March 2017 photos

I think April may end up being the fastest month of this year so far. Somehow it is more than half over already. How did that happen?! I’d better post my March photos before I blink and realise it’s June or something!

For those who don’t know, this is just a random post where I throw in all the photos I took during a particular month that don’t fit in anywhere else. Nothing particularly exciting, just an excuse to show off my photography “skills”.

Jan had a birthday, so I made cupcakes.

Once again, most of my photos were of birds.

Crows are very cool (although less so when they’re cawing on outside the window at 5 a.m.!).

I can never seem to resist taking photos of the birds on the balcony. *Sigh*. For those who have asked what a “lard ball” is, that would be the thing the birds below are standing on/eating. Also, notice the leaves on the tree (which was still pretty much bare in my February photos). It’s almost fully green now 🙂

I heard this next bird before I saw it:

Sadly the blackbird was not outside our window, but in a garden I walked past on my way home from town.

Our friend came to visit and we went to the animal park. I didn’t actually take many photos there, but I did grab one of the little red fox, all curled up in a ball. So cute… but so smelly!

fox

And that’s about it for March. Cupcakes and animals seem to have been the order of the month.

I have to say, the final photo is my favourite in this collection! How about you… any favourites here?

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

cupcakeSaturday was Jan’s birthday, and on Sunday I felt like baking… perfect timing for Jan to be able to take something in for his colleagues today. I didn’t want to make a full on cake, so I decided on chocolate cupcakes using a recipe that I’ve had for ages and is really easy to follow. I found the original recipe on BBC Food years ago, but I can’t provide you with a link because it doesn’t seem to be on there any more. Buuut I’ve adapted the recipe to suit my own purposes over the years, which means it’s mine now and posting it here without a link won’t be breaking any copyright laws, right? Right? Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
220g butter
220 g caster sugar
220g self-raising flour OR 220g plain flour plus 1.5 teaspoons baking powder (plus half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda, if you have it)
4 eggs, beaten (mine were medium, but I’ve used large before)
15g cocoa powder
30g chocolate chips
A few drops of vanilla extract

For the frosting:
125g soft butter
210g icing sugar, sifted (the sifting is important or the frosting will have lumps of icing sugar in)
125g plain chocolate
1 tsp cocoa powder

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the cocoa powder and blend it into the other ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla extract.

3. Add the eggs and stir well (don’t worry if it looks a bit lumpy at this stage).

4. Gradually fold in the flour until you’re left with a thick paste that looks a bit like chocolate mousse.

5. Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture into cupcake cases in a bun tray and bake for around 15 minutes until risen and bouncy when touched. The mixture makes around 24-26 cupcakes, depending on how much of the mixture you eat before it makes it to the oven (what? I know I’m not the only one that does that…). Once the cupcakes are baked, leave then to cool while you make your frosting.

Fresh out of the oven (if they look flat in this picture, it's the camera angle. I swear they had actually risen!)
Fresh out of the oven (if they look flat in this picture, it’s the camera angle. I swear they had actually risen!)

6. Melt the plain chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water (or in the microwave if you have such a thing…)

7. While the chocolate is melting, cream together the butter and icing sugar.

8. Add the melted chocolate the sugar and butter and stir everything together well.

9. Add a teaspoon of cocoa powder and stir until all the powder is properly blended in.

10. Place a teaspoon of the frosting on each cupcake and spread it with a knife (or pipe it on if you want your icing to end up looking better than mine… I preferred the less washing up option!).

Chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting
Chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting

11. You can either leave the cupcakes as they are now or decorate them as you see fit. Apparantly, I saw fit to sprinkle stars on mine in an incredibly haphazard manner. I could claim it’s supposed to be artistic but we all know it was sheer laziness…

Seeing stars...
Seeing stars…

12. Leave the frosting to cool/set for a bit then enjoy your cupcakes!

Multi-tasking

I’ve managed to get quite a lot done today, most of it at the same time. Write some notes for my dissertation, wash the dishes, a few more notes for my dissertation, spray cleaning stuff on the shower, sweep the bedroom floor, back to the shower to rinse. Who knew I could be so productive?

Last night Jan and I went to see out with some friends to see a… well, not really a band. A choir really, I suppose. An A Capella choir. But instead of choir music they sing pop songs. Covers of pop songs, songs using the tunes of pop songs but with the lyrics changed. They were very good and very, very funny. Unfortunately, most of their stuff is in German, but there were a few English bits too. Anyway,  they’re called Füenf and you can find their website here in case you feel like checking them out.

I made cupcakes today as well. I even put little hearts on the top, in honour of Valentine’s Day. Jan and I don’t really do Valentine’s Day. It falls right after our “anniversary” (it still seems weird saying that when we’re not married), which is obviously way more important. And everyone knows Valentine’s Day is just a card manufaturers’ scam anyway. So we didn’t exchange any cards or gifts today. Instead, we took a break from our respective dissertations to eat cupcakes and drink coffee together. It’s always nice to spend time just being together, no matter what the occasion. But coffee and cake… I’m turning into a German! Oh well, happy Valentine’s Day anyway. Cupcake anyone?