Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Hairy Plug Monster's recipe for Ginger Beer, made with a home grown ginger beer plant

The Hairy Plug Monster's Recipe for Ginger Ale (made with a home grown ginger ale plant)

A jar and lid which is big enough to contain the plant a (large mayonnaise jar is perfect for this)

a pint-sized measuring jug

Several clean and dry two-litre plastic bottles. (if you cant find any, your local supermarket usually has tap water in large bottles for about 10p, which in a way is also pretty handy, because you can use the water later)


A large pan ( the larger the better)

A fine cloth for straining the plant (The weapon of choice is Muslin, but my friend who passed this recipe to me has used terry nappies in the basically anything will do.)


Dried ginger powder

Dried yeast

Sugar, the type of sugar you use will affect the final taste, in the batch I made I used a raw demerara, which produced a subtle caramel effect.
Juice of four lemons


Making the Plant

The plant is a mixture of dried ginger, yeast, sugar and water. This creates a yeast culture.

In the jar, place one teaspoon of dried yeast, two teaspoons of dried ginger, four teaspoons of sugar and a pint (600ml) of cold water.

Stir and keep at room temperature.

Feed the plant every day with two teaspoons of dried ginger and four teaspoons of sugar. Stir after feeding. ( it is that easy

The plant will be ready after one week.

Making the Ginger Ale

Place 1kg (2lb) of sugar and two pints of boiling water in the large pan. The sugar will dissolve.
Add the juice of the four lemons to the pan.

Strain the contents of the jar - the plant - through the cloth into the pan.( See below for what is to be done with the solid portion of the plant.) Trust me you need to seriously resist the temptation to try the sediment, it is definitely YAK material

Add 14 pints of room temperature water. ( if your pan wont take 14 pints, then you need to do a bit of maths, and split the mixture, this is where the bottled tap water comes in handy, it makes for easy calculation)

Stir the mixture and transfer to the bottle. Fill the bottles about seven-eighths full as you need to allow for expansion.(I cannot stress how important this bit is)

Squeeze the air out of the bottles to stop them exploding under pressure from their contents.( and this is pretty important toooo)

Store the bottles in a safe place at room temperature, and leave for three to four weeks to 'brew'.

Discard half of the solid from the plant or give it to someone so they may start their own. (yeh but dont forget to tell them where you got the recipe )

Place the remaining half in a clean jar with a pint of water and continue to feed as above. and start the whole process over again.

My own results were surprisingly very good, although I did shake a bottle out of curiosity and then opened it about 10 mins later ....KABOOOOOOM all over the place,

I have since learnt that, if you open the bottle really, really slowly and let the gas ease itself out you have set yourself up for a damn fine drink.

I have this recipe on email as well. so if you want to have a try, email....

The next batch I make I might cut down slightly on the sugar, but increase the ginger by a milli -smidge, and when I get brave enough I will start adding other spices like cinammon and cayene pepper to get that firery throat that a good ginger ale should posess

Monday, 20 July 2009

There is one less "big box of books" in the house

I almost didn't get to write this blog because I thought for a long time about turning the title of this post into a poem - I don't know why but I got all "Seussy" for a second - anyway I can do that later , first, I will just fill you in on the events of the past couple of days.

We visited a printers in Wales last week, the upshot of which means that we probably have a reliable printer for the future. Knowing this I have applied for the new ISBN number and made contact with a few distributors, its nice to be able to sell the books on the website, but unless they know that THE HAIRY PLUG MONSTER exists, we are not going to move that many. That is where the distributors are going to come in handy and while we have to concede a large share of the book profits it will give more people the chance to read it.

Both Stockport Library and Stockport Schools Library have taken a fair number of copies, for which I am very grateful and the support I have been getting from Great Moor Infant School has been fantastic. One of the teachers read it out to her class, (who apparently loved it) then the rest of the Infant school was treated to a reading in assembly. So after three weeks we are starting to make inroads into the first edition and I am down to my last box of books.

I am in no doubt that, over time The Hairy Plug Monster will become an established book amongst young readers...I suppose the question is " how much time?"

Friday, 17 July 2009

The Hairy Plug Monster's favourite 8 layer chocolatey birthday cake recipe

The HPM wanted to share his favourite birthday cake recipe with me....(subtlety is not his strongest point). At first I was rather reluctant to make it, after all its his cake but in the end, Maya and Arisha begged me to have a go.
It was so nice I have decided to share it with you all, its an old recipe that The HPM's granny used to make for him when he was younger. He asked me to change the font colour, to give you an idea of how "chocolaty" the cake is.
The Hairy Plug Monster's favourite chocolate birthday cake recipe.

100g (3 1/2 oz) of softened butter
225ml (7 1/2 oz) milk
1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
225g (8 oz) plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g (2oz) cocoa powder
250g (9oz) golden caster sugar
3 medium eggs beaten

250g (9oz) good quality plain dark chocolate
3 tbsp golden caster sugar
300ml soured cream

Grease and base-line two 20cm (8 inch) sandwich tins with greaseproof paper, then don't forget to grease the paper

Pour the milk into a jug then add the lemon or vinegar and put on one side to go sour (SOUR !!! .....yuk). Sift together the flour and the bicarbonate of soda and the cocoa powder.

Cream the butter and half of the sugar together until it starts to go a bit pale, then add the rest of the sugar. Mix in the soured milk with the flour mixture about 2 tsbp at a time.

Divide the mixture between the sandwich tins and spread the mixture. Bake in the centre of the oven at 180 C or 160 C fan oven for 30 minutes. Leave the cakes in the tins for 10 minutes to coll slightly, and then put them out on a cooling rack.

To make the chocolate frosting break up all of the chocolate and melt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Let it cool down slightly and whisk in the sugar and the soured cream.

Slice each cake in half to make 4 layers. Put one on a plate, then spread with a quarter of the mixture and then put another layer of cake, then a layer of mixture and so on.

With the remaining mixture cover the rest of the cake.

This cake generates a lot of washing up, but you can cut down on the time if you lick the spoons, bowls and whisk. (if you are going to lick the whisk, please remember to unplug it first.)

After trying out the "Hairy Plug Monster's favourite 8 layer chocolaty birthday cake " I give it 10/10.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A taster of the next HPM email your thoughts to

We’ve ran out of biscuits
and chocolate ├ęclairs
Dad called up to Maya
From the foot of the stairs

Get your coat and your hat
And we’ll walk into town
We can do all the shopping
While mum's not around

Maya looked at her toys
At the foot of the bed
Can I bring a friend
Maybe dolly or Ted?

Yes replied Dad
As he stood in the hall
If you like, grab your bag
And you can - bring them all

So she picked up her bag
That was hung from her bed
Then In went the dolly
And in went her Ted

She went to the bathroom
And yelled in the plug
Would you like to go shopping
With me - Glug, Glug Glug

The hairy plug monster
Popped out of the tap
Wearing stripy pyjamas
And an old swimming cap

He hopped in the bag
And they went down the stairs
To pop to the shops
For more chocolate eclairs

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Is the Hairy Plug Monster really that good?

We are a week into distribution and the response has been phenomenal, I have almost exhausted the first carton, with books being sent as far a field as Australia and even Derby!!!. and the feedback has been fantastic.

Perhaps the most surprising response came from the Great Moor Infant School Head who after having a quick read requested five copies for the school library - (talk about winning hearts and minds). My eldest daughter -Arisha-Jane, was asked to stand up in assembly and read the book to the whole school, (which makes her a lot braver than I) and the school newsletter ran a small piece about the Hairy Plug Monster as well.

One child even pointed me out to their parent and said " hey mummy that's the famous writer!". Not a single parent has come back and said that their disappointed with the book, although a few have voiced concerns that they are a bit disgruntled with having to read it over and over again.

Friday, 3 July 2009

The Hairy Plug Monster is here in the U.K (finally)

In all the excitement, I forgot to tell you that I received 200 books on Wednesday night from the printers.. and within two days I have managed to sell 19 copies, ( I know its not going to send Dr Seuss running to the hills just yet, but its a step in the right direction).

Better still, when I opened my email this morning I found my first review of the book.

Hi Leighroy

The book is fab! Will and Charlotte love it..

The Hairy Plug Monster, what can I say? This rhythmic story reminds me of the fantastic Julia Donaldson books. A story of Maya's adventure with this cute but hairy character, my 2 year old loves it and wants to read it "agen" and "agen".

Wonderful illustrations and so easy to read. Lets hope the Hairy Plug Monster and his new best friend Maya live to have more and more adventures!!

Keep up the fab work guys, you're stars in the making!

R.Hopwood Cheshire

Wow and wow again, another comparison to the "great" Julia Donaldson - excuse me a moment while I read it again..........

Ah that's feeling fairly invincible I set off with more copies of The Hairy Plug Monster in my bag to waylay unsuspecting parents at Maya's nursery only to be asked by the Nursery Head if she could buy a copy as well, after which I even sold one to David Dickinson's son (cheap as chips).

I loaned a couple of copies to Stockport Library Services who seemed quite impressed with the book, but had to submit it before a committee before they could sanction any purchase. I will know in two weeks what they decide, but remain more than optimistic. I think the plan is to conquer Stockport, then the regions around it before taking it to county and national level

We had a reply from a printer in India who could print the HPM for a lot less than its costing us now and has a portfolio of clients that anyone would be proud of. There is also a printer in Wales who I am planning to visit next week to show him the book and get a comparative quote.

This is going to be a long blog but one where we all live happily ever after.


Thursday, 2 July 2009

Lets try that again shall we

I am frantically trying to plan the next step forward, after having the rug pulled from under my feet by the demands of our American printers. However, I did receive the first batch of 200 books today and in the space of about 20 minutes managed to sell 7 by stopping random parents near Arisha's school.

The feedback I have got so far seems to be overtly positive, and the " nice old lady in the library" said it was excellent. I am still planning to push ahead with an interactive E-book, but again it seems incredibly expensive, ( although in real money, it probably isn't).

With the HPM MEDIA ltd head cheese (mum) somewhere in the Australian outback for the next two weeks, I can only plan so much, especially as she hold the purse strings. Now that I have the book, I can push ahead with radio interviews and press releases. I had an invitation to go on ( Bollingtons number 1 radio station) but had to decline due to the confusion about the price. But having just contacted the DJ I am going to try and get on this Sunday morning - The first of many I hope.