Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Heat – Week 2

heat

modern day hunter-gatherers stalk elusive prey

When summer hits its stride in our neighbourhood the pervasive aroma outdoors around dinnertime is one of barbecue. Not your standard throw a couple of burgers on the grill type smoke wafting over the fence but the piquancy of Italian sausage, a simmering curry, jerk pork or roasting garden vegetables, for our street is a veritable United Nations of culinary diversity. We sometimes sit on the patio and sniff deeply, trying to divine what our neighbours will be feasting on by the tantalizing odours that snake across the back yards.     Our tastebuds anticipate much but truth be told when the temperature rises higher than our age Across the Bored is much happier when someone else cooks.

We do have a very valid ulterior motive: our reasoning is that our voluntary withdrawal from estival kitchen duty forces the Ghost and Miss Z to hone some very valuable and rewarding life skills. Their palates have been curated over the years, now is the time to see whether they have the chops to create their own mouth-watering masterpieces. Marinated or mulled, mixed, chopped, sautéed or saturated, in the oven, on the stovetop or flaming barbecue this fortnight’s Two Cents Tuesday Challenge theme would like to turn up the – Heat – and  get something wonderful cooking. Serve it and we will eat. If the weather has us all wilted, just put on some walking shoes and hunt down the nearest food truck…

Last week, Across the Bored asked “How do you see heat?” – The sun on your face, a favourite beach place, curry in a pot, flames fanning hot, a tight situation or artistic creation. We would love to see your vision..

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Bliss

bliss

Bite me

There comes a time when one has to start regulating diets, actually climbing on that exercise bike instead of using it as a clothes hanger and get down to some serious lifestyle adjustment to ensure a healthy segue into the next stage of existence. Across the Bored has been a very, very good girl for a few seasons and is starting to enjoy the rewards of the aforesaid but every once in a while… 

It was exactly one of those days where just a bite of heaven was needed to tide things over when the idea sprang to mind that it had been a very long time indeed since we had had any kind of indulgence. Little prodding was needed to get Miss Z to explore a newish patisserie and with the only proviso that she come home with something nice, the mission was set.  A long half-hour later, the Two Cents Tuesday Challenge opened a red ribbon-tied, nondescript white box and discovered – Bliss – pure, unadulterated, non-processed just like the old days, ready to be devoured puff pastry delight. Truly a gastronomic manifestation of the divine, we both feel much better now.

“Describe your own form of bliss” – In a box or under the sun, in a soft smile or sweet song, in a bath full of bubbles or a night on the town…

We would love to see your vision.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, here are some guidelines for the challenge: HOW DOES THIS WORK?

  1.  I will post some commentary on a random topic that pops into my head (such as the above) and then ask you to respond on the same.
  2. Your point of view on the current week’s challenge can take any form: a quote, a motto or saying, an essay, poem or opinion of yours or attributed to someone else, a piece of music, a song, a video, a work of art, photograph, graffiti, drawing or scribble – but it has to be about the topic!
  3. Please, don’t just link to an old post… challenge yourself.
  4. The Challenge will be open for 14 days (there will be a reminder post at the 7 day mark) after which I will post another.
  5. ENJOY, have FUN and TELL your friends and fellow bloggers.

 SO – Create your Two Cents Tuesday Challenge post

  1. Then add a link to your blog in my comment box.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your post, title your blog post “Two Cents Tuesday Challenge” and add the same as a tag.
  3. If you would like your reader to see what others are presenting for the same challenge, add a link to the “Two Cents Tuesday” challenge on your own blog.
  4. Feel free to pick up your badge on the Two Cents Tuesday Challenge page
  5. Remember to Follow My Blog to get your weekly (hopefully) reminders.

 

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Painting – Week 2

painting 2

way smaller – better or worse or just the same?

When pondering on just what we will post about for these bi-weekly challenges, we usually start with an image. The one above had a very different bit of content slated to accompany it until we opened the reader this morning: many of you will already have had a peek at our reblog of Aperture 64’s eye-opening reveal of just where our images wind up and it finally gave us the impetus to take a final sad step with our precious pictures.

Being a high-resolution junkie doesn’t seem to be a good thing when it comes to getting your own work out there – bigger, in this case, is not better and has become one of those pleasures to be indulged in on the privacy of your own screen or to be shared with a select few. We had already started to diminish the size of our images in an effort to speed up the loading time of the site for our far-away friends but such a reduction also carries with it the bonus of making them less appealing to those who would like to borrow or appropriate them without going through the proper channels – guess some out there have not read the “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT” in the sidebar. Either that or they just don’t care and think we won’t find out.

Out of curiosity, do these smaller images make any difference for your viewing pleasure? Please drop us a line in the comment box to let us know, complain about copyright infringement or rant about your own stolen pix.

In other times it might have been simpler just to paint a picture, but then we wouldn’t have as many friends that we want to share it with… This fortnight’s Two Cents Tuesday Challenge theme – Painting – has led us in all sorts of directions, “What does painting represent for you?” – Graffiti on a wall, framed flowers in the hall, a masterpiece old or abstract bold, the sides of a house, finish on a car, commercial or couture … We would love to see your vision.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Cook – Week 2

cook

not so easy as it looks

In another century (yes, literally) snack foods weren’t quite as common as they are today. It was a big deal if a small bowl of cheesies or plain salted potato chips were put out and one must have been a veritable angel of a grandchild to get a tall glass of ginger ale on the side to sip politely. These nibbles were usually the accompaniment to an occasion, not a filler because we were still hungry or craved something sweet or salty, and as such they were treated differently. Both our stylish grandmothers played bridge or canasta or whatever card game was in vogue at the time on a round table set up with dainty linens in the living room. The delicacies that accompanied their soirées seemed much more soigné than the peanuts thrown back by their cigar-smoking husbands playing poker or shooting pool in the basement…

A trip to the movies, then and now, is often a good excuse to eat popcorn. Salted or not, slathered in butter or caramel, everyone has their preference and according to statistics, the average American eats about 51 quarts annuallyThat’s 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn each and every year – probably enough to fill up a decent-sized football stadium! When we were young, this treat was occasionally made on top of the stove in a sizzling hot, covered pot and required considerable upper arm strength to shake without it all burning. It made Ed Sullivan that much better… In the 70s Harry Blackstone, the magician, touted Jiffy Pop popcorn in television commercials – “the magic treat–as much fun to make as it is to eat.” We all clamoured for this taste sensation and it was, for many consumers, the beginning of the instant food revolution. Orville Redenbacher struck gold with this trend; the odd-looking but seemingly trustworthy and likeable character whose obsession was creating the ultimate popcorn also appeared around this time and in the 80s he perfected microwaveable bags, bringing the treat into homes for good. Fast forward to the 21st century and there are more brands of popcorn available than toothpaste – junky, weird flavours popped or not, gourmet, organic, non GMO, packaged or bulk – there’s something for everyone’s taste and price range.

It brings us full circle to this fortnight’s Two Cents Tuesday Challenge theme – Cook – where we find our our own Miss Z refining the art of piping hot, golden perfection popped on the stovetop. Last week we asked “How do you cook?” – On a griddle, on a grill, on a Bbq in winter still, like a short-order guy, fritters, fish or fry, vegan or carnivore, a little less or a little more…  We would love to see your vision.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Cook

cook

a kitchen nymph

As odd as it may seem, awhile back we had a conversation about the joys fruitcake with a fellow blogger. As a kid, we didn’t see its merits: only the candied cherries were worth picking out of the slices on the sideboard, the rest of it seemed uninspiring. Today, people fall into one of two camps with this traditional holiday fare – most hate it, probably due to the regifting of those tasteless convenience store cardboard bricks fobbed off as “delectable” once-a-year treats or memories of dry slices served up at Granny’s knee – and those of us who truly enjoy a thin slice of vintage, brandy-soaked nostalgia made with our own hands.

Across the Bored became a convert a few years back when a friend bestowed upon us about 5 pounds of very exotic dried fruit. Our first thought was that there was no way we would every be able to eat our way through it and the next idea was why not try to make a real Victorian fruitcake, one that would sit for a few months in a dark place soaking up some really good brandy, just to take the edge off. Consultation of The American Heritage Cookbook provided exactly the recipe we were hoping for and resulted in the absolutely best, sinfully tastiest potential doorstop ever.  The recipe follows with our additions in italics….

BLACK FRUITCAKE

This recipe is of English origin and is known variously as Dark Fruitcake, English Fruitcake, Black Fruitcake and Merry Christmas Cake.

1/4 pound candied citron
1/8 pound candied lemon peel
1/8 pound candied orange peel
1/2 pound candied cherries
1 pound candied pineapple
1 pound golden raisins
1/2 pound seeded raisins (we used sultanas)
1/4 pound currants
1/4 pound blanched shelled almonds
1/4 pound shelled walnuts or pecans
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
5 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup dark rum, cognac, sherry or Madeira (we used 1 1/4 cups Chemineaud brandy)

We also fudged on the 1 pound ingredients and added in dried prunes, papaya, pear, apple, blueberries, cherries, figs, dates, and cranberries…

The fruit and nuts should be prepared a day ahead as follows: sliver the citron, lemon and orange peel into very thin strips; cut the cherries in half and the pineapple in thin wedges. Set aside. Pick over the raisins and currants to eliminate stray stems or seeds and add to fruit. Coarsely chop the other dried fruit and add to mixture covering. Add rum, cognac, sherry or Madeira and soak overnight (we had so much fruit that 1/2 cup just wasn’t enough and soaked the whole in Brandy for 3 days just to be sure!) Chop the almonds and the walnuts or pecans coarsely. Set them aside, too. The day (of cooking) prepare the pan. Grease a 10-inch tube pan, four 1 pound coffee cans, or 2 bread pans, measuring 9 x5x3 inches (we used 3 vintage round spring-form pans with a side lock). Line with brown paper (there is a very good reason for this…)
To make the cake: Mix 1/2 cup of the sifted flour with all of the fruit and nuts in a large bowl. Sift remaining flour with spices and baking soda (you can add more of the spices to taste). Cream butter until soft, then work in granulated sugar and brown sugar, a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the eggs, milk, almond extract, and, finally, the flour mixture. Mix thoroughly. Pour over the fruit and nuts and work together, with your hands, until the batter is well mixed. Lift the batter into the pan or pans and press it down firmly to make a compact cake when cooked. Bake in a preheated 275 degree oven. A tube pan that uses all of the batter will take 3 1/4 hours; the bread pans, which will hold half the batter, 2 1/4 hours; the coffee cans, which each hold one-fourth of the batter, 2 hours; (the round pans which we used were probably around 2 1/2 hours with lots of checking – being an intuitive cook is why we don’t write a food blog…) Remove cakes from the oven, let stand half an hour, then turn out onto cake racks. Peel off the brown paper very carefully. the four small, round cakes make attractive Christmas presents.

To age the Fruitcakes: Allow at least four weeks (we left ours for at least that many months, poking with a toothpick and watering liberally with brandy once a month, and they are still tasty over a year later). Wrap each cake in several layers of cheesecloth well soaked in rum, cognac, sherry or Madeira. Place in an airtight container, such as a large crock or kettle, and cover tightly (we wrapped ours further in 2 layers of tin foil and placed in metal cake tins). If the cheesecloth dries out, moisten it with a little of the wine or spirits. Do not overdo it. The cakes should be firm, not soft, at the end of the aging period. This will make them easy to slice in neat, compact slices. If you wish to frost fruitcakes after they have been properly aged, cover the top first with Almond Paste, then with Milk Frosting (this can be tricky as my mother and grandmother found out 2 days before our wedding and had to resort to blow-drying the almond paste onto the cake… but that is for another post). To decorate, make a garland of candied cherries, slivered angelica, and blanched whole almonds around the edge of the cake.

And that’s it.

Would We do it again? Probably. It is intensely time-consuming, expensive and requires a good knowledge beforehand of baking and some nursing throughout the aging period but it is also deliciously worth it, once in a very special while. Perhaps when this one is finished or for a wedding… So the Two Cents Tuesday Challenge for this fortnight is –  Cook – because we all have to eat, one way or another.

“How do you cook?” – On a griddle, on a grill, on a Bbq in winter still, like a short-order guy, fritters, fish or fry, vegan or carnivore, a little less or a little more…

We would love to see your vision.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, here are some guidelines for the challenge: HOW DOES THIS WORK?

  1.  I will post some commentary on a random topic that pops into my head (such as the above) and then ask you to respond on the same.
  2. Your point of view on the current week’s challenge can take any form: a quote, a motto or saying, an essay, poem or opinion of yours or attributed to someone else, a piece of music, a song, a video, a work of art, photograph, graffiti, drawing or scribble – but it has to be about the topic!
  3. Please, don’t just link to an old post… challenge yourself.
  4. The Challenge will be open for 14 days (there will be a reminder post at the 7 day mark) after which I will post another.
  5. ENJOY, have FUN and TELL your friends and fellow bloggers.

 SO – Create your Two Cents Tuesday Challenge post

  1. Then add a link to your blog in my comment box.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your post, title your blog post “Two Cents Tuesday Challenge” and add the same as a tag.
  3. If you would like your reader to see what others are presenting for the same challenge, add a link to the “Two Cents Tuesday” challenge on your own blog.
  4. Feel free to pick up your badge on the Two Cents Tuesday Challenge page
  5. Remember to Follow My Blog to get your weekly (hopefully) reminders.

 

WWW – Challenge

www wrapped

Would my Wits
Were about me
What in the World
Would I do
Wrestle with the orange ones
Wrangle with the blue
Waver over Whipped cream
Wine-soaked
or Whisky neat
Wolf down all the yellow
eat green ones in the street
Wherever are the pink
Wrapped Wondrous
sweet delights
I’ll save the purple
best for last
and Wish all
a good chocolate night

w

Waltz through the entries in Frizztext’s WWW – Challenge.

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Special – Week 2

special

no dinner for you

Once upon a time we could eat (almost) anything. Of late, there are certain food groups that we love that don’t quite love us back as much but given the right conditions, we will gladly suffer.  Relationships with family are much the same: we invest, act with good intentions, try to impart wisdom or motivate but sometimes our efforts go unnoticed, ignored, unheeded and we either grin and bear it or lose it completely. Such is life with the under-twenties. Imagine our delight when things took a pleasant turn during a rather ordinary outing with Miss Z: over an espresso and noisette gelato, we both realized that, despite the occasions we would like to throttle each other, we actually enjoy each other’s company

These times, the little breaths of calm in between the hurry of daily life, the few moments spent indulging in quiet talk, catching up or just plain silliness are the ones we will remember fondly and like the tasty treat that is gelato, this fortnight’s Two Cents Tuesday Challenge theme is – Special. 

Last week, Across the Bored wondered “What is special for you?” –  The photo of that sandy beach, the sweet faces of those you teach, an amulet or well-worn hat, silver spoon or ancient cat, the strains on a guitar or a night under the stars… We would love to see your vision.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this fortnight’s challenge can be found here. Need more info or want to browse past themes? Have a look at HOW DOES THIS WORK.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime

submarine

Ready to dive into a submarine
taken with the iphone 5 icamera no edits

Paper thin slices of steak, sautéed golden onions, fresh red pepper and Sunset Campari tomatoes, California Black Ripe olives, shredded lettuce, grated cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano, avocado mayonnaise, chipotle dressing on a warmed, toasty ciabatta loaf. The Ghost and the Inscrutable Dr. Fu get Sandwich 101 lessons – Culinary school Chez Nous.

Go and grab something delicious in the Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime.

Just a coupla Cupcakes

Harder to split than one would think

In a town where no one knows us, it is easy to be anyone – if we want to. Vacations let us shed the trappings of home and try all that is new or perhaps resume indulgent habits sorrily cast aside. We are afforded the time to think without interruption. Another year has passed and we are still here, stronger for our travails and hopefully, smarter for our efforts.  More than enough reason to celebrate – One pink lemonade and one chocolate cappuccino cupcake, please!