Tuesday 30 April 2013


I think this plant must be confused. The bulb was bought in time for it to bloom for Christmas - I potted it and started tending to it at the end of October 2012 and

Christmas came and went and no sign of any growth. I thought it was dead, but decided to leave it  it in the pot and more or less forgot about it. I kept giving it a little water every now and then and about 6 weeks ago I could see some signs of growth!
So, now at the end of April when the temperature is reaching double digits, it is in full bloom. Given the very cold winter we have had it was perhaps not strange that it has been 'hibernating'?Unfortunately, it grew so big that one night it toppled over and the flowers broke off. Still pretty in a vase.
Anyway, THAT must be what is called a late bloomer!

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Tried and Tested: Café Sting's Chocolate Heaven

I have never been to Stavanger, but there is apparently a very popular place there called "Café Sting". I have read somewhere that they claim to offer the best coffee in Stavanger and that they are also known for their killer chocolate cake.

A friend sent me this recipe and since I have  promised to make the wedding cake for some other friends, I am in the process of trying out various options. I have made a couple of minor amendments from the original recipe. It came out really moist with an amazing chocolate cream.
The Cake:
125 gram butter
1 dl water
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla sugar
4 eggs
250 gram sugar(I used golden caster sugar)
150 gram flour
3 tsp baking powder
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the water, cocoa powder and vanilla sugar. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in 4 egg yolks. Add the sugar, flour and baking powder. Ensure the dough is smooth and without lumps. Whisk the egg whites till it forms stiff peaks and add this gently to the dough.
Line a baking tin with grease proof paper and bake at the bottom of the oven at 175 degrees for 45 mins. Let the cake cool in the tin. When cooled, take it out of the tin and divide the cake in two.

The Chocolate Cream:
2 eggs
1 dl cream (I used whipping cream)
135 gram sugar
50 gram good quality baking chocolate (I swapped it for 50 gram cocoa powder)
125 gram butter
1 tsp vanilla sugar
Add the cream, eggs and sugar in a pan. Let it come to a boil and keep stirring. Take it off the heat and add the chocolate (or cocoa powder).  Let the chocolate melt and add the butter and vanilla sugar. Stirr till it all has melted and there are no lumps. Put the pan in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Use an electric whisk to whip it up.

Add the cream betwen the two cake layers and on top. 

Decoration (if you really think you need any more):
grated dark chocolate

This cake keeps well in the fridge and you can also freeze it.
If there is anything left...
I am thinking it might be interesting adding some chili to the chocolate cream.
Does any body have any views on this?

Don't worry about too much cake in our house - I tend to give most of it away to neighbours in exchange for their comments!


Thursday 11 April 2013

Claims To Fame...

I don't want to get involved in the debate over Margaret Thatcher that is currently going on, and my story really isn't anything to brag about, but given the departure of Lady Thatcher this week, I remembered the story of how I actually 'met' the Iron Lady once...
Shortly after moving to England a dear friend's baby daughter was to be baptised. We were all invited and when asked if I knew where the church was, I was convinced I did. The Professor was not able to attend, but Our Boy (who was about 3 or 4 at the time) and I trundled off to the church. I absolutely hate being late, so we were at the church in plenty of time before the service. I was a LITTLE surprised not to see my friends there, nor any of their family, but I assumed they were just running late...
Our Boy and I took our places and sat peacefully, admiring the old church while we waited for the service to start. Behind us was a little old lady who also arrived very early and she was very talkative, but also a bit hard of hearing. She was very curious as to where we were from and asked loads of questions. In the meantime, a faint alarm bell started to go off in my mind as I was expecting to see the baptismal font being prepared, but it remained covered and still no sign of our friends... 

I chatted away with the old dear and she started telling me of famous people who would come to this church (I have no idea WHY that came up) and told me that Lady Thatcher and Jeffrey and Mary Archer would often come. At that precise moment I happened to turn around, and who else was standing in the doorway but Lady Thatcher and the Archers... I tried to whisper to my talkative companion that they had arrived, but instead she exclaimed loud enough for all the church to hear "WHO has arrived"? Needless to say, Lady Thatcher sent us a chilling look as they swept past us to take up the seats on the front row...
By now the service was starting. There was no sign of my friends nor their family and the minister started talking about communion being held at the end of the service. I remembered from church back in Norway that communion would not be given if there was a baptism going on, so I realised we must be in the wrong church....
I decided it would look odd if we got up and left just as the service was starting, so we stayed and made our way out quickly after it was over - past the bodyguards who had taken up stand outside the church. As I drove a different way home passing another church, I saw people coming out of the church and THERE was my friend and her family! Our Boy and I joined the party and now had a story to tell about us missing the baptism.
So, any other claims to fame, anyone...?

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Recommended Reading: Beatles

Filling in the "gaps"...
I guess we all have 'gaps' in the list of books we would have liked to have read. Working my way through my 'list', I am currently reading the Norwegian/Danish author, Lars Saabye Christensen's book "Beatles" (published in 1984). I read his book "The Half Brother" (2001) when it was published and loved it. The same goes for "Beatles".
The book is set in the 1960s and the story is told through the main character, Kim Karlsen (Paul). Kim and his friends, Gunnar (John), Sebastian (George) and Ola (Ringo), played football together, collected Beatles records and stole attributes from cars. Kim is the notorious liar, while Gunnar is the truth-seeker. Ola is the stuttering fat one, and Sebastian is a spiritualist. The four boys mature during the political struggle of the 1960s, and end up as left-wings, inspired by people around them. Although they are at least 10 years older than me, there are many familiar flashbacks to childhood memories, feelings and growing up in Norway in the 1970s.
Beatles has two sequels, Bly (Lead) and Bisettelsen (The Funeral).
So, my list goes on...

Which books are on your 'must-read' list?

Sunday 7 April 2013

Has Spring Sprung...?

Dare we say that spring has finally sprung...?
While The Professor went to town with Our Boy to an appointment with the optician, I opted for a walk with my camera around my favourite spot - Wimpole Hall.

Wanna come with me...?

We had snow flurries in the air a couple of days ago. In APRIL!? Unheard of in these parts, but this year has not been like any other year. But today's walk was the first without gloves! Surely that must be a sign of spring?
You wouldn't believe how many people were there, but the area is so big that it is only in the car park you notice how many are actually there. But yes, also loads of sheep about. I saw some lambs in other parts of the estate, but on route to my destination (you see it in the distance), there were no lambs among these sheep.

I have written about Wimpole Hall several times before here on the blog - it is such a firm favourite of mine.
The day was a bit hazy, but the sun came out and with the quietness of the area it was so refreshing.
The swans were paired up, but I couldn't see any cygnets around. Perhaps too early, although I did see some other ducklings.
So gracious... but don't go too close!
So, the Easter holidays are coming to an end for me.
The days have been spent partially in Edinburgh where we cleaned the flat we were selling. The sale was completed on Thursday and the new owner has moved in. It is a little nostalgic to have sold the flat, but onwards and upwards and hopefully we find something nice for The Professor in Durham. For now we have rented him a house and we also spent some time there so Our Boy could see the place, too.
Well, back to 'normal' for me. Our Boy still has over a week left of holidays and is being studious and diligent and preparing for his upcoming exams. Another sign of spring is him going off on bike rides with a mate.

So, I think we can conclude - YES!
Spring has sprung!