Strawberry Apple Cooler

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It has been a while since I posted a mocktail or cooler recipe, so its time to remedy that.  We had friends around recently, and I was looking for a nice drink to share while chatting in the garden.  This drink came to mind as a variant of a mocktail we had seen in Great Yarmouth on a recent visit.


  • Strawberries 10 – 15 large
  • Truvia/Stevia 2 tsp or sugar 1 1/2 Tbs
  • Apple Juice 250 ml
  • Fizzy Lemonade/Diet Lemonade/Sprite 1.25 litres
  • Ice 2 cups


Remove the stems and leaved from berries and cut into quarters.  Place in a glass bowl and add the sweetener.  Mash thoroughly with a fork and add to a 2 litre pitcher or jug.  Add the apple juice and chill for an hour.  Add the ice to the container and top off with chilled lemonade.



Low Sugar Peanut Butter Cookies

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Though the weather is still warm, I thought a little baking wouldn’t be too uncomfortable.  So, it became “cookie time.”  These nut butter treats have no wheat flour, and no added sugar.  On this occasion I made them with crunchy peanut butter which was already in the larder, but almond butter works as well.


  • Peanut Butter 1 Cup (Crunchy) [or similar nut butter of your preference]
  • Eggs 2 large
  • Truvia granulated 1/3 cup
  • Almond Flour/ground Almond 2 heaped Tbs
  • Baking Powder 1/4 tsp
  • Cinnamon to sprinkle


Preheat the oven to 175 C/ 350 F and cover a baking sheet with baking paper.  Then in a mixing bowl mix together the nut flour, sweetener, and baking powder.  In a separate bowl whisk the two eggs until frothy.  Add the eggs and nut butter to the dry ingredients and mix until even.  Roll the mixture into a dozen evenly sized balls.  Place the balls onto the baking sheet and press them flat with a fork in a crisscross pattern.  Place in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with sweet cinnamon.  Let cool thoroughly before serving.



Simple Low Carb Blancmange

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As my wife’s illness progresses she has had to alter her diet a few times.  A strict keto diet is now unrealistic but low carb is still a must.  To bring some variety to her menu, I have made a few gelatin (jelly) dishes as they are very low carb, and tasty.  One of these is a soya based blancmange.  It has a certain creaminess to it, and seems more indulgent than plain fruit jelly (gelatin).


  • Sugar Free Jelly (Gelatin) fruit flavoured – 1 sachet (1/2 of 26 g dual pack)  I used Strawberry
  • Unsweetened Soya Milk 1 pint (570 ml)
  • Stevia/Truvia Granules  1 to 1 1/2 Tbs (or to taste)
  • Custard Powder 2 tsp (optional but makes firmer dessert)*


Pour the gelatin powder into a 1.5 litre glass bowl.   Then in a saucepan put the sweetener, and custard powder (if used) and 2 Tbs of the soya milk.   Mix till even.  Then add 1/2 pint of the milk (285 g) and heat and whip with a whisk until near boiling.  Pour the heated milk mixture over the gelatin and whisk until evenly dissolved.  The add remaining cold milk.  Whisk again until even and mildly frothy.  Pour into a jelly mold and chill, or merely place glass bowl into a fridge to cool.  Let chill for 2 to 3 hours.

* I have omitted the custard/or corn starch in the past to keep the carbs even lower, but the dessert while okay, doesn’t set as well.  If the carb can be tolerated (as per keto diets, or diabetic concerns) then it is nicer, but follow your own dietary needs as it adds approximately 2 g of carb per serving.  Gelatin component <0.5g, Sugar free soya component  <0.5g, Truvia component approximately 2 g (though manufacturer claims this is not absorbed and is at 0 calories) per 145 g serving [please note these are not scientifically measured by me, but merely quoting nutritional data from the products’ labels].



Foodie Friday: Vegan Pasty Review


When it comes to ready-made, high street and supermarket pies and pastries vegetarians generally and vegans in particular are generally an overlooked market.  Okay for vegetarians there are several cheese and onion options available, but not much else.  So Gingters’ launch of a Moroccan Vegetable Pasty which is also vegan-friendly was something to check out.

I found that the filling was tasty, and a nice change.  Gingters lists the ingredients as:

Wheat Flour (Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin) , Potato , Vegetable Oil (Palm, Rapeseed) , Butternut Squash (10%) , Onion , Tomato , Water , Piquanté Pepper (5%) , Chickpeas (4.5%) , Spring Onion , Apricot (2.5%) , Dates , Moroccan Chermoula (Water, Sunflower Oil, Yeast Extract, Spices, Lemon Juice Powder, Salt, Ground Cumin Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Herbs) , Cornflour , Salt , Red Harissa Paste (Glucose Syrup, Ground Spices, Tomato Purée, Water, Salt, Ground Mint) , Herbs , Apple , Garlic Purée , Rice Flour , Sugar , Pea Protein , Cider , White Wine Vinegar , Apple Purée , Ground Mustard Seeds , Pepper , Dried Apple Flakes , Dextrose , Spirit Vinegar .

I did find the texture a little inconsistent, however.  Some ingredients (potato?, squash?) were firm while the other was mushy.  I can’t honestly say I took the time to work out which was which. But the overall filling “worked.”

I did find the pastry, as I generally do with this company, a little too flaky and rather bland.

At 180g the pasty makes for a good lunch size, and at 480 calories it fits in as a lunch mainstay as well.  It does have 22.4g of fat however, about a third of a daily allowance, and with 10.9 g of these as saturates (55% of daily recommended), it doesn’t seem to be an every day option.

So, the pluses:  It is vegan-friendly.  It has a nice blend of spices and avoids the run of the mill flavours.  It is filling.

On the negative side: The crust is unspectacular.  It is fatty.  It is better hot than cold, so limits it as a “on the run” food.

Overall 3.75 of five.  Nice lunch every once in a while.




Afternoon Tea for a Travel Tuesday

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I have to admit that I still occasionally cringe when I hear American (and some other) visitors describe England as “quaint.”  It seems that the image of Bertie Wooster, Bowler hats, and Downton Abbey still prevail.  But one area where this nostalgic England still does have a foothold is High Tea.

Okay, let’s get this straight the country does not stop at 3 pm and the entire populous settle down to crumpets and gooseberry jam.  In fact, in the modern UK it is more likely that a ready-made supermarket sandwich will be wolfed down on the run, washed down with a Starbuck’s coffee.  But sometimes, especially on special occasions it is nice to slow down and enjoy some luxury.

Afternoon tea, is a real treat, and in recent years we have marked my wife’s birthday with the indulgence.

The top photo is of a High Tea we enjoyed at the Cliff Hotel in Gorleston, Norfolk last year, to celebrate my wife’s birthday.   We booked the tea (and High Teas often need pre-bookings) there as we have stayed at this hotel before, and it is a favourite venue for us.   We ate on the terrace overlooking the sea, and it made a pleasant back drop with a clear sunny sky, and the beach and sea below us.

The tea was well brewed, and came in a generous sized pot.  It was accompanied by finger sandwiches (salmon and cream cheese, ham and cheese, prawn with mayonnaise,  and cheese and pickle).  A portion of sharp cress was provided that could be used to enhance the sandwiches as well.  Two warm scones, with clotted cream and jam were next.  This was followed by an assortment of macaroons, mini cream cakes, and a chocolate and an apple tart. The portions were sufficient to leave us both satisfied.

The price is reasonable for the experience at £15 per person with tea or coffee (2019 updated price) and a £10 booking fee is required.  The service was very friendly and attentive, and it made for a lovely afternoon together.

Link:  Cliff Hotel High Tea

Another nice venue is Harriets Cafe Tea Rooms in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.  This venue offers a step back into time, with marble-topped tables, chandeliers, and big band music all to enjoy.  The service was on our professional and friendly (and the retro uniforms helped the ambiance as well). There was no sense of rush, and it was a time to just savour the drinks and take in the experience.

When we arrived we were offered chilled water with lemon wedges (another blast from the past, as most places don’t offer this these days). We had ample time to review the menu and to take in the atmosphere.  We ordered cream teas to our own tastes, a lovely chai blend for me, and Rooibos for my wife.  The tea was loose leaf, and individual strainers, and additional hot water were provided to make the most of the brews.  The scones were fairly large, and had a good balance of moistness without feeling underdone.  I far prefer this to those that crumple at the first attempt to cut them.  All in all is was a lovely spread with nice presentation.  At about £21 per it is a bit more dear, but the nostalgia and atmosphere are worth the price for the experience.

Link: Harriet’s

This year we made our High Tea visit to The Swan in Lavenham, Suffolk.  This Medieval Inn with its timber frame construction is wonderful to behold.  Inside there are still the beams, but also modern luxury.



The Gallery dining room is overlooked by a grand piano, and the gardens are just beyond period windows. We sat near a huge inglenook fireplace, and the atmosphere was a perfect as the meal.

We had our choices of teas, which were served – “on fine Royal Worcester Crockery specifically created for The Swan by Walpole of Stoke-on-Trent, whose prestigious special commissions are found in many of Britain’s Royal palaces – the perfect crockery then upon which to savour our delicious treats (Swans’ quote).”  I had the English breakfast tea and my wife, Redbush.   Both were loose leaf, and served with strainers, and it was fitting with surrounding luxury.


Royal Worcester

Unlike some venues where the entire meal is served on a stacked “High Tea Tray”, the Swan served in courses, rather than all at once. The tray does make its appearance during the dessert course however.



Finger Sandwiches

The sandwiches, were a nice mix with salmon, egg, ham, and cucumber. The scones were light and flavourful. The cakes were luxurious and the chocolate one was absolutely rich.


Cakes and Scones

The service was attentive, and the server even offered to take pictures for us.

At £22.50 per person, it is the most dear, but the price is exceeded by the measure of luxury and service.
Happy travels, and I hope you find your perfect breaks.



Simple Salmon Cake


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Salmon Cakes

It has been a while since I made a Foodie Friday post.  My wife’s illness has moved her onto a rather repetitive diet, most of the elements of which I have previously posted.  Travel Tuesdays have similarly been limited as we have needed to cancel a few trips, and or visited familiar nearby destinations, again previously posted.  But that does not mean everything is now routine.  Below is a quick and easy recipe which I made for my own enjoyment.

One of the memorable meals of my teenage years  was salmon cakes.  These relatively low cost, quick to prepare patties are a good protein source and tick the box for oily fish as well.   While higher quality poached fillets or boneless/skinless tinned varieties can be used, I keep it cheap and simple with standard tinned pink salmon.


  • Pink Salmon 213 to 230 g tin
  • Cheese Crackers 6-10
  • Egg 1
  • Ground Black Pepper pinch
  • Dijon Mustard 1 tsp
  • Dried Parsley 1 tsp
  • Oil splash



Crumble 6-8 crackers into a bowl and add the parsley and pepper.  Beat the egg and then whip in the mustard.  Drain the salmon and add to the crumbs, then add the egg/mustard mix.  Stir well, and form into two patties.  If overly moist add additional cracker crumbs one cracker’s worth at a time.  When happy with the consistency, heat oil in a shallow frying pan.  Then fry the patties for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden.





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Olive Cheese Spread

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It’s Foodie Friday and time for a review or recipe.  And this week it is a recipe for a  summer sandwich filler.  It is great in wraps, a condiment, or as a dip as well.


  • Black Olives (pitted)  10
  • Green Olives (pitted) 10
  • Garlic 1 small clove
  • Dried Basil 1/4 tsp
  • Hard Cheese (Goat or Cheddar) 50 – 70 g
  • Mayonnaise 2 Tbs



Slice the olives into rings and place in a small mixing bowl.  Shred the cheese and add to the olives along with the basil.  Peel and finely dice (or grate) the garlic and add to the bowl.  Finally stir in the mayo until mixture is even.

In a wrap or sandwich serve with spinach leaf or really mix things up by placing hummus on one side and the olive cheese mix on the other with the leaf between.




Birthday in Great Yarmouth (My Turn)

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Last August we celebrated my wife’s birthday in Great Yarmouth.  This year we revisited Great Yarmouth as part of my birthday celebration.  We again stayed at the Nelson Hotel, and took in the early summer beach and seaside activities.

One of the first things we noticed was that Yarmouth in the early evening on a Monday was “closed.”  Unbeknownst to us our arrival corresponded to the very time when food is least available along the seafront.  Looking for someplace for a meal, we happened onto Harry Ramsden’s.  We had passsed at least three other fish and chip shops between the hotel and Ramsden’s and it too looked to be closed.   But the sign on the pavement indicated otherwise.

On entering the server took a couple of minutes to notice me, it being a slow night, and I asked if they were open. He responded that they were but it would be a few minutes while he finished the task he was on. He then took my order, and I went to wait. The fish batter was dark, and the haddock a bit grey looking, but the flavour and texture were okay. The onion rings were a little greasy, but that was excused as they were the real thing, not just the minced pulp of onions like some places serve. The price was a little dear for what I got, but all in all it was adequate. So much for “world famous” however.

On returning to the hotel I was able to take in the sounds of the gulls, and to relax a bit.  The Nelson is rated as a three star hotel.  It is a Georgian/Regency building, and has a mixed 1970s decor, but it is clean (if not a little tired) and the staff are wonderfully helpful.

A note to those with mobility issues is that the upper floors do have occasional stairs in the hallways, and there is only one small lift.

We had a sea view room on the second floor, almost exactly under the room we had on our previous stay, so the view was almost exactly the same with the Sea Life Centre and Wellington Pier as the features along with the sea of course.

The room had plenty of hot water though the tub was narrow, and the mattress on this occasion was hard, and a little uneven.  The room as a whole was comfortable however and very quiet being isolated along with its neighbouring room from the main hall way by a fire door.

Breakfast was included in the price, and hot items were ordered through table service, with toast and accompanying items were available in a buffet in an annex to the dining room.

Again, staff make this place.  They took a weary three star establishment, and made it a place worth staying in.

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Sorry for blurred pic of a wonderful seafood platter

The high point of the visit was the birthday meal at the Ocean Spray Seafood & Steakhouse.   The decor is maritime (fishing nets, shells, etc) and the atmosphere is calm and the service friendly.   All customers are greeted warmly and regulars fawned over by the staff.  

On this occasion we had a “Dips” starter with warm pita bread served with olives, hummus, taramasalata, and tzatziki.  To be honest, this starter can make a meal in itself, and though intended for a two person sharer, it would easily accommodate three.

We then had the seafood platter with Greek salad, and a half lobster to share.  There was the aforementioned lobster, grilled king prawns, a cod and haddock fillet, shell on shrimp, whitebait, scampy, and calamori served in a garlic butter sauce.  This was surrounded with portions of feta cheese and black olives.  New potatoes rounded out the meal.  Excellent does not begin to describe the meal.  The platter easily fed the two of us, especially after the generous dips course.

This is a must try seafood establishment if in Yarmouth.

It was a wonderful birthday, and we are booked to visit again when hers comes around.



Padre Basket

Padre’s Ramblings

“Isn’t this place wonderful?” Barbara asked almost rhetorically as she savoured her linguine.  The subtlety of the sauce and the freshness of the shellfish were in perfect balance.

“Yes it is,” Carl agreed as he cleansed his palate with a sip of vino before diving back into the six cheeses of his ravioli dish.

“I really think it was worth the trip, just for this meal,” Barb said, again closing her eyes as she allowed the rich flavours to dance upon her tongue.

“Well if you want authentic, you need to seek it out.  And, Georgio is the real deal,” Carl said with the confidence of a connoisseur.

“Well I wish we could come to Florence more often,” she said. “Maybe, next year’s birthday again?” she hinted hopefully.

“Maybe, but Alabama is a long drive from Nashville,” he reminded her.



Sunday Photo Fiction


Coffee Cake

Coffee, Break, Coffee Break, Cup, Notebook, Write Down


While I considered making a fictional take on this prompt, fact is in this case better than fiction.  The theme of cooking is a wonderful prompt, and in this case is a story of love offered and love returned.

When my little sister was of pre-school age, she got it into her head that she was going to “bake” for my father.  She was determined to make coffee cake without any assistance.  She secretly gathered the ingredients and found a quiet time to make her culinary masterpiece.  The Great British Bake-off had nothing on her.

When she had finished she bought the plate to my dad.  The coffee cake was two slices of white bread with the crusts removed sprinkled with sugar and a generous portion of  dry instant coffee granules.  This was all mashed together into a roughly  cake shaped mass.

She beamed with pride at her achievement.  It was a gift of love and it was accepted as such.

This love was returned in kind when he ate the whole thing.  All  was smiles and compliments.  Love indeed!

Her chicken noodle cookies are a story for another day.




Tale Weaver #228 – Cooking