Tag Archives: recommendation

A favourite book – 31 days of writing prompts!

Blue Heaven, by Joe Keenan!

I have a million and one favourite books, but this is one that I come back to when I need a pick-me-up. It’s hysterically funny, incredibly witty and speaks to me, somehow, which is strange when you think that it’s about the trials and tribulations of a gay Broadway writer who gets pulled into his old friend’s scheme to marry into the mafia for the wedding presents.

It’s written by Joe Keenan, who wrote some of Frasier’s best episodes and has been hailed as a new Wodehouse. I love Wodehouse, and I can see the comparison. Instead of Jeeves, the hapless Phillip Cavanaugh has his writing partner Claire, who is responsible for trying to extricate Phillip from his friend’s Gilbert’s ridiculous plans to fleece the mafia out of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of wedding presents. Gilbert, you see is the sort of person that manages to create havoc wherever he goes. As Phillip says,

“Fate, and fate alone may place the banana peel in his path, but it is Gilbert who will every time make certain that at the moment of rendezvous he’s carrying a tray laden with Baccarat crystal which he has, in order to impress a date, borrowed without the permission or knowledge of its owner, and which he’d been hoping to return in secret.”

It’s fantastic, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It has an equally amazing sequel, Putting On The Ritz, and a less than spectacular follow up, Lucky Star. I’ve only read that once, but I read the first two many time a year. They’re just that funny!


Recipe recommendation

I love cooking because I love eating. I love eating so much that I really have to work hard in 2016 to shift a ton of weight, but that is another series of angsty blog posts for you to skip over.

It’s Christmas time, and for the last few years I’ve found myself making this gorgeous popcorn recipe I found on Buzzfeed. Before I tried this, I’d never really thought of mixing sweet and savoury flavours together before. Being British I could have either maple syrup or bacon, not both together! Something about this recipe caught my eye though, and I gave it a whirl.

(Well, I gave it a whirl after I converted the American measurements into British measurements, anyway. Fahrenheit to Celsius, cups to milliliters, it takes a little time.  Oh look at us America. Two nations, divided by a completely ridiculous aversion to the metric system.)

Bacon-Peanut Caramel Corn

Makes 16 cups.

Cups? Who measures popcorn in cups?

½ cup popping corn kernels (or use 16 cups pre-popped popcorn)
1 tablespoon canola oil     I didn’t bother with this as I bought the popcorn.
1 lb sliced bacon     I just used one packet.
1 ¼ cup pure maple syrup   This is one small bottle and a third of another.
2 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts  I used a pack of unsalted cashews
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper  Whatever you do, don’t use any more!
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon kosher salt  Is this a thing in America? I just used sea salt.

Special equipment
Large (at least 4 quart) sauce pot with lid (if using pre-popped corn, you won’t need this)
Large (at least 4 quart) heatproof mixing bowl
Large skillet  Frying pan, for those of us across the pond. 
2 large baking sheets
Parchment paper or wax paper  Baking or greaseproof paper. 

1. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 300°F.  150 degrees C. 

2. To make popcorn:
In a large sauce pot, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium-low heat, then add popping corn kernels. Cover the pot, and shake to coat the kernals with oil. In about a minute, kernels will start to pop. Shake the pot, still over medium-low heat, occasionally. When the popping sound has slowed to less than 1 pop every 10 seconds, turn the heat off and uncover the pot. Pour popped corn out into the large, heatproof mixing bowl, discarding any unpopped kernels.

I used 200g of pre-popped popcorn, or two large bags from the supermarket.

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook half the bacon until the fat has rendered out and the meat is crispy. Remove cooked bacon from skillet and allow to cool on a plate or cutting board, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the rest of the bacon to the skillet, and repeat. Set aside the cooked bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the skillet.

4. With the skillet still over medium heat, add the maple syrup, peanuts, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and kosher salt, stirring to combine. Heat the mixture for about a minute, until it starts to bubble, then remove from heat and set aside.

5. Once the bacon is cool enough to handle, cut it into large strips (about 1 inch long and ¼ inch wide). Add bacon to the popcorn in the large mixing bowl, then pour the maple syrup mixture on top. Mix with a heatproof spoon or spatula, until all the popcorn is evenly coated with the maple syrup mixture.

6. Spread the popcorn out over the two baking sheets, and bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Popcorn may feel slightly soggy but will crisp as it cools.

Let the popcorn cool completely on the baking sheets (if you put it in the airtight containers to early, it’ll be soggy). Once it’s cool, divide into gift jars and cover. Popcorn will keep for five to seven days in an airtight container at room temperature.

Good luck trying to make this last five to seven days. It is so delicious it will barely last five hours! It makes a lot, but trust me, you’ll eat it all.