Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Grateful Christmas charity collecting...Not.

At this festive time of year we're all encouraged to think about others less fortunate than ourselves. It's in December more than ever that I feel almost on the verge of guilty when I walk past vendors selling big issue with bags full of shopping and say, "no thank you".

Now, we can't possibly give to every charity ever made, but which one do you give to and why? Is it whichever one is standing on the street to harass you until you give in and give them the sodding two quid to shut them up? Or do you give to the same one every year out of the kindness of your heart? I had an experience yesterday that I was much appalled at, and I wanted to share it with you all.

Now, before I start, I must state that I in no way am saying that charity is a bad thing. I'm all for charity. You only have to read my previous blog posts regarding my volunteering for Oxfam for two major festivals for the gory details. However, I was some what shocked at the series of events I am about to describe.

I was walking up to the local infant school where I was coincidentally undertaking my own charity work by helping accompany 360 four to seven year olds walk round Wollaton Park lake all in aid of When You Wish Upon a Star (told you I'm not a charity snuffer).

On my way up I'd popped into the shop across the road to buy a bite to eat before the walk and as soon as I walked in was stopped by a charity worker behind a table who started his cause with, "I'm not trying to sign you up to anything". I politely listened to the man drone on about paralympics and sport within the disabled sphere for a good five minutes. You can't say he didn't try hard, however asking me what sport I was interested in was a bad line... "none" I answered.

Anyway, after the spiel the man handed me a little badge that I could buy to support the charity, however doing the charity work of my own I had come with only two quid and a pair of gloves to my name, 50p of which I had spent on a co-op finest quality croissant. Oh how guilty I felt now for that.

"I'm sorry", I replied, "but I have come out without my purse as I'm walking for Wish Upon a Star."

"I have one pound fifty", I said, handing the change to the man.

The man turned to his colleague with a look that can only be described as total disgust.

"Well I don't like to sound ungrateful" he said as I waited for the but. It never came, but he swifty pulled out a leaflet showing me how much wheelchairs for playing basketball in cost.

Ten pounds this man wanted me to pay for that little badge.

Now, I don't mean to sound up myself but if you're a charity surely you should be grateful of any money you get. I didn't want the sodding badge, neither did I really have any interest in the charity (no offence). I was more interested in paying this annoying noise in my ear off so that I could get on and do the charity work I had already arranged to do.

I offered the £1.50 which was politely refused by the man after telling me they're here all week if I wanted to pop back in with my bank card. How much did he think I was willing to give!

I finally walked out the shop with a feeling of guilt and annoyance- and I'd only gone in to buy a croissant. Why should I be made to feel guilty? I was willing to give my last pound to that charity and he turned it down. I'll be donating that pound fifty to the school's when you wish sponsorship money instead.

Safe to say I'll be avoiding that shop like the plague for the next week.

When life gives you bananas...

My mum works in a school and so got given a load of spare bananas to use up over the weekend. No one I've ever met is keen on rotting fruit, and so this banana bread recipe is perfect for making sure it doesn't go to waste. It's also the most simple recipe in the world and creates minimal mess as it is all done in one bowl- perfect! I adapted this recipe a little bit from the standard banana bread by adding a bit of honey which sweetens the mixture a little and I find is a lovely accompaniment to the bake.

Recipe: Honey and Banana Bread


  • 100g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 bananas 
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp honey
  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a bread tin with grease proof paper.
  2. Place all your ingredients in a bowl and mix together for a couple of minutes until everything is incorporated into a smooth mixture. 
  3. Carefully pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for 1 hour until browned on top. 
  4. Allow to cool in tin and serve either as a snack or with ice cream as a pudding.
I'd love to know how you got on. Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @efoakden 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Recipe: Christmas Chocolate Fudge

This festive inspired recipe is the perfect treat to give away as a quick and simple present that doesn’t cost the earth. Even better is that the most cooking required is using a microwave! Wrap your fudge pieces in cellophane and ribbon or homemade boxes to place under the tree. They are so delicious you will have everyone fooled as to how quick and simple they are to make. 

  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 400g can condensed milk
  • 120g mixed dried fruit and nuts
  • Glace cherries to top
1.      In a large microwaveable bowl, melt the chocolate and condensed milk for around 4 minutes, making sure to check regularly
2.      Once melted, stir vigorously to combine and then add fruit and nuts
3.      Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and pour the mixture into the tray
4.      Lightly draw lines on the mixture to show pieces and add a cherry on top of each
5.      Refrigerate to set and then cut along the lines to serve
I'd love to know how you got on with your own attempts. Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @efoakden