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Haddock awaiting their turn in the smoke pit at the Edinburgh Farmers Market on Saturday morning. There’s nothing like a proper Arbroath Smokie from Spink’s.

It’s my birthday on Sunday. Woo hoo!

However, I will be away on that day, celebrating my best friend’s forthcoming nuptials. There will be much lounging around gossiping, eating of delicious food and drinking of red wine. as well as the occasional DVD with the word ‘wedding’ in the title. You know how it goes when none of you have the energy or inclination to steam around town dressed up as nuns with L-plates and deelyboppers any more.  

Consequently, there is not a lot of time for cake baking in the next few days, so I’ve decided to make something when I get back next week.

What it all boils down to is this… Dear and most wonderful blogosphere (have I mentioned how lovely you’re looking today?), I need your help to decide what cake I should bake to celebrate my 32nd year on this planet, as there are so many, many droolworthy and sugar-stuffed options – I simply can’t decide…

Click on the link below to determine my cake-based fate. Or leave a comment if you think I should make something else entirely!

  • Grannymar’s Death by Chocolate
  • Donna Hay’s Cookie Icecream Sandwich Cake
  • Dorie Greenspan’s Banana Cake with Frosting
  • Luscious Lemon Tart
  • Something else?

Cupcakes from Buns, ‘Ireland’s First Cupcake Bakery’ – at the Taste Kildare event in the grounds of the K Club today. Very fancy pants that place.

Now, what with this being a food blog, I don’t tend to break out of the mould too often and rant about anything other than edibles. But Darragh has handed me the perfect excuse by tagging me with the ‘Getting Your Goat’ meme  – a kind of ‘Room 101’ that’s pinged around the blogosphere and given people the chance for some cheap therapy.

The rules, thankfully, are straightforward. This can only be a good thing if you’ve been working up a head of steam about life’s little annoyances and are starting to become incoherent with rage:

  1. List two things that irritate you for a reason, and list the reason, and two things that irritate you for no apparent reason whatsoever.
  2. Give credit to the person who tagged you (*tips hat to Darragh again and apologises for leaving it so late*).
  3. Link your answers to the original blog – Keiron over on http://www.skillett.com
  4. Tag four new people to participate.

Two things that annoy me and I know precisely why

Number 1 – corporate speak

Dear lord, if I hear one more person utter the phrase, ‘I think we’re engaging in some healthy dialogue here’, I will staple their tongue to the desk while uttering the words, ‘Dialogue THIS, my fine friend!’.

Are we in a pychiatrist’s office? Methinks not. Although stapling someone’s tongue to their desk may certainly qualify me for a visit or two, along with a swift exit from the workplace.

Every company has its examples, its business language, phrases and abbreviations that are meaningless in the real world. It’s incomprehensible at first but after a few weeks it’s like you’ve never known anything else, you are part of the problem and die a little inside each time you find yourself uttering the latest company buzz phrase.

It’s insidious. It’s a suffocating layer of bullshit around what people really mean. You want to ‘granularise’ something? Why not just break it down or look at in in detail? Wanna cascade? Only, perhaps, if you’re a waterfall. How about just telling everyone what they need to know instead?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  

Number 2 – Talking of bullshit… Gillian McKeith

I don’t normally go in for slagging folks – I really, really don’t. But this woman annoys the hell out of me and most of it is down to, you guessed it, the poo examination on that dammed show she does. I understand that this theatre of shame is supposed to help ‘shock’ an individual into changing their nutritionally-deviant ways… But we all know that’s just an cheap excuse for the nation to have a gander at some pathetic sod’s dribbly bottom offerings as ‘Dr’ McKeith gives them a sharp telling off. 

And that’s just bullying, which is unacceptable in my book. 

Plus, her science is well off the mark.

Like a lot of diets out there, McKeith is advocating that we  cut out the bad stuff and eat more healthily – no problems there, m’lud. But the rest of the ‘doctor’s’ advice is woo of the highest order. (Or should that be ‘poo-woo’?)

The only thing that show makes me want to do is go out and stuff my face with chocolate. 

Two things that annoy me for seemingly no reason at all

Number 1 – The way there never seems to be enough curtain in any changing room in the land.

You know how it goes: you’ve found something to try on in the shop, you wander in to the changing room all excited and try to close the curtain behind you in the booth, but… there’s a good two- or three-inch gap between that last wisp of the curtain and the cubicle wall, leaving your wobbly bottom on view to anyone unfortunate enough to be passing by.

Now, I have no particular issue with my wobbly bum, but I don’t think anyone needs to see it unless I sign up for one of those Spencer Tunnick photos. And I would like to prance around and strike a series of rock star poses (vital to, er, test the clothing, you see) in relative privacy. What would it actually cost retailers to add that little bit of extra cloth? Why is it always the way? Why, I ask? It’s a mystery.

(By the way, if anyone out there can tell me if it’s the same in the men’s changing rooms, I’d be grateful.)

Number 2 – That bit at the end of the banana, is it the seed or just something designed to make you gack?

I hated bananas as a small child, loathed the very sight of them. I’ve gotten over it – but that little pointy seed-thing lodged in one end still evokes my gag reflex. Bleurgh. Completely irrational and I’ve no idea why. Is it just me? 

I’m setting this meme free in the blogosphere if there’s anyone left who hasn’t done it yet. So if you feel like a good rant is in order, by all means pick it up and run with it 🙂

Aaaaaaaaah… deep breath – that’s better.

Our good friend S. will be staying here for about five months, travelling up to Dublin for work and it seems un-hostlike to make her sleep on top of all our hoarded crap in the spare room. Crap, I might add, that has been languishing in cardboard boxes since we moved over last year.

Mr B and I, we’re both hoarders by nature, which made the task of deciding what we could possibly do without a bit painful. (‘But I need EVERYTHING! ALL THE TIME! Well, ok, maybe not EVERYTHING… but most of it! Including the stuff in your hands that you’re about to chuck out!’)

So, while I was rummaging through all those cardboard boxes, I stumbled across a copy of Gourmet magazine from April 2007, with the page folded back to this recipe. It looked like I was going to make it just before the big move but then got distracted by things like tying up council tax and utilities, finishing up at my last job and working out which cookbooks I couldn’t bear to part with for the duration of said move

High time then, to remedy the matter.

Fresh pineapple upsidedown cake from Gourmet magazine, April 2007

Serves 8 to 10 people, apparently.

1 2/3 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarb of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 fresh pineapple, halved lengthwise, peeled and cored
1 1/2 sticks (165g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk

1. Position a rack in the centre of the oven, along with a baking tray*, and preheat to 180C/350F.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt into a bowl. Cut the pineapple crosswise into 1/4 inch thick wedges.

3. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (2-inches deep) lightly on the side and generously on the bottom of the pan using 1/2 stick/55g butter. Sprinkle all of the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan and arrange the pineapple over it, starting in the centre and overlapping slices slightly.

4. Beat together the remaining stick of butter (110g), granulated sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes, then add the eggs – one at a time – beating well after each addition.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mix alternately with the buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour and mixing until the batter is just smooth.

6. Spread the batter evenly over the pineapple and bake until a wooden pick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean – about 40 to 45 mins. Cool for 15 mins in the pan on a rack, then invert the cake onto a plate and remove the pan. Cool to room temperature and then serve. 

*You’ll need the baking tray to catch any buttery-sugary drips from the side of the tin.

Do you ever stumble across a blog and think, ‘Dammit! Wish I’d thought of that!’?

Well, take a look at Cake Wrecks and be prepared to giggle. A lot.

I promise I’ll be back soon with a recipe…

All I can say is go make these NOW!

Blueberry bars brought to you by Deb of Smitten Kitchen.

Hello

I'm short of stature (a family trait) but big of appetite (also a family trait). If you're reading this then you're probably big of appetite too. Or a member of my family (hello Mum).
August 2008
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