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Saturday, July 28, 2012

A New Beginning

It’s been a busy few weeks, moving and finding work as quickly as possible. I have managed both, but to what end? Well obviously a new home and a new career, I am excited about both, I love my new house and my garden is lovely. I am not sold on the area just yet, but time will tell.

As for my new job, I am going to be a home carer, something I have always wanted to do, it will be really rewarding, on so many levels. I will be able to do courses which will make me more qualified, I also have promotional prospects, which I have never had before, and the company do community and charity work. My only concern is that, it is long hours and I wonder where I will find time to do my other course work, blog and to be the wife I have been up until now. I suspect my life is about to be turned upside down again, which I am a little apprehensive about, but at the same time I suspect that the rewards are going to be fruitful.

So, my plan of action is? Timetables, complete organisation, and above all else, always put my husband first.

I do have pictures, but I have limited internet usage until next month, so they will have to wait until then……..

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Oh my, the packing, it’s a nightmare, boxes are everywhere and everywhere is a mess. For about 10 minutes I contemplated letting the packers do EVERYTHING, getting a cleaner in and just kicking back! Then along comes my infinite wisdom, and I decide that whilst, yes indeedy, this will be the easy option, this end, it also meant that I would have to throw away the rubbish and things I don’t want, at the other end, and who wants to unpack rubbish, right?

So here I am stressed, confused, and really muddled!

I also feel guilty that I haven’t blogged in ages. I can’t wait to get this all out of the way so that I can get back to normality, cooking, baking and writing. I am still around and haven't quit blogging, just slightly overwhelmed with everything that's going on!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cedar infused BBQ smoked salmon

Life is rather busy at the moment, and my mind hasn’t really been in the right place to be writing, I want to, but whenever I put pen to paper or type. Despite my best intentions I end up grumbling about one thing or another. If the truth be known, I think I am feeling a little stressed and I certainly feel as though I have no control over my life at the moment, which doesn’t help, I am a control freak! I am also REALLY grumpy at the moment and have little to no patience for anyone or anything for that matter, and you can forget any tact for customers. I get that certain things are annoying and frustrating, like mail taking ages to get through, that however is not my fault, I don’t get in my car and deliver your mail personally……. It’s not possible, every customer that has come in, I have politely explained the issues, I have also politely explained what’s being done to resolve said issues, and I have empathised! Well I am done with polite and I am done with empathy, you’d think that I either didn’t send mail or that for some reason I didn’t have any mail issues. I shall take this opportunity to point out, my mail takes just as long and I am just as frustrated, however I don’t have anyone to shout at! (See my point I end up moaning about something)

Moving on, all last week I wanted to try out this wood block thing I have, you soak it in water for at least an hour, and then you can place it on your BBQ and smoke either, fish, chicken or pork. I felt a little dubious about chicken and pork, but I was absolutely dying to smoke this really beautiful piece of salmon I bought. So Wednesday before I went to work, I pulled out the salmon and placed it in the fridge, and put my wooden plank in the sink with water and placed my rather large vodka bottle on top. I got home from work and discovered my salmon wasn’t salmon at all, but some kind of delicate white fish, so out of the sink the plank came and I made a fish and vegetable soup, a bit like chowder with out the potatoes. Thursday we ordered pizza, so Friday comes along and I am really looking forward to smoked salmon, husband soaked the plank in water all day long again….. Only I forgot to take the fish out, so we had some pork steak things that I had in the fridge still (I have conceded and started to eat a little pork) So out of the water the plank comes, but I did remember to take the salmon out.

Saturday the plank goes back in the water and I lightly buttered the salmon, seasoned it with a pinch of rosemary, salt and pepper, and a little squeezed lemon juice. Then I placed it on the plank of wood which had been soaked in water, yet again, and my husband put it on the BBQ. The smell coming from the smoking cedar was lovely, but not as nice as the smoky cedar infused salmon. I would definitely recommend cooking your fish this way, effortless with about 20 minutes cooking time.  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cookie Dough Cheesecake

I love cheesecake, it’s super yummy and I personally love it with a biscuit base. German cheesecake is boring, wafer type base and a heavy dense cheesecakey bit usually plain but sometimes lemon flavoured. Chocolate, caramel or mocha, for example are unheard of and you can forget chocolate chip cookie dough!!!!!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

1¾ cup crushed chocolate chip cookies
¼ cup sugar
1/3  cup melted butter


3 8-oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 egg slightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
½ tsp vanilla extract


¼ cup butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs and sugar, then stir in the butter. Press onto the bottom and 1"/2.5cm up the sides of a greased 9" spring pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Slowly add the eggs, beating on a low speed, until just combined, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Beat until just blended, then pour over crust and set aside. In another large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then add the water and vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour. Next stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips and drop the dough by teaspoonfuls over the filling, making sure to carefully push dough below the surface. Place pan on a baking sheet with a little water. (water-bath, which should help it to stop splitting.)

3. Bake at 350°F/180°C for 40-45 minutes or until the centre is almost set. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan so that it loosens, cool for an hour longer. Refrigerate over night. Remove sides, sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.

I cut this up into slices, and froze them, as it is too much for just my husband and I. I kept it in the freezer for about a month to six weeks and it was fine!!!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fully Loaded Chunky Cookies

Cookies are great and these, as in cookies, I CAN BAKE. I first made these with my daughter, although she is getting a little old to be baking with her Mummy now. Even so these are REALLY good and REALLY naughty. The original recipe said to use 1 cup each of the different chocolate chips. I half that, I have made this recipe five or six times now, twice according to the recipe, they are great either way, but I find using a little less of the chocolate chips, they bind a little better.

 Chunky Cookies

1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup milk chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
4 squares bitter chocolate
¾ cup English toffee
½ cup vanilla fudge

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the Vanilla.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, then gradually add to the creamed mixture. Finally stir in remaining ingredients.

3. Drop a tablespoon full of the mixture 3" apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350°F/180°C for 10 or until golden. Cool for 2-3 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yield: 8½ Dozen


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Writing, Journals, and a new life!

Some of you will be aware that I am doing a creative writing course. It covers writing both non-fiction and fiction, runs for four years although if you can produce the work faster and complete the course sooner that’s fine too. I’m, loving it, I’ve always enjoyed writing, letters and kept journals over the years, rightly or wrongly I don’t have any of them anymore. Possibly had I known, I would be doing this course I would have kept them……. Hindsight and all that jazz! I may have been able to pull something from them for my writing, but my reason for throwing them away, was the personal anguish I felt when I read them.

They were journals, as opposed to diaries. I wrote when something was bothering me, which was in most cases and I wrote on the rare occasion when something good happened. After I moved out of my Ex’s house all my things were boxed up, not that I had a great deal and most of what I did have either went back to my children, my mother or charity shops. Mostly arts and crafts bits, that I had collected over the years, but I kept my journals and my books, except my books from childhood, I left those, thinking it would be a good thing for my children to have, so they could learn to also read English, 34 year old books, which have disappeared, in other words been thrown away. A total travesty and probably out of spite, because my ex knows how I feel about books.

Anyway all my boxes got shipped to America, including my journals which I sat down and read one night, before throwing them away. They made me cry, it was like I was reading about someone else. I was suddenly aware of how miserable I had been. All the guilt I felt no longer existed, these journals covered a period of 13 years on and off, most of the entries were sad, in some cases you could see where my tears had smudged the ink, or the pages were full of hatred and contempt. Situations where I had been belittled, ridiculed, undermined and lied to. I had a raw feeling of self loathing, at a miserable and failing marriage, which at the time I blamed myself for. I felt I wasn’t good enough, I was ill with depression, I wasn’t pretty enough, I didn’t work hard enough, the list of self demoralizing was endless.

I had a good cry and then shoved them down a rubbish shoot. Rather symbolic really, it was like saying “Go to hell, with the old me” welcome a better and happier one. I hadn’t really given the journals much thought until this course, to be honest I don’t know what I could have used, them for. They were very raw and emotional – Do I regret throwing them away? Not especially – I think what throwing them out symbolised was far more important for my emotional psyche, I’m better off remembering basic details of the past, than re-reading the intimate details of a life I left behind for a reason. Instead I’m able to start re-writing my life, now I write about food, or I write non-fiction articles for my course work. Now hours of my day are spent writing and instead of miserable rubbish, I’m being productive, I’m writing pages and pages of things that I know, about all kinds of things.

I am suddenly aware of my own substance and MY voice, I have something to say and I want to be heard…… Welcome the real, Rebecca Alison Dodds, wife, mother, step-mother, writer, in fulltime employment, dog owner and cook. Yes at times life can be hard, but I have it all, and I am so proud of everything I’m now able to accomplish – of which I owe a great deal to my husband, who may roll his eye balls at my latest cockamamie idea, but he loves me unconditionally, encourages me, won’t let me quit, picks me up off the floor when I am down, holds me when I cry and no matter what he ALWAYS has my back!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chicken stuffed with crab

Okay – so I have done all kinds of stuffed chicken, bacon and cheese, creamy pesto, cream cheese and blue cheese – this one though is most definitely one of my most favourite recipes. It ticks all the boxes, with a crab filling a white sauce and a cheesy topping, with the paprika sprinkled on top adding a little heat. There are moments in life, whatever you are doing, (so not just food related,) that bring sheer happiness. I have managed it several times over the past couple of years. I’m talking food specifically now, where I have cooked something really wonderful, and Glen has turned and looked at me and given me one of those looks that says it all. Those are the moments I live for, a moment when you feel complete and utter pride. You’ve done well and managed to achieve something truly outstanding.

Chicken stuffed with crab

4 tbsp butter
¼ cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
¾ cup milk
¼ cup chopped onion
6 oz crab meat, drained
4 oz chopped mushrooms
1/3 cup saltine crackers or similar (I used ritz crackers)
2 tbsp parsley
½ tsp salt
dash pepper
4 chicken breast halves
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ tsp paprika

Hot cooked rice

1. In a small saucepan, on a low heat, melt 3 tbsp of the butter. Stir the flour into the milk, then pour the broth and milk into the saucepan. Bring to a boil; and continuously stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

2. In a small skillet, sauté the onion in 1 tbsp butter until tender. Add the crab, mushrooms, cracker crumbs, parsley, salt, pepper and 2 tbsp of the white sauce; heat through.

3. Make a horizontal cut along one side almost to the other side of each chicken breast, leaving the chicken breasts attached on the opposite side. Open each breast so it lies flat and cover with plastic wrap, then using a rolling pin flatten chicken to about a ¼" thickness.

4. Spoon about ½ cup of the crab mixture on each chicken breast half. Fold in sides and roll up. Then secure with toothpicks. Place in a greased baking dish. Top with remaining white sauce. Cover and bake at 350°F/180˚C for about 30 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

5. Sprinkle with the cheese and paprika. Then bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Remember to remove toothpicks before serving. Sprinkle with additional parsley and serve with rice if desired.

Servings: 4

Friday, May 18, 2012

"We love Laarbruch" Facebook Group and Cabbage Rolls (Ironically a typical dish eaten by Germans)

I was a member of a group on Facebook, called “We love Laarbruch.” When I first joined, years ago, when they had as little as 50 odd members, they are now over 2000, it was with the soul intention of meeting up with old friends, and if the truth be known it served it’s purpose, all of my friends from school eventually joined the group and we are now Facebook buddies.

Quite often, people on there ask for recipes, traditional German ones, and I have a lot of those, after 24 years in Germany I have managed to collect 100’s of them, and I was sharing them. It got a little tedious though, translating and typing up these recipes. Whilst chatting to one of the other members, I mentioned my blog, and he suggested that every now and again (once or twice a month) I post my blog on the page so that he could skim though what I had posted, neither of us was really interested in becoming Facebook friends, I don’t know him, and he doesn’t know me, what was the point? So, once or twice a month, I posted on the page, this last time I posted, several people complained, moaned and groaned, about me “Spamming” I would hardly call it spam, I am not selling anything and I am certainly not forcing anyone to read something they have no interest in. I left the group after being accused of spamming, but they carried on the thread, keeping it at the top of the page, the longer it was at the top of the page, the more blog hits I got. I am a little confused to say the least. Possibly a little saddened, I am so proud of what I have achieved here, maybe they think it’s stupid, or maybe they are jealous I don’t know, but wouldn’t it have been better, to ignore or delete my post and move on rather than try and diminish something I have worked so hard to accomplish, shame on them for trashing one of their own!

Over the years I have had cabbage rolls, always store-bought with a powdered sauce – now I am not knocking either – certainly ideal for busy days when speed and ease are the name of the game, but what about those days when you do have time? What would you rather, quick store-bought or taking the time and making your own from scratch? I know that I would rather make my own and think of the pride you will feel at the end of it…..

Cabbage Rolls

4 Large cabbage leaves
¼ lb ground beef
¼ lb bulk pork sausage
¼ cup onion chopped
½ cup cooked rice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
1 egg
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar (optional)

1. In a large saucepan, cook the cabbage leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside. In the meantime cook the beef, sausage and onion over a medium heat in a skillet until meat is no longer pink, then drain and stir in the rice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and egg; mix well.

2. Cut out the thick vein from the bottom of each leaf, making a V-shaped cut. Place about 1/3 cup of the beef mixture onto each of the cabbage leaves, next over lap the cut ends of leaf. Fold in the sides, then starting from the cut end, roll up to enclose filling, if need be secure with cocktail sticks. Place seam side down in a greased baking dish.

3. Pour juice over rolls; sprinkle with brown sugar if desired. Cover and bake at 350°F/180˚F for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes.

Servings: 2

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Life's little struggles and a Mexican dish!

I am so bad at the blog thing lately, I’m not getting lazy or bored, for that matter, just soooo busy, with one thing and the other, I am reading two books at the moment, one is a novel, a Jack Higgins, I’m not sure of the title, and I have just walked in front of my husbands X-box game three times, I am not about to do it again, for the sake of a title no one is really that bothered about, I am also reading a book called “Power and control, why charming men can make dangerous lovers” to be fair I am finding it hard to put it down. I can honestly say that I have been the victim, if you will, of “Woman abuse” it’s not all in my head and I can stop feeling guilty and bad about it! IT’S NOT MY FAULT.

I am also still doing my writing course, and working on assignment 5, but I have been struggling, the assignment isn’t that difficult, but with everything going on at the moment, my mind is everywhere but on my writing…. I am indecisive, scatty, all over the place, however you wish to put it. I am also trying desperately hard to lose weight and if I am honest I think I have gained this week. I feel like a heffalump and wozzle, it’s really quite distressing, because I eat very little really. I am constantly starving and for what? So that I don’t gain anymore because I am not losing any!

Anyway, enough of that. Onto some Mexican food. By the time I made this recipe, I was at a stage in my life that was all about trying new things. I’d not really had much opportunity to eat Mexican food before. I tried a little in the States a taster if you will but never made my own. Unless, you count Guacamole or Salsa?

Baked Chimichangas

2 ½ cup shredded cooked chicken
1 cup salsa
¾ tsp cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
1 Small onion chopped
6 Tortillas warmed
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 tsp black pepper
¼ cup flour
1 cup milk
1 jalapeno

1. In a large skillet, simmer the chicken, salsa, onion, cumin and oregano until heated through and most of the liquid has reduced. Place ½ cup of the mixture down the centre of each tortilla and top with 2 tbsp cheese.

2. Fold in the sides and ends over filling, then roll up, placing seam side down in a greased baking dish. Bake, uncovered at 425°F (220˚C) until browned, this should take about 15 minutes.

3. In the meantime, in a saucepan, heat broth. Combine the flour and milk until smooth and then stir into the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Mix in the jalapenos. When the Chimichangas are finished cut in half, top with sauce, to serve.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

100th Recipe, Garlic Beef Enchiladas

I have tried over 200 recipes – I have 200 I can share, some are brilliant some not so much, some I have just made a complete hash out of. Whatever the outcome though, even my disasters, I’m incredibly proud and grateful for them, proud because I am finally doing something I am good at and worthwhile. Each recipe is worked with meticulous planning, I’ll read and re-read a recipe to be sure I know what I am doing, then I work out which ingredients to leave out or change. For example I am allergic to ginger, it doesn’t put me into anaphylactic shock – but I do get a tickly cough, a tightness in my chest and I struggle to breathe at times. So any recipes with fresh ginger are out, that or I don’t include it, which more often is the case. It’s a pity because I love ginger.

Once I am satisfied with a recipe I write it out my way. So to cut my long and boring story short – I am proud because I can cook and I also work hard at perfecting my technique. I am grateful because, as silly as it sounds, it boosts my ego, when my husband tells me how great his meal was, or when people ask ME for advice. If you’d asked me nearly three years ago, I would have been clueless!

I was missing out on so much, Black Bean Sauce, Hoisin, Chorizo – Garlic Beef Enchiladas, well would you look at that, my next recipe.

I think this makes 100.

Garlic Beef Enchiladas

1 lb minced beef
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1 can stewed tomatoes
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 can (15 oz) beef broth
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1-2 tbsp chilli powder
1-2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp salt
10 tortillas 7"
2 cups strong cheddar cheese

1. In a large skillet, cook the minced beef and onion over a medium heat, once cooked, drain. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in another pan, sauté the garlic in the butter until tender. Mix together flour and the broth; pour into the saucepan and continuously stirring, bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in tomato sauce and the seasonings; heat through.

3. Pour 1 ½ cups sauce into an ungreased 13" x 9" baking dish. Spread a ¼ cup of the beef mixture down the centre of each tortilla; top with 1-2 tbsp of cheese. Roll up tightly; place seam side down over the sauce. Top with remaining sauce.

4. Cover and bake at 350°F (180˚C) for 30-35 minutes sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered, 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese has melted.
Servings: 5

Friday, May 11, 2012

Apple-Brie Spinach Salad with Avocado

I served this as a side dish with ribs. I really liked the warm dressing that went with it, it added a little extra depth and contrast, to an already interesting and varied salad.

I suppose I got a little excited because there wasn’t anyone saying I couldn’t. The original recipe didn’t have avocado in it, but I did because I love it, so I put it in. Glen would have preferred it with out – but you see that was part of my cunning plan……. MORE FOR ME!!!!!!!

Apple-Brie Spinach Salad with Avocado

1 Avocado, cubed
4 Large Apples, cut in 1/2 inch wedges
4 Tbsp Maple syrup - Divided
8 cups fresh baby spinach
1 8-oz Brie Cubed
1/2 cup Toasted walnuts pieces

For the dressing

1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced

1. Place apples on an ungreased baking sheet; brush with 2 tbsp of syrup. Grill 3-4" from the heat for 3 minutes. Turn; brush with remaining syrup. Grill for 3-5 minutes longer or until crisp - tender

2. In a large salad bowl, carefully toss the avocado, spinach, cheese, walnuts and apples. In a small saucepan combine all the dressing ingredients; bring to a boil. Pour over the salad and toss again to coat and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Boeuf Bourguignon and a diet update

This is a traditional, French recipe – personally I am on the fence with it, I have only made it a couple of times. Glen enjoyed it and I’ve made it, so I have included it, but it’s not one of my favourites – maybe it just needs something else, I wouldn’t know what though, and with such a traditional recipe I am reluctant to mess with it.

Boeuf Bourguignon

2 tbsp sun flower oil
2 lbs boneless beef, cut into 2" cubes
½ lb bacon strips
12 shallots, coarsely chopped
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup red burgundy
2/3 cup beef stock
A few parsley sprigs
1 thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt and black pepper to taste
½ lb mushrooms

1. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish, add the beef in batches, and cook over a high heat until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll.

2. Add the bacon and shallots, cook gently, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisp and shallots have softened. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll.

3. Add the flour and cook stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually blend in the wine and stock and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened.

4. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole dish and add the parsley, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook in a 160°C/325°F oven for 1½ hours.

5. Return the shallots to the casserole add the mushrooms and cook for 1 hour more or until the beef is very tender.

6. Discard the parsley sprigs, thyme, and the bay leaf, taste the sauce for seasoning before serving.

Servings: 6

As for our weight loss this week I am not really sure that this week can really count? After a very, very heavy night of drinking last week Friday and a lot of Chinese food…. And I was really poorly Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and then of course there was the cupcake bet last night. My husband, God bless his soul, ate 10, not including the three an hour or so earlier. He won the bet. It has been an unusual week to say the least!

My Start weight on the 26.04.2012 was 77.3kg I now weigh 74.1kg = 3.2kg loss

Husbands start weight on the 26.042012 was 87.1kg he now weighs 87.3kg = 0.2kg gain (not that I really count that after last nights cupcake binge!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Diet, School or Ribs???

Ok so my diet has been going relatively well, until now, Friday night was a night of Chinese food, and A LOT of alcohol, I haven’t gained exactly, mid week I had lost another 300g not a huge amount of weight, but a little bit all the same, I have put that back on, I am not going to see this as a negative, and judging by my current inability to eat anything….. I really feel quite ill, it shouldn’t be too long until I lose it again.

Life seems to be taking on so many changes at the moment, my husband has ‘finished’ work, I have officially handed in my notice, my last day being the 6th of July and now I am looking into going back to school. I say looking into because, I really want to go back, the issue is going to be money and work, the course I want to do is possibly 2 years long, 2 years of being in ‘part time’ employment seems like a really long time. I suppose my husband and I have a high standard of living, by that I mean we don’t struggle. We can’t afford to go jet setting all over the world though, either, but we’re comfortable. With me going back to school full time, the life we are accustomed to will be no more. I could postpone school get a job and work until we are sorted, by that I mean wait until my husband is established in work again. That means holding off on what I want to do, (although, after so many years with my ex, I am used to putting off what I would like, so not really a hardship) and I am certainly not getting any younger, thinking about it I’ll be 36 by the time I finish this course if I start this year. The more I think about it the more I think it’s a pathetic little pipe dream……. I guess I am destined to be uneducated!!! With that as my final thought on the matter for today I’ll leave you with this recipe.

We bought some “fat ribs” that’s a literal translation, I’m not really sure what the proper translation would be, I’m not even really sure why I bought them? As soon as we got home I put them in the freezer along with the beef I bought, and totally forgot about them, that is until I pulled them out of the freezer by accident – oooops – I had no idea what to do with them, this is the recipe I used, I was a little worried because I wasn’t sure it would work, but it did and they were delicious!

Sweet And Sour Chinese Spareribs

1kg pork spareribs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Scallion tassels to garnish


2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp dry sherry
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp  sesame oil
1 tbsp sugar

1. Arrange the spareribs in 1 layer in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper and cook in a 275°F/140°C oven for 1½ hours.

2. Make the sauce: combine the garlic, soy sauce, sherry, hoisin sauce, tomato paste, sesame oil and sugar.

3. Spoon the sweet and sour sauce over the spareribs, turning them to coat evenly increase the oven temp to 350°F/180°C and cook for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with scallion tassels before serving.

 The original recipe also included 1 grated ginger root, I'm allergic to ginger so didn't include it.

Servings: 4

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The End Of A Military Era.....

Today is a somewhat monumental day. It is the last working day for my husband, the end of a long and fulfilling career in the Army. He is a firm but fair man who has the respect and loyalty from both his civilian and military staff. He worked hard and played even harder, and has always had an uncanny knack for making everyone laugh. Albeit with a little risqué sense of humour at times, if not a little wicked.

I can’t help but feel happy for us, we are moving on. Admittedly into the unknown, which is a little daunting, and it’s certainly going to be different, military life is all I know, and after 24 years for my husband, I can imagine, it’s just as daunting for him. At the same time I feel sad, sad for all the friends and co-workers he is leaving behind, he emits a certain security, when he is around, you know and feel that he will always have your back no matter, what. He is for want of a better word SAFE!

He has always put the welfare of others before his own and cares about his men and women, protective and loyal to a fault. Not only of those in his office but also the other offices within his troop. The Army is losing a good man today a legend in his own right. Whilst I am probably utterly biased, I’m also right when I say that although he has left, he will never be forgotten.

His career has taken him all over the world including Germany where we met and America where we set up our first home together. He has met some really wonderful people and made some equally wonderful friends. He has stories to tell, which will make you laugh and at times make you raise your eyebrows! But most of all he has had a life most would and could only dream about…….

It’s the end of an era and the beginning of a new one!

It’s going to hard to fill the boots of this man.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I’m not sure where this ‘diet’ is going to lead me? I love food and I love cooking – I’m certain that I will get as much fun out of the cooking part and eating as I normally do – after all it’s just a bunch of different ingredients prepared and cooked as you would anything else, just in a healthier way – but, I’ve just started to have a couple of TRUE successes with baking. I have no idea where that is going to fit in with our diet??

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I am using the word diet quite loosely as it’s more of a life style change – a permanent change to our eating habits. We’re in agreement my husband and I, that this is what we need, a positive change and outlook on life. Not that we eat badly or anything, just not enough of the good stuff.

So this is what my week has been like so far, I’ve skipped breakfast, mostly because it’s too early for me to eat, before work and also because of my medication, which has been increased by the way. My husband will have a small bowl of special K with semi-skimmed milk or two slices of toast, sometimes with scrambled egg.

By 1030 I’m starving, like tummy growling at me type hungry, so lunch at midday is a welcome treat, I normally have a really small portion of chips/fries, not very healthy I realise, but it genuinely is a really small portion, and with it I’ll have an equally small portion of coleslaw, and some lettuce. If I do have a snack before lunch, I have a portion of fruit. My husband has a portion of fruit, yogurt and a chocolate bar and sometimes a sandwich.

Dinner for the last week or so has been even less adventurous, with a green leafed mixed salad and a small portion of either coleslaw or potato salad, and then we have had either, chicken, fish or some other type of lean meat with it. It seems to be working so far.

My start weight on the 24.04.12 was 77.3kg – I now weigh 75.6kg a loss of 1.7kg.

Husband’s start weight on the 24.04.12 was 87.1kg – He hasn’t had a loss this week.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


My baking took on a whole new level of disaster this week. Fuelled by a new confidence because I have had several successes with bread making, I’ve been told this is quite hard to achieve by hand – which just gave me an even bigger boost.

I decided that with my husbands Birthday today, 29th April, I would make him a cake. My original plan was to make him a Newcastle United themed, cake as it is his favourite football (soccer) team. This idea was short lived, all things considered not a bad thing. I couldn’t find any black food colouring. Since black and white are the main colours, I couldn’t do it.

So I needed a change of plan and decided, on the Washington Capitals, his favourite Ice Hockey team, well ours I love Ice Hockey too.

I had all the bits I could foresee needing, red food colouring, fondant, vanilla essence and icing sugar, I had also bought these sugar gel pen things, although in hindsight and at the suggestion of a friend butter icing would probably have been less tacky looking.

So the fun began, with an idea of how I wanted this cake to look like:

  • Chocolate cake (admittedly Betty Crocker, Devils food cake mix)
  • Homemade Vanilla butter frosting, liberally spread between cake layers
  • Bright red fondant LIKE THIS BRIGHT RED
  • White fondant disc with the Capitals eagle in the middle of it, also in white but with red bits on the wings and a red outline.
  • White fondant lettering, because it was going to be on the red fondant, spelling HAPPY BIRTHDAY HUSBAND

In my mind this was going to look amazing, but in reality this is NOT what happened. So I started by making the disc and eagle. It was my first attempt at anything like this so I felt quite proud, although not perfect, I was genuinely quite pleased with my effort.

On Thursday the ‘mess’ began. I made the cake, easy enough out of a packet, Glen says it’s not cheating, because I still have to mix and bake it! I’m going to live in denial and agree with him, because it makes me feel better.

Whilst the cake was baking, I coloured the fondant – PINK – so I added more red and got – PINK – by this stage I had added as much colour as the bottle advised – apart from red hands because my gloves had split and I hadn’t noticed, I could only get PINK - so I decided, that if he was to enquire about the colour, I’d tell him he ought to go see a doctor about possible colour-blindness.

By this time the cake was baked and cooling, so I made my vanilla butter frosting. Butter went into the mixing bowl and using a mixer I beat the butter into a smooth silky texture, then added my icing sugar – confectioners sugar – a smart person would have carefully folded in the powder, instead with a huge amount of gusto, I stuck my mixer straight into the middle and whacked it onto full speed, next thing I know the air is thick with a fine white powder. Once the ‘smog’ had cleared, settling all over me and my counter top, which was dark blue and at this point grey, I had to clean up before I could continue.

So with the mess all cleaned up I started again, by adding more icing sugar to the mixing bowl, this time carefully folding in the sugar, before using the mixer. With my little mishap, the cake had cooled completely (for a change, I normally get bored waiting and frost before it’s cooled, then the butter melts and soaks into the cake, also not very bright.) I smothered the cake with the frosting and then place the second one on top, to make two layers, then carefully spread more of the frosting into the gaps and over the top and sides, to make a kind of ‘glue’ for the fondant.

By this time I was on the phone to my mother, I needed advice as to the best way to get the fondant to fit snugly to the cake. With my mother on hand (although she did give me some good advice, love her for that,) fat lot of use she turned out to be. I began the rolling process, she said to use a light sprinkling of flour on a clean surface to stop it from sticking and also a little on my rolling pin, by this point she was already laughing at me because it was sticking to my surface rolling pin and hands, she said “Use more flour and put some on your hands,” which was fine for like three seconds and it started sticking again, so more flour, at this point it was working, until the fondant got thinner and then split.

I’d worked it so much by this point that it was much too soft and sticky – that’s when it started sticking to everything in sight and my mothers hysterical laughter just got louder and louder, just as well she’s not incontinent I think she may have had an accident otherwise!

It was a hopeless situation and I ended up in tears, I was desperate to do something nice for my husband’s birthday and it was all going horribly wrong and I was miserable. I tried using icing sugar to stiffen the fondant a little, but that didn’t work so I threw it out in the end and started again, with white fondant.

I was going to paint the fondant, once it was on the cake, using a brush and the food colouring. Honestly though by the time I had finally managed to cut out the fondant, although easier, I still had issues rolling it out. In the end I didn’t paint it.

I’d lost my enthusiasm, I won’t be beaten but I’m clearly not in the right frame of mind to be taking on such a challenge of this magnitude, I possibly need some more specialised kit, to help me in my endeavour, perhaps a non-stick rubber mat, for starters? That will have to wait though until we are in our new home with a bigger kitchen.

Ultimately it wasn’t a bad start but it wasn’t brilliant either, and the end result,  certainly wasn’t what I had in mind.     

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A slight change to the plan!

I am going to have to change my blog slightly, maybe it’s time to get a little risqué? Or not! I’ve done risqué, and whilst I am most definitely open to other peoples opinions and possibly even a little friendly debate about whatever my blog may have been about, I am not equipped to deal with hurtful defamatory statements, they make me cry! So I am still sticking with “safe” for now.

I am going to carry on blogging about food, but to be honest I am ready to venture out slightly. I don’t want to start a different blog for each topic, I suspect I’d end up with hundreds. My mind is so scatty at the moment! I still want to blog about my previous recipes, I’ve still got lots to go until I have caught up, but my life is changing now and I’ve got so much “material” to work with. Not to mention so many plans, ideas and ultimate dreams.

But lets start small and work big, and see how it goes. First things first – my weight loss plan – ideally a get thin quick plan would be perfect, alas anything worth doing is worth doing right. I’m secretly hoping that lying down the truth of how much I weigh on my blog will give me that extra push I need to lose the weight. I am going on the basis of “name and shame” here.

So my first port of call is to stand on the scales and weigh myself, possibly have a good cry and then post on here. I’m hoping that my thyroid levels are too low, I’ll find out tomorrow morning, daft thing to hope for I know but it would mean upping my dosage of Thyroxin and the “extra baggage” should plummet quite quickly. This however is probably too good to be true, or too easy.

I’m going to try and blog twice a day, or at the very least alternate between my previously tried recipes and my new diet – I have found a few recipe books which also have a few exercises in them that shouldn’t cause to much stress on my knees, so maybe I will pull my finger out and try a couple of them too – who knows?

I don’t think I am F.A.T, just so we are clear on that fact, but I am frumpy, love handles that I don’t really like, regardless of what my husband says. 10kgs is my ultimate goal, any extra is an added bonus. The way I intend to do this is a once weekly weigh in and a food diary, including the recipes I have used.

Wish me luck because my un-weight loss every week, will be a little embarrassing not to mention disheartening, which is why I am making my husband do this as well so that I can prove that whilst I am failing, it does work.    

Friday, April 20, 2012

Greek Chicken

I really enjoyed this, fresh and light with a little heat, but not too much. I would class this as an appetiser though, great finger food to share with friends, you could serve it as a main though, with baked potato instead of pita bread or a green salad maybe, or both? However you decide to eat this I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Greek Chicken

500 grams cooked diced chicken
pita breads
1 scallion/spring onion to garnish


150 grams plain yogurt
150 grams light sour cream
8 scallions or spring onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro/coriander
1 tbsp parsley chopped
1½ tsp ground coriander
1½ tsp cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, light sour cream, scallions/spring onions, cilantro/coriander (fresh), parsley, ground coriander, cumin and salt and black pepper to taste.

2. Toss the chicken pieces in the marinade.

3. Toast the pita breads. Garnish the chicken with scallions and serve with pita breads.