Cooking on gas

This weekend we were at the Beaulieu International Autojumble. Essentially this is three fields full of enthusiasts and auto related businesses selling everything from model toys to motoring clothing, cars to car parts and pretty much everything in between.
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I was working on a stall with the Other Half and the small person. Friday was dinner at Buckler’s Hard and the rather lovely pub that’s onsite.

Breakfast was generally bacon sandwich and Saturday night dinner was cooked on a two hob gas stove in front of our stall. Usually we would barbeque but currently it is a) broken and B) the replacement is with my mother in Lincolnshire. Time to come up with something filling, easy and vaguely interesting, preferably something that can be cooked in one pan. Introducir la fajita.

A quick trip to the supermarket furnished us with the basics:

Pack of tortilla wraps
Pack of chicken breasts
Onion, finely sliced
Mushrooms, sliced
Pepper, sliced
Fajita spice
Guacamole
Clover Cooking Spray
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Using a fry pan we coated the bottom with cooking spray (flavoured with garlic in this case) and fried the chicken for 10 minutes or until cooked through and slightly browned, I sprinkled over the spice about half way through. The chicken was then stored in the grill pan under the hobs in our gas stove. Onions were then well softened in the same frying pan, with peppers and mushrooms thrown in towards the end. Once they were all cooked, I combined it with the chicken again until it was all piping hot.
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Whilst it looked fairly classy for an outdoor (and very basic) meal, it was actually one of the easiest, quickest meals one the filling was piled into the middle of a wrap. Can have been too bad, the Other Half had four and the small person had three!

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One Club, two different days

Over the weekend the Vintage Sports-Car Club organised two very different events, a race meeting at Mallory Park on Saturday and then driving tests on Sunday at Madresfield Court. I was on both sides of the fence if you like, as I was an official of the meeting on Saturday and competing on Sunday.

First of all the race meeting. Mallory Park is a lovely venue that has a short track in picturesque surroundings, a taste of which can be seen below in the photo taken by John Hallet Photography. In recent years, it was nearly lost as a motorsport venue thanks to complaints about noise. Normally I’d be the first to say don’t buy a house next to a circuit and then complain, but the situation at Mallory was a little more complicated with the old circuit operators pushing the boundary rather more than was fair, especially as the locals had generally been supportive of the venue in the past.

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The circuit now has new operators who stick to the noise limits put in place. Luckily they are allowed one unsilenced meeting for cars and so the VSCC was a ‘noisy’ meeting, albeit with an hour of absolute silence over the lunch break. One of the races that generated a buzz ahead of the weekend was the Edwardian Handicap race. A handicap race is where the slowest cars start at the front, the quickest at the back and they leave the grid in groups with a short delay (normally a maximum of 20 seconds) between each group. If the handicappers have got the groups and delays right, then the idea is every one should more or less cross the line together. In this case, roughly 2 seconds separated the first 5 cars, with the winner staying ahead of two much faster cars by just 0.19 seconds.

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There’s a great mix of cars at these meeting from the behemoth Edwardians, to standard vintage cars, to little 500s and Formula Juniors in our invited grids. As an official I don’t actually see that much of the racing as you are listening to reports coming into race control of what’s happening on track, talking to drivers who may have infringed some kind of rule when they’ve been out on track, signing and organising paperwork and all sorts of other things. One of the nice things about Mallory is you can see a lot of the track from race control so I did see more racing than normal even though I still didn’t see much.

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Sunday was an entirely more relaxed affair. Driving tests can vary in their difficulty but Madresfield consisted of 5 tests that were relatively simple. A sample of the instructions would be:

Start with your front wheels on line A. Go forward to stop astride DD, reverse to straddle lines bb and BB, forward to stop astride line CC and reverse to straddle bbBB. Then forward to cross DD but stop before EE.

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Madresfield usually has a bit of a garden party atmosphere. This year started cloudy but dry and warm, unfortunately it soon started to rain and competitors and marshals soon ended up looking a bit soggy. Fortunately our marshals are a hardy bunch and we carried on regardless. Certainly everyone still seemed to be smiling at the end of the day, not least of all another lady driving in my class who was very very pleased to receive a third class award when the results were announced.

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Again this event, whilst a smaller entry that normal, provided a great mix of cars, from the humble Austin 7s to the large Mercedes below. All in all a fun if damp day and it was nice to be competing rather than officiating for a change.

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Less cooking and not many more cars

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5 days. I feel like I’ve abandoned my blog but it’s only been 5 days. I can understand the comment made on an earlier blog about feeling like you are having an affair with WordPress (although I have told my other half that I blog now.)

Part of the reason for the lack of blogging is that since the last one, we’ve eaten at the local pub or I’ve been away playing with cars, more about that later.

We did manage to spend one night at home so I cooked mince beef enchiladas as we had some wraps and mince beef in the fridge.

500g mince beef
4-5 wraps (depending on the size of your oven dish)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tins of tomatoes
100g cheese
Onion, chopped
Handful of chopped mushroom
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Red Pepper
Oil

Gently fry the onion in the oil until it starts to soften, then add the pepper, garlic and mushrooms. Once that’s all starting to soften too, add the mince, increase the heat slightly and fry until brown. Mix in the spices then add one of the tin of tomatoes and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. You could also add a splash of red wine before the tomatoes or some Dark Soy Sauce with the tomatoes.

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Once the sauce is ready, put roughly a ladleful in the middle of a wrap and parcel it up. The wraps have a habit of sticking to the bottom of tray so I also spread a small ladleful of mixture in the bottom of the tray. Once you have filled a tray in a single layer, pour another tin of tomatoes over the top (I prefer these blended but you can leave them as normal or use passata instead) then cover with as much cheese as you want. Put into a pre-heated oven at Gas Mark 6 for about 15 minutes by which point the cheese should be starting to brown. Stick under the grill to crisp up some more, if needed, then serve.

One experiment the Other Half and I were talking about trying is using wraps instead of pasta sheets next time we make lasagne but that will wait a month or two!

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And the car bit….yesterday I went to a sprint at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) and its a slightly odd place. Its great for drivers as the bit we use for the sprint has a super grippy surface, but there’s no spectators and cameras are banned. We get a nifty little blue sticker to cover the lens for phone cameras. Saturday was more modern machinery and not really my favourite place or spectacle. Next weekend is the British Hillclimb Championship round locally so should provide a little more entertainment.

Cars not cooking

This weekend was the annual Prescott meeting for the Vintage Sports-Car Club. Explaining the draw of this meeting is easy enough but people rarely understand just how good it is until they have experienced it, especially the combination of the motorsport side with the social side in the campsite opposite.

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First of all a confession of sorts, I did not cook for 3 days and we were so tired last night that we only managed cheesy chips. Prescott campsite is land of the BBQ and, partly as I’d been working as a volunteer marshal all day, I left my mother and the Other Half to deal with that hence no cooking.

So why is VSCC Prescott such a draw? To start with there is a huge range of cars entered, from a lowly Austin 7 (we have one of those) through Bentley, Vauxhall, Riley and others until you get more exotic cars like Mark Walker’s Darraq and the fast things like the Topliss owned ERA, driven at the weekend by a very satisfied James Baxter, his final run having been the first ever pre-war car to break the 40 second barrier. Conditions must have been good as at least 4 class records tumbled as well as that outright record. Then there is the garden party feel to the spectator side of it, the pre war car park would make a lot of proper car shows jealous but these are just people out to have a picnic and watch the action. Yes there are some hooray Henry types but most people are down to earth and lovely, even more so in the active parts of the Club.

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The real draw of Prescott, for some people at least, is the social side in the campsite opposite. Three fields get turned over to the Club each year so families, friends and sometimes even strangers who have become new friends, can get together for food and drink. The BBQ is pretty much mandatory, as is the consumption of plenty of alcohol. On Saturday night, I introduced 2 friends and their 2 friends to another friend and next thing you know everyone is in one big group, sharing wine, BBQ food, crisps, pasta salad and God knows what else. The five children that we had between four couples were running round like old friends within about 30 seconds. This is a story repeated time and time again. Every VSCC person I know has a Prescott story, this is a place of beauty where memories are made and lifelong friendships are forged. I’m already counting down to next year.

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