somebody else’s house so 5 p.m. ended up being my last photo. The rest of the evening was spent watching Jan sort something out on his dad’s partner’s computer, eating more food (buffet leftovers that we had taken along) and drinking a beer.

How was your Saturday?

GBBO bake along: drizzle cake

I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen a single episode of the Great British Bake Off! Now we actually have English channels I saw that it was on the other day and thought about watching it, but after the news a film came on and Jan said he wanted to watch it so I went to bed with my book and left him to it. (We do have an external hard drive but you can’t record one channel and watch another). But that doesn’t stop me from being able to bake the cakes, right? I was just going to do a lemon poppyseed cake that I’ve made before because it always turns out well, but just for fun I entered drizzle cake in BBC Good Food and this recipe for lime and ginger drizzle cake came up. Ginger trumps basically everything in this house, so my decision was pretty much made for me.

cake1
The unbaked cake

I have one complaint about the recipe. It told me to use a 900g loaf tin. Who gives the size of a receptacle for baked goods as a weight? How am I supposed to know how many grams of cake my tin will hold? (At least I assume that’s what the measurement refers to). My tin came with dimensions… you know, length, height, that kind of thing. Admittedly I threw the packaging away and no longer know them, but I have a tape measure. I can work it out. How do you expect me to work out how many grams my loaf tin is?! Okay, end of rant!

cake2
Out of the oven

As you can see, my cake browned to quickly and also split down the middle. Mary Berry would be horrified, I’m sure! It was my first time baking an actual cake in a fan-assisted oven and apparently I haven’t really worked it out yet.

For the drizzle, I had no idea where one would get stem ginger syrup in Switzerland (or even what it is, really) so I used ginger jam instead. The pieces of ginger meant I didn’t need to decorate with crystallized ginger as suggested 😉 Oh, and as for the stem ginger in the actual cake… ginger may come in balls in BBC Good Food land, but it doesn’t here so I just chopped off a chunk and hoped for the best. Also, I may have added more powdered ginger than the recipe called for. Oh, alright, I definitely added a lot more ginger than the recipe called for. It stilled could have done with more ginger though! (I told you… we like ginger around here!)

 

There is drizzle on it, I swear! But most of it soaked in, plus it was the colour of ginger which doesn’t show up well against cake. In my defence you can’t see any drizzle in the picture on the original recipe either! I also added coconut to the top so it would look more intentionally decorated than “someone spilled something sticky on this cake!”. Also, massive apologies for my utterly terrible photography! I clearly have no idea how to photograph cake! It was too long for my camera! First world problems…

cake5

For looks, my cake gets a great big zero, but it tastes amazing and in my world that’s all that matters!

Check out week one of the Bake Off Bake Along for more yummy cakes. Someone even attempted a mirror glaze, which is waaaay beyond my baking skills!

The Art of the Brick in Zurich

I still have some things from last year to write about, but I’m skipping ahead a bit since this exhibition is still on and some people reading this might be interested in it.

I had seen photos from this Lego exhibition on various blogs and really wanted to go to it, but so far it had never been anywhere near me, so when I discovered that it was coming to Zurich I was determined to go. It’s on until 10th January, but Jan is back at work today and on Wednesday we fly to England, so if we were going to go, it had to be yesterday. We took advantage of a RailAway offer, which gave us 10% off the train ticket and entrance fee and also included a day ticket for the Zurich tram network, and caught a train at just after 1 p.m.

The exhibition contained more than I expected considering it took up such a small space. The sculptures were amazing and I can recommend a visit if the exhibition is anywhere near you. The one thing both of us found slightly annoying was that the audio guide and most of the explanatory signs focused on the artist and how amazing it is that he was the first person ever to make art from Lego (was he really? Not sure!). Jan described it as being a little egoistic. Anyway, here are some photos of some of my favourite sculptures:

Of course, the iconic sculpture that’s used on all the posters, entitled “Yellow”, was also on display:

Lego sculpture

One section contained replicas of famous sculptures and paintings:

Finally, I loved this stained glass window, made from transparent coloured Lego bricks. It was hung in front of a light and the blue photo below shows the reflection it made on the floor.

Being in Zurich, we obviously couldn’t go straight home after the exhibition but just had to stop by the Sprüngli cafe for some hot chocolate and cake. Jan rolled his eyes at me for taking the photo below, but I don’t care 😉

DSCN5232

The Art of the Brick is being shown at Puls 5 in Zurich until 10 January 2016. Adult tickets cost CHF 24, or if you live elsewhere in Switzerland you can get a RailAway combi offer with 10% off the train fare and entrance fee plus a day ticket for the Zurich tram network. The offer is only available by phone or at the train station – it can’t be purchased online.

I’m linking this up with the first 2016 edition of Monday Escapes.

Travel Monkey

Preparing to move: a photo post

I don’t really have time for blogging at the moment, but I felt the need to give a small sign of life, so here’s a quick dump of the photos I’ve taken recently. Some were taken on my tablet, so the quality is correspondingly not great.

Lunch on the train a few weeks ago on my way to yet more flat viewings. Totally healthy, right? 😉

"lunch"

I’m trying to use up as much stuff as possible because the removals company said it can be difficult getting food into Switzerland. Here’s a cake I made for my colleagues in an attempt to get rid of some instant coffee.

cake

All our boxes need to be given a number and we need to provide detailed packing lists for customs (the joys of moving to a non-EU country!). Here’s a note I wrote to Jan the other morning. I wasn’t sure what number he’d got up to the night before and the file with the packing list is on his computer.

Packing note

Boxes, boxes everywhere! The current state of my living room (also apparently the white balance is off on the tablet? My living room isn’t actually blue!).

boxes

The removal men are coming on Tuesday morning, then I’ll be spending roughly a month living with next to no furniture and one of each kitchen item! The computer is leaving too, so other than at work I’ll only be able to access the Internet via our mini tablet, meaning my posting will probably continue to be erratic for a while! Then, as of May, you can expect plenty of pretty pictures of Switzerland 🙂

Sukie’s Cake Shop, Karlsruhe

For years I’ve been saying that what Karlsruhe needs is a place that serves a proper cream team. In fact, I’ve often joked that if I ever felt like a career change I would open an English café. It would serve full English breakfasts, sausage rolls, decent baked potatoes with fillings other than sour cream. It would be possible to order milk for your tea without being treated like an alien, or worse, given coffee creamer! Now it seems somebody has beat me to it 😉

Sukie's

I first heard about Sukie’s Cake SHop before it even opened – Annabelle from the Piri-Piri Lexicon (who also lives in Karlsruhe) sent me a photo of the window, which featured the words “English cakes” and “opening on 1st September”. Obviously I was intrigued. As it happened, I even walked by on the very day of the opening, but sadly I was in a hurry (and it was just before closing time) so I couldn’t pop in. I did look through the window though, and I liked what I saw. A trip to Sukie’s was definitely in order at some point in the future! On Saturday, that day finally came. Jan, my friend K (who is Scottish) and I met up at 4 p.m. and headed off to try out some English cakes.

The decorations were perfect – from the inspirational quotes stuck on the walls to the cute upside down teapot lampshades, pretty roses on the tables and various cake-themed items standing around. The café consists of two rooms – we sat in the one closest to the entrance.

All the cakes on offer sounded delicious, but as I was still recovering from stomach problems, I decided to go with something “light”. Jan and I each chose a strawberry scone with clotted cream and jam. The scone looked more like a rock cake to me, but it tasted delicious! K had pumpkin pie, which I tried a tiny piece of and that, too, was very tasty. To drink, I choose a ginger and lemon tea. Jan went for Darjeeling and K had Irish Afternoon tea. Later, I had some Fentiman’s Dandelion & Burdock (I love that stuff!).

High Tea
” 1 pot of tea, salmon and cucumber sandwiches, various small cakes e.g. Victoria Sponge, other small, tasty surprises”

Sukie, by the way, is the name of the owner’s dog and your four-legged friends are also welcome at the café. There are even home made dog treats available so they don’t have to miss out on the fun!

As we were leaving I took a photo of the board listing all the treats that come with the High Tea. I will definitely have to go back to try that! According to their Facebook page, a breakfast is also available on Saturdays and Sundays, consisting of Porridge, Bacon, Scones, Lemon Curd and more. I’m drooling just thinking about it!

You can find Sukie’s at Bahnhofstraße 13 (next to the Eden Hotel). For more information, see their Facebook page and website (both in German).

(Belated) cake day

This was supposed to be yesterday’s blog post… except WordPress have gone and changed the bit where you write posts and I now literally cannot publish them on my home computer. I press publish and it just sits there saying “posting” for ages. So I’m posting this from work…

I forgot to take a photo of the cake I baked for work, mostly because by the time it was ready it was so late Jan had to take it out of the oven for me and yesterday I was too busy getting ready for work to think of it. But luckily a package from a friend saved my blog from being cakeless on my birthday… or it would have if I’d been able to post!

Anyway, this is what a mini Smarties cake looks like after travelling all the way from the UK:

cake dayAnd now I guess I’m officially “in my 30s” (as opposed to just being 30). *Sigh*

In which I make blue cake…

As some of you wioll know, the British TV series Dr Who celebrated its 50th birthday on Saturday. That day also just happened to be the birthday of one of my friends, and in the invitation to the party he suggested that people might want to wear “a bow tie or something blue that’s bigger on the inside than the outside…”. I’m not sure most people got the reference, but I did. I may not have seen a single episode of Dr Who, ever, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know some things about it. It is embedded in my culture, after all. And I spent half my childhood being afraid I might accidently catch an episode and see the Daleks. Those things are terrifying when you’re six! But I digress…

Some of us started talking about what things we could do for the occasion, and in a moment of what I can only assume was temporary insanity, I volunteered to make a cake… a blue cake! (The cake part alone wouldn’t be insane. I like making cake, but blue cake was a new one!). After a couple of experiments, I finally hit upon a recipe that I liked and that resulted in a reasonably decent shade of blue, so on Saturday morning, the baking commenced…

blue cake

I admit the outside doesn’t look very blue… but it had after all been baked, so what do you expect? And you can see some blue shimmering through the brown.
For the topping and filling, I used vanilla cream cheese frosting, because there is no better icing! If there is a heaven, I’m pretty sure it’s a place where you can eat vanilla cream cheese frosting by the bowlful and not end up feeling sick!

Yum yum!
Yum yum!

Icing done, it was time to decorate. Unfortunately, all my blue food colouring was in the cake, so I had to make do with what limited other supplies I had… Germany is mostly disappointing when it comes to cake decorating equipment! But I did what I could with colourful sugar confetti and stars…

Tardis cake

A little wonky, but at least it’s recognisable! Here, have a close up:

Tardis cake decoration

Clearly that photo was taken before I put the stars on, so I’ve inserted the last two in the wrong order but nobody cares about that, do they?
And just so you can see that it really was blue(ish) inside, here is my cake later that evening…

Blue cake

As for the taste… it was pretty darn good, even if I do say so myself!

My bee-day party

Yesterday was an interesting day. First, I left my purse at home and only realised when I was sitting on the train ready to go to work. Luckily I was able to get back off the train just before the doors closed, then I power walked home, got my purse and took a tram back to the station in time for the 8 o’clock train… all within 24 minutes. Miraculously, I actually got a seat on the second train… I tend to avoid that one because I always end up standing in the corridor, which is not what I want that early in the morning. Then, after work, I arrived at the train station ready to go home only to find police on my platform and the Bahn personnel telling everyone to go away. I headed back up to the departures boards to wait for them to announce where my train would be arriving and decided to treat myself to a Magnum while I waited. To get to the new platform, I had to pass the steps leading up to my original platform, which I saw were now taped off with Deutsche Bahn employees standing at the bottom stopping anyone from getting up there. As soon as I got home, I googled to try and find out what was going on, but the Internet had no information. Nothing in the news this morning either… curious!

But that’s not really what I want to talk about today…
What I do want to do is finally tell you about my birthday party! But first, some background.

I like bees, and one of my nicknames used to be Bee (for the first letter of my name, but written out), so a few years ago, I mentioned to Jan that one day I would like to have a “bee-day” party. The idea was that I would get people to dress in either black, yellow or black and yellow (black and yellow stripes would, of course, be perfect), decorate the flat with bees and have bee-themed food and drinks. I then didn’t have a birthday party for a couple of years for various reasons (last year I went to Sweden the day after my birthday, for example) and kind of forgot about the idea… until I found bee glasses at Claire’s in Dublin. I bought them, saying “these would be perfect if I ever do decide to have a bee-day party!”, then found myself explaining my idea to the friends who were travelling with me.

Bee glasses
Bee glasses

Fast forward to my 30th birthday… Jan’s gift to me was a dress with bees all over it. He made me try it on straight away to make sure it fit, then said he would like me to wear it at my birthday party that weekend. I had originally planned to wear a dress my mum bought me, but was easily persuaded to go for the bee dress instead (did I mention I like bees?!)

The Saturday after my birthday was the day of my party. We had arranged to have it at a relatively new bar/café called Soul, which does interesting cocktails and excellent food, including delicious homemade ice cream and excellent mozzerella Maultaschen in garlic butter. If you live in Karlsruhe, you should, check it out! We had the room from 7 pm, so Jan and I went a little early along with a friend who was staying at mine that night (it’s difficult for her to get back to where she lives late at night). We arranged the few last-minute details, then settled down outside with a portion of ice cream each. Then, at just before seven, Jan went off to see whether anyone was coming yet (the plan being to move inside when people started arriving so they would find us).

He was gone for quite a while, and my friend and I had started to joke that he’d run off leaving us to pay the bill, then he turned up with the group of friens I go to the quiz with. All of them (including Jan now) were wearing yellow and black striped T-shirts and my friend K (I really need to think of better pseudonyms for people…) was carrying a cake. This cake:

bee cake

How adorable is that? Underneath the icing is chocolate Guinness cake… which is delicious! Don’t let the Guinness put you off – it really does taste good! They also had bee-themed gifts… despite the fact that I had already received my gifts from them on my actual birthday (a Tina Dico CD and a bunch of flowers, in case anyone’s wondering). I got some honey, a bee-shaped ballon and this:

My pillow pal
My pillow pal

I’ve named him Johnny Bee (geddit?).

Jan had arranged with the bar owner that he would pay for everyone’s first cocktail plus crostini for everyone, and I had asked for everyone to be given a glass of Prosecco when they came in so we could do the glass-clinking thing. The crostini were really good – at least the tomato-mozzerella and the red pesto ones were. I didn’t try the others (the toppings contained things I don’t like) but they seemed to go down well… they disappeared quickly enough anyway! The cocktails were tasty too, and as far as I can tell everyone had a good time. I know I did!

Thank you to my amazing friends and boyfriend for arranging it all! ♥♥

And now I have to go cross stitch… my friend most inconsiderately went and gave birth and I’m not finished yet 😉

Mississippi Mud Pie – Take 2

I know I’ve already posted today, but I promised I would get a picture of Mississippi Mud Pie the second up today or tomorrow, and with so many other posts planned this is the only way I’m going to get everything in. There just aren’t enough days in the week any more…

Sooo,  this one’s for you, Lady of the Cakes!

A small Mississippi Mud Pie this time, since only two of us were eating it.

I definitely won’t be adding melting marshmallows to my list of talents any time soon! No matter how much I stirred, they stuck to the bottom. I even remembered to break the giant marshmallows into small pieces this time, but it didn’t help… as soon as I turned on the heat, they all stuck together in one huge clump anyway. Then, when I transferred them to the bowl ready for mixing with the other ingredients, they started hardening again before I could bling. Pouring on boiling hot melted chocolate helped a bit, but I still ended up with marshmallow lumps in the finished pie, which isn’t supposed to happen!

A melty marshmallowy mess...
A melty marshmallowy mess…

This time, I decorated with pink and white Schokolinsen. Chocolate in a sugar shell… so a bit like a giant German version of Smarties… except the Linsen taste vaguely of mint, which always confuses me. I added some heart-shaped sugar decoratuins to fill out the middle. And here’s the completed pie:

Mississippi Mud Pie 2

It was very tasty, but I think it will be a while before I try something that requires melting marshmallows again!

Weigh-in Wednesday: The post birthday edition

Well, it’s been two weeks since my last weigh in, and since then I’ve not only celebrated my birthday with delicious cakes in Strasbourg, but also had my proper birthday party (which involved more cake, nachos (mmm cheese!) and cocktails. Then there was the Mississippi Mud Pie, which I obviously had to try to make sure the rain hadn’t completely killed it…

Needless to say, I haven’t been doing particularly well on my calroie goals recently. So it’s quite surprising that my weight this morning was pretty much exactly the same as it was two weeks ago. I was actually down almost a kilo on my current weight between the last weigh in and my birthday, but sadly it all came back. And I fear this delicious birthday gift from my uncle is not going to help me get back on track…

Sweet hamper
30th birthday sweetie hamper

Never mind, on with the measurements. Body fat percentage this morning was at 29.1%, which is 0.5% less than two weeks ago at least. Still only about one percent away from the danger zone though…
And as for the waistline… it’s the same as two weeks ago on 77 cm. I actually measured 76 cm the day before my birthday, but there was obviously no way that was going to last…

On the exercise front, I have nothing to report. As in I have done nothing in the way of exercise for the past two weeks. First it was too hot, then it was my birthday… and the past few days I’ve just plain been too tired! Work has had me stupidly busy this week… to the extent that I was convinced yesterday was Thursday… I’d been so busy that my brain simply couldn’t believe I’d fit all that work into a mere two days!

I will try to be better over the next week, but with the sweetie hamper to tempt me I’m not promising anything!