The Big Beatles Sort Out Ep 18

It has literally just struck me that I haven’t been sharing on here when new episodes of my Beatles podcast are published!

In this podcast, my brother and I discuss 5 random Beatles tracks and I score each for music, production and lyrics, so that eventually I will have my personal list of my favourite Beatles songs!

The best part is really Paul, my brother, who is a super Beatles fan and does tons of awesome research to help me along the way.

Anyway, we are 18 eps in with 2 bonuses, so you’ve got a lot to listen to! The show is linked below, from there you can listen, follow, like, share and review! And please do! It is also available on all major podcast platforms.

Thanks! I will try and remember to post each week when new episodes are released.

https://anchor.fm/garry-abbott

Vegan Menu

I’ve not posted many recipes the last few days as mostly all my meals have been straightforward or from recipe books or other sites.

So, I thought I’d share a list of some recent vegan meals I’ve had, in case it helps inspire anyone else scrabbling around for Veganuary!

Vegan Pizza.

You don’t really need me to tell you to swap out the cheese for a vegan alternative and load up with as much veg as you can! I went for broccoli, mushroom, pineapple, sun dried tomatoes and peppers! I also favour tinned tomatoes with herbs for my base sauce.

Avacado Sauce Pasta.

My first attempts at cooking with avacado worked out nicely! You basically blitz the avacado flesh with olive oil, garlic, lemon and whatever else you fancy (I used sun dried tomatoes again as I’ve got some open!) and mix it into cooked pasta. I had this with some vegan sausages and it was creamy and quite like carbonara!

Sunday Roast!

Sounds obvious again, but finding out my usual gluten free beef gravy was already vegan meant all I had to do was cut out the meat and Yorkshire pudding for a massive treat meal! I replace the meat with either a vegan burger or Butternut Squash fondant, plus make sure to have lots of textures of roasted, steamed and mashed veg.

Mushroom Risotto

I made a standard mushroom risotto without the butter, and with vegan cheese, and it worked just as well. Had it with asparagus and green beans and a bit of toasted GF bread for extra bulk.

Actifry Tofu with peanut sauce.

This one had mixed results. Air frying the tofu gave an interesting crunchy texture but not quite found the way of using this versatile ingredient the way I like it yet, though was perfectly tasty with a peanut butter and coconut milk based sauce and coconut rice!

Potato and Spinach Saag Aloo

This made a nice simple side to my usual veg curry. The spinach was very tasty. I used normal potatoes which went a little mushy. Next time I’ll use tinned new potatoes.

Anyway, hope this gives some people some ideas! Let me know any you think I should try or if you’ve had a go at any of these!

Mushroom and pepper with pasta in an avacado and sun dried tomato sauce.

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 avacado, peeled, halved, stone removed

2 large flat mushrooms, sliced

4 spring onions

Splash of dry vermouth

1/2 red pepper, sliced

1 clove of garlic

Half lemon juice

Handful of fresh parsley

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

4 sun dried tomatoes

A splash of almond/rice/soya milk

5 bundles Tagliatelle, or enough for 1 person if using another pasta

Steps

Boil pasta according to packet instructions, (try and keep al dente, especially if using gluten free)

While pasta is cooking, put avacado, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, splash of milk alternative, sun dried tomatoes, salt and pepper and parsley into blender and mix until smooth (it’s okay if there are still chunks of sundried tomatoes!) If needed, add a splash of water to loosen up.

In a pan over medium low heat, add remaining olive oil and fry spring onions for 2-3 minutes.

Add garlic and peppers to pan and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add a splash of vermouth and turn up heat to reduce for a few minutes.

Add mushrooms and fry until just starting to cook through.

Drain pasta and add to pan off the heat.

Pour over avocado sauce and replace on low heat while stirring to mix it all together for 2 minutes.

Serve with steamed broccoli for a light dinner, or with sliced vegan sausages for a larger appetite!

Vegan Cottage Pie

Serves 4

I adapted this from a recipe given to me by a friend. Thanks Bishop!

Ingredient

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced

1 parsnip, peeled and diced

1/4 Butternut Squash, peeled and diced (from the top section without the seeds)

1 clove garlic, crushed.

1 teaspoon Miso paste

Pack of vegan mince alternative (optional, just increase the other veg if not)

1 tablespoon tomato puree

200ml veggie stock

2 teaspoons vegan gravy granules (I use Tesco gluten free and vegan beef gravy which thickens well)

3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered

50 grams smoky vegan cheese

Steps

Steam the sweet potatoes and potatoes for 25 mins or until soft.

While potatoes are cooking, gently fry the onion, carrot, parsnip and butternut squash in the oil for 15 mins to soften and caramelize.

Add the garlic and fry for another minutes.

Add the tomato puree, Miso paste and vegan mince and stir to combine.

Add the gravy granules to the hot vegetable stock, stir to combine and then add to pan.

Stir well and cover for 10-15 mins while sorting out the potatoes.

Mash the steamed potatoes and sweet potatoes together with a little vegetable spread and the vegan cheese.

Remove lid from the pan and allow mixture to reduce if needed for a while.

Pour mix into an oven dish and top with the mash in an even layer.

Bake for 25 mins at 180 degrees.

Serve with more veggies of choice! I had it with roast potatoes (done in actifryer), steamed broccoli and green beans!

Butternut Squash and Caulfower Curry

Serves 2

Ingredients

1/2 Buttetnut Squash, peeled, cut into 2cm chunks

1/2 head of Cauliflower, cut into florets

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

2cm root ginger, peeled and grated.

1 tablespoon Garam Masala

1 tablespoon Cumin Seeds

2 tablespoons mild curry powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 tin light coconut milk

1 vegetable stock cube/pot

Steps

Cook butternut squash on a tray in preheated oven, coated in a little oil for 45 mins – 1 hr at 180 degrees, or approx 30 mins in an Actifryer. They should feel soft and look caramelized before taking out. In meantime make sauce:

Heat oil in a wide pan over a low heat, add onions and soften for 5 mins.

Add cumin, garam masala, curry powder and turmeric. Stir and simmer for another 5 mins.

Add ginger and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.

If needed, add a splash of water to loosen spices and onions into almost a paste.

Add caulfower florets and tomato puree. Stir until coated in spices.

Add coconut milk and vegetable stock. Stir, cover and simmer.

After 20 minutes, add in the cooked butternut squash and simmer for a further 15 mins (enough time to boil some rice!). If mixture is a little loose, uncover and allow to reduce.

Serve with rice, naan and poppadoms!

Suspended

Suspended.

A garden in winter.

Branches hanging low with the weight of the snow-capped, frozen splinters waiting to happen.

Shattered grass, ice rubble borders.

Uneasy chill harmony poised to spring into moreish discord.

Disgorged from light, dark nights over glazed blood orange, greet us, put us down.

Still.

Waiting.

Crunchy Mayo Veg filled Baked Sweet Potato

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato (bigger the better!)

Handful of plum or cherry tomatoes

Two thick slices of cucumber

A quarter bell pepper (your preferred colour!)

3 pickled gherkin slices

1 dessert spoon of vegan Mayo

Vegan cheese

Steps

Bake sweet potato for at least 1 hour at 200 degrees in oven or airfryer with paddle taken out, until soft all the way through.

Cut the tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and gherkin into small chunks and mix with the mayo. Season well with salt and pepper.

Slice open sweet potato, spoon in crunchy filling, top with grated vegan cheese… enjoy!

Veganuary Recipe. Aubergine and Onion Bake.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

1 aubergine

1 onion

50g breadcrumbs (can use gluten free to make whole recipe GF)

50g grated vegan cheddar style cheese

1 vegetable stock cube

1 clove of garlic

400g tin chopped tomatoes (or just chop up whole tomatoes in the tin!)

1 tsp smoked paprika

Sweet potatoes chips/fries

Corn on the cob

Steps.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Cut 1 aubergine into chunks, sprinkle with salt and leave aside.

Mix 50g vegan cheese and 50g breadcrumbs, leave aside.

Cut 1 onion into thick slices and fry in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until soft.

Add aubergine and fry for another 5 mins. Add more oil or vegan spread if pan seems dry.

Add 1 clove crushed garlic. Fry for 1 min.

Add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 1 veg stock cube and 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika.Mix and heat until bubbling.

Pour mix into oven dish, cover with cheese and breadcrumbs mix.

Put in oven for 25 mins.

Serve with sweet potato chips and corn on the cob.

Back Blogging – New Year Recap

Hello!

I’ve been away a while, mainly raising my daughter who is now 3 years old and therefore totally independent, allowing me to restart my blog!

But seriously, I think I may just have enough time to occasionally jot some words down here and there again. So, other than having a small child for the last 3 years, what have I been up to?

Well, not writing, that’s for sure. Since the release of my last book, ‘Transported’, I have taken a break from writing mainly due to the time I didn’t have with a not very sleepy baby in the house, and the need to step back a bit from it to figure out what I want to do next. I won’t lie, none of my books have particularly flown off the shelf, mainly because they are not on shelves, and I find it hard (and excruciatingly boring) to market my books online without wanting to punch a hole in the internet.

I may come back to it again, maybe even in 2021, but I’m putting no pressure on myself and I think I would do it differently, perhaps as a series of blogs that can build up audience over time. I have a slight hankering for a big, overblown, self indulgent Fantasy novel, so maybe that.

What I have been doing is getting back into my music (much easier to find an hour or two in the studio with a small child than it is to concentrate on writing a book) – and have a couple of projects on the go, plus lots and lots of new songs in general. You can find most of them on my SoundCloud page gazamatazabbott | Free Listening on SoundCloud – and in 2021 I have a new ‘Pop Punk’ project coming with better production values and, of course, a fully illustrated Sci-Fi band to front it. Look out for ‘Bag Ratty Bro’ popping up in a Dimension near you!

Also I’ve launched a new Podcast ‘The Big Beatles Sort Out’ The Big Beatles Sort Out • A podcast on Anchor (also find it on all other major platforms) which is 16 episodes in and going strong. I am attempting to score all the core catalogue Beatles songs by exploring and scoring 5 at random each week with the help of my Beatle mad (and very knowledgeable) brother Paul. It’s great fun, and a brilliant excuse in this less than great year to spend time with my brother chatting about something we both love. I hope you get chance to have a little listen. In my opinion, we get settled in after about 6 episodes to the format, but still worth listening to them all!

Apart from all that, I am now a Business Intelligence Analyst at my place of work, which happens to be a Housing Association / Charity group, so it means a lot to me to do it well as it actually helps people down the line. So I am a busy soul, but grateful I have work, family and other outlets to keep me going though all this 2020 buisiness.

Hopefully this won’t be a one-off update. I will make a resolution to try and keep it going throughout 2021 and hopefully with have some more exciting projects to share with you all soon!

I hope anyone reading this has a great New Year and a better 2021.

Bye!

Back to The Shadows.

pump2018

The cat dashed past Gerard’s legs and up the stairs in a black, scrabbling blur. Moments earlier the backdoor had crashed open, squeaking and clattering noisily in the frame.

He ran to the backroom and wrenched the door closed against the resistant wind and whipping rain. Gerard locked the door, leaving the key slightly turned. He took a final glance through the frosted pane into the garden, weakly lit by a neighbour’s security light, and returned to the living room.

The family watched as he knelt on the sofa under the front window and peered out into the street. They sat across the room, on the larger sofa, huddled together in the far corner.

‘I take it that’s the last of you?’ Gerard said without turning from his watch.

‘I told you, we’re all here’ the father replied.

Gerard turned his head and grimaced.

‘You didn’t mention the cat. I don’t remember a cat. I don’t remember any of this. Thought I would. Any other potential visitors I should know about?’

Of course I didn’t mention the cat! The father wanted to scream at the intruder. You break into my house, threaten my family, and you think I give a damn about the cat? But instead he just nodded and simply said, ‘No. Why does it matter?’

Gerard turned to the window. The family watched the leathery curls on the back of his neck wrinkle as he spoke.

‘Nothing matters now. Everywhere is locked. No getting in, no getting out. Now it begins.’

Despite her husband’s hurried appeal for calm when the intruder was out of the room, the mother struggled to hide the frustration in her voice.

What begins? What do you want?’ she snapped, clinging to her son tightly.

‘I don’t want anything. I’m here to save you from what’s out there.’ Gerard peered into the gloom between the streetlights.

‘There’s nothing out there’ said the mother.

Gerard turned, smiled, and sat facing them. As he crossed his legs the mother noticed how he repeatedly toyed with the laces of his gnarled boots. A nervous tick? Obsessive behaviour? She’d seen it before somewhere she couldn’t place.

‘Not yet. We’re in for a long night. You might want to get some bedding down for the little one. Looks like he might need it.’

The son, despite the adrenalin and confusion, was nodding into his mother’s armpit, the whites of his eyes rolling up under flittering eyelids.

‘I’ll go’ said the father.

‘We’ll both go’ insisted Gerard, pulling himself up to his intimidating six and five, wreathed in his long, worn leather jacket.

The father ran another mental bout against the monster before him. There was no way he could beat him in a fair fight, and he guessed there’d be nothing fair about it. When the intruder had first appeared in the house just twenty minutes previously, having casually just walked in from the street through the unlocked door, he had quickly subdued the father’s attempts at retaliation with little more than a sturdily outstretched arm and a firm grip.

So far the intruder had revealed no weapons, but that coat could hide a small armoury. There was nothing in the house the father could use anyway, save a sturdy walking stick in the storm-porch, but that was locked away like everything else.

He got up and walked to the corridor and was signalled by the intruder to go first up the stairs. As he reached the top he realised there was one weapon that was available to all, given the right circumstances. He stopped and waited for the footsteps behind to catch up.

‘What are you waiting for?’ said the intruder, one foot half on the landing, his knees bent and arms spread to the walls.

The father turned, planted his hands firmly on either side of the stair walls, lifted his leg and kicked the intruder squarely in the chest, putting his whole weight behind his straightening knee.

Gerard instinctively reached forward to grab the assailing leg, but was already toppling backwards as he did so. His hands flayed pointlessly into the void between them. He hit the steps hard, with the weight of his body on top of him, and then tumbled through all the angles to the foot of the stairs.

The mother came running out of the living room, in an instant seeing the contorted intruder and closing the door behind her.

‘Stay in there darling, just stay in there a moment’ she called back, holding the handle to stop her son from following. The handle wobbled and then fell still.

‘That’s it,’ she said, trying to hide the shake in her voice, ‘just have a little lie down, we’ll be there in a minute.’

The father descended the stairs quickly, lunged and landed purposefully with his knee on the intruder’s throat, figuring he could at least hold him down him while his wife and child ran to safety. All the heap below him could manage, however, was to turn his head slightly to meet his eye.

‘I came to save you’ Gerard moaned, pushing back against the waves of pain and cold numbness that phased across his being.

‘Don’t move!’ the mother yelled. ‘I’m calling the police.’

She thrust her hand into the intruder’s pockets and pulled out the keys he had stashed away earlier after bursting into their home and overpowering her husband. She felt a guilty pride now as all the intruder could do to try and stop her was strain against unresponsive muscles and limp limbs, thanks to her husband’s besting.

She unlocked the storm porch and retrieved the mobile phones the intruder had sealed away.

‘Close the door’ he whispered through strained breath, but the mother didn’t listen, busy as she was frantically checking each of the devices.

‘No signal?’ said the father. She nodded.

‘Use the landline. I’ll be okay.’

She ran to the kitchen.

‘Don’t go out. Don’t let anyone in. Not till light. Please!’ Gerard’s eyes bulged with the effort of speaking.

The father twisted his knee. He could barely force out words through the anger.

‘You come into my house, you say we will die if we don’t do what you ask, you threaten my family and now you beg me not to call the police?’

‘They can’t help you!’ Gerard pleaded. ‘They can’t help anyone! Not tonight. Only me.’

‘Why? Because there’s something ‘out there’? There’s something in here, and you’re done, man. You’re sick, you’re a sick…’

The father was interrupted by the sound of his wife’s cursing from down the hall. He called out to her and she returned, clutching the telephone handset.

‘There’s nothing’ she said, handing it over.

The father pressed fruitlessly at buttons, listening to the silence.

‘You cut the lines? Why would you do that?’

The intruder seemed to be coming to some kind of peace. His breathing slowed, his features calmed, his eyes looked past the father and to the ceiling.

‘They’re all down. Everything’s down. I came back to stop it from happening to you again. I failed.’

‘Damn right you failed. Sarah. Go next door, now. Get the police, and an ambulance.’

There was a loud scratch from behind the living room door.

‘Darling?’ said the mother tentatively.

‘I told you. They’re here. But how can… How did I make it? If…’ the intruder babbled weakly. There was another scratch in the wood of the door, deep and jarring. And another. It grew louder, furious.

‘Mummy!’ the son shouted from beyond.

‘Get him out!’ she yelled at her husband.

The father jumped to his feet and quickly but cautiously eased the door open. His heart pounded violently as the cat flew past him and down the corridor to the kitchen. The son followed soon after, sniffling from the fright of the dark living room and the sound of animal claws. He stood blinking in the doorway.

‘Just the cat!’ the father said furiously to the intruder, but the intruder said nothing. His eyes twitched urgently, but the words wouldn’t come to his lips, his breath failing in his throat. All he could do was look to the top of the stairs.

‘What?’ said the father. ‘What’s up there?’ He peered up, trying to follow the intruder’s line of sight but could see nothing on the dark landing.

‘It was me!’ the intruder croaked suddenly and violently. ‘I let it in. But why send me back here if… Oh dear.’ the intruder choked on the end of his sentence.

There was another scratch, and a deep, rattling growl, this time it came from upstairs.

‘But, Claw just went to the kitchen?’ said the mother.

‘Probably a stray’ the father said. ‘I’ll go and have a look.’

‘I’m coming too’ insisted the mother. ‘What if he wasn’t alone?’

The father looked at the dazed son in the doorway.

‘We can’t leave him. Not here, not with,’ he nodded at the intruder who had closed his eyes, and was very, very still. ‘Oh god. I think he’s…’ the father stopped short of saying the word in front of his son, even the sound of it in is head made him shudder.

The mother turned the boy by the shoulders and stepped him into the porch.

‘We’re going out soon, so you put your shoes on, Mummy and Daddy are just going to get some things. I’m going to close the door. Only for a few seconds, I promise.’

The son sat down on the cold tiles. The father winked and rubbed his hair before locking the door behind him and heading upstairs with his wife.

That was the night the shadows came in from the darkness and waited for those who went looking. That was the night that changed everything.

Gerard fiddled with the laces of his shoes while he waited for his parents to return.

THE END

A note from the Author:

Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it, and it would be great if you could help me reach more people by sharing this on social media by using the buttons below, or copying and pasting the web address far and wide.

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Thanks.

Garry.