Just realised I’m more than halfway through my swim the channel challenge. This calls for ice cream!!!! Huzzah.
I am neither a good cook nor an enthusiastic one but I can bake, after a fashion. And if the recipe involves chocolate in some shape or form, then so much the better.
I stumbled across The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook during the whole cupcake phase, and knew I had to try their Mississippi Mud Pie. It looked INCREDIBLE! Since then, I’ve made various changes to their recipe (changes which I like to think make it all the better…).
First of all, let me tell you, this is foolproof. I promise you. And it’s delicious. And despite the oodles of chocolate and mounds of cream, it’s not disgustingly rich either.
For the pastry:
The original recipe for this was vile. I mean, absolutely diabolical. So, instead, I take a leaf out of Mary Berry’s book and opt for Jus-Rol’s frozen shortcrust pastry. If you get the pre-rolled stuff, then I find one sheet works fine. If you get the blocks, then again, one block is fine but you will be left with some
For the filling:
100g dark chocolate roughly chopped
50g unsalted butter
30ml golden syrup (this works out as 2 tbsps)
300g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
350ml whipping cream (not double cream!!!)
Dark chocolate shavings
23cm pie dish
Baking beans (I use the same bag of old butter beans each time)
Preheat your oven to 170C.
First make the pie crust. Dust your work surface lightly with flour, then roll out your pastry (make sure to defrost it first – duh!).
Line the pie dish with the dough but make sure you leave enough excess hanging over the edges.
Pop in a square (or a precise circle, if you’re so inclined) of baking parchment/greaseproof paper and then put the baking beans on top.
Put the pie crust in the middle shelf of the oven for 10 mins; then remove the paper and beans and cook for a further 10 mins. You may find that some of the pastry rises with air bubbles; it’s ok to prick these but make sure you don’t cut all the way through the pastry to the dish below!
While the pie crust is baking, you can make the filling. Put the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water). Leave until melted and smooth then remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
While the chocolate mixture is melting, put the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until well combined.
Gradually beat the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture on a slow speed. Make sure the chocolate isn’t too hot, otherwise it will scramble the eggs (barf!). Beat thoroughly until smooth.
Pour into the partially blind-baked pie crust and bake in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes. Check regularly after 30 minutes to make sure it isn’t burning. The baked pie should be firm to the touch but still have a slight wobble in the centre. Leave to cool completely then cover and refrigerate overnight (I’ve served this on the same day, so refrigerating isn’t the be all and end all, but the pie must have cooled before you put the cream on the top).
When you are ready to serve the pie, whip the cream with a handheld electric whisk in a large bowl until soft peaks form then liberally dollop on the pie and finish with plenty of chocolate shavings.
Usually I have a bit of pastry left over, as well as some of the chocolate filling, so I make myself a separate mini Mississippi Mud Pie. Om nom nom!!!
There you have it, folks – Mississippi Mud Pie. Enjoy!
It’s not a new concept – in the 60s, my mum used a lipstick called Tangee that did the same thing – but Barry M are doing it very well.
And what is this concept? Alkaline lipstick. They’ve done it before with their Touch of Magic, but Genie is the new improved formula.
The lipstick comes in a hot pink and neon green tube, the colour of the paint itself is neon green, but once on your lips, it reacts to the alkali there and develops into a lovely pop of berry pink. And because people have different levels of alkaline in their lips, the colour is different from person to person. It also has a waxy balm-like finish that almost stains your lips, so it lasts for the whole day. For under a fiver, I’m not complaining.
I love the pink colour I get; it’s sort of a vamped up version of my own lip colour and makes me look fresh and healthy. Even Mr T likes it.
If you’re remotely intrigued, I’d say give it a go. You might even find your new favourite lipstick.
People are weird. I’m weird. You’re weird. Mr T is weird.
Me? I colour code my books and clothes. And every now and then I have the mother of all cleaning frenzies. Mr T loathes mashed potato and baked beans. You? I’m not sure but you know you’re a weirdo too.
We all have our little quirks and habits, and that’s fine. Sometimes they have a negligible impact, sometimes they make you want to gouge the culprit’s eyes out with a melon baller and others are downright endearing. But what’s endearing to one will infuriate another.
Mostly though, we can tolerate each other. However, when you come into frequent and close contact with someone, that’s when things start to go awry. No. This isn’t a rant about Mr T. Mr T is adorable.
Hell, this isn’t even a rant about our upstairs’ neighbour, because, you know, unless you can afford a gloriously detached house in the middle of nowhere, neighbours are a fact of life.
Over the last few years I’ve experienced my fair share of neighbours – the ones who complain to your landlord for parking an extra car, ones who let their baths overflow through your ceiling – but we’ve never had neighbours from hell; this latest batch are undeniably weird though.
First up, and most important to note, is their flat clearly has a wooden floor. Secondly they’re obviously not aware of how this magnifies their movements.
I’m guessing someone suffers from insomnia as we can hear a rowing machine (we’re guessing) going at all hours, as well as a blender, some sort of interval training sprints, and general high heels. If we were that bothered, we’d mention it but meh, whatevs.
Yesterday though, they qualified for full weirdo status. I was working from home. My doorbell rang. It was a UPS guy with a parcel with the flat above. Could I take it in as they weren’t answering their bell? Yeah, of course; no problem, except, I could hear someone pottering around upstairs. Anyway, I got on with my work (yes, really), and then when I was ready to walk into town, I thought, since I could still hear someone upstairs I’d pop up and drop the parcel off.
So off I went, upstairs, and knocked on the door. I could hear noises from within, but no one came to answer the door. Perhaps they hadn’t heard me? So I knocked again. This time I could hear someone right behind the door, breathing.
Now, I suppose I could have just plonked the parcel down and washed my hands of it, but I was intrigued. So I knocked again. Loudly and for a while. Still no answer, but still the breathing behind the door. Creepy!
Then I shouted, ‘Hi! It’s Betsy, from the flat below. I have a parcel for you.’
There was a noticeable pause, and then, from right behind the door came a woman’s voice, ‘Oh. Sorry, I’ve just got out of the shower. Can you just leave it there?’
Yeah; sure. Just got out of the shower and been standing dripping wet and naked behind your front door while you breath heavily at me. Standard. So I put the parcel down, and off I toddled, firm in my opinion that yes, our neighbours are fruit loops.
(Oh, and if you’re reading this, Upstairs Neighbour of Mine, I’m sure you’re lovely really, and perfectly nice and normal, and please don’t egg my car.)
Sorry for the slight dip in posts over the last week or so. I’d love to tell you I’ve been really busy, but actually I’ve been enjoying the weather and lots of afternoon naps. It’s been lovely.
Back to the matter in hand – stripes and prints. Not just any stripes and prints, you understand; essentially Breton stripes and leopard print. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve met a breton stripe or a leopard print that I haven’t liked. Mr T is much pickier; he believes there’s such a thing as a good leopard print and a bad one, and to be fair, he’s probably right, but I still love the spots.
In my wardrobe right now, I have no less than 15 stripey tops. I’ve got black and white, navy and white, pale blue and white, white and navy, white and pink; I’ve got vest tops, t-shirts, jumpers and long sleeved jobbies. As for the leopard print, well, I’m wearing my adored leopard pumps right now (a bargain find in Clarks’ sale), and I have a leopard print dress, vest tops, pants, scarves (lots of these!), nail wraps (no judging, please); the list goes on.
You’d think I’d have enough in my collection, yes? No. Absolutely not. Currently, I’ve got my eye on Boden’s new assortment of Breton tops, a leopard print clutch from French Connection, some leopard sandals in the sale on Asos, a leopard dress from Whistles, and some boots from Boden; and these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head!
My inspiration for stripes will always be Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel. The woman looks incredible and so chic. As for leopard print? I just like to think I’m channeling my inner rock chick…
How about you? Are there any things that you simply can’t resist buying or lusting after?
We’ve all been there, unless you’re extraordinarily lucky. You know, that moment when someone waves to you, and you wave back, and then you realise that they were waving to someone behind you.
Ugh. That moment. That moment that happened to me this morning at the swimming pool.
I’d chatted briefly to this one guy while my body recovered from the unexpected exercise I’m putting it through, then off I went again, trying not to drown.
A few minutes later, I was at the deep end. Recovering. Again. Have I mentioned I’m pretty blind? And I don’t wear contacts. So when I saw some guy wave to me as he left the pool, I stupidly thought it was the chap I’d been chatting to. I waved back. I’m polite like that. Then, on an instinct, turned my head, and realised this guy was waving to the very pretty young blonde lifeguard sitting high up behind me. She sniggered a bit (I don’t blame her; I probably would have), I sank as low as I could in the pool, took a deep breath and tried to regain my confidence with a far too fast length of front crawl.
I have to go back tomorrow. I still have 15 days of channel swimming left. Sigh…
We’ve all seen Terminator, right? Well, most of us. But even if you haven’t, you probably know the score – evil artificial intelligence/robots taking over and destroying the human race. It’s a plot we see replicated in The Matrix, and loads of other films and books. But it’s the future, and it’s sci-fi, so it’s great entertainment. The end.
But is it?
I’ve just been sent a batch of the latest fitness bands/trackers to try out for a magazine feature. For a start, I love shiny new things, especially in jazzy packaging. I am a magpie. And I also enjoy technology, to a certain extent. I’m happy to download an app here, an app there, and bluetooth sync so and so to the thingamybob.
So there I was, happily setting in my Misfit Shine (very easy, by the way), and after I’d inputted my sex, DOB, height, weight, given them my email address etc, I began to think (painfully slow on a Monday morning), ‘Where is all this information going?’ and ‘Is it ever going to bite me on the ass?’
Clearly, in the case of fitness trackers, they need to know your height, weight, and age in order to calculate and track your progress, weight loss, goals, etc. And to be honest, I don’t mind people knowing I’m 5 foot 6. There. I’ve said it. My height is out there. I’m less keen on people knowing my weight, but that’s a pure vanity issue. And as for my gender? I’d like to think my name, and, you know, my boobs, should indicate that (although, granted, if you’re not meeting me in person, it might be slightly harder to assess, but come on, it’s not like I’ve got a gender-neutral name like Lesley).
Individually, these snippets of information mean nothing, or, very little. But then, as I sync my device to Facebook (so that all my friends can see my smug step count…), it’s perfectly conceivable that I’ll start being targeted with ads for weight loss pills, and other ‘specific’ nonsense. I don’t pay much attention to Facebook ads, so I can cope with that.
But then you throw in all the other digital forums in which I’ve shared information – Topshop, Asos, Amazon and eBay all have my postal address and bank account details; MyFitnessPal has my food preferences; LinkedIn has my CV; Pinterest has my clothing, interior and holiday tastes and so it goes on. In that past, I’ve tracked my sleep, logged food diaries, uploaded photos of family and friends, heck, I even have online banking (something my father disapproves of greatly!).
At its most benevolent, it means Amazon can suggest some great new books for me to buy; less fun is when someone ‘catfishes’ you (e.g. someone steals your online identity for their own purposes so suddenly you’re the face of Russian constipation pills. Not that I wouldn’t rock that but I’d like to be paid for it); then you’ve got the clever hackers who steal all your money; and finally, do we have Terminator on the horizon? I know to jump from book recommendations to extermination at the hands of AI is a bit extreme, but who knows? WHO KNOWS, PEOPLE?!!!
I don’t have the answers, and I’m certainly not about to become a techno-luddite so I guess I’ll just carry on monitoring my steps (639 today and counting. I need to get off my arse!) and just shout ‘I warned you! I warned you all!’ when the robots come for us.
How about you, guys? Do you have any tips about protecting yourself digitally?