Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Bush Party and the Cakes

The Queen's Hat- Inspired by the Royal Wedding 2011.  The table cloth is a replica of a typical Aboriginal painting.

Today is a 'bad cake day' for me.

I was invited for a birthday celebration and was told that it's an Australian bush party.  Janet, a friend in the Port Wakefield Catholic community, turns seventy today; and since I have been trying to learn baking lately, I decided to bring a birthday cake as a present. My original plan was a chocolate cake shaped like 'cowboy hat' but I eventually thought that a Queen's hat would be more appropriate for a lady celebrant.  Even if the the cake would deviate from the theme of the party, I believed that Janet would love it considering that Her Majesty is currently Down Under for a ten-day visit, and that Australia has been proud of it's British roots.

But my dilemma about the cake didn't end there.  I only started to learn baking and cake decorating last autumn, and have been using buttermilk icing since then- absolutely perfect for cooler days but not for a warm day like today.  The forecast was 31'C, and being a chicken farmer who has been closely monitoring Port Wakefield's weather for almost four years now, I believe the mercury could rise two to three degrees above the temperature outlook.  So I researched for the best cake frosting that could stand in a warmer or hot temperature.  There were two options: a buttercream frosting or a Royal icing (very famous in the Philippines), and after how many hours of consideration I settled for the butterceam icing.

I found this 'temperature forecaster' hanging on the wall at the venue. Brilliant, ay?

To make the story short, it didn't work!  Starting at half past midday, we drove for ten minutes to get to the venue of the party, the cake was in a huge plastic container at the boot of the car.  The internet told me that shortening melts at around 40'C, so I was confident that my cake's crust was strong enough to hold.  Just imagine my face and my heart after opening the container and seeing a part of the cake decoration collapsing!  I forgot to consider the powdered sugar and the milk that I added to to the shortening to achieve the frosting.

The photo above was taken at the party, the broken part of the cake decoration was at the back but the 'golden' roses on the side was noticeably sagging.  Anyway, if you look at the photo of the Queen's hat during the Royal Wedding, the flower on the side of her yellow hat was a bit saggy too.

This post was originally intended to tell the story about the outback-themed party but it didn't turn out to be that way.  I am sharing some photos below, in case you're interested. 

The birthday celebrant Janet and his husband Robin (who's wearing a typical Australian work clothes).

This is Rhondda, she's 91 years old!  She's wearing a cork hat or a bushman's/outback hat; the cork dangling around the brim of the hat ward off the flies.  For those who don't know, the Australian outback is infested with blow flies

This is Esma (locals/friends would pronounce it as /Es-may/) with her huge coffee mug!

The chook-minder at the gate.  The outback-themed birthday party was held inside.

After fifty-seven months of living in Australia, it was my first time to eat an Australian damper.  It is a traditional outback cake baked in the coals of the campfire.  I don't have a photo of it, I got carried away during the luncheon. 

Speaking of cakes, Janet loved her yellow birthday cake; she was very happy and grateful!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Healthy Holiday

The lamps hanging on the ceiling of Cafe Aqua- Elizabeth, South Australia.  The colour reminds me of Santorini, Greece.

I've been absent from work for two days now (well, I am physically present because I live on site).  It all started with a sudden pain, and episodal cramps in my upper left abdomen the other day.  After 17 hours of dealing with it, I decided to drive myself to Balaklava Hospital at around five in the morning.  The CT scan films revealed that I have a 2-cm stone in my left kidney!

I was so scared upon hearing the findings but the GP assured me that there'll be no surgery.  She (oh that young, cute, and sexy Chinese doctor who's been here for only a month) prescribed Panadol- to be taken every four hours.  With this 8.5 out of 10 pain rating, I initially thought she was only joking, but she said was serious.  Dr. Lien Tee added that majority of these renal calculi, which usually affects men of my age, are just excreted with the urine.  I am hoping and keeping my fingers crossed.

So I stayed in the house to have a good rest.

While I was having rice and chicken tinola at lunchtime today, I turned my telly on and tuned in it on Cinema One.  Star Cinema's For the First Time was playing, starring KC Concepcion and Richard Gutierrez.  The location was in the photogenic island of Santorini, Greece... and since I am on a vacation mode, I decided to sit down and finish film.  Contrary to the title of the movie, it was actually my second time to watch it but I still enjoyed it.

In the movie, Alex or Seth (Gutierrez) a rich, easygoing Filipino young guy, who was managing a tavern in the island was boasting to this young and attractive bakasyonista named Pia (Concepcion) of the beautiful sunset taking place in Santorini.  So I waited for Director Joyce Bernal's shot of the said sunset, and yes, it didn't disappoint me; and the scene had instantly reminded me of the photo I've taken from Yorke Peninsula last month.

The ball of fire melting before my lens!  Yorke Peninsula, South Australia; early spring 2011.

This photo looks like the Santorini sunset featured in the said romantic movie so I decided to post it here.  So timely, while I was checking my blogroll, I noticed that BertN Travels latest post was about their recent cruise- and their first stop:  Santorini!

I've seen Santorini twice in the movie, and have seen photos of the island on a fellow blogger's post... its beautiful sunset is similar to the one in my 'backyard' but these things don't mean that I can live without dreaming to visit Santorini, Greece someday.  I'd love to be there!

Oh! The island of Santorini also reminds me of my Anatomy lesson about pancreas.  As an exocrine gland, there's this non-functional accessory duct called 'the Duct of Santorini'. 

If you're in love, and loves to travel but haven't watched For the First Time yet, well, grab a copy and watch it now.  I'm sure you'll love it.