A golden nugget.

Yesterday for the first time I tried something new for the first time.  It  can only be described as a little golden nugget of solidified maple syrup.  It tasted like heaven!

I first came across this Canadian product while watching a little 30 minute documentary of how various Canadian maple syrup and sweets are made.  While sampling these small pieces of heaven (yes I do have a very sweet tooth!) I started to find out more information about these little tasty morsels on the internet.  What I have found I pasted a

Pure Maple Candy 

Pure Maple Candy

 

“Pure, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth maple candy using only pure maple syrup! It’s a treat almost like fudge. Add anything you want like chopped nuts. Use small maple leaf molds or other pretty shapes.”

Ingredients

Directions
  • Prep

  • Cook

  • Ready In

  1. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil over medium-high heat stirring occasionally. Boil until syrup reaches 235 degrees F (110 degrees C) on a candy thermometer.
  2. Remove from heat and cool to 175 degrees F (80 degrees C) without stirring, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir mixture rapidly with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes until the color turns lighter and mixture becomes thick and creamy. Stir in chopped nuts, if desired.
  4. Pour into molds. Set aside to cool. Once cool, un-mold candy. Store in airtight containers up to 1 month.

I think I might have to have a go at making these when I get back home and have acquired a suitable mold for the hot maple syrup to set in.

The joy of Metal

As some of you might already know, I have some internal metal work (more soon to be added)

So today I traveled through London Heathrow T2 airport on my way to Canada (Montreal to be exact) and as you might expect the security section of the airport is interesting for me anyway.

Usual drill, remove rucksack from shoulder, remove laptop and e-reader, media player etc etc and place items into the trays provided and get into the line to be called through the metal door scanner, I walk through the first scanner, and I set off the alarm *insert surprised face here*  I inform the security person stood near by about my internal and external metal, yes you heard right, starting from the top…..

  1. underwired bra,
  2. button on jeans,
  3. metal hip,
  4. metal plate with screws (just above ankle)

They ask me to remove my shoes for further screening, which I do, and the guy that was assisting travellers with sorting out their electrical items for the first phase of security screening held a tray out for me to place my shoes into, Jokingly he asked if I was “made of metal” to which I gave the only honest answer I could which was “partially”.  The look on his face was priceless, of the I was not expecting that answer kind of look.

I then got asked to step into the full body scanner, and I set off that alarm too, on a plus side I didn’t cause one to crash unlike on a previous trip, but that’s another story….. The nice lady security officer pulls me over to one side to do a pat down, I reel off my list of metal adornments as listed above, to which the security officer say’s the hip and metal plate look fine they didn’t show up….. it is more likely to be your under-wired bra, but I still need to do the pat down.  Are you wearing a bra from M & S any chance?? yes I replied they are comfortable. “I agree,” she said, “they just don’t work well with airport security.”

Gone are the days where I can just go through one level of screening at airports, but having metal work does indeed make things more fun!

The morel of the story is don’t wear Marks and Spencer under-wired bra’s when traveling through airports.

I wanted to scream but couldn’t

The torment you feel when you are waiting for the phone to ring and it doesn’t or that very important letter you may have been expecting for ages which never turn up.  In my case this morning I have been frantically hitting the re-fresh button in my email client.  And finally I have the result I have been waiting for I passed my maths exam.

I wanted to scream down the phone to S but when the time came and I told him the result I couldn’t scream I was overwhelmed with tears of joy, relief and a feeling of a dark cloud that been hanging over me suddenly lifting and disappearing.

There was a bottle of champagne that had been sitting on the shelf with the intention of saving for a special moment it went into the fridge earlier today, I don’t think it is going to last long while it is now open!

Thank you S for all your love, support, extra tuition and maybe some nagging (in the right places). This result isn’t just my achievement it’s yours too.

A mate called Dave

Everybody needs a mate called Dave, mine on the other hand isn’t called Dave, her name is G. we meet up once or twice a week for a coffee and a catch up, and generally bounce ideas off each other as well as sort out one another social calenders.

G is a science teacher and a mad one at that (no pun intended) to be honest the mad ones are the best in my book. I am always interested in hearing what she happens to be teaching this week. The other week we were looking through some of my recent holiday pictures; and it just so happened that some of the what I considered were random pictures in a vague but arty kind of way, she thought were great and asked if she could use them as teaching material for her class later that day.  Not everyday do the off the cuff pictures you take using your mobile phone get used for a science class teaching material.

 

I wonder if any of the photo’s I end up taking on my next trip will inspire the next generation of scientists in her classes she teaches.

I didn’t mind I was glad to help.

Considerably BIGGER Tin

A couple of days ago I fancied doing some baking, but not cakes as I seemed to have mastered those but something I had not yet tried to make and one of those things being shortbread.  And if I was going to attempt shortbread then I should make it better by adding caramel and dark chocolate.  I found a reasonably simple to follow recipe (see below)

Millionaire Shortbread

Ingredients
Makes: 20 chocolate caramel squares
For the shortbread
170g plain flour
60g caster sugar
120g butter

shortbread-dough

The raw dough before cooking, this surprisingly took quite a lot less time to mix together by hand than I first thought especially with arthritic joints and hands.

 

For the caramel
1 (397g) tin condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup
60g caster sugar
120g butter

caramel-raw

The raw caramel ingredients before any heat was added.

caramel-boiling

The boiling caramel

caramel-setting

The finished caramel in the tin setting
For chocolate topping
1 (100g) bar milk chocolate, melted

shortbread-topping

I used Green & Blacks (a well known organic brand) of dark cooking chocolate instead of milk which was suggested in the recipe. It worked next time I might choose a different chocolate and experiment with that.
Method
Prep:30min  ›  Cook:20min  ›  Extra time:1min cooling  ›  Ready in:51min
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or gas mark 4. Lightly grease or line a 18cm square cake tin.
2. For the shortbread: Sieve the flour and sugar into a large bowl. With clean hands, rub the butter into the mixture until it comes together in dough. Press it into the bottom of the cake tin, spread evenly and prick with a fork all over. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
3. For the caramel: While the shortbread is baking, pour the condensed milk, syrup, sugar and butter into a saucepan. Cook over a low heat, stirring all the time. This takes a while but has to be done carefully otherwise it will stick to the pan and burn. Watch it closely, and when it turns a deep caramel colour, pour it over the shortbread.
4. Allow it to cool for 30 minutes or so, then pour over melted chocolate. Transfer to fridge for another 30 minutes or so to set before slicing into squares.
5. They will keep for 5 days if stored in an airtight tin or the fridge.
Note:
Melt the chocolate in a microwave by checking and stirring every 10 seconds, or in a bain marie if you prefer.
Tip:
Use a mixture of different chocolate if you like – try mixing dark/milk/white and swirl together. Pour over the caramel shortbread and return to the fridge to set.

While the creation sets in the fridge and I eagerly wait for the taste test.

shortbread-slice

Please excuse the rough edges on the slice of Millionaire shortbread, I left it still in the tin in the fridge for a bit longer than suggested, but the warm knife around the edge seemed to do the trick in loosening it, and the flipping it over with another plate on top seemed to help in the matter of getting it out of the tin.  Overall it worked and it dare I say it passed the taste test with flying colours, and S has already asked ‘when are you going to be making this again? I’m going shopping on Saturday for some bits, what do you need?’

The up’s and downs

The up side – it was much easier than I first thought to make, either that or I have got more confidence in reading recipes.  I am not a huge shortbread fan, I never have been, it has been one of those take it or leave it kinds of biscuits but on the other hand it has been on my list of things I would like to try and master.  Not only that but the shortbread tasted better than my mothers!!!

The downside – it might of been easy to make, but it don’t last long, and all the fun was had trying to remove the shortbread from the tin.

Things I have learnt…..

The tin I used must be ‘Tardis’ like everything seemed to fit despite my doubts earlier, for some reason the caramel seem to sink down a little when it cooled down (I hope it hasn’t sunk into the base) – it didn’t sink in to the base in the end everything managed to fit into the tin.

Notes for next time

  1. Double all the mixture (it never lasts).
  2. Invest in some loose bottomed tins (for easy removal of bake or any bake) hopefully.
  3. Try different chocolate toppings.
  4. Salted caramel? maybe.
  5. Don’t leave it too long in the fridge.

Potatoes

A fact I recently found out and that we are only 2 chromosomes away from a good potato.

potato

Possibly more if they are bad potatoes – but who knows!

Food court Czech style

On a recent European road trip, we stopped off the main motorway in the Czech Republic we were on and found a little town complete with it’s own shopping center for a spot of lunch.  To be honest it was a nice break from driving on what had seemed to be the same old motorway for miles and miles.

We parked up and headed for the shopping center food court.  The signage around the place seemed easy to understand, knife, for and spoon with an arrow pointing in the direction of the food court, i for information pointing in another direction etc etc.  The was one sign that confused us and that was this one.monkey-sign-modWe looked at the sign above our heads, mainly because we were looking for the direction to find the much needed facilities and also where to find lunch.  The monkey symbol on the sign we *guessed* was a play area for little monkeys.  No we were wrong.  It was actually monkeys a pair of Pygmy Marmosets.

 

monkey-modThe Marmosets were behind glass in the far corner of the food court of the Czech shopping center.  To be honest it was the last thing we expected to see especially in a food court, from a notice nearby and my understanding of the Czech language being nil, I just about made out the word zoo so at a educated guess I would say that they were promoting a local zoo.  We didn’t go and seek out the local zoo as we only stopped for lunch as were on a tight driving schedule to get to our hotel in the Bavarian region of Germany before nightfall.

 

 

‘C’

I finally got my C grade in English, the course I done is designed for Adults and is the equivalent of a C grade at GCSE.

Just need to work on the Maths now, exam is in May this year – fingers crossed I get the same result as my English.

The first of many

After many hours, weeks, months even years of deliberating on whether I could even write a blog I finally took the plunge.  There might have been some pestering from my husband S.

S helped me set this up by working his magic on all the technical bits for which I am thankful.

At the moment this blog site is going to be mainly for personal use somewhere to store my ever growing recipe collection, random thoughts, photographs, interesting topics and other weird stuff that I may come across while I am out and about.

As you might of already guessed I like to cook/bake also a good giggle. so don’t be put off by the dry humor.

Well this one has gone fine so far, I think my aim will be to try and write a post every couple of weeks or so.  just have to see how that goes!