My Lovely Mum Used To Buy Us Iced-Fingers

When I was a little one…(that was the 1980s, in case you were wondering) before mum learnt to drive…I remember our shopping trips for the weekly family food supply. Mum would often make a whole day trip out of it. I remember our trips vividly.

We would walk down the hill into town heading for the local indoor shopping centre. I remember my baby sister Milly was in the Victorian pram, which mum hardly had to push on the trip downhill, more hold onto so it didn’t run away.  Meanwhile, me and my other younger sister Mandy would skip along running in and out of bushes and balancing along kerbstones all along the way.

Whenever we entered the ground floor of the shopping center, I remember an almost blue layer of smoke that hung above us…so many people used to smoke cigarettes inside the shopping center leaving a lingering stench and smog. Whenever we passed too near people puffing on their cigarettes, my sister and I would deliberately explode into hysterical coughing fits to try to make the smokers feel guilty.  We would be marched by mum right through to the opposite side of the shopping centre and back out into fresh air.

The first venue we would visit was the town library. We possibly stayed there for hours. It was a great idea for my mum to take us. A quiet place for mum and baby Milly…and endless entertainment in the form of colourful books and other children for me and Mandy.  When it was time to leave, we were allowed to borrow up to 6 books each to take home.

Food, Fish, Chips, Fish And Chips, Plate

If it was a long day out mum would sometimes buy a bag of chips from the local chippy (fish and chip shop) …which was beside the public swimming baths. Then we would sit on the rocks……I don’t know how to explain this public monument to nothing which was an incredible playground for us to challenge our agility – dangerous when I think about it.  Oh, we had so much fun climbing and playing hide and seek there while mum looked after Milly. There were usually plenty of other mums and children.

The main purpose of the trip was of course to buy food for the family. Mum had to take us back into the smoky shopping centre and up to a supermarket named Presto or Prestos. It has long since disappeared.  Mum would load up the trolley with the basics for feeding two adults and 7 children. We tried to help. There was a food trolley and a Victorian pram to safely steer around the store. I do remember some mishaps…I was not quite tall enough to be in charge of either pram or trolley, but I had to take one of them.  I often bashed into other shoppers or clipped their feet.  It seemed to take all my might to control either. Sometimes mum would just have to park up the Victorian pram near the cashiers with me in charge while she whizzed round loading up the food trolley.

Anyway…once the shopping was paid for, it was time to head home.

Mum would tie the shopping bags to all parts of the Victorian pram. The hard part of the trip out was going to be getting all of us back up the hill. The Victorian pram was now very heavy and mum had to push it up hill all the way home. But it would be more difficult to motivate Mandy and I to trudge back up the hill…I do remember us both sulking and pleading to be allowed to squeeze into the pram with our baby sister.

To motivate us, my lovely mum would buy us a treat from a bakery named Duncans. The treat was an iced finger. We would munch our iced finger and normally it would last us all the way to the top of the hill. Those iced fingers were such a welcome treat.

Iced-Fingers

One day, a wasp landed on the other end of my iced-finger.  I dropped it onto an area of the pavement with leaves and rubbish and dirt.  Mum would not let me pick it up to continue eating.  I cried all the way home.

One day, Mandy and I had been squabbling and had been misbehaving in in the shopping centre.  Mum was close to becoming impatient.  I know my mum was a bit of a softy on the whole, but that day she tried to be tough.  She warned us that because we had been naughty we would not have a treat from Duncan’s bakery.  Well, Mandy and I were rather cheeky and threatened mum that if we did not have a treat we would refuse to leave the shopping centre.  Mum told us she would have to leave us then as she had to take the shopping and baby Milly back home.  She told us she would have to send Dad down when he came home from work to take us home.  Mandy and I grew quiet as we knew Daddy would be cross to learn we had misbehaved.  We walked along quietly.

Police, Lego, Policeman, Law

Suddenly we looked around and Mum had vanished!  I immediately concluded she had been true to her word and left us on our own.  My little head was full of panic.  However, I also recall trying to work out what was the most logical thing to do next.  There was a police-man nearby.  I told Mandy that we should approach him.  There we were, a five-year old with her three year old sister telling him that our mother had abandoned us because we had been naughty.  He told us to stay with him.

A few minutes later mum came rushing over with the pram.  She was full of anxiety.  We had not noticed she had turned into Duncan’s bakery to buy us iced-fingers.  It had shocked her when we were not in our normal waiting place which was just outside the bakery window pressing our noses to the glass as we eyed up all of the colourful cakes and fruit tarts.

Poor mum!

What a lovely mum I have.

Park, Mother, Girl, Mama, Child, Toddler

If you are reading this Mum…I love you. I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood with you! I am deeply grateful you and dad gave us life and taught us wonderful things about life.  You showed us how to be happy and healthy.  Thank you for all of your hard work caring for so many children.  Sorry for all the hard times we gave you, all our squabbling and being naughty and coming home covered in mud.  You and dad have set an incredible example for us in countless ways.  Thank you for all the iced-fingers Mum.  I love you Mum!

Is It Right To Block Your Fiancé’s Number?

I was up late last night. I kept on wanting to crawl to bed, but then I had an email from Goldfinch and I wanted to reply, and then Jack called and it was way past one o’clock in the morning when I finally drifted to sleep.

Then at half past six this morning, Jack called again to check how I was doing – sigh. He is so lovely, but…well, I was so enjoying my sleep! Bless his cute little dimples!

Well, I struggled to muster any appetite yesterday. I am not sure why. But this morning, my appetite was back to normal. So I used more of the fresh produce in my fridge – why did I buy so much spinach?

Toasted bagel, vegan cheese, poached egg which burst as you can see, sautéed mushrooms and onions and wilted spinach.

Now I am going for a walk! Storm is rolling in tonight! Want to get out there while the weather is still fair!

“Grease” the musical is on the box this evening – I am going to put my phone on silent for that! I do love my darling Jack, but I am almost thinking of blocking his number! Hopelessly devoted….!!!

CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL BAR IS OPEN!!!

Did I ever imagine that today I would be hosting a virtual party on WordPress? Nope!!! But the plan changed last weekend when the UK government announced that London and surrounding areas are in Tier 4!! So thousands of people will be alone today – just like me! However, all is not lost, because we know how to throw a party!

So whether you are in London or anywhere else, all alone or just trying to escape the noise and in your household for a few minutes – please drop by today and say hello in the comments below! Tell us what you are drinking at home or place an order at CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL BAR. We serve cocktails and mocktails and the finest champagne!

There will be little nuggets to look OUT FOR TODAY – we have music, comedy and hopefully the games we planned will work too! But whatever you do – please know that if you are alone geographically – you do not have to be alone at all today. There is an amazing bunch here on WordPress who are determined to help everyone get through this cold, dark and perhaps challenging time.

I am going to start the day with things we would love for you to share with us:

  • Can you tell us which songs cheer you up – they don’t need to be festive – we just want to hear music that lightens our spirits and brings a smile to our face. You can leave an artist and song title and I will find a video to link to the comments or if you know how to do it, then please leave a video link yourself.
  • For those of you who have cameras and can load a picture onto your blog. Could you take a photo of something you are eating today – be it a cooked dinner, a cake, or something healthy – can you post a photo and pingback to this post so we can all drool over what you are eating please?
  • Do you have a favourite comedy sketch? It might be classic comedy or a spoof sketch. Could you find a video and leave a clip? Or give me some clues so I can find a clip to post? (Nothing offensive though please – this is an international party and we want everyone to feel welcome!)
  • Are you a poet? could you leave us with a few lines about either cocktails, parties, how to cope with being alone, showing unselfish love, or anything else that warms our hearts on a day when many of us will be missing our loved ones
  • Do you have a favourite blog post from either your own website or another blogger’s site that has brought a huge smile to your face during 2020?
  • Is there a special someone you want to give a shout out to? Let us know who you are missing most and who you would be with if it was not for the pandemic restrictions!

PLEASE DROP IN TO THE COMMENTS BELOW WITH ANY COMMENTS, VIDEO LINKS OR PINGBACKS

WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO SHARING TODAY WITH YOU!

When I say “we” I mean the royal we – as in me. But I know Jack and some of my other friends will be checking all the comments too.

To give you an idea of some of the amazing bloggers who have been making WordPress a sensation throughout 2020 here contributions from two of my favourite bloggers:

The incredibly talented Roberta Cheadle, the creator of Robbie’s inspiration has created an entire village from chocolate and gingerbread!!!!

https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2020/12/24/gingerbread-and-chocolate-christmas-diorama/

One of the bloggers who warms my heart and makes WordPress an absolute joy for me is Kristian, the creator of Tales from the mind of Kristian, has been recording songs that have certainly cheered me up right down to my toes!

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2020/12/21/silver-bells-some-christmas-music/

This one is special – for all of us who are physically ALL MY OURSELVES – we can be united and connected with the people dearest to us and the most fabulous bloggers through WordPress and YouTube and Zoom and Instagram. I am not always a social media fan and truth be told – I am a bit of a technophobe – but when technology is used to warm hearts and be a positive influence on each other – kudos to that!!! Thank you Kristian!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jack And I Are On A Diet

People, Couple, Man, Guy, Woman, Female

We still have no idea when to start shopping for wedding clothes, but in the meantime Jack has decided we will start a diet. He was the one who said he wanted to lose some weight (these past few months he has not been as physically active as usual), and I said that if he loses weight, then I want to lose weight too.

Jack suggested we start in 2021. I suggested we start now (and we can have a break when we see some family at the end of the month). So that was it – we are now on a diet. December is not the time to start a diet!!! It is cold!

We are going to take it easy to begin with – no wine and no puddings. I bet that will make a difference in itself. But I am also going to think about all the extras I sometimes add to the dinner table and try to have a simpler cooking repertoire whenever Jack and I are together. But for three or four days of the week, he has to feed himself, so I will check his cupboards and try to remove the naughty items I know he sneas in there!

The Secret To My Strength?

I was with a friend the other day who was asking me how on earth I have managed to keep up with the pace this year without being ill. I was ill last November, but since then I have been fine. I think I had a sniffle for a couple of days recently but it dried up very quickly – and I did not have a cough, a temperature or a loss of taste/smell.

Headaches have come, I had some tough times with headaches. But I still carried on working throughout the pain. Being busy at work may have helped me cope with the pain…or it may have made it worse – I don’t know!

Well, when my friend asked me how I have kept going, I thought about it and said….SPRING ONIONS!!!

Spring Onions, Vegetable, Salad, Food, Cooking

I have been hungering, no craving spring onions all year. From week to week, I could not get enough of them. I had a lot of salad throughout the summer, always covered with finely chopped spring onions. But I was throwing them over almost every other dish I ate.

Could spring onions be the secret source to my superpowers this year? I am sure they have some good things inside them, besides being very tasty.

But in truth, I think that love (family and friends have been a huge emotional support to me), joy (I feel so much satisfaction from knowing we are helping people) and hope (I have a very clear view of the future as this corrupt system starts to buckle) have helped me do what I needed to do from day to day.

I am not taking anything for granted though! I know at anypoint I might become ill. But in the meantime, I am still not bored with spring onions. They are so delicious. My favourite food of 2020 is undoubtedly SPRING ONIONS!

Would You Like To Come Over For Supper? (Don’t Be Fooled – This Is Not A Food Blog)

THANK YOU FOR THE AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHS OF YOUR BAKING OR PICNIC CREATIONS FOR THE GREAT BLOGGER’S BAKE-OFF! HERE IS MORE INSPIRATION FOR YOU. THIS WAS ONE OF MY FIRST EVER POSTS!

I have been looking at lots of other blogs.  (Especially the blogs produced by everyone who has kindly decided to follow or like one of my posts.)  There are some really beautiful blogs out there.  I have to admit foodies, travellers and fashionistas are particularly amazing.  Your blog sites are stunning!  I love the phenomenal photos, the delicious details, the infectious enthusiasm.  I am so impressed by the blogs I have been scrolling through – truly inspirational!

I am not great with a camera I must admit.  Someone mentioned they thought my stories needed photos to make them look a bit more appealing.  I am trying – honestly!  I have to remind myself to take my tablet out to take photos that will relate to my stories.  I promise I will work on making my blogging site more appealing and colourful…if you have not realized by now, I am in this for the story writing.  But I am trying to apply all the lovely advice and helpful tips that readers have given me.  It has been delightful to receive feedback and encouragement.

To mark my appreciation for all of the kind and supportive words that other bloggers and readers have been sharing with me, I thought I would invite you all for supper.  I have in mind a very tasty summery dish that is vegetarian (so many vegetarian and vegan blog sites out there) and I will make some hummous, a crisp salad and a crusty loaf…plenty of lime and lemongrass pressé (wine will be available if you do like to indulge)…and if you would like, I will even make a naughty pudding for dessert.  I am going to abstain from naughty pudding myself, so I can work towards being almost perfect for my Goldfinch.

I am not a food blogger (and by the end of this post you will probably be thankful of that!)…but this is my attempt at a colourful post, full of photos and chatter.  The recipe came out of a magazine…I am sorry I do not know which, but I deserve no credit for this culinary creation.  I am going to turn these beautiful specimens into our yummy supper.

Start of Supper

The oven is on, pre-heating to 200ºc …do you need me to find out the temperature for an oven with a gas supply?  Apparently that would be Gas Mark 6.

So, sorry for stating the obvious, but I have washed the peppers before anything else. Then I have cut them in half and scooped out the seeds and the white stringy bits.  Then as you can see I have arranged them in an oven-proof dish.

Halved peppers

The next step is to take 100g of pistachio kernels and put them into a dry saucepan.  They need a gentle toasting.  You just begin to smell them cooking and then you need to take them away from the heat – unless you are fond of the taste of burnt nuts.

Now if you have a pestle and mortar – and you probably will if you are a food blogger – then please use this to crush the toasted pistachios.  I don’t have one, so I painstakingly chop them up with a knife.

Put them aside for now, they are going to be used later.

Pistachios

Now I have to get ready for the teary-eyed bit…chopping two onions.  Red, white, green – your choice.  I have used one red and one white today.  I have also chopped up four cloves of garlic.

Into the saucepan it goes with a nice lug of olive oil.  This needs to heat gently for about 8 minutes until the onions are soft and smelling delicious.  They should not be crispy, so gently does it with the heat.

Onions

I have weighed out 200g of rice.  Today I am using organic brown rice…because that is what I found in the cupboard.  I think other rice would work just as well…maybe much better.  I have added one teaspoon of dried oregano and a few twists of salt and pepper.

Oh no, you can see the reflection of my hand while I take the photo…that looks a bit creepy weird doesn’t it?

Rice

I have thrown this into the saucepan with the onions and garlic and stirred everything together thoroughly.

I have already prepared a jug with 300ml of boiling water and a vegetable stock cube and a tablespoon of tomato puree.

Stock

So the tomato-ee veggie stock goes into the saucepan with the onions and rice and everything is mixed again thoroughly.

I am going to let this mix simmer for another 10 minutes with regular stirring.

Mix

In between stirs I have prepared some of the other ingredients.

200g of feta cheese – crumbled.

A handful of flat-leaf parsley and a handful of mint leaves – chopped up roughly.

Oh and those chopped up pistachios.

So remove the saucepan from the heat and now mix in these last few ingredients…the aroma is so yummy.

Feta Nuts Herbs

Then…the nicey ricey goes into those halved peppers….

Stuffed Peppers

Now we need another one of these.

300ml vegetable stock and another tablespoon of tomato puree mixed together.

This should be poured over and around the stuffed peppers.

Stock

I then put a layer of foil over the top and bake the dish for a whole hour.  After an hour, I remove the foil and allow it to continue baking for another 15 minutes so that the top is a tiny bit crispy.

And voila!!!

Supper

Bon appetite!

This might not look the most appealing recipe you have seen this month (and I am sure my photography does not make it look more enticing) but I will say this…people love it!  Everyone I have made this for raves on about it…I love supermarket magazines for the recipes they contain…not too many ingredients, not too much skill and they often are very delicious.

I know what you are thinking…Caramel should definitely NOT start a food blog…safer to stick to the story writing.

All the same…thank you again for a very warm welcome to blogging.  Keep the tips and advice and comments coming.  It makes it so much fun to come home from work and see what might be waiting for me.

Now…who would like to help me with all the washing up?

 

SAVE THE DATE

You are invited!

18/19th July 2020

These two posts explain this years BAKING CONTEST and THE SUMMER PICNIC:

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/05/27/22300/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/05/28/summer-picnic-2020/

Last year Gary, the creator of A Dad trying to cope with the loss of his Partner and becoming a single parent, had an amazing idea. Gary said, “Why don’t we have a bloggers’ bake-off?” Melody, the creator of Caramel (Learner at love), thought that was a fantastic idea so started planning with Gary. We asked the spectacular kitchen guru and baking legend Jeanne, the creator of A Jeanne in the Kitchen, to be our celebrity judge…and voila!

The 2019 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF was an amazing blogging event. We loved every moment of it and were thrilled with the response from other bloggers. We have been looking forward to the 2020 BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF ever since.

However…this year many bloggers have reported challenges in obtaining baking essentials such as flour, eggs and baking powder. Do not despair! You will be delighted to hear that as well as the BAKE-OFF for all who are able to bake this year, we are also hosting a virtual summer picnic on WordPress.

That means that as well as the baking contest, there will be an international virtual picnic and we are asking all of you to bring something along! More details to come!!! Oh we are so excited!

Cue the annoying picnic song!!!

 

A Spicy Start To The Day

I am a great tenant you know. I keep the little nest immaculate for a start. I am also very considerate. I am not noisy at all. If I do listen to music or watch something on television, I keep the volume down very low. I am careful to invite friends round who will behave and remain quiet-ish. If I want to invite any noisy friends round (some of my friends have the loudest laughs) I wait until my landlords are away on holiday.

And here is something else I do when they are on holiday:

I CARAMELISE ONIONS!

yum6.jpg

I love onions! But my landlords don’t like the smell of onions when they are cooking. I also make curries and chilli, just about anything with strong flavours and cooking odours! I made samosas a couple of nights ago.

When my landlords are here I am very considerate, I cook bland non-smelly food, because the cooking smells would waft upstairs to them. But as soon as they are heading on holiday, I rush down to the supermarket and buy onions!!

And this morning…the breakfast I am cooking for myself is another favourite treat when my landlords are away. I am making:

SHAKSHUKA

Which may possibly be the best breakfast on the planet. I know that is very debatable. But when you are as considerate as me and you have bland breakfasts everyday…a spicy breakfast treat is something to get excited about!

I Vote Goldfinch!

Should I publish another sunshine blogger post (yes more nomination posts in the pipe-line) or should I publish a little account of my plans for today with Goldfinch? Well…I need to work on the nomination posts…they need a bit of colour in them, so I will save them until I can do them justice. So I vote for another Goldfinch post!

He is coming he is coming! Goldfinch is coming!!!

I have to work all day before he arrives, so I have decided that rather than stressing about cooking a meal that is ready as soon as he arrives (limited time frame for eating), I am going to grab a take-away from the posh Thai restaurant at the end of the road. He likes Thai food, he says all Australians like Thai food. I love it ever since I have known Goldfinch.

The band that Goldfinch wanted to catch while they are playing here are The Decemberists. I have been listening to their songs over the last few days…they are like stories, the videos with the songs are so interesting to watch. I think this video will give you a bit of an idea of what I have felt as I have been going through their tracks.

It tells a story…you can’t help but feel so much for the guy who is the star of the video. The first time I saw it I was totally drawn in. Couple of bleepers from the people sitting in the diner shortly before the music starts. Just to let you know if like me, are picky about what you watch or listen to.

Music starts at 1:40…but it is worth watching the guy’s story before you hear the emotive lyric that I think will touch you like it did me.

Well…I have a busy Wednesday ahead…so will be off the radar for most of today. But you know I am smiling from ear to ear with the gorgeous Goldfinch by my side!

I Am Spending A Fortune On Feeding My Goldfinch

When I do my own food / grocery shopping, I usually go to the local Sainsburys supermarket.  For years I went to ASDA or Aldi, but there is no ASDA and no Aldi near here.  Nor is there a Lidl, an Iceland, or a Farmfoods.  When I first moved to London I lived a five minute walk from an enormous 24-hour Tesco Supermarket.  But there is no Tesco near here.  So instead I now shop for myself at Sainsburys.

The nearest supermarket to my little abode, at only two minutes walk away, is an organic supermarket named Bayley & Sage, but everything there costs a fortune…I went shopping there once, just after I moved here, and nearly started choking with the shock when the cashier told me the price of the small basket of items I had collected. So I don’t go there unless I want to buy a treat for Goldfinch or to buy sandfire (it’s the only shop near here where I can buy it).

When Goldfinch is coming I switch to shopping at Waitrose…because in my head, (if not reality) I think I will find better produce.  But it also costs more.  I just like to feel I am giving the best to Goldfinch.  One of the things I love about shopping at Waitrose is the chance to collect a free Waitrose magazine (along with my free coffee).

The Waitrose magazine has some fantastic recipes.  I have always been a big fan of supermarket magazine recipes.  I like them because they normally don’t have a ridiculous amount of ingredients and you don’t have to have been a contestant on Masterchef to be able to follow their recipes.

I like to bake…and I especially like to bake for Goldfinch. This weekend I made a traditional favourite savoury dish which I have made many times before.  But for pudding I thought I would turn my hand to trying a couple of recipes from last month’s Waitrose magazine.

ice cream.pngFirst of all I made the toffee-apple ice-cream…which involved making caramel – a messy job but somebody has to do it!  It has ripples of caramel soft golden apples, crumbly biscuit bites and creamy vanilla ice-cream…oooh la la!

upside down cakeThen I made the upside down. maple, walnut and apple cake, which was warm and ooooozing with caramel.

It is a pleasure cooking and baking for my Goldfinch.  But I spend twice as much money on my food shopping when I know he is coming to visit.  I am spending a fortune on feeding my gorgeous Goldfinch.  But I love it.  I love him you see.  I love any chance I have to give something to him that shows him how I feel and how happy he makes me.