Posted in Books, Recipes

Gingerbread Man Cookies

Baking is something I have always enjoyed (even before quarantine), but I only found time to do some experiments around Christmas, one of which was recreating a recipe from a fairytale called ‘The Gingerbread Man’. I followed the description in the text for the decorations, and they turned out perfect for a winter evening.
"She made a big batch of gingerbread dough, then rolled it flat and cut it in the shape of a gingerbread man. She gave him raisins for eyes, a cinnamon drop for a mouth, and chocolate chips for buttons. Then she put the gingerbread man in the oven to bake."
Prep Time 30 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine English, Fictional
Servings 20 (should serve a small lovely group of friends)

Equipment

  • 1 Oven
  • 1 Cookie Cutter
  • 1 Stand Mixer optional

Ingredients
  

  • 6 tablespoons softened salted butter
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark molasses or honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • a gingerbread man cookie cutter
  • a few choco chips
  • a few raisins
  • some royal icing

Instructions
 

  • Cream the butter and sugar together, and add the molasses along with an egg. Add all the spices (if you only have the whole spices, a mortar and pestle works wonders to bring out the perfect flavour of these cookies!) and fold in the flour.
  • Bring everything together and lay it out in some cling film and chill it overnight or if you are not too ambitious then for 4-6 hours. It might be a good idea to use a rolling pin and flatten the dough out beforehand, while it’s still in the cling wrap so that it is easier to cut out shapes later on.
  • Once you’ve had your afternoon siesta, spring up and get back to making these cookies. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and use the cookie cutter to cut out shapes of the Gingerbread Man. If you feel that the dough is sticky, pop it in the fridge for a few more hours and resist every temptation to add more flour! Remember the warmth from your hands is the last thing the Gingerbread Man kneads.
  • Spread out the shapes on a lined baking tray and set the oven for 175°C for about 10-12 minutes. Let it cool before smearing with icing. Use the chocochips and raisins to make buttons and eyes. Show no mercy and bite its head off.

Posted in Books, Interviews

Interview: International Relations by Adele Archer

Recently I got the golden opportunity of having a discussion with the debutant authoress Adele Archer, in regard to her book titled ‘International Relations.’ And no, her book is not about globalisation, or maybe it is…*giggles*

Here is how our conversation went:

For starters, could you tell us what your trilogy is about?
Arghh! I am so bad at blurbs and synopses…synopsis…sin…summaries of the book. Well, I hate to call it a romance, and yet it is. But an offbeat romance with a difference. It’s an amusing, yet adventurous tale of two seemingly opposing people’s struggle to be together. However, life conspires to force them apart at every turn. See? I’m rubbish at synopses. I’d suggest you read the blurbs instead, I slaved hours over those babies.

According to your website your inclination towards writing came from your late sister, but where does the inspiration of the two main characters, Milo and Dee come from?
I remember being bored by fictional women in novels and TV when I was growing up. They weren’t the women I knew. I wanted to portray a female character that was multidimensional – like real women. Dee, I suppose, is a little bit of me. But me without any filters. And with more bad life choices. Milo is the archetypal brooding, enigmatic male protagonist – yet fragile and troubled. Actually, my husband absolutely loathes Milo. I had to point out that characters a bit like him are littered all throughout literature. He just responded that all women must like ‘bad boys’ (he actually used a different ‘b’ word, but I’m trying to be polite). And in a way, we do. But I would never personally choose one in real life, though. I’m too practical. And I think too much of myself.

What challenges did you face while writing and publishing your books?
Well…children, having a day job, having to actually talk to people. I know, I had a lot of hurdles and crosses to bear. Up to now, though, I’ve never found writing itself a struggle. What I do find challenging is allowing myself to sit down and write, when I feel guilty about neglecting everything else. I don’t suppose I’m alone in that.

What piece of advice would you like to share with aspiring writers?

I’ve said this before, but I think it’s difficult to be a young writer. When I was young, I believed that to be considered a proficient writer, you had to fit into a certain way of doing things. It was only when I matured that I realised I had to be 100% myself, or it was never going to work. It seems completely obvious now, but I just had to stop pretending, and do my own thing. Even if everybody else hates what I do. Because ‘me’ was the only thing I had that was unique. So that’s what I’d suggest, be yourself. You will certainly have a quirk that is all your own. Use it.

Could you give us a fun fact about your work?
How about three?
A) ‘International Relations’ (which went through a number of titles) was originally called, ‘And After That’ (rubbish, ay?). My husband thought up its final title. I never much cared for it!
B) In ‘American Cousins’, Kirby the cat isn’t fictitious, she’s my actual cat.
C) In ‘American Cousins’, the sheep joke happened in real life (sorry if you haven’t read ‘American Cousins’ but now you have a reason to)!

What can readers expect from the second and third parts of your book?
I’ve got to tell you – things get a little dark as the story progresses. I didn’t do that as some kind of ploy, it was purely timing. I was going through a bereavement during the latter stages, and I suppose that was where my head was at. Life isn’t rainbows and lollipops. There are times when I just had to let the story go its own way, even though ‘escapist me’ wanted to put a jollier spin on everything. But the narrative had a mind of its own and dictated that I couldn’t. People think it’s odd when I say that, because it was up to me, right? I wrote it. But it’s true. The story sometimes wrote itself.

Are you working on any other projects other than your series?
No. I’m a ‘starter-completer’ (it’s a thing). I can’t move on until something is finished. Other than my blog, working on Book III is all I am doing right now.

Would you like to venture into other genres apart from romance?

Yes! I’d like to think I will never write another romance novel again (but I can’t promise). My favourite genres are fantasy and murder-mystery, but I’m nervous that I don’t have an aptitude for writing them. But you never know until you try. One book I have no choice but to write will not be fiction at all. I will probably be writing the story of my childhood (which I won’t enjoy writing a single bit as I didn’t have a very happy childhood). But I imagine I won’t write it until I’m an old lady – don’t want to offend anyone, you see.

What is your favourite book from the classic era and from the contemporary era?
‘Jane Eyre’ would certainly be my favourite book from the classical era – I love the brooding Mr Rochester. Hmm, he sounds familiar… Closely followed by ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (of course) when I’m in a more frivolous mood. From the modern era, I’d have to go for ‘The Game of Thrones’ saga. I read them all. Murder, romance, intrigue, war, politics. There just isn’t anything out there quite like it.

What was the most fun part and the most difficult part while painting your fictional story?

The most fun part was seeing what had been rattling around my head for years actually taking form on paper. The most difficult part was bringing the saga to a close. Those characters had been with me since my teens (when I originally came up with the story). It was hard to say goodbye – they’d almost become real people for me. But I’ve definitely said goodbye.

Name three or more things you cannot write without.

A laptop (I hate writing at a desktop computer). Coffee (sorry, obvious). Google (‘nuff said).

Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?
The story is nearly at a close (well it certainly is for me, since I’m just editing Book III). ‘International Relations’ might not change your life, but it might just take you away from the stresses of yours. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Adele is currently working on the third and final part of her saga. You can meanwhile purchase the first two parts of her book from Amazon. (Currently, hardcopies are only available in US and UK )
You can even subscribe to her website- Adele Archer or her blog- Adele Archer Writes if you would like to know more about her.

P.S You can see my review of the book here. I highly recommend reading it!