Mr NQN is notorious for getting bored in his hobbies and work. He starts off a task perkily with great enthusiasm and then becomes disillusioned and bored and off each interest falls to the wayside. He has dabbled in more hobbies than I can count whereas I'll quite happily perform repetitive tasks until the night falls and then wake up to do them all again. He however leaves a trail of abandoned hobbies, half done tasks and neglected sporting equipment citing a lack of challenge and boredom as the reason. Of course you know what this means to the slightly neurotic like me.
"Do you think you'll ever get bored with me?" I asked him one evening when I saw his abandoned glider peeking out from a darkened opened cupboard door.
He thought about it. "Naahh, you're way too much hard work" he answered seriously.
"Oh thanks...I think" I replied.
I decided to take it as a compliment. I think that perhaps he didn't mean it as one.
One item that looked complicated to his eye but was in fact completely easy to create was the stained glass jelly cubes. All it required was the setting of some packets of jelly, the cutting up of this jelly and the addition of some more sweetened condensed milk jelly, my favourite comfort food of all. I saw this on Wizzy's wonderful site and knew that he would love it (and perhaps making it for him would mean that he wouldn't get bored with me! ;) ) As Wizzy points out it can also be made for events where you could use a team's sporting colours or flag colours.
Like many of you I've watched in horror at the awful events of the past few weeks in Japan. I have witnessed the country I used to live in shake and crumble and watched it with such horror unable to speak or write about it. I know that people that I have met throughout the years have probably perished and the very thought terrifies and saddens me. I remembered at once the kind hearted landlady that invited me over, spoke softly and sweetly and helped me whenever I was challenged with Japanese protocols. There was the teacher that vouched for us putting his very own line of credit and house on the line for us. There was the friend who brought us around to the secret local's areas of Tokyo where we would have O-den soup in a wooden shack that has stood since WWII. There were the thousands of flight attendants whom I taught English to and who cried when I left and bought me gifts and cards-I still have those gifts and cards. Some of my best memories have been made in Japan and some of the most remarkable people I have ever met were encountered in my time living there and holidaying there.
I like many, haven't known the best way to help and of course my first instinct is to bake or cook to help anyone in need. When I heard about the online bake sale on Sabrina's site from Manu and Fiona I knew that this was one small way that I could start to help in a public way. I sifted through my cloudy brain for days trying to figure out what to make and in the end, at the urging of friends and Mr NQN chose cupcakes. Those lovely little morsels that cannot fail to put a smile on the face of others like those special people did to me. So if any of you have ever wanted to try any of the cupcakes I've made here without having to bake them yourselves, my contribution is a dozen freshly baked cupcakes by yours truly in whichever design you want from the following: Tattoo Cupcakes, Linzer Heart Cupcakes, Springtime Cupcakes, Koala Cupcakes, Jam Donut Cupcakes or Baby Bootie Cupcakes.
I decided to let the winner choose what type of decoration they wanted in case they had someone in mind to share them with or a gathering with a theme that they wanted to bring them to. Because they are cupcakes, they don't keep very well so I can deliver these within 30kms of the city centre or we can arrange for a pick up in an inner city location of Sydney. I really wish teleporting was invented so that I could send these anywhere around the world! :)
Sabrina's aim is modest, she is trying to raise $2,500 with over 90 bakers in 8 countries and I secretly hope that we can meet it and then exceed that aim. All proceeds go to The Second Harvest charity, a food bank in Japan. If any bloggers would like to join, email Sabrina quickly as the auction starts tomorrow on the 30th of March, 2011. I'll let you all know where to bid when the time comes. And if you would like to support it another way, please bid away for any of the lovely baked creations on offer from my fellow bakers and I.
So tell me Dear Reader, what is a cause close to your heart?
Stained Glass Jelly
Adapted from Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
4-6 packets of coloured jelly-I say 4 to 6 as I like more colours but if you choose 6 colours, you will not use all of the jelly
1 x 395g tin of sweetened condensed milk
Non stick oil spray
3.5 titanium gelatine leaves (or in the U.S. you can get packets of unflavoured gelatine, you will need 2 packets)
1.5 cups water
A metal or plastic square or rectangle mold. I used a 21x21cms square baking tin
Step 1 - Spray the inside of plastic containers-use as many containers as you have packets of coloured jelly. In a cup, measure 250mls/1 cup of boiling water with each packet of jelly and stir briskly until smooth and all jelly crystals are dissolved. You could do this with fresh fruit juice which is probably what Bompas and Parr would advise but I was lacking in time. Cool the jelly mix and then place lids on top of these containers and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight until firm (this will set firmer than normal as you are only using 1 cup of water instead of 2).
2a). If using gelatine leaves, soften the leaves in cold water and squeeze out the excess water. Place the sweetened condensed milk and 1.5 cups of water in a small saucepan on the stovetop and heat gently and once warm, add the softened gelatine leaves and stir until melted and combined. Do not boil. Cool this mixture. I was in a hurry so I cooled in in a bowl set on top of a bowl of ice cubes below.
2b) If using powdered gelatine, sprinkle 2 envelopes unflavoured gelatin into 1/2 cup cold water. After the gelatin blooms, add 1 cup boiling water and dissolve. Add the can of condensed milk. Stir and cool.
Step 3 - As the milk mixture is cooling, spray a metal or plastic square or rectangular mold with non stick spray. Run a knife through the coloured jellies to create small squares. Gently place the squares in the larger mold tossing them gently with hands to distribute the colours. Once the milk mixture is completely cool but still liquid, pour this over the coloured jelly pieces and refrigerate overnight. I didn't quite wait long enough so some of mine didn't come out exactly perfectly and it just needed more time in the fridge. When you unmold the jelly onto a surface, be sure to oil the surface so that the jelly doesn't stick to it. Slice into squares and serve.
Once poured, ready for the fridge