All posts by kazza50w

I'm a 50 something woman who loves to write about anything and everything.

SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN

After a couple of indulgent months of eating and drinking, hubby and I decided that it was time for a bit of healthy eating and coincidentally our favourite chefs, The Hairy Bikers, brought out a new book: The Hairy Dieters, Simple Healthy Food.

After ordering from Amazon, the book duly arrived and we scoured the pages for a recipe that grabbed our attention and we settled on the Southern Fried Chicken recipe.

This is their thoughts on the dish:

Actually, as you will see, this chicken isn't fried but baked, which means it is way lower in calories and fat but still so good. Chicken drumsticks are cheap and tasty, so are ideal for this recipe and as they take a while to cook the crumb coating browns and crisps up nicely. You could also use thighs or breasts if you prefer. These are great served with some salad or you can pop them in a lunch box to take to work. 

Ingredients

Serves 4
Prep: 15 minutes plus marinating time
Cooking time: about 40 minutes

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
200ml buttermilk
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
8 chicken drumsticks, skinned
75g breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

How did I get on?

The first step was to marinate the chicken in the garlic and onion powder, thyme and black pepper with half a teaspoon of salt and the buttermilk and Worcestershire sauce. This is when it is best to look at the recipe beforehand as this needs to marinate between an hour and overnight.

We chose to use chicken breasts instead of drumsticks.

When the chicken has marinated, set the oven to 200oC/Gas 6 and line a baking tray with parchment.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the paprika and season with salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken in this breadcrumb mixture and arrange them on a baking tray. Mix the oil with a tablespoon of water and brush this over the drumsticks. Then bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking time.

And there you have it, a quick and easy meal. We cooked some corn on the cob, onion rings and we made some Boston Baked Beans using our Thermomix.

Thoughts

This was extraordinarily easy to do, it tasted delicious and it was an ideal Saturday night meal, together with a bottle of cider!

Thermomix

This is an amazing piece of equipment for the kitchen, it can make anything from curries to pasta dishes to soups. It was on the expensive side but we use it about three times a week and it does save on a lot of washing up.

You can purchase it from Vorwerk and one of the things which impressed us was that a representative from the company came round our house and gave us a live demonstration.

My children’s book: Safe Haven

When I was younger, my literary hero was Enid Blyton who I have written a blog about entitled: My Favourite Author and she is someone who I have drawn a lot of my inspiration from in writing Safe Haven.

I have had this book in my mind for quite a long time, it was so long ago that when I typed the first story, On The Way To The Market, it was stored on a floppy disc!

Over the years as the floppy disc was replaced by a CD and then we went to the Cloud for storage, the floppy disc was inevitably lost, but the story still stuck in my head until one day I decided to write it down again and so was born Miranda and Safe Haven.

Miranda the Doll

When it was time to think of other stories and other characters, I turned to my husband for his help, he has an active imagination which is sometimes a bit infuriating as when he watches television he often predicts what is going to happen. But between us we came up with our characters: Miranda the doll, Threadbare the teddy bear, Ssssnake the toy snake, Barry the bulldog and Dennis the Doberman and of course, Trixie the Fairy.

Above is a selection of illustrations from different stories from the book. I think my favourite story is The Treasure Hunt as it shows that cheats never prosper. All the stories convey a note of positivity and they always end on a positive note.

I am very excited for this book to be published and am looking forward to reading it with my two grandchildren and hopefully other parents and grandparents will be doing the same with their children.

Safe Haven is available to buy at Amazon:

Happy reading!!

United Kingdom and the Eurovision Song Contest

This weekend sees Eurovision head to Turin in Italy, after Måneskin, an Italian rock band won and the UK, represented by James Newman, came a disappointing last with ‘nul points’. The only other time the UK received this honour was when Liverpool duo, Jemini performed Cry Baby in 2003, but we haven’t always done this bad in Eurovision, here are some of the highlights…

Puppet On A String – Sandie Shaw

The UK won the Eurovision Song Contest for the very first time with Puppet On A String in 1967, sung by Sandie Shaw, when the show was held in Vienna.

Sandie appeared on a TV show and sung six songs and although she said Puppet On A String was her least favourite it was chosen to represent the UK.

The song became her third UK number one and topped the charts all around Europe.

The song won comfortably, collecting nearly double the points as the second placed song.

Boom Bang-a-Bang – Lulu

Our second victory came in 1969 with Lulu singing Boom Bang-a-Bang in Madrid.

This year was unique in that there were four joint winners: the UK, Spain, Netherlands and France.

The single made number 2 in the UK charts and was a major hit throughout Europe.

Save Your Kisses For Me – Brotherhood Of Man

We had to wait until 1976 at The Hague in The Netherlands before we won it again with Save Your Kisses For Me by The Brotherhood Of Man.

It was awarded 12 points by seven countries and finished with 164 points, compared to second placed French entry with 147 points. It stayed at number one in the UK for six weeks and became one of the biggest selling singles of the year.

The song’s lyrics described a man’s feelings as he leaves for work each day, leaving his loved one at home and it’s not until the final line that we find out that it is in fact his three year old child.

Making Your Mind Up – Bucks Fizz

In was another foursome who won in 1981 with Making Your Mind Up.

Bucks Fizz had only been formed two months earlier and won the BBC’s A Song For Europe to represent the UK.

Their performance is probably best remembered for the girls having their skirts whipped off by the boys, revealing a shorter skirt underneath.

Making Your Mind Up reached number one in t he UK and remained there for three weeks, they had a run of 13 UK hits after Eurovision.

Love Shine A Light – Katrina and the Waves

A long 16 years after Buck Fizz’s win, along came Katrina and the Waves who won it in 1997 with Love Shine A Light.

It was a last minute decision for this song to be entered in the Great British Song Contest.

It was written as an anthem for The Samaritans and members, when they heard it, declared that it was the type of song that would win Eurovision.

Love Shine A Light received an average of 9.458 points per country, the third-highest in the history of Eurovision with Save Your Kisses For Me in first place with 9.647 per country. The song scored an impressive 227 points and after the fourth country had voted, remained in the top position throughout the voting.

Honourable Mentions

The UK has finished in second place 15 times since the contest started in 1957, the last time being in 1998 and Imaani with Where Are You? Our track record hasn’t been brilliant since then, but I have faith in our entry for this year: Sam Ryder and Space Man, it’s a brilliant song and is in the top four of the bookie’s favourites.

I’ll be watching on Saturday, no doubt amazed at some of the acts, not understanding what’s going on with others, but enjoying whatever Eurovision throws at us this year!

The Eden Project

During a four day break in Cornwall with my husband, son, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, we decided that a visit to the Eden Project was a must. We looked at the weather forecast and the day that was scheduled for rain, was the day we booked to go.

Prices:

The tickets are priced seasonally, so the prices range:

Adults: Standard – £32.50 Peak – £37.50
Child (aged 5-16): Standard – £11 Peak – £12
Child (aged 0-4): Free all year round.

Parking was included in the admission price.

Length of time spent here:

We arrived at 10:30 AM and left at about 2:30 PM.

My Review

We have been here before but that was approximately 15 years ago, so a lot has changed since then!

The Eden Project was originally a china clay pit and was used by the BBC as the planet surface of Magrathea in the TV series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

This lovely driftwood sculpture of a horse was at the entrance – stunning!

It was drizzling with rain when we arrived, so we headed straight for the biomes, entering the Rainforest Biome first.

The Rainforest biome was amazing, it was like stepping into a different world. The amount of different flowers, plants and trees was mind boggling, from wild bananas to oil palm to all kinds of spices.

It didn’t feel as hot as I thought it was going to be, but this was in April, I suspect that in August it is a different story!

There was a treetop walk which included a rope wobbly bridge, where at the top, there was commanding views of the whole biome from the viewing platform.

After spending a couple of hours in this biome, it was time for lunch. We ate in the main dining area between the Rainforest and Mediterranean biomes, it was a little pricey so maybe bring your own packed lunch is the way to go, but we all had a snack and a drink….

…then it was onto the Mediterranean biome.

Stepping into the Mediterranean biome, I was struck by how much lighter and more colourful it was than the Rainforest biome. In here we found grape vines, olive trees, cotton and citrus fruit. The array of flowers was spectacular:

There were some intriguing statues in this biome which were called The Rites of Dionysus. These depict Dionysus, Greek god of the vines and his followers who dance and writhe through the vines beating drums and sounding trumpets.

After thoroughly exploring this biome, we made our way back out into the gardens, where it was raining pretty steadily now and headed towards the Invisible Worlds exhibition.

This was an exhibition which explored our sense and how life is shaped by and also shapes, invisible systems.

Invisible Worlds exhibition (Picture taken from Eden Project website).

One sculpture which immediately drew our attention was the Blue (Infinity Blue) ceramic sculpture which weighs in at 20 tonnes and is almost nine metres high. It pays homage to one of the worlds smallest but most important organisms: cyanobacteria. No, I didn’t know what that was either, it says on their website:

The sculpture is a monument to these vital microscopic beings, who, along with the descendants found in the photosynthesising cells of all green plants, continue to provide the oxygen in every break we take.

The Eden Project
One of its vapour rings!

It was time to head back to the caravan and even though the rain hadn’t let up all day it didn’t matter to us, we were in the biomes most of the time. We all had a great time, the grandkids enjoyed walking around and exploring the different areas, in fact, I think we all learned something today!

Ozzy

Ozzy
Ozzy is a leader of a group called The Highwaymen,
They strike a deal with the Kingdom, to protect the roads when,
A herd of walkers attacks Tara and people from Hilltop,
The Highwaymen do good on their deal, and the walkers they stop.

Ozzy and his group patrol the Kingdom outskirts and they find,
People captured by the Whisperers, they have the presence of mind,
To run inside and start attacking, giving the captives a chance to fight,
But then Alpha arrives with more of her group and try as they might,

They cannot fight them off, they punch and lunge and they strike,
But later, Ozzy, his Highwaymen, Tara, Enid and others, their heads are found on a pike. 
Ozzy’s head on a pike

Silly Grandma

Grandma has lost something once again,
It's not her mobile phone, her cup of tea or pen,
She's looked in her bathroom, the shelves and higher,
She's even looked in the washing machine and tumble dryer!

Grandma tries to think of where she saw them last,
She looks in places where she's left them in the past,
Once she left them in the microwave,
They nearly melted, that was a close shave!

She's searched everywhere she can think of,
The bedside tables and even the loft,
She's gone down the garden and into the shed,
Silly grandma, your glasses are on your head!

Otis

Otis
Otis was employed by Hershel as a ranch hand,
He had a wife, Patricia, they lived on the farmland, 
Otis played the guitar and loved to hunt for deer,
But this resulted in an accident involving Carl, I fear. 

Whilst Otis was in the woods he saw a buck and took aim,
The bullet passed through the deer, and then Carl it did maim,
They take Carl to Hershel’s farm, they have tears in their eyes,
And Otis and Shane go to a school to scavenge for supplies. 

When they reach the school, there are a lot of undead,
They create a diversion, so they can get the meds,
Once inside the supply trailer, they collect lots of stuff,
The walkers are now swarming, it’s looking very tough. 

They manage to escape to the school’s abandoned gym,
Shane busts through a window, Otis isn’t that slim,
He finds a larger window and joins Shane on the ground,
They run for their lives, there are lots of walkers around. 

They both are tired and Shane falters, he admits defeat,
He tells Otis to go without him, he refuses and helps Shane to his feet, 
The horde is still pursing them, they can’t outrun them anymore,
So, Shane shoots Otis in the leg and he falls to the floor.

Shane makes his escape with the supplies that they need,
Whilst Otis is eaten by walkers, Shane leaves him to bleed. 

Otis and Shane in the school, running from the walkers

THE WALKING DEAD: S1 EP 4 – VATOS

Daryl is angry to see his brother’s severed hand, 
He threatens T-Dog with his crossbow and
Rick points his revolver at Darryl, he’ll fire for sure,
Darryl stands down, there’s a trail of blood on the floor.

To retrieve the bag filled with guns, Glenn has a plan, 
But two men arrive in a car and they kidnap this man,
Rick, Daryl and T-Dog take a young Latino hostage and he tells,
He’s from a group called The Vatos, they want the guns as well. 
The Latino named Miguel, tells them where the group is,
They go there and find their leader, Guillermo, and his 
group of survivors, he won’t trade Glenn, Rick asks with all his might,
Guillermo orders them to bring the guns or be ready for a fight! 

After discussing what to do, the three men go back to broker a deal,
They offer half the guns in exchange for Glenn, but Guillermo doesn’t feel
This is what he wants, everyone is jittery, there is tension in the air, 
When a grandmother appears, she scolds her grandson and gives everyone a glare. 

The Veto’s are protecting a retirement home, the old and the frail, 
Rick sees they are good people, so he hands over the guns to ensure they don’t fail.
Back at the camp, the group are having a celebration fish fry
When nobody hears the screams of Ed as he is bitten and dies.
Next Amy is exiting Dale’s RV and is bitten by a walker on her arm,
Andrea is upset, she should have protected her sister from harm. 

The campsite is overrun with walkers, some survivors are eaten,
The rest of the campers take cover behind Shane and Dale, they won’t be beaten. 
With limited ammunition they fire at the walkers and pray to the Lord,
When Rick and the others return and shoot down the horde. 

In the arms of Andrea, Amy takes her last breath and dies,
And Andrea is inconsolable, she breaks down and cries… 

Space Invaders

Harry gazes up at the sky,
The stars and moon seem so high,
He wonders if life is out there,
And if there is, would they dare
To invade Earth and capture everyone,
And not rest until their evil work is done. 

Harry thinks, “They’ll not get me,
Or my friends and not my family.
I’ll punch them, I’ll kick them, I’ll do what I can,
To make sure they don’t take over this land.” 

“I wonder what their appearance will be,
Would they have one, two or even three
Pairs of eyes and a great big hairy belly,
Perhaps they’ll be ugly and very smelly.”

“Their language will be different to ours,
Whatever they speak on the Planet Mars, 
The King will be ginormous with a crown on his head,
His will issue his orders as he’s sat on his bed. “

Harry can see something high up in space,
He takes his binoculars out of their case,
Harry looks closely, it’s travelling quite far,
Is it a spaceship, a meteor, or a shooting star?

He runs into his house and says to his dad,
“We’re going to be invaded, it’s really bad,
They’re landing on Earth, God’s own creation,”
“It’s okay,” replies dad, “That’s the International Space Station.” 

TURKEY CURRY

Just before Christmas we bought another Hairy Biker’s recipe book – we have quite a collection now – this time we thought we would go for the 12 Days of Christmas because we thought it would give us a few ideas for Christmas. Unfortunately we didn’t use it before Christmas as most of our family were ill, but we did make this turkey curry last week with some frozen leftover turkey we found in the freezer.


This is their thoughts on the dish:

This simple curry  is made mainly from store cupboard ingredients, but it has a lovely fresh taste and mouth-watering aroma. You don't have to add the tomatoes if you like a fairly thin sauce, but if you prefer it thicker, use Maris Piper or similar. The starch in the spuds will thicken the sauce as it cooks. You can serve the curry with rice if you like, but it's just as good without.  This recipe makes a medium curry, so if you like your curry hot, add a little more chili powder or fry a finely chopped chili with the garlic.

Ingredients

600g new or old potatoes
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 medium onions, halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 ground ginger
1/2 hot chilli powder or cayenne pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 litre chicken stock
3 tbsp mango chutney
2 bay leaves
500g cooked turkey
cut into chunky pieces
4 tomatoes, quartered
200g young spinach leaves
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper

How did I get on?

First we peeled our potatoes and then cut them into thick slices. After cooking the onions for 5 minutes, adding the garlic and we then sprinkled over all the spices. Next the tomato puree and stock is added, followed by the potatoes, mango chutney and bay leaves, seasoning well with salt and pepper. This is brought to the boil, heat reduced and then simmer for 10 minutes.

Then the leftover cooked turkey is added and is returned to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Next, the tomatoes are added and the spinach leaves are scattered over. Cover the pan with a lid and continue simmering for a further 5 minutes until the spinach has wilted and then it’s ready to serve!

Thoughts

Well I have to say, hats off to this recipe, it’s probably one of the best curries we have made! It looks like a lot of ingredients but most can be found in your store cupboard. This is a great recipe for using up leftover turkey. It was delicious and accompanied with Naan bread and mint yoghurt, it’s a great Indian meal! But wait, what about the rice? Well, let me show you how we made that!

Rice

Just before Christmas we treated ourselves to a new toy – a Thermomix!

Thermomix

There is over 2500 recipes in the memory of this piece of equipment – we have only just scratched the surface but keep a look out for future recipes when we try to do them! This time, it was just steamed rice, which was simply adding litre of water together with chicken stock and turmeric for colour, pouring the rice into the steamer and cooking for 20 minutes, and voila, perfect rice!