Tag Archives: cakes

cakes and ale

Friday 9 October 2015

[factory farming on the mantelpiece]

factory farming, at home on the mantelpiece, back from the artworks exhibition. i think this one’s for keeps… i have others. [link: http://www.jazzgreen.com/collage-paintings-2015.html ]

in a picturesque village not that far away, a small group of residents were unhappy that a local farmer wanted to use the land bordering their properties for the rearing of pigs. with the assistance of a solicitor, the residents were offered the opportunity to ‘rent’ the land off the farmer, who would plant arable crops instead and not trouble them with pigs. free-range pigs are happier pigs but they were not consulted. i read about the tale of the pig city on the village’s notice board – the current arrangement may be open to change, but pig city [as these little piggy communities are colloquially known] is now situated a little further away from the picturesque village. it could make a great british comedy film. i am dream-casting it right now: richard e grant, colin firth, bill nighy [disgruntled local menfolk]; kristin scott-thomas, emma thompson [disgruntled local womenfolk]; hugh grant [city lawyer]; timothy spall [farmer]…

random dispatches from the JG picture desk, from august to october:

a reserved grey brick wall. wondering if a reserved parking space can be used by anyone who happens to be passing if there is no nameplate attached to it? a thought for the day in the week that was.


supreme lettering on the side of an old caravan. it was tuesday the 15th of september.


if you see cows sitting down in field it’s a sign that it will rain soon. some pitch-perfect forecasting from local young farmers.


hand-written ‘lost’ poster at a road junction. it’s incredibly easy to get lost in the saints [i know this from personal experience]… were the friendly ferrets lost or missing, or have they gone intentionally awol? it reminds me of the scene in ‘Chicken Run’ where the two rats are having a friendly banter over the ‘chicken and egg’ problem. good times.


slow down: passed this road sign on numerous occasions; it’s just before a blind bend. the softly filtered sunlight was almost heavenly that afternoon.


getting into the grooves of one of my wintery farmscape paintings in the artworks exhibition shop. it didn’t sell but i am okay with that.

a few days later, just down the road…


lightbulb moment: saw the blood-red supermoon at around 3.30am after some wispy clouds finally cleared, very small and delicately peachy in colour. the supermoon was more impressive at around 7pm the evening before, on the return from the artworks exhibition – did i mention i had some work in an art exhibition? the moon was super large and quite low in the sky, and i could clearly see the marbled grey pattern of the moon’s surface – obviously fascinating, but kinda distracting too while travelling. no plans to stay awake, but at about 3am two juggernauts passed through the sleepy village – ghostly strings of tiny lights on the cabs & trailers zoomed through the darkness [no street-lights here]. not really noticed this before. strangely magical for a moment.


tuesday again: conker contest headline poster on a newspaper stand outside the supermarket. now pinned up in the kitchen. super bonkers.

[cakes and ale, framed collage on kitchen shelf]

golden acres, valley and dale, brewers bakers, cakes and ale… [non-working fragments of a poem]

cakes and ale: a well-known phrase [from shakespeare] that implies living the good life: riches, merriment, celebrations, etc.

Art any more than a steward? Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” Sir Toby Belch, Twelfth Night [or What you will], Act 2, Scene 3

simple tonics: if you think about it, the countryside has evolved to mostly feed the populations of the cities, so it’s a little odd to discover at a local market an artisan bakery travels up from london to sell its wares around here. the local fields of sugar-beet, wheat and barley later become some of the raw ingredients for cakes and ale. i saw a poster in the fine city for ‘cupcake classes’… it’s all food for thought. i have bought [as a special treat] a bottle of sloe gin from the adnams brewery, because if i attempt to make this seasonal liqueur myself it will probably be characteristically rustic and undrinkable… chin-chin!!

a cake lover's take on the general election 2010

Friday 30 April 2010

I like a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake… The frenzied electioneering in the UK has induced some cake-related silliness today… the general election 2010, according to the world of cakes…


A good old-fashioned, solid as a house/brick fruitcake, equally at home in a steel-worker’s lunchbox or the Queen’s garden party – a cake that exclaims honesty and decency – a family cake. I am sure Tony Benn is partial to a slice of fruitcake. Douse it with some scotch and put a fancy, tartan ribbon around this beast and you’ll have a veritable Dundee, add a whitewash of fancy icing and it’s a Christmas cake, or it’s a wedding cake, an anniversary cake – diversity is part of its charm. This is a cake for all seasons – it’s seen the best of times, the worst of times and promises to sustain us in the future – but it is, if I may say, just a little bit too brown for my liking right now..

[victoria sponge cake]

Ugh, the insipid-looking Victoria Sponge! It makes me think of my schooldays – such as domestic science lessons, where we had to learn the contents of the utensils drawer before progressing to the mixing bowl. A light dusting of icing sugar hides any irregularity in the baking. It’s all in the cuts with a Victoria sponge; very precise and measured – when times are tough don’t expect a generous slice of gateau. This cake doesn’t travel well and pales into insignificance when seen next to its exotic European cousins. This is a cake that knows its place – usually at coffee mornings, charity events and country markets. If you look closely, you’ll see that within a day or so the jam nearly always turns a little bit brown

[lemon cheesecake]

But… cakes don’t always have to be this way – it’s time to rethink what cake is. Introducing the fresh-faced, zesty, lemon cheesecake – much devoured at middle-class dinner parties. It doesn’t look or taste like a traditional cake, and some of it is clearly unbaked – but I can forgive that. This is a cake that you have to eat politely with a fork, and perhaps with a glass of something sparkling. If you think the fruitcake is dowdy and the Victoria sponge reminds you of the old days, a slice of lemon cheesecake promises something new. Refreshing on the palate after a heavy meal, it is best served lightly chilled. I like cheesecake for breakfast. My only issue with cheesecake is that it doesn’t keep very long, but everything about it tastes good…

[carrot cake]

Carrot cake; a cake that just might be good for you. It’s a little bit nutty at times but at heart it’s a democratic, caring, sharing cake – and it doesn’t mind being baked in a square tin. On the contrary, when it is served up as smaller squares it means there’s always enough to go around. Flavour is more important than looks with a carrot cake, but celebrity endorsement will give it some chic credibility. I like to make my own version, with the addition of some dried chillies, because I’m a bit of a rebel… (see also courgette cake, a slightly greener version)


Then, there are the plethora of silly cupcakes that turn up at every party event. Always entertaining, they spark conversation and add colour to the cake table, but no one will admit to actually liking them. Well, are they a cupcake, a fairy cake or just a half-baked muffin with a crazy hairdo?

[battenburg cake]

Battenburg cake, what the heck – is it a British or a German cake? This is two cakes regimentally spliced together with a sticky marzipan coating. This is a cake that harks back to the days of the Empire – it has no nutritional value and my big issue with the segregated colour is that it makes me feel a bit queezy – definitely one to avoid.

[jaffa cakes]

Lastly, there are jaffa cakes, which aren’t really cakes at all, but relentlessly aspire to be at the big cake table. They are stale, stodgy biscuit imposters that believe with a slab of orange-flavoured jelly and fake chocolate topping they look the cakey business. No one takes these cakes seriously, and, after eating just one of them, you will suddenly feel quite thirsty…