Let them make cake.

Cake, in a post-cake world.

This year I have found the emotional narratives of spring and specifically the Easter festival specifically vibrant. Like when you can’t see properly ‘cause of bright shiny stuff.

Even when you spend years meandering with deconstruction, experimental creative thinking, and the post-postmodern full-emptiness of current enlightenments, our past colours our world, (thankfully). Our upbringing, the stories and things at the hearts of ourselves reinforce our world whether we want it or not. Emotional narratives pull us strongly.

When I try to ignore some of the more imaginative and cakey ideas our culture entertains, I scrabble for somewhere else to place value. God said, “forgive them, they know not what they do”. I may not know what we do, but I think we still need to do stuff, or else there’s not much left. As August said, “If you don’t like where you are just picture where you want to be.”

Some of the pictures we live with make it more worthwhile. The stories we tell, and the rituals we enjoy, the treasures we cherish, the stuff that binds us to others … often it does not make total sense. Often we don’t know quite why we do what we do, but we need to do it, and let it be. We may not always agree with seemingly trivial warm and fuzzy stuff, but perhaps its these seemingly unimportant things that we need, to let us all be.

So when I ignore most of the trinketry of Easter this year, seeing my sister’s simnel cake (from a distance, via the magic of Facetime) lights up a deep narrative. And so, we also make cake. Okay, ours is not a real simnel cake, it has a rich mix of fruits and spice and a topping of marzipan and ours has many confused disciples on the top. But it still tastes great!

So this Easter, thanks go to pictures, stories and stuff that we use to colour in the spaces, join dots and make cakes in a post-cake world.

A belated happy Easter to you.



Fifty days later… #pentecost

I have been working on a large artwork on the theme of ‘Pentecost‘.

Tradition tells us that fifty days later (after Easter), a group perhaps numbering about a hundred and twenty were all together in one place


Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

The word pentecost comes from the Greek word meaning fifty.  In the New Testament account, at Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus were gathered together, they heard a great wind and spoke in different languages as tongues of fire, the ‘Spirit of God’, settled upon them.

PentecostSectionSome scholars view the account of Pentecost as a powerful metaphor for the outpouring of a Holy Spirit on the early church, they do question the historical trustworthiness of the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ writings.  However, many believe that the author of Acts is the same “Luke” who wrote the third gospel; a reliable historian.

Whether it’s accurate or not, this and other biblical imagery and ideas are irrefutably powerful.  Spread the word through a shared belief…  Go into the world… unconditional love…  There is no doubt that the essential spirit of that message has lived and has remained strong through many trials.  Many have tried to quench the good news of unconditional love.  Many have tried to subvert and claim authority over the spirit of righteousness.  But it’s bigger than us. As a friend recently said, “It is of god.”

‘Then he said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the message …good news to one and all.”‘ Mark 16:15 The Message

“Go into the world and do well.  But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” Dr. Minor Myers, Jr.

“Dismantle the fences you have erected around family, tribe, and nation… expand your vision until you see everyone as part of the extended family…” Craig Greenfield

“Blessed are the peacemakers” Matthew 5:9  (I also like cheese, I’m sure the cheesemakers… are blessed also!)

“Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.”
“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”
Proverbs 18

Personally, I’d rather fall back on a collective wisdom, strength and spirit than the confused deceptive witterings that our cultures sometimes mediate.  Here’s to a bigger spirit!


The artwork in situ:




It’s not denial…

Brought up in England it’s very had not to have biblical ‘ideas’ in your brain. No matter how hard you try to dismiss, replace, refute or deny them – things we were taught in our formative years will be etched into out neural pathways.  Earworms will surface and stories will mist our thoughts.  Culture will swamp ideals with glossy treats and ego-feeding promises and our views might be distorted to suit desires.

The season of Easter approaches; eggs, bunnies, martyrdom and sacrifice and spring, and fatty sweetstuff with a tang of cocoa.

“Peter … this night you will deny me three times”  Matthew 26:34

“It’s not denial… I’m just very selective about my idea of reality.” said someone.

I have been looking at Caravaggio’s “Denial of Saint Peter” and have been mulling ways of seeing a contemporary view on it.  Alas, grand ideas and dreams have come to nowt, but here’s an image that I have come up with … work-in-progress:

Denial of Peter


  • refusing to admit the truth or reality of something
  • the act of not allowing someone to have something
  • refusal to satisfy a request or desire
  • assertion that an allegation is false
  • refusal to acknowledge a person or a thing
  • a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality
‘The Denial of Saint Peter’ by Caravaggio 1610


But little Mouse, you are not alone,

In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
When—ouch! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

After Robert Burns’ “to a mouse”


Koulourakia – Greek Easter Biscuits

It’s good to try new things… and thanks to our daughter’s homework this week we discovered Koulourakia!


They are butter-based biscuits, with egg glaze on top. They’re traditionally made by Greek people at times of celebration and are specifically made at Easter.. Hey, it’s nearly Easter… yes we’re still in the pretence of ‘the desert’ but if I found these in the desert I would definitely shout them from the highest mountain or indeed the highest point of the temple.

KouLourakia2Ingredients, to make 24 biscuits… (double it for a bus load!)

  • 500g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g sugar
  • 175g butter
  • 40ml orange juice
  • 20g baking powder
  • 1 orange rind, grated

And for the egg wash, use a beaten egg with 1 tbls  water and a few drops of vanilla essence


  • Beat the butter and sugar until creamy.
  • Add the eggs and beat for few more minutes.
  • Add the orange juice and rind, and mix well.
  • In another bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together.
  • Add sifted flour mix to the butter mixture and combine, don’t over work it.
    This will create a very soft dough.

Roll small balls of dough into long ‘snakes‘ then shape into biscuits however you wish.
Place on a baking tray and brush with the eggwash before placing them into a 180°C oven for 20-25 minutes or golden brown.

There’a really sweet video of a lovely Greek lady making some here:



Crafty eggs in eggs – How do you like yours?!

Nifty little idea what i did see – it’s not my idea.

  • Wool
  • Balloons
  • PVA glue/water
  • mini choc eggs in foil

Put eggs in balloons. Blow up balloons to large egg-size.
Put wool in PVA/water mixture.
Wrap balloons in wool. Wrap from all angles.
Leave to set overnight – (ooops – not on the radiator cos there choc in them there eggs!)

Tricky bit: gently push majority of balloon away from wool before popping balloon. If you don’t then the deflating balloon pulls the wool in. Then most of balloon’s pushed away from wool, with a blade and tweezers, pop balloon and pull it away and out of the delicate wool egg lattice. It will come out in bits and needs patience and a steady hand

Voila – mini choc eggs in woollen egg lattice.

Incidentally I like real eggs!

i – scrambled, ii – poached, ii – boiled. But not with a hard yolk.

How do you like yours!?

These figures are for a medium egg of approximately 58gm fresh weight.
Source Royal Society of Chemistry/MAFF 1991, The Composition of foods (5th Edition). 

Nutritional analysis without shell

Weight     51.6g
Water     38.8g
Energy     316/76 kjoules/k cal
Protein     6.5g
Carbohydrate     trace
Fat     5.6g
Inc Sat Fatty acids     1.6g
Monounsaturated F.a.     2.4g
Dietary Fibre     none

Minerals and Trace Elements

Sodium     72mg
Potassium     67mg
Calcium     29mg
Phosphorus     103mg
Magnesium     6.2mg
Iron     1mg
Zinc     0.7mg
Copper     0.04mg
Iodine     27mg
Chlorine     83mg
Sulphur     93mg
Selenium     6mg


Vitamin A     98mg
Vitamin D     0.9mg
Vitamin E     0.57mg
Vitamin C     none
Thiamine B1     0.05mg
Riboflavin B2     0.24mg
Niacin     1.94mg
Vitamin B6     0.06mg
Folate     26mg
Vitamin B12     1.3mg
Biotin     10mg
Pantothenic Acid     0.91mg


Hot Buns with a cross on…

They won’t be around for long!


For the buns
• 625g/1.3lb strong white flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tsp mixed spice
• 45g/ 1.5 oz unsalted butter
• 85g/3oz sugar
• 1 lemon, zest only
• 1½ tsp fast-action yeast
• 1 egg
• 275ml/10fl oz tepid milk
• 125g/4oz mixed dried fruit

For the topping
• 2 tbsp plain flour
• vegetable oil, for greasing
• 1 tbsp golden syrup, gently heated, for glazing

Preparation method

• For the buns, sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon zest and yeast.
• Beat the egg and add to the flour with the tepid milk. Mix together to a form a soft, pliable dough.
• Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Carefully work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined. Knead lightly for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
• Grease a large, warm mixing bowl with butter. Shape the dough into a ball and place it into the prepared bowl, then cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for one hour to prove.

tick tick tick…

• Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, then cover again with the tea towel and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rise.

tick tick tick…

• Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly into a bun shape using the palms of your hands. Cover the buns again with the tea towel and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
• Grease a baking tray with butter and transfer the buns to the tray. Top the tray with the buns on it loosely in greaseproof paper, then cover in cling film so that no air can get in and set aside in a warm place for a further 40 minutes to rise.

tick tick tick…

• Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/Gas 8.
• Meanwhile, for the topping, mix the plain flour to a smooth paste with 2 tablespoons of cold water.
• When the buns have risen, remove the cling film. Spoon the flour mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun.
• Transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until pale golden-brown.

As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the hot golden syrup, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Find the BBC recipe here: