Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tempis Fugit! (and a really excellent chocolate cake recipe)

Tempus fugit is a Latin expression meaning "time flees", more commonly translated as "time flies". It is frequently used as an inscription on clocks. The expression was first recorded in the poem Georgics written by Roman poet Virgil: Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore, which means, "But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail."  Wikipedia

Well I'm baffled by where all the time has gone.  [And sometimes I do feel a "prisoner of my love of detail", though my memories of Latin class lo, these many years - OMG, nearly 47!- is more a pastiche of remembered Latin words and phrases than a grounding.  A little riff here:  It's hard for me to imagine the phrase, "I was fourteen, and I took Latin classes."  All that comes to mind honestly is that I don't think I did very well because remembering the details, I got a D.] Anyway.  In this instance I'm amazed at how quickly the summer has fled. 

So.  What have I done with Corfu this past week...

My fingers are all rested now. 

We started the week quite pleasantly, but it devolved a bit when both my beloved and I were attacked by a rather sinister and ninja-like summer bug.  We each of us tried to remain oblivious and and carry on, as we tried to pretend we were fine, going about cheerfully doing things and merely sneezing explosively at the odd moment, blowing our noses loudly and trying very hard to make it seem like we're taking the aspirin for the arthritis...

I hate summer colds.  Well, I hate colds ANY time, but in the summer it's insult added to injury.

By Thursday we were asked by one of our neighbors (lovely Petra) if we would please join them (and hopefully a few other neighbors) to pick up the leftover detritus of the wheelie bins from the great Corfu July garbage strike.

Thankfully, the trucks had finally come, although because we're a back road and not a primary one, it was a week later than the main roads.

We knew there was a small window of opportunity before - as there was garbage lying on the ground - "some" people would helpfully add to it, apparently to make it a worthwhile pile for the garbage men to pick up "later".

Thursday morning last, they finally came, and in their enthusiasm, had taken away the bulk of the mess (BINS AND ALL!) but there were all the little bits blown by the winds in the tall weeds and bushes along the roadside.  [small note: we were told that our "bins" would henceforth remain on the main road as they didn't have the time (or money or inclination) to come and get ours as well as the stuff on the main road.]

Petra felt that it was necessary to act as quickly as possible, so at 7:30 that evening a few neighbors turned out with plastic bin bags, garden gloves and in our case, a small trailer behind the car to transport the bags to the bins at the main road.

I have pictures but for some reason Blogger has decided that it doesn't understand my URLs.  So, sorry, you can't see us working like little beavers bagging up the debris.

We all felt quite satisfied with ourselves until yesterday morning when someone mentioned someone had left a few bags of garbage in the spot where the bins used to be.  No doubt in a few day the bags will be shredded open by feral dogs and cats and we'll be back to square one.  sigh.


Friday, I baked two cakes as it was friend Roy's birthday on Saturday and we were scheduled to go to his beach party in Avlaki.  (Can't see those pictures either!)

As a consolation prize I will include the secret recipe for my special chocolate cake.  It is a made up recipe (by me) so take that into consideration.  Just because it always works for me and everyone loves it, doesn't mean it'll turn out exactly the same for you...  (there now that the disclaimers are over with, on with the recipe)

Chocolate Almond Cake (with secret ingredient)

3 eggs
6 oz butter (i have a scale)
1 c sugar
1 1/4 C flour
1 C grated almonds (peeled white slivers work, whirred in food processor)
1/2 C cocoa
1 t salt
1 t soda
1 t baking powder
2 t almond essence
1/4 C buttermilk (or a spoon of yogurt and a splash of milk)
1 C beetroot (cooked (cooled) peeled and grated or pureed and drained of runny red water)
Chocolate chips.

Preheat oven 160 C.  Grease and flour a pan.  Put the eggs, butter (you can substitute 3/4 c oil if you want) and sugar together in an large bowl and mix with beater til it's well blended and pale yellow.  

Add the dry ingredients (NOT chocolate chips yet)  

Add beetroot and essence.  

Add buttermilk as needed for stirring.  

Finally stir in chocolate chips with spoon - I used up to a cup but less is ok.  Pour into prepared pan and bake at 160 C (fan assisted oven).

Let cool and frost with Chocolate Whiskey Frosting.

Chocolate Whiskey frosting

Icing (powdered) sugar
soft butter
warmed cream

 It really depends on how much frosting you want.  I always start with the soft butter and add the icing sugar, cocoa and salt and mix it together (for instance a full tablespoon of butter, a teaspoon of salt, a cup + of icing sugar-up to 2 c- and 1/4 cup of cocoa powder)  Then I warm up some cream in the microwave for about 15 seconds (a couple of tablespoons?) and beat it all together with the electric mixer.  Add a bit of your favorite whiskey and check for consistency.  You don't want it too runny.  Add more icing sugar if it's too soft.  

This cake tastes really good if you make it the day before you eat it. 

 The beetroot is sweet and moist and needs to be drained (i use a paper towel to absorb the extra liquid.) Remember BEETROOT STAINS EVERYTHING big time, so be careful. I do most of the peeling and grating in the stainless steel sink.   I would guess you could used canned beets and put them in the food processor and end up with a lovely batch of pureed beets ready to add.

So that's today's post.  Sorry about the pictures but if I wait for blogger to self heal I may never post again...


  1. you made that recipe up? now i'm completely impressed.....it sounds amazing and i am fascinated by a chocolate cake with beetroot and whiskey as ingredients. will let you know how it works out.....

    oh god the greeks and their trash strikes.....yikes. hope it gets resolved soon~

  2. dear amanda,

    actually sometimes I use zucchini... that's good too in a pinch - (except i add a little honey or maple syrup and vanilla with the courgettes). recipes evolved out of trying to figure out how to get children to eat vegetables. when they discovered it was inside their favorite cake, they figured they could give it a try on its own!

    yes. the neverending story in Greece- garbage strikes. bleh.

  3. !!! I am reading Georgics now from Loeb Classical library with the dual Latin / English print!!! What a coincidence you mentioned it.

    And, thanks for the super detailed info on the boat rentals around Corfu! I'm going to Puerto Rico with friends at the end of summer, but I might get over there for sailing in May.

  4. I want cake! Can you post some over?

  5. dear Eric,

    I hope you manage to come in May, it's a gorgeous month, tho, of course, if you fall overboard, the water's not as warm as September ;~P

    dear Madame D,

    I would if there was any left! (It was descended upon as if by locusts!) Sadly nothing remained.

    Believe it or not, I didn't even get a piece!


  6. I'm glad you at least made an effort. I have never seen more revolting trash heaps in a EU country than in Italy, Naples and south.

  7. dear miss footloose,


    No seriously sometimes I am appalled at what lies under the underbrush... We live off the beaten track and it would seem that (tho it has gotten better in the last few years) anyone with a pick-up truck will go into business getting rid of old appliances, take the money and dump it out in the countryside. bleh. Garbage, does not make me happy.



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