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Friday, 30 November 2012

Ice Princess


So I have once again been slacking from the world of work and spending some time up in Cambridge with my sister. Due to Cambridge's short terms (term ends on Thursday!) Christmas has already arrived there. It is a time of year fondly known by students as Bridgemas.

On Friday I travelled up with my mum and me, my sister, my parents, my godparents and their son all went to Formal Hall. It was a very nice evening, a much needed catch up, that ended with a quick drink in the college bar. On Saturday, they had all left and C and I went to brunch with some friends at Murray Edwards (our Mum's old college although in her day it was still New Hall). We then went to the Grafton Centre and did some Christmas shopping and went to the cinema to see Nativity 2. It was a good laugh, if not the most high-brow or believable film! On Sunday after brunch in her college we did something rather exciting (it's coming further down, don't worry!) before heading back to the Grafton to finish off a bit of shopping. In the evening we went to the College Advent service, which was a calm, reflective service with beautiful readings, music from the choir and some nice cheerful carols. We followed this by going to Formal Hall where, as she had done on Friday, one of C's friends read grace (and very well, I might add!) This was followed by me introducing C to a Christmas film she had never seen before: Elf! The next day C had a 9am lecture which I remained in bed for and then we both went to her 12 o'clock lecture on Fungal Infections...actually very interesting although I came out diagnosing myself with allsorts (apparently it's a common med student thing!) In the afternoon I met up with my good friend Abi for coffee and then I went to a concert C was playing and singing in before we both headed to the university carol concert. Sadly on the Tuesday I had to come home, but not before we tried out the new Sri Lankan restaurant "Ceylon Cinnamon". Let me tell you, it was pure and utter heaven. uckily we had that because me and Mum's 1.5 hour journey home that afternoon turned into an almost 6 hour one...fun!

So the rather exciting event that occurred on Sunday was...C and I went ice skating! I'm not sure if I've mentioned on here before, but C is in a wheelchair so ice skating has not really been one of her recent activities. However, on Parker's Piece each winter there is a temporary ice rink set up so we went down to investigate and would you know, you can take a (manual) wheelchair on! I donned my skates and tentatively pushed C onto the ice... At first, I won't lie, it was tricky. I fell victim to Newton's Third Law of every force having an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, when I attempted to push the wheelchair forwards, I just slid backwards. I soon worked out however, that if I skated with my feet turned out to the sides (thank goodness for all that ballet!) I got enough grip to actually move her. Once I had that down, we were off and at quite considerable speeds. Having the wheelchair was actually quite nice...you know you see kids with those penguins that they hold onto to (attempt to) stay on their feet? It was like having one of those but in disguise! I didn't fall over once, which I normally do because I have small issues with being a little too fearless of getting hurt! It was quite tiring and I actually got hot! I skated round a few times on my own too and C even had a go at wheeling herself around! It was a really really fun activity to do. To anyone who is unsure of taking a wheelchair on the ice, do it! It is actually surprisingly easy and is great fun.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

I spy mince pies!

Christmas season has arrived in the Daboo household with the traditional making of mince pies! It's something we do every year, in fact last year it was one of the first things I did when I was allowed out of hospital for a day. We generally have the Christmas music baring in the background whilst me and Mum stand up to our elbows in pastry.

This year, along with our traditional mince-pie-sized mince pies, we made some mini mince tarts with some new tools mum got from a Pampered Chef party. We used this mini-muffin pan:
Deluxe Mini-Muffin Pan and this mini-tart shaper: Mini-Tart Shaper
They worked really well and are a great (not too scary!) bitesized festive snack.
Here are the mini tarts as they went into the oven:



And here are the finished products:



Obviously the recipe is a highly-secret, highly-classified piece of information...but I'm going to be nice and make an exception for my wonderful readers! So here we go...

World-famous Daboo Mince Pies
Makes around 24 mince pies
Ingredients
8oz plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
4oz butter
1oz caster sugar
1/2 beaten egg (or 1 beaten egg yolk mixed with a little water)
Mincemeat (roughly one 400g jar)

Method

  1. Sieve flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the butter in small cubes and rub the butter into the flour until it is a similar consistency to breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the caster sugar.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and add the beaten egg. Stir until the mixture clings together, adding very small amounts of water as necessary. Make sure you don't add too much as it will reach the right point very suddenly and any more will make the mixture too sticky.
  5. Set the dough aside to rest, covering the bowl with a plate, whilst you lightly dust your surface with plain flour,grease your cupcake pan and preheat your oven to 200°C/180°fan.
  6. Take out the dough and knead it gently. You want to feel as though you are gently guiding the edges of the pastry into the middle.
  7. Lightly dust your rolling pin with flour and start rolling your dough. Always roll away from you and then back towards you, never sideways. Roll about 3 times backwards and forwards and then gently rotate the dough 90°. Repeat this until your dough is a couple of mm thick.
  8. Take two cookie cutters, one large and one slightly smaller, preferably with "frilly" edges. Cut out equal numbers of large and small circles (you can pick up the "scraps" of dough and knead and roll them again to get more).
  9. Place the large circles gently into the wells in your cupcake pan.
  10. Take a teaspoon and put a small amount of mincemeat into each one. Take care not too overfill them or they will leak when you cook them!
  11. Take a small circle and dampen a finger with water. Run it around the rim of the small circle and one of the large circles and then place the small circle as a lid on your mince pie, squeezing the two circles gently together all the way around the edge.
  12. Take a fork and gently make one set of small holes in the top of each mince pie. (This lets any steam out and stops them bursting in the oven.) Brush the tops with water and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
  13. Pace the tray on the middle shelf of the oven for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them and take them out when they are just turning golden brown. Take them out of the pan immediately (we find using a curved grapefruit knife makes this very quick and easy) and set them on a wire cooling rack.
Best served warm with some brandy butter or a nice scoop of the trusty old vanilla ice cream!

Brum brum brum

I had my interview for Medicine at Birmingham University yesterday. It was a new system called the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say about it as I was one of the first to be interviewed so I don't want to give it all away to those still waiting. Here is a bit of information from the website:


Interviews are organised in a multiple mini-interview format. You will participate in four separate, short interviews, lasting 6mins each. This will allow you to start afresh at each mini-interview. A range of your personal attributes relevant to studying medicine will be assessed by means of different tasks. Interview stations are designed to assess aspects such as: motivation for medicine; communication; self-insight; ethical reasoning; scientific understanding and interpretation.
The four stations will be:
Data Interpretation: You will be presented with the findings of a study and asked to interpret and discuss these.
Motivation and Insight into Medicine: You will be asked to discuss specific aspects of your work experience.
Dealing with personal and ethical challenges: Through thinking about your own experiences and an ethical problem, you have the opportunity to demonstrate personal qualities important for coping in a demanding career.
Interactive Task: This is a role-play station. You will be expected to achieve a task through negotiation with the role-player (who will be a medicine student).
The system was intense and felt a bit like speed-dating on Red Bull! The beginning and end of each 6 minutes was signaled by a whistle in the corridor and we had two minutes outside of the rooms to read information for the next one. The interviewers had no idea about who we were. They didn't know our names let alone what was on our UCAS/personal statements. A lot of people found the role-play the hardest and while that was quite pressured, I actually found the personal and ethical challenges the hardest.
Overall I think it went ok. I didn't make any diabolical mistakes that made me flounder around which was good. It is hard to tell how you've done so I'll just have to wait for the results.
I got my BMAT results today and unfortunately I didn't do so great in that but never mind. What's done is done!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Winter Warmer

Do you know something I am loving at the moment? Warming winter spices...
I've been having Copella Winter Warmer juice hot at breakfast, gingerbread lattes at work, cinnamon and nutmeg rice pudding and cinnamon candles at bathtime. 
They're just so comforting, spicy and ... I can't think of a word other than warm.
Anyone who knows me will know that I love warmth. In the winter time my favourite evenings are the ones spent in front of the fire, occasionally watching the tv, but mostly watching the flames licking up and hearing the hiss and crackle from a spectacle that seems so alive. I love hats and scarves and gloves. Knitwear is my best friend. Big cosy jumpers and thick woolen socks. 
Bonfire night is one of my favourite of the year. This year my parents and I went to the Woking Fireworks and had a great time. I went on the dodgems with mum, tried hot chestnuts, ate a toffee apple and gazed in wonder at the colourful explosions in the sky. It was a James Bond theme and it always amazes me how they can time the fireworks with the music. There is a serious business in firework choreography.
At work we have introduced the red cups along with the winter drinks and winter food. It's all very festive and is really getting me in the Christmas mood-although if you ask me it's a liiiiitttle early for that! I smell the eggnog, gingerbread and nutmeg spices all day and it just makes me so happy.