Thursday, 26 June 2008


I am utterly exhausted after awards evening last night--more than 400 students crossed the stage, receiving awards for attainment and effort in a school subject, tutor awards for contribution to their peers, sports awards, and special resilience awards. Presenting them all was Ray Winstone, the tough guy actor who is from London. He was filming yesterday and arrived for awards evening 45 minutes late and the whole evening ended up going on until a few minutes before 10:00. And then straight back to school this morning after seven hours horizontal. I am so glad that tomorrow is an in-service day (=no children). I knew earlier in the week that I was going to be so run down by today and so I planned compass designs and colouring lessons. Phew.

After this week there are three school weeks left. Holidays can't come soon enough. Unfortunately I have no trip home planned yet because I still don't have my passport back from the Immigration department and I don't want to gamble with £500 or more. I am still planning to go to Halifax, but I will pay the premium to buy at the last minute if necessary.

Monday, 16 June 2008


I made this pink fruit and nut cake last night. It was a delicious spice cake that I made with the help of my new cookbook.

The cake has raisins and walnuts with spices. This cake also has a secret ingredient. Let me show you the process in reverse and you see if you can guess what is in it.

The batter was really pink and thick. Next time I will add more milk because it was also not as moist as I would hope.

I pretty much bought the cookbook because of this one recipe. Otherwise I would never have the patience to do so much mixing. Here I am trying to fold the stiff egg whites into the mixture. I ended up using three bowls (!): one for the dry ingredients, one for the wet ingredients, and a third to whip the egg whites.

Here are the wet and dry bowls. I like that the recipe calls for wholemeal flour and not very much sugar. (These two items are clearly factors in making this a low GI recipe, and hence more healthy.) The wet ingredients are very pink, eh?

Have you guessed? What is the mystery ingredient that makes this cake so pink? Well, you've heard of carrot cake; this one was beetroot cake. The books says the practice of sweetening cakes with root vegetables is actually centuries old. I was so inspired by the idea of a beetroot cake that I had to buy the book when I read it. Here's the recipe in case you are similarly inspired.

Pink Fruit and Nut Cake

2 cups (250 g) wholemeal flour
2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice, and ground ginger
1/3 cup (75 g) sugar
2 medium (200 g) beetroot, peeled and grated
1/2 cup (50 g) sultanas
3/4 cup (50 g) walnuts, chopped
100 ml vegetable oil
1 ripe banana, mashed
3 eggs, separated
50-75 ml milk (but next time I am going to use double this)
Greek yoghurt or reduced fat creme fraiche, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and line a 20 cm (8 in) round pan.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, spices, and sugar in a large bowl.

In a second bowl, mix the beetroot, sultanas, walnuts, oil, mashed banana, and egg yolks.

In a third bowl, whisk the egg whites to the stiff peaks stage.

Add the beetroot mixture to the dry ingredients. Add enough milk to make a dorpping consistency (what does this even mean??). Gently fold in a tablespoonful of egg white before folding in the rest.

Pour the batter into the lined tin. Bake for about 1 hour, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool on a rack and serve with Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

ways to make chores more palatable

I am willing to admit that chores are hated in our household. Ant and I both dislike chores. I deal with my dislike by trying to get them out of the way and Ant deals with his by putting them off. We have come up with a few strategies to make them less hated.

1. Distract yourself. I do this by listening to music while I wash dishes. Ant recently bought me a brilliant present for the kitchen--a set of speakers that I can plug my iPod into. This has made washing up and cooking both more bearable. The speakers are sitting on top of some cupboards.

2. Chat with someone. While we iron (individually) we like to talk on the phone. While chatting with my friend Sara in Newfoundland last weekend I managed to iron five skirts and two shirts. Ant likes to talk to his dad or sisters while he irons. Today he combined strategy one and two on this list and chatted to his sister while perusing the electronics for sale on QVC.

3. Enjoy the fruits of your labour. After the bathroom is newly cleaned, I like to be the first one to take a shower while everything is gleaming. Or I will sit down in a sparkling kitchen with a cup of tea and something to read.

4. Do chores together.
Some weeknights Ant will set up the ironing board in the kitchen and chat with me while I cook. Or if we have people coming over Ant tidies while I prepare food. I feel more motivated to mop if I can hear Ant hoovering.

5. Invite people around. There's no motivator like imminent arrivals. Or this can be a pay-off for finally making the place decent.

6. Reward yourself. After chores, loaf on the couch. Or go out and do something fun. Or write a blog post! (I have blogged about mopping before!) Haha.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

sickie news

I have been off sick today and really needed the extra rest. (Amazing--I have just had a week's holiday!) I have spent most of the day sleeping; I also ate some roasted vegetables with polenta, my first recipe from my new cookbook.

While sitting on the couch, I have been watching the fourth game of the Stanley Cup final (pre-recorded since it showed live in the middle of the night last week). I have to admit I haven't been following hockey since I left Canada.... Actually, let's be honest, I only ever watched hockey when my dad or brothers were. But that was enough to give me an appreciation for the speed and skill involved. There was a short interview with Ron MacLean from Hockey Night in Canada, saying how he hoped the NHL coverage continued to expand in the UK and Europe.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

books for cooks

Yesterday I made it over to Notting Hill to visit Books for Cooks. It is just off Portobello Road; I read about it online at The Kitchn, a website that regularly inspires me. I had a seat on the red squishy sofa, browsing through their floor-to-ceiling shelves of cookbooks. It was a lovely, relaxing afternoon destination.

I am becoming more and more convinced about the health of eating low GI meals. I already have the original GI Diet book by Rick Gallop (formerly president and CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario). I am starting to cook and eat according to his suggestions and so the cookbook I bought was a GI cooking book.

Low glycaemic index meals don't spike blood sugar or insulin production and so they help you feel full for longer and give you a more stable energy level. They are also high in fibre and nutrients--really the GI diet is less a temporary diet and more a healthy way of eating forever.

Just down the road from where I caught the bus home is the Czech Consulate, with this interesting sculpture outside. I wish I knew what it said. Can anyone help?