Saturday, 21 April 2012

My week with Herman

Followers of the Busy Betsy Facebook page may have seen this picture last week. 

I got a number of emails and texts after this as I had mentioned I was looking after Herman and friends were curious to find out who or what it was. I had not heard of this 'Herman' before I received a bowl and a piece of paper describing what it was. Anyway in the bowl was a bit of sourdough: 

Between the monkeys and myself we looked after Herman for 10 days with the following instructions : 

German Friendship Cake (Herman)

Hi my name is Herman. I'm a sourdough cake. I'm supposed to be on the worktop for 10 days without the lid on. You can't put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling I am dead!

Day 1 : You get Herman and take the lid off, put me in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel
Day 2: Stir well
Day 3: Same as yesterday
Day 4: Herman is hungry! Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk and stir well
Day 5 - 8: Stir well
Day 9: Hungry again! Add the same as day 4. Then divide into 4 equal portions and give 3 away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Herman stays with you for day 10 when he is very hungry indeed. 

(I thought I had something unusual when I went to give these three away to friends. However it seemed that I was the only person in the road that didn't know about 'Herman'!)

Day 10: Stir well and add the following:
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of plain flour
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence (I didn't have this)
2 heaped tsp cinnamon
2 heaped tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup cooking oil (I used sunflower oil)
2 apples peeled and cut into pieces

Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts or almonds, 
Optional: 1 cup raisins, chocolate, pineapple or cherries
(I didn't add the optional ingredients)

Mix everything together and put in a large greased baking tin. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Bake for 45 mins at 180C (check after 35 mins).

After 45 mins I took out the most delicious cake I've had in a long well. We ate a couple of pieces still warm and it had a beautiful most taste. I would love to get a Herman back and make this again. I might try some of the optional ingredients but probably wouldn't put the sugar on the top as it was sweet enough by itself. Even two days old today I polished off the last yummy piece. 

If anyone knows how to start the Herman I would love to hear that as I might not get one back for a while and really like to make this again. 

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Global Art Project for Peace 2

This week I received the long awaited letter from Global Art Project for Peace with the details of my exchange partner. This is the third time I am taking part in this biannual exercise of sending thousands of messages of peace in the shape of a work of art around the world 'simultaneously'.
My partner this year is again in the USA. The idea is to try and partner up as many participants with one from another country so the chances are small to get a partner from outside the USA I suppose because it is an American organisation. Not that that matters at all, I am excited! I'd been thinking about what I should make this year. The first year I made a quilt, the second year a Suffolk puff pillow and it wasn't until I found my mum's old weaving loom from the seventies under my bed this afternoon that I knew what I wanted to make. Having blown the dust of I managed to thread it correctly.

I won't reveal what it is, just in case my exchange partner checks the blog but here is a sneak peak of the start. All I will say is that it has been inspired by Delft Blue and Dutch history (now there's something new!)

For those of you following Busy Betsy on Facebook: Herman was hungry today and has been fed. More will be revealed next week!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

This Easter holiday has been a completely different one from last year's for various reasons, one of them being the weather. Today was meant be a nice day so I decided to take the monkeys to Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YPS). After a good start of the day with a lovely cappuccino in the presence of the wonderful Mr G. we set off in the sunshine, with coats and one umbrella, just in case (my Rob Ryan one to keep in style with YPS!). Not long after we passed Stockport it started pouring down and it didn't stop until lo and behold, 4 minutes away from YSP when blue sky and sunshine appeared magically.

Monkeys pleased and very excited when we got there. Although they had been looking forward to seeing the sculptures, still impressed from a visit to Chatsworth House some time ago they were slightly embarrassed by the 'rude' sculptures along the road to the car park. They are at an age (nearly 8 & 10) where, what they call 'the rude bits' should not be on display for the eldest and produces a wave of giggles for the youngest.

Anyway as soon as we got out of the car they were delighted to see 'Big Bertie' or The Horse is a Noble Animal as it is titled, commissioned by Marcia Farquhar and carved by Anthony Dew, a Master Rocking Horse maker near York. Originally made for a show in Tatton Park it now lives at YPS.

Regular readers of my musings will know that I like to take the monkeys out of town during the holidays and take them to places where they don't get to go on a weekly (or even monthly) basis, what with girl monkey's acting, singing and dancing there is not much time left at times apart from pretending to be a taxi driver.
We had a glorious day today and marveled at all the sculptures and trees. The monkeys had both taken drawing materials and sat down at various times to draw the Henry Moore works and write about what they saw. They were most impressed by Anthony Caro and Eduardo Paolozzi, remarking that at school they really only learn about Picasso.

We visited a couple of the galleries, in particular the Underground Gallery was fabulous as this is where the current Joan Miro exhibition is installed. The monkeys LOVED it. We stayed for quite some time, watching footage of the master at work, dissecting the work, examining the use of colour and how to apply it with your fingers. They were both greatly inspired and will go back to school next week with essays and sketches.

Walking around the lake we got to the sign of David Nash' Seventy One Steps and what better way to check how many there are than to walk. They both shouted there weren't 71 but either 46 or 48. Needless to say I had to see this for myself, sure enough there were 71 (what else?!?), counting skills were left in Manchester today!

At the end of our visit I was really pleased to see this work, which is part of The Bee Library by Alec Finlay. This project was launched to coincide with World Book Day 2012 and comprises 24 books about bees and bee keeping and once the artist has read a book it will be transformed into a bee nest. These works will be installed around the YSP from May I believe. We'll have to go back in the Summer to try and find them all. I had heard a bit about the artist from my lovely colleague so was excited to see the work 'in the flesh'.

Alec Finlay - The Bee Library

And just when we felt it was time to go home, heavens opened! Looking forward to a next visit. This is such a wonderful place to go and only 1 hour drive from Manchester. Anyone with kids will be able to keep them entertained here for a whole day, there is a parking charge of £5 and donations at your own discretion. Well worth a visit!