Category Archives: Mr Fussy’s Marmalade

Very old posts from an old abandoned blog.

The ‘Cinnabun’ at Parsons Bakery

A while ago I discovered a new cake available at Parsons Bakeries around the Bristol area.

It’s called the ‘Cinnabun’ and is very very filling and probably full of calories. I couldn’t eat one every day that’s for sure.
It consists of a type of sweet cream cheese, atop a Chelsea bun, and with cinnamon in the middle.

Here’s a picture of one that I took. It didn’t travel very well between the shop and where I took the picture.

Much as I loved these, after several months they seem to have disappeared completely from all the local stores. I’ve asked in several and they’ve never even heard of them.

After Googling and finding no website for the bakery in question, using the power of Companies House, I tracked down the registered address for the bakery head office and sent them a letter.

The letter read a bit like this:

Quite nicely, they wrote back to me:

I was quite pleased with the outcome til a friend of mine suggested they haven’t answered the question of whether or not the product will be returning.

I had my fingers crossed they might send me some vouchers too or a free cake, and that didn’t materialize either. Ah well, it was nice of them to reply.

Lasagne – the dinner party

Last night I went to a friend’s house for a kind-of dinner party.

I had worried about this since I was first invited. It’s not a formal dinner or anything like that – just a dinner party consisting of me, two friends of mine, a friend of theirs I don’t know very well, and that friend’s mother.

I’m passed the point in my life where awkward silences in conversations bother me much – I was concerned because of the food aspect. 

On the phone originally, the host had seemed reluctant to decide on the food to be served. Later conversations had suggested pie and chips – there’s not an awful lot to go wrong there. Even if its a pie containing something I don’t like, you just leave the odd ingredient – it would have been a store-bought pie and oven chips. Nobody is offended really, and nobody enjoys it too much. It’s a happy bland medium.

I arrived at the party with some things I was lending the host. This was probably my only saving grace the whole night.

I’d been there, not really making much in the way of conversation with anybody for a short while. 

I haven’t really done anything in weeks. Not much to talk about (that’s why this blog hasn’t been updated in so long). 

After a while, I casually asked somebody what food we were having tonight. 


A slight panic set through me. 

If truth be told – I’ve eaten lasagne before in my life, once. It was a Tesco “Finest” one a few years ago, that I’d resorted to when I’d ran out of most other foods. I’d ate about a third of what was probably a one-person’s dish to start with, and then gone to pudding. At the time, I don’t think I’d eaten properly in a day or so, and really it could have been anything and I’d have eaten a bit because I was hungry. That said, I still didn’t eat all of it – so I can’t have enjoyed it much.

Back to the current day, lasagne was served, I tried it – wasn’t really loving it.

To make this worse, the other guests complemented the host on his culinary skills, repeatedly, while I sat there planning what I was going to say when I was eventually found out.

If it had been just me and said host, this would have been a lot less embarrassing.

I picked through the lasagne, and ate the mince.

The host mentioned several times he wasn’t rating the mince in this particular lasagne, and it had been cheap at the butchers and he didn’t know why. Is that a get-out? The truth was, the mince was the only bit I was finding alright. I decided against that particular get-out.

Eventually after it had been mentioned how slowly I eat, and people had asked if I was “struggling” with the meal, I came clean and told aforementioned host that I didn’t really like lasagne.

He apologized a lot, which made me feel rubbish – as he’d done the whole thing from scratch.

I picked out some more mince and ate that, then moved my knife and fork to the 6.30 position.

Now, at this point of my life, I’d like to think I’ve seen everything on the internet, that is ever likely to gross me out. Anything that is going to make me feel uneasy has been done on The Word, Eurotrash, Wudja Cudja, or in close up prosthetic detail on Nip/Tuck. I was wrong.

No sooner had I relocated my knife and fork, talk started from the mother at the meal, of how I couldn’t “waste” that food. 

It continued for a few minutes while I resisted the urge to sarcastically mention about starving children in Africa. I got that a lot while I was younger. “There are starving children in Africa, who’d kill for that you know”. My suggestion to post it to them was never met with much appreciation.

We rejoin the party, as the friend of a friend and his mother, agreed to portion up my leftovers on their own plates and eat it.

To coin an American phrase, “Ew”.

I’d eaten around, between, and throughout the remaining food. It’s not like eating half a burger from the other side as someone else, and leaving the “join” in the middle.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve eaten off other people’s plates before, shared spoons, etc. One night I helped out with a computer problem at a house filled with female uni students, and when a cute one (I’d consider her a long way out of my league) had offered me some apple crumble from her spoon, I’d gladly taken it.

That’s the difference. I’ve shared plates, spoons, etc.. with people I’d been sleeping with, or who wanted to sleep with. Not with friends. In the same way I wouldn’t keep their chewing gum warm in my own mouth, I wouldn’t eat off their plates.

There are some circumstances where the “fancying the original owner” rule needn’t necessarily apply. As mentioned before, if you were physically starving and needing nourishment – I’d forgive the above. If you were stranded on a desert island, and it was this or death – fair enough. This was not the case with either of the people fighting for my leftovers.

I sat incredibly uncomfortably as they finished my half-eaten dinner for me, just trying to keep my own down. 

After those two had left the party, I mentioned this to the remaining guest at the party. To my surprise, he didn’t see a problem with it!

He went as far as to say he’d trust me not to have any sort of diseases that could be picked up via saliva. To try and force my point across, I said “well how do you know I don’t have any? How do *I* know I don’t have any?”. It’s pretty unlikely really. I’d have to come in contact with other people to pick up any of those diseases, and I’ve not had so much as a kiss in months.

I never thought I’d say it – but restaurants aren’t so bad. When I was the only one who didn’t have a starter at the office Christmas party, nobody really made a big deal out of it. Nobody was fighting for the small amount of rice I left after the main course. At least you get options, and if you don’t like it, you don’t see the chef personally.

haddock and oven chips

“The plaice to be”.
I’d like to think if BBC Radio Bristol ever did something fish-related, that’s what they’d call it.
This isn’t about plaice though, it’s about haddock. Actually….wasn’t it haddock week recently on the Steve Yabsley show?

Tonight, I decided if I was going to have chips on Thursday, I should have chips tonight, so I make sure I don’t have them two nights in a row. Why that matters, I don’t know – but it helps me make a decision about something trivial, that otherwise would take me hours.
Actually it did take me hours – I didn’t put anything in the oven til 9pm.

Anyway – what to have with chips? I decided on a Birds Eye chicken pie.
Sadly, when I went to the freezer, I remembered I went shopping last night and Tesco didn’t have any.
When I was shopping last night, I also wanted to buy Birds Eye ‘simply cod’. Pieces of cod, battered and frozen. I think I couldn’t see any, so I bought haddock instead.

My memory has been worse than useless lately – I can’t remember basic things from one day to the next and I certainly can’t remember passwords for users or servers. Someone told me at work today, that they didn’t want to tell me a code for something for security reasons. I told them I’d have forgotten it in 20 minutes anyway. I think they thought I was joking.

So yes – as fish is considered brain food, it seemed like a good choice for dinner tonight, even if it was by default.

So tonight’s meal consisted of:
– Birds Eye battered haddock
– oven chips
– Heinz baked beans

Oven at 220 degrees centigrade, 30 mins for haddock, 20 mins for chips, one baking tray, not much washing up.
Theres a pan and wooden spoon for the beans too, but not bad really.

I had the beans just because it’s a bit dry on it’s own, and I couldn’t be arsed to find any sauce for it.

Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had haddock before, but I figured fish is fish.
So when it was cooked and I tasted a bit, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how different it tastes to cod. Nicer I think. Makes you wonder why we have cod with chips normally. Maybe it’s cheaper or easier to catch.
Anyway – all very edible. Will likely have it again.

Chinese Hoi Sin Chicken Wrap

I’ll apologise now for how slack I’ve been with updating this. The truth is I’ve been quite busy having a creative block, and trying to come up with features for a radio show I’m presenting. I seem to work better under pressure because I’ve known about the show for months, and a week before the first one, the ideas started and just kept coming.
Maybe I should give myself deadlines for other things that are very close. I can’t immediately think what though. Answers on a postcard please.

So anyway, a week or so ago, bored, browsing Tescos. I had an idea I’d cook something involving duck (instead of chicken) for a change. I was disappointed to see Tescos don’t sell it. Unless it’s not with the beef, pork, chicken, etc for some reason, they don’t seem to do it.

As I wandered the aisles aimlessly, I spotted something similar to the fajitas I’d done before, but described as “Chinese”. For some obvious reason, anything oriental always grabs my attention.
It was pretty much tortillas as before, but involved a few ingredients I’d never eaten before. To my knowledge, I’ve never had “Hoi Sin Sauce”.
And I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a spring onion before either.

It’s a kit of tortillas and sauce and you add your own spring onions, cucumber and chicken.
I did alright with the cucumber, but if truth be told, I couldn’t really think what spring onions looked like.
I browsed the entire vegetable and salad section hoping for something to jump out at me.

Nothing did.

So I called my sister and asked her what spring onions looked like. I believe she described them as “little onions with long stems”. I wandered a bit more, then finally gave in and asked a guy putting out apples if they had any spring onions. No.

I had something boring for tea that night. Oven chips or something most likely.

Several days later, I got the spring onions (or “salad onions” as they’re actually described in Tescos for some reason). Went home and followed the recipe on the packet.

Now, as I said I’ve been busy. I intended to write that up when I had it a week or so ago, but never did.
So – tonight I did this same meal for a second time. Partly to refresh my memory, and partly because it’s pretty quick and I didn’t go to Tescos til gone 20.30, so wasn’t cooking til gone 21:00.

So this meal’s ingredients (what it says on the Uncle Ben’s packet):
– Uncle Ben’s Wraps – Chinese Hoi Sin Meal Kit (tortillas, hoi sin sauce, and “oriental spice blend”
– Chicken – about 200g of skinless breast
– 1/4 cucumber
– 2 spring onions

I’ve cut the ingredients in (roughly) half, as it’s meant to serve 4. The first time I cooked this I bought 1/2 cucumber, and it was horrible, so I didn’t bother when I did it tonight. Other than that, I did the same tonight as a week or so ago.

So, back to my trusty wok, chicken cut into strips and fried. I’m fine at that. If anything, I overcook it a bit, but it tastes fine to me and nobody else is desperate enough to need me to cook for them.

That done, you add the “oriental spice blend”. This is a very odd looking thing. It’s a type of powder that looks like a sand and gravel mix that a tiny builder from a model village might use.
It smells bizarre. Not nice at all.
Not to be put off by this, I added it to the chicken and stirred it around.
For those of you wondering, the ingredients listed for the “spice blend” are:
anise seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, pepper, clove, chilli powder, ginger, sesame seeds, garlic powder, sugar, tamarind powder, salt, and plain caramel.

While this is finishing cooking, I set about cutting up the spring onions. The instructions on the Uncle Ben’s Wraps say: “slice the spring onion into thin sticks and place into serving bowls”. I guessed I had to wash the spring onions first, but after that I had a slight issue.

Which bit of a spring onion do you eat? The bulby/oniony bit, or the green bit?

I gave it a sniff at either end, and both ends smell like onion. I guess that’s to be expected.
I had a look on the photo on the box, but you can see a lot more cucumber than onion. I couldn’t see much white – mostly green vegetable-wise, on the box.
As it was a 50/50 shot, I decided on the green leafy bits. After all, they tell you to eat your “greens”.

That done, the instructions tell you to “remove the tortillas, cover with cling film and heat on full power for 1 minute”. Nice and easy that.

Tortillas do intrigue me, as they’re not easily breakable. After warming them, you can fold them around, scrunch them up, and then straighten them back out again.
They should make shirts and trousers out of tortillas. You wouldn’t have to iron them, just put them in the microwave to warm them through, then put them on. Hey presto – instantly to the shape you want them.

I removed them from the microwave and instantly burnt myself.
Maybe trousers made from tortillas aren’t such a good idea after all.

I opened the sauce, and turned off the heat on the chicken and “spice blend”.
It’s just a like a big sandwich from here on. Spoon in some Hoi Sin sauce, spring onion, chicken, roll up, eat.

The first mouthful was ruined the first time I did this by the awful cold cucumber.
I removed the rest from the first one and binned the rest. Tonight when I cooked this, I didn’t buy cucumber at all. Maybe if I cooked the cucumber with the rest it might be nicer.

Spring onion is quite nice though. I’m not saying I’d want to eat it on its own, but it doesn’t taste too bad with something.

The oriental spice blend tastes like nothing I’ve had before.
When it’s cooking it smells like you’ve just set fire to something.
Before it’s cooked it smells bizarrely strong.
After its been cooked and coated all over chicken though, it doesn’t seem so over-the-top. Weird.

The Hoi Sin sauce smells a bit tomato-ey, looks a bit tomato-ey, and according to the ingredients is made of mostly…tomatoes, plum juice, soya, soy sauce, sugar and vinegar.

Altogether, its not bad. Unusually I don’t have to say “but I might change my mind when I have it again”, because I did have it again. Tonight. And it was still nice.
I’m really not sure if it’s good for me at all, as the only vegetables my version of it contains is a couple of small spring onions.
It’s probably healthier than oven chips and and baked beans though.

non-oriental chicken stir fry + couscous

This week, I really did start with the best intentions. I went shopping Monday, looking for new things to try.
I picked up an alternative to the fajitas I had success with before – which uses soy sauce and attempts to be more of an oriental-style affair. However, that particular “kit” called for spring onions, and after trawling Tescos up and down, and I had called my sister and asked her what spring onions looked like (I didn’t really know), and then asked a member of Tescos staff, I was informed they didn’t have any.
So I thought I’d keep with the oriental theme, and try and create something involving duck. Tescos didn’t have any of that either.

I bought the soy sauce, and some chicken breasts anyway – and assumed I’d put more effort in later in the week.

But then Tuesday my new computer arrived. It’s an iMac, and I’ve not really got a clue how to use a Mac. I work in IT support on exclusively Windows machines, fancied an upgrade to my computer at home, and I think Vista is a pile of bloated marketing BS that is harder/slower to use for no good reason. So I thought I’d see how the other side live and try a Mac instead. iThink it’s alright, but iDon’t really have a clue how to do what iWould consider basic things on a Windows machine. iGuess I’ll pick it up.

So yes – tonight iWas playing with my iMac til gone 9pm, and thought iHad better cook something for dinner. At that sort of time, the options if you want to be eating sooner rather than later are pretty slim.

I opted for a stir fry, as it would give me a chance to try a different sauce I bought in a jar the other day. And after my sister heard about me being indifferent towards rice, she had suggested I try couscous instead. So it’d give me a chance to have this.

So used tonight for this:
1. Knorr Chicken Tonight sauce – Spanish Chicken variety, with tomatoes, peppers, olive oil and thyme
2. about 250g of skinless chicken breast
3. Crazy Jack’s organic wholegrain couscous

I’m fine with heating oil then adding strips of chicken now. However, given the late night, I couldn’t really be arsed to wait for the oil to heat up, nor cook it properly. It was probably a bit badly cooked tonight.

The sauce is unusual in that it says to “stir in the sauce, cover and simmer for 20 minutes”. This seems an extremely long time considering the oriental version of the same sauce (with half the same ingredients), cooks in 10 minutes.
I gave it 3-4 mins and started on the couscous.

Now couscous seems unusual.
The instructions say “boil water in a wide bottomed pan. Remove from heat and add couscous. Cover and leave for 5 to 7 minutes. Add a knob of buter and fluff up with a fork”.
I boiled the water in the kettle cause its quicker, added it to the pan, then attempted to add couscous, which all stuck to the inside of the cup I was using for measuring, as I’d just had hot water in it. It would work better the other way around if I do it again.
A bit of rinsing the cup with boiling water to remove it from the cup, I put it all in the saucepan and put it back on the hob.
I re-read the instructions and realised this is apparently a mistake on my part.
Is that right? Boil water, add couscous and leave for 5-7minutes? It was closer 5 than 7 it has to be said. I don’t really see its doing anything apart from getting wet.

Anyway I gave the sauce about 10-12mins tops, and plated the lot.
Couscous is a different taste, but I’m not rating it so far. I could/would eat it if someone cooked it for me, but just like the rice – why I would bother on my own is beyond me.

Another point my sister had used while selling the benefits of couscous to me was that it didn’t need to get a sieve dirty, like you do with rice. While this is true, it still needs a saucepan, apparently with lid, plus a fork to “fluff” the couscous, and something to remove it from the pan. There seemed to be some water left in the bottom of the pan (probably due to me not leaving it long enough), so something with holes in it would probably have helped to remove it – maybe.. a sieve.

Overall I’m not impressed. I ate the chicken, some of the sauce, a bit of couscous and left the rest. However, I think this post shouldn’t be considered too accurate given I didn’t cook most of it properly, and I was cooking while already tired, fed up, etc, plus disappointed with myself for not eating properly this week. This evening I’m also fed up of people banging on my door or ringing my doorbell every 30 f*kin seconds trick-or-treating.
I may try this again another night with a slightly more positive pre-cooking outlook.