Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

I know I haven't blogged over the past few months - but I intend to rectify that next year.  In the meantime, wherever you are and whoever you are with I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Inspiration ..............

I bought a card in Marks and Spencer today and have framed it to give me inspiration when I need it most ....

Life isn't about waiting for the STORM to pass.

It's about learning how to dance in the rain.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Cooking the Books .................

Dom at Belleau Kitchen has something a little different for us this month in his Random Recipe Challenge - he wants photographs of our recipe books. 

What was meant to be a simple exercise of taking a few photographs turned into a mammoth tidy up and cull of some old books that have outlived their usefulness.  Not the cookery books you understand, no these were of the "Toddler Taming" and  "Beyond Toddlerdom" variety - as my daughters are now 18 and 13 - these books are now obsolete along with a few (why do I have three) Trinny & Susannah books.  This gave me some much needed space on the bookshelf upstairs to move some books which had formed an orderly pile on the floor downstairs and a few others from the bookshelf in the passage downstairs, this gave me some extra shelf space to tidy my recipe books, although they are still in no order, except that those I use most often are easy to reach.

These are the books on two shelves which are in the passage just outside the kitchen door - easy to reach.

View of the same books from the opposite angle.

The untidy pile on the lower shelf, right hand side are a mixture of magazines and books.  Some of these magazines date back to 1988 - when I was living in Australia!

Almost the whole bookshelf in the kitchen

Top shelf of the books in the kitchen

Bottom shelf of the bookshelf in the kitchen

I think that's all of them.  I had almost forgotten some of them, so it's been a really useful exercise in housekeeping (lots of dust) and nostalgia.

I'm so looking forward to Dom's round-up - can't wait to have a look at everyone else's books.

So, this is it, my entry into this month's random recipes.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

No Hampton Court Flower Show For Me ..........

I really wanted to go to Hampton Court Flower Show this weekend - but it is not to be.  As a consolation we went to our local Garden Centre this afternoon and I bought a new rose.

Isn't it beautiful?  It's name is Wollerton Old Hall and it has the most unusual perfume which the label tells me is myrrh - it smells like aniseed to me, but then until today I had never smelt myrrh.

It was raining when we came home so I snipped off this little branch and have them in the sitting room in water - I was afraid the rain would ruin the petals as it has done to my beautiful white rose.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A Grand Day Out

We saved almost everything to do on the last day of half term!  Never organise anything properly.

It was an early start to get to Brands Hatch for 8.30 a.m. - younger daughter had a "Young Drive" booked for 9.00 a.m - this was one of her birthday presents from January - we did expect that the weather would be much better by June but whilst the rain held off it was pretty windy yesterday.

They drove off, three children to each mini with the instructor and spent two and a half hours learning to drive, negotiate cones, three point turns, hill starts - you name it, they did it.

We got to watch - a half day well spent - younger daughter was thrilled to bits, loved every minute, wants to go again tomorrow and can't wait to get behind a wheel properly - unfortunately she has rather a wait - at least four more years.  Still, I'm sure this will not be the last time we go to Brands Hatch.  The husband wants to go racing and elder daughter (who has yet to pass her test) wants to take an advanced driving course!  Me?  I'll just stick to being the taxi service.

negotiating the cones
All done

From here we headed into London and stopped off in Greenwich to view the Royal River exhibition at the National Maritime Museum which was fabulous.  If we had had more time we would have visited the Cutty Sark as well, but time was short so all we managed was a couple of photographs!

From here we made our way to Chelsea (King's Road) and just had time for a quick/late lunch at Partridges before elder daughter went off to Liz Earle for a facial - one of her birthday presents from February - I had hoped to make it to Notting Hill to have lunch at Granger & Co. but time just did not permit - maybe another day during the summer holidays combined with a browse through Books for Cooks a favourite haunt for myself and my sister whenever she manages to make the trip over here from Australia.

The husband happily played the part of Chauffeur to us all day - he has his uses after all!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Random Recipe Challenge

Oh my, oh my .............. I think I may have cheated with this one!

The Random Recipe Challenge for this month was to choose a book at random, take the last page number and divide by two - that number page is the recipe to make.  Ok, so far so good ......... the random book was Diana Henry's Crazy Water Pickled Lemons .............. 192 pages divided by 2 = page 96 ..... and the recipe?  Sardines Beccafico, well, what can I say, I don't like sardines, my daughters don't like sardines, the husband really likes sardines - but he isn't getting them, well not this recipe for them anyway.  Sadly I'm not the most adventurous of food eaters, but I try, however, there is no way I could scale and gut a sardine, cut off its head, break the backbone at the head end and "gently pull it out, taking the bones with it".  SORRY.

Therefore, I cheated and randomly chose another book.  Am I disqualified?  I hope not.

Still, even if I am, we enjoyed our Grilled Chicken Club with Avocado Mayonnaise, Roast Tomato and Bacon - bit of a mouthful in more ways than one.  The random book was Bill Granger's Bill's Sydney Food - a lovely book (as all his books are) and I have to admit to restaurant envy too - I'm desperate to get to his new restaurant in Notting Hill and I'd quite like to own this myself!

The halfway mark in the book was page 97 - The Club Sandwich - which we had for dinner tonight - not a conventional dinner I admit, but it was nevertheless very good.  I had a loaf of turkish bread (corek) in the freezer which I defrosted/heated in the oven at the same time as some tomatoes which had been drizzled in olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  The tomatoes took twenty minutes as they were quite small (the recipe called for larger tomatoes to be roasted for forty minutes) and the bread about thirty minutes. 

My little helper cooked the chicken for me - 4 chicken thigh fillets cooked in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper - cooked for approximately twenty minutes in a frying pan over medium heat.  In the meantime I kept my eye on four bacon slices and also made the mayonnaise.

The mayonnaise consisted of two egg yolks, juice and zest of 2 lemons, 1 avocado (chopped), sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 200ml canola oil (I used groundnut oil).  The egg yolks, lemon juice and zest, avocado, salt and pepper into a food processor and blended until it was mixed thoroughly, then I added the oil small drop at a time and then in a steady stream whilst the blender was still going and until it became like a green mayonnaise!

Once everything was cooked I assembled the sandwich with some rocket added and a half of a little gem lettuce sat on the side of the plate.  The mayonnaise was served separately.

Here is the finished club sandwich.

I'm entering this into the Random Recipes Challenge No. 17 at Belleau Kitchen - see link below.

The full ingredients list is as follows:

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken thigh fillets
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 thick slices bread
avocado mayonnaise (separate ingredient list)
1 bunch rocket (arugula), washed and dried
4 rashers bacon, cooked
12 roast tomato halves
Lettuce cut into wedges

2 egg yolks
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 avocado, chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
200ml canola oil

6 ripe Roma tomatoes, cliced in half lengthways
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C and roast the tomatoes for 40 minutes.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Chelsea Flower Show Part II

More photographs - these were the entries for the RHS Young Chelsea Florist of the Year competitions - don't remember which one was the winner - I think they all are.

I'm not sure these photographs do the arrangements justice - they were very beautiful.

More tomorrow.

Chelsea Flower Show - Part I

The weather was perfect on Friday for a day on the river - well, it wasn't really a day more like a short trip up the river to Chelsea.  I had so been looking forward to going to the Chelsea Flower Show this year and the day began with a minor disaster - yes the car broke down on my way to my friend's house where I was going to leave the car before catching the train with said friend.  It managed to break down on a main road where I had stopped at traffic lights - as the lights turned green the car turned itself off!  As I waited for the AA to arrive a friendly policeman knocked on my window asking if I wanted to be pushed onto the side road because I was causing a traffic jam - fantastic.  Once on the side road I managed to relax a little - there's nothing like angry fellow motorists shaking their heads and fists at me and mouthing obscenities to make you feel uptight - of course I planned to break down where I did just to make their and my life difficult - honestly "there's nowt so queer as folk" or should I say "nothing like a little road rage in the morning".

My friend arrived before the AA and we sat and waited together - we didn't have to wait too long really and although he was unable to get the car going again he did arrange for it to be towed to my local garage - the alternator had died.

The car gone we were on our way also and decided to only travel part way to Chelsea by train and then boarded a clipper at London Bridge for a lovely relaxing trip up the river.

We ended up having a lovely day - I took lots of photographs and bought lots of seeds and made a list of more plants that I want!!  Now all I need is the time to sow everything.

Anybody know what these are called?  I know they are something Foxtail !

Can't remember the name of these either!

So many to choose from .... who can choose just one colour

How fabulous would this be in the front garden

I bought some of these bulbs - hope mine are as beautiful as these!

I want all of these!

A walled garden would make my life complete ..... well almost!

More photographs tomorrow.