Tribute to Cat’s Cake

My lovely flat mate Lady Catriona has bequeathed to us in flat 10 a cake recipe that has helped us through the term at Leeds Uni. This is a tribute to the Honorable Cat’s Cake. I dub thee, Cat’s Cake, honorary Cake of the Year Award because of your proven valour and:

  • Adaptability – form well to students’ budgets, can be baked in nearly any pan.
  • Ease – can be whipped up in a matter of minutes and bake in 20.
  • No icing needed, but tastes good with any.
  • Simplicity – no more than 4 ingredients needed.
  • Suitability – for any occasion, be it birthday, exam cramming, or after a late night out.
  • Taste – excellent with tea, coffee, or wine or beer.
  • Versatility – any ingredients found in the cupboards may be added to you and you only improve in taste.


The Recipe: Cat’s Cake:

  • Sugar, 1 part (1 cup)
  • Butter/margarine for baking, 1 part
  • 2 eggs
  • Self-rising flour, 1 part

Whisk first 3 ingredients together. Add flour. Pour into pan. Bake at 180 C for 20 minutes.


Ingredient options: stir 2 serving size cups of either lemon or chocolate mousse to batter, add mixed spice and cinnamon to batter and sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar, lemon or almond or vanilla extract. you can top with just about anything: fruit, pie filling, canned pears or peaches, powdered sugar, lemon glaze, sliced almonds…but it doesn’t need any.

Pan options: I have used a butter-lined round spring form pan, baking sheet, and ceramic crockery. The crockery will take an additional 5-10 minutes to bake.


Kirkstall Abbey Adventure

Today I ran down to Kirkstall Abbey, in West Yorkshire, just a 50 minute walk or 20 minute jog from where I live in Headingly, Leeds. Becca and I visited the abbey on Saturday when it was sunny and families were picnicking and playing football in the park surrounding it, but we got there too late to go inside. I couldn’t have left England knowing I didn’t visit the sights so close to Leeds. Isn’t it funny how we travel hundreds or thousands of miles to see new places, but don’t explore everything that is so near us? That is how I feel about the Grand Canyon and Mexico when people hear I’m from New Mexico.

This abbey is one of the oldest buildings I have seen, other than those in Rome. It is a monastery dating from before the 12th century, when Cistercian monks built it next to the River Aire before there was ever a Leeds. There are many abbey ruins in the British Isles, as there are many in France and Spain as well as other parts of post-Catholic Europe. (appropriate field trip for my Catholic Europe History module I just finished, don’t you think?) While these may be normal sights for the average European, I am all enamored with the historical grandeur of such a place as this. Perhaps it is because we don’t have thousand-year-old structures built by human hands in North America, to my knowledge. I suppose we do have cave drawings, and thousand year old redwoods…

As I walked around the grassy grounds of the abbey, I like to imagine the monks and lay brothers who lived, worked, and ate here so long ago. Not even a hundred years after the abbey was decommissioned by Henry VIII in the 1500’s, a market was set up and later the main road to Leeds was built straight through the church corridor. Passersby carved their initials into the stone columns. One meticulous piece of graffiti I found on the wall of the monks’ small library looked more calligraphic than criminal. There was spelled out a man’s initials and last name, complete with the date 1816. If all graffiti artists today were as articulate as this man’s, I might not mind it so much. The other thing that impressed me upon my inspection was the monks’ use and design of waterways. There are still some existing wash basins in the walls of chapel’s the adjacent rooms. They empty out the bottom, through a spout either onto the tile floor or down through the stone walls into the ground floor and into the monastery’s water channel. I could imagine they used this channel to transport waste outside the monastery as well. The designers’ ingenuity from such an early time amazes me, not to mention how they built such impressive structures out of hand-hewn stone blocks. And just where did they get the stone from? As amazed as I am at the remains of people who lived so long before us, I am happy to belong in the 21st century.

Since my camera is out of commission, I will have to rely on Google images of the abbey:

Dear Friends,

This is what happens when I stay up late and drank too much Yorkshire tea: I get on my laptop and either waste away time online, or writing, or both. I am sure you can relate, at least to the online thing (i.e. face book that seems to be taking over everyone’s life).

I had a lovely day in the park today after finishing my 3 hour-long eighteenth-century literature exam, soaked up some sun, and am getting over my cold. I was sitting here trying to decide which of my wandering thoughts at this present time would be actually be worth putting up on a public blog, and then I realized that in the email I sent to one of my churches back in Columbia, SC, I had said I would be joining them in the National Day of Prayer tomorrow, but by that time tomorrow was today, at least in Greenwich time. So here it is, the National Day of Prayer, May 22 this year, and I am considering what it is I will be praying about. Usually we pray for broad things like our government, civil unrest, world hunger, missionaries overseas, etc. but I think I need to pray for what is on my heart. And that is people. Those I have come into contact with here, the friends I have made, all the precious people God has brought into my life for a reason… they’re who I pray for. I am by no means a model Christian, so don’t take me to be bragging about my spirituality or anything. I hope that you would be encouraged just to take a few minutes, or even seconds, when those people come across your mind, to pray for them too. Just begin by thanking the Lord for them, for their friendship, for what he has planned for them, then if you know anything specific to pray for that person, do. Sometimes God brings things across our minds that we just need to pray about and lay before him in trust. Pay attention for those things, or those urges.

I have so many unsaved friends and relatives that my heart longs for to come to know him. Maybe you even know who you are if you read this; know that I am praying for you because I care about you, but more than that, God cares about you and wants you for himself. He created you and wants you to be restored to him. You, my dear friends, know that today I will be writing down your name in my book, and praying for you by name. Just as God knows each of your names, he will hear my prayers and listen. Will you? I know this is beginning to sound a bit cheesy, but I mean what I say. I want nothing more than to see everyone I care for belong to Jesus and share in his happiness and goodness. I want nothing more than to see you in heaven one day. Yes, I believe all that stuff! Here we come, my Jesus and me, with our little cupid arrows after your heart!

lots of love, Becca

Revision Time

I compiled a list of recent things I think about in the library when I should be revising (reviewing/studying, my American friends) for my exams. Here’s a list of interesting (or not so interesting) revelations, quips, and other wandering thoughts ideas I jotted down so I could get my mind back on studying:

  • Why am I still wearing a scarf in Leeds? It’s supposed to be May!
  • Wonder if John Milton ever was married? That stuff about Eve in Paradise Lost just didn’t quite help out the reputation of women.
  • How am I going to get this ring that’s stuck off my finger?
  • That person’s Converse under the desk over there are cool. I want colorful laces like that.
  • When I wear mascara, am I feeding the miniscule organisms that live on my eyelashes?
  • If I never cut my hair, how long would it be?
  • What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda?
  • Why do the UK and the US hold Mother’s Day in different months?
  • I still find it hard to believe that Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) has a British accent.
  • I could just take a quick nap on my desk.
  • I should move over behind those bookshelves so no one sees me.
  • I think my face looked better when I was thinner.
  • Tea is so cheap in England. I’m going to miss it. I want some tea now, with a little milk.
  • I think I would marry Mr. Darcy over Lord Orville.
  • What does Lady Gaga look like now?
  • I would rather inspect the artwork on the cover of all the books on the shelves than read my own book…
  • Glad I didn’t live in the 17th century or I would’ve been burnt alive as a witch. EEEEK!
  • I could go get ‘sweeties’ to help with revising. Yes, that will definitely help me focus!
  • Another cuppa tea?
  • I need to shave my legs.
  • Does rumba start on count one or two? I always forget…
  • Hope it really is ok to drink water out of the bathroom tap here…
  • I want to go dancing!
  • Ok, read one more chapter, then I can get up and have a break…


Becca’s Make-again Student/Starving Artist Recipes, Round 1

(All recipes from my spring semester in England, and all are veggie)

Sweet Potato Curry created March 2010:

  • 2-3 Sweet potatoes (the orange ones)
  • 1-2 large white potatoes
  • 2 med carrots
  • 1 white onion
  • Chickpeas, 2 cans
  • Coconut milk, 1 can
  • Water or veg stock, 2.5 cups
  • Peanut butter (optional)
  • Curry powder
  • Korma curry paste, 2 tbsp
  • Garlic cloves, crushed
  • Coriander, 1-2 tbsp
  • Pinch of salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Tomato puree, 1 tbsp
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • Spinach, couple handfuls (fresh is best)
  • Rice or flat bread to serve it with

(This makes enough to feed a crowd, or freeze and reheat for meals for weeks.) Slice potatoes, onions, and carrots into chunks and heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stew pot over the hob. Cook onion, garlic, salt, add potatoes and chickpeas, stirring. Add peanut butter if desired, water/veg stock next, lemon, coconut milk, tomato puree, tomatoes, and half of coriander. Bring to a boil and stir well, reduce heat and let simmer for a good 40-45 minutes. Keep checking it doesn’t dry out, and add more water if needed. Stir in spinach until wilted and add more coriander to taste.

Avocado poached egg sandwich created April 2010:

  • Avocado
  • Lemon juice
  • Egg (1 for each sandwich)
  • Salt and pepper (freshly ground if you have it)
  • Bread (whole wheat or pumpernickel)
  • Hard, white cheese (optional)

Slice avocado in half, remove pit, slice flesh, scoop out and drizzle with lemon. Boil water in a shallow fry pan. Crack and drop egg into it; remove when semi-hard with slotted spoon. Toast bread and layer with avocado, salt and pepper, egg, and cheese.

Lentils and whatever-you-got soup, created April 2010:

  • Lentils (yellow are often cheapest)
  • Canned veg: chickpeas, navy beans, black-eyed peas, etc. and one can chunk tomatoes
  • Frozen veg: peas, spinach, or carrots
  • Vegetable broth/instant bullion
  • Garlic, salt, pepper
  • Olive oil if you have it

Soak lentils over night and rinse (removes flatulence 😉 bring olive oil to heat in stew pan, and briefly saute lentils with garlic powder. Add broth and water, adding other veggies as you bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes, or until most of the water has been absorbed.

Cat’s 4-ingredient sponge cake:

  • Sugar, 1 part
  • Butter/margarine for baking, 1 part
  • 2 eggs
  • Self-rising flour, 1 part

Whisk first 3 ingredients together. Add flour. Pour into butter-lined round spring form pan. Bake at 180 C for 20 minutes.

Chocolate mousse 4-ingredient sponge cake, created April 2010:

  • Self-rising flour, 1 part
  • Sugar, 1 part
  • Butter/margarine for baking, 1 part
  • 2 eggs
  • Vanilla flavouring, if you have it
  • Cheap generic brand chocolate mousse from dairy section of grocery, 2 single-serving cups (or try lemon mousse and substitute lemon juice for vanilla)

Same as above, but stir in splash of vanilla with eggs, and fold in mousse after all ingredient are mixed.

Red wine ‘french toast’ created May 2010

  • Old or new sliced bread (whole wheat is best)
  • Third or fourth a bottle leftover red wine
  • Sugar (best is Demura light brown)
  • Butter or margarine (or whatever type of spread you got)

Slice bread into triangles and soak in the wine. Optional: spread one side with butter before soaking. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake in oven at 180 C until slightly golden or until you can’t wait any longer. Syrup, nutella or whipped cream are a great toppings.

Not-so-English cucumber sandwiches created May 2010

  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Bread (whole wheat or rye)
  • Soft cheese such as brie, but the cheaper kind, sold in individual wedges
  • Salt and pepper (freshly ground if you have it)
  • Light miracle whip/mayo

Toast the bread if you like. Spread one side with cheese wedge, one side with mayo. Sprinkle mayo side with salt and pepper. Layer on cukes and lettuce and top w/bread. Slice sandwich into triangles to make it look pretty.

Rachel’s cheesy potato wedges:

  • Potatoes (small red ones are best, but anything works)
  • Onions if you got ’em
  • Garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • Cumin or paprika or rosemary (but not all three)
  • Olive oil
  • Hard, white cheese

After a late night out, soak up the alcohol with these: turn on the oven, slice up the potatoes and onions, throw on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle generously with herbs and salt and pepper. Add shreds of cheese and throw it in the oven until they begin to look brown. Remember to turn off the oven before you dig in! Sweet dreams.