Kitchen Disasters


Okay, it wasn’t quite this bad.


Minor disaster day.  The toaster exploded.  I like to believe there was a spiritual connection between this and our shopping trip for an oven at the weekend.  The first proper oven in the Portuguese kitchen we are attempting to renovate.  While looking for this we’d been distracted by luxury toasters.  But we already had a toaster, a nice one at that which we’d been bought for a Christmas present, so we couldn’t justify a new one.

pic: Tod McLellan

pic: Tod McLellan

Now we’ll probably have to get one.  We all rely heavily on toast between meals in this household.  Although we do have a George Formby grill to keep us going which I found brand new and still boxed in a house I once bought, so we’ll not starve on the toast front.  Zed is meanwhile inspecting the workings of Portuguese plugs.

Toaster John Lewis

This one….

John Lewis toaster

or this one….

red toaster, john lewis

… or this one.

Meanwhile, aargh,  I then managed to burn the soup for our midday meal.  I know that’s quite a difficult thing to achieve and I only have a small window when Jae is home from school for cooking lunch.  Clearly being happily engrossed working on the computer while multi tasking at cooking doesn’t work for me.


It didn’t look like this

I replenished the saucepan with water (tip it away – are you kidding?)  and vowed never to go on the computer again while cooking.  On the way back from the bathroom I just…had a peek at emails…clicked through to a blog (about a Vietnamese food tasting tour on motorbikes) then skyped a message to my god daughter’s mother that my god daughter, who is currently in Vietnam, should try the food tasting tour.  I’m not sure her mother will welcome my suggestion that she travel around Ho Chi Minh city on a motorbike tasting food though.

Maybe I should take the tour

Maybe I should take the tour

Meanwhile, the pan was looking black again and burning smells wafted out the kitchen.  Hmmm.  Don’t have time to cook anything else.  Add more water again?

Strangely it tasted delicious.  Here is the recipe for ‘Cook and Double Burn Soup’.  One for Halloween?

Two carrots, three potatoes, handful of frozen cabbage stalks, an onion, cup of peas, stock cube.  Approximately 1 3/4 litres of water.  Put in a pan and cook until the water has almost boiled away and the pan is going brown. Replenish the water.  Boil the water away again until the saucepan is almost ruined.  Replenish the water.  Blend.  Serve with rolls, warmed in a George Formby grill or oven.  Or toast, for those of you who can.

No.  Not serious.  Don’t try this at home.

Adventure story age 8

Available in print or Kindle from Amazon.




Quick and Healthy Citrus Spring Biscuits


This is a biscuit recipe that has evolved from making flap jacks in a hurry at seven in the  morning for the kid’s school snacks.  I like to make them fresh and I really don’t have time to make proper flap jacks, melt butter, weigh everything out, get flour everywhere, that just doesn’t work for me.  Therefore, I use tablespoons instead of weighing scales, because its quicker to grab a spoon and fill it. I thought I’d share my version which I have to say are no longer anything like flap jacks.


None of the ingredients are set in stone and I suggest you experiment a little.  These are made with oranges because they are in season in Portugal, as are lemons, but in England I would add plum or apple in the autumn, chopped up cherries or maybe a sprinkling of elderflowers in summer, so you get the drift.  Sometimes I add a dessert spoon of desiccated coconut or dried cranberries chopped in half, or sultanas depending on what is in the store cupboard, if I have nothing fresh.


4 tablespoons rolled oats

4 tablespoons rice flour (you can use ordinary flour, ground almond would probably work too).

1 tablespoon olive oil (of course you can use butter but olive oil is much easier and healthier).

Juice and grated rind of 1 medium orange.  If you are using a fruit that doesn’t contain much juice then you can replace this with milk or cartoned juice.

1 tablespoon honey.

1 dessert spoon sugar – optional.  I tend to add this sometimes as they then go down better with the children.  Half a teaspoon of ginger or cinnamon is a nice addition too.

1 pinch of salt.  Okay hands up, I don’t actually bother with this as I try to avoid salt, so this is optional.


Combine all the ingredients together.  If the mixture is too sticky add a little more flour.  You shouldn’t need to get out the mixer as it only takes about a minute to combine with a spoon until it has melded into a ball.

Roll out on a floured board (or a large flat plate which is quicker to wash) to about half a centimetre thick and cut with a 2″ biscuit cutter or into whatever size you fancy.  Pop them onto a greased baking tray.  I sometimes don’t even roll them out but pop them into shallow, greased pattie tins.

This should make about eight biscuits but if you want more just adjust the ingredients.

Bake in a pre-heated oven or a halogen oven at 200°C, 400°F or gas mark 6 for approximately ten minutes or until just slightly going golden brown.

Now then, when I came to bake these this morning my halogen oven wasn’t working so I ended up baking them in a grilling machine for 15 minutes.  It seemed to work although not quite as tasty and good looking as usual.  The pictures are therefore of the pre-baked biscuits.

Can’t wait to finally get a proper kitchen and oven.  Sooner rather than later now I think!