Cherry & Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins

Not sure why, but I decided I needed to do something different again (although I have made muffins before, but for some reason haven’t made any for quite some time). And for some reason I felt like Cherry & Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins. So I made some yesterday.

Picture of Cherry & Chocolate Chip Muffins still a in baking tray
Cherry & Chocolate Chip Muffins in tray

Here’s what I used:

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g dried cherries (the original recipe had 140g, but they came in 75g packs, so I decided to just use them all)
  • 200g dark (70%) chocolate chips (the original recipe had 100g each of dark and white chocolate, but I don’t like white chocolate)
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 150ml pot natural yoghurt
  • 100g butter, melted

Here’s how I made them:

  • Preheat oven to fan assisted 180°C, (200°C, gas 6)
  • paper cases in 12 hole muffin tin
  • sift flour and bicarbonate of soda into large bowl, stir in cherries, chocolate and sugar
  • beat eggs, add yoghurt, then molten butter. Add this mixture to the flour etc
  • stir to combine, but do not “overmix” (it’s fine if it’s a bit lumpy. Apparently if you “overmix” the muffins will turn out tough)
  • fill the mixture into the papercases and then bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown

That’s all. In total took just over half an hour. Put some in a freezer bag for deep freezing, according to the interwebs they should be good for 1-2 months.

Picture of Cherry & Chocolate Chip Muffins on a kitchen worktop
Cherry & Chocolate Chip Muffins on kitchen worktop

I think they taste nice, the cherries and the chocolate go well together. I think next I’ll try the same recipe with blueberries.

Idlewild’s new album, Interview Music

While I wasn’t an early adopter and didn’t hear of them until their second or third album (can’t remember exactly) I’ve been listening to Idlewild for many years. Even saw them playing in Oxford 12 years ago (and I don’t go to many rock concerts any more). But that’s not the topic of this post. They have (after several years) released a new album today (which I’m listening to while writing this post). Here’s a taster from their YouTube channel:

Listen to a taster of Idlewild’s album Interview Music

I’ve played it may be 3-4 times now and my first verdict is positive. While I don’t think there are any instant radio hits on it (which isn’t a bad thing) there are plenty of nice tunes which open up after listening a couple of times. Some are mellower, some are noisier. Roddy has written up how the album came about. I think it was worth the wait.

Just read: Ivan Rogers’ 9 Lessons in Brexit

With Brexit having just been postponed this small book (more a booklet than a book actually) is probably a good read to help understanding how we got to where we are now. It also complements my earlier post that Brexit hasn’t really started yet.

In case you haven’t heard of him, Ivan Rogers is a former UK ambassador to the EU, so he knows rather well what he’s talking about. He resigned in January 2017 as he couldn’t support the governments negotiation strategy and his since then been giving lectures and speeches about the Brexit negotiations. This book is an edited version of one of the best received lectures he has given.

Focus is on strategy, not so much tactics/detail, as you would expect from a comparably short lecture/booklet. It highlights the mistakes and misinterpretations by the government in the preparations and negotiations which instantly put in on the back foot. It also highlights how many of the difficult decisions and trade offs haven’t been made yet but will have to be made as many of the promises made by some campaigners simply can’t be met.

An interesting (and for some eye opening, if only they were to read it) essay, well worth the time. Published in 2019, so very current even after the latest developments.

A few thoughts/warnings on “I just want Brexit to be done and over with”

I haven’t blogged/written much about politics here, mostly keeping it to G+ (which is now closing down). With Brexit going into overdrive at the moment and the final days before the deadline stumbling from crisis to crisis I’ve decided to start sharing the occasional thought on this blog as well. While many other EU citizens (incl several of my friends) have decided to leave the UK I have no plans to leave even though I’m very worried about Brexit and its impact on the economy and more. And while I haven’t made as much progress as I had hoped I’m still planning to obtain British citizenship. More about these two topics in another post, for this post I’d like to focus on a sentiment I’ve heard from both politicians and the general population increasingly often over the last few weeks: “I just want Brexit to be done and over with and get on with my life”:

I’m afraid you’re in for a very very rude awakening. Brexit hasn’t even started yet. Yes, you read that correctly. All we’ve had so far was the warming up phase.

Despite all the talk about a “deal/no deal Brexit” no deal has been negotiated yet. What is currently being discussed is the “Withdrawal Agreement (WA)” to agree the terms under which the UK leaves the EU (originally scheduled for 29/Mar/2019, but depending on developments that might be pushed out). We’ve all seen how difficult that has turned out to be with the various parties and fractions within the parties in the UK hugely divided about what they want, what is acceptable to them, what isn’t acceptable to them, who they could blame for not getting what they want, you name it. But all that was pretty much just about the WA (yes, there was some talk about red lines and the future relationship as well as declarations about intentions, but nothing legally binding in regards to the future relationship).

Negotiations about the future relationship with the EU, the trade deal with the EU, haven’t even started yet. And this future relationship will be even more difficult, even more controversial than the WA. Some want a quite close relationship with the EU, some as little as possible to do with the EU and others various shades inbetween. And none of them will be willing to compromise, same as now with the WA. Oh, and those kind of negotiations usually take many years. While the transition phase following the WA is set for 2 years (ish) it’s much more likely that negotiating a UK/EU trade deal will take a minimum of 5 years, quite possibly closer to 10 years.

Then there are all the other trade deals the UK will have to negotiate as it won’t be able to benefit from the dozens and dozens of trade deals it currently benefits from through EU membership. While some might be temporarily rolled over the majority will need to be renegotiated. And that will be tough, very tough. To start with the UK will have a significantly reduced negotiation power, for the simple reason that the UK is quite small compared to the still huge EU. Meaning the countries the UK will be negotiating with will demand much bigger concessions than what they were able to demand from the EU. And another important point: The whole world was able to watch how the UK was behaving during the WA negotiations with the EU, including public discussions/statements by UK politicians how the UK could escape (or better wiggle out of) the agreements the UK had just made with the EU. Having watched this no country negotiating with the UK will have much trust in anything the UK agrees to and they will be very wary about any promises made by the UK. Oh, and of course similar to the negotiations with the EU these negotiations will take many years.

There will also be a rude awakening for anyone believing into the “Taking back control of our laws” claims and slogans. The UK will turn from a rule maker and influencer (as a large member of the EU) into a rule taker. How? Simple: There are three large trading areas in the world (China, the US and the EU), as a smaller player (which the UK will be) you either follow their rules or you don’t trade. Your products and services either follow their rules or you can’t sell them. Neither to the big three or to almost all other countries as they will have mostly modelled their rules on the big three. The UK could of course have lower standards (in order to reduce bureaucracy/red tape), but that won’t help the UK exporters. Now the UK could of course introduce higher standards, but that would be the exact opposite of what the Brexiteers were promising, reducing restrictions (remember their outrage about the EU restricting the wattage of vacuum cleaners?) and removing “red tape”. Discussions about this topic will rage for many years.

Should there be a Crash Brexit (formerly known as cuddly “No Deal Brexit”) the impact will be even bigger and almost certainly felt even longer. Companies will implement their contingency plans (if they haven’t already done so) and a lot of business (and likely with it jobs) will leave the UK, some sooner, some later. There’s a very good chance there will be shortages in certain foods, medicines and possibly other things.

Not to mention the blame game depending on how badly Brexit goes wrong. That will run for probably the next decade. At least.

Or to summarise all the above, if you think Brexit will disappear from the news any time soon once the dirty deed is done you are dead wrong. On the contrary, it will only get worse.

Nothing but the truth…