Friday, 14 February 2014

Bad Romance

Love is a pretty big deal. It's what makes babies and poetry, books and songs. So it deserves its own day of celebration. But it isn't always champagne, hearts and flowers. Whether you're in love, out of love, or suffering the miseries of unrequited love, I hope you won't be getting any of these today.

Love is blind (but likes a good lunch):

Aaah, cute furry animals (that stink and scratch and bite):

'Vinegar Valentines' for those you love to hate:

Or go a step further to creep your Valentine out, and threaten to kill yourself... 

... or give up stalking them

Love makes people do silly things - like having an Argos tattoo on your leg:

The language of love can be inexplicably corny:

and poetic:

But nothing says "I love you" more than shaving your body hair into heart shapes:

Or buying your lover some fancy pants:

And if you thought those were tasteless...

Finally, for your favourite misogynist:


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sultana and almond slices

Temptation, shame, denial, nudity, lust, obsession... the perfect ingredients for a romantic novel or a rousing Sunday sermon. Just as Adam wished he'd never eaten that apple, I wish I'd never eaten the almond and sultana slice my neighbour gave me. My clothes did not fall off, nor did I feel shame like Adam & Eve, but I knew I had to have more. My neighbour's recipe is a closely guarded secret, so I set off to recreate this little slice of paradise on my own: Soft, yielding almondy sponge strewn with juicy sultanas and a crunchy sugar topping. It's a very superior version of Mr Kipling's Country Slice - and exceedingly easy to make.

Almond and sultana slices piled on a plate
Warning: contains tempting fruit

Sultana and almond slices

200g sultanas
110g butter
110g caster sugar
2 eggs
1½ teaspoons almond essence
110g plain flour
25g self raising flour

Pre-heat oven to 170/gas 4 and grease and line a 20cm square tin. Put the sultanas into a pan with half a mug of water and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, then set aside to cool*. Cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs one a time (beating after each addition) and then the almond essence. Tip the flours and sultanas into the bowl and fold them in. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the sponge is an even golden brown. Cool, remove from tin and sprinkle liberally with caster sugar.

Sultana and almond slices piled up on a vintage plate
Exceedingly good cakes

Time saving tip

* Cool the sultanas quickly: tip onto a plate and spread out into a single layer.