Halloween 2013

So its the spooky time of year again and this year I marked the occasion as I usually do, by thinking about hosting a party, then not getting around to organising one.

Traditionally I go to all the effort of not bothering to hang any decorations up and again it was no different this year. I pulled out the stops and I bought this little frightening plant (Morrison’s name for it, not mine) for £2.

halloweeny plantI think it makes a nice centre piece on our dining room table. I even left the price tag on it to really make it look really special. sppoky tableOne thing I love about this time of year is the beautiful ornate squashes you can buy. I buy them to display around the house before turning them into soups and casseroles.

This year my parents sent me over a pumpkin they grew down their allotment, and its a beast! What it lacks in looks, it makes up for in size I guess! I tried to photograph it next to my Kitchenaid and another little squash for scale below.

In hindsight I should have styled this photo a little better by unplugging my radio!!

In hindsight I should have styled this photo a little better by unplugging my radio!!

I think we need the power tools to carve this one!
Happy halloween everyone!

Ruddy Rain!

Oh dear. The camper van has a leak.

It seems the back of the van is not water tight. It looks like either the window or back door’s rubber seal is faulty. While we were away in Cyprus it peed down constantly (so we were told), plus it has been pretty wet and grim weather-wise since we have got back, so consequently the leak has caused quite a lot of damage. Please see the pictures below (all were taken by Rob with his iPhone). rain dam 1rain dam 2van dam 3van dam 4 van dam 5

It looks bad, but its fixable. Its just a case of a little time and effort. We need to wash some blankets, dry some foam and replace some MDF on the bed frame, which according to Rob, is not too expensive. Thankfully the carpet seems dry and mould free.

This is not a post fishing for sympathy etc, I just like to keep things real on here and show that owning an almost 30 year old vintage vehicle involves constant maintenance and repairs. Its not all festivals, cider and crochet blankets. Unfortunately.

But we would not change things for the world, we love our vintage vehicles (we also own a 1972 Beetle). Over the years we have had so many people tell us to get rid of the bug and buy a sensible modern car.

What? A modern car with electric windows, air conditioning, seatbelts in the back and a working radio? Nah, its more fun being driven around in a noisy car, being thrown about going over speed bumps (we sing this song when we go over the bumps!) and having small children point, smile and wave at you when you drive past!

We have driven 1000’s of miles in the bug with out any problems and plan to do the same in the camper van. I would not change our vehicles for the world, they might not be perfect (or 100% reliable) but for whatever modcons they lack, they make up in spirit. These are vintage vehicles with character and history, kept away from the scrapheap with love and dedication by their owners. You can keep your high purchase, expensive to service, boring brand new cars, I like my cars noisy, rattly and with added rust thank you!

Back From My Holidays!

In case you have been wondering why I have been AWOL from my blog… cyprus insta Collage…Im back from a weeks holiday in Cyprus!

I traveled with my family to Protaras, Cyprus and had a wonderful time. To be honest, I did not know what to expect, as it has been a very long time since I have been on a package/beach type holiday (almost 20 years in fact!), and I am the type of person who hates sitting around all day long. I like to be doing something all the time.

However, I was amazed at just how easy it is to relax and eat too much food and drink too much booze (we went all inclusive) all day long!

We settled into a little routine which included going to the gym*, swimming in the sea, playing with my nephews, the odd occasional stroll around the town etc. Basically our day revolved around our three meals. – Basically just like every day for Rob and I!

I am on a little bit of an emotional holiday hangover right now. Its rough – what do you mean I have to go back to work and my meals are not multi choice all you can eat serve yourself buffets?!!?!!** So I will do a proper write up about what I did on my holidays some point soon, once I have readjusted to my regular dull boring life. Sob.

*Yep, thats right. The GYM. I do things the wrong way round. I work out only when I am holiday and have the rest of the year off.
**I mostly stuck to the salads. Again, I was a good girl on my holiday, then bad for the rest of the year with my eating. Oops.

Tatties and Apps

So while the parents are hastily harvesting their allotment goodies before anymore sticky fingered, 5-a-day munching crims can pinch them, I currently have a glut of veg in my house. Its mostly potatoes and sweetcorn, no marrows this year TFFT – Does anyone have any good recipes involving six corn on the cob for 2 people? Im scratching my head on that one!

Luckily potatoes last ages (if the dirt on them is dry/cleaned off and they are stored in a cool dark place), and Rob and I have recently developed a taste for homemade potato cakes. Fried carb cakes FTW!

Potatoes
From this  – (please excuse the dodgy picture taken with my phone!) giant heapTo this
pot cakesI saved some left over mash from our dinner the night before and used this recipe halved. If I had known how easy potato cakes were to make, I would have stopped buying the pre made supermarket versions years ago! Plus I served them with fried eggs from our next-door neighbours free range back garden hens no less.

Unfortunately the value brand baked beans from Aldi are ruining my smug foodie-type moment here. Ah well!

Apples
From thisappsTo thisapp cakeWhy yes, its more cake!

We like cake in our house. We don’t care if they are made from potatoes or apples, as long as its CAKE!!!!
Technically the apples are from one of my parents allotment pals neighbouring plot. He has a well established bramley tree with more fruit than he can cope with (there are only so many apple crumbles he can manage apparently) and he told my parent to help themselves.

THEY HELPED THEMSELVES WITH HIS PERMISSION! Sorry, I just had to shout that out.

I found the recipe in a Macmillan coffee morning booklet from 2008, and I even managed to man up and deal with my irrational hatred of rubbing fat into breadcrumbs to make this cake. It was worth it.

Carrot and Apple Flapjacks

I love flapjacks. I think I might have mentioned it before once or twice? Maybe?

Today I want to share a yummy recipe that I sort of created. Or rather, I added my own twist to one of my favourite flapjack recipes.

I currently have an abundance of carrots in my fridge. Long story short – my parents have an allotment and have recently had some of their homegrown goodies stolen. Consequently they have frantically dug up as much of their harvest as they can, so if the tea leaf comes back to help themselves again, they will be out of luck!

Can you believe it eh? Some f***er snuck into the allotments and helped themselves to locally sourced, organic, fresh home grown veg. Stick to robbing produce from the man four main supermarkets chains please crims. Steal produce that is GM’ed, has been sprayed with pesticides, has shocking food miles and is rinsed in chlorine. Not the fruits (literally) of my parents hard labour please…… Although when you put it like that, if I ever was to half inch any veg…..

BTW I would like to point out that I am an honest woman, who would never break the law! Im just doing a little forward thinking about lifestyle choices in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Thats all. Because you never know.

Right lets get down to business and share this recipe. And remember peeps, oats are a slow burning fuel food. Eat these because the high GI’s etc will come in handy when you need to run from brain loving creatures!

flapjacksHel’s Pimped Up Healthy(ish) Flapjacks  (Based on this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 113g (4oz) butter
  • 113g (4oz) golden syrup
  • 225g (8oz) porridge oats
  • 56g (2oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 small eating apple, coarsely grated
  • 3 small carrots, coarsely grated
  • 50-100g currants (or sultanas, raisins, dried fruit you fancy/have to hand)
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 50-100g sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Line a small shallow baking tray with baking parchment. Melt butter and golden syrup together in a pan, over a medium heat, mix well.
  2. In a large bowl mix together oats, flour, cinnamon and coarsely grated peeled apples and carrots, dried fruit and seeds.
  3. Pour the syrup mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread the mixture into the baking try and level with the back of a spoon.
  4. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until firm and golden brown. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into pieces, then leave to cool again. Store in tin for up to 1 week. If you have any kind of restraint that is. Ours lasted two days.

flapYes, I do watch The Walking Dead. It scares me.