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Week 17: Chocolate Peanut Brownies

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A couple of days ago I mentioned that I'm not very good at cooking desserts. The recipe here was adapted from the BBC website, with a few changes.

My workplace does a monthly Cake Day and this was our contribution. Emma actually did most of the work.


  • Take 3x100g bars of chocolate, broken into chunks (2x plain chocolate, 1x milk chocolate).

  • Add 275g of butter or margarine.

  • Melt the chocolate and butter either over a pan of hot water or in a microwave.

  • Add 1tsp of vanilla extract.

  • Stir in 325g caster sugar.

  • lightly beat 4 eggs (or 20 quail eggs) and stir into the chocolate mixture.

  • Sift 175g of plain flour and 1tbs of baking powder into the bowl and fold in gently.

  • Add approximately 170g of peanut M&Ms (or the contents of a 185g bag with a few eaten).

Bake at gas mark 3 for about 25 minutes.


  • 55g butter, softened.

  • 130g peanut butter. Mix with the butter.

  • 120g icing sugar, sifted and stirred into mixture.

  • Stir in about 1 tbs milk, to soften the mixture to a spreadable consistency.

The resulting cake was a bit sweet but the combination of chocolate and peanuts works very well and it's difficult to have just one piece.

Chocolate peanut brownie

Britains Best Dish

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Last week I received an email from someone at ITV - they had seen my blog and thought I'd be interested in entering the Britain's Best Dish competition. I'm not sure whether I should enter - you need to cook a starter, main & dessert but I usually just cook main courses.

I don't really have a 'signature dish' which I could use to show off. Also since I don't make desserts, I would have to choose one I really liked and learn how to cook it.

If anyone does want to take part their email address is bestdish@itv.com or phone them on 0871 62 66 222.

Pizza, Hamsters and Balloons

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We drove north to visit my parents yesterday. We took some pizza dough, a few toppings and a selection of the flavoured cheeses. My parents provided the rest of the toppings and a couple of bottles of wine.

This morning we drove over to Lymm for the hamster show. Anita had a balloon animal kit and was making balloon hamsters for people. I think ours must have been a Winter White Sapphire.

Balloon Hamster

Week 16: Away

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I've been away for most of this week so I haven't been able to cook anything new. The closest thing to a new recipe was a Haggis and Cheese omelette I cooked on Sunday.

The haggis was bought from the supermarket, reduced price after Burns' Night. The eggs were from our garden. The cheese came from the Monmouth Country Show.

The nearest thing to a new meal eaten while I was away was fish stuffed with salmon mousse, served with cauliflower.

Week 15: Curried Roast Celeriac

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This week's new recipe was inspired by another recipe on the BBC Good Food website. We only had a small amount of celeriac so our version ended up as a curried roast veg instead.

My version:

  • Cut the celeriac into 1/2 inch dice and fry in a teaspoon of vegetable oil. After about 5 minutes, transfer to a roasting tray in the oven (gas mark 7). Quarter a couple of onions and add them to the tray.

  • Cut a pepper into chunks and fry for a few minutes. Add to the roasting tray.

  • Add another teaspoon of oil to the frying pan. Add ½ teaspoon each of mustard seeds and onion seeds (the original recipe called for black mustard seeds but I only had yellow mustard so I decided to mix it with onion seeds). Gently fry the seeds then add 1 tsp of curry powder. Stir for a few seconds before mixing in with the vegetables.

  • Cook for a further 30 minutes.

The original web page had some negative comments where people didn't like the combination of curry and celeriac. The recipe called for 1 tablespoon of curry powder, which may be a bit too much.

Week 14: Pizza and Land Cress

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Last year I planted some Land Cress. It grew slowly and was still quite small at the end of the summer so I left it in the garden over the winter. With the recent warm weather, it seems to have put on a growth spurt.

This afternoon I harvested a big handful of it. Some of the stalks were a bit thick so I stripped the leaves from some of the thicker pieces. It is fairly well known that winter-grown water cress is spicier than summer-grown and the same seems to be true of the land cress.

Tonight we cooked another home-made pizza, topped with chicken and some cheese from the Thame Country Show. We had the cress as a spicy salad garnish.

The remaining cress in the garden looks like it may start flowering so it probably needs harvesting soon. I made a pan of chicken stock yesterday so I could make a variation of watercress soup using the land cress.

First egg of the season

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Today has felt a bit like the real start of spring. It has been warm, sunny and dry. This afternoon we found the first quail eggs of the year, one from each hutch. The warmer weather and increasing day length should mean more eggs so hopefully we won't need to buy any more eggs from the supermarket.

The last eggs we bought were actually from a house in the countryside just outside Allesley. They were advertised as fresh eggs rather than the free range we normally buy but we needed eggs and were passing so we thought we'd give them a go instead of stopping at Morrisons on the way home.


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Ostara was a one-off open air event which started in Charterhouse Fields before moving to Far Gosford Street. There is some information about it on the Coventry Telegraph website.

We missed the start because we had only just got back from the Thame Country Show. We managed to catch the parade as it crossed Gulson Road towards Far Gosford Street.

Ostara float crossing Gulson Road

Ostara parade

It was raining quite heavily while we watched the parade. It is a shame that open air events in Britain so often fall foul of the weather.

Some photos from the Thame Country Show

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Thame Country Show
In one of the falconry tents.

Thame Country Show
A demonstration of using 'Heavy Horses' for logging.

Thame Country Show
A tiny Shetland Pony.

Hamster Show Tent
Setting up the Hamster Show.

The weather was ok in the morning but the sky got darker and it started to rain in the afternoon. The showground became gradually quieter during the day as the morning visitors left but nobody came to replace them so by late afternoon, the place was practically deserted.

Bargains from Waitrose

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While we were in Kenilworth last night, we decided to pop into Waitrose. It was half an hour before closing and there were a lot of good food bargains to be had. Nearly everything we bought had been greatly reduced. Only one item was full price (Blackcurrant High Juice squash), two items were on special offer (cider and a half-price chicken). We normally buy the M&S chicken which is raised to the RSPCA 'freedom food' standard. The Waitrose chicken didn't say it was to that standard but claimed to use high welfare standards. Since you tend to expect Waitrose to be better than normal supermarkets, the chicken should be ok.

Other food bargains included bread rolls reduced to 5p each, cottage cheese, cooked salmon, Duchy Original milk. The milk was semi-skimmed but not homogenised and there was a lump of cream stuck to the lid. It tasted so much better than the skimmed milk we normally buy.

Oxford Isis Cheese
Oxford Isis mead-washed cheese. Very smelly. We had to put the tub in a sealed bag in the fridge to stop it stinking out the kitchen.

Strawberry Syrup
Strawberry Syrup. At over 80% sugar, I'm surprised it was pourable.

The total cost was just over £11 but would have been well over £25 at full price. Of course we wouldn't have bought most of the items at full price but it's always nice to find a bargain.

Sunam restaurant, Kenilworth

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My boss took a few of us out to dinner last night, to Sunam in Kenilworth. The restaurant was very busy and apparently is crowded on most nights. The food was good. The portions didn't seem huge (apart from the massive naan bread which was shared between the 5 of us) but I was feeling very full afterwards.

Happy 2nd Birthday

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Happy Birthday to 3 of our hamsters: Benny, Bjorn and 'Big Bit', from Orna and Mysterons first litter. They are all 2 years old today.

Bjorn and Brennan
Bjorn (on the right) with his son, Brennen.

The two Bennies
Benny (on the left) with his half-brother Benylin.

The Orn Girls
The two remaining 'Orn Girls', 'Big Bit' and her younger sister.