…is not just another play on Benedict Cumberbatch’s name.
When many people think of England (assuming they are not English themselves), they think of tea and crumpets. So of course, being both an anglophile and a good cook, I’ve been wanting to try to make my own. Ages ago I found this crumpet recipe from the Guardian website, as part of its “How to Cook the Perfect…” blog series.
My mum, also a good cook, instilled two cooking principles in me:
1. Follow the recipe exactly the first time, then decide what you want/need to change (if anything)
2. Clean up as you go along
So, I tried the Guardian recipe exactly as written, and then combined my experience with some suggestions in the comments section to tweak it to my satisfaction.
And now, I am sharing the results with you.
I wouldn’t say these crumpets are very labor-intensive–they don’t involve exotic ingredients or advanced cooking techniques–but they do take a lot of time. I think they’re worth it, but I am someone who cooks and bakes for fun, so take that with a grain of salt.
The one complicated thing about this recipe is the crumpet rings. If you already have circular cookie cutters/baking rings, you don’t need to buy new crumpet rings. Or, if you don’t have circular baking rings but you have other cookie cutters and you want to make crumpets in the shape of Santas or stars, feel free. You can also make crumpet rings by saving cans (like those that contain pineapple rings or tuna) and removing both the tops and bottoms. I tried this initially, because I’m a cheapskate and I don’t like buying kitchen gadgets that I don’t need. However, I cut myself in the process, and so I gave up and decided to buy the real thing. They have served me well so far.
If you’ve looked at the recipe I linked, you may have noticed that it uses UK measurements: grams and milliliters instead of cups. Since I currently lack a kitchen scale, I had to find an online source for converting measurements. This one yielded great success. My liquid measuring cups already included milliliter measurements, so that bit wasn’t a problem.
When all is said and done, here is my Americanized version of the Guardian crumpet recipe.
First, the ingredients:
1 tsp sugar
200 ml whole milk
100 ml water
1 Tbsp dried yeast
1 cup bread (“strong”) flour
2/3 cup all-purpose (“plain”) flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 50 ml warm water
Yield: 8 crumpets
And now, the steps:
1. Combine the sugar, milk, and water and heat it (either on the stovetop or in the microwave) until warm but not too hot. You should be able to hold the container or dip your finger in without pain.
2. Stir in the yeast and leave alone in a warm place until frothy.
3. Combine the flours and the salt in a large mixing bowl.
4. Add the liquid to the flour mixture and beat until smooth. (You can use an electric mixture, but I whisk by hand.)
5. Cover the batter (towel or plastic wrap) and leave in a warm place until the yeast is very bubbly. Depending on the environment, this should take 1-2 hours.
Tip: Place the bowl o’ batter in the oven, where it will be free of drafts. You can preheat the oven to about 150 degrees, then turn it off a few minutes before placing the mixing bowl of batter inside. Obviously it shouldn’t be hot enough to cook the batter, but if you’re making this in a cold apartment in the middle of December (as I am), the warmed oven should be a great help to the yeast. It will also speed up the process.
6. Combine the baking soda with 50 ml of warm water and stir it into the bubbly batter. Make sure everything is evenly combined.
7. Once again, cover and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes. The batter should become very bubbly again.
8. Place the crumpet rings (as many as will fit) in one or more frying pans. Cover the rings and pan(s) with nonstick spray. (The original recipe calls for coating with melted butter, but that’s a bit messy for me.)
9. Heat the frying pan on medium-low heat. Ladle enough of the batter into each ring to fill them about halfway.
Tip: DO NOT leave the ladle, spoon, spatula, or whatever you use in the bowl with the batter. This “flattens” it and kills off some of the bubbles.
10. Cook the batter in the rings (no flipping!) until the tops are no longer sticky and are full of holes.
11. Move the crumpets to a cooling rack. If you are eating them straightaway, you can toast them, either under a broiler or in a toaster/toaster oven until the tops are golden. If not, then let them cool completely, then store them in an airtight container, and toast them later.
12. Top with butter, jam, marmalade, Nutella, Marmite, honey, maple syrup, or whatever you enjoy on your toast. With a cup of tea, of course.
The crumpets should last you 4-5 days, kept in the fridge.
I’m just kidding. You’ll eat them all within 48 hours.
Enjoy with a Benedict
Crumpetbatch Cumberbatch video:
Dear friend and fellow fangirl Terpsichore over at the Egotist’s Club has tagged me in some kind of question-and-answer blog game, and I am obligated to respond. In answering them, I realized I may be under the influence of reading and watching too many Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and Tom Hiddleston interviews. Getting questions like these make me feel much more famous than I have any right to feel. Anyway, let’s press on.
1. What leader (from history or fiction) would you follow into the very jaws of death? Why?
It’s a toss-up between Thor and Captain America. They’re both decent guys who fight for pretty worthy causes. (If it involves defeating Loki, though, my loyalty to Thor would be harshly tested.)
2. Would you rather be an old-fashioned bard wandering around and telling stories, or a modern-day writer? Why?
I’d rather be (I am) a modern-day writer, because I like having the Internet for research purposes. Also, I’m a better communicator in print/writing than in speech, so I am pretty sure I would make a miserable bard.
3. What musical instrument best communicates your personality? How or why?
I’m going to say a piano, because the black and white keys represent how I tend to go to extremes (cue Billy Joel). And because I can be pretty sweet when you know which strings to pluck.
4. If you had a hedgehog, what would you name it, and why?
Prickly Pear. Self-explanatory, I think. Actually, I’d probably name it something a little less obvious, but I can’t think of anything better right now.
5. If you could tell high school students one thing that would influence them for the rest of their live, what would it be and why?
You will encounter many poisonous people in your life—be they family, coworkers, or complete strangers—and you should be polite to them when you can’t avoid them, but you are under no obligation to give them space in your head or in your life. And the reason I’d share this is because I think people would be a lot happier if they recognized that they don’t need to let toxic relationships into their lives.
6. What is the very first book you would read aloud to your baby, and why?
I want to say The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe because I just finished rereading it, and I have been thinking how much I look forward to reading the Narnia series to my future child (if I have one).
7. What are your thoughts on Disney acquiring Star Wars?
Pretty much nonexistent. I have not seen all the Star Wars films, either the original trilogy or the prequels, so I am completely disinterested in that whole issue. Given that I love many Marvel movies, and Disney has the rights to those, I’m inclined to think it’s possible that Disney wouldn’t completely botch a new Star Wars movie. That doesn’t mean I’d go see it, though.
8. What qualities of leadership do you possess?
That’s a hard question to answer about oneself. I do try to make sure everyone has all the necessary information and that they know what they’re getting into. Depending on the situation, I’d probably have enthusiasm too. I think I’m pretty good about giving credit where it’s due, and making rational decisions, and making sure my “crew” are taken care of.
(Just realized that I used the word “crew” and no that was not intentionally a Star Trek: Into Darkness reference, for those of you who might wonder.)
(Oh, well, I’ve gone and done it now.)
People magazine may have the “Sexiest Men Alive” market covered, but what of those super-studs who have already shuffled off this mortal coil? Fear not, dear readers! In the hearts of history nerds, they shall live on. Given that tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the U.S., I perhaps should do some kind of post about thankfulness. But you know what? I’m thankful that these guys existed, so I think that counts.
In no particular order, I give you …
The Sexiest Men … Not-Alive
1. C.S. Lewis
Oh please, like I was going to put anyone else first?? Many of us first encountered C.S. Lewis (“Jack” to family and friends) by reading his captivating Chronicles of Narnia as children, so it may be awkward to think of him as a sexy figure. But after all, brainy is the
new old always sexy, and this Irish academic had dry wit and intelligence in abundance. His work knew no boundaries in style and genre, and his poetry, essays, novels, and letters in sci-fi, fantasy, satire, and myth have dazzled minds and stomped on hearts around the world and over decades. He even has appeal if you’re the shallow type:
Face it: young C.S. Lewis was hott.
That’s right, I said it.
2. Thomas Jefferson
An educated and talented political radical, farmer, and avid reader with violin-playing skills and a bitchin’ house? Sign me up. Although he remains, like many of the Founding Fathers, a controversial-to-say-the-least figure, there is no denying that Thomas Jefferson was a man of many skills and long-lasting influence. I have a soft spot for tall guys and political radicals, so I couldn’t leave good ol’ TJ off the list. (The phrase “A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing” is enough to earn my favor.) Plus, he favored nullification and distrusted banks. Huzzah!
3. Anthony Perkins
Though best known as Norman Bates in Psycho, Anthony Perkins found success in theatre and film, and even romantic roles before Alfred Hitchcock changed all that. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve seen more than two other films he was in, but I had to include him in this list because seeing Psycho at age 13 left a major imprint on my psyche. I am pretty sure he’s responsible for my preference for the classic “tall, dark, and handsome” cliche, my fascination with serial killers, and my love of villains (though I might also blame Scar in The Lion King for that). Now that I think about it, the fact that I could watch the movie, aware that he murdered several women and kept his mother’s corpse in the basement, and still go, “Mmm, hawt” when he’s on screen, probably should have earned me a little time in therapy as an adolescent.
4. William Shakespeare
If mysterious is a sexy trait, then poet and playwright William Shakespeare is one of the English language’s sexiest masters! We may know little about this literary genius’ personal life, but there is a reason why his works have remained classics throughout the centuries. This entertainer was not bound by genre. What are you in the mood for? Take your pick of love poems, mythology, historical legends, screwball comedy, or action/adventure—there is something for everyone! Not only do his poems and plays stand on their own, but they’re infinitely adaptable to a variety of periods and societies, and have been influential in the careers of countless other artists. Allow his clever turn of phrase to sweep you off your feet, whether you’re listening to Sonnet XVIII or watching the unfolding of the Battle of Agincourt.
5. Horatio Nelson
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, KB, was more than the inspiration for C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower. This larger-than-life naval hero remains one of English history’s proudest figures. Nelson’s leadership and tactics earned him accolades from his superiors and the adoration of the public, but his deeds of derring–do cost him his right eye, his right arm, and, in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, his life. His brilliance, calculation, and bravery makes Nelson one sexy Brit—not to mention that he totally pulls off that goofy hat.
6. Fredric March
If you’ve been following this blog for a couple years, you may already know about my love for Fredric March. The only actor who ever won both the Academy Award and the Tony Award twice in his lifetime, this brilliant actor is now sadly obscure. His talent is deserving of much wider appreciation, though. I first saw him in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (for which he won his first Oscar) and was absolutely mesmerized by his performance. His role as Death in Death Takes a Holiday is also wonderful in spite of material that seems a bit cheesy to modern eyes and ears. He was also capable of taking on comedic roles in films such as Design for Living and Bedtime Story. Anyone who has never seen a Fredric March film is missing out on some good old-fashioned talent (and good old-fashioned sexy, amirite?).
In “honor” of the annual People Magazine issue of the “Sexiest Men Alive,” I have written a blog post inspired by my friend Kara.
I hereby give you…in no particular order…
THE SEXIEST MEN IMAGINED
1. Horatio Hornblower
“All the nice girls love a sailor,” as the song goes, and all the nice (and some not-so-nice) girls love the earnest Mr. Horatio Hornblower. This clever, ambitious chap has risen smartly through the ranks from midshipman to lieutenant to captain and beyond, thwarting the French while looking positively dashing in his naval uniform. A loving lady may be just the thing this seasick stud needs to welcome him home from his travels. Bear in mind, however, that you’re unlikely to see him more than once every few years, and even then you’ll be playing fifth fiddle to King, country, honor, and duty.
. . .
2. Mr. Thornton
The hard-working hero of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, Mr. Thornton is not only tall, dark, handsome, and wealthy, but an honest and straightforward boss, a dedicated son, and a cautious investor. This brooding, self-made master of industry may seem stern and intimidating at first, but deep down he is as soft and fluffy as the cotton produced in his factories. Once you’ve won his heart, you’ll have it forever—if his mum thinks you’re good enough.
. . .
An underrated hero in Jane Austen’s equally underrated Northanger Abbey, Henry Tilney is the sort of well-rounded chap any reasonable young woman would admire. This good-natured clergyman is fun-loving enough to holiday in Bath, where he meets and subsequently teases heroine Catherine Moreland. Don’t think him as frivolous as his ne’er-do-well elder brother, however. Tilney is well-read, and principled enough to stand up to his overbearing father for the sake of the woman he loves. It’s enough to tempt any unattached young ladies to try their luck at finding a modern version, which is the equivalent of running into a hot minister in Las Vegas.
. . .
Do you want a tall, dark stranger to sweep you off your feet to music? Hoping for a mysterious and sensitive genius to dedicate his life’s work to your beauty and talent? Have I got the fellow for you! Sure, he may have a few murders under his belt, and the next one may be yours if you try to peek under his mask, but Erik, the Phantom of the Opera, is a true Renaissance man with the voice of an angel—perfect for any woman who enjoys opera, organ music, and especially damp basements.
. . .
If you’re looking for a gentleman who will bring you flowers, take you to romantic candlelit dinners, and serenade you on the acoustic guitar, then keep looking. Mischief-maker Loki does what he wants, and he’s too busy pursuing world domination to woo any of you mewling quims. But if you want a man/demigod with eye-gouging ambition and a morbid sense of humor, and don’t mind the destruction of a few cities, Loki just might be the one for you. This adopted Asgardian may love his mum, but don’t hold out too much hope for Christmas dinner with the in-laws. Now KNEEL!
. . .
Whether its Robert Downey Jr.’s steampunk boxing champion, Jeremy Brett’s enthusiastic eccentric, or Benedict Cumberbatch’s snarky sexpot, women around the world continue to fall in love with Arthur Conan Doyle’s most hated creation. The observant and calculating Sherlock Holmes may not be the most sensitive lover, but you’ll never be bored. Don’t take any coffee from him, though—he’s not above poisoning you for the sake of an experiment.
. . .
Little girls may dream of Prince Charming riding away with them on a white horse, but real women are waiting for a Time Lord in a blue police box. With The Doctor, “I can show you the world” takes a backseat to “I can show you all of space and time.” As his new companion, you’ll be meeting William Shakespeare, fleeing Daleks, and witnessing the death of Planet Earth. Since you’re a human who will eventually die and he’s an immortal alien, though, don’t expect this whirlwind relationship to last more than a few years. Make every second count—and pray that Steven Moffat doesn’t write your episodes.
Sir Percy Blakeney, aka The Scarlet Pimpernel
Sink me, m’dear! Don’t be fooled by the dimwitted dandy you see before you. If it’s adventure, danger, and intrigue you seek, this master of disguise may give you even more than you bargained for. Sir Percy, better known as The Scarlet Pimpernel, spends much of his time bravely rescuing French aristocrats from the guillotine. It’s never a dull moment with this wealthy English baronet, as he and his comrades are in constant danger from Robespierre’s men. Seek him here and seek him there—can you find this dashing hero anywhere?
(In case you think I have omitted some deserving fellows, or if any of these entries displease you, well … deal with it. These are my personal choices and preferences. Although I have so many others, I may eventually do a Part Two…)
My goodness, that was a rather depressing previous post, wasn’t it?
All right, let’s talk about something much more interesting and delightful: INTJs!!
I found another resource for defining INTJ traits, and this one is the most “me” yet, I think. Puts to rest most doubts I’ve had that I am really an INFJ. (When in fact, I am an individual. Huh. Go figure.)
I really love this part: INTJs are the type MOST likely to . . . 1. Miss what is going on around them because they are lost in thought.
True story: Freshman year of high school, I was called into the principal’s office during the first week of class. It was a new school for me, I knew almost no one, and I was absolutely terrified. Evidently, a girl in my math class had been verbally harassing another. Because my assigned seat was located close to both of them, I was expected to be a witness and provide evidence. I was never aware of this behavior, because guess what I was doing in math class? Paying attention to the teacher and doing my work–and apparently doing it with the typically intense focus of an INTJ (though of course I didn’t realize that part at the time). I told the principal, in all honesty, that I didn’t know what he was talking about, and had heard and seen none of this alleged bullying. Naturally, he was very skeptical. I foolishly told my mom about this–not to make her do anything, just in a “hey, this thing happened” way. But she felt compelled to go to the principal and tell him how I have a capacity to be focused to the point of tuning out my surroundings, and so I was most likely not lying to him when I said I had no idea what else was going on in the class. Nothing else came of the situation–for all I know, at least. Because I mind my own business.
I had a more recent experience where my INTJ came out in abundance. Two common traits of an INTJ: 1.) practical application of the knowledge they acquire, and 2.) stepping up into a leadership role, not just to be in charge, but when they see it is needed.
A few weeks ago, I was spending an evening with some friends (two married couples, natch) that included a meal of breakfast-for-dinner. The couple who was hosting got into an argument over a half-carton of eggs. Husband wanted to use up this carton before using the new, full carton, while Wife fretted over the dangers of consuming the less-fresh eggs. Husband’s attempts to convince Wife that he had eaten from the half-carton the day before and had suffered no ill effects were to no avail. The other three of us watched awkwardly as tempers and voices rose, until finally I shouted over them, “OKAY. HERE’S WHAT WE’RE GONNA DO.”
Here is where I took charge to use some recently acquired knowledge. According to several online sources, egg freshness can be tested by putting them into a bowl of water. If the egg sinks fully, it is fresh. If the egg sinks, but stands on one end, it is still fit for consumption, but should be used soon. If the egg floats, it should be thrown away.
We conducted the test on the six questionable eggs, finding that all of them stood at one end. We used all six of them (and more from the fresh carton) and no one got sick. I have to admit, I’m proud of this one, mainly because I’m usually not great at conflict. In this case, Husband was justified, Wife had peace of mind, and INTJ had the satisfaction of being right, as always.
And since I’m talking about INTJs on 22 November, I feel I must point out the date’s significance as the day the world lost one of my favorite INTJs ever.
…[M]en usually feel that a strain could have been endured no longer at the very moment when it is ending, or when they think it is ending….in attacks on patience, chastity, and fortitude, the fun is to make the man yield just when (had he but known it) relief was almost in sight. ~ The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
If I’m going to write posts where I complain about things, it seems dishonest and somehow wrong not to write when I see God at work in them, too. This is one of those personal and vulnerable posts that make me uncomfortable to publish, but that make me think I would be somehow remiss if I did not tell this story. So … here goes.
I just wrote a semi-humorous but 100% truthful post about the loneliness of being single. Although it was a bit about wanting to find that “someone,” it was primarily about the loneliness of having few local friends, and none of them fellow singles. But this loneliness is only one of several terrible things I have been dealing with lately.
Yes, there’s loneliness/ singleness, but I’ve also been stressed by insomnia, the approach of the holiday season, a lack of direction in my life, the awkwardness of switching churches and trying to make connections in the new one, work-related frustrations (relatively minor compared to everything else; the other stuff just makes me not want to deal with work), and oh yes, my mom and stepdad got divorced.
[Mmm...nope. There is no amusing photo I could put in that possibly relates to all this.]
This week, I was at my limit. Thursday I went to a small-group dinner, desperate to talk about at least part of it, but I never had the opportunity. In social settings, I have trouble talking about myself unless I am asked a direct question, and I was never asked a direct question except what I thought of Thor 2. (Side note: I’m a little embarrassed that my disappointment in the movie contributed to my recent depression, but movies literally have been the only thing I have had to look forward to, and then I didn’t even have that.) Rather than easing the emotional burden, I went home far worse, feeling that it made no difference whether I had been there or not. Online, I told a couple long-distance friends that I was so lonely, I wanted to die. But I vowed to survive until Friday, at least.
The next day, Friday, I powered through work and Zumba just so I could crash back into bed and my pajamas for as long as possible. But that evening, a friend in the same small group, who had been at the dinner, invited me to join her at a coffee shop while she did some work. Despite my loneliness and depression, my first thought was, “But I’m tired and I want to wallow in my misery. I don’t want to have to put on a bra and pants [trousers, to you British readers] or even makeup and go outside.”
I texted back to say, “thanks for the invite but I’m sooo tired so maybe another time.” 20 minutes later I hadn’t heard back, and I started to question my reply. I realized, “If I receive an invitation by a person I like to do a thing I like at a time I’m free, and I say ‘no’ for no other reason than I am tired and just want to wallow in my misery, then I have no right to ever complain about my loneliness ever again.”
I grabbed my phone to rescind my previous reply, but saw that I had typed it out and never sent it. Well then. I told her I would join her once I was ready, and I did. I grabbed my latest literary acquisition–C.S. Lewis’ anthology of George MacDonald–to read while I was there. It was a great time–reading silently, sharing a table, with occasional chat breaks. All the makings of an introvert party. I had a chance to talk a little bit about some things that were going on, and as I left we made plans for other Fun Times down the road.
When I got home, feeling ten times more human and a million times less miserable, I was thinking about the part in The Screwtape Letters that I posted above. So praise God for His provision,when I was just about at my breaking point.
Remember when I wrote a blog post back in August that was more open and honest than I usually am about being single and how much it sucks?
Well … it still sucks. Mightily.
And not just because of all this:
. . .
And ever since I ended my church-shopping and settled down to another place of worship, it’s gotten worse. Don’t get me wrong: the new church has everything I’m looking for in terms of theology, liturgy, and organization. It has a solid foundation in the gospel, and while the pastors are not the most eloquent I have heard, they are truthful and actually rely on Scripture. For the most part, I like going. I look forward to the sermons every week in a way I haven’t in months and months. I’m still holding my breath for a C.S. Lewis reference, but I’m sure it will come soon enough.
But holy crap, the congregation. It’s all college students and young married couples, with the odd retirement-age couple thrown in randomly here and there. I don’t even know. I don’t have a problem with college students or young married couples as a rule. It’s just that all my friends in Columbus are already married. (I’m not exaggerating. ALL OF THEM. If I want to hang out with a fellow singleton friend, I literally have to leave town. Or wait for them to come visit me.) And judging by the population at my new church, if I want friends who are single, I have to befriend the row of 20-year-old girls sitting in front of me in their Ugg boots talking about how many credits they’re taking this semester.
I kid you not, yesterday I heard one girl talk about her indecision about having kids someday. Then I heard her say that she was “going to be 20″ on her next birthday. I wanted to smack her.
The week before, I met a girl who asked me if I was a student. I said “No, I’m not … actually, I kinda feel like I’m too old for this church.” Her response: “Oh, don’t worry, I’m not a student either! I was until May, but I’m not anymore!”
If you don’t get it, here’s the trouble: in either case–married couples or college students–I have to make friends who are in vastly different circumstances-of-life as I am. This is not just “Ugh, she likes to sew and I don’t” or “He doesn’t watch Sherlock“ type stuff. This is “Our lives are in completely different places” stuff. If I had a few college-age friends and a few married couples here and there among single-and-my-age acquaintances, it would be fine, and rather refreshing. But when those are my only options, it’s awkward, it’s frustrating, and it’s isolating. And trust me, my life is lonely enough. It’s not an issue of time–the assumption that single people automatically have more free time than married people is ignorant and often wrong (not in my case, but still). It’s an issue of having someone who knows where I’m coming from, who has a major thing in common with me, and who just gets it. If you don’t understand why that’s important … I really don’t know how else to explain it.
I’m not complaining in complete ignorance. I understand that, at 28, I can expect most of my peers to pair off into matrimony very soon, if they haven’t already. I understand that, in a city with a major state university, there will be a large population of college students in the autumn months. What I don’t understand is how the hell every other person in their late 20s managed to get married by now, how they all seem to have forgotten what singleness is like, and how there are so few over-30 Christian singles in a capital city. Supposedly, the 2010 U.S. census showed that almost 44% of adults are unmarried. From what I’ve seen, those adults are all under 25 or over 50 because I sure as hell can’t find many who are around age 30. Not in churches in Columbus, Ohio, at least. If I’m not the only one, where are the others??
I can’t be left to say all this shit by myself: