Thursday, December 31, 2009


This Christmas we were trying to think of a nice gift to send to my sister (who lives halfway across the country). What we came up with was a collection of baked goods, since Melissa and I love cooking and baking. So we made some Chocolate Crinkles, a whole bunch of Whoopie Pies, and, our crowning achievement, a batch of Chocolate Truffles. They all turned out brilliantly and were well received by both of our families, including my sister. Thankfully, there was plenty of leftover goodness for us! The truffle recipe came from Jamie Oliver, and the only adaptation we made was presentation: we rolled them in crushed walnuts, chocolate sprinkles, and melted chocolate, along with the recommended cocoa powder. Icing sugar, unfortunately, didn't work so well, since the truffles were so wet they dissolved it all. These were absolutely delicious, and beautiful, and I'm very glad I followed the advice to use extra-dark (at least 70% cocoa) chocolate; it's a fantastic flavour.

Chocolate Truffles

• 1 1/4 cup double cream
• 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
• finely grated zest from 1 clementine
• 300g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
• a pinch sea salt
• a splash of brandy
• a handful of crushed nuts: walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.
• 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, to serve
• 3 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles, to serve
• 1 cup semisweet chocolate
• 1 tablespoon butter

Put the cream in a pan over a medium heat and let it heat up. You don’t want it boiling, just hot. As soon as tiny bubbles start to appear add the knob of butter and the clementine zest. Once the butter has melted pour this hot mixture over the chocolate pieces whisking as you go so the chocolate melts nice and slowly. If the mixture splits slightly, don’t worry, you can bring it right by adding a splash of boiling water.

Add a pinch of salt to the mixture. Stir in a splash of brandy.
Once completely melted and smooth, pour your melted chocolate mixture into a dish. Pop this in the fridge for about 2 hours to set.

Melt the semisweet chocolate with the butter in a stainless steel bowl over boiling water, or in the microwave. Get some little saucers or bowls and put the nuts in one, your cocoa powder in another, chocolate sprinkles in a third, and the melted chocolate in the fourth. Use teaspoons dipped in boiling water to scoop the chocolate. Roll the spooned truffles in any of the garnishes, or whatever you feel like. Pop them back in the fridge to let the melted chocolate solidify. Then get them all back out and enjoy the decadence!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quiet Sun

I've recently come across some music that I had never heard of before. As I'm a die hard Pink Floyd fan, I'm always on the lookout for similar sounds: experimental, psychedelic, avant-garde rock music. All of this and more is found in the band Quiet Sun and their only album Mainstream. I found Quiet Sun in a sort of roundabout manner. I'm a bassoonist, and as such, I was one day looking around on the web for new and interesting information regarding the bassoon and bassoonists, and ran across the name Lindsay Cooper. I found that she played bassoon and other reeds for the British psychedelic rock band Henry Cow. Further delving brought me to a list of several of Henry Cow's fellow bands from the "Canterbury Scene", one of which was Quiet Sun. Since I thoroughly enjoyed the snippets of their music and the reviews and descriptions of their sound, I decided to order Mainstream a few weeks ago. I just now got the chance to listen to it in depth, and found that it completely lives up to my expectations. It is a wonderful mix of jazz, psychedelic, art rock, ambient, minimalism, and experimental music. This is my first delve into Canterbury Scene music, so I don't really have anything to compare it to. It certainly is a good find for Floyd lovers such as myself, and is also reminiscent of King Crimson and The Nice. Quiet Sun consists of Charles Hayward, Dave Jarrett, Phil Manzanera, and Bill MacCormick. Also participating on Mainstream are Ian MacCormick and Brian Eno, whose style is clearly heard. To sum up, I very much enjoyed Mainstream for its simply beautiful, if sometimes rather strange-sounding, music, and it will stand many, many more listenings.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

500 Days of Summer

One of the best films we have seen in a while, 500 Days of Summer is a must see! When it first came out I made Eric drive 2 hours so we could see it, definitely worth it!! Now that it's out on dvd I'm going to make him watch it five times a day.


Inspiration: Geometrics

click photos for original source