The Cheeky Monkey and a Toad in the Hole

Our latest cooking gadget is a Toasted sandwich maker or Pie iron made by TF Gear, but more commonly know as a “Ridge Monkey”.

The TF Gear iron is identical to the Ridge Monkey, so we have nicknamed ours “The Cheeky Monkey”.

TF-Gear-Sandwich-Toaster

I was hoping that this would be the camping nirvana after all the good reviews I had read. We don’t have an oven in the campervan, so it limits our possible menu.

I tried the Omnia oven, but I couldn’t get on with it and it was a little oversize for our campervan hob.

Omnia Oven

We have a similar sandwich toaster called “The Diablo” that toasts sandwiches, but they were small and you had towaste a lot of bread cutting it to fit the round shape. The TF Gear is a square shaped pie iron that makes toasted sandwiches using a gas hob, open fire or barbeque. It is very popular with fishermen who cook breakfast on the river side. So far I have cooked Bacon, Burgers, Eggs and a small Pizza, well warmed one up. As the cooking process is enclosed, the top gets a chance of being cooked.

A Chicago pie pizza approximately 3 “diameter fits nicely. I heated one side of the iron until hot then turned it over and placed the defrosted pizza on the unheated side. The theory being that as the pizza base was directly on the bottom of the iron, preheating the top would give the cooking of the pizza top a head start before the base burnt. It actually worked. I did turn it over once just to brown the top. I shall be asking the extreme knitter to make some homemade pizzas that fit the Cheeky Monkeys shape and size. If they are thinner they might cook quicker and more thoroughly.

I’ve tried McCann’s frozen oven fries as they were thin. These cooked perfectly. I think the trick with frozen food is to thaw it out first, so that your cooking time isn’t taking up having to defrost first.

The next try out was Toad in the Hole, an easy to make quaint English recipe that is basically sausages cooked in a dish of batter mix using a very hot oven. The batter would normally rise in an oven enveloping the sausage in a crispy Yorkshire pudding. Cooking it in the Cheeky monkey was going to be a challenge.

 

Start by cooking 3 or 4 sausages in the Cheeky Monkey. I like to butterfly mine to make sure they are thoroughly cooked.

 Monkey toad in the hole (2)

While the sausages are cooking make your batter mix

1 cup of plain flour

A pinch of salt

300mls of milk

Whisk these ingredients until you’ve got a smooth liquid (without any lumps)

This will make approximately 450mls.

Boil some water.

When the sausages are cooked take them out and pour a good glug of veg oil in the Cheeky monkey and heat until smoking hot.

Pour a small layer of the batter mix into the hot oil that will seal the underside, them place the sausages in and pour some more batter mix over them. I used about 250mls. If the mix is too deep it will burn before the middle is cooked. I cooked it on a low flame for 20 minutes turning the Cheeky Monkey over regularly to stop the mix from burning.

 Monkey toad in the hole (5)

Monkey toad in the hole (6)

Monkey toad in the hole (7)

Make a small amount of gravy using gravy granules and the water that you boiled earlier. (yes, I know, but we are camping so short cuts are allowed).

 Monkey toad in the hole (9)

Much to my amazement it worked out and tasted good. I didn’t rise as it would in an oven, but because it was thinner it cooked all the way through.

The batter mix could be made at home before setting off on your camping trip to save time.

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll be asking what about the 200mls of batter mix that I had left?

Well that’s for pudding, three Pancakes to be precise. Even though it was Sunday I like a Fat Tuesday

These can be made in the Cheeky monkey by pouring in a small amount of veg oil and pouring a third of the mix on top. They can be made sweeter by slicing some bananas into the mix or possibly pineapple chunks. The beauty of the monkey is that you just turn it over to cook the other side.

Monkey toad in the hole (12)

The experimenting goes on.

 

 

 

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Downwards to Uphill

At last we were rolling again after a long period of inactivity and we were heading down to Weston Super Mare or the Uphill region to be precise.

I quickly popped into Morrisons at Weston to get some bits and pieces.

Uphill Boat Centre have a campsite at the Uphill Marina. The large pitches are set around the perimeter of a salt water lake. The site facilities were closed down for the winter period to stop the water freezing, so we used the showers and toilets at the reception building. These were clean and immaculate.

We were only staying for one night as this was Elsies first trip away in the campervan just to see how we all got on together.

Uphill Boat Centre

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It was just a short walk down the road to the beach passing a small café/shop that has good reviews. The beach links to Weston Super Mare and it’s very popular with dog owners. Ruby and Elsie just ran and ran. As usual with Weston it is rare for the sea to come in, so Elsie didn’t get chance to swim.

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Elsie stationery for one minute.

elsie uphill 2

 

After the breezy walk along the beach we settled in for the evening and had our old favourite first night meal of Meat Balls, Pasta in a home made Tomato Sauce and I had a nifty Barcardi and coke. Heating on and we were all cosy for the night.

Elsie needed a wee in the night, but she woke me to let her out, so we are getting there.

 

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I think the girls enjoyed their short break.

We had to vacate the pitch by 10.30am which is early for us so we hastily packed our gear and headed to Wells, where we parked up and cooked Bacon baps before hitting the city.

Wells is always a pleasant City to wander around taking in the sights particularly the cathedral. We bought a Cornish pasty and a cake for lunch then heading home.

All in all it was a successful trip the dogs enjoyed the run around on the beach we needed the break away from our commitments.

When it’s gone it’s gone

When it’s gone its gone
I don’t normally sell items on my blog,  but I have a very rare collectable piece of nature for sale.

Here is possibly the last piece of snow from the UK March 2018 storm. It just needs a little TLC to bring it back to as new condition. It measures 18 inches by 9 inches and it would be a super addition to someone’s snow collection. I’m open to offers, but it is only on a cash before collection basis. I apologise to any international buyers, but due to customs restrictions I can’t ship outside the UK.

Chicken not included.           No chickens were harmed during the photo shoot.

NOTICE

Sorry folks, but the snow has now been sold to an elderly gentleman from the North Pole who is an avid snow collector. Apparently Mr Claus is flying in tonight to pick it up.

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Hurry this is a one day only sale and when it’s gone it’s gone.😂,

Here is a member of the All English Winter Gymnastics team in training

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Photo courtesy of Tom Cary  https://www.bestofbuble.co.uk/ 

This gives a whole new meaning to brain freeze. 🙂

Identity crisis

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but our new puppy has yet again experienced a change of identity. She was called Millie, then briefly tagged Dora. Eventually the extreme knitter put her foot down and insisted that she was going to be called her first choice of name “Elsie May” This is now permanent as I’ve ordered her name tag and it cost me a whole £2.49.
The addition of Elsie May to the family has meant that our trips away in the campervan have been put on hold until she has learnt her toileting manners. We are doing day trips to get her used to the campervan life. We drove to Stratford on Avon park, beside the river for a picnic, followed by a walk around the town to get her used to people and crowds. She is doing so well and sleeps through the night.

Taking a decent photograph is nigh on impossible as she runs and runs

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Picking up Poo

I haven’t posted on here for several months due to us not getting the time to get away in the campervan. Family commitments and a heavy dose of man flu stopped our travels. Hopefully that is all going to change and we’ve got some special places in mind to visit.

More wild camping spots on the agenda for us this year and I’ve been told by the Extreme Knitter that we can include a visit to Scotland again.

It was a long time coming, but eventually the extreme knitter has worn me down and we have added a new member to our explorers club.

 

After a quick trip over to Stilton where we met Amanda, we came away with the new addition to the family.

Please meet ?????

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An 11 week old Cockapoo girl, chocolate brown with a white tuxedo and two white socks. Only time will tell how this new setup will work out, but early signs are promising. Ruby has accepted her new partner in crime and they appear to be working together as a team hell bent on causing us chaos. She travelled well on the trip home, which for a campervan dog is pretty important.

As yet we can’t agree what to call her. Amanda, her breeder called her Muffin, but there are four family members all suggesting their favourite names and we can’t agree. Eventually I will have to step in and make an executive decision and over rule the other three. (did you see how easy I said that, as if I’ll have any say in the matter)

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If you’ve read my previous post “Is that a rat” I hoping that now with ???? beside me and Ruby stood outside the various shops, I won’t get those comments.

 

A big thank you to Amanda for providing us with such a beautiful, well mannered puppy.