Friday, 20 April 2012

Spread a Herman

It was only a 4 day week but it felt much longer. It was hard going back to work after the long bank holiday weekend. I took the bus 3 times because Babe wasn’t well enough to drive. The weather couldn’t make up its mind, again. I was fully dressed as the Michelin man in the morning. By mid-morning, the sun came out but always hidden behind dark clouds, warm but chilly in the shade. At night, the temperature dropped. I resorted to sleeping with a hot-water bottle for added warmth.Brandon Marsh D300s X14  12-04-2012 15-04-37April had brought with it all the 4 seasons. They came together on many a day, much like life with all of its tears and laughters. Clouds and sunshine, changing with the changing hours. There was no rain for months and then like the bus, it turned up and fell all at once, days and days of it like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night :

For the rain, it raineth everyday 

It was also very quiet at work. Most of my colleagues had taken an extended holiday. Taking 4 days of their annual holidays entitled them to 10 whole days off work. I’m soo jealous that I’m planning to do the same next year. But we’d a party of our own. I bought an Easter chocolate traybake to be shared among my colleagues. Then GLW also brought a huge cake. It was his 25th wedding anniversary. Wow…we were impressed. When JG returned from her holidays in the Caribbean, she brought guava cheese to be shared. Yummy…

During my lunch break, I took the opportunity to check out the bluebells in Tocil Wood. I’d seen lots of photographs of these stunning flowers and wanted to see if they’d started flowering. I was quite surprised to see that they were still contemplating. I think they might bloom in a fortnight's time. There was an orchestra of bird songs being pumped out at full volume but they were well-hidden among the lush foliage. This adorable tree-creeper was scrambling up and down the tree, hunting for food. Warwick University D3100  13-04-2012 12-03-052 On Wednesday, we’d a wonderful time dissecting Jeanette Winterson’s Lighthousekeeping. It was very interesting when you listen to some one else interpretation of the book. I was quite surprised when some of the members were debating the gender of the main character. We’d a quick glance through the book to confirm that it was a female. We also had a new member to the club. Welcome Bob and as a treat he got to choose a book  in 2 months time.

The highlight of this week in Coventry was when the windows in the city and surrounding areas was rattled by a loud bang. I was in the greenhouse tending my plants when I felt it shook. I looked up and saw the birds flying about in panic. What on earth??? Nothing major that I could feel or see and continued to what I was doing. Later at 10 pm, when I was watching the local news, I found out that the loud bang was a sonic boom. A sonic boom was the sound associated with the shockwaves created when an object travels through the air and broke the sound barrier. 

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that a Typhoon fighter aircraft was the culprit. A small civilian helicopter had emitted an emergency signal on a frequency it should not have been using. Such a signal could indicate the aircraft had been hijacked or had gone ‘rogue’. 2 typhoons from the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) responded accordingly and was authorised to go supersonic. I bet the pilot of the helicopter will have to do some serious explanations, might received a major warning or worse still have his license suspended. You cannot be wishy-washy when it comes to national security. Babe took this photograph of a Typhoon doing their exercise when we were in Aberystwyth last month.Nant yr Arian D7000  28-03-2012 13-38-52Have you heard of Herman? Herman the German friendship cake (or Chain letter cake). Has he came knocking on your kitchen door?  I was given a container of the yeasty mix and a set instructions on when to add sugar, flour and milk and when to stir it. After lovingly ‘feeding’ him for 10 days, you divide the mixture into 4 portions, pass 3 to your friends and, with the rest, bake yourself a very yeasty and sugary but surprisingly tasty cake. 

I came to work and found a container and a note on my keyboard. CC then introduced me to Herman with implicit instructions not to shove him in the fridge. He was not just a container of yeast but now a member of the family. CC had also given a container to CM and we promised to exchange notes. As soon as I arrived home, Herman was transferred to a big bowl where he has the space to breathe and grow. Over the next 3 days, he was stirred and engaged in a one-sided conversation until he was ready for his first meal of flour, milk and sugar on the 4th. day.

The smell of fermenting Herman wafted through the casa. He was very undemanding. After 4 days of stirring and gossiping, he was ready to be fed with the same meal and then divided and put into 4 containers to be distributed. But I didn’t do that. I wanted to spend more time with Herman. I made the first portion into a raisin cake, the 2nd into a chocolate chip cake, the 3rd as a sweet bread and the 4th was to be nurtured as a starter again. All you need was add more flour, sugar, eggs and whatever you want Herman to be and stick it in the oven. Whatever comes out, taste utterly delicious.

I baked Herman while getting the dinner ready. It was that easy. I brought several slices to work to share among my colleagues. They were impressed and all of them wanted the next Herman babies, which I’m nurturing at the moment. The best thing was that CM also brought hers along and they were quite different from mine. You can start from the same starter but it will turned out entirely different. It was the hottest topic during our tea break.

Do give it a try and spread the love, spread a Herman.


  1. You get Herman and put him in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.
  2. Stir well
  3. Stir well
  4. Herman is hungry. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well.
  5. Stir well
  6. Stir well
  7. Stir well
  8. Stir well
  9. Hungry again. Add the same as day 4 and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions and give away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Keep the 4th one.
  10. Herman is very hungry. Stir well and add the following:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • half tsp (teaspoon) salt
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2/3 (two thirds) cup of cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 cooking apples cut into chunks (optional)
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 2 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder

Other options include cherries, pineapple, chocolate chips (use your imagination).                                                                        Mix everything together and put into a large greased baking tin. You can sprinkle with a quarter of a cup of brown sugar and a quarter of a cup of melted butter for topping but Herman is just tasty without this.. Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180C. Insert a skewer until it comes out clean.

It is going to be hard to be parted with Herman’s babies but they are going to good homes. RC, SA and even CC wants Herman’s babies. But I still have one portion which I’ll nurture and then share the friendship and happiness with my neighbours. I hoped they too will spread Herman around. Bonn app├ętit!!! A photograph of Herman will be uploaded later.

“The infinite goodness has such wide arms that it takes whatever turns to it”


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