Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The elusive Gypsy tart sagas, part II or, the one where I get it right.

After setting out in my last post to make a step-by-step guide to gypsy tart - foolishly assuming it would be successful simply because I was born in Kent - I failed miserably. Now, however, since I've pwned the thing, I feel okay about posting this pic of what my fail looked like.

DO NOT WORRY if your first attempt looks like this, for I have the answer!
We weren't above eating it or anything, but it wasn't a gypsy tart, even if it did taste of scrumptious.

So! Here's how to do it (with copypasting from my previous entry for convenience):Link
0) Become psychic and realise that you will want some Gypsy tart in two days. Place your evaporated milk in the fridge. Alternatively, always keep your evaporated milk in the fridge. Then you don't have to become psychic, which is vastly more convenient. This step is also super important and made half of all the difference.

1) Make yourself some shortcrust pastry. As I mentioned earlier, I like to use Joy of Baking's Pate Brisee (shortcrust). Here's a link, you nice person, you. http://www.joyofbaking.com/PieCrust.html I found that when making the gypsy tart correctly, you get a bollockful of filling, so you should probably make two pie crusts instead of halving the recipe.

226g butter (cold, please), 350g plain flour, (I didn't add salt since my butter is salty). Add to that two tablespoons of sugar and pulse until crumbs:

Pour 60-80ml of ice cold water into the processor. Tip this out onto a work surface, not forgetting to panic about the fact that it doesn't look like it will come together.
Keep calm and carry on. It will form a dough.
Told you.

2) Put that in your pie dish and preheat the oven to 175C. Prebake this sucker for about 15 minutes or until it's basically ready.
Today I was lazy and used a foil tin but this picture is prettier.

3) Obtain some cold shaky milk.
It should technically be 400g, like the sugar. This can is 410g, but I used the whole thing, because I couldn't think of anything to do with 10g of evaporated milk.

4) Whip it with your electric whisk until it actually holds peaks. It will look like whipped cream. This is good. Sorry I forgot to take a picture, I was busy realising where I'd been going wrong.

5) Measure out far more sugar than is good for you.

6) Slowly and gradually sprinkle the sugar into the mix as the whisk is going. This makes the second half of all the difference. Seriously. Bollocks to all those recipes that say "mix together sugar and evaporated milk until foamy". Sod. You. That's not how it's done.

It will be really light and foamy and will do this to the fork:

Notice how full this bowl is compared to what I had before. The milk hadn't reached its full volume at all.
How to not do it right.

7) Pour this into your waiting lazy-arsed storebought pastry in your lazy-arsed storebought foil tin. Take care to eat green pesto the night before and not clean it up.
Here's another action shot so you can see how viscous the stuff is.

8) Lick your fingers, cause it's yummy.

9) Place that into the preheated oven for - I kid you not - 3 minutes. Yes, three. It will come out and you will judge it, but it will be set.

Tadaa! Let it cool to room temperature


Pie crust:
350g flour
226g butter, cold, cubed
60-80ml ice water
2tbs sugar

410g can chilled (2 days) evaporated milk
400g dark brown muscovado sugar (sod demerara)


Make your pie crust. Dump everything except the ice water into your food processor. Pulse until combined. Pour the ice water down the funnel. Pulse some more. Tip out onto a work surface, form into a dough and put this in the fridge for thirty mins. Roll it out and line a pie dish. Prebake at 175C for 15 minutes or until done.

Whip your cold evaporated milk until it behaves like whipped cream. Gradually add in the sugar until smooth and foamy and heavenly. Pour this into your ready pie crust and return to the oven for 3-5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Gain weight.

NB: This:
will do this to your gypsy tart if you don't dogproof it.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The elusive Gypsy tart sagas, part I

First off, I have to apologise to my brother in law who will no doubt want to turn inside out and slough his skin after seeing the "photos" I'm including in this post. But it's arguably worth it. Gypsy tart is a Kentish delicacy which isn't really available anywhere else. As far as I know. There could be a tribe in remote Indonesia making them, but in that case I POSTED ABOUT IT FIRST, LOSERS.

In any case, Kent used to be divided into two along the River Medway. People had nothing else to do so they invented names for themselves depending on which side of the river you were on. Imaginatively, one side called themselves "Men of Kent" and the other side, in an equal show of creativity, called themselves "Kentish Men". Nowadays no-one really cares or remembers these names and I'm pretty sure it's because of the gypsy tart. In any case, it's been on school menus forever (at least my mum used to eat them at school and that's good enough).

Like all traditional foods, it's quite ridiculous. Firstly because you fill it with nothing more than milk and sugar (milk has calcium!) and secondly because you have to whip it for longer than the safety instructions on my electric whisk will let you operate the whisk for.
1) Forget that you'd decided to make a blog post and make a pie crust from scratch using Joy of Baking's shortcrust pastry. http://www.joyofbaking.com/PieCrust.html Remember just in time and take a photo.
You can ignore my dirty surface there, I won't mind. So in there I have just over 100g of cold butter, a tablespoon of sugar, 175g of plain flour and a bit of salt which I didn't need as the butter was salted. It's been one of those days.

2) Following Joy of Baking's instructions, pulse it a bit until crumbs form. Add some iced water and mix a bit more until it does this:
3) Tip it out onto a surface and panic, because it doesn't look like it'll come together.

Oh God Oh God, loose crumbs.

4) Keep calm and carry on.
Put that in the fridge to chill and bring out the big guns.

5) Obtain some shaky milk. That's evaporated milk for those of you who are not suffering from a bout of the British dialect.

Also grab some muscovado sugar that you are sure you stored in a ton of airtight clingfilm but nevertheless looks like it could survive a nuclear war. Test your theory by putting it in the microwave with a cup of water in an attempt to soften it. Also find a packet of "fariini" sugar for backup. Try to think of a translation for fariinisokeri and fail. Demerara would do as well.

6) Rejoice, for your sugar did what you wanted.
Say thanks to your sister for the measuring cups. They are awesome.

7) Here's the 1/2 cup cup.
8) Put everything in your mixing bowl that your boyfriend just got you for your birthday and for which you are really pleased but are nevertheless trying to find some chauvinist accusation to use as leverage the next time you argue about something silly.
9) Mix it all up in yo' mixer. And I mean mix. Mix it for the 15 minutes I advise you to mix it and when you get to the point where you doubt that the crazy English woman actually meant 15 minutes, go for at least another 5.
It will go all soft and light and coffee-coloured. This is actually what correctly prepared gypsy tart filling should look like, only set. Mine didn't turn out this way. Sorry. Life's a bitch.

10) Roll out yo' pastry and pour in the nom. Preheat your oven to 200C, as well.
11) Pour in the nom -pic.
Put it in the oven, whereupon it will deflate, leak, go dark and runny and generally terrify you. Wonder what on earth you did to deserve such treachery. Keep it in the oven until it bubbles like magma and you worry for the safety of those around you. If you didn't whip the sugar and milk enough like me, and you didn't go poking around in there mid-cooking time like I did, then you can mix a little bit of cornstarch and a little bit of water into the mix just before cooking and it will thicken it right up without messing with the taste (I did it mid-bake and it set almost instantly). I still have one can of evaporated milk left and I'm determined to get the right consistency and colour by changing to demerara sugar, which the recipes I've seen at home use, but which I couldn't find here for the longest time. The sagas will continue..


-Your preferred pie crust, frozen or freshly made
-300g some sort of brown sugar
-1 can of evaporated milk. The one I have says it's 410g in sensible measuring units which I think is 14oz of silly.
-Popeye arms or a kitchenaid.

Friday, 14 October 2011


Weren't expecting that, were you?

I bet you were scared. Anyway, hello! I'm back after some time, again. I'd like to post more drawings instead of just informing you that I'm "back" only to disappear for eons but you see there's half a mitten and three balls of wool in the only space where my drawing tablet could ever possibly go and apparently moving The Wool is a problem for me. It was a project and I refuse to accept defeat. I made a deal with myself that I'd finish the mitten and get it out the way and the space would be free for the tablet but then I accidentally my money at a market and now I have nepalese yak mittens (ty, yaks) and demand has fallen for air-conditioned blue mittens in the house. The outlook is bleak.

I'd also like to point out that there's been a lot going on with work and the kind of art I post on my blog cannot be rushed, my friends. I will have you know that some thought goes into it. But mostly it can't be rushed because I have some sort of OCD hangup about the abandoned mittenlet.

I don't want my blog to die, though, so to counteract the effects of my oddly anal prioritising I intend to post a few non-drawing things. I keep trying to forcefully impart the recipe for Gypsy tart on people around the net, but so far I haven't had much success. So, as the rules of the Internet state, when you can't get people to listen to you, you post on your own blog and sit defensively on it muttering that this is YOUR blog and you can do what you want and suchlike.

I can say with almost certainty that there will be a gypsy tart on the horizon, as my mum is smuggling me some shaky (evaporated) milk when she visits in a couple of weeks. I'll probably post a recipe anyway as there aren't that many online and it's quite rare (despite the utter awesomeness of the tart). However I'd feel really nice and popular about it if I knew someone actually wanted to read it :D So if you feel like that person, leave me and my feeling of self-worth a comment.

In the meantime here's a picture of my dog. Because it's MY BLOG and I can do what I want and suchlike.

Friday, 22 July 2011


Today I subjected my pearly white and nerdy skin to all kinds of parasites and bugs. Voluntarily, too. There is a highly elusive and popular berry found in the undergrowth in Finnish forests. It's called a mesimarja, and it's not what we went looking for. Here's a picture of mesimarja anyway, since Boyfriend found some.
The value of these berries is probably something like 5 euros. Super rare.

We went looking for the second most popular berry - cloudberries. In Finland they're known as hilla, lakka, muurain, suomuurain and even valokki. Calling it the wrong name will cause your boyfriend to shout about the berry not being the same as varnish, also called "lakka" (think lacquer).
This is not varnish.

So we piled the dog and Boyfriend's mum in the car and went to the most mosquito-infested place in Finland. Boyfriend has so many mosquito bites on his back that he looks like a burn victim. The dog loves the forest. She bounces around crashing into bushes and chasing mosquitoes. It's really hard to walk there since it's dense forest, so she just bounces forwards and hopes she lands somewhere safe. We suppose.

Luckily for us the rest of Vihanti had either not stumbled across this particular place or else have at least some sense in their head and stayed at home, because we got TONS of berries.
Boyfriend's mum got half a large bucket as well. Look at them all! Look! Here's another picture.

Boyfriend's mum is of an almost militant opinion that the berries should be eaten straight from the forest with sugar and cream. So we did:

But we still have two buckets left. We sorted the berries into perfect, alright and "okay those are for "soup"". I'm making jam out of the "alright" group, but I'm having problems of thinking of something sufficiently scrumptious to make out of those "perfect" berries, since we spent about two hours sweating and being eaten alive in the middle of a swamp-forest. Ideas are welcome :)

P.S I just googled and someone made a toffee-cloudberry swiss roll. Well done, that person.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

An open letter to Blink-182

Attention please. Today I am posting on a matter of utmost importance. Blink-182, I totally need your autographs. Since people probably want your autographs all the time I have decided to argue my case with bulletpoints and crappy art.

1) (mostly to Tom and and on behalf of the 11 year old me) Marriage is kind of out of the question now, huh? Considering we're both either married or engaged, the space between continents, timezones and pretty much everything else, I suppose it's for the best. An autograph will do.

2) I first heard Blink-182 in 1999 and immediately became a fan. I would probably have liked Blink's previous stuff but I was 11 and I was going through that "I love horses way more than boys and music" phase and I had to get that out of my system first. In any case I still bought Buddha and Cheshire cat because I was a fucking dedicated 11 year old and wasn't in it just for All The Small Things.

3) I'm 23 (so no-one likes me anyway) and run my own business but I still listen to songs about aliens and masturbation loudly and without shame.

4) I have faithfully followed your advice in important matters. I have never, for example, drunk dog semen as advised on the Mark Tom and Travis Show. My breath is minty fresh and my dog is not traumatised.

5) You ignore Funland Finland :( I know that it was me who moved here and therefore the blame cannot entirely be pinned on you, but could you possibly come to Helsinki? Even Sweden would do. You can tell which one is Finland because there's a well-known joke that Norway and Sweden resemble a flaccid penis whereas Finland is, quite obviously the ballsack of Scandinavia.

6) I'm willing to try to convince Finland that Tom's surname corresponds to his genitals.

7) I'm originally from England and I have heard that Americans sometimes like the English accent. If you like the English accent I can phone you and tell you the time, weather, or a dirty joke whenever you want.

As I now believe that my argument is watertight, I will wait for you guys to get in contact to post me my autographs.

Lots of love,

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Please read if..

...you suffer from what I am about to describe. With working life being so 9-5 mon-fri and overtime etc, (even though I roll out of bed when I want and assign myself tasks to do), I understand that being overworked can take its toll. Do you absent-mindedly wander around and forget how or why you came to a certain place? Do you develop a zombie-esque limp for added affect?
Do you find it difficult to make even the easiest of everyday decisions, losing awareness of other people around you and sinking into an enclosed world all of your own?

Some symptoms you may be suffering from can be quite severe:
If so:

Stay the fu*k out of the supermarket, people. I've got things to get done and I know where they are and how to buy them. Food shopping is not for the faint of heart.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Fial part II

After mum and I managed to fool Brian into thinking that his hair was light black, we wanted to see how far we could take it. After the hair discussion he was standing slumped against the mantelpiece, mostly because he was drunk, but at least partly because he's a lazy fucker. Mum and I went into action.

We started discreetly tiptoeing around and standing up as straight as possible, since he was so slumped against the mantelpiece. We tsked and said that age was really catching up with him - he was even starting to shrink.

-Fuck off, he said. "People don't shrink".

But they do! Have you ever noticed:
That's the beginning of granny physics, people. So anyway, at least to Brian this argument was highly convincing and he began to faff and panic. What a day, first his hair was going gre- light black and now he was shrinking.

Luckily, we told him, there's a cure for your predicament.

"Can I get it off bupa" he asked.

Yes, we replied. Let me write it down for you:


-Right, he said. He seemed concerned. "I'll phone the doctor's in the morning and see if I can get it". He faffed his way off to get more wine or beer or something and we pissed ourselves laughing. In case you're a man and don't suffer from hot flushes, HRT is
Hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women. Nob jockey.

On a cuter note, I CAN HAS PUPPY.

She says hi.

My puppeh's name is Tuike which means Twinkle but doesn't sound quite so wimpy. It's like a small pinprick of light in darkness. Light point, if you will. Lightpoint is also known as light bulb, because she folds her (massive) ears back when she's being cute and resembles a light bulb. Lightpoint the light bulb is fairly housetrained - does her business on a special pad near the front door and wees outside - and knows the commands for sit, lay, wait, stay, come and piss (useful). We haven't taught her the word poo yet because she only poos at night like a ninja.

Tuike is the champion of the uncomfortable sleeping position: