Super Simple Victoria Sponge

Queen Vic swore by it. Two sponges, sandwiched together with strawberry jam. Bit of cream too, if you’re that way inclined.

Mind you, if you make this with the help of a glass of Chardonnay, be warned. Go easy on the jam and cream. It might get a little over-exuberant…IMG_9212

I’m not kidding. This recipe is fool proof. You can’t go wrong.

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The Biggest Steak I Ever Ate

I’m thinking of renaming this blog ‘John’s Blog of Steaks’. It’s all I seem to be cooking right now. Steak with this. Steak with that. Being married to a vegetarian doesn’t seem to be a problem.

I mean if I decide to make ‘Steak and Beans’ then I simply make ‘Beans’ for the wife. Boom boom! (She told me to write that). So when I visited my newly discovered ‘Country Farm Shop’ I decided to go for broke and get a big steak. A really big one.

I walked up to the butcher’s counter and asked for a thicker sirloin than those on display.

‘One moment sir’, replied the man, and disappeared out the back. He was gone for five minutes.

I started wandering around, and found some chocolate covered nuts to stare at (it’s that kind of shop). He returned, with half a cow slung over his shoulder. (I really like that shop).

He cut out the relevant piece of carcass (I don’t know the butcher’s jingo, so keep with me), and placed it on the counter, holding a large cutlass, sorry knife, over the meat.

Immediately I sprung into action.

‘Keep going’, I said as he moved the knife to his left, slowly, to determine the thickness of the steak I wanted.

‘Go, on’, I continued, a slightly increased pitch in my voice betraying my growing excitement (I’ve eaten steaks at Kincaid’s in Redondo Beach, so I know what I want).

The man gave me a sideways glance (kind of, ‘For God’s sake man, this is England, have some decorum’) but the knife edged along.

‘That’s it’.

He sighed with relief.


To be clear – that’s a dinner plate, not a side plate…

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Amazing New Kitchen Tool That Will, Well, Amaze You

There are so many amazing gadgets for the kitchen, it can be difficult to prioritise. Is a KitchenAid more practical than a Magimix? Is a breadmaker more useful than an ice-cream maker?

My wife buys me kitchen related toys and gadgets, she like watching me rush into the kitchen with a new device and start rustling up creations. So it was with some not insignificant anticipation that I awaited her return from the Post Office with a ‘surprise package’.

I eagerly tore open the cardboard box and was presented with this.


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American Pancakes with Pig-Flu Free Bacon and Sausages and Chicken-Flu Free Scrambled Eggs

My oldest is currently explaining a new game on his iPad to me. It’s a global apocalyptic disease game. A map shows the spread of a disease by planes and ships criss-crossing the screen. Countries slowly turn from green to red as the epidemic takes hold.


Then the disease mutates and you watch the body count ratchet up. So, naively, I assumed the point of the game was to stop the population dying. Maybe it was even a bit educational. But no. The objective is to kill all human kind. The game tries to save people, you try to kill everyone.

The irony. There is a trend generally towards end-of-the-world films, TV, books, newspaper articles and of course ubiquitous rolling-news coverage. Should something nasty happen you will be able to watch it in real time from the comfort of your front room.

And if it does happen I will make sure my family of survivalists-in-waiting are fully prepared with a big hearty breakfast of American Pancakes with Pig-Flu Free Bacon and Sausages and Chicken-Flu Free Scrambled Eggs (I am assuming pancakes cannot act as flu transfer agents)


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Italian Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Eggs Benedict

We recently returned from a long weekend in Northern Italy. Lake Garda to be precise. I’d never been to Italy before (the wife has, she’s been everywhere, and is determined to get me to see more of the world).

Rather than playing it safe, by booking travel and accommodation through a brand holiday company we winged it – randomly booking flights and a hotel that had 4 stars and did absolutely no other preparation until the night before.

It occurred to us that although we knew how to get to Verona (the nearest airport to Lake Garda) – British Airways takes you there – we had no idea how to get from the airport to our lakeside hotel.

So I began, at about 10pm the night before our flight, to investigate how to get from Verona to ‘Gardone Riviera’, the spot we were staying in. No chance. I mean for a start all the websites were in Italian.

There was one blog, written by someone who was English (or American) and interested in the area. He had a forum where someone had written the question ‘How do you get to Lake Garda from Verona Airport by train?

Simple enough question you’d think. But this guy was one of those blogging expert types who suffers a form of pedantry restricted to  those who know more than anyone else, and are only divulging their brilliance onto the unwashed masses through sheer exasperation at the stupidity and ignorance of everyone else.

His response; ‘Which airport are you referring to? There are several around Verona’. The person who wrote the original query didn’t respond (possibly because he or she realised they were dealing with a twat, who answers a question with a question). I can answer the blogger’s question though; ‘The airport everyone else arrives at when going to Verona, you twat.’ There.

Anyway, through a series of minor miracles, coincidences and lucky breaks we made it to our hotel. You might at this point be wondering, why not get a taxi. Well we decided that we were not going to throw money down the drain and we’d use public transport. All in all to get to our hotel that day we took one car ride, one plane flight, a trip on a coach, a train journey and another coach trip.

I was totally knackered by the time we got there, as my wife did her standard routine when we arrive anywhere hotel-related by making sure no one else is within 200 yards of our room – quite a hard trick to pull, but pull it she does. And I could write many, many anecdotes about our time in Italy, mostly positive (beautiful place, lots of history, laid back people (that can be good and then it can be not so good)), but here we can focus on food, more specifically breakfast.

What I like to eat in hotels is Eggs Benedict – doughy muffins topped with lightly poached egg, smothered in foamy, rich hollandaise sauce.


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