Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Meerkats Have Taken Over

I'm sorry I haven't had time to blog much this week. I've had a dead computer to try and rebuild and a work trip to London so it's been a busy few days.

My computer troubles started in the run up to Christmas. I was get lots of random reboots and the dreaded blue screen of death was making frequent visits. I re-installed Windows over the New Year weekend, only for the same problems to continue happening. I eventually decided that it was probably the disk controller on the motherboard that was at fault, which unfortunately involved replacing not just the motherboard but the CPU and memory as well.

I've been a Windows user since I was first introduced to a PC (a monochrome laptop some time in the early 90's which ran Windows 3.11) but I'm not a fan of Vista or Windows 7 and so had stuck with Windows XP. At work though I use a Linux distribution called Ubuntu, and I've been really impressed by how stable and easy to use it is (in comparison to distributions like Mandrake and SUSE that I tried back in the late 90's). So given that I need to re-install my main machine again I decided to take the plunge and switch to Ubuntu. I've installed version 10.10 code name Maverick Meerkat -- hence the photo which I took at a tropical house in Leeds a couple of years ago.

So far everything seems to be working properly (including the cookbook which is hosted on my main machine), and I'm not missing Windows at all! Although to be truthful I have installed WINE and I've got a Windows instance running in VirtualBox while I find replacements for a couple of pieces of software and so I can download programmes from the BBC iPlayer.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Iced Bees

Some of you may remember that back in 2009 I baked a beehive shaped cake for Bryony's birthday and had problems getting the bees to set. The runny bees were not the only problem though; I had issues with the instructions and converting from American to English units. Added to that the fact that without the cake tin you couldn't really re-produce the cake I didn't include the recipe in the post. Well I've now played around with the recipe a little more and have a solution to all the problems!

The main problem was the bees. In this new incarnation I've switched from using royal icing to make large bees, to using writing icing to make small bees. After a fair amount of practice I've figured out the easiest way of making the bees which you can see in the accompanying video (I won't be directing movies anytime soon).

As for the lack of a suitable cake tin, well I've solved that by making individual cakes using a muffin tin instead. Of course the smaller cakes means the smaller bees work perfectly.

For the full recipe and to see exactly what the finished cakes look like, head on over to the cookbook.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Fits Most Vehicles

Guess which household has a 1997 Ford Fiesta with a broken petrol cap? Nothing on the seller's website or the manufacturers website stated which cars this replacement did or didn't fit. They all just said "Fits Most Vehicles". Ah well, instead of using a relatively cheep plastic replacement we've now bought a proper lockable replacement.