What to do next

Well, we have not posted on here in quite some time, there are many reasons for this but essentially boil down to my mother’s long illness and her eventually passing away.

If I had one wish in the world it would be for everyone everywhere to stop smoking as the last few months have been absolutely terrible watching my mother’s health go down hill so rapidly.

her breathing was terribly noisy with whistles, gasping, just terrible.  So please if you smoke, just stop.

Christmas cupcakes

Well, we finally managed to walk the Severn Bridge and tick off one of the items on our bucket list.  It was not as exciting as we thought it would be as the wind was a little briskly and the noise from the cars going by was terrible!  But we eventually found the foot path after getting geographically challenged (not lost, we never get lost(?)), we walked onto the bridge, took a selfie and then went for a coffee.  If I am completely honest it is not something that we would repeat until the summer when the weather is a little warmer.

We also managed to take a random selfie on top of the toll booths of the Severn Bridge.  We were all laughing like idiots when we took the photograph and that can be seen in the photo.  That will go into the family montage on the wall in the hall way!

At this time of the year, as a family, we start to fill our freezer with sweets and treats ready for the Christmas holiday.  Primarily we like to have goodies such as cupcakes and chocolate brownies in the freezer.  We do this in anticipation that they only take half an hour to defrost for when we get visitors over the holidays.  There is an additional bonus: it is fun to make the cakes and brownies; we both really enjoy the cooking, but the Quality Assurance bit after they come out of the oven is by far the best bit.  Traditionally a baker’s dozen is 13, in our house it is nearer 10!  Here is the recipe described by my daughter, Courtney:

Cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 eggs

100g of self- raising flour

100g of butter

100g of caster sugar

Equipment

Big bowl

Sieve

Knife

Cup

Electric whisk

Cupcake cases

Wooden spoon

Method

Put the sugar into the bowl add the butter that I chopped into chunks and mix it up with your electric whisk.  Then beat in the eggs a little at a time.  Once the eggs have been added put the flour into the mix after putting it through the sieve.

Mix all together with a wooden spoon.

Put the mixture into 12 cupcakes and bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes on gas mark 5.

Let the cakes cool, test one of them by cutting it in half and sharing with my daddy.

Put them into a freezer proof container and put them in the freezer ready for Christmas.

We did try to film ourselves making these but we forgot to press record on the camera! Well my daddy did!

If you have any recipes for cupcakes that can go in the freezer please add your comments below.

School Food Tech…sort of

My first Bolognese sauce at school

I am in secondary school (which I enjoy) and I finally cooked something in food tech after having about 8 lessons.  Today, I made my own Bolognese sauce, but unfortunately, my food tech teacher forgot all about it so instead of having a slow lesson, we had to rush it all, but it was still fun, even though I cried while chopping an onion and I am still crying now! So today I am going to tell you how to make this sauce. (This is how we make it at home)

You will need:

  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1 Onion
  • Tin chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • 3 mushrooms
  • Oliver oil
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Chopping board
  • Sharp knife

 

Method

  1. Chop the garlic, onion and mushrooms up
  2. Pour the table spoon of olive oil into the pan on a low heat
  3. Add the onion and the garlic
  4. When the onion is clear add the tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes
  5. Add the mushrooms and the chopped tomatoes, mix with the spoon
  6. Cook through and serve with spaghetti

Getting ready for the end of year gluttony feast

It is coming to that time of year again when we start to prepare for Christmas.  I know a lot of people will say that it is very early to be starting of thinking of Christmas but we have a massive extended family that we have to buy and cater for, plus we will hopefully be having additional extended family visiting us for the big day.

So we start early, only identifying, gifts for individual family members, plus this year we are going to be spoiling our first grandson (I have suggested a drum kit but have been overruled – that will have to wait until he can properly smack hell out of them).

Also at this time of year we start to prepare our Christmas cake.  This all started because a colleague at work brought in a Christmas cake his mother made – I have got to tell you that it is absolutely outstanding!  So full of booze that you could not have a second slice and drive home!  It has now become something that the entire office looks forward to, someone bringing in the Christmas cake.

I brought home two sliced for the family to share and it went down a storm, so my wife and I decided that we were going to make our own, we did and it proved a real winner when all the family visited over the Christmas holiday.  That was three years ago, so now we make the cake in early October and feed it with booze every two weeks until we decorate the cake a couple of days before Christmas.

Ingredients

225g butter

225 g light soft brown sugar

1 tablespoon black treacle

5 eggs

250g plain flour

1 teaspoon ground mixed spice

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

50g ground almonds

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Grated rind of 1 orange

100g almonds chopped

175g raisins

250g sultanas

350g currants

2 tablespoons of brandy (every two weeks)

Method

Line and grease a 9-inch round cake tin

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light

Beat in the treacle

Beat in the eggs (add a little bit of flour after the first egg to stop the mixture going “funny”)

Mix the rest of the dry ingredients with the flour (mix well)

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients

Stir in the orange juice and the brandy then put into the tin and level the top

Bake in a cool oven (gas mark 1) for 3.5 hours or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Store until ready to feed in tin foil

To make the cake seriously moist prick the top and bottom and spoon feed 2 tablespoons of brandy over it every two weeks.

Ten major moments of my life

Here are the 10 major moments of my life:

  1. Being held back a year at school (for lack of attendance – totally my own fault as I was a fool) but then making friends with my best 3 friends ever, Gerwyn, Peter and Greg (still friends today 34 years later)
  2. My father passing away when I was 17 years old. I have always felt that I have lacked someone to turn to for advice.
  3. Joining the army – turned my attitude around totally and brought discipline into my life (eventually, see 4)
  4. Getting bust (reduced in rank) from L/Cpl too private. Before this happened I was a complete arse.  I thought I knew everything and would not listen to any advice.  I spent a night in the cells then lost my rank, to be perfectly honest I was very fortunate not to be kicked out of the Army.  My then sergeant spoke to me (no shouting) just spoke to me and I saw myself through his and other people’s eyes and I did not like what I saw in any way shape or form.  I cannot say the change from being complete arse to being a useful / decent bloke happened overnight but I did try much harder and gave everything my best shot from that point onward, I left the army as a Warrant Officer.
  5. Meeting my wife at my friends leaving party in Ayia Napa (we met in a bar called Napa Dreams run by a gentleman called Dino). She was on holiday I was on the beer with my mates, we met and 9 months later we got married.
  6. The birth of all my children.
  7. Training with a guy at the rugby club who was certifiably insane, he got banned from rugby for life – twice! Training with him was insane, he made sure the training sessions were so hard it was painful, but this stood me in such good stead for my later career choice of joining the army.  The army training sessions were much longer and more intense but no matter how hard the PTIs tried they could not intimidate me as much as Chris did at the rugby club.  Interestingly when my eldest son started to play rugby I met Chris when my son’s team played his (he is allowed to train rugby but not play I think?).  He is a totally changed character as he is not a born again Christian, much more mellow and, dare I say it, happy.  I was really pleased to meet him again and introduce him to my family Starting my University Course.  I never had the best attendance record at school, in fact I seldom got there, my mother would send me, I would always attend registration but getting from there to my classes was always something that I found very difficult to do, I had other distractions like working on a building site earning £5 a day labouring or going around the back of the school barn to have a crafty cigarette (this turned into a habit that I fortunately broke 10 years ago).   I always thought that I was stupid / not worth bothering with.  Then a colleague of mine, Simon, mentioned that I could study from home which I looked into.  I tried a taster course and got an A grade.  I then signed up for the full degree (only 2.5 years to go!)  I really enjoy the studying and get a great sense of achievement when I get my marks for the assignments – pass or fail I always give my best and they always reflect the effort that I put in so good or bad they show my true capabilities.  Because of this study I have been promoted at work into a management position and hopefully I will get an opportunity to run a complete engineering project team later this year or early next year (I currently run the training team for all customer training)
  1. Going to war in Iraq, first as a Tom then as a commander. Nuff said really, first time was full of fear for myself the second was for those that I was responsible for.  Gladly this will never happen again as I am now on the outside of the army looking back with rose tinted glasses.
  2. Buying my first copy of Private Eye. I used to do a lot of traveling on trains and buses when I first joined the army.  Travelling around on public transport reading man mags was not an option as they often had full page spreads of ladies with very little clothing on, so one day at Crewe Train Station I picked up a copy of Private Eye and have not looked back since.  I find it funny and outrageous at the same time.  I cannot tell you how much I laughed when I read that my local council, and my local councilor made Rotten Boroughs in the magazine.
  3. Becoming a grandfather for the first time, about 10 minutes ago! So happy I could burst! Looking forward to getting to see the little man next weekend!

Spaghetti Bolognese

This is the recipe we use for cooking our Spag Bol, we took this out of a magazine over 20 years ago and we still cook it today.

Ingredients

2 x cloves of garlic

Olive oil

500g minced meat

200ml red wine

Tomato puree

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

500ml beef stock

Parmesan cheese

500g dried spaghetti

Method

Finely chop the onions and the garlic and cook them in the olive oil over a medium heat.  Add the minced meat breaking it up using a wooden spoon, then cook it for 3 or 4 minutes then add the red wine.  Let the meat cook through.

Add the tomato puree stirring it through the meat cook for a further 2 minutes then add the beef stock and the chopped tomatoes.  Cook until bubbling, then turn down the heat and put a lid on the pan, stirring occasionally, cook for a further 30 minutes.

1o minutes before the Bolognese is ready cook the spaghetti in boiling water according to the packet.

Once the spaghetti is cooked drain and mix the Bolognese sauce with the spaghetti and serve with the parmesan cheese grated over the top.

 

Another go at the bucket list

Our day out at Oakwood Theme Park

My son came home for summer from university, and as he is a poor student he went and looked for a summer job and was fortunate to find one at Oakwood Theme Park in Pembrokeshire. http://www.oakwoodthemepark.co.uk/

As part of the perks of the job he was allowed free entrance to the theme park for him and his family.   We took them up on this wonderful offer and spent the day there having a whale of a time.

The weather was not so good but that did not spoil the day for us at all.  Obviously my son did not want to go into the building where he worked as he knew that his friends in there would take the mickey out of him and try to embarrass him in front of us, so we stayed away from there, apart from when we needed the bathroom and then he stayed outside.

 

The first ride we headed for was Megaphobia.  What an awesome roller coaster!  Courtney was not fussed on it, it looked like she fainted as soon as it went around the first corner.  (which was a worry) but she was ok, just hiding from the ride!  My son and I went back on the ride later in the afternoon and that confirmed it, what a brilliant roller coaster, it felt like I was going to fall off every time it changed direction or went up or down.

Anyways, to keep Courtney happy and vomit free we then went into Neverland for a sit down, drink and look at the map.  We then went onto the London Taxi Ride, which was one of the funniest things I have ever seen.  Listening to a couple have a domestic in the car in front of us – no holds barred!  As a reward I was allowed a Latte – which was superb, so much better than I thought it was going to be.

We then went for the water chute thing, we got wet then had lunch. After that, we went on a journey to the Neverland’s, it was really professional because, the children (dolls) who were sleeping were actually breathing you could see them move! In the next room, we saw the town of Neverland and in the town of Neverland was the house that Wendy lived in, the house lights were actually on, and for the kids, Tinker bell was flying around the room magically opening everything (it was a shadow picture of her flying around the room.) We saw Vertigo being used by three very scared people, I have never heard screaming like it (and I have seen combat).  It was so funny – that was when it rained quite a bit which was fortunate as it eased off when we went back out onto the rides, looking at the children’s rides.  We went on everything, including the ghost train (which was being run by a former school friend of my eldest son).  On the way out my wife and son went on Drenched, which they were – totally.

 

We had an excellent day and managed to tick off one of the things on our bucket list, although it will be quite a few years before Courtney goes on another white knuckle roller coaster again.