Two New Vintage Recipe Booklets

I have to show my latest vintage cookbook acquisitions on here, they are just too good not to share!pyrex booksThe first book on the left is an EBay purchase, the second was given to me by my Mum who thought of me when clearing out my nan’s kitchen cupboards recently. Thanks Mum!

The McDougalls booklet has no date on it, I estimate by looking at the pictures and style that it is from the late 70’s to early 80’s. I also have big apron envy of the lady on the cover. How cool is that pattern? Its right up my street!pyrex cupsAnd look what I spotted – a Pyrex cup! The same as we have for our camper van. I also have tea towel envy. That orange flowered one would be perfect for the van.

The other recipe book is total Pyrex porn for a Pyrex perv like me. It was published in 1977 with lots of pictures of pretty casserole bowls in it. Plus the recipes are hilarious! I have photographed the best ones to share on here. Somehow I do not think I will be cooking any of them though!

local tuckerA local(ish) bland dish. The food inside it that is, not the Pyrex bowl! Styled on a haystack.mmm beefy horse burgersA classy dish to serve and impress your guests with at a dinner party maybe? just say no kidsSorry, but it does not matter how you dress them up, marrows will always be tasteless slime.niceGiblets anyone?insane in the membraneOr brains?heart attackOr if that has not wet your appetite, how about some hearts? This would be perfect as a romantic themed meal for valentines day! Bleugh!

How The Kitchen Went Up

Now I have shown the before and after pictures, I might as well show some of the inbetween pictures of the work that went into the new(ish) kitchen. All pictures were taken between the beginning of February to the end of May 2012.

yuckAbove is an IPhone snap of the start of ripping out the old kitchen. When we took up the flooring we found three layers of old lino and floor tiles. There was some old stagnant water between one of the layers from a leak that one of the previous owners of the house must have caused. Who knows how long that had been there for? Eww, and yes it stank!

yuck2stairway to hellholeWe also discovered that the stairs were unsupported structurally, thanks once again to previous “improvements” from a past owner of the house. They had removed the original pantry cupboards walls that supported the stairs and moved the back door to another wall. I wish they had not bothered. As shown in the two photos above.stairsdodgybetter

We sorted the structural problems (not with the piece of wood, we did it properly!) and plaster boarded the stairs.messwiringThe wiring issues were fixed and the cooker switch was moved.messmessy doorthresholdWe put new doorframes on.plaster1plaster2plaster3We had the room plastered. Then once it dried we could start painting and fitting the units.paint 1 paint2paint 4paint 5paint 6paint 7

What I Learnt From Being Kitchenless

My kitchen reveal post was unfinished in my drafts for over 6 months! I also had this post drafted and sitting there waiting to be published for the same amount of time! I guess now is the time to publish it. Better late than never!

temp kitchen1

For anyone that is interested. I learnt the following.

  • You are what you eat. When we ripped everything out of our old kitchen, and I mean everything, we did not eat as much fresh fruit and veg as we usually do. I set out with good intentions making soup in the slow cooker and cooking turkey steaks with the George Foreman and steaming vegetables in my rice cooker (which were always rock hard BTW!). I then dropped the George Foreman on the concrete floor and broke it. After that I completely run out of inspiration, and gave up on all hope of normality. So we lived on rubbish. (Salads from the supermarkets, toast, Greggs, microwave meals and bowls of cereal) Consequently we both were ill several times during the three and a half month period of kitchen renovation.
  • I have never wasted so much food in my whole life. I bought some carrots and broccoli with the intention of attempting to microwave them, but then to eat with what? I don’t know, maybe as a side with a microwave meal? I gave up on cooking properly, using the excuse of having no worktops for prep, no cooker and no sink to wash up in afterwards. So the carrots and broccoli went into the compost bin. Along with all sorts, as I had no hope of meal planning. I am not proud.
  • I have never thrown so much rubbish away. Processed food has so much packaging.
  • Microwave meals are salty rubbish. But you knew that anyway.
  • I was given a secondhand microwave while being kitchenless, having not owned one for several years. I gave it to the scrap metal man when I had finished with it (It was 30+years old). I still do not need or want a microwave.
  • I strangely missed doing my own washing. Both mums stepped up and were amazing, doing our washing for a few months. But they sent our clothes back reeking of chemicals/washing powder/Lenor which made our eyes sting. I use Persil/Ecover as Rob has eczema.
  • No matter how much mess and chaos you think there will be, it will still shock you just how dirty it is everywhere in your house. I mean everywhere – like inside cupboards, underneath dust sheets and in closed off, sealed spare bedrooms etc.temp kitchen 2
  • Tidy environment = tidy mind. Go figure.
  • I am a bad hoarder. When I put all my tins of food back into the new cupboards I counted 12 tins of tomatoes, 10 tins of tuna, 4 tins of chickpeas and one each of every kind of tinned bean there is. In my defence – I stock up on special offers OK! Plus I am prepared for any forthcoming zombie apocalypse. But I live a short walk away from a big supermarket. The supermarket is located in a slightly chavvy area so while it always runs out of smiley faces, it will never run out of tins of pinto beans. In fact I think I am the only person who buys tins of pinto beans from my local branch.
  • I missed eating pinto beans.
  • When wiping the dust off every tin before putting it into the new cupboards, I thought to myself “I could so do this every time I go food shopping and be properly OCD when I unpack stuff into my beautiful new kitchen.” Thank god I am far too lazy to be that anally retentive.
  • But most of all I have learnt that I never, NEVER, EVER want to do another kitchen renovation again!*temp kitchen 3*Although now having had six plus months to recover from the stress of the renovation, I will say – never say never! But if and when there is a next time, we will save up to get some contractors to fit it for us!

Finally – Our New Kitchen Is Revealed!

I apologise for the time it has taken me to publish my big kitchen reveal post. It’s because it has taken me a very long time to get around to taking the “after” pictures. Meaning that I have been waiting for the right lighting conditions and then on a day where there is no mess or washing up cluttering the worktops (hint – never). In the end I gave up waiting for that magical day, so this is the best I can offer!

It took an age to decorate this room. We had to fit the renovations into our free weekends. It took from roughly from the end of February until mid June 2012 to finish.

BTW when I say finished, we still need to put sealant on the edges of the flooring and sort out some blinds for the window and back door (I got a made to measure quote recently from a company for almost £300 – eek!) But it was worth the wait! I love it so much, and hopefully I will have many happy years of cooking ahead of me in this lovely room!

Lets start with some pics from before we started, all taken between March ’10 and February ’12, and the usual poor quality you expect from me.


old kitchen 1old kitchen 2old kitchen 3old kitchen 4old kitchen 5old kitchen 5old kitchen 7old kitchen 8Admittedly it does not look too bad in the before pictures (if you ignore the washing up pile!), but believe me it was grim. The walls were covered from floor to ceiling in horrible tiles with filthy grouting, which no amount of scrubbing could get hygienic.

The units were falling to pieces and the kitchen had electrical issues. I had three plug sockets fail on me in two years, leaving me with just three working sockets for the kettle, toaster and radio. If I wanted to use my slow cooker or another kitchen gadget, I had to play musical plug socket chairs! Oh, and I almost forgot – the old yucky, greasy extractor fan (not shown in the before photos) gave Rob an electric shock! So it was just for show for a few years! And if I used the hob, grill and oven together, the electrics would short! Oh dear!


new kitchen 1new kitchen 2new kitchen 3See those storage boxes at the end of the oven by the door? I keep my spices in them, and it is so handy. Its an odd sized space and there was no unit available to fit it, so we were just going to box it in, but the nice lady at Ikea suggested we put some shelves into the space and I am glad we did. We even made it back to Ikea to buy some more storage boxes after I melted the first set!
New kitchen 4new kitchen 5new kitchen 6new kitchen 7old kitchen 8The interior door will be replaced eventually. I hate the chintzy glass pattern. Plus I don’t know if you can see it in the photo, but I ruined the etching by cleaning it with white vinegar. Not on purpose, honest!new kitchen 9new kitchen 10 Much better! I have tried to take them in the same sequence/order as the before pictures so you see the full 360° of the room and can compare them.

One of the biggest challenges I found cooking in the old kitchen was the relative lack of worktop space. So we sacrificed the larder cupboard by the fridge to gain more worktop space over that side of the kitchen.

It took a long time to decide on the new layout and admittedly it has not changed a great deal. The biggest challenge was where to put the oven etc as we have three doorways into this room – the back door, dining room doorway and the door from the hallway. When we were viewing properties to move here, we looked at lots of houses in the area that were built in the same style, and saw that many houses had blocked in one of these doorways. We decided against doing so as we love the “flow” of our house. Blimey – I feel a little daft saying that! But who wants a dead-end hallway or have to walk from the kitchen, all the way down the hallway and through the lounge carrying plates to get to the dining room?

We also had to factor in that the opening of the oven door was not going to interfere with the passing traffic through said doorways for safety and practical reasons. I think in the end the layout we settled on makes the best of the rooms picsnik naks

We had the walls and ceiling plastered and sorted out the wiring issues using tradesmen, but plumbed it in, tiled and fit it ourselves (OK – Rob did. I just passed the hammer etc to him).

We now have lots more storage space, another thing it was lacking before, thanks to the tall Ikea wall cabinets. I love them! I just need to grow an extra foot or two! In the mean time I have invested in a sturdy stepladder or if I am being lazy I get Rob to reach me down various items!

Initially I was unsure of the wall colour I had chosen, as it dried a lot darker than I expected, and is quite a similar colour to what we have painted our bathroom (tour coming soon), but I love pink and turquoise and I can happily live with it!

Big thanks to Rob for working so hard on my our lovely kitchen!

Resource list
Units, handles and worktops – Ikea.
Flooring – Vinyl from a local independent carpet shop.
Tiles – Tile Giant.
Oven – Samsung via Appliances online.
Sink – Ikea.
Tap – Screwfix.
Extractor fan – Wickes.
Integral dishwasher & Induction hob – Ikea.
Fridge/freezer & washing machine – We kept our previous white goods which are now 7.5 years old, but have been looked after and work fine.
Prints – Etsy & Showler & Showler.
Picture frames – Wilkinsons.
Nick nacks on shelves – Collected over the years from boot fairs, eBay, charity shops etc.
Kettle – Argos.
Pink Le Cruset pot – TK Maxx 2nds. It holds our teabags. We drink a lot of tea.
Kitchenaid – Gift from Rob
Roberts Radio – Gift from Rob about 5 years ago.
Bread bin – An Ebay kind of bargin. Read about it here.
Blender – Gift from Mum. She got it free when she bought her K-mix mixer a few years back. But did not use it, so gave it to me
Toaster – I treated myself to it. I have wanted one for years!
Soda Stream – A gift from me to Rob that is used loads.
Dog door stop – I have had this for as long as I can remember, my cousin got it for me (I think).
Light – An eco one from Wickes.

Vintage Pyrex Haul

Look at what I got – lots and lots of Pyrex goodness!

So much of it, that I need to re-shuffle my kitchen cupboards to fit it in! It is the mother of all Pyrex hauls, 33 pieces in total from a local seller on EBay.pyrex haulI also found a vintage jelly mould in a local charity shop for £2.49. Not bad, as a few weeks ago I spotted an identical one in another charity shop for £7.99! I have been on the look out for one of these for a while now to go with my rabbit jelly mould. I love a bit of jelly, I know it is full of sugar, but its an easy pudding to make. If you stick some tinned fruit in its one of your 5 a day (I hope!)

This set matches the jug and sugar bowl I found at the same boot fair I found these casserole bowls. I have been meaning to photograph them and show them on here. Can you believe that it cost me 50p for both! This was about 5 years ago, and I know that I will never find pieces for that bargain price these days, that’s for bootyThe good thing about our vintage Pyrex is that we do use it. This stuff lasts a lifetime (as long as you do not smash it!) We use the jug for gravy, its the perfect size for two people! And the sugar bowl has the rather unglamorous job of a used teabag bowl-bin type thing, for them to collect and dry out before one of us can be bothered to take them down the end of the garden to the composter.

Now also seems the perfect opportunity to show the casserole bowl that Rob got me for bowl


Happy 1st Blog Birthday To Me!

Well, well, well, who would have thought of it, Using My Loaf is one year old today!

A year ago I decided to have a go at this blogging lark, with no real expectations of me sticking to it. I had long been an avid reader of other peoples blogs and wanted to see if I could to create one myself to keep a record of the updates we made to our house, as we were planning on installing a new kitchen (which has still not been shown on here – opps!)

If you have found me then well done, as I have not bothered to promote this blog at all. I have not even told my friends and family where to find it. I have just blogged for myself as a new hobby and a little creative outlet.

In my first year of blogging, it seems all I have mostly talked about is –

  • myself
  • the new kitchen
  • my bad photography
  • I live in a 1950’s house
  • I like mid century modern stuff
  • Rob
  • my cat
  • cake

Yep, pretty much a true representation of me and all I drone on about in real life………and think about too, but in reverse order!

On the plus side I feel my writing has improved. Yeah, I know my grammar leaves a lot to be desired and thank goodness for spell check. But this blog is something that I enjoy and is not hurting anyone (except maybe punctuation purists) so why not carry on?

When I started this blog I had not done any creative writing since school. At first I found it a real struggle to compose my posts. It took long time and many re-edits to try to a) structure my sentences properly, and b) to write a post that I was happy with. So while I am not a natural writer, writing has now become more natural to me……if that makes sense???

My goals for the next year are to keep improving the content and the pictures and just keep at it really (and show the kitchen on here!)

Anyway, thank you again for reading my blog.

Poppy says all the right things!



A Tasty Flapjack Recipe

I love flapjacks big time. I could easily eat nothing but them for the rest of my days. But instead I will be good and try to eat my leafy greens and five a day.

But what is not to love about flapjacks? They are so tasty and so easy to make, and they have oats in them, so they are good for you, right?

When I first moved in with Rob I could not cook, but I could make a mean flapjack without a recipe. It was the only thing I bothered to learn how to cook from my Mum. I just melted roughly half butter or marg with half the same amount of golden syrup, then poured some oats into the saucepan (no need to weigh or measure the three ingredients – just eyeball them) then baked in a medium oven until it turned brown and done looking (again eyeball it). So simple and fail proof.

Over the years I have baked (and enjoyed) many different recipes for flapjacks including chocolate ones, some with lots of sugar as the main ingredient, ones with mashed bananas in (yum). Plus I have also bought (too) many pre-made flapjacks from shops.

Have you gathered that I really love flapjacks yet? I am slightly obsessed!

My favourite shop bought flapjack is the chocolate chip one from Marks and Spencer for £1. It is such a treat, if you have not tried it do yourself a favour and get one quick. Just ignore the calorie and fat content on the back of the packet like I do!

I read the ingredients on the back one boring lunch break ages ago, and noticed that one of the main ingredients listed was condensed milk. So I googled for a similar recipe and happened upon this recipe here.

I baked this flapjack and sure enough it was amazing! It was just as good as M&S’s one, if I say so myself!

I have only baked it couple of times, as the ingredients are so rich and fattening, and Rob and I cannot stop at just one slice. It is like crack, be it dangerously addictive crack that can make you obese! So this is a indulgent treat that is made every 18 months or so and was my favourite flapjack recipe.

But that has now changed. As of yesterday, my new favourite recipe for flapjack is this one which was published in the Guardian on Saturday.

Salted caramel flapjacks

150g unsalted butter
200g light brown muscovado sugar
100ml milk
1 egg, beaten
175g plain or spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g Jumbo oats
3 tbsp golden syrup
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp sea salt

1 Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.

Line a 20cm x 30cm baking tray with lightly greased baking parchment.

3 Heat the butter, sugar and milk in a saucepan until the butter has melted.

4 Remove from the heat and stir in all the other ingredients, combining well.

5 Press the mixture into the greased tin and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
flap I can kid myself that it is healthy(ier) as it has spelt flour and semi-skimmed not condensed milk in it right?

In sort of-related news, I have recently invested in some decent sea salt (used in this recipe). It’s because I use a little salt (as instructed) for my pizza dough recipe. But I use the cheap 14p value stuff. The other day Rob was chowing down my homemade pizza and while complimenting me on it, he mentioned that the dough was a little sweet. “But I did’nt use any sugar in it” I said!

So the outcome of that meal was that I paid nearly £3 for some of this stuff. I rarely use salt in my cooking, and this is primarily for pizza doughs and future bread making adventures. I figure if I am going to use any salt, I may as well use the good s**t.

Oh and Rob, if you read this, do not use this salt in the garden in the summer to kill the slugs please! Or I will have a fit if you do. Thanks.

Off topic again, but when I got my pretty plate out of the kitchen cupboard to take a picture for my blog. I managed to break three of my teacups!

Dammit, I am such a clumsy so and so! Now I have only got two cups left to smash. Poor vintage china, It deserves so much better than me!crack

I Attempted to Bake Some Bread

But it went completely Pete Tong!

Initially I was not going to bother blogging about this. But a week later I am still laughing to myself about it, so why not!

It started out promising. My dough rose nicely.doughBut when I left it to prove it started to worry me a tad. It did double in size, granted. But it grew outwards instead of upwards.ermAnd even hung over the edge of the baking tray. Oh dear!oh dearAt this point I should have given up and thrown it away like any sensible person would. But I thought I have come this far and maybe some sort of miracle would happen while it was baking in the oven, and I would end up with some delicious white bread.

Nope, did’nt happen.drop dead bread

I joked that it looked like some sort of weird prehistoric sea creature. Rob agreed with me. But I did not find it so funny when he said it!

Still we ate it. It lasted three days. It tasted OK.

Maybe next time I attempt a loaf of bread, it will be more photogenic! I just need to practice loads, and then get some more practice. It has taken me nearly two years to perfect my pizza dough (post coming soon) and I am still experimenting with a wholemeal version. Dough is a tricky beast to master!

Campervan Update

I am the bearer of very good news! The camper van passed its MOT on Saturday!!!!! Wheeee – how pleased are we! It only had 3 minor advisories – much better than the 18 fails it had last time!

The van has been off the road for 5 years and has sat (SORN) on our driveway for the 2 odd years since we bought it.

Rob has been working really hard on it and has learnt how to weld and so far has done most of the work on it himself (he wanted to be a mechanic when he grew up, but instead became a web developer/graphic designer). The boy does love to tinker with a greasy engine!

He has also been bugging me to do a blog post about the work he has done so far. I will do my best to talk you through it. But please be warned I know nothing about cars. I leave that all stuff to Rob.

The van how we bought it.beforeThe passenger side step still needs some repairs, but it is legal to drive the vehicle like this (yey!) and it needs some deep cleaning as you can see below.passenger step

Rob has put some insulation on the inside.Inside

And done loads of repairs (technical term). See below.during

And painted and sealed the interior floor.shiny floor

On Tuesday (when the tax disc turned up in the post) we went for a drive! Unfortunately after Rob had dropped me off, he returned home and pranged the fence post at the end of our driveway. Whoops!

To be fair, we have a very tight entrance angle (another thing on our house to sort list) and he did not have me to stand behind and wave my hands about pretending (as usual) that I know what I am doing, when I am directing him into awkward parking spaces!

So here is a picture of the damage and a few more to follow to show how he repaired it (clever boy).whoopsy

He hammered the dent out. And then done a load of other stuff to it (technical term).hammertime

fillerwhat dentI bet you are probably at this point wondering why is the van blue/red/yellow? Just what colour is it? Well its from the rust protector and primer sprays. Eventually the van will be bright orange!

I am so excited! Even though I cannot drive and have no intention of learning anytime soon, I have always wanted a orange car. Its because you don’t see many vehicles in that colour and you cannot help but be happy driving (or being driven) in an orange car! Well, soon I can cross that off my almost impossible wish list, as we are going to paint it orange – whey hey!

We ordered some metal paint online and here is a snap of the colour. It is a lot brighter than it looked on the website, but, who cares! This is a fun car for day trips and holidays, so why not blind dazzle people when we drive by!badass orange

It should look something like this soon, just without the pop top. Although we could put one on if we wanted to…………

click on image for source.

click on image for source.

Slow Cooking Sunday – Falafel

Wow its been a while since I published a Slow Cooking Sunday post on here!

My reason is – I just kind of got bored of slow cooker meals, because they all kind of taste the same and are all kind of on the runny side.

While we are on the subject of samey meals, check out my pinterest account if you please (I deleted my old account, then recently decided to rejoin it). I basically pinned a board of the same recipe over and over again, containing chicken thighs, soy sauce and sugar. Which is also not very healthy. You can follow me if you fancy it!

Last Thursday I was in the mood for falafel, and I had been wanting to try out this recipe I saw on the Crockpot lady’s blog for a long time. I just wanted to see for myself if it would work. Its one of those things you don’t really believe can happen until you see it with your own eyes. Can the appliance famous for making watery, sloppy stews really produce crunchy falafel balls?

The answer is yes it can. I don’t know how, as it was really steamy in there. But it did. I cant explain the science behind it, but my guess is that I turned my slow cooker into one of those healthy fryer gadget things………that took four hours to cook falafel……….hmm, maybe not!

Well anyway, they were delicious. I used this recipe from here, but using chickpea flour and some frozen coriander (all I had to hand, my local Morrisons let me down it had no fresh parsley!) and garlic powder instead of a clove of the fresh stuff.

I forgot to take a picture of my ingredients, and I am afraid you will have to take my word for it that these were yummy. You know how with some food blogs the photo’s have you salivating? It’s called food porn. My photo’s below are the opposite. More food mourn if you will!

The balls pre cooking.ballsThe balls after cooking. I left them for four hours on high, they were slightly dry, I recommend doing them for less time and don’t do what I did (that’s go out), keep an eye on them.nibbled ballsIts weird. My slow cooker seems to have a cooking blind spot as one of the falafel balls was not done on the bottom. Strange.
odd ballFalafel pitta. Yummy! They would have been amazing with some cucumber yogurt dressing. I just could not be bothered to make any.