Bargains!

Today I bought a massive chicken (meant to serve about 7 people), for the bargain price of .90p (about $1.41)!!!

I snagged a second bargain too … a large duck for Β£1.60 (about $2 .51)!!

I mean, come on, what’s not to find attractive about this stunning bird?!? πŸ˜‰

And stunning is about the right word too!! I’m positive that if I’d been able to get up enough strength to swing my shopping bag with a good amount of power, (providing, of course, I’d found myself in a situation – in the ten minute walk home from the grocery store – that warranted such drastic measures …) I could easily have stunned someone with these two fine gals!! πŸ˜›

My first big worry was weather or not I was actually going to be able to fit these two fine birds in my freezer, which I filled up just last week with a huge batch of Spicy Sausage Pasta, Chicken Curry and reduced bread rolls … thankfully I discovered some utterly redundant items that made space for my latest trophies … phew!

My second, and much larger, worry is really a long-standing fear of mine …

… cooking a roast chicken dinner!

If I’m honest, I have a bit of a thing about all raw meat … due partly to growing up mostly as a vegetarian (from age 2 my Mum cooked meat from time to time but more often pre-processed as I got older, but not much and then after 12 there was no meat at all) … due also to a life-long paranoia of being sick/throwing up, which led at 14 to me refusing to eat any fish or eggs or anything else which had much of a potential to lead to food poisoning …

… Although now I eat pretty much eat anything except courgettes (zucchini), aubergines (eggplants) and any organ-related part of an animal, I’m still pretty fussy about kitchen hygiene (depending on who you ask: L and most friends put me in the paranoid category!! πŸ˜‰ ) … if I can do it without too much extra cost, I always buy pre-chopped meat, that way I have to handle that slimy raw substance as little as possible and don’t get ny chopping boards or knives “contaminated”!! πŸ˜› (and yes, I am laughing at myself and yes, you may laugh at me too!! πŸ˜‰ )

I have now cooked a roast belly of pork and two roast beef dinners, so progress has definitely been made … I don’t have any major issues with the timings or any of the other trimmings to go along side … nope, it’s just the raw joint itself … and for some reason, chicken is The Big Deal … the idea of a big, pink, cold, slimy, raw chicken just sitting there waiting for me to handle it … ‘nough said!! *Shudder*

I am, however determined, determined, to conquer this most fearsome and traditional of roasts!!! I am not going to let myself be beaten by a dead bird! No siree!! Not this girl! If at some point in the next couple of months you hear in the news about a crazed woman who has become the first person in history to take the precise study of roasting chickens to degree-level standards … that’ll be me!! πŸ˜‰

The duck in my freezer would like to be cooked in the yummiest way possible so, as I have no idea how to go about cooking a duck and no particularly firm notions about good duck/flavour combinations …

What recipes/suggestions do you have for cooking duck?!?

My apologies for the photos … right now I can’t access my own photos or take any new photos off of my camera … so here we have internet photos … !

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Apples, apples, apples …

A friend from church was giving away crates of cooking apples from her garden.

My own one-person apple cooking marathon ensued…

Luke put in a special request for a spiced apple cake … rather yummy, though I do say so myself!! πŸ˜‰

After a bit of research, the purchasing of vinegar and jars, followed by lots of chopping …

… and many hours of simmering and stirring …

I ended up with six jars of Spiced Apple Chutney!

These were followed a couple of days later by four (and a half! πŸ˜› ) jars of Apple and Blackberry Jam!

These goodies (except for the apple cake, surprisingly!! πŸ˜‰ ) are now stashed in the bottom of my wardrobe (aka: cool, dark place!) to mature …

Yummy, yummy!!

I’ve received one chocolate suggestion so far – thank you! – so keep them coming!! πŸ™‚

National Chocolate Week

Today I learnt from Frugal Feeding that this next week (10th-16th October) is national Chocolate week!! Nom, nom, nom!! πŸ˜› Check out Frugal Feeding’s Chocolate Biscotti recipe for a yummy, chocolately delight!

In honour of this auspicious National Chocolate Week, I am undertaking to bake something involving chocolate … what exactly that will be, is up to you, my readers … !! Am I doing a very stupid thing here?! Yes, probably, but here we go …

Enter the recipe ofΒ  your favourite Chocolate Bake as a comment (be that cookies, brownies, cake, cheesecake, bar, pudding … ) and I will randomly select one of the recipes (maybe more, who knows?!?) to tackle!! πŸ˜› You will get to see photos of the process and photos of the result … and hear all about my hubby’s and friend’s review of the finished bake!! πŸ˜‰

Please do let me have your favourite chocolate recipes!!! πŸ˜€

And you are …?!

Over the summer I got accepted as a member of my local Youth Offending Team Panel – a long-cherished ambition of mine – and today I my second day of training … yes, that’s right, I am talking about Saturday and no, you didn’t hear me wrong when I said “day” – we’re talking 9am – 4pm here! πŸ˜‰

For someone like me, who always gets thoroughly excited about young people, youth crime and helping make their lives better, this is a wonderful – though awe-inspiring! – experience!

As well as being filled up and over-stuffed with loads of information, it is also providing about 26 or so opportunities for meeting someone new!! πŸ˜› Lot’s of new names to try to remember and lot’s of new faces to associate with the right name … lot’s of introductions and the usual set of “I’ve-never-met-you-before-how-should-I-be-relating-to-you” questions … you know, “What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do? What degree did you do? Are you married? Do you have kids? Why are you here?”

Some questions are more comfortable to answer than others and all of them are only brushing a surface picture of the outside of each of us … but that’s how it goes – this is the way we humans normally start down the road of getting to know each other.

This, along with some very welcome comments from some of my blog readers that I have never met before, has set me thinking …

Who are you?!? πŸ™‚

If you think about it, it’s kind of a little unbalanced, right? Each and every one of you know quite a bit about me now … but I know hardly anything about you!! No-fair, ok?! πŸ˜‰ There are some exceptions – some of you I know in my every day life and some I know through your own blogs – but I am getting more and more confirmation that I have mystery readers that I know nothing about!! Ooooooh mysterious!! πŸ˜€

On principle, as long as I am making you smile and, for whatever reason, you enjoy reading my blog, that’s me content! Please keep on reading, laughing and hopefully taking something positive away with you!!

I’m also thinking of running my first-ever little mini-series!!! Just incase you can’t tell, I’m super excited about this!! πŸ˜‰

Let me introduce … big fan-fair please! …

From My Front Room.

You’ve all been welcomed in over my front step, so now I would love it if some of you would like to come and take a seat on my comfy red sofa, get hold of a steaming mug of tea, munch on a piece of my warm Apple and Cinnamon Cake and share a little about yourselves …!!

I will start, by sharing the answer to some questions about myself … then it will be your turn! πŸ™‚

If you’d like to come and sit on my sofa one cosy afternoon, just email me with your name, blog home if you have one and the reason why you read my blog: alldotty atΒ  gmail dot com

I’m excited about meeting you soon!! πŸ™‚

It’s going to tell a story …

Here’s what I’ve figured out for myself. My life is going to tell a story whether I intend it to or not. It’s going to tell a story that says: This is what a follower of Jesus is, this is what they are about, this is what they believe, this is what they think is important. Because this is going to happen and can’t be stopped, I better make sure I know my role and my job description: A Christian is a living explanation.
~ Charlie Peacock

I haven’t been able to get this thought out of my head for the past couple of weeks … along with the next thought – so what am I going to do about it?

What does this quote make you think about?

The Great British Bake Off!

As you must know by now, from my previous posts, I love cooking!!

Especially if it involves lots of colours! πŸ˜‰

Once upon a time, I used to enjoy baking far and above cooking …

… I still love baking, but now I love cooking probably just as much …

L and I don’t have a TV licence, but watch DVDs instead … with the exception of iplayer, a BBC (British Broadcasting Company) website which allows you to watch some selected TV programs on the internet, after their original broadcasting time. My hubby doesn’t use this at all, but I love it! I genuinely don’t miss TV as a whole, but I do like my cookery programs, my youth and crime documentaries and my detective dramas!! πŸ˜› Also, as I can’t watch TV without doing something else as well, it means we have lots of homemade cards and gifts, so who’s going to complain! πŸ˜‰

This week marked the final of The Great British Bake Off!!

At the beginning we had all these contestants … all amateur bakers – like ourselves! πŸ˜‰

These were the two presenters … I loved their banter and the fun they had together and with the contestants!

And these were the judges – Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. I have grown up with Mary Berry baking recipes, so I have a little soft spot for her!! πŸ˜‰

The many bakes the contestants had to complete fell into three categories – The Signature Bake (something they had created themselves), The Technical Challenge (one of Mary Berry’s own recipes, but with a bare minimum of instructions and timings, all judged anonymously) and The Show-Stopper – perfect in every way and completely fabulous in appearance!

The Chocolate Roulade was one of The Technical Bakes. You saw a photo of my own Jam Swiss Roll (as it happens, one of Mary Berry’s recipes …!! πŸ˜› ) but this is a league above …

Baked Cheesecakes were another feature – something I would love to try making someday soon!

Petits Fours featured a number of times …

… as did Pork Pies, Sponge Cakes, Cupcakes, Savoury or Fruit Tarts, French Special Pastries and many other baking masterpieces …

After eight weeks of baking and eliminations, a Great British Baker was chosen!!

I was a little bit more than rather chuffed that it was my favourite that won!!! πŸ˜‰

Do you prefer baking or cooking?