When in despair…

When in despair, I bake. Regular readers of mine know about my craze love of baking.

Well, we had a rather hectic weekend, with some friends who came over today for lunch. Now, I am the sort of person, who can manage calling people for dinner – because it gives me plenty of time to cook – but when it comes to lunch, I go crazy – no way can I cook and put together a decent meal by lunch time. So I had to resort to what my friend L, does. Cook a day in advance.

So I dedicated Saturday to cooking and only cooking. Only to end up stepping out for grocery shopping and getting back totally exhausted. So cooking, officially started only at 4:00 pm.  Once I had a few pots bubbling, sizzling on the hob, I decided to get a start on the cake. Now, I had this brand new Bundt cake pan, which I absolutely had to try out. And baking is something I always do when we have someone over. These are the few times that I get to bake and force it down someone else’s throat – apart from hubby’s and daughter’s – so I don’t let such opportunities go 🙂

So once I had finalised on the cake I was baking, based on the size of the pan I had, I started measuring out ingredients while at the same time, trying to ensure that none of the bubbling sizzling pots turn into burn out pots.  I had never tried out Bundt cakes before, so was quite excited, plus I was making a struesel coffee cake – and I love cakes with struesel topping. Who am I kidding – I love all cakes 🙂

So after I had all the whisking and the mixing done, while ensuring that none of the dishes got burnt, just as I was about to pour the batter, I realized that the batter was way too thin. On re-checking the recipe, turns out that it called for 4 cups of flour and I had most certainly not added 4 cups.. Now, I had no idea how many cups I had added, but with a few mental calculations and the memory of how full the packet of flour had been, I came to the conclusion,  that I must have added just one cup of flour. So bravely, added 3 cups, mixed a bit more and hoping for the best – was about to tip it all in, when I realised that the batter was most certainly more than what the tin could hold.  I nearly collapsed then. Now, I know that I am successful at baking – ONLY because I follow the recipe to the dot – make no changes at all. Here, I already had made a few changes – replaced sour cream with fat free yoghurt, in an effort to keep the calories in control, replaced walnuts with pecans simply because we like it more and had added 3 cups of flour, assuming that I added just one. And now it just won’t fit! Clearly, I had got the size of the pan wrong – or I had added too much of something.

Praying hard and hoping that it was the former, I baked them in 2 pans. I have never prayed so fervently, ever! And lo and behold, this is how it turned out 🙂 Delicious, even if I say so myself :)It tasted better than it looks, which is more than what I can say for the food that I cook 🙂 Hubby helped himself  to the cake, last night while it was hot and declared that he was falling in love with cakes  and now, that was a compliment from somebody who does not even like cakes 🙂

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On another note, as a lot of you are aware, I have been job hunting.. To say that I have been unsuccessful so far, would be an understatement. Now, I don’t even find jobs that I can think of applying to. When I started off, a lot of recruitment agents called, most of them wanting to know if I am willing to relocate.. now even those have stopped – but today, as I was searching – the word ‘bakery’ caught my eyes.. Some advert for a job in a bakery had crept in somehow.. is that some kind of clue? Do you think I should switch from IT to baking ?

PS : Crafty, I saw your message when I was all sad and was waiting to see how the cake turned out – hoping against hope that it would be edible. Your hugs certainly helped 🙂 Thank you!!!!!

Edited to add the recipe. Tara, as per your request 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda together and set aside. In a separate small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 2 cups white sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and beat until well combined.
  3. Pour half of batter into Bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture on top of batter in pan. Add remaining batter, and sprinkle with the last of the nut mixture.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

This was the original recipe – picked up from allrecipes.

The changes I made were

1. Used margarine instead of butter

2. Replaced sour cream with low fat yoghurt

3. Used one cup of white sugar and one cup brown sugar instead of 2 cups of white. And made the struesel sprinkling with brown sugar entirely. These were based on the comments at the website. And it tasted awesome 🙂 So if any of you do try it – please do let me know how it went.

Picture this..

Swaram had tagged me to share my favourite photograph.. Well, this is one of my favourites.. from one of my favourite trips..

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It was the spring of 2007 and daughter had just started to walk. We were both working at that point in time and had very little time to just relax and have fun. Husband used to travel to Europe a lot then, and I had a horribly busy job as well. So when the Easter bank holiday came up, we had nothing planned – no time for planning, you see. Also, it was daughter’s first winters and it was tough. She had been unwell, quite a lot and holidays were the last thing on our mind.

So when the Easter bank holiday came up, we realised that we had 4 days off and we could/should do something. Spring and summer time in the UK – we dread to waste weekends – that is the only time when stepping out is fun.  Bath seemed interesting – not too far, we could easily do a day trip..so off we went. We desperately wanted a break from the routine.

Daughter had just started walking, so on the train – all she wanted to do was walk. She refused to sit still and insisted on walking, which was just not made easy by the fact that there was some football match scheduled that day in Bath and the train was packed with fans, dressed in their football club colours! It was one of the few times that I have seen such a packed train on a weekend! It was choc-a-bloc! And even that did not deter daughter from insisting that she wanted to ‘walk’!!

It was with sigh of relief that we got off the train and set off exploring Bath. I have to mention here that – daughter loves the buggy. She loves being strapped into stuff. When we bought her a tricycle – with a belt – she would get in , put on the belt and then cry, when she wanted to get off and could not get the belt off! She has some belt mania – even now 🙂 But I digress.

We had a wonderful time soaking in the atmosphere of Bath. Bath is renowned for it’s hot springs and the ancient Roman Baths, and Georgian stone crescents. It has a very nice feel to it and had plenty to see, with it’s wonderfully rich heritage. I will not go into it in detail, because then I will end up posting a lot more pictures.. I simply cannot do justice just with words.

It had been some time since we had such a relaxed and wonderful day, without having to worry about work, day care or stuff like that. We saw the sights, relaxed in the beautiful park(pictured) near the river, daughter got to practise her walking in the park , and see a lot of ducks and flowers. She was at the stage where ducks and flowers could make her ecstatic! We walked around a lot -I think we covered a lot of the town that day and yet did not feel exhausted or tired, just more energized! Must have something to do with the air or the effect of the hot springs!

At the end of the day, we were almost tempted to find a hotel or a bed & breakfast and stay overnight, and would have done so if we did not have a little not-yet one year old with us.. We returned promising ourselves that we would come again – but sadly, haven’t been able to make it – yet.

Swaram, the other tag – I do remember, but no time today, so will do it another time 🙂

Drive, Drive , Drive….

…. that’s what we did last weekend. Drive and eat, that is. I did some side seat driving(slow down,slow down!,  slow down now!) , as I am still to get my driving licence.

We had a Merc for a test drive last weekend as we are in the process of finalising our second car – so that it arrives by the time I get my license, which by the number of times I have had to cancel classes – not happenning any time soon 😦

Anyways, I digress. Husband was super, super excited and all he wanted to do was drive. He did not care where – as far as he got to drive atleast a 100 miles a day! So after millions of arguments, we settled on a zoo + theme park just under 50 miles away from here. Husband confirmed that the weather was good – 22 degrees – Brilliant –  according to the weather conditions here.

So off we set at around 11:30 on saturday morning – delayed thanks to all the fuss about ‘where’ to go.  We were supposed to reach there by 12:09 – the ETA as per the sat nav – which by the way was an integrated feature in the Merc, which we were very impressed by – in the beginning only to get disillusioned very soon as our Sat Nav had more features.

Husband, made the most of the drive by touching insane speeds. I was chanting ‘slow down’ as a constant prayer. Apparently it is necessary to touch these speeds and drive more than 100 miles a day to properly ‘test drive’ a car!

Just as we were nearing our destination, we noticed drizzling! Oh no! How are we going to enjoy the adventure park if it rains!!! Finally, when we did reach, the rains had stopped and out we stepped all excited – only to realise that it was not raining  – but it was very very cold!! Where was the 22 deg??? I did not even get daughter’s and my coats – 22 degrees – who needs coats! Husband had got his – he always has his coat – they are like his second skin. Then it turned out that husband had checked the weather at source – not at destination! Now, there was no way we could go out there and have fun while shivering and getting wet(possibly), so we decided to find something else to do.

Earlier that day, while we had been researching our options, we had seen a steam railway, which is a picturesque ride, almost like a hop on/hop off train through the Yorkshire moors and it had been somewhere close to this place. So we quickly googled and found that it was just 4.5 miles away.

Off we went to find the steam railway. By the time we reached here, it was already 1:30 – and we had had no lunch, so before we did any sightseeing, we went in search of lunch. We found a quaint little Italian restaurant and had the most delicious lunch there. Daughter and I had yummy pasta and husband opted for his boring pizza and then ate my pasta 😡 ! Anyways, after stuffing ourselves, we slowly made our way to Toursist information, only to find that we were too late 😦 Apparenlty the whole round trip takes atleast 3 hours!

So finally, we decided to go in for some retail therapy and spend some money to help resolve the credit crunch and drive home.  So we drove all the way, to eat and shop 🙂 The bright side was that husband got to drive, and I got to eat and shop. Daughter was a little disappointed as she wanted to see animals and the only animals she got to see were some crystal animals in the mall. She did get to play on a bouncy castle which had a dinosaur painted on it 🙂

A trip that was not meant to be…

Till last Friday, we had no plans for the long weekend(last weekend).. We had been thinking of going for a couple of day trips at the most and had planned to relax at home on Monday.. Then somewhere mid, Friday morning, it struck us that it was the last long weekend until the end of August!

So then started the holiday planning in earnest! We settled on Lake District as we had been planning to go there for the last 4 years – with no luck.. So I started checking out hotel rooms or B&Bs only to find out that every single one of them was completely booked for the long weekend! Talk about popular destinations, eh?

After calling some 20 hotels/B&Bs – finally a nice man gave me the number of the tourist information – who apparently have the latest list of vacancies. Finally, late in the afternoon, after calling some more B&Bs – I found one which had just had a cancellation!

We still were not sure about it as the weather was supposed to be ‘partly sunny’ on Saturday.. We were not sure if it was worth thr trouble.. Finally, we decided to go for it and from that point on – it was a mad, mad rush, to get everything ready.

Thankfully for us, the ‘weather god’ was in a good mood.. We did not get any rains.. We travelled through some of the most beautiful landscapes that we have seen so far – more of it in the next post.

What I really wanted to talk about was the weather.. It’s no wonder that sunny days are so welcomed here in Britain.. Every person in the country must have been out, thanks to the brilliant weather.. Every patch of grass had people having impromptu picnics! We even passed a petrol station where people were sitting in a really small patch of green, sunning themselves! Pubs were full of people drinking beer, outside.. People fishing in every little stream.. Watching the sunset at 9:00 in the night.. Feeding swans and ducks.. Ice cream vans everywhere! We ate a lot of ice cream too! Daughter has finally mastered the fine art of eating ice-cream from a cone – without it dripping all over the place – she’s been having a lot of practise these days 🙂

We finally got back last evening, exhausted, but totally satisfied with our last May holiday.. That was one fantastic trip – especially for one that was so last minute!

Weekends like this…

Ever had a weekend when you are on your feet the whole time, had not had a minute to really relax and end up in bed after a three day weekend with aching limbs , feeling, wow – that was one superb weekend?

That’s how we felt last evening! We had friends over for the long weekend and had the most wonderful time.. It was one of those friends with whom you feel absolutely comfortable and can talk nonstop with 🙂 The funny thing is that we have not even met all that often between our jobs and children and everything – but with some people, you just connect.

The children had the most wonderful time, three little girls, one five year old, one three year old and one one year old, all playing and fighting for the same toys every once in a while, fighting sleep , jumping on beds, making castles, and having the time of their lives! And we,grown-ups, decided not to waste time sight seeing and going around, instead lazed around at home, ate and ate , and talked late into the night! I have never stayed up this late in the night in recent times 🙂 and just when you go to sleep and are in deep, deep slumber, daughter wakes up – ‘I’m hungry’!

And after all that fun, the  house feels empty and lonely after they’ve gone. Suddenly, the weekend is over and its back to business as usual… And the best thing – back to blogworld  🙂 and once again I’ve got 1000+ unread posts in my reader 🙂

The weekend that was…

Last weekend was my idea of a perfect weekend. We has whole of Saturday to do our weekend chores and we steppedout on Sunday for a day trip to Hull.

 It was a wonderful spring day. Warm, sunny, cheerful and bright! It felt so good to be feeling warm instead of freezing! One of my great-uncles lives in Hull, so we visited him and went off sightseeing . Our first stop was the Humber Bridge. It used to be the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world for 16 years.

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There is a nice walkway for pedestrians and we had a nice leisurely until we got tired . My daughter was delighted to see little cars and little people walking below and of course, the huge expanse of water..

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The view from the Bridge..

The one thing that always amazes me is the fact that the UK government does so much to maintain and promote tourism at all such places.. They promote everything and anything and I am sure the revenue more than justifies the investment. In direct contrast, in India, we went to so many places, really pretty, very unique, but so badly managed!  If we step out here, we really don’t think twice about using a public toilet, places are clean, no rubbish on the streets.. We were having an discussion about this, which probably is the topic of another post – so I will leave it at this for now:)

Our next stop was The Deep, an aquarium. My daughter had the most wonderful time! Her shrieks of joy on spotting ‘Nemo and Dory’ and the sharks was to behold! There is something contagious about a child’s excitement on seeing these things! I think it absolutely made my day to see her so happy:)

We also managed to catch a 3D movie on underwater creatures! It had all the children screaming in fear and excitement! There was a birthday group too, so it was a lot of children shrieking and screaming! I think my daughter was not sure what to be more scared of – the movie or all the screaming around 🙂

 Back in the evening, with aching limbs – not having walked so much in ages.. and happy smiles – the sunday slid to an end.. That was my idea of a perfect weekend 🙂 Exhausted but happy 🙂 After all, I have the whole week to laze around and relax 🙂