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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Comfort Food #6: Perfect Full English

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I usually include scrummy sweet desserts and puddings as part of my comfort food recipes for Nostalgia Pie and my incredibly sweet tooth is to blame for that! If ever I need a dose of good old fashioned comfort, sugar hits the spot remarkably well and as I’ve overindulged my sweet tooth over the years, most sugary things make me feel quite nostalgic.

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However, for the first time, I’m including a savoury dish: The full English. Also known as a fry up or heart attack on a plate! the full English is thankfully not a thing of the past. It is very much alive and kicking and served in cafes, pubs and restaurants up and down the country and due to it’s ever increasing popularity – even now when we are constantly reminded of healthy eating concepts – it will be for years to come. Fry ups are an iconic part of any English menu and are as synonymous with England as fish and chips or Yorkshire pudding. Tourists visit England hoping to sample this dish as part of their British experience.

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A traditional full English consists of bacon, eggs, sausages, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, fried bread or toast, and quite often a potato component such as bubble and squeak or hash browns. It is served with a hot drink such as tea or coffee. Fry ups vary slightly depending on which region in the United Kingdom it is being served.

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A full English breakfast was always a firm favourite in our household, especially with my dad. As we were a family of six, there obviously wasn’t time for such a major blow out during the week, so it would be saved for Sunday brunch instead. Also, along with a cappuccino and an effervescent berroca tablet, I found it to be the perfect hangover cure!

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And I really missed it during the time I spent in the States. Don’t get me wrong, American breakfasts are amazing and I loved tucking into them but there were times when only a full English would do and even though Americans are aware of our super greasy delight, it was very hard to come by in the cafes and restaurants in health conscious Portland, Oregon. Of course, I could have just made it myself at home but the ingredients tasted a lot different in the States than they did at home. Even though there were what seemed like fifty seven varieties of bacon and sausage, it wasn’t the same as what we got at home, so I much preferred to serve them with waffles or pancakes for breakfast as it seemed to accompany them much better.

However, a fry up isn’t just a breakfast food. It’s way too delicious to only be served at one time of the day. It makes a great lunch or dinner, especially if served with chips. Cafes in the United Kingdom often include it on their menus as an ‘all day breakfast.’ Fry ups often have a reputation for being calorie-laden; artery clogging and extremely unhealthy so naturally it’s not something you would want to serve up everyday.

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But there are ways in which you can cook a full English so that it a lot healthier but still as yummy. It depends on the quality of the ingredients used and also despite its name, ‘fry ups’ don’t have to be fried! The recipe I’m going to use is my own and it’s always been a hit with everyone – even if I say so myself! The majority of components in this dish are grilled or oven cooked so it’s much better for you. The egg could also be poached if you wish to further reduce the amount of fried components you have on your plate. Any variety of bacon, sausage and bread can be used although I recommend cutting a slice of bread from an unsliced loaf as I find the slices in most pre-cut loaves too thin.

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So whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner, I hope you enjoying cooking Dark Angel’s healthy(ish) Full English!

Dark Angel’s Full English

For one person

INGREDIENTS:

2 bacon rashers
1 sausage
1 egg
1 slice black pudding
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 tomato, halved
1 handful of button mushrooms, sliced thickly
1 thick slice of bread
Baked Beans
Butter
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Dried herbs of your choice
Salt and pepper (optional)
Ketchup and/or brown sauce

METHOD:

  1. Add a splash of lemon juice, some salt and pepper to the sliced mushrooms.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 390 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Lightly grease an ovenproof dish with some olive oil. Season potatoes with salt, pepper and dried herbs. Add a splash of olive oil and place in oven.
  4. Preheat grill, and after about 10 minutes, start grilling bacon, sausages and black pudding.
  5. Butter both sides of bread.
  6. After 10 minutes, place tomato halves under grill.
  7. Cook egg as preferred.
  8. Place sliced mushrooms under the grill.
  9. In a heated pan, start frying slice of bread so it is lightly brown on both sides.
  10. Heat baked beans,
  11. When all components are ready, take off heat and put on plate.
  12. Serve with ketchup and/or brown sauce and EAT!!!

REMEMBER:

A full English might appear easy enough to implement but timing is the key to delivering a successful dish. With so many components, all of which have different cooking times, it can be tricky. Always keep an eye on each component as it is being cooked.

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Indiana Jones And The Chocolate Orange

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I’ve seen many television adverts for Terry’s Chocolate Orange over the years (It’s not Terry’s; it’s mine) but one from my childhood – with which I have since become reacquainted – is definitely my favourite. It’s an absolute classic! I was very young when this first appeared on our screens in the early 1980s but I remembered it instantly.

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This witty advert was first shown in the 1980s and clearly took it’s inspiration from the Indiana Jones films which were a big hit during that decade. Viewers see a wife going out with her friends whilst leaving her husband, George, home alone. The wife’s friend even asks if it’s OK to leave George alone in the house with the Chocolate Orange to which the wife replies that it’s quite safe – while George is peering out through the window.

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Once his wife and her companions are out of sight, George goes in search of the Chocolate Orange and discovers that it is hidden in a cave. Much like a comic version of the character Indiana Jones, George has to dodge spears, go over a pit and finds the Chocolate Orange on a pedestal. Just as he thinks he’s home and dry, a giant rock rolls towards him. Even now it’s quite amusing.

Actor John Ringham

Actor John Ringham

The late John Ringham played the reluctant hero in the advert and he was already a big name in the 1970s and 1980s due to his numerous appearances in many of the era’s popular shows including Z Cars; Are You Being Served; Up Pompeii; Birds Of A feather; The Bill and Juliet Bravo. He was best remembered for his long running role as Norman Warrender in Just Good Friends but Ringham continued to be a very popular and much loved actor right up until his passing in 2008.

There have been many television adverts for Terry’s Chocolate Orange over the years with some of the most popular featuring the lovely Dawn French in the late 1990s. But the Indiana Jones style advert for Chocolate Orange was equally popular in its time and its effectiveness is evident in the fact that even today it is well remembered and loved. The slogan for Terry’s Chocolate Orange has changed many times over the years and Terry’s have always done a great job with their taglines but back then it was ‘How safe is Yours?’

A very entertaining advert. A great shame they don’t make ads like that any more.

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Bum Deal With Bum Bags

Fanny Pack. I mean, er, bum bag!

Fanny Pack. I mean, er, bum bag!

Honestly, Hubby and I do have riveting conversations but the other night for some reason the topic of conversation was er, bumbags! Hubby was shocked to discover that in England they are called bumbags. I was shocked to discover that in America, they are called fanny packs. Hubby was shocked when I told him what fanny meant in England. I, in return was shocked, when he told me that in America, fanny meant bum. It was a night of shocking revelations indeed. Christmas Eastenders had nothing on us!

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It dawned on both of us that as popular as they were in the 1980s and early 1990s, they now seem to have vanished off the face of the earth. With the exception of someone I trained with back in January who wore one everyday (we have no idea why!) nobody owns a bum bag/fanny pack anymore. Or at least nobody we know. To be honest, I’m not surprised. They may have been the height of fashion at one time but to be honest they were a bit naff! I’m not sure why, but I never actually owned one though I did want a bum bag as everyone had one and they seemed to be really cool. The closest I got to having a bum bag was the purse belt I had to wear as part of my school uniform when I started secondary school. I was thrilled when I first got my purse belt… but the novelty soon wore off.

Mr. Motivator was a fan

Mr. Motivator was a fan

As handy as I’m sure they are, especially for runners, joggers and other sporty types, I don’t generally see the point of a bum bag. Surely that’s what pockets and regular bags are for. I am surprised to discover that bum bags are still readily available; production has not ceased. You just have to go online to see the huge variety available.I just haven’t seen them in stores for years. And with the exception of that one person, I haven’t seen anyone wearing them. However, the fact that they are still being made means that someone is buying them. But the question is, who?

If I ever change my mind about bum bags, this is the one I'm most likely to wear

If I ever change my mind about bum bags, this is the one I’m most likely to wear

Answers on a postcard please!

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Childhood Cup Drinks

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Does anyone else remember those cup drinks we used to buy from newsagents which cost around 10p ? They were very popular in the 1980s and early 1990s. The newsagents, grocery stores and sweet shops used to have several shelves lined with these soft drinks that came in little plastic, round or square shaped plastic cups with vertical ridges completely covering the sides of the cup. They were then topped with a sealed PVC lid which you had to pierce with a drinking straw, which would be obtained from behind the counter once we’d paid. They came in various fruit flavours, with my favourite being the raspberry. However, in over a decade, I don’t think I’ve set eyes on a single one of these drinks and wondered what had happened to them. Until yesterday…

PVC lid

PVC lid

I walked into what is now my new local chippy and saw the bottom shelf of the fridge stacked with these drinks in orange, raspberry and bubble gum flavours. There were the old school square cups which were exactly as I remember them but there was also a more slim line round version which looked similar to the round cups from my childhood but they were probably narrower with less ridging on them. It was like being reunited with a long lost friend! I couldn’t believe that after so long, I finally got to find them again and it’s great to know that not everything from my childhood has been wiped out.

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Admittedly they weren’t very good for you but they were a permanent fixture in my lunch box. In a world where drinks came in bottles or cartons – with the odd pouch, thank you Capri Sun – the cups really stood out. They were a hit with all kids back then and we loved how they changed the colour of our tongues! I’m not really sure when their popularity started to decline but I’m sure it had something to do with them being unhealthy and additive ridden.

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It’s probably not a good thing that I’m pleased that they’re making a possible comeback. And even though I wouldn’t recommend them to be drunk everyday, I don’t think the odd treat will do any harm. They may be meant for younger children but I reckon big kids like me are entitled to a cup drink every once in a while too!

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Fresh Cream Cakes Ads: Naughty But Nice!

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I often stumble across things from my childhood years which not only have I forgotten about but now that I’ve rediscovered them, I can’t believe I ever forgot them in the first place! I often get asked why I started this blog and here’s the reason why: I love unearthing things from my forgotten past and the excited buzz I get from it as I go, “ooh! I remember that!” And from some of the comments I’ve received, I know that I’m not the only one. Good old fashioned nostalgia – you just can’t beat it!

Larry Grayson advertises yummy cream cakes

Larry Grayson advertises yummy cream cakes

So I could hardly contain my excitement when I came across the television commercials for cream cakes from the 1980s (though they began in the 1970s but I won’t remember those) which had the ‘naughty but nice!’ slogan. I remember seeing these on television when I was very young – during a time when television ads were as entertaining as the actual television shows themselves! Watching them again, many, many years later, it seemed to me initially as though they were advertising cream cakes in general and not cream cakes by a particular brand. What they were actually doing was advertising dairy – and the ideology that it was OK to treat yourself to something wickedly calorific every now and again.

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Back in the 1970s and 1980s there was a television and press advertisement campaign of which cream cakes were the subject. This ad campaign was sponsored by The National Dairy Council in association with the now defunct Milk Marketing Board. I was also surprised to learn that the ‘naughty but nice!’ slogan was coined by a humble, little known, young copywriter named Salman Rushdie!

Les Dawson

Les Dawson

The television commercials featured a host of the day’s well known stars including Larry Grayson, Les Dawson and the ever popular Barbara Windsor. As much as I am in favour of healthy eating which is very much the consensus in the twenty first century, I think it’s so deliciously refreshing to come across a campaign telling the public that it’s all right to indulge yourself every once in a while. I remembered the advert featuring Barbara Windsor especially well which surprised me a great deal as I was only little back then – well even more little than I am now! It brought back a lot of memories – not to mention hunger pains so I will be off to track down some yummy – or naughty but nice I should say – cream cakes!

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The Coolest Pyramint In The World

I love having “ooh, I remember that” moments. The memory of something long forgotten hits me like a tidal wave and brings out my inner child. And one thing that took me back to days gone by was a commercial I stumbled across for Terry’s Pyramint. They may be better known for their Chocolate Orange – which thankfully is still in production and I’ve just remembered I have one tucked away for later – but back in the 1980s, Terry launched the Pyramint. Resembling an Egyptian pyramid – hence the name- it was made with dark chocolate and the hollow pyramid was then filled with a mint flavoured fondant, similar to that in an After Eight mint. It was also available in the form of chocolate bars containing pyramid segments.

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Even though I remember Pyramints – and I instantly remembered the television commercial when I saw it again – I cannot recall the taste of Pyramint which is a great pity. I do remember, when learning about the ancient Egyptians at infant school, that they built things called Pyramints – just like the chocolates! The pyramid shape is quite unusual for a chocolate and as far as I can recall, I haven’t seen a pyramid shaped chocolate since Pyramint.

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Pyramint was most definitely a unique concept and there wasn’t anything remotely like it around at the time of production. Researching the origins of Pyramint showed that Terry’s had noticed that there was a demand for fondant filled chocolate eggs which were a hit especially at Easter. But Terry’s wanted to produce a non-seasonal filled chocolate so came up with the pyramid shape idea.

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Terry’s discontinued Pyramint just before the 1990s which is such a shame, at least for me because mint and chocolate is one of my favourite flavour combinations. I also loved the pretty green packaging which was quite unique. The small pyramid shaped cardboard box, featured the design of chocolate coloured palm tree silhouettes against a deep green background. One side of the of the pyramid would open for the chocolate to slide out. Those I spoke to who remember Pyramint also recalled the fabulous minty aroma as the box was open and how thick the chocolate walls of the Pyramint were.

Wrapper for Pyramint bars.

Wrapper for Pyramint bars.

Apparently, despite being quite successful on launch, Pyramints didn’t last very long in shops and quickly disappeared due to being quite expensive (between fifty to seventy pence) and they were not easy to eat due to it’s unusual shape. It was not unheard of to end up with a faceful of minty goo!

However, I really would love to see this unusual chocolate back on store shelves. Maybe I should go on a mission to convince Terry’s to relaunch Pyramint.

Come on Terry’s – bring back Pyramint! I would buy them for sure!

 

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Morgan’s Head No Longer On The New Kid’s Block

Piers Morgan’s account of how he reached a truce with New Kids On The Block’s Donnie Wahlberg brought back a lot of memories. According to Morgan, his feud with the iconic pop band didn’t match other long running battles in terms of ‘ferocity or global reach’. Well surely no one would be foolish enough to try and do battle with the five bad brothers from the bean-town land? Especially when one of those brothers was toughnut Wahlberg.

Piers Morgan

Piers Morgan

Relations between the New Kids and Morgan had started out friendly enough but took an unpleasant turn when the 1980s pop phenomenon were angered by things Morgan had written about them. Miffed at Morgan’s ‘lack of respect’ for the New Kids, Wahlberg took to the stage at Wembley wearing a t-shirt with the words ‘PIERS MORGAN SUCKS’ emblazoned across it. He then instructed the thousands of Blockheads present not to read anything written by the lovely Mr. Morgan.

NKOTB: The best boy band ever!

NKOTB: The best boy band ever!

Piers Morgan recently revealed the full extent of the New Kids’ venom due the less than flattering things he had written about them. They retaliated by banning him from their shows; there was a bust up at a press conference which led to Wahlberg being led away and of course there was the ‘PIERS MORGAN SUCKS’ t-shirt among other heated exchanges during that period. Of course, as a massive New Kids fan (always will be!) it’s safe to say that Morgan was not my favourite person and his name, as far as us Blockheads were concerned, was most definitely mud (well actually something far worse than mud but we don’t need to go there!) However, this feud didn’t harm Morgan’s career in the slightest and instead helped to successfully raise his profile worldwide. Morgan described the whole debacle as “the finest moment of my pop-writing career.”

Donnie Wahlberg: Would you want to start a fight with this man?

Donnie Wahlberg: Would you want to start a fight with this man?

In 1994 when the New Kids were making the first of their two comebacks and announced that they wanted to be known as NKOTB, they appeared on Clive Warren’s Capital Radio show – which I had waited all week to listen to – where the offending (for Morgan anyway) garment was mentioned. Warren wanted to know if Donnie had patched things up with Piers Morgan.

“Well, there’s really nothing to patch up,” insisted Wahlberg, “I didn’t know him then and I don’t know him now.” Wahlberg, quite reasonably, accepted that as much as he wanted to smack the likes of Morgan for writing such unflattering articles, he understood that Morgan had a job to do and he was paid to write such stories.

Fast forward more than twenty years later (goodness, I do feel old!) and Donnie appears on Morgan’s CNN show.It appears that the hatchet – believe it or not – is well and truly buried. And not in the back of anyone’s head either! After the horrendous bomb blast at the Boston Marathon this year, the New Kids were performing at a special charity event in order to raise money for the victims. Donnie surprisingly agreed to appear on Morgan’s CNN show and felt relaxed enough to discuss the concert; how important it was to him; his love for his hometown, as well as his concern for friend and bandmate, Joey McIntyre, who was taking part in the marathon.

Morgan and Wahlberg as they appeared on Morgan's CNN show

Morgan and Wahlberg as they appeared on Morgan’s CNN show

The conversation couldn’t have been more different to the hostile words exchanged more than two decades ago: civilised, dignified and gracious, both Wahlberg and Morgan put the past behind them and developed a new found respect for each other.

And as Donnie now thinks Morgan’s a pretty cool bloke, I guess us Blockheads can all chuck out our ‘PIERS MORGAN SUCKS’ t-shirts!

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