Saturday, 31 October 2020

Weighed In The Balance

When I was a child, I remembr going with my father to the National Gallery in London. One picture we looked at was Rembrandt's amazing "Belshazzar's Feast". The NG only acquired the picture in 1964, and I think it had only recently gone on display when we saw it. The story comes from the book of Daniel Chapter 5. The King has looted the temple in Jerusalem and stolen the sacred vessels. He takes them back to his palace and uses them at a lavish banquet for a thousand guests

During the evening, a ghostly human hand appears and writes words on the wall - which terrify everybody, although nobody can read them. It is Daniel who interprets the four words -Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin 

He tells the King that he has not learned the lessons of the previous monarch, his Dad, Nebuchadnezzar, and the days of his kingdom are numbered.[read the full story here] Daniel says “This is what was written: ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin Number, number, weight, divisions.’ And this is what it means: number, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; weight, you have been weighed on the scales and found to be too light;  divisions, your kingdom is divided up and given to the Medes and Persians.”

And why am I thinking about it now - well, I learned the King James' Version of the text back then " Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting" - and the more modern version [Good News Translation] "Weighed on the scales and found to be too light" is rather a challenge at the moment. I weigh exactly the same as I did at the start of this covid19 business, and have only varied by a pound or two in either direction for the past 7 months. [I suspect Belshazzar was morally lightweight, rather than physically. He's got chubby fingers and a double chin in the picture] 

But my other problems is the kitchen scales. I have a set of electronic digital scales at Cornerstones, and also my lovely iron & brass balance scales. I have a cheap set of electronic ones here in Dorset and I planned to make the Christmas Cake and Puddings this weekend. But on Wednesday morning, my scales here just died. So frustrating - if it had happened last week, I could have brought back some scales from Norfolk. 

However, my dear friend Jenny has already made her Christmas Cake, so is generously lending me her scales for a few days [thanks, J]

I wonder if Belshazzar had fruitcake at his feast?

I wonder if I ought to abstain from Christmas Cake this year in the hope of losing weight?

I wonder how long the cake will last, if there's only Bob and me to eat it?


  1. Can you halve your ingredients and make a smaller cake?

  2. I suppose I could, Bless. But I've used the same recipe & same tin for so long now - and it is a very good keeping cake. If family get-togethers are delayed, I'll probably cut it in half and freeze one section for later.

  3. I have made four smaller cakes this year (6"×6"). One will become an engagement cake....or at this rate top of wedding cake!

    1. My niece has just postponed her wedding from May 2021 to May 2022

  4. Rembrandt's House (Huis) in Amsterdam left a lasting impression on me. He was quite the collector of quirky and unusual aretfacts and there was a whole room dedicated to them. He, like da Vinci, seemed way ahead of his time. I have gained almost 2.5 stone post-virus but having a sister with an eating disorder, I'm not too fussed about about diets,scales at the moment. I'll do something about it when I'm back to 100% fighting fit. Have a good weekend, Angela.xx

  5. I've been thinking about Christmas goodies as well. I usually make quite a few Bra Brith type loaves - fruit soaked in Scotch and strong tea - I'll still make some this year but cut back on the number.
    I noticed yesterday that shops were getting out the Christmas chocolates and cookies but really I think one tin of each plus a tin of shortbread will do it for this year. I did gain weight over these past few months and will have to spend the Winter trying to get it off so really need to limit the treats.
    As for scales and baking - in Canada we tend to use both Imperial and Metric so some of my recipes use cups & teaspoons and others call for ingredients to be weighed so I have a good digital scale and a sheet that makes the conversions so I can keep it all straight!

  6. I did wonder where you were going with this post from the start! Very good segue into the main point of the post!
    I weigh exactly the same as before lockdown as I do now. I did lose a stone at first but seemt to have put it back on. Oh well.
    I have bought loads of chocolate this last week in Hexham- trying to buy presents early - mainly edible or eco-friendly as well as stocking up on all my refillables from Hexham's 2 stores which do refill items!
    I suggest you bake the same amount of cake!


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