Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for February, 2013

Chewy Breakfast Bar



This is another of my sneaky ways of getting fruit into the children and even better I got Mini Son to help me make them.   They were very popular and just because they have cereal in them does not mean they have to be kept for breakfast.  

The sugar, butter content probably negates the fibre from the fruit but it is better than a lot of the snacks you can buy over the counter and the children love these.

Ingredients 

100g or so of dried fruit – I used a premixed supermarket pack
100g of mixed seeds (these were included in my pack)
280g of oats – i used a mix of jumbo and porridge
50g of multi-grain hoop cereal 
200g of butter
200g sugar – light muscavado 
200g golden syrup



Mix the oats, fruit, seeds and cereal together in a bowl 

Using a large heavy based pan melt the butter, add the sugar and then the golden syrup gently stirring until the sugar has completely melted.



Once melted remove from the heat and add the dry ingredients stirring well 


Pour out into the baking tray and even out.   I tend to use the  pampered chef bar pan which I still line with greaseproof paper with but this is more to lift out than prevent sticking.  If you use a standard baking tray make sure you grease it well.

Bake at a low heat 160C/gas 3 for about 20 minutes until they are golden brown then remove and leave to cool completely.   I score the bars when they come out of the oven and again when they are cool to make it easier to cut them.

In theory these could last 3 days in an airtight tin in practice I cannot get them to last more than a day.  No matter where I hide the tin it is found and all I get are a few fruit crumbs.


Enjoy these and get the children to help which will make them even more tempting.      You could coat the top in melted chocolate or dip each bar half way in once they are cool enough.  Mine don’t last that long.   I think they are very similar to flapjack but my children prefer these.

Tiggy 

Check out what I am up to in my other blog Tiggy Hayes

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Question of Balance

It is half-term and as usual we welcomed the break from school routine with friends coming round and a late night party.    The format of the night has evolved as the children grow up and have social lives and work commitments of their own.  The celebration remains just that a celebration that we have made it to the half term without too much stress and strain.  A few bottles are opened and a take away ordered.

So what does the week’s break mean for my family.  Sexy Sporty Dad still has to go to work, although he has managed to secure three days holiday with us.  He plans to paint the downstairs rooms and try to find a few hours to do a practice cycle ride.  Practising for what doesn’t really matter as long as he can get out on the road and feel the chill of the wind whipping past him as he pushes his body onwards through the pain barrier, ignoring the beads of icy sweat freezing before they have a chance to fall.   I suspect the gym will be well frequented this week  although he may use the better weather to go on a run.

No 1 Son will be bored.   He should be studying and has a stack of homework he could be doing but he will go out of his way to avoid.   He too will spend the time running, visiting the gym, playing tennis.  He will train for a rugby match that he will not play in as it is for the older colts cup but he will train.   He will turn his nose up at the meals I put in front of him because their calorific  value is too high.   He will forgo his breakfast in return for a whey product that he assures me is not banned or illegal.   He will pick at his lunch only eating the bare minimum before exercising to the point of collapse and stuffing himself with a snickers bar, a wispa bar and a packet of crisps.  Then he will return to bother his brothers; getting bolshy about their time playing x-box not through any concern for their slouchy lack of exercise but because they are hogging the machine.   Still full of chocolate and crisps he will only allow a tiny plate of food in front of him at tea time.

Middle Son who should be spending his week revising for GCSE’s will entertain his friends and Mini son’s friends on the x-box, I-pad or PS2 before cycling down to the local supermarket to stack up on his private supply of chocolate, pizza, croissants and crisps.   His allowance which is meant to help him survive the month with some independence will be blown probably in the first couple of days.  He will do some studying for his maths module which he takes soon after the holidays are finished.  The effort put in to get the studying done should guarantee an A but unfortunately the effort will be from Sexy Sporty Dad and I who will be drained by the end of the week remembering how to do factorising and line graphs.

Mini son will enjoy the holidays as his friends all live locally and he will probably go to stay over at his best friends for one day possibly stretching overnight.  He will play on the x-box but get bored quickly and want to go out and run around.  He will find himself playing rugby, football, cycling or scootering  around the estate with any children prepared to forgo the constant trigger thumb of  console battles.  He will be up early so he doesn’t miss any of the holiday.   He too will come up with elaborate plans and excuses not to do any reading or writing; despite my best efforts to get him to enter Chris Evans’ 500 words competition.

So what will I do with my week.  It may be half term week but working at a school is only one of my many jobs.   Having a school holiday will give me time to concentrate on

Weighing it all up

Weighing it all up

one of the other tasks that I try to balance.  I will write some articles and get the magazine to the printers, I will update both blogs and the magazine web site.  I will have my hair cut and coloured so that I have a few hours to read my writing magazine.  I will come out revived and determined to find time to rewrite memories, planning my time to include editing time as well as writing time for new fresh copy.  I will spend time cooking, clearing, chauffeuring, washing, shopping and being wife and mother on constant call for anyone else’s needs.  I need to pop round and see a couple of houses for my mother who is toying with the idea of moving close by if her house sells. I may, late at night steal a few moments to browse some holiday destinations;  I know we can’t afford them,  we cannot pick a suitable time to go and do the boys really want the same thing as Sexy Sporty Dad and I;  for that matter do we want the same holiday.  I can dream! Sun, sea sand and someone on hand for my every need ahhhh.   One day when my ship comes in the scales will balance until then I continue dream and keep writing.

Writing

I don’t normally double up on my blogs but inspiration comes in funny ways;  this is the piece I have sent into the magazine for March.

Following the Dream   When I was little I was subjected to the age old question; “what are you going to do when you grow up?”  It was easy I wanted to write a book,  I wanted to see my stories in print giving pleasure to generations of readers.

In those days my heroine was not J K Rowling but probably Enid Blyton whose Famous Five stories  left me thirsty for adventure. I saw criminal conundrums  or puzzling problems requiring  solving in everything I did.  My poor teachers would tear out their hair complaining that my imagination was just too vivid and could I not just do the homework devoid of embellishment and fictitious characters.

Obviously my parents were concerned about this ethereal world I frequented and over the years I was persuaded to grow up and get a job that paid money with firm foundations in the world of security and career paths.  

It didn’t go away; that niggle, that itch to put down on paper a story made up in the dim recesses of my mind that had escaped my teachers’ tyranny and my parents’ persuasion.  Recently I was rewarded by seeing a fellow blogger publish her first novel.  Hannah Evans is someone I identify with strongly and her book MOB Rule epitomises my life nearly as well as if I had written it myself.  MOB  = Mother of Boys.  She is me ten years ago except; she has taken the bull by his proverbial horns and accomplished what she set out to do rather than waffle around the issue and keeping  the desire hidden.  If ever I need a prod to kick start my flagging writing career here it is. 

I have followed Hannah Evans for a while having met a friend of hers who commented on how similar my writing and hers is.   I came away determined to find the blog the friend had shown me.   All I  could remember of her was she was a mother of boys and had a blog –  you try googling MOB.

Mob ruleFinally my birthday arrived and unsuspecting, my sister asked me to wait for my birthday present;  she would explain when she gave it to me.   A week later I received the gift.   MOB Rule  the book had been published only that week; hence the wait.   I had a copy literally hot of the press.  It was not only finding this writer that delighted me, but Sexy Sporty Dad who rarely; except under severe duress reads anything I write, was hooked.   He has not put the book down denying me any chance of reading it.  However from his comments and gales of giggling I know he is identifying closely with FOB.

Go Hannah go and yes those scales will tip towards giving me time; after all my boys are old enough to join in and be an active participant in this family of ours.  She is still coping with the young demanding 24/7 needs of tiny tots so here goes.

 

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neanderthal Sport

Having lost the battle of the TV remote I was forced to watched one of the six nations games.   I have of course watched many games of rugby over the years but usually with a vested interest in one of the teams winning.  To be honest whichever side won the match didn’t matter to me; what struck me more than anything else during this particular battle was how close to Neanderthal man we still are.

Great hulks of unkempt hairy muscle closing in on the prey with grunts and groans.  They hunt in droves to win their prize and whisk it away supported by other pack beasts

Neanderthal Prop?

Neanderthal Prop?

thundering down the pitch. Diving and coveting the quarry so no-one else can take it; whilst opposing creatures maul each other in a bid to steal away the prey.    A quick span of the watching crowd reveal vividly preened and painted females cheering on the brutality taking place in front of them.  The prize, in this instance is not the chance to win the love, ownership or dominance of the female spectators but a title which will elevate their prominence and their masculinity until the next competition.

In fact all games, hockey, football, tennis have an element of raw brutality, courage and dominance about them.  The Olympic games, the world cups even inter club competitions are all about being the best, the king of the pride, the undisputed top dog.   Winners not born to this elevated position; win by strength, determination and often sacrifice.  When the time comes, and it will come they will lose to younger fitter adversaries as their vitality falters.

The highly emotive and controversial sport of hunting is another battle of prehistoric supremacy lingering on into modern sport.  A team of contemporary well turned out hunters chasing down not; an unsuspecting ball but a cunning  fox or swift stag.  Opposition protesters protecting the prey who will go to devious extremes to prevent the chase.  Protesting has  evolved now taking its place as part of this quick thinking sport, where  three sides do battle;  hunters, protesters and prey and in this case  it is not always the hunters who win, often the quick thinking cunning can outwit the brawn and magnitude of an advancing hunt.   How many protesters will go home and catch the highlights of the six nation matches later on.      Watching and cheering as the bloodied winners leave the pitch in triumph when hours before their prize as antagonists was preventing the bloodied winners catching from prey.

Of course I feel blessed that my children do not behave in this pre-historic, grunting and intimidating manner.

Although watching No 1 Son playing rugby there are some very similar stances, builds and grunts.  The thunder on the pitch as they stampede towards another try before meeting the opposition with a deafening crunch is definitely reminiscent of the charge from out of control wildebeest. Thankfully No 1 Son’s team-mates are able to revert back from their animalistic instincts following a shower and cooked meal as do the international players.

I am assured by parents and friends alike that the grunts and shoulder shrugging along with the fierce dagger looks from Middle son is perfectly normal and he will grow out of it rather than regress further into caveman mentality.   Maybe if he played more rugby he could channel his barbaric behaviour into something constructive.  His rugby coach is certainly impressed when he finds time to turn up.

Meanwhile Mini Son is still perfecting the art of defending his ball before kicking it past the goalie to score.  Being the fastest and the best at football in the whole school is the only prize he desires. Sexy Sporty Dad and I are immensely proud that he has been chosen to represent the local Area Athletics Academy; one of only 9 to have been picked from hundreds who train weekly. I am not sure how the animal adrenaline will spur him but feel without a ball in front of him his focus will not quite be as motivated.

Having sat through two brutal demonstrations of supremacy and violence I have missed the Saturday afternoon Catherine Cookson weepie on Yesterday; one of the multi channels I could have inflicted on my family had I won the remote control.   Maybe if I am cunning and think like the prey I can hide the remote before the beginning of the Sunday game.  I can then enjoy a serious weep together with my box of Kleenex and a hot water bottle.

Writing

I am quite excited that I have actually managed to do some writing.  It was not a press release or a blog it was a short story.   I was given a brief for a story between 1500 and 1700 words relating to a valentines card for a competition.  I thought I might have a go and laboriously managed to get 600 forced words down setting the scene and describing my characters, without knowing where the story was going.   For a couple of days I pondered and added a few words till at 900 I gave up.  I left the characters pondering the card sorry I could not do them more justice.

Two days later the story had mulled and churned through my daily routine, I had tarnished passers-by with the characteristic flaws and failings of my heroine and her workmates.   I re-read the story.  I cut whole chunks as I went, adding in little phrases that had been brimming over the days, to the now growing text.  I became the heroine receiving the unwanted card but why and who from.    I added in all the possible senders filling in little tit bits of information and back fill.  Suddenly I was in full flight and had to finish the story but I was still unsure of who the card came from.

Time now to reveal the sender; the words just tumbled out surprising me as much as any future reader.   I suspect the novel I am reading at the moment may have something to do with the surprise.  I didn’t even realise that I had thought that seriously about the subject except as a background to my current reading. There it was though out and on the page.

My feeble 900 words had developed and expanded into 2641.  I have pared it down now to 1720 with judicious editing but where to lose those extra 20 words.  I feel like a slimmer who has reached a plateau just before her final target weight although I wish it was that easy to slim without noticing it.    I still have a few days before the competition closes so will see what my writing group think.  I may not even send it off as I don’t ever do very well at these things.  The fact remains that I have managed to write and come up with a passable piece of fiction.   If I could only find the same inspiration to finish my re-edit of Memories, it may actually see the inside of a publisher’s office.

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Roast Crackling Pork



Once upon a time in our household I was the only person to like crackling.  Unfortunately; but maybe better for my waistline as I grow older, the whole family now loves it.  

Ingredients 
Good joint of pork 
salt
olive oil 
onions 
cooking apples 
water 



I cut the apples in half and the onion into quarters, this will depend on how many you are using.  Place in a roasting dish as a table.


Check how the skin is scored. I find I need to cut it to the ends and more thinly than the butcher has done.     

Then smooth the skin with olive oil and salt.  Place on top of your bed of apples.

Add the water to the base of the roasting tray.   It can cover the apples and onions but should not cover the pork. 


Put it in the oven for about 40 minutes (depending on the size) on high 240C/ gas 9. The skin should turn into wonderfully crisp crackling.   Keep the dish topped with water to stop the joint drying out and the apples and onions from burning.


Cover the roasting dish and turn the heat right down to about 150C/gas 2 and leave for about 3 1/2 hours.



You don’t need to carve the joint it just falls to pieces and melts in the mouth.   Take it out at least 30 minutes before carving to let it rest.   It gives you a chance to wack the heat right up again for those deliciously crispy roasties!



Serve with all the trimmings, roast potatoes, veg and cider gravy.   

Taking out the  apple and onions from the roasting dish and transferring them to a small bowl you now have your pre-made apple sauce.  The onions should have sweetened the apples but a touch of sugar could be added if still required.

 I use the roasting tray to make the gravy, scraping up all the little bits for added flavour.  Cider goes well instead of wine in this or use a little apple juice. 

Enjoy and let me how you adapt this

Tiggy

Find out what I am up to in my other blog  Tiggy Hayes



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