He's taught himself to play guitar and has loved singing since he performed in musicals at school. He played the lead in 2 of those (Sweeny Todd and Jesus in Godspell) and got to travel to Siberia, Croatia, France, Belgium and the USA with the school who had links with schools in those countries. He even got to perform with the Red Army Band in Siberia. He's played in a couple of local rock bands and had a few gigs singing heavy metal but this was to be his first paying solo acoustic gig. He's currently studying for an HND in Music Performance and is hoping to do the top up year in September to make it into a full degree.
So, we did get to see him play a little and he was really good. We had a nice time revisiting a couple of our old drinking haunts from when we were younger and both lived in Deal, and reminisced about pubs we knew and loved that have now closed down. We rarely go to pubs now and when we do its generally a daytime visit to have coffee, but it made a nice change. I stuck to diet coke, you'll be pleased to hear, and DH didn't drink because he was driving, but it was a good evening despite DS's disappointment. In my opinion he took the disappointment really well.
Right, I've been promising to post the Hoppin John and Chilli Cheese Cornbread recipes. They are both really simple to put together. In fact the Hoppin John is basically just rice and beans that you can add extras to if you like. I generally do a vege version, but the typical American version has bacon or a ham hock added.
For Hoppin John you need black eye beans either dried or canned. I use dried, soak them overnight and cook them for 10 minutes in my pressure cooker the next morning, or you can soak them and cook them as part of the meal if you do it in the slowcooker (unlike red kidney beans they do not need to be boiled rapidly for 10 minutes to kill any toxins). I prefer to prepare them in advance and then the whole recipe only takes about 20 -30 minutes to cook in my huge deep-sided frying pan (you can do it in any pan that allows enough room for the rice to expand).
So, the ingredients are:-
1/2 lb dried or 1lb cooked or canned black eye beans (drained weight)
1 lb long grain rice
2 tins chopped tomatoes
Large onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped finely or squished
2 tomato cans full of water (helps rinse the tomato juice out of the cans)
Salt, black pepper, a pinch of chilli flakes (to taste)
That's it. You can just bung everything in together and cook until all the water has been absorbed or you can fry the onion and garlic first in a little oil, then add the rice for a moment or two and toss all together, then the spices and seasoning and tomatoes, heat through and add the water. If you heat everything first you can add boiling water to the rice mix, if not add cold water and bring to the boil.
I like to add the chilli flakes to give it a little kick but you could leave them out or add chopped fresh chilli or paprika instead. The beans give it this a lovely earthy flavour. As I said you can add extras to it, ham etc. if you like.
This makes a big pan of Hoppin John so you could halve the quantities or freeze some for another day. Also the ratio of rice and beans can be altered with more beans to rice or vice versa. I actually added some leftover rice to mine as well as the original 1lb, so it's slightly rice heavy, but you really don't need to be too careful about the amounts. If it starts to get too dry before the rice is fully cooked just add a bit more water.
I generally serve it with Chilli Cheese Cornbread for a sort of American meal.
Chilli Cheese Cornbread
Gas 4 for 35-40 minutes. Greased 7inch square or equivalent capacity baking tin.
6 oz medium yellow cornmeal
4 oz plain flour (white or wholemeal)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 oz soft brown sugar
1 medium egg
1/2 pint milk
4 oz grated cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons oil or melted butter
small onion, finely diced or 1 oz dried onion
1/2 can sweetcorn, drained (I use a can of creamed corn; you could use frozen corn, no need to defrost)
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of chilli flakes (or to taste)
Measure all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well to combine. Measure all the wet ingredients in a jug and beat until well mixed. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and add the sweetcorn and cheese. Blend together with a spoon or spatula until just mixed and no dry flour etc. is visible. Do not overmix. The mixture will look lumpy. Pour into the prepared tin and bake just above the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes until risen and the top is brown. Serve warm or cold cut into squares. Best eaten the day its made but can be refreshed by a short burst in the microwave.
I haven't priced any of this because I've had a lot of the ingredients for ages and can't honestly recall what I paid for them, but most were from Approved Foods.
Oh, and I have to make apologies about the Bacon Roly Poly pricing for anyone buying the Morrisons Savers bacon packs. I went in there today to buy yogurts and the bacon pack I bought a month ago for 89p has now gone up to £1.04. These packs used to contain full rashers too, but now they are just chopped up bits. It's still good value for 500g of bacon, but even so that's a 15p rise in a month!
I also made Almond, Coconut and Raspberry muffins using some of the yellow stickered raspberries I froze and sent DS back to his student digs with some for him and some for his flat mates since they always ask what I've been baking when he returns. As usual DH insists on custard with his.
I am much better, though, and thank you once again to everyone who sent me get well wishes.