Tweets on 2011-08-24

  • Gah. Just a few tiny pints in t'pub and it seems I have a hangover before I even go to bed 😦 #
  • How strange – @CharBotGreen2 just sprang back to life after nearly a year away. #
  • Nasty, noisy, impossible to squish. Surely too big to be an ordinary wasp? #
  • Yay. Letter from Nottingham University confirming my place on teacher training course starting September. PGCE MFL FTW. #
  • Haha! Plugging some of the reading list into Amazon and this comes up as a suggestion. Love the title. #

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Tweets on 2011-08-23

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Good cake, bad cake #gbbo

I imagine countless thousands of amateur cooks have been tempted to make a Battenberg cake this week after watching the contestants on the Great British Bake Off have a go. I used Mary Berry’s recipe, helpfully published on the BBC website.

Stegosaurus Battenberg.

It has made such a tiny cake it was barely worth bothering with! We will be hard pressed to get six slices out of it. I don’t have a square tin, so had to use loaf tins, which worked pretty well. The mix barely filled them, and the cakes weren’t square at the end. It took quite a bit of cutting off to get something even vaguely square. I was too hasty with licking out the buttercream bowl and missed instructions about extra buttercream needed for the sides and top, hence why the walnuts are poked into the (shop-bought) marzipan Stegosaurus-style.

I have been busy telling myself it was a huge waste of time for such a tiny amount of cake and I will never take on so foolish a project again… when I just happened to see a Choc-Orange Battenberg Cake recipe mid-google and starting thinking hmmmm…. all over again.

Anyway. Put these foolish frippery battenberg fancies out of your mind and make this gorgeous boiled fruit cake instead. This makes a good, honest, large fruitcake that will easily serve a goodly number of friends or do a fortnight’s worth of packed lunches. It’s my mother’s recipe. When I was home with my parents for a week in August, I learned that their century-long recipe, which has made hundreds of fruit cakes for packed lunches had been superseded, and now they alternate between “light” fruit cake and “dark” fruit cake, both made in double batches and frozen until needed. Below is “dark” – I have lost “light” which is nice enough, but so familiar as not to feel terribly special.

Casting your eyes down the list of ingredients for this makes you think it’s just a bog standard fruit-cake. Nothing on the list sticks out as making it taste as special as it does. But something magic happens in the cooking, giving this cake a stickiness, a darkness and punchy taste whose origin I can’t figure out.

And hey, if you want to mess around with marzipan and decorations, better to do it with a fruit cake than a Battenberg!

Dark boiled fruit cake
Recipe Type: Cake
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 15 mins
Serves: 12
  • 4 oz margarine
  • 6 oz sugar
  • 14 oz dried fruit in any combination, eg sultanas, currants, cherries, nuts
  • 8 fl oz water
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz self-raising flour
  • Pinch salt
  1. Prepare a deep 7″ cake tin with a circle and shoulders of greaseproof paper or ready-make Lakeland liners.
  2. Preheat oven to 150 deg C
  3. Put all ingredients except eggs and flour into large pan and bring to boil.
  4. Simmer for 1 minute, allow to cool to below egg-scrambling temperature.
  5. Tip the pan into the mixer and add the eggs, one by one, followed by the flour.
  6. Mix on full until fully combined.
  7. Tip into pan and bake in a cool oven for around an hour. Double check the oven long before the end of cooking time and adjust recipe for your oven. Benefits from a slow bake in a low oven.


Tweets on 2011-08-22

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Tweets on 2011-08-21

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Mealplanning II

Just a little more on mealplanning, after my cooking with leftovers post a few months ago set the scene.

I do my weekly mealplan with Google Docs, in front of the computer. Seems a bit nerdy to type about food, but incrementally benefits have emerged.

The first is that I can plug it into my shopping list doublequick. I have been using OurGroceries for a few years now. It’s a smartphone app that can sync the household shopping list between my phone, P’s phone and all the various computers. If either of us wants something, we can put it on the list from wherever we are and it’s in the right place for whipping out the phone at the supermarket. Once you get there, tapping each item as you go round the store crosses it through. (and were anyone watching from home, they could see how fast you were getting around)

For ages I was planning the week’s meals, printing them out and sticking them to the cooker hood with a magnet (the fridge front is part of a fitted kitchen, so not metal!) This meant unless I was actually in front of the cooker, I couldn’t necessarily remember what was for dinner that night. Now, thanks to the magic of Google and cutting and pasting, I create an event in my calendar for the meal each night. I have access to P’s calendar too, so I can easily see if there things that will delay him or mean he isn’t eating at home. I can make the event longer if it’s something that needs extra cooking, and if I’m out of the house and need additional ingredients, all I have to do is check my phone.

Thirdly, I’ve gotten into the habit of posting the week’s plan into Google Plus and pushing it to a group of contacts I know are interested in food. This leads to helpful discussion and interesting facts and helps share some of the ideas. (You can find me on Google Plus here.) In fact, this has fast become my only use of Google Plus. It tends to be the social network I check last and only if I have time. And almost all of my contacts seem to be using it as their secondary network, so by the time I get there, most of what I read I have already encountered from those people on Twitter or Facebook.

I have been thinking about posting the meal plans here on the blog. Is that de trop? To be honest, much of the writing I do here now is food and twitter, so at least that would mean a weekly post!

Read Lib Dem Voice on your Amazon Kindle

Did you know you can subscribe to Lib Dem Voice using Amazon’s Kindle service? You can do so either on their Kindle device or using their apps for iPhone, Android, Mac or PC.

The link to Lib Dem Voice on Amazon is here. It will set you back a modest £1.99 a month.

Of course, if you think the content we produce here is worth £2 a month, and you don’t have a Kindle, you are more than welcome to cut out the middle-person and donate it to us directly by standing order.

You can also donate money to us indirectly by using any of the book or technology links on our blog to buy stuff from Amazon. As Amazon Associates, we take a small cut of your spend.

Tweets on 2011-08-20

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Tweets on 2011-08-19

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Cross-party smackdown for Home Secretary

A tweet crosses my desk from Cllr Kemp, itself a retweet from LGCPlus journalist Ruth Keeling. It contains a link to the Association of Police Authorities – not a body I am overly familiar with, but it has a fairly self-explanatory title.

The link is directly to a fairly draw-dropping cross-party letter from chairs of Police Authorities around the country who have a fairly serious beef with the Home Secretary’s accuracy in a recent speech.

Theresa May appears to have tried to shore up support for the Conservative policy of elected police commissioners by insinuating that in London, taxpayers got a better service from the elected police chief (and Mayor) Boris Johnson, than in other parts of the country where there are indirectly elected Chairs of Police Authorities instead.

A large number of Chairs of Police Authorities are not happy at the suggestion:

This un-evidenced, London-centric assertion was either regretfully ill-informed or wilfully inaccurate. In either case we believe it to be unbecoming of a Secretary of State. It has caused not only bemusement but anger amongst police authorities and our partners across the country.

Quite simply, your allegations are completely untrue and a cursory conversation with the relevant Chief Constables, Council Leaders or representatives of local media could have confounded it.

The facts are that not only Chairs, but the full range of diverse police authority members were out listening to communities and reflecting their concerns to the police at the highest levels in GOLD meetings across the country. Authorities provided both support and appropriate challenge to forces. We worked closely with Chief Constables to ensure that they had all that they needed to police confidently, with full operational independence in defence of the public. Both in public and in private, we simply got on with the job. Police Authority Chairs were out on the front foot; convening meetings with the leaders of other emergency services, local councils, local media and community leaders, as well as visiting affected areas.

It is a matter of record that a number of Police Authority Chairs actually cancelled their leave to ensure that the police could respond to public concerns. Before any politicians could tour the streets of London with TV cameras in tow, Police Authority Chairs from across the country had agreed the mutual aid which played an indispensable role in restoring order to London and ensuring that those streets were again safe to stroll. This was done without fanfare, but quietly, in the national interest.

Read the rest of the strongly-worded letter here.

Whilst you’re on the site, you might be interested, as I was to see their map of police authorities, the e-factsheet “What is a Police Authority?” and learn that there are also two non-geographical police authorities too. There’s something I didn’t know: there’s a British Transport Police Authority and a Civil Nuclear Police Authority.