Posts Tagged ‘colin macarthur’

Baked by me… Honest

April 28, 2010

Well as it turns out we  did not have a food  processor, but hey how  hard can it be without  one? Well, put it this  way next time, if there is  a next time, if it says to  use a food processor I  shall go out and buy one  or better still make a    different cake.  Oh, and  those almonds I got were not blanched, and it said to use “soft brown sugar” how was I supposed to know that demerara was not the same!!!! The All Knowing I assured me it would be ok to use this instead. I know I said I was meant to be doing this all by myself with no help but a little advice on ingredients for my first attempt is ok is it not? Oh and I also had to be shown how to turn the oven on, not having actually done that since moving in almost a year ago….

Oh and did I mention that one of my taste test dummies who shall remain nameless (Keith) agreed to come round for some cake, but upon realising that I was actually going to bake it myself suddenly remembered he had alternative lunch plans, thanks for the vote of confidence.

So, firstly I got all my different ingredients weighed out and in little bowls, placed in order of when they are to be added to the mixing bowl, that’s right the mixing bowl remember there is no food processor. The almonds needed to be grounded, so I lay them out on a chopping board, put a tea-towel over them and beat the hell out of them for bout 15 minutes till they were “nicely ground”.  Once this was done I could start putting things into the bowl and mix them, the instructions said to add them to the food processor one by one and “give it a quick whiz” till the mixture was nice and smooth…. Jesus it took me about an hour of mixing it with a wooden spoon till I got it nice and smooth, and by then my arm had gone numb with the best bicep workout it had had in years.

With the mixture all done and the oven nice and warm it was time to pop it in the oven, cross my fingers and hope it all worked out ok. Now it said to bake it at 160c for 20 minutes then stick a fork in the middle to test it.  A little bit of mixture on the fork would be ok, but it should not be too wobbly. 20 minutes latter armed with my fork I open the oven and give it a little test, the fork comes out covered in mixture, and its so wobbly it looks like an earthquake is taking place in the centre of my cake. I surprised myself by staying calm and popping it back in for another 5 minutes (as suggested by Jamie Oliver). 5 minutes later and it is still the same, at this point my taste test dummy has arrived and I start to panic…. What should I do, take it out and hope for the best, or stick it back in and whack up the temperature? I’m too flustered to make a decision so thank god The All Knowing I was there to make it for me. It went in for another ten minutes and after that all seemed fine. 20 minutes my arse Jamie….

I allowed it to cool for 5 minutes then served it with French vanilla ice cream. I thought it was ok, but the almonds could maybe have done with a tad more pounding.

The All Knowing I’s verdict: “Really moist but not gooey. Not too sweet, especially considering the ingredients. You could taste the chocolate was very good quality (I used Green and Black). Would go down very well as a dessert at a dinner party. An impressive first baking effort”

I can live with that.


Decided on the cake…

April 27, 2010

Ok, after some more research, which meant me eating more cake, I decided to finally make a decision about what I was going to make for my first baking attempt.  By the way if you just happen to need to do some similar research might I suggest a trip to Bourke Street Bakery, which is where I did mine. A strawberry brulee tart and amazing flourless chocolate cake, both divine and both too hard for me to try making.  I was given Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food book for Christmas by some good friends so thought it a good idea to pick something from that. Oh and it was Christmas last year, or was it the year before that I got the book? See I told you I did not cook.

I thought it best not to spend too much time reading all the recopies as I knew I would just read and read and not make a decision as I would find something in each of them that I would use as an excuse not to make the cake. So my criteria for selection was “what would I want to eat” and the picture of the “Mega Chocolate Fudge Cake” looked very yummy, and besides the name sounds great as well. Of course the trick is mine needs to live up to the name and be yummy!!! I think I might have to get some taste test dummies over to evaluate my efforts.

I had a day off today, so thought why not get it done today, lets not put it off any longer. I got out a pen and paper and wrote down the ingredients, one of the them was “blanched almonds” no idea what that might mean as I have only ever eaten roasted and covered in salt almonds but am sure I will get them in the almond isle in the store. Having got my list written down I then decided to go for a swim and spend some time with a friend catching up and chatting, about the cake I was going to bake… Ok so that took me up till 1pm, time to get to the supermarket. I was heading straight there, honest, but then I decided to have a coffee and cake with a friend on the way. I had a very disappointing orange and poppy seed cake, nowhere near as good as the one the chap in the café near my house makes. Actually I really like that, maybe that is what I should be making for my first attempt… nope I have my shopping list so off I go.

On the way I passed an organic health food shop and thought I would pop in and see if they had any of the bits I needed. Well as it turns out they had all but one ingredient I needed, fudge. Oh and no “blanched” almonds so I just got plain old almonds. All this only cost me a mere $52, WHAT THE HELL…… Do you know how many cakes I could buy for that?

Anyway, all I needed now was the fudge so off to Woolworths I went, but no fudge there, went to Coles, none there either!!!! I know Jamie’s book is English but surely fudge is something that the Australians eat as well? Went to a few convenience stores that sell confectionary but no joy then had a brainwave and went to the English sweet shop in Kings Cross. They sold it, in single little blocks at $1 each, so had to get ten to make sure I had the required 100g.

Anyway, got home unpacked my shopping, invited some friends to come and be my taste test dummies and thought I would peruse the instructions, and bugger me the first thing it says is… “this cake is best made using a food processor” now what the hell is one of those and do I have one!? I’ll have to wait till the All Knowing I comes home to check on that one.

By: Colin MacArthur

Cake Challenge…

April 16, 2010

I have been eating a lot of cake lately, well more than  normal and am starting to think I might even bake a  cake. Shock horror….

Anyone who knows me will know that kitchens and I  do not mix well together. I have these moments where  I think “I can do that” but really I ought to know better  by now.

However, here is my challenge to myself, I am going  to bake a cake that I will be happy to serve to friends  by the end of May (2010). Baking this cake is going to  be my Everest, I consider making beans on toast  cooking, and even that is a struggle for me.

The last two times I have attempted this feat I have  failed. I seem completely unable to get the timing right of the toast popping up in the toaster and the beans nicely bubbling in the saucepan together. My toast pops too early so down it goes again and then by the time the beans are done the toast has turned into something resembling coal. So that gets thrown out and more bread goes down in the toaster but then by the time that pops my beans have turned to mush and stuck to the pan….

That should give you an idea of the challenge I face ahead, those of you that follow my blog will know that I have successfully baked some scones in the past (with the assistance of The All Knowing I), as written about here:

This time I promise I shall take on the task all by myself, you have no idea how nervous that make me. I am putting this down in my blog to force myself into taking on this challenge, and you can help out by suggesting cakes for me to consider baking, you never know I may even invite you to come and eat it with me….

By: Colin MacArthur


February 24, 2010

Paul Freeman one of Australia’s best erotic photographers (he of the sexy Bondi and Outback books) has produced some very sexy and engaging images in a new health promotion campaign for this year’s Mardi Gras season. The campaign is titled BEFOREPLAY, and has been produced by ACON and developed by Frost*Design.

I think this creative is a step in the right direction in terms of moving forward safe sex messaging to a rather jaded audience. The “BEFOREPLAY” tagline is engaging and helps build saliency of the campaign and I believe most people will identify with the images in the ads (if you are going to talk about sex then why not show people having sex). I really do think the images make the creative more relevant to the target group.

And if you happen to apply Mike Hall’s PIS Model for evaluating communications these get a nice tick on all counts, The campaign is delivering a Persuasive message, it is Involving and it is certainly Salient. Furthermore the “take care of each other this summer” message from ACON will help build engagement with the overall ACON brand, which lets face it is a key objective of any advertising regardless of the message.

I am sure not all will agree with me, but if the ads provoke thought and prompt discussion, which I am sure they will, that is evidence that they are cutting through.

To get an overview of the entire campaign, visit

Wear It With Pride

February 16, 2010

ACON have launched a new education campaign called Wear It With Pride to help people understand the Federal Government’s recent reforms affecting same-sex couples.

In July 2009, the Federal Government amended 85 pieces of legislation that discriminated against same-sex couples.  Which is great news, if people actually knew about them, hence the campaign.

The campaign has been created by M&C Saatchi, and there are various print and poster ads, and central to the creative are 85 tee-shirts inspired by various human stories behind each of the reforms.

Engagement with the ads and as such the new changes, is driven by the multifaceted individuals and their different stories used across different elements of the campaign. What M&C Saatchi have managed to do is create a nice salient execution and at the same time ensure a level of involvement that means the key message will be easily understood.

I don’t expect everyone to see this campaign to walk away knowing exactly what all those 85 changes were or all the detail behind them, but most will walk away with the awareness that these changes have taken place and hopefully a desire to know more.

On that note the campaign also features a comprehensive website where you can actually educate yourself about all the changes:

Oh and one finale note, all the individuals you see in the ads appeared so entirely voluntarily and pro-bono, good on them for adding their voices to such a great cause.

The hazards of karaoke

July 24, 2009

Team Paco shenanigans 129

My team at work recently had an off site day where we spent the day bonding and planning for the year ahead. It was all very civilised and productive and as a treat for a day’s work well done we all toddled off to do a spot of ten-pin bowling followed by some karaoke.

Now I never intended to stay for the karaoke having already moaned to anyone that was willing to listen that I would rather stick pins in my eyes or jump out of an aeroplane without a parachute  than sing at karaoke. I don’t even sing in the shower at home when I have the place to myself, and why is that? Because I know how BAD I am at singing. However, once the bowling was over I thought, why not pop along and laugh at others’ attempts to be the latest pop sensation. I should point out that I had partaken in a few beers at this point, but was still adamant that I would not be holding the microphone, I may sing along with the others but no way was I going to stand there in front of people and sing.

After a few delightful performances by my team mates (no honest my ears were not bleeding), and an especially moving rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings by a colleague who clearly has a hankering to escape the world of research and become the next Bette Midler, I was thrust into the limelight and made to perform like a dancing monkey (those of you that have seen me dance will know exactly how I looked at this stage).

Now what I don’t understand is, why is it when I was sat there watching others sing I seemed to have no trouble singing along as the words changed colour, but the minute a microphone was put in my hand I suddenly had a severe bout of dyslexia and mumbled along sounding as if I had just had all four wisdom teeth taken out and the anaesthetic had was still not worn off…..

I sat down with my head hung in shame and thought that was me done for the night, heart rate slowly returning to normal

But oh no, another couple of beers and I was suddenly up there again, having pushed women and small children out of my way as I clamoured to the floor for my chance to shine in the spotlight of stardom once more. I know, I know, it was just some poky room in a bowling alley, but I was drunk and convinced I was on a stage before my thousands of adoring fans and they were screaming for me to sing my musical masterpiece…. I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt – oh the shame of it all….