My cooking mojo has gone south, if anyone can find it there’s an award of, oh I don’t know, chocolate chip cookies, we got a brand new oven installed last weekend, replacing the awful, unreliable thing that we inherited when we moved here 7 years ago and up until today all I’d cooked in it was an embarrassing number of supermarket pizzas and some supermarket potato wedges. So I know that my new oven, which is shiny and in Girl Lacer’s words “Doesn’t really go with the rest of the kitchen does it?”, does a really good job at cooking supermarket pizza and potato wedges and that’s it. It is particularly bad because the amount of biscuits and cakes I’ve bought recently has been a bit alarming (due to various bake sales, entertaining and just needing biscuits and cakes) and I could have saved myself a small fortune if I’d actually made some of what I’d bought instead, it would have tasted nicer to. It comes to something when I go into my corner shop (where they must think I have the most appalling diet on earth) and the guy behind the counter goes “See you soon,” as he did last week, because I am a) that predictable and b) that addicted to sugar.
Anyway, as you may have seen in my last post, it was Mr. Lacer’s birthday on Wednesday, which wasn’t really celebrated as Mr. Lacer was obviously out at work, the kids were out at ballet straight after school and as soon as we’d come back from ballet, it was my turn to go straight out to work. Mr. Lacer and the kids did get a couple of small shop bought cakes for tea (a couple as they were buy one get one free) but neither were birthday cake material. So today, although also busy, we managed to make it to Pizza Express for lunch and then we came home to a cake me and mostly Girl Lacer had made earlier, a Portal cake aka a slightly dressed up Devil’s Food cake from Nigella’s Kitchen (recipe here).
For those wondering what an earth a Portal cake is (and I wouldn’t blame you), Portal is a computer game that Mr. Lacer and the kids are obsessed with, maybe the kids (particularly Boy Lacer) more than Mr. Lacer but they all pretty much like it. Even me, the sole voice of non-computer gaming in this flat, thinks it’s quite clever (although I’ve never played it and have no plans to). There’s a Portal and a Portal 2 and it’s a sci-fi-ish puzzle solving game where you’re a test subject in a lab that quite frankly gives science a bad name and you have to shoot portals with your portal gun to get to various places. What I quite like about it (having had it inflicted into my ear holes for months) is that it actually has a plot, the dialogue is quite good (and funny) and it’s got some really catchy end tunes, there’s also cake.
‘Real life’ Portal cake.
As for the actual cake, it was quite nice, the new oven certainly didn’t let me down, although the chocolate icing was way too runny, even after leaving it for an hour as Nigella suggested. I did have to adapt the recipe a bit as Mr. Lacer isn’t actually that keen on chocolate cake, but as us adults in the household really get birthday cakes because it’s such an important part of the birthday ritual for the kids, he really didn’t have a say in the matter, as they wanted Portal cake. But to allow for Mr. Lacer’s sensibilities I did reduce the cocoa powder in the cake from 50g to 30g and changed the chocolate in the icing from 100% dark chocolate to 50:50 dark chocolate : milk chocolate (maybe possibly explaining why the icing was still too runny). The resulting cake was still chocolatey but not as overwhelming as some Nigella chocolate recipes can be. Everyone polished off their slices although it turns out that the only person who actually likes cherries is Mr. Lacer. We still have half a cake, inexpertedly transferred to a cake tin and I am not sure it’s going to get all eaten, as it may be less of an overwhelming cake but it’s still an overwhelming cake, but I can see myself eating at least one more slice tonight.
In other news this week I have been -
- organising new windows (like the new oven, also much needed), we’ll be getting them in September, which is a relief as I’m not sure our current windows would last another winter,
- attending Boy Lacer’s class assembly, which was on the subject of London and had to be the funniest thing I’d seen in ages, Boy Lacer even had a line (which he refused to tell us what it was beforehand, which was a bit worrying as we couldn’t practice it with him) which he delivered on time and with such confidence,
- reading Girl and Boy Lacer’s school reports and finding out what classes they will be in next year, both reports were very good (proud mummy), Boy Lacer is turning into a very good little reader which no doubt will help him as he still struggles with some of his other subjects (mainly hampered by his handwriting), Girl Lacer again showed that she is an absolute star mathematician and also shows strengths in science, IT and the arts, I find it fascinating to see where her strengths lie, maths, science, IT and the arts very strongly reflect the careers (two in my case) and interests of both me and Mr. Lacer and the biologist in me gets very curious as to why Girl Lacer’s strengths and where they lie, does she have maths, science, IT and art ‘genes’ or is she doing well in them because of the unconscious influence of her parents interests? I know that me and Mr. Lacer certainly do not force maths. science, IT or the arts onto either kid but they do watch and see what we do and take part in activities modelled by our interests. As for classes next year; Boy Lacer will be in Girl Lacer’s old year 1 class, which is great as the staff there are lovely, particularly the TA; Girl Lacer (who will be moving to juniors, eek) will be having her first male teacher, which will be very good for her male dominated class group.
- I’m also still desperately trying to rest my still poorly knee but had to give in and blitz the flat from top to bottom on Thursday, consequently making my knee worse again, but in what my knee may be suffering the rest of me is appreciating the clear tables and floors. I also assembled some new flat pack furniture on Thursday, a pair of nesting tables, replacing the small kids table that is now in my work area, the kids had outgrown it but unfortunately us adults hadn’t outgrown using it as a coffee table in the evenings . . . Due to the arrival of the new furniture we’ve had a very small rearrange of the living room furniture, moving our sofa more into the bay window and just that, probably 30cm shift (plus the new tables at the other end of sofa) has made all the difference and it feels far more cosy now. It’ll feel even more cosy this winter when hopefully with the new windows we’ll have far less drafts, it’ll just be the front door to draught proof now, I may sew a draught excluder!