Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Ill Advised Reunion Tour

People often remark that baking is a science. Scientists love a challenge. Unless of course you're Richard Dawkins, in which case you love hearing about how people agree with you about how great you are and everyone else is an idiot.

Yeah, I have also fallen into that trap before now. However, I got hungry and realised there were important experiments to conduct. Like vegan brownies.

Jeph Jacques creates a webcomic called Questionable Content. It is awesome. led to a tshirt stating "Baking Is Science For Hungry People", and I definitely agree.

Anyway, I also like coffee. Thing is, coffee tends to get paired with walnuts. Yeah, great combo (also pecans and maple syrup go well with coffee too), but it your friends suffer from nut allergies, you need to pick something else.

Too many commas, and not enough cake.

So what did I go for? Pumpkin spice. Yeah. Basic bitch and all that, but no dying from severe nut allergy.

I called it "Ill Advised Reunion Tour", which is quite frankly a terrible pun when you consider the Pumpkin Spice/Halloween/Scary/Scary Spice/Spice Girls incredibly tenuous link there. The cake is definitely better than the joke.

So, recipe. I figure I owe you that much at least.

This recipe assumes you have a set of scales, mixing bowl, a whisk, general kitchen cutlery, an oven, a kettle.

40g creamed coconut (yes, the blocks of it)
100g fresh coffee* brewed with spice mix**
**spice mix was roughly (1/4 tsp clove, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, though feel free to adjust to your own taste)
150g golden caster sugar
Egg substitute (4 tbsp water, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tsp baking powder. Add to a small cup or similar when ready to use, whisk and add immediately)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
115g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Weigh out the creamed coconut into your mixing bowl (easiest if you're cutting it at room temperature), and add the 100g of fresh coffee (hopefully you've brewed enough for enough left over for a nice cuppa). Whisk until smooth, then add the sugar and whisk in. Add your egg substitute and whisk until well combined. Sift in your flour, cocoa powder and baking powder (pour into the bowl via a sieve) and mix until combined. Pour into a lined, greased brownie pan (grease pan with vegetable oil - use some kitchen roll to rub through and soak up excess. line with greaseproof paper, then rub oil over the greaseproof paper)****. Pop onto the middle shelf of the oven at 180°C (175°C fan oven) for 25 minutes (15 minutes fan oven). Check with a skewer in the middle of the cake. It comes out clean, your cake is ready. Take out, leave to cool before cutting and serving. Keeps about 3 days in an airtight container, but I doubt they'll last that long.

*I used espresso, but if you're not a raging pretentious prick like me using a Bialetti Moka or similar, instant coffee will do. I could list other methods, French Press, Aeropress or whatever, but seriously fuck the snobbery. Instant would work fine for the recipe. You can add some flavoured ones, like Douwe Egberts Smooth Caramel if you want for a quick flavour boost without needing to get technical on it.

*** In my original recipe I used 1 tbsp cocoa powder, and 1 tbsp Milo powder (which contains milk powder, and as such isn't vegan)

****You don't need to line the pan if you're using a silicone brownie pan.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Cheap Meals - An Inconvenient Truth

A lot of people look for dietary advice these days. A lot of it is garbage, and I'll not pretend I have the magic solution. What I do understand though, are some of the tricks that people use to lie to you.

One of the biggest ones relates to pricing.

I recently saw an article in a newspaper supplement, mentioning Miguel Barclay's "One Pound Meals".

Nothing against Miguel Barclay, I think what he's doing/done is fantastic. Trying to get people to be able to cook well on a budget is a laudable effort. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

The meals, you see, don't actually cost a pound or less.

An individual serving costs a pound or so.

For instance, a similar recipe seen on the Asda Good Living website, gives a chicken recipe at £1.06 per serving. "AMAZING" you think, "I can feed myself for just over a quid!", and it's not yet payday, and you scrape together what's in your wallet, thinking you'll hoof it into town to save on the bus fare. You're pretty jazzed up, thinking how you're going to save money, and eat well. You pop all the ingredients into the basket, get to the till, and are faced with a bill for £7.68.

You've not even got a fiver in your wallet. You feel shamed, and slink back through the aisles, putting stuff back. You nip past McDonald's on the way home for a 99p cheeseburger and feel the gaze of all the sneering know-it-alls who can afford to get over the entry barrier into a much more smug lifestyle than your own. By all means, help us organise, help us acquire skills in both the kitchen and in budget planning, but for goodness' sake, stop lying to us while you do it.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Shitrockjournalist goes to a noise gig

So tonight I went to a noise gig at The Black Heart in Camden. 

I like the venue, and it's been a while since I've been to a gig here. But you're not here to reminisce with me. So here goes:


BeinE, like their full name Beinaheleidenschaftsgegenstand [Bein-a-hel-den-shafts-gegen-stand], are quietly terrifying. Quietly is probably the wrong word, but their performance is genuinely unsettling. It carries the kind of emotional weight of looped footage of a bridge jumper cut off just before impact.


Cementimental sounds like someone found a vcr of a robot orgy, and fastforwarded and rewound it with the sound on full blast until the tape unspooled as one final glorious moneyshot. Also, during the soundcheck, I felt a bit sick. Which tells you the music is definitely heavy enough.


Some days you have to ask yourself, "What if Gabber was devotional music?" And Monad would answer, after calling you a pretentious cunt and laughing at you until you cry into your IPA. A breakcore remix of Sandstorm blasts out of the speakers and you realise that no amount of your own pretentious bollocks could stop you smiling at this. Cheer up and have a listen. Also... Duke Nukem samples. For fans of Karkasaurus and other very fast, very silly things.


Lower frequencies can lull you into a false sense of security. I come back into the room as Wolvestribe are kicking off. This is fierce in an odd horror film dream sequence way. You know that nightmare where you're running but somehow not moving? Then you look down and Freddy Kreuger's sliced your legs off? That's what Wolvestribe sound like. Radio static from a numbers station where the encoded message is an instruction to the serial killer who's been stalking you for half a Netflix series only to disappear into the shadows of a cliffhanger ending.