Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for October, 2013

Tip of the Week – Cheese Sauce

With cheese being so expensive this simple little addition to cheese sauce makes the taste deeper and appear cheesier but by using less.

As you make your roux (butter and flour) add a dollop of dijon mustard to the mix.  

Continue with your sauce.

Add boiling milk rather than cold in small batches to help the silky smoothness of the sauce. This works for in all bechamel sauces.

Then use a strong / mature cheese to give lots of flavour without using too much cheese.

If you are using this as a topping (lasagne/moussaka)  beat two eggs really well, allow the sauce to cool slightly before mixing them in well.  This will give a richer taste and give it a light fluffy feel to the topping.  You can still add a light sprinkling of cheese on top but the eggs will brown nicely.

Hold that Front Page!

I have always wanted to say that, in the same way I want to jump in a London Cab and yell “follow that cab”.    I have to say that I did achieve the cab one a few years ago, not quite in the dramatic action packed fever of a Bond film or spy thriller but a group of us stood in the rain waiting to go to some event or other.  As you can see it was most unmemorable and dull but the essence was it was pouring and we didn’t want to walk.  

We hailed two passing cabs, half got in the first and I led a smaller group to the second with of course the immortal words “follow that cab”.  The story maybe needs some spicing up and a little more drama than just a bit of rain.   More importantly, I seized the moment rather than later on realising the lost opportunity.  So often in life the right retort or repartee springs to mind only later whilst reliving the eloquent rhetoric of the ‘could have been’ conversation or moment; too late to do anything useful with it.

Dreams and ambition I have loads of, but how many are really achievable number far fewer.  Those dependent on my numbers coming up on the Euro Millions are very unlikely but are there in case I need the plan when it finally happens.   Imagine being caught out winning millions and not knowing what to do with it.  Ooh – just imagine.   The same plans will hold when I get my act together and Memories is published and goes global becoming a best seller with a commission for the next in the series.

Currently just getting through the mountain of work is ambitious enough with the printers baying for my magazine and my late delivery meaning I cannot get it back when I want it back.   Finally this month I had uploaded it,  with relief I settled to that aftermath of self-congratulatory down time I admit to relishing in.    It was late in the afternoon when a pang of unease hit me, an inability to settle made me re-open my mail box to read the mail.

We have a clearer picture now is it too late to do an editorial?

This was the breaking news I had been waiting for over the last three months – the papers had not got wind of it, my competitors had not heard about it and it was not even being bandied about on facebook.  I had the scoop of my editorial career but I had already gone to print.

Hold the front page! Hold the back page and hold everything in the middle –  The printers managed to stop the plating up process.  Frantic calls back and forth discussing if it could now be changed, how quickly could we get the story to the printers if it could.

I designed, the advertisers wrote, I edited, the printers waited.   The children arrived home tired and hungry wanting of all things tea.   Short on extra vocabulary they soon got the message they had to fend for themselves.

I changed the wording slightly, I viewed it from afar, I viewed it from close up.  I changed the font and tried differing fonts, I converted it to a jpeg image, back to publisher and then PDF format.  Finally I was happy it was good to go.  I uploaded; then I breathed.


A long slow breath filling my lungs which had been starved of regular oxygen intake as I realised my heart was racing and I had been holding my breath.  For how long I did not know; I would imagine I had taken various breaths in the last hour and half and just hung onto them.   I felt dizzy with the rush of oxygen to the lungs then the brain. I felt sick to the stomach with the sudden surge of dissipating adrenaline that left me weak and jittery.  I felt elated with emotion that we had managed to succeed with our breaking story.

A bucket of tea drunk with shaking hands concentrating hard on just raising the cup, sipping it slowly and then breathing deeply.

Another dream realised.  I had another first fulfilled and another never to be repeated heart stalling, adrenaline filled, total focus moment accomplished.   I take my hat off to all those newspaper editors whose lives must be filled with such moments.  Do they actually get used to it or does the regular lack of oxygen supply finally send them loopy?


True life is interwoven with so many threads stretching out before they knit themselves back into our life fabric.  I don’t believe in coincidences but I do believe in fate,  although…..   Imagine my delight half way through this blog when I again held up the publication this time of the post to the internet to read an e-mail just coming through.

I am delighted to tell you that your Take A Break World contribution has been chosen for publication in Take a Break and appears in TAB1344, which goes on sale 24/10/13.  Your £75 cheque will follow in approximately six weeks’ time.

Had I read that right:  ‘has been chosen for publication’,  ‘your contribution’.  Did they mean my contribution, something I had sent to them.   Was it something of mine they were going to publish in a magazine, a proper magazine, one that people pay money out to buy magazine.   It dawned on me that again I was holding my breath as read and re-read the email.  My hands were shaking as I took the laptop upstairs to show Sexy Sporty Dad.

Following my inspirational trip to Swanwick I had sent off various fillers to magazines in a bid to pay for next year’s trip.   This may not be quite the same as having my book accepted by a publisher but it was earning, earning from something I had sent out.   It was a filler,  the first to be accepted and the start of my 2014 Swanwick fund.  Sexy Sporty Dad slightly less amused to be woken up with the news suddenly commented “they are paying you how much?”

Maybe I can convince him there is money to be had in this writing lark after all and he will let me give up all my other jobs.



Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at





Stir Fry Veg

How often do we have odd vegetables left over; not quite enough to feed the whole family but you don’t want to throw them out? In my house they sit there and fester and end up being thrown out and I am annoyed at the waste and that I have not used them in something. 

A curry or a stew can take any left over vegetables cut up small and added to the pot.   One of my favourite methods however is stir frying them with sweet chilli sauce at the last minute and then serving them with the main meal.

Necessary ingredients 
Onions  chopped finely 
Ginger chopped small 
Garlic chopped small
Sweet Chilli Sauce 
Spinach and or Watercress  -This is added at the very end and not cooked

Optional ingredients 
Carrots sliced
Green beans sliced
Courgettes sliced
Red and Green peppars
Fennel, Mange Tout, Celeriac cut very small 
Bacon Lardons 
Chilli chopped small depending on how hot you like it
Button Mushrooms or larger Mushrooms cut into small chunks 

Have all your vegetables ready chopped so you can concentrate on stir frying, take you eye off it and that is the point it will burn.   I find a wok the most useful pan for this , but a frying pan will do the job just as well.

We like the freshness of this dish and the crunch of vegetables. You can pre-boil the vegetables if you want but remember you take away the texture and goodness if you do this.  I don’t pre-cook them for this recipe.

About 5 minutes before serving heat the oil then add the onions and garlic to fry gently.  

Add the remaining vegetables,  root veg first with lighter vegetables at the end.  Keep the spinach and watercress out at this time.   If you are using bacon add it early as it requires thorough cooking.  Cut up small enough it will cook very quickly.  

Keep stirring  adding the other vegetables (keeping back the watercress and spinach still) as you stir.

Just before serving add in the sweet chilli sauce and make sure all the vegetables are coated.  You do not need a lot. 

Turn the heat off and put in the Spinach and Watercress, stir gently. Cover the pan and take to the table.  The steam and heat will wilt these leaves and allow them to retain all their goodness and vibrant colour.

Serve as a side dish or as a topping for baked potatoes. 

We had it with Risotto.   My children will not eat risotto with any additions so instead I add a separate dish and serve it as a topping. They are quite happy with this – so am I.  Not only do the children eat their vegetables, I have cleared the fridge of all the odds and ends.  

I have sometimes added left over cooked vegetables at the last minute as well.

See how this goes down.  It also would be great for a student all in one pot – add some sliced new potatoes (pre-boiled if possible) and keep the bacon, then use the vegetables available.    They could add kale or  spring greens a few seconds before end if they cannot get watercress or spinach.  

Let me know any other combinations that could be added.  I have served it with bbq sauce instead of sweet chilli, as a warm side salad to burgers or sausages.


See how life is treating us in  my other blog Tiggy Hayes

Tag Cloud