The Seitzgeist – Issue 73


Posted by in February's Magazine

My friends and I have started a book group. This is something of a double-edged sword for me to be honest: I don’t think I managed to successfully complete a single book last year such was my inability to focus on reading, so having a reason to force myself to persist with a book is a very good thing. However, this problem with focusing on reading hasn’t just conveniently disappeared and I’m finding myself distracted by anything and everything each time I pick up the damn book. It’s not a bad book – Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood – but I have to confess that it doesn’t have me deep within it’s grip. Atwood likes to elaborate and favours the use of metaphors – so much so that I find myself skimming lengthy sections of overly-descriptive text in order to get to a bit where something actually happens.

Anyway, enough about the book. The point of telling you about book group is less to share my thoughts on the reading material and more to talk about the food. Because clearly, where there’s gathering of me and my friends there’s generally food. Or more specifically, cake. Sarah hosted the first ‘booky’ (her choice of name, not mine), and there was enough food to feed a small army complete with a Victoria sponge bigger than my head. I’m the first to admit that I’m usually so horribly disorganised and chronically absent-minded that I have a shocking habit of turning up to things empty-handed. This is something I am making a conscious effort to address and so for our first meeting I also baked a cake. It’s an old-faithful Nigel Slater number, and has never failed me yet. It gives more than a slight nod towards summer which I think is more than welcome in January. I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t think this cake is delicious.

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Lemon-Frosted Pistachio Cake
Enough for 12 people
250g butter
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g shelled pistachio nuts
100g ground almonds
An orange
1 tsp rosewater
60g plain flour
For the icing:
100g icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas 3. Line the bottom of a non-stick 22cm cake tine with baking parchment.
Cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Blitz the pistachios to fine crumbs in a food processor, then add along them with the ground almonds to the butter and sugar. Finely grate and squeeze the orange, then stir in with the rosewater. Lastly fold in the flour with a large metal spoon. Scoop the mixture into the lined baking tin and bake for fifty minutes, covering the top lightly with foil for the last ten. Check the cake by inserting a metal skewer into the centre. It should come out fairly clean, without any wet mixture stuck to it. Leave to cool in the tin before running a palette knife around the edge and turning it out.

Make the icing by mixing the sugar and lemon juice together til smooth, then pour it over the cake. Leave for half an hour for the icing to set.

Life in a Day
I’ve been reading a lot about this project recently. Last year, Scottish filmmaker Kevin MacDonald was commissioned by YouTube to make a film documenting a single day on earth, as seen through the eyes of people around the world. The idea was to use nothing but user-generated content (in short, submissions from the general public) all filmed on a single day: 24 July 2010. From nearly 4500 hours of footage shot on camcorders and mobile phones by 82,000 people in 192 different countries, MacDonald has created a film called Life in a Day.
You can watch the film here.

This month I’ve been mainly…
throwing cups of tea over my MacBook and wondering where I’m going to find the £200 for it’s repair; getting pissed off with the S-L-O-W and shoddy computer in the library; battling with the photo booth at Waverley station; making-do with a demented-looking passport photo as a result; eating enough to feed a small nation; running regularly (hurray!) and feeling fitter and stronger by the day; getting to grips with yoga asanas; wondering if I am dyslexic; sawing bits of copper and planning my silver masterpiece; wishing to the heavens I was lying in the sun, by a pool, on holiday; day-dreaming; wondering what to do; planning my next move.

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