Wonky Veg & Fruit box – cake…

Just a quick post to show (off 😉) the wonky veg & fruit box cake I made for Oddbox’s Supper Club last week.

The cake itself was a chocolate cake and all the decorations were edible 😋


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Books and brains…

Warning … the photos below can cause some squeamishness… but it is a long post and the photos are way way down at the bottom of it 🙂

I can’t remember when I learned to read but as long as I can remember, one of my favourite ways of spending an afternoon is curled up with a book and and a big mug of tea close by.  I don’t think a day goes by without me reading at least a few pages and I usually have several books on the go, dipping in and out of them whenever I get the chance. Or sometimes (ok, quite often) I get so carried away by the story that I don’t want to put it away and I have been known to read through the night to finish it. As a child I used to keep one ear out for any parents coming up the stairs, and quickly put out my bedside light, or hide under the duvet with a torch…

I have also been known to fall asleep whilst still holding the book or worse, being woken painfully by the book (or since moving to kindle the Ipad) falling on my nose, ouch! My OH is used to gently trying to remove a book from my hands (not always easy), and a good friend still laughs when she recalls a holiday together where she found me deep asleep in bed but still with my glasses on and holding the book upright in front of my face and closed eyes.

My interests are quite varied, I like the classics, contemporary/historical fiction, chick-lit, detectives or biographies. I do struggle with some writers though, I have never managed to master Proust’ “In search of lost time”, and I struggle with the Russian classics but that is mainly because I find it so hard to remember (and keep apart!) the names of the characters. I also noticed that I tend to prefer British writers over American, unless translated. Not sure why, and I’m not saying I don’t read any American writers just not so many.

When I’m tired and just want to wind down with a book, I often grab a detective, one of the Queens of Crime, Christie, Sayers, Marsh, Allingham, usually I have at least one of them in the book pile next to my bed. I don’t mind rereading the story, given the quantity of books I read, I often have forgotten the clues or who the murderer is by the time I get around to reading the book again.

But I also think it’s good to try out new books/authors and to add some variety to my reading list. Luckily that’s where my book club comes in. The good thing about a book club is that one gets to read a book that you might never have picked up yourself. Some turn out to be good choices, some great and some are rubbish. For a book club the best books are actually those which divide opinions, this usually leads to a good discussion about why we liked or disliked the book or to insights/realisations you wouldn’t have noticed by reading the book just by yourself.

Not that we are a very serious book club, we all enjoy reading and we do enjoy a bit a chit chat about the book, but it’s also just a good occasion to have a chat, a drink and something to eat with friends.  Usually, the hosting gets circulated and whoever hosts provides the food and drinks, and if possible the food will have some relation to the book. For example, with a novel taking place in Japan, we will eat sushi. A story in France, lots of French cheeses and so on and on.

Well…last week I was hosting and the book we read was about brain surgery! We read “Do no harm“,  stories about life, death and brain surgery written by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. Not really an obvious choice and definitely not something I would ever pick out myself. Having said that, it was actually quite an interesting read – although I admit skipping over some of the detailed bits …

As a host though, it was difficult to find any food that could relate to the book, There was not much mention of food in the book itself  – I guess it doesn’t help that the patients all had to be nil by mouth prior their operation – only a brief mention of hot cross buns and slightly longer mention of Ukrainian smoked eel which never got eaten and neither of which was readily available to serve during book club night.  I didn’t really fancy serving up black pudding and blood soup so instead I resorted to my other favourite hobby, baking, and made a brain cake!

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Disclaimer: no human was harmed whilst making this cake

So what do you think? Looks pretty cool doesn’t it? I had great fun making it and it was a bit creepy actually how quickly it did start to look like a real brain. Not that I have ever seen one in real life, but I googled some photos and used that as a model. I actually googled some photos of brain models as I was a bit too squeemish to have a photo of an actual brain in front of me whilst yielding my cake carving knife!

How did I make it? It’s quite simple and hopefully the photos below will show the steps, although I forgot to make some of the bit where I turned the “brain” upside down to add the cerebellum-).

I first layered the cake (I used 2 x 8″ and 1 x 7″ vanilla sponge) with butter cream and raspberry jam and let this firm up a bit in the fridge. I then started carving the shape, making sure to carve a groove all over to separate the two hemispheres of the brain. Once I was happy with the shape, I covered the cake in more buttercream, firstly to crumb coat it and a second layer to make sure the sugar paste would stick.

 

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I had precoloured some white sugar paste with red and green to make it flesh coloured and started rolling sausages that I stuck to the cake in curly, wonky shapes.

I first covered the bottom part and then turned the cake up side down to make sure the “brains” reached towards to bottom of the cake. I did this to make sure the cake would look nice rounded but unfortunately it doesn’t really show well in the photo. I also made the cerebellum out of some slightly darker coloured sugar paste and placed the cake the right side up again before covering the top half.

The biggest challenge was making sure the “brains sausages” covered the cake well, that the two hemispheres were kept separate and that they wouldn’t look symmetrical.

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The back of the cake with the cerebellum.

After covering the whole cake, I finished it off by brushing some blood (aka as rapsberry coulis) all over the cake and adding some syringes!

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What do you think? Yuk or yum?

 

 

I now also post more (food) photos on Instagram

Wonky Supper Club

Oddbox Wonky Supper Club

Most readers will know by now that I am a big fan of our Vegetable & Fruit box delivery service, called Odd box. You can read more about them in this blog post here and on their website here, but basically they help fight the war on food waste by rescuing F&V that gets rejected by the supermarkets.

Readers who live in London might be interested to know that Oddbox is now organising their first Wonky Supper Club to be held on 12 July, location The Grosvenor Arms, SW18 4ED (Earlsfield). Aside from sharing an enjoyable (vegetarian meal) with fellow wonky V&F supporters and foodies, you will also get to try out a cake made by yours truly!

I don’t want to give away too much info, but I can say some wonkyness will be involved … 🙂

If this sounds like something you would like attend (yeah, come on of course you know you want to!) head to their website and save your place!

Looking forward to see you on 12 July!

 

Happy Easter

Wishing everybody a Happy Easter weekend!
No packed lunch but just sharing this lovely Easter Cake I made last week.

It is a chocolate cake covered in fondant. The nests are made with (chocolate flavoured) fondant and all the little chocolate Easter eggs are attached with melted chocolate.

Obviously I had to do my research beforehand and test out the best mini Easter chocolate eggs to be used on this cake 😘…..

 

I now also share more (food) photos on Instagram

More thoughts on blogging

I have previously written a post about how I feel about blogging, it remains the most read post on my blog, so clearly it struck a chord with readers. That post was written 2.5 years ago, and this morning, I suddenly felt I needed to write some more thoughts on this subject.

You see, after I take a break from blogging, like I did recently, I tend to do the same things over and over again. I quickly write down a few draft ideas to blog about in the next few weeks. And I go on an extended blog surfing trip. Not only am I catching up on the blogs I already follow, I also try to find new bloggers, follow links leading to other links, hook up at a meet & greet (can I recommend again the one at Harsh Reality), check out WordPress suggestions etc. I usually end up with adding a few more blogs to my Reader and more inspiration for my own blog.

This time however I noticed something. Namely that a lot of new bloggers announce in their first blog post that they have thought a long time about blogging and did a lot of research and/or read blog/books about blogging before their first post. I actually can’t remember doing that. I remember that one day I thought, well, why not start a blog and I just started. After that start, yes, I got dragged into the whole blog atmosphere, making connections, monitoring stats and likes, finding blog parties, but nope, all my research before starting the blog consisted of a 15 min look around which blog platform to use (= which one is free and looks easy to navigate) and another hour or so selecting a format.

Naive? Maybe. But then I never set out to be a professional blogger, to make money from it, or to promote a business. Of course, I would be quite happy to be given kitchen gadgets to review, think that could be quite a fun thing to do 🙂 but that’s not why I started this blog. I am also not a writer (I struggle sometimes to get out a coherent sentence) so there is no aim to turn my blog eventually into a (e-)book or into a cookbook. I just want to blog about what I like to eat  – mainly for lunch – and what I like to bake.  And for the last 3 years I have enjoyed blogging, although I do sometimes take a break because of lack of time, inspiration, life getting in the way, or just because I get distracted by other things.

I am actually slowly embracing other forms of Social Media. I still don’t like Facebook and don’t use it, and although I (think I) am on Bloglovin, I never really have gotten the hang of it, nor of Twitter/Pinterest. I do like Instagram though. Often I have made, eaten or seen something I quite like sharing but don’t want to write a blog post about and I do find Instagram is great for that kind of thing. Here again though I am sort of blundering my way through it, finding out how it works after I already pressed the share button, so again a case of “do first – check out how it works later”. The silly thing is that this is not actually how I am. I am a person who very much likes to be prepared, be organised, so just doing things without a proper research is not me.

And that brings me to another thought that kept coming up in my mind the last few weeks which was how impressed I am by some (new) bloggers out there, whilst at the same time realising that their blog style isn’t suitable for me. For example, two of my friends are bloggers, one of them has blogged a bit longer than I have and the other one has recently  started. Whilst both of them are in different countries, and the subject of their blogs is different, they do have in common that their blogs are both well thought out. Well prepped and set up. Their lay-out looks professional. They are clear in the style and message they want to bring out and both have (I assume affiliated) links to products, or give aways. They were both well prepared before they started blogging. More importantly, they both are very personal bloggers. With personal I mean, they blog under their own name, and share photos of their personal life.

I like the anonymity of blogging. Like? I love it. That’s also the reason why I haven’t promoted these 2 blogs or linked to them. Because I like my anonymity. And a little part of me fears that I can be linked to them through their blog. Of course my family and friends know that I blog, most of them do follow or read my blog. And when I meet new people, it sometimes comes up. But – as far as I know – no one else out there can link this blog to me. I avoid mentioning names of friends/family, avoid detailed locations or photo’s that show me. (Yes, I do check reflections in photos). I don’t share too many details of my life. If you would turn detective, I assume that most readers will have figured out that I live in London (given that I wrote a whole blog post about it), that I am female and have an OH. If you dig deeper you might also find out my OH is Welsh and am sure there are more bits and pieces that can be deduced. But there are not many “concrete facts”, nothing that is hard evidence that links Dosirakbento to who I am in real life. I even screen comments…. any comment that uses my real name gets spammed automatically.

Does that make me paranoid? Or fake? I don’t lie on my blog, what I write and post is still who I am, what I think, what I do, what I eat, everything is real, everything is personal in that way. I think the biggest reason for me not to publish my name is that deep down I am a private person. I also don’t like the idea that everything I have typed and posted out there, will remain for eternity (or whatever counts for eternity in blogging land) out there for anyone, anywhere to see and read. So I hide behind the anonymity that blogging can provide.

The silly thing is, I like reading other people’s personal blogs. I like having a little insight in somebody’s life. I love the thoughts and ideas, the daily, weekly, monthly high lights and low lights in their life. I feel happy for bloggers – who I have never met in real life- when something good happens, or sad when something bad takes place. So I don’t have any issue with them sharing their personal info, just with my own….

Which brings me to a question for my readers. What are your thoughts on sharing personal information like your real name and photos of yourself/family/friends? Where is the line between sharing details of someone’s life but not sharing similar details of your own? It’s not like bloggers are friends in real life but at the same time there is this close blogging community and I do know that some bloggers meet in real life at events and do become friends in real life as well.  I guess that each blogger has the prerogative to make that choice, and has to decide what is best for her/him. At the moment I do feel comfortable with what I do share with my readers but I am interested to read your thoughts in the comments.

And because my blog is after all about lunches and cakes, I’m sharing this recently made cake.

It’s definitely cake time here in London!

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Bento Bits

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Wasn’t quite sure how to call this Bento, but basically there are sweet bits and savoury bits in it!

This bento wasn’t made for myself, I made it for a friend who was staying with me whilst working in London. She didn’t need a bento for lunch (had already other plans) but did need one to sustain her during the day, hence the bits and pieces.

She chose the lovely rabbit/cherry blossom box for packing, so I thought that a rabbit shaped egg would be quite fitting. Other bits packed are cheese hearts and cucumber stars, blossom carrots and a few grapes. The container at the back holds all the sweets bits, ie some different pieces of cake (marmalade and carrot), a chocolate, some nougat, a cake pop (with the white chocolate flower) and more filled chocolates.

I guess this bento doesn’t really count as a fully balanced bento, even though it contains at least 2 portions of your 5 a day (or is it 10 a day now?), but way too much sugar…

It was quite fun though to pack a bento for someone else. Recently I have just been quickly packing some left overs or soup (or instant ramen …!…) into a box for myself without making much effort in creating something good looking. I do think the sweet bits look a bit boring because the colours are all similar but not much that one can do about that. However, the savoury part has all the different shapes cut out and is more vibrant in colour, which made a huge difference.

And my friend did agree with me that food that looks cute(r) does taste better. She even felt inspired to start cutting her cucumber and carrot into food shapes once she’s back home 🙂

 

Merry Christmas!

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This year’s decorated Christmas Cakes:

 

 

This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. December is hosted by Rebecca from The Economic Foodie. Theme: Festive Feeds

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More (decorated) bakes

As you might have noticed, I changed the subtitle of this blog! It used to be Japanese and Korean inspired lunchboxes and some baking but as I have been baking so much lately – and as I want to show off my bakes 🙂 – I changed it to Bento and Baking.

I have already shown some of my bakes in previous blog posts (what about a Hamburger anyone? Or how about going to the farm?) but below are some more cakes I have baked and decorated this year:

Vanilla cupcakes with cute strawberry/rose decoration. A chocolate cake with sugar roses. Rainbow cake with chocolate buttercream and a Victoria Sponge.

A cake with spots! It was a vanilla sponge with caramel buttercream. And a daisy/rose cake with a checkerboard effect (vanilla & chocolate).

A woodland tree trunk – chocolate sponge with chocolate (fudge) buttercream. A gluten and dairy free vanilla sponge with vanilla “not-butter”cream. And two emoji cakes: a lemon one filled with lemon curd buttercream and a chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache.

Don’t worry, I have not been eating these all by myself :-). They mostly get shared with friends and colleagues. Obviously they’re not complaining…

I think my favourite of these cakes is the tree trunk one, I had so much fun making it and Iike how much it resembles a tree trunk. The most challenging one was the gluten and dairy free one, I made this for a colleague of my OH, as she hadn’t been able to enjoy any of the other cakes before. Measuring out all the pleats was a bit tricky and also because I had to adapt my recipe to be gluten and dairy free. Luckily it worked out well and she really enjoyed it.

Which one do you like most?

Halloween Pumpkin Bride & Groom (mini cake)

Mr and Mrs PumpkinLast weekend we went to a wedding. Or actually, we went to a party to celebrate a wedding.

The happy couple already had their wedding last month, outside the UK, but this weekend they wanted to celebrate with all their UK based family & friends. It was a great party, we had a lovely time, lots to eat & drink, plenty of laughing and dancing and it was wonderful to be able to share this special event with the newly weds.

As part of our gift, I thought it would be nice to make them something. Knowing me, the first thing that came to mind was cake! Of course there was already plenty of cake provided at the party – including some lovely gin & tonic cupcakes which came with their own little gin filled pipette to add an extra boost! (have to admit I emptied that directly into my mouth..not into the cupcake..),  but I thought that they might like a little mini cake, just for him & her.

And because of Halloween, why not a Mr and Mrs Pumpkin?

The mini cakes are actually made from cake pop mixture – chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. I shaped the mixture into two pumpkin shapes about the size of a satsuma (his is slightly larger) and covered in orange sugarpaste. With the help of a cocktail stick and a veining (fondant modelling) tool, I then marked the “grooves” of the pumpkins. I also gave each a pumpkin stem.

After that I had much fun decorating him & her. Despite it being Halloween, I didn’t want them to look scary but happy so I gave them smiling faces. The groom was given a top hat – with white rose, and the bride has a veil, flower tiara and a small rose bouquet. The veil has some edible silver lustre on it, and I made a broderie anglaise effect with little cut outs. So funny, I only noticed later that these made the veil look like it had little ghosts (faces) on it 👻

Finally I decorated the board with some flowers, pumpkin plant trails/leaves and of course a red heart.

I was really happy how these turned out and the bride and groom seemed to like it 🙂