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2016-03-02 11:19 am

a timed supper

iphone timer

As my regular reader will know, Tuesday night is pasta night. I just open the fridge and concoct something from its contents. For people who don’t have time to cook, here’s a 15-20 minute supper.

Bear in mind I have an ceramic hob, so you can skip the “put the rings on” bit if you’ve got gas.

  1. Switch on the big ring, put a deep frying pan on it, add a slug of olive oil
  2. Switch on the medium ring, put some cold water and salt in a pan, set it on the ring
  3. Slice up a big leek and put it in the pan with the oil.
  4. Weigh out the pasta (if you do such things – we do, because carbs/diabetes)
  5. Slice up some mushrooms, and add to the leeks
  6. Notice pasta water is boiling – add pasta, set timer for ten minutes (this is dried pasta – your pasta may vary)
  7. Remember you haven’t put any garlic in, so quickly peel and chop two cloves and throw them in with the vegetables
  8. Put a colander in the sink for drainage purposes
  9. Grate black pepper into the veg
  10. Open the fridge for some lemon juice, find a bottle of white wine open, and add some of that instead.  Too much, so turn up the heat to boil it down a bit
  11. Remove block of feta from fridge and cut up about one third of it
  12. When timer goes, drain pasta then add it to vegetables, together with the feta.
  13. Stir it all together, decant into bowls, scoff.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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2016-01-29 12:01 pm
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I finished it!

tapestry of Iggy

I finally finished the tapestry of Iggy – about five years after I bought it! Hugely pleased with it, and its lovely frame done by Images Framing of Anlaby. It’s now hung opposite the living room door, so I see it whenever I walk into the room.

I do miss that cat …

Original post here.

Mirrored from the Tribe.

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2016-01-29 11:56 am
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a Christmas gift from The Tribe

Cat is the new black

 

It’s a tea towel, which we had framed courtesy of Images Framing in Anlaby, who I cannot recommend highly enough; prompt, efficient, friendly and very reasonable pricing. They also did the tapestry of Iggy. There is some very nice stuff on madoldcatlady.com – beware :)

Mirrored from the Tribe.

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2015-06-02 05:21 pm
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Missing :(

lilith.missing

Mirrored from the Tribe.

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2015-05-18 10:16 am

new surgery

New house means new medical centre, if you move across the city as we did. So I went for my introductory appointment, and that was fine.  Except my blood pressure was very high, and I’ve never had high blood pressure, ever.  And then they wanted to do a diabetic review with the nurse, and that was fine, but the blood pressure was still too high. And she took a load of bloods.

And the next working day I got a phone call summoning me for a medication review. It turns out that my HbA1c is up from 53 to 61(!), and my cholesterol is also going up (7.1%). But my blood pressure is going down, so that’s good.

I haven’t been anywhere near as good at looking after myself as usual this year, it’s fair to say. Stress and worry, comfort eating, not enough exercise. I’ve already taken that in hand; being more careful with my diet, bought a treadmill at the weekend. So I need to keep that up. But … statins. I’m afraid so. Ho hum.

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

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2015-05-06 03:07 pm
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varying costs of work

Regular readers will know that we had a woodburning stove in OldHouse. We left it there, as they are supposed to be attractive to buyers, but in the end the house went to a developer, who beat us down on price; we told him that we would accept his offer, but would be removing the woodburner, and had someone go in and take it out the next day and deliver it to us here, where it resides in the garage. Curiously enough, his solicitors mailed ours yesterday to ask if we’d consider leaving it for an extra £100. We scoffed, openly.

So I’ve been looking around for someone to fit it in here, a rambling Victorian terrace. We were going to do this before the autumn, but having our little Morso Squirrel back has cut the install cost by a few hundred quid, so we thought we might as well get on with it. Plus, as I type, it might be Spring according to the calendar, but it’s blowing a gale with sideways rain outside.

First call was to a chap who advertised on Gumtree. He came last Friday, and started out by saying that we needed to get the Building Regs people in to certify the chimney (never heard that before). He was a dreadful old woman, stayed for about an hour, constantly wringing his hands and repeating himself, and we got the impression he didn’t want the job. Which is fine – just say so, and leave.

He claimed that our nice fire surround was slate, that he probably couldn’t get it out without breaking it, that he’d need *everything* taken out of the room, and all in all just seemed to make an enormous fuss about everything, He said he’d e-mail me a quote (although he omitted to ask for an e-mail address, which I pressed upon him), and that he would send it this week as it was a bank holiday weekend. We’ll see, but he’s going to pad the quote, I’m sure of it, and if he works as slowly as he surveys, he’ll need a fortnight.

Next up was a youngish bloke, who claims to do sub-contract work for various fireplace showrooms. He came on Saturday morning, on his way to a bike rally, and certainly seemed to know his stuff. He looked up the chimney and said it didn’t need sweeping, he said the lintel was resin, and was no problem to remove and put back, and quoted us £470 without the cost of lining the chimney, which he doesn’t do. We want it lined, so he said he’d put us in touch with someone who did that, and the HETAS cert. Not heard so far, but he was pretty good.

After that, I talked to a company called Ecofit in Pontefract, who were the only people to respond to an ad on mybuilder.com (which seems useless these days, to be honest). He phoned me and asked some questions, and then rang back 40 minutes later with a price of £1,250 (not clear whether that was VAT included or not). I have no intention whatsoever of employing someone to do that sort of work who can’t be bothered to come and do a site survey – how can they possibly price it without knowing what’s properly involved? So they’re out the window.

And they we got our mates John and Paul, the self-named Dead Popes, to have a look. They had the nous to pull the carpet back, revealing some lovely original tiles for the hearth, worked out where the chimney went, had a look at the upstairs chimney for me as well, and this morning quoted me £300 plus the cost of a register plate (because, despite their assurances, I want a lined chimney). So that’s where the work will be going – always been happy with their services in the past.

All I need now is to find someone to drop the liner down a very high chimney – how hard can it be?

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

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2015-04-07 03:21 pm

new house, new post

Time, time – where does it go?

We have moved house, and I promise to write more, honest.

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

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2015-04-07 03:18 pm
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Mustrum 30 sept 1999 – 7 feb 2015

Mustrum

 

It is with huge sadness that we relate the loss of Mustrum, a snow spotted blue-eyed Bengal, and the last of our Bengals.

He was officially An Old Man, and we could see it. His teeth were gone, his spots were gone, even his wonderful voice disappeared for a few days (which worried us enormously!) but it came back. But he was forgetful, and we worried about him getting lost, and then his back legs started getting weak. We had known the time was coming for a few months, and we did what needed to be done. Sarah, our vet, was wonderful, and I held Muss as he slipped away. We miss him dreadfully, but we did the right thing.

We got Mussum at the age of 12 weeks; we’d gone to buy a Bengal and found it hard to choose … we came home with Iggy, but went back for Muss a couple of weeks later. We actually traded him for a web site (long gone now, like the breeders).

He was always, somehow, Essence of cat. He loved life, and food (Big! Dinners!), and exploring, and people, and getting wet and being towelled off. He loved Moo the best of all; she was our stripey Bengal, prettiest cat in the world, and they were so, so close. He was devastated when we lost her to a car accident. And he was a big solid cat, his fights with Iggy were epic.

But his defining characteristic was his voice – he would squeak, and shout, and gurgle, and miaow. He used to like to be slapped too, and would shout for more, until the weight started falling off him.

We miss him so much, but it was time, and I’m not sure he would have coped with our recent move either.

Go well, Mussum – good hunting.

 

Mirrored from the Tribe.

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2015-04-07 02:52 pm
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prepayment meters

prepayment meter

We knew this house had a prepayment electric meter. It was with EDF and, as they were the supplier in our previous home, I phoned them and asked them to put in a proper credit meter, which they did within two weeks. I also asked them to transfer the gas from British Gas to themselves, without realising that that meter was also a prepayment one, so the replacement process is rather more convoluted.

The gas meter had a £57 debt on it, and when I put my card in, with its £30 of credit, I only got £3’s worth of gas; I was horrified. Long conversations with BG later, I found that if I paid off all the debt, so the meter was clear, they would refund it all; we’re very lucky we could afford to do that – many folk couldn’t.

Also, it was costing about £4 *per day* to run the central heating for a few hours, and deliver hot water (two showers and three lots of washing up daily – cooking is all electric here). Truly, those who have nothing, have to pay more. Quite outrageous that prepayment gas and electric should be so much more expensive than metered.

However … the weeks we spent having to pay in advance (and through the nose) made us extremely aware of how much it was costing, and we have become far more frugal and careful in our use of power, which is no bad thing, I suppose.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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2015-04-07 02:42 pm

It lives!

Many apologies for the radio silence – we’ve been moving house, which meant eating everything in the freezer and the cupboards, finding homes for all our culinary stuff in the new (and frankly inadequate) kitchen, sourcing new fridge and freezer (the USAnian behemoth having been left behind), and then starting to fill them. So no new recipes to relate, really.

We have moved to the eastern side of Hull, where there is much real poverty, and the local shops are even cheaper than where we were previously. There is a good independent butcher at the top of the street, who sells shin of beef. Shin Of Beef! And is the sort of shop where they go and cut what you want. There is a greengrocer next door, which has good produce, if a limited range – nothing like an aubergine, or a herb, or much of a choice of apples, but they are inexpensive and decent quality. We have a big Asda 15 minutes walk away, and a Morrisons 20 minutes in the opposite direction, and we have Fulton Foods, Iceland, Poundland, and Home Bargains, close to hand.  Those latter are all great for inexpensive cleaning materials, loo rolls, etc., and actually Iceland has some interesting stuff if you rummage.

The inadequate kitchen includes an ancient and unvenerable ceramic electric hob, which is a nightmare. We’ve already had to replace the oven (bought an AEG fan oven from eBay). It came with a matching gas hob, so we’ve got someone coming in to quote us for plumbing that in. We’ve also got a newer ceramic hob to fit, which I picked up for £85, so decisions to be made there. And praise be for Ikea, who have allowed us to make the house workable for about £300 (and two 165 mile round trips!).

So we’re settling in nicely. I’ve put a dozen tubs in the freezer: old stalwarts like roast veg, lentils and cauliflower, bolognese sauce, and pork and beans. Herbs are waiting to go in the garden when we get the beds dug over. Might even plant some veg later!

More posts soon :)

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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2014-12-10 10:41 am

the poor don’t know how to cook

Baroness Jenkin

Baroness Jenkin said this week, as the report on poverty and food banks was released, that “the poor don’t know how to cook”. Which was a tad patronising, really – lots of people who living in poverty know how to cook, and indeed lots of people who aren’t haven’t a bloody clue. And quite a few of them know how to cook, but can’t afford the ingredients, or even the utilities to cook them.

But that’s not really the point, is it? There she sat, in her Chanel jacket, and her expensive jewellery, and her posh hair cut, and she pontificated about others. And said that her bowl of porridge cost her 4p for breakfast. Well, I dispute that.

Sainsburys basic porridge is £0.11 per 100g, and their own recipe says to use 50g, so that’s 5.5p already. They recommend you make it with milk, but you can use water. So choose – can you afford milk? Has your water been cut off? Do you have a bowl and spoon to eat it with, a microwave or hob to cook it on, a way to measure 50g and 270ml? Is there money in your meters for the electricity or gas?

Cheap processed food is filling food, and if you’re tearing about working two jobs, or walking great long distances to do workfare, you’re not likely to have the time or energy to conjure up a delicious, nutritious and cheap meal. Sticking a 99p microwave lasagne on for the kids gets them fed quickly, rather than waiting while you try to prep something better.

Last night we had a quick pasta dish, as is our normal Tuesday fare. 125g of own brand fusilli, an onion, courgette, yellow pepper, a few mushrooms,  and two small smoked salami (the latter unnecessary, but needed using up). And to cook it I used a hob, a saucepan for the pasta, and a frying pan for the vegetables. I used a set of scales to weigh the pasta, a decent sharp knife and chopping board to cut up the veg, a drizzle of olive oil to cook them in, some cooking salt, and a grating of parmesan at the end (requiring, obviously, both cheese and some sort of grating implement). And some black pepper.

So the ingredients probably cost less than two quid, but the stuff I needed to actually cook it cost considerably more, and the experience gained from 40 years of cooking, so I can hurl together a meal out of pretty much anything cannot be costed.

Oh, and there’s about 170 calories in a bowl of porridge made with water. The good baroness must be starving unless, of course, she fills up at the subsidised House of Lords various canteens the rest of the time.

I wish people, particularly wealthy peers of the realm, wouldn’t be so fucking judgemental.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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2014-11-24 11:56 am
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orange and lemon cake

Having made the Christmas cake yesterday, I was all set to make some mincemeat.

I started by blitzing an orange and a lemon in the food processor, and then pulled opened the baking cupboard to get at all the other ingredients (they’re all kept in a pull out cupboard).  And there, on the top shelf, was a huge jar of mincemeat from last year. And we don’t eat much …

So, what to do with a pair of marmalised citrus fruit? Make a cake!

1 orange
1 lemon
100g butter or marge
120g granulated sugar
2 eggs
140g desiccated coconut
100g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
100ml natural yoghurt

Whizz the citrus fruit first – cut it into chunks, then hurl it in, peel, pith and all.

Then add the other ingredients and whizz some more.

Decant into a 2lb loaf tin (either well greased, or use a liner), bake for about 45 minutes at 180C. I suggest you use the fan setting, rather than the grill – it works better :)

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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2014-11-24 11:36 am
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a day of kitchen mishaps

I made the Christmas cake yesterday morning, after boiling the fruit up with sugar and butter and brandy on Saturday. It, thankfully, seems fine. However …

A chicken went in the oven to roast on a bed of vegetables. Roast potatoes went on top in another dish, as did a coconut and citrus cake (see later post).

Spuds were doing beautifully, but the cake caught, so I took it out. Chicken appeared to be done ((juices running clear) but bed of veg was not. Investigated.

1. Had put oven on wrong setting – top heat/grill, this is why cake burned

2. Had put chicken in upside down.

3. Discovered all this when everything else was done.

Then the kitchen ring blew …

Pete reset the ring, then we took the spuds out, set oven to correct incantation (bloody Neff – far too complicated),  and returned the chicken to its roasting place. And we opened a bottle of wine.

Then, when it was cooked (and dinner was only forty minutes late), I bunged the cake back in the oven for twenty minutes, and it’s fine if we cut the burnt bits off.

I did make some scones for supper, and they were OK too, but it was a trying day.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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2014-11-14 05:15 pm

a nibbled lemon cake

lemon cake - nibbled by kittens

There was a lemon waiting to be used up (I generally use lemon juice in my cooking, as it’s so much cheaper), and a pot of plain yogurt in the fridge, and no cake in the cake box. So I had a bit of a google, as you do, and found a recipe on Nigella’s site (which I could probably have found in one of the many Nigella books I own, but the interwebs is quicker). Here’s the original recipe.

I do apologise for the photograph, but I left the cake on its final cool in the box, and THE BLOODY KITTENS NIBBLED IT. Sorry, but really – virtually nothing edible is safe from their little sharp white pointy teeth.

After the success of the orange and chocolate cake, where I just hurled the orange into the food processor and mashed it up I thought I’d try the same result. We tried just half a slice last night, and I’m not yet sure it worked – seemed little depth to the flavour, but I’ll revisit it tonight.

1 lemon (the recipe called for just the zest)
150g  plain flour
100g granulated sugar
5 fl oz natural yoghurt
5 fl oz vegetable oil
2 medium eggs
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

I blitzed the whole lemon in the Magimix, then added the rest of the ingredients, and whizzed some more. Then I just poured the mixture into a paper case inside a loaf tin, and baked it at 180C/gas 4 for about 55 minutes. The recipe said 35-40, but I suspect it took longer as I had a wetter batter.

And it sank spectacularly quickly within five minutes of its exit fom the oven, but it’s cake – what’s not to like?

But I will swing for those kittens … Should you be interested, you can find them on Facebook.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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2014-11-12 11:41 am
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yet another risotto

IMG_3291

Actually, that’s unfair, because we haven’t had a risotto in ages. But we did last night.

We bought a pack of chicken thighs in Aldi last week. Pete manfully skinned and filleted them on Saturday, and they’ve been stowed in the freezer (yes, for this was just *before* PumpkinGate) for stir fries or whatever; the cats had the skin, with much enjoyment but no gratitude *at all*, and I slung the bones in the baby slow cooker with some water, with a view to soup making. But then, after the Graet Pumpkin War of 2014, soup was already well over-catered, and I couldn’t freeze this stock either.

I reboiled the bones yesterday, and it made a lovely gelatinous stock. Which seemed absolutely ideal for a risotto, especially as there were little shreds of chicken as well. So I strained the bones out, and rinsed them off with boiling water, to get every drop of chickeny goodness from them, and then topped that up to a pint*.

Sliced a leek and a red pepper, and set them to saute off in a little olive oil and butter. Then added 5oz of Arborio rice and stirred it round to coat it, and then started adding the stock bit by bit, stirring all the time. During the process, I discovered that making risotto is yet another thing that doesn’t go with  watching Borgen with subtitles; no wonder it’s taking me so long to get through it. I digress.

When about 75% of the stock was added, I seasoned with salt and black pepper, and when all the stock was absorbed, I added half a block of feta cheese and stirred until it was melted.

And I can tell you that, although a bowl of risotto in those quantities (we halved it, obviously) doesn’t look much, it’s plenty, and it was delicious.

 

*This is one of the few recipes I still cook in imperial – easier to remember the mantra of 1 pint / 5 oz.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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2014-11-11 02:07 pm
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an instant cake mix

Wright's ginger cake mix

 

I know, I know, it’s shocking, but sometimes you just get carried away in the moment …

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of slow cookers, and own three of varying sizes. I belonged, briefly, to a slow cooker group on Facebook, but mostly the members used theirs to put in meat and a couple of jars of cooking sauce, and that isn’t really what I do. However, for some of them, slow cookers seemed almost a religion. They tried *everything* in them. One person – honestly – was cooking full English breakfasts overnight in theirs. It seemed somehow grounds for excommunication if you didn’t buy into this, and I left.

But I was intrigued by using a slow cooker to bake a cake. Apparently, it couldn’t be just any cake, it had to be a Wright’s cake mix. I have no idea why. Caught up in the religious zeal,  I bought a ginger cake mix from Aldi – I think it was about £0.80 – but sanity prevailed and it stayed in the cupboard.

And then, the other day, the oven was on for something, and there was no cake in the cake box, and I thought “why not?”. So I mixed it up with the mandatory oil and water, and then chopped up some dates and added them, and then I baked it.

The first slice off was quite dry, but we didn’t worry – it could easily be turned into a sticky toffee pudding. But then, on the second day, it was really not bad. And by day #4, yesterday, it was actually nice.  Not nearly as nice as I could make myself, but then a lot cheaper and easier. As I am shortly off to Aldi for some bits, I may invest in the other varieties.

But I’m not doing them in the slow cooker, because really …

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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2014-11-10 02:15 pm

the battle of the pumpkin

Baby Pumpkin Snack

[image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/blissfulgirl/

I bought a pumpkin. First time ever, I think, because I’m not fond of Hallowe’en as a holiday – what’s wrong with bobbing for apples, eh? But we were going to a Sunday gathering at friends, and I thought a seasonal offering might be nice. I was planning a pumpkin gingerbread, only to discover that mine hostess already had a parkin on the go. And then time ran out, and the dog ate my cookery books, and it didn’t get used.

This monster pumpkin sat on the dining table, and guilt-tripped me every time I went passed it, so I vowed on Sunday to tackle the wretched thing in all its orangey pumpkinness. My plan was to roast it off, then bung most of it in the freezer for future soups, together with a tub with the last of  the current soup (I like a starter soup, bit like a sourdough starter. But soupier).  And a tub of plainish pumpkin purée for baking,  “A fine plan“, you cry, and it would have been; except there wasn’t a cubic inch of space in the bloody freezer, which seems mysteriously to have been filled almost exclusively with tubs of lentil and cauliflower curry. No, I don’t know either.

By the time I discovered this, I had dismembered the wretched vegetable (yes, I should have checked earlier, OK?). I was also slightly taken aback by just how much pumpkin a pumpkin holds.To buy some time, I distributed about two thirds of it onto a roasting tray, with some onions and carrots, olive oil and a drizzle of honey, and the rest on a roasting tray with just a little oil. And I even cleaned and roasted the bloody seeds (no waste here, no sirree Bob).

No amount of staring at the freezer, or rearranging its contents, conjured up any more space, so Plan B was brought into play (after it had been somewhat hastily formulated). Clearly last week’s soup would need to be eaten rather than frozen, but there wasn’t much of it. What there was was some vegetable tagine made a couple of weeks ago, which wasn’t really very nice; I’d overdone the harissa ever so slightly. Two tubs of that were removed from the freezer, thawed, and blitzed in the Magimix. The plain roasted pumpkin (just starting to catch on the edges) suffered the same fate.  They were both added to the Big Red Soup Pot. This made – hurrah – some space in the freezer.

The squash-with-other-veg was boxed up and put into the gap left by the veg tagine, and thus we will have soup for the next week or two without me having to chop endless bloody vegetables.

So I did beat this pumpkin, but it was a close run thing.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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2014-10-30 01:00 pm
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Ford Mondeo Estate TDCi Ghia X automatic 2002

For sale is our Mondeo estate – great workhorse, but we really don’t need anything that size.

 

Details are:

150k miles
tax to 31 October 2014
MOT to 19 May 2015
metallic silver
tow bar
electric: windows all round, sunroof, door mirrors, front seat
Alpine radio with iPod interface and detachable front, case, manual. Original radio also available
cruise control
leather seats, front are heated,
17” alloy wheels
owners manual *and* Haynes book
front fog lamps
heated front and rear windscreens
air conditioning
alarm and immobiliser

Excellent workhorse, with all the extras, and has never given us a moment’s trouble. It’s a little battered, as befits a car that age, there is a ding in the offside rear bumper, and some chips in the windscreen (all of which were there when it was MOT’d).

Very comfortable to drive, and carries loads of stuff. Looking for somewhere in the region of £1,050.

07790 938195 for further info.

Mirrored from kestrel.org.

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2014-10-21 11:27 am
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the desiccated orange made a chocolate orange cake

an orange

Dear Reader, I have a confession to make. I had to throw out an orange. Oh, the shame. We’re not very good with fruit – we buy it, and then we don’t eat it, so this orange had languished in the bowl for quite a while, and had gone mouldy. It was accompanied by a companion orange which had not yet succumbed, and turned out to be really quite dry, still …  as we were out of cake, I did a quick Google, and adapted a recipe I found, thus:

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 180ml water
125g butter, softened (I used baking marg)
180g granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
1 orange
85g dark chocolate, chopped

(The recipe called for 200g chocolate, which would have been overpowering, I think).

Preheat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C / gas mark 4.

Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the water and set to one side. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well, then add flour and salt.

Roughly chop the whole orange into chunks by hand and then blitz in a food processor, skin and all. Add this to the cake batter along with the water and bicarbonate of soda, and stir.

Add the chocolate and stir through gentlye. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin (I used a 2lb loaf tin with a liner, and as always, blessed whoever made these available for sale, otherwise grease and flour) )and bake about an hour  until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. The recipe I adapted said 40-45 minutes, but that wasn’t nearly long enough, but check and check.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.