Scratches and baking

Can’t really claim this one. I cut the grass for one of my elderly neighbours. Yes it’s a beauty but wow has it left some scratches on my arm over the years.

I guess this bush proves the theory that some successes have to be earned. Or maybe it’s just – don’t wear T-shirt’s and shorts when your gardening near anything with thorns. It’s all about on the edge gardening.

Why don’t we apply this theory to baking. Dangerous baking.

Soon it’s going to be this years Bloggers Bake-off (July 18/19th). Last years was so much fun. So many wonderful creations and some interesting ones. Guess which pile mine fell in to. I played it safe and just went for a chocolate kinda cake. And it almost went horribly wrong.

Well this year let’s up the anti. Let’s wear our horrible baker badge with honour. No more hiding. Let’s be bad and proud. So this year I need your help. Here’s the plan.

I want to try and bake the hardest thing possible. Yes something I can get the ingredients for (or substitute them). But I want an epic challenge. No practices. No safety net. One attempt on the day. Photograph what ever abomination is created. What could possibly go wrong.

So I am looking for suggestions. What nightmare baking creation can I have a go at. Hopefully something which is so beyond my abilities that it threatens the space-time continuum.

So hope you will join in the fun.

July is not that far away.

It will be July all too soon and it’s time for another message from Mel.

Break, Eat, Picnic, Nature, RecoveryWordPress bloggers have been a tremendous force for good in recent months encouraging another to STAY AT HOME, STAY SAFE, STAY ALERT and FOLLOW THE DIRECTION FOR EVERYONE’S PROTECTION.

It is a joy to see the blogging community have all been doing their bit in helping each other through these hard times. We are very excited about an event ahead that we hope will help you to build more bonds with fantastic bloggers who make a great contribution to the delightful WordPress blogging community.

2020 flyer

In the last BAKE-OFF post, we told you about the BAKING CONTEST. But the second feature of THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF 2020 is:

THE SUMMER PICNIC

Many of us are still having difficulties finding baking essentials at our supermarkets. We don’t want to leave anybody out of THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF, which is why we are all hosting a virtual picnic to coincide with the BAKING CONTEST.

If baking is not an option for you at the moment…or else you are not that keen on baking at all, could you bring along something else to our SUMMER PICNIC. It could be your homemade lemonade or sangria, it could be a dip like hummus or guacamole. Perhaps you make a fabulous coleslaw or potato salad. Indeed salads of every variety would be welcome because it is summer and we are all trying to be healthy.

We would love an international flavour to the SUMMER PICNIC. Do you make spring rolls? Tacos or fajitas? How about pakoras or bhajis? We would love any type of tapas, mezes or canapes. Pickles, chutneys, jams, curds or any other preserve are all welcome.

Undeniably all three of us have a sweet tooth, so we welcome sweet contributions. Do you make trifle or ice-cream or any other sweet treats?

Authentic, Food, Vegetables, Fruits

 

What do we need you to do?

Please send a photo of your bakes so it can be featured in The Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off 2020 to:

crushedcaramel@gmail.com

It would be great if you could start making picnic treats now and send the photos in as soon as possible! But the BAKE-OFF and the SUMMER PICNIC will be held in just over seven weeks time. If you want to send us the recipe you followed or a story about what you chose to make, we love all of that. We want to share you as a blogger as well as your bake to the whole of WordPress!

Of course if you would like to create your own post about your picnic creation – please do so, and please mention THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF 2020 SUMMER PICNIC and invite your blogging buddies and followers to get involved.

(If you have any questions at all – please feel free to post your questions in the comments of any of our posts and we will try to get back to you as quickly as possible.)

Gluten and dairy

Sorry having to milk the red flowers. They don’t last long and then that’s it for another year. Sadly shopping comes round much more frequently.

Another weekend shopping experience to be quickly forgotten. Yes we are always thankful to get some stuff. Things like bathroom rolls (toilet paper) and soap are getting easier to find. Finally some popcorn. Ok it’s just salty but we can add honey to it. But then the inner grump comes out in me.

So many items we take for granted are now becoming a luxury. The words out of stock, no alternatives, unavailable are becoming such a frequent part of the wonderful shopping experience. In terms of our Son it applies to a number of his favourites

  • Tomato ketchup (has to be Heinz)
  • Pasta
  • Skinless sausages
  • Baguettes
  • Tortilla wraps
  • Mini fairy cakes
  • Tinned carrots
  • Corn on the cob.

For me it’s the gluten free and IBS friendly alternatives. Yesterday I drew a complete blank. Yes you could get a few glutenless meat sausages and a couple of soya based meal options. Not great when you are trying to be a veggie and soya blows you up like a balloon. No dairy free milk option except Soya. Not one single gluten free bread based option. Looks like I’m trying to bake my own again – the last one ended up painted and used as Jurassic World play island… Yes we got some jacket potatoes but they look like they have just been used as projectiles in the latest Highland Games, then sent to the army range for target practice.

So unless I can find some super expensive options on Amazon then this weeks meal options will be another challenge. I’m ok, I can just walk around looking permanently pregnant thanks to my inflamed IBS. It’s more of a challenge for our Son with his set eating patterns. Moving from them causes so much anxiety for him.

Dad I’ve got an idea. Let’s just have a week eating crisps and chocolate. Wash it down with full sugar coke. Not good for us but at least it will be fun.”

I’m so into this idea. Yes I will end up very round. Having a body that looks like the perfect figure. A 6. But is that not a better option than looking pregnant from dairy and soya intake. Decision made. Where’s that family sized packet of potato crisps.

Windy with a hint of muppets.

Please remind me not to try and take a closeup photo during a wind storm. It’s not easy. It’s been a typical Yorkshire May Day. Two jumpers (sweaters), woolly hat and retrieving garden furniture from the farmers field.

A fantastic blogger did a wonderful tribute to me by doing a post on her site, in my writing style. It’s funny reading about yourself in someone else’s words, finding out what I had done. Thank you Chelsea, you do me so much better than I do.

Chelsea’s post is so apt and spookily close to the mark. Outside eating with a hint of muppetry was definitely yesterday’s theme. We had decided to mark the start of the week off with a barbecue. Unfortunately the old bbq crumbled over the Yorkshire winter. My first attempt at building a replacement one didn’t go to well and rather scarily was built next to the oil tank. So when yesterday came…

Dad why don’t we just move the George Foreman grill outside like we said we would.”

No let’s have fun and build a fire on the lawn. A proper barbecue.

Not sure that’s a great idea. It’s a bit grey and very, very windy…”

Yes it was blowing a storm but surely man can overcome the elements. So yes we built a rather fine temporary fire structure at a much safer distance from the oil tank. I was quite impressed. It was loaded with what we had in terms of coal and wood.

How are you going to light it.”

Matches…. This is where the plan encountered its first problem. Yes we did find three matchboxes. A remnant from fireworks night. Unfortunately the boxes where full of used matches. Don’t you just hate that. I managed to salvage one complete unused match and one snapped one. So here goes. Problem two – the wind. Instantly both matches were been blown out. Problem three – living in a house with oil heating and an electric oven. We don’t need to light a fire so the house is bereft of spark generating options.

Ok Bear Grylls what are you going to do now. Time for the George Foreman yet.”

Spiriting up my inner Bear I located my camping flint and tried to create fire. Thirty minutes later – nothing.

Dad I will fetch the George Foreman. I’m starving.”

Too late, it started to rain. So eventually it was an indoor George Foreman feast. Today’s heartwarming life lesson

Once a Muppet, always a Muppet.

It’s almost time….

The wonderful Mel has come up with this flyer for something you won’t want to miss which is happening in July.. Soon the fun will start all over again…..

You are invited!

18/19th July 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!!!

https://youtu.be/jrliJnmYomI

Get my head round

The sun is shining. It’s still cold but we will settle for this.

So it’s almost official. School has emailed parents to say that looking at the latest government guidance – which apparently isn’t much – only some Primary pupils and those sitting final exams next year will get any direct teaching over the next few months. The earliest Son will be back in school is going to be September. So it’s time to get our heads round this.

Looking at the government’s plan for the economy – doesn’t take long as it’s basically wrote on the back of the PMs hand – probably means the company I work for won’t be operating anytime before September. That’s being extremely optimistic and requires an awful lot of good fortune. Being realistic there is a high probability it will not survive. So it’s time to get our heads round this.

It’s also time to get my head round the likelihood that I won’t be seeing my brother and sisters much in 2020. If things improve then maybe visits at Christmas might be a possibility. Realistically meet ups are not happening anytime this side of September. Already one Government official has said Summer family holidays and meet ups are cancelled, as these are unsafe – but apparently getting on a packed bus and going to work is completely safe.

AND WE HAVE TO GET OUR HEADS ROUND TWO EVEN MORE PRESSING MATTERS.

  • How are we going to celebrate my partners birthday in just over a weeks time. We had been planning on doing a camp fire party. Unfortunately the fire pit didn’t survive the Yorkshire winter. Yesterday I tried to pick it up to clean and the metal just crumbled, leaving me holding just two wooden handles. At least they can be used as fire wood. The other idea was to have my partners favourite meal – Chinese. Unfortunately the local takeaways are still closed and the local supermarket is completely sold out of Chinese food – apart from crispy seaweed. Which brought the response “well the gerbils will eat well then….”. I did offer to cook Chinese from scratch, but that brought the response “I’d rather suck on a gooseberry….”. So we are in plan F territory.
  • Dad I am so missing not going on my trampoline.” A couple of months back our garden pigeons decided to nest right next to the big bouncy thing (thats not my tummy before you say anything….). When I say right next to, I mean within 10 centimetres (not using inches will really upset Boris). Well the pigeons and chicks are showing no sign of moving, so I have two options. One is to dismantle and then rebuild somewhere else. Problem is that it’s in the only flat part of the garden and it’s like trying to assemble a Super Tanker. The instructions helpfully explained that you will need three reasonably fit adults to assemble. They failed to mention at least one of those adults must be an expert in structural engineering and the other two will need to have the strength of The Hulk. The other option is to try and drag the complete trampoline. We tried yesterday and after 30 minutes had shifted it 1 cm (up yours Boris). So we are also on Plan F here as well.

But at least the sun is shining.

It’s Coming Back and soon

Stand by your beds my fellow bloggers. Yes it’s coming back. The 2020 Summer version. This year with the added spice of Social Distancing.

Has it really been 14 months since the last Great Bloggers Bake-off. I still can’t believe this masterpiece didn’t win

Notice the attention to detail. The high end icing skills..

So watch out for more details. The countdown has started, soon it will be time to bake.

Don’t mess with the Squirrel

Let’s get the rant quickly out of the way. The UK’s School Minister has opened his mouth again. Remember him. The chap who wants to test kids from the age of 4. The chap who described kids taking time off for bereavement as – an extended holiday. The chap who introduced changes to the teaching of English which severely disadvantaged dyslexic kids – against the advice of health professionals and dyslexia groups. The chap who on several interviews refused to answer any of the questions he was expecting kids to answer. Well now he has told schools and parents what to do in terms of the Coronavirus. Even if the school gets a suspected case then parents should send their kids to school as normal. Schools should remain open. This contrasted with the Chief Medical Officer who yesterday was talking about the potential of closing schools for two months if the virus started to spread in the UK. Well the Schools Minister can take a running jump. He is the last person I would trust my child’s wellbeing with. If it comes to this decision then I will make the call not this over promoted pompous twat. Rant over….

I’ve just been bullied by a squirrel…..

I went out to feed the wildlife in the garden. The usual collection of birds and a squirrel waited not so patiently to be fed. I had a couple of uneaten pancakes to add to the usual menu. As I kneeled down to tear the pancakes up into little pieces the squirrel moved in. He grabbed both pancakes out of my grasp. He wasn’t waiting or sharing these goodies. I did try to have words with the bushy tailed one. But clearly somebody wasn’t listening today. At least somebody likes my pancakes.

Demon Hummus

Dad what on Earth is that.

I’m trying to make home made Hummus.

Are you sure it should be that colour.

No that was not what I was expecting.

Dad it looks like something from the X-Files.

I’d moved from trying it with some carrots to which bin it should go in. It might even need a Priest and an Exorcism before it’s safe to do that. Wonderful. Yet another culinary masterpiece.

Dad let’s take the pup to the woods. If we go now should have the place to ourselves.

So leaving the alien hummus to mutate into something with teeth we set off. The signs of autumn are now all around us. Less than 900 miles away the first winter snow has come to Italy. So that’s another summer ticked off. It also means the 30 year old boiler is being fired up for the first time in months. That process is always done on a wing and a prayer. Apparently when it goes to boiler heaven it’s going to cost a fortune. Not just the boiler but the pipes, a good part of the central heating and the oil tank will need to be changed. We couldn’t afford that when we had two incomes never mind when it’s become one (on less hours and at a much lower pay rate). I remember being told by one mum that I should just hire childcare or put son in a club so I could work full time again. Not the first idea about single parenting and Autism but to be fair her hummus will be considerably better than mine.

This might have been a good place to go on about some of the practicalities of when you go from two to one parents but not when it is so close to THE ANNIVERSARY. Anyway the old boiler has fired up. Which is a bonus. THEN….

Dad did I tell you school has changed the PE Polo Shirt from white to black. You can use the old ones for a couple of weeks then if you don’t have the new colour you will get negatives.

With the great news of yet another visit to the school uniform shop still fresh I decided to try the demon hummus. The taste sensation was somewhere between wallpaper paste and a skunks bottom. But on the bright side I might have found a home made recipe for wood putty. That might come in useful this winter.

Sunday lunch

We do the same dog walk everyday with our son. We do it that often that I’ve got names for many of the straw bales. This one is Eric.

Routines and repetition form a key part of our lives these days. Some things have to be done at the right times and in exactly the same way. Anything else yields anxiety and stress. In a couple of days school starts again and all these anxieties are going to magnify again. But at least we can now smile at them thanks to the brilliant TV series Red Dwarf. Every time one of us is anxiety stricken we have to both put on our finest Kryten accent and shout

Grind those worry balls like you’ve never ground them before”

Before the world changed son loved to go to see his Little Nan every Sunday. He would sit with her and watch something like Ivanhoe. I dread to think how many times we have seen that movie. His Nan would read him a Mr Men book. He would also have an expertly cooked Sunday Lunch.

It’s a changed world now. But some things are constant.

We have the Ivanhoe dvd. We have the Mr Men books. Unfortunately I just can’t read the stories as well as they used to be read. My accents all sound the same like some really rubbish rejected extra from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The Sunday Lunch cooking baton has also passed to me. Every Sunday I prepared Yorkshire Puddings, peas, carrots, sweet corn, potatoes, sausages and gravy. The food has to be plated so that each item is separate and don’t mix. I’ve had countless arguments with other parents and school over this. The ‘well just tell him to eat it, he will eat it when he’s hungry‘ line is just not helpful at all. It shows a complete lack of understanding. Maybe I should invite those parents over for one of my special baking disasters. Then they can just eat it that abomination when they are hungry….

The Sunday lunch is not exactly difficult to make but remember my cooking skills are military grade. Over the 3 years I’ve almost become competent in this particular art. HOWEVER Part of the Little Nan Sunday Feast was a sensational pudding usually Apple Crumble. Sadly this is still beyond me. Every so often I try but the results are as my Dad would say – a tad manky.

I have tried bought apple crumble but these have not been to our sons liking. So the search for the holy apple crumble grail continues. Until it’s found Plan B is Rice Pudding. Even I can do one of those – sort of. Don’t tell anyone but son hasn’t worked out that he quite likes tinned rice. Tinned rice is now part of the routine.