Tag Archives: reflection

January

So the first few weeks of January have been pretty tough. I’ve had a couple job rejections and disappointing feedback. I think the lack of recent success has been affecting me more than I thought it had.

Today I wanted to share two things.

First, a really uplifting Bible verse:
“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” 
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (MSG). 

Meditating on this as I received two consecutive emails with rejections definitely stopped me from breaking down on a two hour train journey. I won’t dispute that it was incredibly tough and definitely tested the limits of my faith. Getting through this dry season will need a lot of prayer and support from friends and family, albeit distantly. 

Thankfully I’ve had visits from some close friends and each visit has recharged me. I used to underestimate the importance of human support, but  I definitely won’t anymore. 

The second thing I wanted to share was some sweet and salty popcorn that I made the other night. 

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I’ve always had trouble making my own sweet and salty popcorn because it was difficult to get the sugar to stick to the popcorn. I’m not a fan of toffee popcorn, with all the thick, sticky gunk, and unfortunately most popcorn recipes are about those. 

However, I found this recipe. The blogger got over the sugar issue by mixing it into melted butter, which coats the popcorn perfectly. I used salted butter and a few twists of my salt grinder and the result was perfect. From now on this will be my go to popcorn recipe. I just can’t believe how simple the solution was!

 

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Superman

The intro from the TV series Scrubs – I heard the lyrics, I can’t do this on my own, I’m no Superman, and thought that they brought up some very important points- we all need to be aware of our weaknesses and that we cannot go through life without support. Many people try their best to seem impervious to hardships and I think that I did that too, to an extent. However, the whole ‘tough guy’ façade is simply that – a façade, and we need to be able to accept that and seek help and support.

As a Christian, I look to Jesus for that support; the Bible verse “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT) runs parallel with the message from the lyrics of the Scrubs theme song.

Reflections and Christmas baking

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As I write this post it is drizzling outside, but thankfully I live in an area unaffected by the floods; my prayers and best wishes go out to all those who do.

Every year, the Christmas season seems to bring either great joy or great sorrow to people.  I was a teenager when my grandmother died in hospital on Boxing Day, but on the flipside, she died surrounded by her family, comfortable and warm, after a Christmas Day spent with her family and friends. She had lived a long life and seemed quite ready to move on.

I won’t be going any further with this, but instead prefer to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. May you all find some shred of happiness and peace, no matter the circumstances.

Onto the baking side of things.

This year hasn’t been the busiest for baking, but I am trying out new things. In the past I’ve generally kept to cakes and cupcakes, but this year I thought I’d diversify. In preparation for tomorrow’s Christmas dinner, I made chocolate tarts. I used a combination of recipes – the pastry from Chocolate & Zucchini and the filling from Gordon Ramsay on BBC Good Food. I also used a bit of Green & Black’s espresso dark chocolate to replace the equivalent quantity of plain dark chocolate because I think coffee really enhances the chocolate. However after I did that it occurred to me that using flavoured chocolates is an easy way to adapt this recipe to your personal taste. The coffee taste is subtle but there is still enough to make the tarts a little bit more special.

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Chocolate tarts with a hint of coffee

– Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini – Absolute Chocolate Tarts and Gordon Ramsay – Gordon’s chocolate tart

Makes 5 tarts (using 10 cm tart tins)

Ingredients:

Chocolate tart shell:
200 g plain flour
100 g castor sugar
100 g butter, cut into small cubes
Remove a heaping tablespoon of flour and substitute with the same quantity of unsweetened cocoa powder (approx. 15 g)
Splash of milk

Chocolate filling:
50 g milk chocolate
50 g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids)
50 g espresso dark chocolate (I used Green and Black’s)
100 mL double cream
50 mL whole milk
1 egg
1 tbsp golden castor sugar

To make the shells:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar and cocoa powder together in a bowl. Once mixed, add the butter to the bowl and work the ingredients together. Add a splash of milk and continue to mix. The finished mixture should resemble coarse sand.
  3. Divide the mixture and press evenly into tart tins using fingers.
  4. Prick the bases of the tarts a few times with a fork to allow air to escape when baking. Alternatively, line with parchment paper and baking weights.
  5. Blind bake for 10 minutes in the pre-heated oven.
  6. Once baked remove and cool on a wire rack.

To make the chocolate filling:

  1. Turn the oven down to 150°C.
  2. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place into a mixing bowl. 
  3. Bring the milk and cream to a boil. Add slowly to the chocolate, stirring to melt and mix with the chocolate. Once this is all mixed, whisk in the egg and castor sugar.
  4. Allow to settle to minimise the number of air bubbles in the final product.
  5. Pour slowly into tart shells, filling them almost to the top.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool.

Gordon Ramsay recommends serving this dusted with grated white chocolate, cocoa powder or icing sugar and decorated with chocolate curls. I will be serving this tomorrow with a dollop of crème fraîche and raspberries.

I admit that my chocolate tarts aren’t the prettiest, but I’ve tried one (I made a spare) and they do taste good. The presentation will come with practice.

I’m off to a Christmas Eve party in a bit and I do have to get ready so I’ll finish here. So for those who are already celebrating Christmas, Merry Christmas again, and for those who are not yet, I hope you have a great Christmas.

God bless!