Monday, 24 May 2010
4 to 5 granny smiths or other firm cooking apples, 125g butter (lightly salted), 100g sugar, 2 medium eggs, 1 level tbs baking powder, 200g white plain flour
Peel, core, halve, and lightly cut criss-cross pattern into outside of the apples.
Preheat oven to 160 Celsius (fan, add 20 degrees C for conventional oven).
Butter 25 to 28 cm spring form.
Melt butter but take care not to let it turn brown. Pour into mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly. Separate eggs and add yolks and sugar to the butter. Mix on high until mixture turns light yellow in colour and slightly fluffy.
Add 1/3 of the flour and the baking powder. Mix well. Add some of the egg white and mix until smooth. Add next third of flour, mix, add remaining egg white, mix until smooth. Add remaining flour and mix well.
Spread mix which should be reasonably sticky with a tbs in the cake form. Place the apple halves outside facing up on the cake mix and push in about a cm. Sprinkle the cake mix and apples with some sugar to caramelise (if you like, with a bit of cinnamon, too, which works well with apples).
Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Check if the cake is done by pricking with a long needle. If it comes out without cake mix sticking to it, it is done. Alternatively, knock on the bottom of the cake tin. Be careful, it's hot! If it sounds hollow, the cake is also done.
Allow to cool. Eat cold on its own or with whipped cream. Enjoy! :-)
Sunday, 9 May 2010
Originally uploaded by antje b.
Today being Mothers' Day just about everywhere in the world except the UK ;-), I thought of the women in my own family. I rang my mum first thing and just about caught her before leaving the house for a Sunday 'without work', as she put it.
I then remembered the women one line further, my grandmothers, both of whom had hard lives with bringing up little children during a war, trying to give them a semblance of normal family life while going hungry and with things generally being a little worse than they are nowadays.
And they still came through it.
I will let myself be inspired by my grandmothers today, use their counsel and wisdom to see that whatever may not be going right in my life at the moment is nothing compared to what they've been through, and focus on doing what women have done since the beginning of time... just get on with it.
Saturday, 8 May 2010
count my feathers
Originally uploaded by antje b.
One of my twitter friends, @timallenphoto, alerted me last night that some pictures I'd entered (in fact, all three of them) had made it into the choice of 40 black and white pictures in the 7x5 Photography Magazine. Number two is mine, and numbers 2 and 4 from the end are my images, too.
It was a great boost to see this, especially since I have been considering giving up photography lately. The reason is that really, I'm not particularly good at it. I have no special talent, I am not very technically skilled, and I have no particularly unique angle, as much as I liked to believe I did for a while there.
I'll keep taking pictures for my own amusement, as I have always done, but other than that shall stay out of the way of those who know what they are on about.
Friday, 7 May 2010
Google reminded me this morning that today would have been the 170th birthday of my favourite composer. (Much that says about me, not knowing his birthday!) Looking at some videos on youtube reminded me of my various encounters over the years with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
It all started when I took ballet classes from the age of 5 till 12. Obviously, the Nutcracker is one of the ballets that every would-be ballerina dreams of featuring in. So did I. But there was more.
When I was a teenager, forever unlucky in love at school as the bespectacled nerd, the Pas de Deux from the Nutcracker became my release valve. I would spend whole afternoons hidden away in my room after homework, playing it in my head - no mp3 players in those days ;-) - for hours on end. To me it still is the most emotional piece of music I've ever heard, tearing your heart apart with its pathos but miraculously building you up right at the end.
I once wrote an essay about exactly that for literature class. The subject was 'A work of art that impressed me and why'. I wrote about the feelings that this piece of music would take me through, and was rewarded with a 1, in East Germany the highest mark.
Four years later my sister (yes, my perfect little sister had her vices, too) copied that essay and had it returned with a 4, 5 being the worst. Knowing the mark I had got, she questioned this decision. Her teacher, who couldn't believe anyone could have such feelings elicited by a piece of classical music that he'd never heard, never mind a 13 year old schoolgirl, in all fairness got the album, listened to this particular piece of music, and revised the mark he'd given my sister.
In a way, he was right, as my sister - without wanting to hurt her - was never as much into ballet as I was. And she doesn't have my slightly depressive tendencies, so wouldn't have the same feelings, anyway. But the good thing about him was, and that is why he was a great teacher in my opinion, that he allowed for reasonable doubt. There is nothing more crushing to a teenager - or any other person, for that matter - than having their point of view ignored or even discounted. And he, although he had the authority to do exactly that, didn't, and wasn't afraid to publicly correct his mistake, a much more valuable lesson to teach kids. I respected that, as I did my sister for standing up for me, in a bizarre fashion, although I did have some words with her. Turned out she'd copied ALL my essays!
Oh, and Tchaikovsky's music continues to enchant me.