A Farewell to Carbs

Doesn't the marbled chocolate make this look so pretty?

Doesn’t the marbled chocolate make this look so pretty?

Has something weird happened to time? It appears that I am now a mere nine days away from wedding bells and I am not entirely sure how that happened…

As is my wont, I set myself various ambitious goals at yon time when the wedding day seemed like an occasion far, far into the future. Most of them, in a purely shallow fashion, centred around being a size 6, sporting arms like Madonna and having come through the other side of the world’s harshest detox to guarantee skin so fresh, shiny and young-looking people mistook me for a 39-year-old instead of a… (er, ladylike modesty forbids me to reveal the truth dear reader).

Aye, all rather shallow hmm? So, what happened instead? There was wine, ladies and gentlemen. There were cakes and there was a lot of cheese. Yum! So, I’m now on Atkins*. Rumour has it that the 5.2 diet and the Cambridge diet are among those my guests are trying. Possibly I should contact said diet companies and ask for commission…?

So yes, Atkins, and carbs are now the mere daydream of mashed potatoes, or the enticing whiff of baked goods. To compensate for my carb-free life, I made millionaire’s shortbread today** to serve as favours for my wedding. I cut the normal sized-pieces into cute mini portions and I’ll be putting a couple of each into a china teacup and adding a hand-written note. Kitsch hmm?

I have to share the recipe for the shortbread as it’s one of the world’s nicest biscuits and three trillion times (at least) nicer home-made.

MILLIONAIRE’S SHORTBREAD (makes shed loads)

100g cornflour

250g plain flour

250g unsalted butter

110g golden caster sugar

2 tins condensed milk (397g each)

100g unsalted butter

100g dark brown soft sugar

150g plain chocolate

150g milk chocolate

150g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease two 18cm/7-inch square tins (I find it’s easiest to use loose-bottomed cake tins – it makes removal of the finished shortbread much easier.)

Combine the flours and sugar in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Bring the whole lot together until it forms a bowl, divide in two and press into the bases of the two tins. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool, but do not remove from the tin.

Place the condensed milk, unsalted butter and dark brown soft sugar into a heavy based sauce pan and heat very gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Bring to the boil slowly, stirring all the time. Once it has boiled, turn down to a simmer and cook for five minutes. The mixture will turn a lovely fudgy colour. Pour half over one shortbread base, and half over the other. Leave to cool and set.

Melt the three chocolates separately (I favour 30-sec bursts in the microwave) and place spoonfuls of each kind over the cooled caramel and shortbread. Aim to roughly cover each surface in the three different kinds of chocolate and then lightly tap the tin on the surface so that the chocolates merge into one. Using a skewer or a knife tip, swirl the chocolates to create a marbled effect.

Leave to cool and cut into small squares. You’ll get roughly 40-45 squares from this, but mini ones look sweet. Tip – if you cut this up before the chocolate has fully set, the chocolate topping won’t crack.

*Atkins, for those of you for whom dieting is a blissfully unfamiliar habit, is a low-carbohydrate/ high protein diet. While unlimited eggs, bacon and steak sounds good in theory, without toast, chips and other starchy gloriousness it all gets rather tedious after a while. It does, however, produce results though if you do it and fall desperately ill, IT IS NOTHING TO DO WITH MOI.

**Worry not, the said millionaire’s shortbread is currently residing in my freezer so it can be just-baked fresh on the day.

I’d Like to Thank My Mum & Dad, My Fiance and My Cat…

Ooh, is there anything nicer than putting up a wee rosette on your blog?!

Ooh, is there anything nicer than putting up a wee rosette on your blog?!

Some time ago, a very nice lady called Jenny let me know she had nominated me for a Liebster award. I read her words, gasped with excitement and said to my hubbie-to-be – “Best we clear space on that awards shelf mister, another bauble is about to join it!”

Reader, I exaggerate. The awards shelf is not full to bulging. It does not, in fact, exist. In timely fashion (not), I am now taking advantage of this lovely opportunity. Jenny asked interesting questions as part of her nomination and I’m answering them below and welcoming you to the world of moi.

The rules of the Liebster award are:

  1. Cope and paste the award on your blog and say muchos gracias to the lovely person who nominated you. Of course you include a link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions from the person who nominated you, list 11 random facts about yourself and come up with 11 questions for your nominees.
  3. Nominate 11 blogs with 200 or less followers who you think deserve attention and leave a comment on their blog letting them know what you’ve done.
  1. If you could be a superhero for just one day, who would it be?Wonderwoman. Even though I’m er… a lady of 35+. That costume…
  2. What are your 5 favourite films?Ooh, it changes from day to day. I did see The Place Beyond The Pines yesterday and enjoyed that.
  3. What food or drink could you not live without?Cheese and red wine. Preferably together and in splendidly large quantities.
  4. Have you ever met anyone famous?Erm, does ‘meet’ include standing gawping at someone who has just passed you on the street in a very obvious and embarrassing way? Me and the rich and famous are not natural partners…
  5. Have you got anything exciting planned for 2013?I’m getting married, hooray!
  6. Where has been your favourite place to visit?I love visiting places in general, but if there is delicious food attached then my excitement levels go slightly out of control.
  7. If you were in charge and you could get anything banned forever, what would it be?Rudeness, which can cover everything. It is rude to assault, kill, invade countries etc.
  8. Are you addicted to social media?Sadly yes. For someone whose attention span is approximately… ooh, status update what’s Julie up to now, whoops, sorry about that, got distracted there… very, very short, social media is ideal!
  9. Do you have any phobias?Not a one. I am fear free.
  10. Did you want to change your name as a child?A multiple syllabled option would have been good, preferably with a French-sounding surname too. Charlotte De Guyseuse, as something rather more exotic sounding than my own humble moniker.
  11. Are we human, or are we dancers?

We’re dancers of course!

Random facts:

  • I twirl my hair obsessively
  • I can get on and off a fast-moving treadmill (so I could audition for a stunt woman in an action film)
  • I eat peanut butter BY THE JAR
  • I was born on St Patrick’s Day
  • I have run a half-marathon
  • I have walked a half-marathon (I preferred the run one, actually)
  • My cat sleeps on my bed
  • I have gone for a run in five different countries
  • I have ridden a camel
  • I have started (but sadly not finished) two books by Russian authors
  • I know an awful lot about the Tudors.

My nominees all get to answer food questions!

  1. If you were a cake, which one would you be?
  2. Butter icing, or sugar frosting?
  3. What is the weirdest food combination you like?
  4. The world is about to run out of crisp flavours and producers will now only make one kind; which will it be?
  5. Have you ever eaten in a Michelin-starred restaurant and if so where?
  6. How many celebrity chef cook books do you own?
  7. What is the most impressive thing you can cook?
  8. What is your fail-safe date menu?
  9. Sweet or savoury?
  10. What % of cocoa solids should good quality plain chocolate have?

http://sunshineandcelandines.wordpress.com/

http://safiya91.wordpress.com/

http://sophiebowns.wordpress.com/

http://thecitizensoffashion.com/

http://theevolutionofeloquence.wordpress.com/

http://evelinagalli.com/

http://thriveonnews.com/

http://mevscake.wordpress.com/

http://jumpforjoyphotoproject.wordpress.com/

http://emmarossruns.wordpress.com/ and http://mysilvermemories.wordpress.com/

Ah, the thrill of the blank page...

Ah, the thrill of the blank page…

Ooh, phone the boss; it’s Thursday morning and I’m pulling a sickie…

That’ll be a quick phone call to myself then. Yup, I am now the boss of me having waved a fond, slightly manic farewell to almost 20 years of office employment, regular wages and financial security. The paid sickie day (and the paid holiday for that matter) no longer exists.

As it is early days yet in the world of self-employment, I greeted the arrival of this morning with delight (before rolling over for another small snooze, as the tyranny of the daily commute no longer applies).

Hello brave new world – another writer wishes to join you and wonders what to do next. As I am a top procrastinator, I’ve come up with the following list of the best things to do to delay real work:

  1. Write to do lists (oh joy, updating my blog after a long absence was on the list so there’s one item ticked off already
  2. Start up a Twitter account – hey, Twitter is awash with procrastinating writers
  3. Tidy up the spare room and turn it into an office, complete with a proper filing system
  4. Do wedding-related stuff (actually, this isn’t procrastinating seeing as I am getting married in exactly four weeks’ time eeks, eeks where did all the time go and why have I yet to make a decision on the cake, my hair, what I wear on my head..?)
  5. Update social media profiles – hey I’m at home and I’m available for all kinds of writing, proofing, editing work and the odd voiceover…
  6. Plan what to have for lunch and dinner, admittedly this can take up as lot more time than it should and can involve several detours through bakery websites and blogs
  7. Put the washing out/iron shirts/clean the bathroom (insert your household chore of choice).
  8. Write another list of luxury items you can no longer buy (magazines, premium skincare, a foundation to add to the collection of eight or so I already possess and blasted DIET COKE).
  9. Phone a friend or two with angst-related ‘what am I doing, will this work out, do you think I’m insane…?’ woes.
  10. And finally – read other people’s blogs! There are marvellous examples out there and if you look to the right you’ll see just some of them!