Deep Fried Mars Bar Hunt Ends…

The deep fried Mars bar … a Scottish classic?

I’ve been working in Livingston (near Edinburgh) for the past eight months; working away from home and living out of a suitcase in a hotel (albeit a nice one) has been a horrible chore. Although it has allowed me to get stuck in to the new CC Tremadog guidebook most evenings. The guidebook is looking pretty amazing now, even if I say so myself. Almost all of Steve Long’s script has been set and proofread (by an army of willing volunteers – Jon Bursnall, Sarah Clough, Smiler & Clare Cuthbertson, Keith Leonard, Pat Littlejohn, Laetitia, Richard Wheeldon, and John Willson), Don Sargeant’s photodiagrams are typically world-class, Simon Panton’s bouldering sections are super useful, and Andy Boorman’s historical is mighty entertaining! We’ve already had loads of help getting the text and diagrams right too (from Pete Bailey, Steve Boorman, Duncan Bourne, Joe Brown, Claude Davis, John Cousins, Martin Crook, Colin Goodey, Mel Griffiths, Brian Hannon, Peter Johnson, Davey Jones, Elfyn Jones, Eric Jones, Iwan Jones, Jim Jones, Al Leary, Mike Lewis, Tony Moulam, Tim Neill, Andy Newton, Jim Perrin, Keith Robertson, Pete Robins, Ruth Taylor, Ken Wilson, and Judy Yates). Adding in several other contributions including crucial environmental notes from Barbara Jones and notes about the Tremadog Festival from Mike Raine and the whole lot is a masterpiece. We still need more action photos though, submit any you have for consideration here. Or join an army of professional and semi-pro photographers (Simon Cardy, Don, David Simmonite, Ian Smith, etc.) at the next Tremadog Festival, 24th April, to get your picture in the new guidebook. Be there or be square! 😛

I’ve probably missed a few names from the lists of helpers above – forgive me if your name is among those missed! But please let me know to make sure the full list of acknowledgements that will appear in the guidebook is correct.

With all of that guidebook work in the evenings, a few trips to Ratho climbing centre, and of course a lot of hard work for Sky, my hunt for the fabled Deep Fried Mars Bar wasn’t up to much. In fact it took me the full eight months to fail to find somewhere that sells them! 😳 So maybe they are not that much of the classic that popular culture leads us to believe?

To make up for my failure, here’s a recipe for deep fried Mars bars to try at home.

Letterboxing and Flammkuchen

It was raining heavily this morning, the birds were splashing in the bird bath and munching on peanuts, and it felt like a perfectly lazy day. I went back to bed.

An hour later, I noticed the sky had turned blue.

Pete finished off some chores – fixing some tiles in the kitchen – and we packed or bags for another letterbox adventure.

This time we headed for Patterdale. We parked up in the village and started the walk up to Boredale Hawse, passing some disgustingly beautiful houses. :mrgreen:

Autumn sunshine near Ullswater
Autumn sunshine near Ullswater

The walk was lovely, very quiet with some amazing views. We headed for Beda Head and quite quickly found the letterbox (no clues here!!).

Laetitia  at a new letterbox!
At a new letterbox
<i>Larry Sheep</i> (shouldn't that be <i>Lamb</i>?) Letterbox stamp
Larry Sheep (shouldn't that be Lamb?) Letterbox stamp

Lake District Letter Boxes Complete – 4 of 90.

On the walk back we heard some amazing sounds coming from the valley. We’re sure it was rutting stags! 😯 We couldn’t see them, so after a while we carried on home.

Once back at home I decided we needed a pre-dinner treat ( 😎 ), so I made some of the Flammkuchen we’d enjoyed so much back in Germany. I decided a combination of recipes from the internet and from Rick Steine give the best results…


  • 150 g strong flour
  • 1 tsp easy blend yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 125 ml hand hot water
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Make the dough, knead for 5 mins, and leave to rise.


  • 4 tbsp creme fraise
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 125 g lardons (or streaky bacon finely chopped)

Pre-heat oven to highest temperature.
Roll out the dough thinly and put on greased baking sheet. Prick base.
Mix creme fraise and nutmeg, then spread on to base.
Cover with the onion and bacon/lardons.
Sprinkle a little olive oil over, then put in oven for 15 mins.

Eat warm with a nice cold glass of white wine. :yum: :yum:

Flammkuchen and white wine -yummy!
Flammkuchen and white wine -yummy!

Redcurrant Jelly

Making home made redcurrant jelly; we’ve got an enormous red currant bush in out garden and this year it’s produced a bumper crop! 😀 It may well have done better in previous years if we’d realised that the fruit comes on last year’s wood, not the fresh green stems of the current year. So an important note there for pruning the bush – leave what growth you can, while still keeping the size of the bush manageable, from this year’s growing season to provide one-year-old stems for next year’s crop…

As you should be able to guess, the redcurrant season is over and I made this a while ago. I’m already starting to think of sloes, and I remembered I hadn’t blogged my redcurrant efforts.


  • Large, juicy redcurrants (or redcurrants and white currants)
  • Sugar (1kg / litre of juice extract, see method)



  1. Remove the leaves and the larger stems, and wash the fruit if necessary.
  2. Put the fruit in a preserving pan, without any water, and heat very gently for about 45 minutes or until the currants are softened and well cooked.
  3. Mash, then strain the pulp through a scalded jelly bag.
  4. Leave it to drip for at least 1 hour.
  5. Measure the extract, and return it to the cleaned pan.
  6. Add 1 kg sugar for each litre of extract.
  7. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Then boil, without stirring, for 1 further minute.
  8. Skim the jelly quickly, and immediately pour it into warmed jars, before it has a chance to set in the pan.
  9. Cover and label.

This recipe was inspired by the one found on Cook it Simply, although I have changed it a bit. For example, adding an extra pint of water to the mashed pulp to get a bit extra from the berries… The pulp was still oozing with flavour, so I had to find a way to get a bit more juice out of the berries!

Now I have lots of jars of redcurrant jelly to get through….

Christmas Cake… a little late…

Amazing! I lost a whole pound and a half over Christmas and it had nothing to do with the strength of the euro!

But luckily I can now put it all back on – and some more – because now I can eat the Christmas cake I finished decorating just before we left for France – it was far too heavy to take.

Christmas Cake
Christmas Cake

This was from the Good Food magazine in November. I made it before we went to Australia and fed it with sherry every few days in the two weeks up to Christmas. It’s yummy! :yum: :yum:

  • 1kg mixed dried fruit (without cherries)
  • zest and juice of 2 large oranges
  • 150ml PX sherry (actually this is so expensive I used Harveys Bristol Cream – you need something raisiny)
  • 250g butter
  • 250g muscovado sugar
  • seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
  • 140g plain flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 4 large eggs beaten
  • 140g whole almonds

20cm round cake tin, buttered and double lined. Also wrap brown paper/newspaper/plenty of greaseproof paper around the outside and secure with string – helps protect the sides from overcooking.

Mix the dried fruit, zest, juice and sherry and leave to soak at least over night.
Heat oven to 160c/fan 140c/gas 3.
Pour a glass of sherry and take a sip.
Smile 🙂

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla seeds until you’re feeling good – well at least until the mixture is pale and creamy.
Mix the flour, ground almonds and mixed spice together, then add it to the butter mix.
Add the beaten eggs.
Take another sip of sherry.
Beat some more – feeling even better? – well the mixture should now be all combined and smooth.
Add the whole almonds and the dried fruit, including any left-over juices
Munch on a few bits of fruit (now smelling absolutely delicious and all soaked up with sherry and orange) that simply had to escape from the bowl.
Make a wish. 😉
Stir a bit more.
Pass it round the family so they can all stir and make a wish. Don’t let them smell sherry on your breath!
Go back to the kitchen and take another sip of sherry.
Pour into the prepared cake tin.
Smooth the top then make a dip in the middle.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Turn the oven down to 140c/fan 130c/gas 2 and bake for another 1 1/2 hours until dark on top and the old skewer comes out cleanish.
Take it out of the oven and leave to cool enough to handle.
Turn out onto a cooling rack and peel the off the lining paper.
Cool completely.

You could eat it straight away, but if you managed to plan well ahead, then get it wrapped up (I used more greaseproof paper), and then feed it once a fortnight (or every few days) with sherry – poke a few holes in the top with a skewer and slowly spoon over the sherry. Remember you don’t want it soggy, just lovely and moist.

I used shop bought ready roll marzipan and icing and cut out some stars for decoration, but you can do what-ever you want.

Apparently, this cake serves 12, and each slice (with marzipan and icing) has 1079 calories!!! Hmm, I think my slices are a bit smaller, but still, it is a hefty amount of calories. :yum:

Making Sloe Gin (inc. Ingredients)


Last year we collected a load of sloe berries to make some amazingly tasty sloe gin (check here for that). In fact it was so tasty that we’ve done the same again this year! Although with the wet summer this year the berries were much fatter. Yee ha, should be even tastier!!!

We are much later in the year collecting as well, but they say the berries are better after the first frost (it splits the skin and allows more juice to permeate into the gin)…

Here’s the recipe for those who are interested:

  • 700 millilitres of gin
  • 800 grams of sloe berries
  • 280 grams sugar

Just prick the berries and stir the sugar into the gin. We use a sealed demijohn and store it in a cool dark place. It needs to be turned every day to make sure those sloe juices come out!

Rock on Xmas and the 2007 Sloe Gin bottling!

Sunflower Seeds

Being a bit (okay, a lot) of a grown-up kid, I planted a load of sunflower seeds this summer. Actually, I planted some last year too, but I planted them straight into the garden and the slugs (and mice!) ate them all before they got established. This year I grew them for a few weeks in small pots inside before planting out. Success, I now have loads of mature sunflower heads.

The roasted sunflower seed recipe is an Autumn favorite; such a great taste, it’s hard to believe how something this good, can also be good for you! So why not roast my own sunflower seed harvest! Obviously keeping a few aside for next year’s crop.

Here’s what I did…

You can begin to harvest sunflower seeds as soon as the center flowers turn brown or the backs of the heads turn yellow, to prevent birds from stealing them. Cut them, leaving a piece of stem to hang them in a well ventilated place to finish drying. Cover them with netting, paper sacks with holes or cheesecloth to catch falling seeds as they dry.

They can be allowed to dry on the stalk, but you’ll have to cover them this way to keep the birds from eating them all before you can harvest them for yourself!


  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds.
  • 2 litres of water.
  • 1/2 cup of salt.


  1. Add water and salt in a pot or saucepan.
  2. Rinse sunflower seeds and remove any plant and flowerhead matter.
  3. Add sunflower seeds to the pot.
  4. Soak the seeds in this overnight.
  5. Drain on a paper towel until dry. Do not rinse.
  6. Preheat oven to 150°C to 200°C.
  7. Spread seeds on a baking sheet and bake until completely dry.
  8. Stir frequently during the drying time; this may take three or four hours, depending on how ‘dry’ they were.
  9. Remove from oven when they turn slightly brown.
  10. If you intend to store them for any length of time, put them in jars while still warm and close tightly. They keep very well in a cool dark place.

Note: For salt free sunflower seeds, rinse seeds and go straight to step 6.