Popping My Chocolate Cherry In Australia

chococherry.pngNow I am not a fan of Peter Andre I will admit. But it seems we have the same fondness for one particular flavour combination. I don’t know much about him, I don’t have anything specifically to complain about him – I am just not a fan. There are lots of entertainers I am not a fan of. I have been at events and seen Peter Andre up close, but I have never spoken with him.

But in one way he has had a little influence on me. I was flicking through the Waitrose Food Magazine (Waitrose is a supermarket here in England) and I noticed Peter Andre was answeing a bunch of foodie questions thrown at him. He must have lived in Australia for some time. When asked which Australian foods he misses the most, he replied mangoes, seafood and Cherry Ripes – a cherry-filled chocolate bar.

cherry ripe bars.png

Well…that caught my attention. I love cherries and chocolate together. When I googled Cherry-Ripes, I found they have a dark cherry version – even better!!!

So amongst the list of things I want to do while I am in Australia (time with Goldfinch is right at the top of course), I want to find one, or maybe more than one, of these Cherry-Ripes to try for the first time. I shall be popping my chocolate cherry – can I say that without getting a reaction? Too late now.

Oh and when I googled Cherry-Ripes, one of the sites that appeared was advertising the corniest ever adverts. I became quite engrossed in watching how Cherry Ripe adverts have come on over the years – it starts very scary, but I promise they do improve.

Food For The Brain

Food For The Brain

  • Blueberries
  • Avacadoes
  • Dark chocolate
  • Green tea
  • Apples

Apparently these are the top five foods for the brain… well, this is what Dad keeps telling me over and over again.

I am having all of them…..except I am really not in the mood for apples.

I love fresh, juicy, crisp apples in the summer.  But this time of year the only way I can get my head round apples is in a crumble.  I have to admit, I am super-duper fussy with my apple crumble.  I mean I would always be polite when someone with a proud grin sets before me their prized apple crumble.

But in reality…..I only like it my way!!!!!!!!!

Apples sweet cinnamon perhaps some sultanas thrown in.  And then a huge deep layer of crumble.  Crumble being the main event.  Sometimes oats thrown in or some brown sugar to give a bit of a crunch.

Then thick custard.  Hot or cold I don’t mind which. For extra indulgence a caramel sauce. But I respect apple crumble tastes differ.

When I lived in the countryside I was forever coming home to find a kind friend or neighbour had left a box of apples from their trees on my doorstep.  So I made a lot of crumble each autumn and had a lot of friends round on cold evenings for hot toddies and crumble.  Some had the same preference for crumble over fruit as me and my youngest sister.  But other friends complained vehemently “where is the fruit?”

Actually……I really wished I had perfected a blackberry crumble.  I used to use blackberries in an oatmeal cakey scone recipe.  It was yum but very tricky to make.

But the yummiest has to be cherries…..but in a pie.

This is just fruit.

Don’t get me started on pecan pie, banana bread, bakewell tart, carrot cake, choco cheesecakes, black forest roulades, melting choco puds with butterscotch sauce……I am hungry.

I am remembering all the dinner parties I threw in the past.  I miss that.  Living in a tiny bedsit in London means no huge dinner parties.  Although, I have squeezed up to twelve friends in…most had to sit on the floor…it was rather cosy!  One of the guys knocked a glass of red wine all over my white curtains.  I have been happy here….but now I am thinking of all the things I miss.  Memories are dominating me and devouring my contentment.

Maybe I am eating too many blueberries, my memory seems to be sharper than ever.  Perhaps I have had too much food for the brain.  Need to switch off for a bit.

They Won’t Forget This Birthday Cake

I woke up this morning and logged straight into my e-mail account to find cake photos that have been sent in while I was asleep. I saw an e-mail with cake photos from the brilliant Amanda Cade Amanda Cade. The first words in Amanda’s e-mail were “Well, you wanted a few disasters…”

My heart lifted when I saw those words and I sat up in bed and read Amanda’s fabulous post which is so funny to read:

The Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off (aka: Why I Will Never be Top Chef)

disaster cake

Now…I am thrilled Amanda sent in her photos (some more below) and was willing to call it a disaster – but I think it’s obvious to all that it would be a delicious disaster – CHOCOLATE MOUSSE! in a cake – come on!!! I don’t think it needs to look great – just give me the whole lot maybe in a large bowl rather than a plate, set me up watching the movie “You’ve Got Mail” and I will be in paradise!

Actually the slice that has been cut in Amanda’s last photo shows four perfect chocolate sponge layers sandwiched with scrummy chocolate mouse. What more could anyone ask for on their birthday!

Your cake automatically collects a special NOD FROM GARY – I think he is going to be delighted with this. He had to resort to buying a cake for a recent birthday – what do you think of this one Gary?

Thank you so much Amanda! Hope you have a great time for the rest of the weekend including the party! We are sure they will love your cake as much as we do!!

The Messy Blogger’s Chocolate Cake

This is when we really wish that THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF have us the chance to taste your cakes! Here are more of the photos that Bee sent us of her this chocolate feast for you to feast your eyes on: 

I could not resist linking this chocolate miracle to the fabulous tune from Hot Chocolate:

 

 

 

 

There Is Only One Square Left

When Goldfinch came here before his flight to Adelaide, Australia, he brought a couple of things he had cleared out of his kitchen cupboards and wondered if I would like them.

One of the items he brought was a bar of Finn Carr Milk Chocolate Fruit and Nut. Now normally I am a complete chocolate snob! I like dark chocolate. I like it to come from a chocolatier. I have good reason to be a chocolate snob. It means I hardly ever buy chocolate, thus helping me not to overeat what would only end up widening my hips.

But the bar of bar of chocolate that Goldfinch cleared from his cupboards and gave me – well, I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a bar of chocolate more than this one. I have tried to make it last for as long as possible. It has cheered me up to open my kitchen cupboard and see it. Every time I have had a square I have thought of him and felt so happy. But now…there is only one square left.

Aaaaaah sigh!

 

The Glittering Cadie Mclendon Has Nominated Me For The Sunshine Blogger Award

I know this might sound a bit daft, but I was so impressed the first time I flew in an aeroplane and realized that above the thick grey clouds the sun was shining!

So it is with moi – currently a thick cloud of sadness about Goldfinch is hovering…but I promise you the sunshine is still there.

Cadie Mclendon the creator of Cadie’s Corner has nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger Award. You might not think I am particularly sunshiny at the moment – well, I am not, I am gloomy. A heavy cloud has lingered on my heart. But Cadie kindly nominated me before I started publishing heaps of posts about my sad goodbye with Goldfinch as you can see in her post below:

Sunshine Blogger Award

A reminder of the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them – THANK YOU CADIE!
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it on one of their own posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

Cadie’s Questions For Her Nominees:

How old are you?

Next summer I will turn 2,179 years old. Only a baby really!  I have to say for my age, I look amazing!

I think it’s due to the amazing genes from my parents, being vegetarian, and doing a jiggy kind of work-out (all of my own design) each afternoon.

What are you currently reading?

I am very glad you asked!

I have bought a few books that were written by some of my favourite bloggers during the past few months. I think it is a great way to support the talented writers amongst the blogging community.

I wrote about this recently in fact:

One of my favourites is Teresa Grabs aka The Haunted Wordsmith who has recently published a novel named “Reflected Echo”.

I have enjoyed her previous books which were full of shorter flash fiction pieces. But, it is great to be reading Teresa’s full length story.

What is your biggest turn off?

I am guessing you mean with regards to men? A couple of my friends like the BBC show “The Apprentice”. When I have watched it with them, I see exactly the kind of man that would make me cringe. The behaviour in that show is horrid to witness. It’s like watching the a nightmare result of “the education system”, oh yes, that’s the system I rejected so that I could become a volunteer. The contestants are all: money money money…profit profit profit! It makes me feel sick.

I can’t bear a man who wants to be Sir Alan Sugar’s next business partner and talks about how brilliant he is (himself, not Sir Alan Sugar) and talks about wasting money on parties and flash cars. A man who tells me how expensive his watch is and how much it cost to have his suits made and his luxury holidays in exclusive holiday resorts.

It makes me feel sick, because I have spent most of my life working on an unpaid basis for charities. I like someone with a good work ethic, but not to enrich himself and win glory for himself. The kind of man that wastes money on bling and pampering himself is the complete polar opposite to the kind of man I would adore and respect.

window cleanerI love humble, honest and hard-working – and down to earth. I love a man who is kind and mild. A man who is reliable and responsible and is willing to admit his mistakes and learn from them. I love a man who is noble and gregarious.

Oh – I have just described my Dad!

Which do you prefer: chocolate or fruit flavoured candies?

I love fruit, especially in the summer, but I don’t always enjoy artificial fruit flavourings as much as I would hope to. So I am going to say chocolate…dark chocolate. But I like my chocolate to come with something, peanut-butter, raspberries, ginger, chilli…

However I do prefer caramel to chocolate – everyone knew that though didn’t they???

Who is your favourite person?

I always feel a bit bad picking favourites.

I love my family so much – every single member!

But I have a special affinity to my youngest sister Milly. I have always been extremely fond of her. We shared a bedroom and I used to help her with her reading and cheer her up whenever she was anxious. She learnt sign language from watching me and other interpreters, and has gone on to be an excellent interpreter. When she married her husband, she became incredibly practical and dynamic. I am so proud of her since she has become a mother. She is wonderful:

IMG_20180812_130703 (2)Outside of my family, Goldfinch is my favourite person on the planet!

But I have some very wonderful and inspirational friends. As I said, it is really hard to pick favourites!

What is your favourite blog post that you’ve written and why?

My favourite post is:

RiverSimply because I am not very good at poetry. I wrote this poem twenty years ago and I have been fond of it ever since. It expressed something deep inside of me that needed to escape. I am so thrilled that I expressed it in the form of a poem!

I don’t think I will ever be able to express my feelings in poetry again like that. So I am glad I did it once.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hmm. A question that stirs my thoughts I will admit.

I want to go back to my home and career. But that goal seems like climbing Mount Everest. Well, climbing it for the second time, because it took me years to qualify originally. I need to have virtually perfect health to qualify to be an international volunteer again. They have been very patient with me. But my head injuries are still causing me problems. But other than that – I do not have any goal. There is nothing else I want for myself. There are lots of things I would want for other people. But for myself, I don’t have a wish-list.

I don’t dwell on the thought…but I don’t take it for granted that I will be alive in ten years time. I don’t have an agenda. I just try to make sure everyday counts. I live my life the way I would if I was going to live forever. I try to make sure I contribute to what I want for this earth and my fellow human family. Be kind, be good, be loving. Don’t have any regrets and don’t have any enemies (that’s why I need to sort things out with Jack).

What is your favourite meal?

I love variety. I can never pick one favourite. I love food. I have been called a foodie by many of my friends, but I am not sure I am deserving of that epitaph.

Probably, my “go-to” meal of sure pleasure is a vegetarian lasagne or cannelloni – with salad and garlic bread.

I enjoy a bit of everything…sometimes traditional dishes, from a vegetarian roast dinner to a baked potato. I also love Persian, Italian, Mexican, Greek, Thai dishes…I love something completely new to my taste-buds. One of my favourite discoveries from Ghana was peanut butter soup – wow! And I can’t resist a yummy pudding!

What is your Myers-Briggs personality type?

I have just had to google “Myers-Briggs” because I was not sure what it was. I have no idea. Looking at the descriptions…I think I might possibly be ESFJ or ESFP??? The description for both sound familiar. I do remember vaguely a friend getting me to answer a long list of questions, and after totting up the results, she told me I am an entertainer…crossed with something else?

The description of an ESFJ here is interesting…I will say this, I don’t feel any kinship to the Pope, Whitney, Elton or Barbara Walters! Yikes! But I have had all the jobs listed. The characteristics are true of me too.

But looking at the description of an ESPF, there are many things that tick the “me” boxes in this description also.

I think the big difference is the rules thing. I don’t mind rules. I don’t mind an established set of values, standards, ethics. I think without rules, things get really crazy, with everyone setting their own standards. It is a big security factor for me.

Hmm…I think I am one of the above, but I am not sure which. On other personality tests I have done over the years, I am always on the scale around helping or giving to other people / entertaining other people. Apparently, I like to make sure everyone is alright, and I also tend to perform and make sure everyone is enjoying things along the way. I like to keep people happy. However, I am not necessarily a people-pleaser, because I stick to my principles and don’t follow the crowd. I stay within the realms of what I feel is right and avoid offending people. After all, I love people.

I know I am not a leader, I am a supporter. If someone has an idea, I am good at working hard to make it happen. Goldfinch says I am a bear – as in a worker. I am also a very big communicator – probably too much. I like feedback – I thrive on someone saying “Well done! Good girl!” and when my conscience tells me that, I glow with joy!

How many pets do you have, what are they and what are their names?

IMG_20181114_165943In my current tenancy agreement, I am not allowed any pets. However, the lady upstairs has goldfish and I feed them whenever she is away. The only little critter who is allowed in my little nest is my glass frog.

When I grew up, we had cats, and over the years I have cared for lots of animals for clients – dogs, ponies, chickens, sheep, cows, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters.

How do you plan what you will write about?

The ideas come rather randomly. But they are normally based on people and events in my life. I am not very good at flash fiction or anything creative like a poem.

Whenever I have an idea for a post, I usually start it and then I work on it little by little when I have chance. Some posts I try to complete quickly as they are from writing prompts. But others might linger in my drafts folder for some time before I manage to bulk them out and polish them over.

I have to work long hours on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so I have started to schedule posts for those days in advance, and on those days I just try to read other blogger’s posts.

At the moment I am writing a lot about Goldfinch – I think everyone understands why. In the future, I need to write more about Jack – as that is key to the theme of my site “CRUSHED Caramel”. I want to expand the “CUP OF TEA” series which is all about Jack. I want to arrange my site differently too so it is easier to find posts about Jack, posts about Goldfinch and then other subjects.

I want to write a lot more about my family. There are many more special people I want to write about too. I want to write about my teenage sweetheart. I want to write more about the places I have travelled to: Ghana, Texas, France, Belgium, Romania, Germany, Turkey, Spain, Sweden and the experiences we had in those places. I also want to write more about more about England and Wales and especially life in London. I should be taking more photos and telling you more stories about the events I am going to and the projects I work on right here. I want to write more about what I think is really wonderful about life and this planet.

My Eleven Questions For My Nominees:

  1. Do you have any blogging achievements you are pleased with…or a particular post you are really proud of?
  2. Do you like parties?
  3. What are your next door neighbours like? Do you get on with them?
  4. What would be some of the features of your dream wedding? (if not your own then the wedding of a beloved family member or friend perhaps)
  5. What is your favourite food “on toast”?
  6. Do you have any bad driving habits?
  7. What’s the most romantic thing that someone has done for you?
  8. Have you ever been harassed at work?
  9. What kind of food / snacks would you take with you on a picnic?
  10. Have you ever been the victim of a crime?
  11. If you were a tourist in England, where would you like to visit?

My Eleven Nominees:

Eleven bursts of sunshine in the blogging world:

Winnie Winnie – Musings

Coffee Cups (Cherry Chocolate Granola)

Another working week over and done with and now it is Sunday….my day of rest…NOT!!!

Even on my Sunday I am up bright and early because I have a lot to do today…but first I am determined to enjoy my breakfast….I have had fruit all week for breakfast (and salad for lunch and dinner every day I was at work)…but today…ooh la la…I am having cherry yogurt, I bought it for Goldfinch and forgot it was still unopened in the back of the fridge with a use-by-date of 14-05-18. And because I have never been in the habit of eating yogurt naked….I nipped into Waitrose straight after work last night to buy some granola, and fell for chocolate cherry granola which I can only imagine is going to taste incredibly yummy. I have just made my coffee and am waiting for it to percolate and then I am going to enjoy.

Aaaaah…..so nice to have time to feel I can just dawdle along in first gear for the next hour or so…so nice!!!

Speaking of granola…I had an odd experience in a health store on Wednesday. My landlady asked me to buy her some spelt muesli. They did not have any in Sainsburys supermarket, so I nipped into an expensive health store across the road where they do stock lots of spelt foodie items. I meant to nip in and have a look round to see if I could find what she wanted. But as soon as I walked in a shop assistant bounded up to me and asked if he could help me. So I told him I was looking for spelt muesli…his face reflected panic. I followed him around the store twice before I realized he did not know where to look. I was sure we had passed a section with cereals. He came along with me. He picked up some spelt flakes off the shelf and handed them to me. I thanked him but said I was looking for muesli. So then he picked up granola off the shelf and gave it to me. I started to find myself becoming a bit giggly. I said that it looked nice, but I knew my landlady already had granola, she had asked me to buy muesli. He replied “but granola is muesli, they are the same thing”. I told him I think they are slightly different. He asked me how. I looked at him really finding it hard not to express my amusement. I described granola as being a bit crunchier than muesli. He started reading the back of the packet of granola. Then he said to me “I’ll tell you the difference between muesli and granola. Muesli you have with milk at breakfast time, whereas granola you have with fruit and yoghurt and you eat it in the afternoon.” I was really taken aback at the confidence he delivered his conclusion to me…and I was dying to laugh but politeness helped me to restrain it. Anyway, he then said that they didn’t sell muesli. I thanked him for helping anyway. Within moments another shop assistant appeared with a bag of gluten free spelt muesli in his hand.

I bought myself a coffee cup this week….I have been looking for one for weeks, but didn’t like the colours I saw, but fell in love with the one I saw in Robert Dyas homewares store. But then two days later a friend nipped round with some clothes I had lent her and she gave me a coffee cup…I remember telling her how guilty I feel every time I buy a coffee because of the difficulties recycling coffee cups so I intended to buy a coffee cup to have in my work bag. So now I have two as you can see from my photo!

20180310_214048The taller one I bought and the shorter is the one she bought for me. Oh…I can help save the planet in style!  Every morning when I turn on the news before I head out for work there is a news item about single use plastics – bad bad bad….  Ever since we watched the beautiful BBC Blue Planet and especially the recent Blue Planet ΙΙ, we have all become very upset that our magnificent oceans and the myriad of sea creatures that leave us full of wonder and awe are being damaged by our daily coffee purchases amongst other things.  My next purchase will be a re-usable water bottle, a solid one that I can wash out again and again.  I must do this because I do buy a lot of bottled water. I can’t bear to think of harming the creatures in the ocean I am fascinated by.  (I heard that by the end of the year plastic drinking straws and cotton buds will be banned.  I am not sure who uses cotton buds anymore anyway.  Every health professional sternly tells you not to stick them in your ears.  Maybe some people have other uses for them.  But my life will not be cramped by the absence of straws or cotton buds.)

My lovely lovely wonderful Goldfinch is somewhat of an expert on waterways and the environment.  He says much more needs to be done.  I am sure he is right.  I am sure the vast majority of people would be pleased to make sacrifices where needed to preserve this incredible planet.  I asked him last week, what does he think is the next practical solution to take.  We are getting rid of plastics we don’t really need and re-using coffee cups and drinking bottles more.  I asked him what is next.  It sometimes seems a bit overwhelming, but I think most of us understand that we all need to do something or give something up.  The collective effort can achieve huge results.  Do you know the story about the starfish on the beach?  I don’t have time right now, but I will relate it in another post.

My other exciting buy this week….Higgledy Piggledy Pies…four new vegetarian varieties and on offer in the Waitrose supermarket. I can’t wait to try them.  I have not baked a pie in ages.  Pastry…not very waistline friendly.  But I feel in the mood for baking savoury things at the moment.  I am an occasional baker.  I bake for friends.  They love my bakes and tell me I am an amazing baker and should apply for one of these TV baking shows.  I know better.  I am not a great baker at all.  BUT I DO KNOW HOW TO READ.  I obey the recipe precisely, every letter!  It is a very clinical mechanical way of baking, but yes the bakes come out well.  All credit to the recipe writers.  I never remember the recipes.  If you asked me to jump up and bake a sponge cake or shortbread right now, I would not be able to do it.  My head does not retain recipes.  But I have made hundreds of cakes and biscuits by faithfully following other people’s recipes.

I found a recipe for a dish that looks absurdly simple but delicious. It is so simple that I can actually remember it. Take one 600g tub of fresh veggie soup, the type you find in the chilled section in the supermarket, and heat gently in a saucepan and then add 400g tin of cannellini beans (after draining and rinsing of course) add any seasoning you desire. pour this concoction into an oven proof dish. Then take a fresh garlic baguette and blitz it in a food-processor (or you can grate it if you don’t own a food processor) It should be nice chunky crumbs, not fine crumbs. Mix this with grated cheddar cheese (the recipe specified 75g but I would probably leave that to the eater to decide how cheesy they want their supper to be). Sprinkle your cheesy, garlicky bread crumb mix over your bean and veg soup base. 15 minutes baking in an oven that has been pre-heated to 200°/fan 180°/gas 6.  This recipe could turn out to be an easy tasty simple supper for when friends come crashing through the door.  Or it might be awful.  I am going to experiment on a friend and his two teenagers who are coming over for dinner next week. So long as I serve chips with it they will be happy! And a naughty pudding. I think pudding will be something simple like brownies…..I refuse to put in excessive effort for teenagers because most would be just as happy with a gooey cake that came straight out of the box from a supermarket.

By the way, if you don’t own a food processor.  I have never had one up until a year ago.  There was life before my food processor… and life after.  The main difference is making my own hummous which I do most weeks, my own pesto…yum yum yum, and things like home-made coleslaw are so easy to make.  Whizzing up cookie crumbs for a quick cheesecake base etc.  I like it.  It is hard to imagine life without a food processor now.  I don’t buy gadgets generally.  My sister and her husband have all sorts of juicers, spiralizers, pop corn makers, doughnut makers, an ice-cream maker.  I am sure these are all fine things in themselves, but my cute kitchen can’t store too many gadgets.  But the food processor definitely deserves it’s place.

I finished my cherry yogurt dressed with cherry chocolate granola and my coffee some time ago and now I am going to have a shower and get going…busy day ahead.