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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Master Farter turns 1 (and so does something else)

Just over one year ago we had a new addition to our grizzled old family - my little nephew Alby was born. Alby is the first grandchild for my parents and my sister-in-law's parents, and his arrival was quite exciting for everyone - particularly as it was a somewhat difficult pregnancy and he came out to say hello to us all a little bit before he was fully cooked.

Luckily for him, a healthy appetite seems to run in our family and he's been growing like a champion since that day. He also managed to figure out the whole walking thing before his first birthday, probably in order to get himself to food more easily.

One of the highlights of my trip up to Geraldton over the Easter weekend was Alby's first birthday party. I was beaten to volunteering to make the birthday cake by my sister-in-law's mother, and a first birthday party is perhaps not the ideal environment for a baking showdown so I agreed to bring along some cupcakes. I soon got planning.

Sometimes there is no getting past the fact that I'm an engineer. I may not be the type of engineer that designs roads or calibrates engines but give me an opportunity to create a spreadsheet or draw up a plan and I'm all over it. Exhibit A:

 The cupcake blueprints

Choosing the type of cupcake to make was pretty straightforward. Alby had never eaten cake before, and if he was going to eat any on his birthday it was definitely going to be his birthday cake, so the cupcakes were made with the adults in mind. Carrot cake is one of the favourite types of cake for my brother and sister-in-law, so it was an easy decision to make my tried and true carrot cupcakes (from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook).

After a manic morning, I was glad that most of the people at the party would be either very little, or very related to me, as decoration of the cupcakes took precedence over decoration of myself. This also came in handy when the food came out, as I did not feel inclined to be dainty and ladylike when presented with chicken wings, triangle sandwiches and saucy pastries. I don't eat this type of food very often, so I made sure to eat enough to keep my going until my next such affair. I also have to to say I was much more impressed with my sister-in-law's doily effort than the ladies at the bowls club for my Nanna's 80th.

Sliced veges, crackers and dip, fairy bread, triangle sandwiches (mock chicken and cheese & ham), mini quiches and sausage rolls, chicken wingettes, buttered hot cross buns

Soon it was time for the birthday cake, so out came Mr Teddy, brought to life by Alby's maternal grandma. Poor Mr Teddy didn't know what he was in for. Alby may not have tasted cake before, but it didn't take him long to figure out it was a good thing. He managed to get a good few fistfuls shoved in before Mr Teddy was rescued, put out of his misery and carved up for the rest of us. 

After his exciting cake experience, Alby got back to what he does best - hooning around and playing with exciting things like pegs and rocks. He had been pretty quiet for a while, which some of us had noticed but noone had mentioned. The reason behind his quietness was soon revealed however when my brother realised he had something in his mouth. The mystery item was quickly fished out, and discovered to be a chunk of well sucked chicken gristle from the end of a chicken wingette. A chicken wingette that he had been sucking on TWO HOURS BEFORE.

Yes, my little nephew had spent two hours cruising around, drinking from his little water bottle, shoving fistfuls of cake into his mouth, and all the while was hoarding some tasty gristle in his cheek. Learning from the ways of the chipmunk, he realised it was probably a good idea to keep some tucker handy just in case you got a bit peckish while having a good game of grab-the-peg. Clearly there had not been a mixup at the hospital - Alby was fitting very nicely into our family of gluttons.

Little Master Farter seemed to enjoy himself immensely on his big day, and I'm already looking forward to the next one when he'll hopefully be able to identify the strange creatures I make in his honour and be able to fit even more secret food in his little cheeks.

Why didn't I think to make a water monster and a monk to go with the monkey and pig?

Chicken Little - red and orange jelly beans, brown mini m&ms, orange m&m

Bunny/cat - white marshmallow halves with pink sugar, brown m&ms, pink jelly bean, chocolate sprinkles, flaked coconut

Pigsy - pink marshmallows, brown icing nostrils, brown m&ms

Monkey magic - quartered Kingston biscuits, halved chocolate digestive, chocolate and red icing, brown m&ms

Today also happens to be the birthday of my little blog! Unfortunately I have been drowning in marking this week and so haven't had a chance to bake anything to mark the occasion, but I shall be having a wee tipple tonight in celebration. Thanks so much to every one of you for reading, keeping me excited about writing, and helping keep this creative outlet alive. Big slappy perfectly timed high fives to you all! Woot!


Rose April 27, 2010 at 7:12 PM  

Love the cupcakes, but love even more that you drew up blueprints for them.

erin April 27, 2010 at 7:15 PM  


PS: Not fully cooked? Gold!

boroca April 27, 2010 at 7:18 PM  

Where is the picture of the baby with fist fulls of cake? Where? It must have been so absolutely adorable!

A cupcake or two April 27, 2010 at 7:37 PM  

Oh Conor how cute. My favourite is the pig oh so cute. Happy birthday to the little man. Pictures please. I bet he is a cutie.

Simply Life April 27, 2010 at 7:49 PM  

WOW! impressive cupcakes!!!

Juji April 27, 2010 at 7:59 PM  

Oooh, I love these! I may be a grown up but I have my heart set on chicken little cupcakes for my birthday (or maybe Saturday afternoon tea!).

NikiTheo April 27, 2010 at 8:36 PM  

I absolutely love the little piggies!!!! I must do this for my cousin who is obsessed w/ them! Thanks for the inspiration and Happy Blogoversary!

penny aka jeroxie April 27, 2010 at 8:53 PM  

Clap Clap Clap! Just so cute. You did a really good job.

Annette @ Wellness WA April 27, 2010 at 9:26 PM  

Omg! ADORBS. How-ever, you fail to convey the impression they left on the party guests?!

Amy @ cookbookmaniac April 27, 2010 at 9:32 PM  

Oh Conor, you had me giggling at, 'Just over one year ago..." Your a very talented writer and a wonderful comedian... and a fantastic illustrator in the making. LOL :P

I love the cupcakes, I love your writing, I love your blog. I'm not sucking up, I mean it :D

Anonymous April 27, 2010 at 9:49 PM  

Happy birthday to your nephew and happy birthday to your blog! Such cute animal cupcakes!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table April 27, 2010 at 9:53 PM  

Happy Birthday Alby, Happy Blogoversary Conor and I want to take Pigsy home!!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table April 27, 2010 at 9:54 PM  

Happy Birthday Alby, Happy Blogoversary Conor and I want to take Pigsy home!!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 27, 2010 at 10:17 PM  

Rose - thanks. I'm a dork.

erin - Woo! Thanks!! Hehe ;)

boroca - I would love to show him off but I haven't asked if it's ok... will do so if it is!

A cupcake or two - thanks, Mr Piggy was one of the most popular :) He's a super cutie (all in the genes, of course)

Simply Life - thank you!!

Juji - you're never too old for animal cupcakes. Never. I am sure that BOM said today that Saturday would be perfect conditions for cupcake consumption.

NikiTheo - my pleasure! Thank you!

penny aka jeroxie - Curtsy :) thanks m'dear!

Annette @ Wellness WA - oh I forgot that bit! There was lots of oohing :) thanks!

Amy @ cookbookmaniac - Oh Amy you have given me a big grin, seriously. Thanks so much! :D (see, there's my big grin right there, I'm not lying) Might not pursue the illustrator career just yet though ;)

5 Star Foodie - thanks so much!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table - thank you thank you! He wants to go home with you too.

Rachel@Coconut Crumbs April 27, 2010 at 10:22 PM  

oh my goodness...the chicken and cat are SO adorable! what a production! and happy blog birthday too!

3 hungry tummies April 27, 2010 at 10:57 PM  

Oh another fun party! They are 2 cute to be eaten..I need 2 sets so I can eat one set and keep the others when I feel like it :)

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite April 28, 2010 at 12:41 AM  

Can I put in an order for some of those cupcakes in June?

And don't you worry, Neil and I will definitely drink to your blogiversary this week! Mine is in a couple of weeks too!

TFP April 28, 2010 at 4:47 AM  

Happy 1st blog birthday! Happy 1st birthday to Master Chicken Sucker! I love your cupcakes! My faves are the chicken and piggie ones. +1 vote for Monkey Magic cupcakes. :P I must confess I used to occasionally draw up bento blueprints when planning my lunches, to help me work out how to fit everything into the bento boxes. I never shared my drawings though, they looked pretty crappy. :)

Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz April 28, 2010 at 6:47 AM  

Cupcake blueprints..OMG you are too much and we love you that way.

Happy 1 year anniversary.It always a pleasure to read you and I hope we all get to read you for years to come!

Sweets By Vicky April 28, 2010 at 7:55 AM  

Happy birthday blog!!! :) I love the cupcakes AND the birthday cake. DANG, I wish I had an aunt as awesome at cake-ing as you are!

Too cool for school. Now you have to start baking all his birthday cakes so he can show off. :)

OohLookBel April 28, 2010 at 8:34 AM  

Oh, I giggled so much on reading this that I choked on my vegemite toast. You are too funny, and a brilliant cupcake engineer to boot.
Congratulations on your 1 year anniversary and happy birthday to Alby the gristle-muncher!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella April 28, 2010 at 11:10 AM  

Conor these are GORGEOUS! Aww love those little faces, they're so cute! :D

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge April 28, 2010 at 11:56 AM  

HAPPY BLOG BIRTHDAY to you and Happy birthday to Alby!! You know lucky you didnt make the monk, or else Tripitaka would just constantly be cross with monkey.....you should have put monkey on a cloud! lmao

My neice is turning one soon too....I'm so stealing your fabulous idea!! GREAT JOB!!

tasteofbeirut April 28, 2010 at 12:11 PM  

So cute! These are adorable and fun! Nice birthday party for the little one and quite a spread!

Hannah April 28, 2010 at 1:51 PM  

I am absolutely not kidding when I say I've spent the past five minutes scrolling up and down this post, trying to decide which cupcake is my favourite. I CAN'T DECIDE, such are your mad decorating skillz.

Happy blog birthday! Tipples aplenty should be had, I think. Can't wait to read the next year's worth of Conor stories!

Anonymous April 28, 2010 at 4:01 PM  

The cupcakes are too cute!! Happy blog birthday :)

Lori @ Wannabe Gourmand April 28, 2010 at 4:53 PM  

Aww they're amazing Conor! I remember you commenting way back when that you were spending a night in baking these liddle treaties. Good to finally see them in action and they do not disappoint - chocolate digestives have never looked so good...


Trissa April 28, 2010 at 7:45 PM  

Ahh the first grandchild! Always a lot of fuss that occurs on their first birthday. Same with my nephew! I wish I has seen this post 5 years ago though!

Agnes April 28, 2010 at 7:51 PM  

Happy blog birthday, Conor!

Re your cupcake drawings - you call yourself an engineer? Pish! Your drawing should have been done in CAD and shown dimensions.

Admittedly, you did have technical specifications (lollies) so I'll award you half a point for that.

(And okay, I admit I have no idea what I'm talking about. I particularly loved the little chicken cupcakes though!)

Emily April 29, 2010 at 9:19 AM  

I love the chicken cupcakes - lolly mastery at work, I think!
And Conor, I really empathize with being beaten to the birthday-cake-making - a dear friend's little boy turned one recently, and I was pipped by none other than his chef father (crazy, I know!), so I had to make do with taking along some over the top gingerbread men instead. And yep, mine also ended up being made and decorated much more with the adults in mind, I have to say - damn those tiny stomachs and their inability to fit in as much food as we'd like them to!
Happy blog birthday, and especially so to a fellow Perth blogger. Good to see us keeping up with the best of them elsewhere. :)

Jo - SecondHelping April 29, 2010 at 11:48 AM  

Well, that settles it - I know who I am getting in touch with for inspiration (and blueprints) when I next have to cater for my nephews' birthdays.

You have outdone yourself!

Krissy @ The Food Addicts April 29, 2010 at 12:41 PM  

Kudos, Conor! You impress me with your diligence and skills in baking. And congrats on your blog's anniversary!

Hannah April 29, 2010 at 5:31 PM  

Happy birthday to you and to Alby, Conor! An awesome post to mark a fabulous milestone (and thanks so much for the cake decorating ideas!).

H :)

Velva April 29, 2010 at 8:56 PM  

I think I died and went to cute heaven. Your cupcakes are absolutely adorable. You did a fabulous job on the cake too.

First birthday's are always special and you did a great to ensure that it was extra special.

Spicie Foodie April 29, 2010 at 11:04 PM  

Congratulations to you both!! I love your cupcakes they are so cute :)

SilverMoon Dragon April 30, 2010 at 4:15 PM  

I love the pigs! I made monkey cupcakes a few years back, but I used chocolate melts for the ears. They were rounder, but probably not as tasty as Kingstons.

Arwen from Hoglet K April 30, 2010 at 6:25 PM  

I love your little pink pigs! Sounds like your nephew had the best kind of birthday, with plenty of food and mischief.

pierre May 1, 2010 at 7:30 PM  

hi conor I love so much humour in cooking : your biscuits made me laugh !! cheers Pierre de Paris

rund May 2, 2010 at 12:25 PM  

haha i love the cupcakes, and especially the blueprints! My first niece is now 2 years old, and clearly i am being a bad uncle by not drawing up blueprints!
Btw, great article in Urbano, full page and everything!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 2, 2010 at 3:44 PM  

Rachel@Coconut Crumbs - thank you! :D

3 hungry tummies - that's a very good idea, but I think to make 2 sets I might need 2 sets of hands.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite - sure! Excellent to hear, I'm glad it was a tasty tipple. Looking forward to celelbrating yours too!

TFP - thank you! Hehe, that doesn't surprise me at all given the intricate arrangement of your bentos. I bet you'd be a deft hand at Tetris.

Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz - aw thanks mate :D :D

Sweets By Vicky - thank you! I am trying to be a good aunt, and it seems that baking is my go-to method of doing so :) Yes, for sure, I need to put up my hand for his birthday cake for next year.

OohLookBel - haha sorry! Thank you!! I think I'm going to call him the gristle muncher from now on, hehe.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - thank you!! Not too cute to eat though ;)

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge - thanks! Hehe, good call, it's probably for the best. Ooooh a marshmallow cloud!!! That would have been too awesome. Steal away, my dear!

tasteofbeirut - thank you!! :)

Hannah - hehe, I do my best with the mad skillz, glad I had you madly scrolling, bet you're got some mad scrolling skillz :D Thanks!!

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - thanks very much!!

Lori @ Wannabe Gourmand - thanks mate! I am a big fan of chocolate digestives with a cuppa tea, but adding a whole cupcake to the mix has got to be a good thing.

Trissa - Oh yes, he is a much loved little boy with no competition!

Agnes - thank you! Oh god, I know, I'm a disappointment. Didn't put the project number on the document or anything either. Terrible QA. Ooh half a point, I'll take it.

Emily - I guess it'll just make us more determined to get in there quickly next time. I really should volunteer now for his next birthday. I would love to see these ott gingerbread men! And never fear, those little bellies are at least growing so they'll eventually catch up to our baking :D thanks very much! We're holding our own ;)

Jo - SecondHelping - I'm happy to be seconded :D thanks!!

Krissy @ The Food Addicts - thanks very much! :D

Hannah - thanks heaps, and am very happy to oblige with the ideas!

Velva - aw thank you (though I can't claim credit for the cake, that was a grandpa production). They certainly are special, thanks :)

Spicie Foodie - thank you!!

SilverMoon Dragon - ahh yes, chocolate melts, I didn't thnk of that. I am a sucker for Kingstons though, so it's probably no surprise my brain went for those instead.

Arwen from Hoglet K - thanks! Haha, yes, great way to sum up the birthday. Mischief indeed :)

pierre - I'm glad they had that effect!!

rund - thanks! And not to fear, I am not sure cupcake blueprints falls under your typical uncle duties. As long as you're being a good back horsie (with the neighing and everything) then all is well. Oh and thank you! Good to know someone other than my Mum liked it ;)

Elizabeth May 2, 2010 at 4:44 PM  

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE these. The monkey is the cutest thing. Love the little smile. You are an amazing aunty!

Trisha May 2, 2010 at 5:13 PM  

CUTEST ever cupcakes oh my goodness! Love the blueprints too hahaha these are fabulous!

Devan May 2, 2010 at 7:17 PM  

They are so cute that I just want to eat all their little heads off!...If I was still a kid, I'd be the happiest person alive.

I didn't know you were an engineer. Are you a lecturer too? as I remember seeing a tweet about you marking some assignments :P

Von May 2, 2010 at 7:42 PM  

Ngaww...these cupcakes are so cute! I love the monkey the best....=]

Happy birthday to your blog!

mademoiselle délicieuse May 2, 2010 at 8:33 PM  

HIGH FIVE! And a big congrats on marking your blog's first milestone =) May there be many more blueprints in the food future.

Forager May 3, 2010 at 2:35 PM  

Best, cutest cupcakes ever! That chicken one is adorable!

I love the blueprint - just shows you've got a knack for planning, and I like people who plan. I work with people who don't plan. *sigh*

Karen Harris May 4, 2010 at 8:26 PM  

I have admired your little owls for sometime now and these are just as adorable. What a treat for the birthday boy. I freely admit that I have "stolen" some of my favorite recipes from my friends and these will definitely make an appearance at the first appropriate occasion. Thanks for the inspiration. Happy birthday Alby!

I have to tell you, you are the only person who got the humor in my "Munchie" blog and left a comment. Thanks Conor!

Stephcookie May 5, 2010 at 6:09 AM  

Aww happy birthday to your blog! I can't believe I've only seen these cupcakes now, they are so freakin adorable. I'm glad I'm not the only non-constructing engineer who draws up baking blueprints :D

Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 5, 2010 at 1:45 PM  

Elizabeth - just the reaction I was hoping for :) thank you!

Trisha - thanks!! I'm glad my dorkiness has been so well received ;)

Devan - it's just as well they want nothing more than their heads to be eaten straight off! Yep, engineer, that's me. Also a tutor for undergrad engineers hence the soul destroying marking. Sigh..

Von - thanks thanks! :D

mademoiselle délicieuse - woo, thank you! I will withhold the blueprints for when they're absolutely necessary, don't want to kill the magic ;)

Forager - thank you! Yes, I am certainly a big planner, just like my sister. Trying to get work done with non-planners is a recipe for going bald with hair-pulling-out-frustration :(

Karen Harris - oh those little owls are my favourite still, I think :) You are very welcome to "steal" these little creatures, am happy to spread the cupcake animal joy! Thank you, and your munchie post was hilarious, it's a shame that not more people let you know how entertaining you are!

Stephcookie - thank you!! Oh good, there is more than one of me out there. We should start a club.

Sook May 6, 2010 at 4:34 AM  

Wow! Those cupcakes are so adorable!! Love it!

Chef Fresco May 6, 2010 at 10:53 AM  

Hahah I love your little drawings! Looks like everything turned out perfectly for the special occasion :)

Gastronomy Gal May 7, 2010 at 9:17 AM  

these are just gorgeous!! and very engineer like- I have to agree- but look lovely!

Cakelaw May 7, 2010 at 10:54 AM  

How cute are these cupcakes!! They are just adorable. happy belated birthday Alby.

Emma @CakeMistress May 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM  

(Oops if this appears twice) but Happy Blogger Birthday Conor! I love reading about your food adventures and the tasty treats you create. Can't wait to see what you come up with next. And these cupcakes are super cute by the way. x

Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 7, 2010 at 4:22 PM  

Sook - thank you!! :)

Chef Fresco - thanks! Glad the end product matched my picture. Well, more 3D and edible, luckily.

Gastronomy Gal - thanks! We should bring a cupcakes unit into engineering courses.

Cakelaw - thanks very much! :)

Emma @CakeMistress - thanks heaps Emma, same to you :)

Iron Chef Shellie May 8, 2010 at 6:37 PM  

Happy Blog Birthday!!!
and happy 1st birthday to master farter! those cupcakes are fantastic!!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 8, 2010 at 11:59 PM  

Thanks Shellie! Apparently since his big day, Master Farter has now learnt how to dance. I'm still waiting for my blog to learn this.

Jenn [Defunkt Gourmet] May 12, 2010 at 5:27 AM  

BEST! These cupcakes are too adorable to eat. Love the colours and their "expressions". Totally out of a children's book. Great job and nice spread for the birthday boy!

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My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

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