Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Brownies!!

Earlier this year I attended Food Blogger Connect, an annual gathering of foodies who blog held in London. Aside from learning and networking we get a fantastic goodie bag to take home. One of the items in this year's was cocoa powder from Mortimer Chocolate Company.

I wanted to make brownies for tea and even though I have recipes I thought I would follow the recipe on the back of the cocoa powder packet.
This is a quick and simple brownie recipe that works!
Ingredients:
100 gm Mortimer Chocolate Powder
125 gm butter
200 gm Caster Sugar
75 gm Plain flour
2 eggs

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 180o
* Melt butter over a low heat,
*Add chocolate powder and whisk until melted,
*In a bowl beat together eggs and sugar,
*Then stir in the melted chocolate,
*Sieve in the plan flour,
*Beat until smooth,
*Pour mixture into a lined, 9 inch (23cm) square tin.
*Bake at 180o for 20 minutes
*Allow to cool slightly and cut into 12 squares

*Enjoy!
This is an incredibly easy and quick way to churn out chocolate brownies and one that I shall be coming back to time and time again.

I did not receive payment to write this post and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.



Sunday, 19 October 2014

Feeding My Addiction With The Atlantic Blanket Co

My name is Heidi and I love blankets! There I have said it out loud!! I love soft cuddly blankets and big warm comforting ones. I like home knitted blankets and hand woven ones. 

I take my ‘at the moment’ favourite blanket with me if we travel by car and pine for it when we fly away to some far away location.

As we entered the marquee for the Falmouth Oyster Festival recently, my eye caught the charity raffle display. It wasn’t the case of Skinners beer or the meal for two at a local restaurant but the beautiful blanket by Atlantic Blankets that got my attention.
Atlantic Blankets are a collection of blankets (funny that!) all made by crafts people along the Atlantic coast of Britain.

 "...Soft, warm, luxurious and practical, in a mouth watering range of colours and textures, our top quality products will provide you with years of delight and scores of special memories..." (from their website)

My blanket is too pretty to unwrap but then I could just sit and gaze at it and stroke it occasionally!
Jonty, my Bichon Frisee loves blankets and was only too keen to try this one out with me!

If you have a look at their website you can see the designs and sizes they have (they do a nice range in throws, nursery blankets and outdoor blankets too).
 
I'm just off to curl up with my new blanket!
 
 
Many thanks to Atlantic Blankets for my blanket. As usual I was not paid to write this and all opinions and photos are my own.

 


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Falmouth, Cornwall - A Much Needed Long Weekend with Mr R

I hadn’t been to Cornwall since 1982, a very long time ago! I was invited to review the Falmouth Oyster Festival recently. Although it is quite a long way to go for us, Mr R and I needed a break away and decided to make the 5 hour car journey to Falmouth in Cornwall.  Before I had been to visit my sister, a 5 hour trip was a big deal requiring lots of preparation and planning however after a 12 hour road trip to visit relatives four states away I viewed Cornwall quite differently!

We drove west turning south at Bristol through stop-start hard rain with me thankful that at least I brought my wellies!  The other side of Bodmin Moor the sky was blue and stayed that way all weekend – definitely a gift from the gods!
I had reserved a Bed & Breakfast hotel which stated they were ‘2 minutes from the beach’ but I always take things like that with a pinch of salty sea water.  Our hotel, Chellowdene, was right on a road leading to the beach and yes surprisingly, it was about a 2 minute walk!  On the beach is a café called Glynvase Beach Café serving hot drinks, all major alcoholic drinks and a fresh and vibrant menu of food.  Considering it was out of the main tourist season it was very busy – I’d hate to be hungry when the tourists are in town! As we were visiting out of main tourist season the beach was really empty with people walking their children and dogs and a few even swimming in the icy Atlantic waters!

Falmouth is quite hilly with an easy walk into the town and Events Square where most festivals are held but could be quite steep for me as I suffer from asthma. The alternative to walking was a taxi ride back up the hill with the pleasant surprise that all local rides cost only £3.00! Mr R didn’t take long to work out he could have a few more pints of Betty Stogs from Skinners the local brew!

Falmouth is the third largest natural deep water harbour in the world, beaten by Syndey, Australia and Rio de Janiero in Brazil.  Because of this is it quite popular with cruise ships which can disembark their passengers and wait just off the coast until time to explore the next destination.  There is plenty of space for sailboats of all sizes, from small craft to larger luxury boats and then of course the big guys park there too.
The Argus, a Royal Navy auxillary ship was in harbour being fitted out to go to West Africa and offer aid to Ebola victims!
Falmouth is a foodie’s paradise with rows upon rows of eating places, small pop ins to grand dining, award winning fish and chips restaurants, loads of pubs and coffee houses along with foreign cuisine like Thai, Mexican, Chinese and South African (which I will definitely be trying next year) to name just a few.

We look at the menu boards outside of restaurants before making up our minds and the menu from The Hut looked inviting but the doorway was a small entrance down a short flight of stairs.  We went in to find that the whole restaurant opened out into a lovely, cosy and inviting place to eat.  The waitresses were friendly and knew their menu making suggestions and recommendations.  I ordered the Crab Fish Cakes, Plaice with Scallops and Prawns and the Meringue with fresh fruit for pudding.
Mr R ordered the Fish Cakes, Scallops with Catch of the Day (which was Plaice) and also picked the Meringue with fresh fruit.  We each had a large glass of wine and left feeling full enough without being bloated ready for a stroll around before getting our taxi back to the B&B.
 
Most of the food that we ate came from the Oyster Festival which I will be writing about soon.

We had four days in Cornwall and felt as it we had been away for a fortnight, relaxed and full of good food, wine & beer and beautiful weather.  In fact we are going to go again next year and I am already planning our itinerary!!

 
I didn't receive any payment to write this post and as usual all oopinions and photos are my own.
 




 









Monday, 13 October 2014

Big Al's BBQ Ribs - a North Carolina Treat

 I visited my sister in her new home in North Carolina for the first time this summer and was looking forward to all the treats she had in store for me that she had been telling me about.
"They are the best ribs around" she said and that we would get some one night for dinner.
We stopped at Big Al's on our way home and ordered three racks of ribs.  I was thinking that three racks might not be enough for us so I persuaded her to get a fourth rack. I was thinking along UK racks of ribs.  I certainly wasn't expecting to see such huge racks of meat and wasn't ready for the flavour.  The meat just fell off the bone it was so tender. Oh the flavour!!

You can order BBQ Pork or Brisket that just melts in your mouth, ribs or chicken and a Southern favourite of Fried Catfish fillets!  They have side orders of exotics to us Northerners like Fried Okra, Collard Greens and Hush Puppies.
Whilst we were waiting for our order we were looking over the extensive range of sauces to take home (you fill a small container of a couple) a nice gentleman started to talk to us about the sauce range.  My sister said that was Big Al himself.
We chatted about his business and he invited me into the kitchen to see the pork that was slowly cooking, ready for the following day.
A huge oven/smoker which opened up to reveal its precious contents which cook for hours till the meat falls off the bones. This was a consignment of pork shoulder.
When I got back to the UK and told Mr R about Big Al's he said he had just watched the television programme 'Man-vs-Food' and it had featured Big Al and his ribs!

Big Al gave me a bottle of one of his sauces to take home promising me it wasn't "a real hot one"! I think I will open it with my son-in-law just in case it is too hot for me!

I am looking forward to taking Mr R to Big Al's when we visit my sister again.

You can find Big Al on Twitter and Facebook

I was not paid to write this and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.
 





 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Malaysia Night in Trafalgar Square

When I woke up the other morning I knew very little about Malaysian food except my perception that it would blow your socks off!! I knew that it used a lot of lime, ginger, chilli and coconut milk but not much more

I love flavour and warmth in a dish but not too happy when my mouth is on fire!

I was invited to attend a master class cooking with Malaysian chef Norman Musa at the recent Malaysian Night festival in Trafalgar Square.

Norman Musa has a seccessful restaurant in Manchester and teaches people all over the world how to cook Malaysian food at home.  His book Malaysian Food is a collection of Norman's favourite recipes with easy to follow recipes.  Norman is a global ambassador for Malaysan cooking.

During our masterclass with him we cooked a recipe from his book
which was a Gulay Ayam - Malay Chicken Curry.  We began with all the ingredients laid out neatly in front of our cooking station as we watched Norman make the curry.
Then we began to make our own Gulay Ayam. Frying in vegetable oil the onion, garlic and ginger along with the cinnamon bark, star anise and a folded pandan leaf.
We added Norman's own spice blend mixed with tamarind water
Once we made the curry we proceeded to make a traditional bread called a Roti Canai, a delicious golden piece of bread to soak up the curry. To make this takes time and dedication and we made one in a couple of minutes! Perhaps not ready to open a Roti Canai restaurant just yet!
When we were finished we ate our creations.  I really enjoyed my lunch, not too hot and spicy but with a lovely warmth and depth.
After the masterclass I enjoyed the rest of the Malaysia Night festivities. Whilst I waited for Mr R to join me, I was able to meet Dhruv Baker, previous Masterchef 2011 winner and watch him make a couple of Malaysian dishes, and met Ping Coombes winner of Masterchef 2014.
 
We were treated to lovely Malaysian entertainment and a selection of food and drinks. 
  
It was a lovely London day starting in a quiet Trafalgar Squre but ending in a busy, bustling Trafalgar square - in the heart of this great city.
 
It was a lovely chance to have a date night with Mr R. He had an early finish at work and met me at Trafalgar Square.
 
We had our pictures taken,
 
and walked around the square tasting some of the different restaurants' offerings.  Mr R had a spicy beef wrap with salad and I tried a plate of Char Kuey Teow - a Malaysian spectacular of flat rice noodles stir fried with garlic, juicy prawns and beansprouts.

 
The evening was put on by Malaysian Kitchen who promote Malaysian food and drink in the UK and this was the 5th annual event when they take over Trafalgar Square in London. Malaysian Kitchen is on a mission to tell the UK all about the tastes of Malaysian food - it is your first step to discovering the wonders and variety of Malaysian food.

Thanks to Malaysian Kitchen for inviting me to experience this evening of Malaysian culture.

I was not paid to attend and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.


 

 




 






 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Asda has a surprise cake!

I was sent one of Asda's new range of cakes for children and their parties. The one I received is called a Pinata Surprise Cake! 
A pinata is a mexican party piece that is filled with sweets and you hang it up in a tree of off a hook.  Children are blindfolded and with a long stick try to hit the pinata and break it up so all the sweets fall out.

A pinata cake from Asda is brightly coloured with icing on the outside and when you cut into it a stream of mini smarties fall out!
I had one for the grandchildren and they loved the surprise and the little smarties.
The cake was quite big and there was a lot left over so I made a trifle on Sunday!  Mr R loves a nice trifle and was thrilled to find little smarties in it!!
Thanks to Asda for the Pinata Cake, as usual all opinions and photos are my own.
 

 

 

 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Competition - Win a Dairy Diary for 2015




Getting prepared for 2015 and I have already been sent a lovely diary from Dairy Diary. It has sections on recipes, kitchen hints and tips, gardening ideas and lots more.
 
 
If you would like to win a copy of this book you can enter by following the Rafflecopter instructions below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


This offer is open to residents of the UK only.