Sunday, February 6, 2011
A couple of jobs back, I had the most most amazing experience of working with a group of 25 or so people who all did different back office functions, but who for the most part got on exceptionally well together. Once a quarter, we'd go on a big social outing which, for most of my time there, was paid for by the company. We'd always do something fun but low stress, like lawn bowls, a river cruise, visiting a brewery or ten pin bowling and karaoke. We also often went to lunch at a nearby pub or cafe, a favourite being The Prince Albert or "PAs" as it was fondly known, with the grumpy old man behind the bar. When PAs closed for renovations, we tried venues further afield, including The Swan (a kind of sports pub) and The Richmond Hotel (which was seriously damaged by fire a week after we dined in its 1970s chic surroundings).
During that time, we worked with a wonderful lady called Racquel, who was our boss's personal assistant (also coincidentally known as a "PA", but not to be confused with The Prince Albert). More than anyone, Racquel was responsible for bringing our motley crew together and instilling a sense of fun. She is a fabulous lady, and I am so grateful for the two and a half years that I was in that job and had the pleasure of working with Racquel and the other people in our team.
Racquel turned 40 years young this year, and celebrated her birthday with a belated party on Saturday night. I was delighted to attend, and had a marvellous night catching up with a host of familiar faces and sharing in Racquel's celebration with her family and friends.
To zhoozh up the present I gave Racquel, I packed it with a variety of homemade sweets. Out of the four types of sweets that I made, only one (the Turkish Delight) failed. The rest turned out really well ( much to my relief).
One of the sweets that I made Racquel was coconut ice. For the uninitiated, coconut ice is a firm to hard pink and white sweet based on dessicated coconut, and is tooth-achingly sweet. I have three little books dedicated to sweet making, and each of them contains a different recipe for coconut ice (and indeed all of the sweets that I made). I chose a coconut ice recipe from Hope and Greenwood's Life is Sweet for which I had all the ingredients in the house, as I was running short of time and could not go out to buy anything. The coconut ice that I am familiar with uses Copha (vegetable shortening), but the Hope and Greenwood version is based on condensed milk. It therefore tastes significantly different to the version of coconut ice that I am used to, and has a chewy, soft texture rather than shattering into firm, melt-in-your-mouth shards like the Copha version, but is still delicious and distinctly coconut flavoured.
To make your own coconut ice, you will need:
500g icing (confectioners) sugar
2 x 400g tins of condensed milk
400g dessicated coconut
Pink or red food colouring
Line an 8 inch square cake tin with cling film.
Place the sifted icing sugar and condensed milk into a large bowl, and stir until well combined. Use your hands if the mixture becomes too stiff to stir. Add the coconut in 2-3 equal portions, combining one portion before adding the next. The mixture will become very stiff, and using your hands to knead in the coconut will be helpful at this stage.
Divide the mixture into two equal portions and colour one half pink. Put one half into your lined cake tin, and press down firmly and evenly. Place the second half of the mixture on top of the first in small pieces so that you can easily spread it out to cover the bottom layer without mixing the two. I found the back of a spoon useful to help me to spread out the second layer, as the mixture stuck to my hands. Place the coconut ice into the fridge to set overnight.
Once the coconut ice is set, cut it into squares (~20 pieces).
Enjoy - just don't tell your dentist!
I am sending this post to Lisa of Sweet As Sugar Cookies for Sweets for a Saturday #3.