Beetroot and chocolate muffins

I found a fab recipe on the BBC Good Food website for a Blitz and bake beetroot and chocolate cake and I had been using it only slightly modified for a good few months.

20150812_094616[1]The results were certainly edible, my boys scoffing a whole batch in less than a week. However, it was always a very messy experience as the mix was extremely runny, and that’s an understatement.

So I have hacked the recipe, by adding some extra flour and adding a dash more chocolate powder along with cutting the amount of sugar.  I am now then, left with this:

1 pack of (Sainsbury’s) vacuum packed beetroot (250g)

200g (9 oz) caster sugar

A good shake of cocoa powder to taste (perhaps not as much as 100g or 4 1/2 oz)

350g (12oz) plain flour

A good whack of baking powder – at least a teaspoon

3 large eggs – Free Range of course!

2 lids full vanilla essence

200ml (about a third of a pint) of good quality oil – I use rape seed oil

100g (4 1/2 oz) packet of (Sainsbury’s) chocolate chips for cooking

So there’s your ingredients. Now, as the BBC recipe says, it’s a blitz and bake, so you really do just chuck it in the mixer and blitz it before baking it! I find that putting the beetroot in first, juice and all, with a metal blade is the best way to chop it up.

Then put your plastic mixing paddle in and add the other ingredients except the eggs, oil and chocolate chips. Give them a right good spin before cracking in the three eggs and giving the whole thing a good thrash!

Finally, slow the machine right down to drizzle in the oil and then add the chocolate chips.

20150812_094655[1]I find that this produces around eighteen muffins of a decent size.  Now I’ve got a pair of six muffin baking trays so I do a twelve then a six.

I heat the oven to 180C on the fan setting and leave them until I can smell the chocolate. Usually about twenty minutes, but hey you’re an adult and you’re in charge so you decide huh?!

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Debt position – July 2015

This is my first post on my debt, although I have held the debt for five years now.
Stepchange statement Jul 15 - creditor names hidden

Initially I was able to pay a considerable amount towards the debt, but after about twelve months this became virtually impossible so I moved to making minimum payments each month. This situation persisted until April 2015 when I was at last able to increase my monthly payment to an amount which would see me paying the debt off more quickly.

Step Change are estimating that I will pay down my debt by 2020. This is just too long, so I will be looking to increase the monthly amount and also to make additional payments so that my debt free date will be Christmas 2017, i.e. just two and a half years from now. This will enable me to get on with my life again without having my ins and outs monitored by a third party.

Please visit me from time to time to see how I’m getting on.

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There has been a great deal of talk about the BBC in the recent couple of weeks. Let me explain my position on the organisation.

As I commented way back in 2010 on this website I believe that it is an important arbiter of the quality of TV output across the range of TV companies in the UK.

Of course you may be of the opinion that the BBC’s output is crap. You might disagree vehemently in paying what you would describe as a tax to watch the television, especially when you don’t watch the BBC. There are countless other reasons and arguments for wishing the BBC to be hobbled, to have its remit reduced. Some of them are valid; some are not.

One reason that is so invalid and, dare I say it, anti democratic is to assist the other TV companies. I’m not going to name names, but I do hope that you will know exactly which individual, which organisation, believes that he / it stands to gain most from the downgrading of the presence of the BBC.

Imagine too the irony, oh the irony, when George Osborne criticised the ‘Imperial reach’ of the BBC’s website on the Andrew Marr show on the Sunday before the budget just gone. Imperial reach from a man representing a governing party which cannot gather more than a quarter of the available votes in the country. Pfft!

Anyway, moving swiftly on, although not too far… In these days of austerity, I have had to make sacrifices in my household budget. One of these sacrifices has been to cut out the pay TV subscription. One thing that I have not cut out is my TV Licence. There is a simple reason for this. It is the width, length and depth and let’s face it, the sheer quality of stuff put out by the BBC. Yes, I watch ITV and Channel 4 and I have even been known to take a peek at Channel 5.

Since I made the decision to stop receiving pay TV channels I have been subject to a sustained broadside of marketing material from them. Phone calls and glitzy sales documents offering me half price subscriptions for twelve months and even, yes, wait for it… a 32″ Samsung TV. It is as unwelcome as it is unwanted, but I have no option but to grin and bear it – something to do with my marketing preferences?! Some people may feel the same way about paying their TV Licence fee, I get that. However, for the money paid out in order to avoid the knock on the door from the TV Licence Detector Man (TM), the return is beyond comparison.

Hands off the BBC, you odious ideologues.

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Can I make money with Qustodian?

Answer, yes. Very definitely.

With a host of top notch, dare I say it, Blue Chip partners, ranging from Audi, through Vodafone to Nokia, Universal and Nivea there will be an advert for everybody that whether or not they buy will spark their interest and earn them a few pennies.

And, as my mum used to say, ‘if you look after the pennies, the pounds look after themselves.’ True words mother, true words.

Click here to give it a whirl.

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Not taking summer job as a street sweeper in 19**

This one is more than just a little indicative of how I struggled as a teenager. Low confidence issues meant that this job was one that there was just no way I was going to take.

But how did it come about?  Well, it was during the summer between my first and second years at University. For the summer before my first year I had worked in a local, wait for it… cottage cheese factory. So, this time I fancied a change.  One of Mum’s friends worked for the local council in the waste disposal department.  So, she arranged an interview for me – as a bin man.  I quite fancied this job, so I was happy to turn up for the interview.

What I was offered when I got there was something just a little different.  What they actually wanted was for me to operate as a street sweeper and picker-upper of rubbish off the streets.

As I look back on the debacle now, I am more than a little regretful.  My decision to say no thanks and walk out was the wrong one. What benefit would it have given me?  Well, it would have made me a stronger, tougher person; that much is undeniable. Dealing with the general public on a day-to-day basis in such a role would have made elevated my self-confidence to a level which may have had changed my whole life.  Plus, imagine some of the stories which which I could have regaled my mates both immediately afterwards and ever since.

But I turned the opportunity down and got a job at last year’s factory, this time dealing with Munch Bunch yogurts. Confidence remained unchanged and another chance to push myself out of my comfort zone voluntarily had gone.

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Bl@@dy Petrol Pumps

Having been a driver of diesel cars for most of my car owning life, it has come as quite a shock to me when I have had to fill up my petrol car.  I cannot for the life of me get the bloody pump to work consistently.

For some reason, wherever I fill up, it takes an age as whenever I try to increase the pressure on the pump trigger it cuts out on me.  I have tried rotating the nozzle in the petrol tank almost through 360 degrees.  I have tried to push the nozzle in as far as humanly possible.  I have risked getting my feet wet by pulling the nozzle out a little. All to no avail.

Boo and indeed hoo…

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Damon Albarn, R6 Music Festival 28/2/14

On Friday 28 February 2014 cosmicjellybaby and his Lady enjoyed their time at the Radio 6 Music Festival at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse.  With two stages featuring a total of twelve acts between 4.15 pm and nearly eleven o’clock, the highlight was Damon Albarn’s set with his new band the Heavy Seas.  Yes, it’s a cliché, but as headline act for the first day of the two day festival, then surely that was only to be expected.  Again, well yes, but boy did he and his band, the Heavy Seas, deliver.

Starting with the title track from his new album, Everyday Robots, there really was no stopping our Damon.  I was a big fan of Blur (yes, and Oasis too), but I’m not so familiar with an awful lot of his work since (Gorillaz included).  I could therefore, have been a little disappointed that there wasn’t a great deal of Blur material.  However, I’m forty-four, not as self-indulgent as I used to be and this was a 6 music event, so I knew that this wasn’t going to be a Blur fest.  Furthermore, being stood within five metres of Albarn added to my enjoyment – I think perhaps that this was perhaps the greatest appeal of the whole event.

As for the gig itself, Damon Albarn conducted himself without any of the airs and graces which perhaps could be ascribed to a pop star.  He was up front about the fact that the gig was the first time that he and the Heavy Seas had played together.  It’s a strange paradox perhaps, but the overriding impression that I left the arena with was his humbleness.  These are some new songs, with my new band, I hope you like them… and us.

Set list:

Everyday Robots
Lonely Press Play
Tomorrow Comes Today (Gorillaz song)
The Selfish Giant (Live debut)
You and Me
On Melancholy Hill (Gorillaz song)
Hollow Ponds
Photographs (You Are Taking Now)
Kingdom of Doom (The Good, the Bad & the Queen song)
All Your Life (Blur song) (B-side from the Blur track, Beetlebum)

Encore (slightly delayed after drummer, Pauli The PSM, had put his foot through a drum skin):
Mr. Tembo (Live debut)
El Mañana (Gorillaz song)
Heavy Seas of Love (Live debut)

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Morrissey – Autobiography

I was given Morrissey’s autobiography, cunningly titled Autobiography, as a gift for my 44th birthday recently.

Now he does come across as a cantankerous old sod, but from reading this it would appear that an awful lot of the public’s view of him is garnered from some really quite spiteful reporting in both the mainstream press and the music press. Who’s to say if all, some of it or none of it is deserved.  It’s refreshing to hear it from his point of view.

One thing cannot be taken away from Steven Patrick Morrissey, and that is the fact that he is one of the most important cultural icons of the last thirty years.  Of course some people have got themselves all hot and bothered over the book’s branding, but again, this is mostly down to the large amounts of hubris spouted about him, than any actual intent on his part… I’d say.


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Stop dreaming of the quiet life

So here am I, Saturday morning, attempting to get out before it starts bloody raining again.

So, why, you ask, I am sat typing this?  I have no logical or plausible answer to that question.  It’s as likely as not that I’m struck by the need to put something on my blog.  I am, as it were an inconsistent blogger.

My regular visitor(s) will have noticed that there are plenty of Daily Mash articles – all of them very funny – but not nearly enough from me.  No doubt Google Ads will notice soon, and my account with them will be suspended.

Not that that should be too much of a problem, as I’m just not making the bucks from that particular income stream. Or, in actual fact from any income stream whatever!

Anyway, enough of this nonsense.  It’s back to work on Monday after a week off with the teen / almost-teen fruit of my loins.  It’s been a curious sort of week.  They have been with me this week, and I have been cursing the fact that I can’t watch what I want to on the telly and I can’t “go on the computer” when ever I want to. But now they’re back at their mother’s for the week and it’s, like, kinda too quiet here…

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