Food, Reviews, Unboxing

More Food!

Oooooooh yes. This is actually my July Degustabox, but as I only got it when we got back from our holiday during the last couple of days of July, I decided not to rush it and instead try as many things from it as I can before writing about it.

I have to say I’m very pleased with the contents of this box. There’s a wide range of different food stuffs and there should be something for everyone. Also, I love it that even though the box is great value for money, the items in it are still very much affordable. So it’s not like trying out luxury products that I’m never going to repurchase, but instead it’s finding new items that I could buy again! Love it.

  1. Frylight Cooking Spray With Avocado Oil £2.99. I already use Frylight oils for frying, but hadn’t tried the avocado one yet. They’re a range of 1kcal cooking sprays that make frying quite a bit healthier.
  2. Maille Dijon Original £1.99. They’ve included a recipe (Maille Dijon Original Fillet Steak) that uses this. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks easy to make and yummy.
  3. OLOVES Healthy Olive Snacks 2x £0.99. Loved them. They were seasoned with chilli, garlic and oregano. I wouldn’t have expected them to be quite so nice provided the type of packaging, but they were lovely and would be a great addition to a lunchbox .
  4. Crafted £1.80. I got the Mango & Passionfruit one. It’s quite sweet, being a juice, but also refreshing. I quite liked it.
  5. Blossom Hill Spritz £4.99. You can choose whether you want your box to include alcohol or not. I currently have mine including it so I got a bottle of this very fresh and summery wine in my box.
  6. Rowntree’s Randoms 30% Less Sugar £1.29. They were really nice. I’m loving the less sugary versions of things and if you can make sweets that are essentially pure sugar less sugary then I’m all for it.
  7. Weetabix Additions Coconut & Raisin £2.99. I haven’t tried them yet but am very much looking forward to it.
  8. Merchant Gourmet Simply Cooked Red & White Quinoa £1.99. Again one thing that I haven’t tried yet, but am excited to try.
  9. Ryvita Thins Three Cheese £1.89. Oh my delicious goodness. They were sooooooo nice. I think they were one of my most favourite things in this box actually. I could’ve devoured the whole thing if I didn’t have to share. I guess I should be glad that I did have to share though haha.

Overall I’m very happy with what I got in there and am eagerly looking forward to my August box.

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(Also if you’re now thinking it’s something you would like to try then I’m more than happy to share my invitation link which gives you £7 discount for the first box, making it £5.99, and some points for me!)

I’ll go get some more of those three cheese thins now. Or maybe not… I probably shouldn’t.

G.

Food, My life, Reviews, Unboxing

New Box!!! Omnomnom ;)

In my previous post (or a couple of posts back, I can’t remember) I mentioned that I’ve subscribed to a new monthly box and that it’s quite a bit different from the beauty boxes that I’ve been getting so far. Well, a couple of days ago I finally received the first one of those boxes and I’ve been itching to share it with you! I have to tell you though, in some ways I wish I’d have waited a month before placing my order (you’ll see why in a moment), but I was just too excited to try it out.

Tadaaaaaaaah! Degustabox!

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Yes, apparently you can also subscribe to food! The reason why I wish I’d waited a month is because I really need to be good with snacking and stuff before the wedding so I’d fit into my dress haha. But it has been another example of the tiny amounts of willpower I have actually found from somewhere because I haven’t yet devoured everything in the box. I’m rather impressed with myself.

Firstly, the box itself is soooooooo cute! Secondly, it’s really well packaged. I think my food felt really safe and snug in there. Thirdly, you get this pretty little leaflet that tells you what you have in the box and on the other side there’s a recipe – this month it was ‘Beer can chicken on the BBQ’. And last but not least – all the fooooooood. Oh my goodness me.

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There’s a bit of everything and I’m not going to go through it all in detail as I haven’t actually tried all of it yet. However I must say that I really like how there’s a couple of light bites (Mango with Vanilla Yoghurt Fruit Chips + Superfood Fruit Bar) in there, a few organic bits (Berrywhite Organic Drinks), some slightly naughtier snacks (Haribo Summer Frenzy + Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread Scottie Dogs) and actual cooking ingredients (Capsicana Brazilian Chilli & Coconut Quick Cook Sauce + Schwartz Authentic American Flavour) as well as drinks (Westons Cider + Eisberg Sauvignon Blanc Alcohol Free Wine). It’s got something for everyone, I think and I can’t wait to actually dig in there in a couple of weeks! Gobblegobblegobbleomnomnom.

So far I’ve had the ciders which surprisingly enough I really liked. I’m usually not a big fan of appley apple ciders, but the addition of rhubarb in one and damson in the other was rather pleasant. Then I also had the Berrywhite organic Lemon & Lime drink, which was quite mellow as it was juice blended with mineral water and I also had the alcohol free wine which again I quite enjoyed and would buy again.

Uhmmmm yeah so that was what I was so excited about. Food. I love food. Unfortunately it loves me back so much that once it’s in my mouth it’s like ‘Yeah, I like this girl, let’s just hop on her hips and stay there until the end of times’. Oh well, I’m sure many of you can relate to this and I’m not alone.

I’ll go and try not to eat any of the goodies now. Or have just one…

G.

 

 

 

Food, Recipes

Coconut + Cranberry Cookies

It’s been aaaaages since I last shared any of my recipes with you, so I thought it’s about time I do just that. Last night I baked some cookies and just on the off chance that they may turn out delicious, I did my best to document the process. It wasn’t without a few bumps along the road though. The recipe that I used as a base to change to suit my taste had all the measurements in cups, but I’ve never been very good at following said measurements, so I wanted to convert it to grams. Which I did. With some ingredients… And completely forgot to weigh the others. Sooooo yeah. I did manage to get all the measurements in grams by the end, and even though it was quite a lot of hassle, I’d say it was worth it. I have a recipe! Woohooo!

Coconut + Cranberry Cookies

  • 100g of coconut oil (it should be soft, but ideally not quite liquid)
  • 100g of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g of flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 100-150g of coconut flakes (depending on how coconutty you want it)
  • 50g of dried cranberries

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Step 1 – Mix the soft coconut oil and sugar together. It shouldn’t take any real effort to be honest. It should feel like they’re long lost lovers who have just been reunited, know that they belong together and then they merge to form a blob. Hmm, I need to work on this particular story I think. In any case, in a perfect world the ‘blob’ should be nice and smooth but as I’m not always the brightest of bakers, my sugar had quite a few lumps in it and I couldn’t really get to all of them so I decided to just go with it. It worked out in the end so I wouldn’t worry too much about lumps.

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Step 2 – Add the egg and vanilla and just keep on mixing. You can see my mixture still has quite a few sugar lumps here but hey, there are worse things in the world so once again I just let it go (although I did manage to crush a few more of them at this stage – as they were more visible, it was a bit easier).

Step 3 – Add the flour and baking powder and just keep mixing, just keep mixing, mixing, mixing. Also, you’re ‘supposed to’ add the flour gradually, but I just went for it and added all of it in one go. Now, there’s one occasion where I’d advise against adding it all at once, and that’s if you want your cookies to be chewier. If you add the flour gradually you can stop if it looks too dry for your liking. If you’re a bit of a devil-may-care baker like me, then at this stage it may start to feel a bit too dry, but it’s not. It’ll all work out in the end, I promise.

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Step 4 – Add the coconut and cranberries. You probably already know what else to do at this stage without me having to repeat it. To be on the safe side though – just keep mixing, mixing, mixing. It’ll look and feel drier still, but it’s fine. You’ll soon find out how it’s going to work out and what kind of sorcery it is.

Step 4.1 – Chill the mixture for about 30 minutes. Also, turn your oven on. I had mine at gas mark 5/375°f/191°C, but if your oven is not an uncooperative maniac, you could probably get away with it being at gas mark 4/350°f/177°C, to make sure they don’t over bake.

Step 5 – That’s where the magic happens. As the coconut oil in the dough is now chilled and quite solid, the dough will be pretty hard. However, as the melting point for coconut oil is super low, once you’ve spooned out a seemingly crumbly and dry piece of dough, just place it on your hand and quickly press it together to form a flat ball shaped dough blob. The heat from your hands will melt the oil on the surface of the ball and help it stick together. To not let all the hard work of chilling the dough go to waste though, try to make the actual human contact with them as brief as possible and if you do need more time to form the balls, you can just pop them back in the fridge for a bit.

Step 5.1 – Pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes. This step actually makes me quite frustrated. My oven is really old and I never know what temperature it actually is in different parts of the oven, so my first lot were in for 20 minutes, but second lot only for 15 minutes. So I think with a normal oven it should take around 10-15 minutes to bake them enough that they’re still a bit soft and chewy. It will also depend on how flat you make them. The thinner they are the quicker they bake.

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Step 6 – Enjoy your freshly baked coconut and cranberry cookies!

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Quick steps:

  1. Combine coconut oil and sugar
  2. Add egg and vanilla. Mix until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Add flour and baking powder (gradually if looking for chewier result)
  4. Add coconut and cranberries
  5. Chill dough for 30 minutes
  6. Preheat oven to gas mark 4/350°f/177°C (or equivalent, if you have a pain in the neck oven that’s never the right temperature)
  7. Form flat balls from the dough
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes

That was my last night’s impromptu baking extravaganza. My SO said he thinks they’re the best cookies I’ve ever baked. I mean, he says it almost every time I bake/cook something, but I do believe him still. I think I just get better with practice, like we all do. Right? Right?! Well, that’s what I choose to believe anyway.

They’re all gone now by the way. To the last crumb. Omnomnom.

G.

 

Food, My life

Some (weird) things I don’t like.

I thought I’ll keep the title to the point. Over the years I’ve realised that there are some things that I don’t particularly like and today I thought it’d be great to share these things with you. I’m not sure why I thought it’s a great idea, but just hear me out. Some of the things are a little out there and some of them you can probably relate to. We’ll see where this goes.

I shall start with the worst one. I don’t even want to write it down as I don’t want to know that they’re on my blog. But I shall be strong and overcome my fear/deeeeeeeep dislike for a few minutes. Earwigs. That should say it all. They’re nasty creepy crawlies who seem to be everywhere towards the end of summer and it’s just… *shudders*. If that wasn’t bad enough, I do actually have a horrendous childhood memory that includes these … things. For some reason there always seems to be bazillions of them around in August on the island where my Nan lives. I’d never been keen on them. One summer however, (I was probably around 10 years old, give or take a couple of years) we decided to put a tent up in the garden and camp out. It was all nice and fun until the next morning the tent was absolutely crawling with these things. Dozens of them. Oh. My. Shudders. Trust me, that’d be enough to make anyone scream on top of their lungs and run in the opposite direction.

I also don’t like balloons. That’s a bit more manageable – I don’t scream like a fog horn when I see one – but I still don’t like them. I’m absolutely fine with them as long as they’re not inflated. Inflating them is what gets me the worst. I’m just terrified that they get filled to the breaking point and that they then pop unexpectedly. I’m kiiiiind of OK with them when they’ve already been safely inflated and if it doesn’t look like they’re too full. I still don’t enjoy them, but I can be around them. Maybe that’s something I can work on. Oh, I also don’t like it when they pop up unexpectedly. That can make me cry. It’s so weird. But like, if I was walking around the corner and a kid with a balloon bumped into me, I’d probably actually cry and possibly run away. Yeah, definitely something to work on.

Allergies. Obvious reasons. I don’t think I need to go into any more detail. I should probably go through one of those allergy tests to see what actually gets me though. I seem to have permanently runny nose.

This one is again a bit of an odd one (or so I’ve been told). I don’t like vacuum cleaners. When I was little we had the LOUDEST vacuum cleaner ever, and I remember it being terrifying. Since then I haven’t been the biggest fan of them and until I was way older than I’m going to admit, I’d hide in another room if someone brought the vacuum cleaner out. I’m quite alright with them now, but I still don’t enjoy them much.

Chocolate. I know, I know. You could probably understand balloons and vacuum cleaners but that’s where you draw the line, am I right? Well, it’s actually not by choice that I don’t like chocolate. It just makes me feel really sick. It’s very weird as I can have all other sweets with no problems (except the weight gain… that darned weight.. in fact, it’s probably for the best that I can’t have chocolate!). It’s something that I’m working on. I’m now in a place where I can have a piece of chocolate if I wash it down with a glass of water straight away. I can also have some chocolates that have a lot of filling. I’ll still need that water though. Also, sometimes it’s still enough if I smell chocolate somewhere and I’ll already feel nauseous.

I think that’s enough for now. Of course there’s more that I don’t like, but I think getting even these few things off my chest will do for now. Phew. What a burden it was! Thanks for listening. I really appreciate it.

I’ll go and try not to think of ᵉᵃʳʷᶦᵍˢ now. Not thinking of them. Nope. Nopenopenope. I’m OK. Not thinking about it. I’ll think of marshmallows instead. Nice and fluffy marshmallows.

Also, it was really hard to choose a picture for this post. I guess I could’ve just taken one of our vacuum cleaner or something… But I’m soooo tired after the super mega busy day I had and don’t really want to interact with it at the moment. Plus, how random would it be to have a vacuum cleaner as a featured image? Hmm, that’s actually kind of brilliant. I might change it tomorrow.

G.

 

Books, Challenges, Crafts, Food, My life

Of life in general, briefly. / Ups and downs

Hmm. It’s really weird what I now consider to be my ‘downs’ as they’re actually more of a ‘not that up’. It’s weird to explain, if you haven’t experienced it. But even on my days when I feel like I can’t really be bothered to do anything, which before would’ve found me in a dark hole, I can now just shrug it off. Dealing with things is so different when you’re not well. Also, realising how it’s different is hard when you’re in a place where things aren’t that great.

Now that I’ve noticed the changes I keep finding that I’m more conscious of the slight differences. For example, the other day I was focusing on the feelings in my stomach and the thoughts in my head and realised I last felt like this more than a decade ago. After struggling for so long, it feels amazing to realise that yes, my memories of feeling like this once upon a time weren’t just ‘memory goggles’ that make times gone by feel better, but that I actually did feel different then.

So, back to the topic — oooooh, I just thought that I should’ve told you about my Sunday. I was SO productive and got a buttload of things done. Hmm. Now I’m torn about whether to continue this post or start again. I think I’ll go ahead with my current one at the moment, but expect to see a ‘The Most Productive Sunday Yet’ post soon.

Ok, can I pleaaase get back to my post now? — Today I didn’t go bouncing/trampolining. I should’ve done, but didn’t. Why did I not go? Well, because today is one of the days when I felt like I’d rather eat a reasonably sized portion of lasagna and attempt to make T-shirt yarn. Check and check. The lasagna was a frozen ready meal and actually surprisingly nice. (Today was also one of the days where I couldn’t be bothered to cook from scratch.) T-shirt yarn however… well, I think I’ve got some room for improvement. The first one would be to get proper scissors. The second one would be to learn how to cut even strips… I’m pretty sure some toddlers could surpass me in cutting skills. Once I’ve practised a little bit more I’ll let you know in more detail how it goes and what I’m going to make of the yarn.

Speaking of toddlers (erm… young kids), I watched an episode of Masterchef Junior today. Turns out I’ve got a LOT to learn about cooking and I could learn a lot of it from kids — my fiance just tried to ask me what my post is about and as it’s about everything whilst being about nothing I didn’t want to lose my train of thought so I growled at him. He didn’t appreciate it. — that are half my age and less. My cooking skills were very extremely limited until I was in my early twenties, I think. That’s when I started to explore the world of food a bit more courageously.

Watching a cooking show also reminded me that I haven’t made many soups this year. For those of you who are wondering why I’ve singled out soups – my this year’s challenge is to make 12 different soups. So far I’ve made two. That’s low even for my usual cooking variety, not to mention that I’m supposed to be doing this to complete my challenge. I’m pretty certain I made a lot more soups when it wasn’t a challenge. I’ll need to look into this, I think.

Anyway, it may not have been as brief as the title suggested, but there it is. I got most of the stuff off my mind – a lot of it straight from thoughts to paper without much editing, so I hope you’ll enjoy a glimpse into my brrrrrain. Oh, the image I used is a picture of daffodils that are on my way to/from work. How cool is that. A sea of daffodils that I walk past every day.

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I’ll go try to make amends with my fiance now and then go read my book. I’m getting really close to the end of the last book in the trilogy and such interesting things are happening! I can’t even… Yeah. I’ll see you soon!

G.

Food, My life, Recipes

Rice Krispies Easter Eggs

As Easter’s only around the corner now I’d love to share one of my little Easter treats recipe with you lovely people. I don’t actually really celebrate it myself, it’s more just about the cute bunnies, decorating eggs and having egg tapping contests. Eggs. What a weird word.

Anyway, for some reason I have a couple of massive boxes of Rice Krispies at home and I don’t really like them in their original state, so I’m always trying to think of ways to use them up. One of the easiest recipes that I know for them is the ‘Traditional Rice Krispies Bars’. Ok, yes, that’s also the only recipe I know that uses them. That means that I just have to keep coming up with different variations and shapes and colours and flavours and all of that though. So still keeping it interesting.

To make 12 Rice Krispies Easter Eggs you’ll need the following:

  • 150g Rice Krispies
  • 200g Mini Marshmallows (if you don’t care about the pink undertone you can used mixed colours like I did, but if you want the base to be white then use just white ones)
  • 50g Butter
  • Food colourings (that’s optional, but if you want different coloured eggs you better have some at hand)
  • Egg shaped thing (I don’t know what they’re actually for, but I got a pack of 10 from my local supermarket for £1.50. If you don’t have any though, you can just make the shapes using your hands. Or spoons. You know, now that I think about it, I can’t actually vouch for this working without the egg things as it’s a very sticky mix… If you do try going freestyle, let me know how it works out.)
  • Oil spray (that’s if you use the egg things)
  • A bowl (microwave safe) OR a saucepan
  • Some utensils to mix the super sticky mixture and a spoon to spoon it
  • Muffin tin/egg box (as soon as I’d finished with my first egg I realised I’d forgotten that I’ll actually need to put them somewhere and panicked until I remembered I have my good old muffin tin where I can put them)
  • Sprinkles etc are also optional but will brighten it up quite nicely

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Step 1(Now, I did this in batches as I wanted to do each batch a different colour. You could make the whole mixture first and then divide it into how many colours you want, but I thought it’d be way too sticky for this, so I just did the first few steps a couple of times.) Place your butter and marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl. (Don’t use a tiny little jug like I did. I was a fool. Use a properly sized bowl instead. Be smarter than me and think ahead to step 4. Many regrets.) Once you’ve put them in the bowl, microwave for 30 seconds whilst keeping an eye on it. Marshmallows do funny things in the microwave. (Or you can use a saucepan and do it over the hob if you’d like.) 

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Step 2 – Mixmixmix. Mixmixmix. It’ll be oh so sticky and look like you’re never going to get the bowl clean again but it’s actually a lot easier to clean than you’d think. Make sure there aren’t any more marshmallow lumps left (you can see a few lumps on my picture) and microwave a little more if need be.

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Step 3 – Add the food colouring. The red didn’t make THAT much of a difference to my mix as it was already pink, but it made it a bit more vibrant. It’s very important to add the colouring now not later or earlier by the way.

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Step 4 – Add the Rice Krispies. Now, that’s where the regrets came to play. My jug was way too small for me to mix it all in here (these puffs are SO light in weight, which means you need to add quite a lot to get the required amount) without turning all the little puffy things into dust so I had to transfer all of it to a bigger bowl and continue there. Mix it all and make sure it’s done properly. I know it’ll probably look like the tiny amount of butter and marshmallow mixture couldn’t possibly coat all the puffs but it will. I have picture evidence. (Yes, once I’d used a proper bowl to combine it, I put it all back in the jug for picture purposes. Don’t ask. I’m somewhat ashamed.)

Step 5 – Spray the egg thing with oil so the mixture won’t stick to it. Then spoon some of it into the egg thing. I mean, you can probably try your best and it’ll still be at least a tiny bit of a sticky mess (if it’s not then you’re a wizard and I’d like to know how you managed it), but it’s relatively straightforward. Pack it in a little to make sure there’s some structure to it and then close the two egg halves for a few seconds to seal it before taking it out.

Step 6 – You’re pretty much done! Once you’ve taken the egg out, it’ll need some time to set so be good and give it some support and time. (Ask it if there’s anything you can do to make it more comfortable. Like make it some friends. That’s what I did.) I also gave them muffin case nests.

Step 7 – Decorate with sprinkles. Or chocolate. Or anything you want, really. They’re Easter eggs and meant to be made as pretty as you can.

Quick summary of the steps:

Step 1 – Place your butter and marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds whilst keeping an eye on it

Step 2 – Mix it and if there are any marshmallow lumps, microwave a little bit more

Step 3 – Add the food colouring

Step 4 – Add the Rice Krispies and mix thoroughly

Step 5 – Spray the egg thing with oil, fill with Rice Krispies mixture, pat tight, close the egg thing for a few seconds and then take the ‘egg’ out

Step 6 – Place the ‘egg’ in a muffin tin or egg box for support so it can set

Step 7 – Decorate with anything you want – sprinkles, melted chocolate, etc

Tadaaaaaah! They’re really easy to make, even if the process is a little messy. But like I said – it’s actually surprisingly alright to clean up. Must be some Easter Bunny magic at work. They’re also very yummy (my SO can vouch for that) and I can’t wait to make them again next weekend.

G.

 

Food, My life

We meat again…

Yes. Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys! It just happened without much thought. Ok, some thought went into it. And a small mental breakdown. I don’t know, don’t ask me. It was weird. Anyway, what made it happen was a choice between a weird mushy chickpea burger and a spicy chicken burger. Sooooo yeah.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m on about – I left meat out of my meals for just over a week in the beginning of February. Mainly just out of interest. Partially also to see if it’d have any health benefits (I think my stomach is a bit calmer now?). And also to introduce more veggies to my menu. Because I love veggies and I’m just too lazy to bother with them. I love fruit too. Like, a lot. I’m pretty sure I have my 5 a day of fruit and veg. Mostly fruit. I really need to cut back.

My conclusion is that I still love veggies, however I’m still too lazy to bother with them much. Actually no, I love veggies even more now, not just ‘still love them’. It has been somewhat of an eye-opener. I enjoyed most of my vegetable meals very much (except for that mushy chickpea burger). Some of them more so than their meaty counterparts. For example all the vegetarian pizzas that I tried (I mean, I had to be thorough with my research, so I needed to have as many as possible), were incredibly nice and I think I’ll continue to get them instead of ones with meat.

I think that’s the biggest thing I’m taking out of this whole experience. It’s so easy to get meat wrong and if it’s of poorer quality at all it’s just not nice. Vegetable dishes however are pretty much what they say on the label. And they’re often fresh. Not that meat foods aren’t fresh. Ok, I’m getting all muddled up here now.

Moral of the story – even though I’m not a true convert, I believe I’m now more likely to get/prepare a vegetarian meal than go for a poorer quality meat alternative.

And who knows, maybe I’ll ditch meat for a while again in the future. Until then I’ll just try to keep things balanced (the five doughnuts I’ve had throughout the day were to balance the… who am I kidding, they were just delicious).

(Also, yes, I know my picture for this post features fruit not vegetables/meat, which are the main topics, but I’m staying in a hotel at the moment and that’s all I’ve got to work with without leaving my room. Plus I sneakily mentioned fruit earlier. Just for this reason. And because I love fruit.)

G.