Friday, July 31, 2009
How tired can a tired mum get? Well, a lot of us know the answer to that and it's to infinity and beyond. I am at the point whereby my head occasionally falls on to the keyboard and vomits letters at you all. I suffer from insomnia from time to time but I've realised there is a fate equal to this: not suffering from insomnia and yet still getting little or no sleep.
The last few days have involved bad dreams, singing, crying, suffocation and wandering...times that by four (including me) and it lends itself to tired, strange nights. I was so determined to sleep last night but Lucy having had a bad dream crawled in and clung to me like a limpet, cutting off my air supply and barring my exit from the bed. I'm sure I've complained before that I suffer from some kind of weird claustrophobia at being stuck in the middle of a bed; it's enough to make me come out in cold sweats and start to hyperventilate. Sometimes the tiredness wins and what a horrible sleep that turns out to be...the nightmares stay with me for some days afterwards so I always try and make sure to drag my weary body to an edge...any edge, however small.
As I began to drop off again, I was aware of a face an inch away from mine stage whispering "MUMMMYY!!"all to ask if he could go on the computer. Then cries of "hungry...hungggrrryyy". Aargh.
So, after a few days of this, exhaustion has taken over the asylum and I'm in a different zone. I think it may be akin to taking an illegal substance (because I have no idea what that is really like.......) and living for the moment because you know that when you crash, baby, you are going to BURN.
I look back on my days as a mum of three children under two, in particular the week that Brian went to a conference when the twins were 2 weeks old. I told him to go, I'd be fine. I compare everything back to that awful, sad, heartbreaking but manageable-after-all week and if it doesn't compare, it's not worth moaning about. So, despite my moaning, it does not compare.
Grandpa is here to stay for the weekend so it's on with the pinny and out with the pastry bowl, the rolling pin and the marinaded beef to make a good old fashioned steak pie with mashed potatoes and buttered boiled carrots, peas and broccoli. We'll no doubt follow it with a bread and butter pudding or a piece of fruit cake with lashings of butter.Steak Pie Dinner
2 lbs min stewing beef, dipped in seasoned flour-marinade in red wine if you prefer beforehand
1 onion, chopped
Beef stock, around 1 pint plus cupful beer or red wine
Optional: diced carrot, mushrooms, mini sausages, kidney...the kids prefer it simple!
Heat the oil over medium to high heat and when sizzling, brown the beef. Don't crowd the pan and remove browned meat to be replaced with raw meat, if necessary. Once browned, add the onion and fry for a few minutes. If using any other ingredient, add at this stage. If some beef was taken out of the pan then add it back in along with any juices that have gathered.
Pour over red wine or beer and let it sizzle and boil quite vigorously for a minute or three. Add stock, enough to cover and let it boil. Turn way down to a low simmer and put a lid on. Leave for a minimum of 1.5 hours, longer if possible. I like my beef really tender.
I sometimes make shortcrust pastry, sometimes puff; shortcrust, I'd make myself but puff I would always buy. You can line the pie tin with both pastry types if you wish or simply top off the pie with a pastry lid.
I drain the remaining stock from the beef as you don't want a 'wet' pie....! Keep this stock to serve at the table as extra gravy. Put the beef into pie dish and top with pastry lid, cooking as per instructions for pastry recipe or until pastry rises (if puff) and goes brown. Always brush with a little milk...I hate to waste an egg....and make a small hole in the pastry to let the steam out.
I won't insult you with how to make mashed potatoes but my tips would be to always salt the water, make sure the potato is really soft before draining and once drained, dry the potatoes over a minimum heat for a minute before adding butter, sea salt and a little drop of milk...always add the milk, or cream if you're feeling like you just don't care...as this will affect the consistency. Mash with a potato masher and then go back over it with a fork. Taste and add some more salt or pepper if you like. I always add a little drop more butter as it looks wonderful melting across the peaked mass of white, fluffy tattieness. Maris Piper potatoes are my favourite; cheap potatoes just don't work.
Steam, boil or juggle your vegetables as you see fit and serve with a dod of butter and a sprinkling of the eponymous sea salt.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I was the proverbial blu-arsed fly yesterday. To begin with, the kids and I jumped on the train at 9.30am to go to the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow city centre. I had booked them in to a printing workshop. Imagine my surprise when the girl running it said "cheerio then, pick them up at 12.30"....! "You mean...you don't need me to STAY?" I asked, half running down the stairs before she could change her mind.
I breathed in the fresh air, put on my sunglasses and smiled as I headed for the shops, but suddenly screeching to a halt...I had no money. No money, no cards, nothing. I had rushed out the door, expecting to stay with them and get the train back or get picked up by Brian so I didn't consider the need for cash....how ridiculous that I still make sure I've got tissues and rainjackets for the kids but no means of emergency cash.
I rooted in the bottom of my bag...being a messy cow comes in handy from time to time...and I found a delightful little red Mulberry purse full of coins. Ok, I couldn't go buy a dress or anything but I had enough for a coffee at Costa in the square, sitting outside and watching the world go by. There was even enough left over to get the kids each a wee Freddo bar and a bottle of diet coke. Hurrah.
We rushed home on the train, grabbed our cossies and headed to pick up a kid or three on the way. We stopped at Sam's house and had a lovely lunch then walked down to the sports centre for a swim. We dropped the extra kids off and sped home to get ready before going out to Kember & Jones with Shona. This place is just gorgeous; the food on display, the smells the colours. I of course ordered the antipasti which came with the most amazing sun-blushed tomatoes...I really can't figure out how they tasted so good but I'm going to find out... and pesto, pecorino cheese with huge, mixed olives.
The chocolate cake was covered in strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants so we were forced to share a portion over some illy coffee...I bought a ridiculously expensive cannister of the stuff; I won't be paying the mortgage but hey, I'm happy and wired to the moon!
Shona dropped me at the Burnbrae to meet The Two Karens; needless to say, I was exhausted by the time I got home but I had Shona's homemade fruit loaf and my coffee to look forward to for breakfast.
Today, we had a host of visitors and the food was anything but fancy; egg and tuna mayonnaise sandwiches and chicken noodle soup for the kids, leftover antipasti for me. After everyone left, Kelly and I got the train into town once again to try and find a dress I'd tried on the day before...the day I'd had no cash. It was still there...and it was reduced! It was new stock and not in the sale but did I argue? I did not. I had every faith in their scanning abilities.
I bought some lovely little gifts with Kelly's help and we went to Wagamamas for dinner. Kelly had chicken katsu curry and milk and I had yaki soba, an asahi beer and some little gyoza dumplings. It was lovely. We didn't get home until 7pm and I suddenly realised that they'd all be waiting on me coming home before they had they're tea....heaven forbid a tin of beans gets opened. We stopped at the chippy for fish and chips and, of course, Irn Bru.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I made Carrot, Honey and Ginger soup for lunch today, alongside pan toasted ciabatta with cheese and chorizo, cheese and ham and just plain ole cheese. I stuck to the soup only, letting the rest of them wire in to the bread, having lost another 2 pounds this week and not wanting to put it back on in one sitting!
Carrot, Honey & Ginger Soup
5oz/150g onion, thinly sliced
3/4 oz/20g root ginger, thinly sliced
3oz/75g unsalted butter (I used much less than this-around 1oz/25g)
21oz/600g carrots, sliced
1.5 pints/1 litre water (I used a mild chicken stock)
One third oz / 8g salt (just added it to taste!)
Fifth oz/5g white pepper (just added it to taste!)
Squeeze lemon juice
Sweat onions and ginger in butter over gentle heat for ten minutes...do not brown so keep and eye on them. Add a droplet or two of water if required.
Stir in the honey and let it melt.
Add carrots and stir. Pour in water or stock.
Add seasoning to taste, bring to boil, cover then simmer for 45 minutes.
Pour into liquidiser and process to a puree.
Check the salt and pepper, add more if required, add lemon juice and serve with a little cream.
This soup is excellent if left to get cold, placed in fridge and reheated.
For dinner, I made pizza & chips; not any old pizza and chips but homemade pizza: the dough, the sauce and I even milked the buffalo myself....ok, I lie but the rest is true. The chips were made with sweet potato, cut into chips, drizzled with a little olive oil, sea salt and thyme and roasted in a medium to high oven for 20-30 minutes, until soft and browned a little on the outside.
Home-made Pizza with fresh Tomato Sauce and sliced Mozzarella
250g plain flour, good Italian 00 flour is best but isn't necessary
1 heaped teaspoon easy-blend dried yeast (half 7g sachet)
Half teaspoon salt
150ml warm water with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil added
1 baking sheet, lightly oiled
Combine flour, yeast and salt and pour in water and oil mix. Form a dough, adding more water if necessary. When it looks bound...it'll still look messy though...plop onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Put into an oiled bowl, turning once to oil both sides of the dough, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour.
Make the tomato sauce. This is the same as my usual tomato sauce recipe except I use 2x500g cartons passata and I do not add the water/stock or milk. This can then be used as a pizza sauce and for a variety of other uses.
Put oven on to 240 degrees Celsius/gas mark 9.
Make the chips.
When dough has doubled in size, punch all the air out of it and knead for another minute. Press out onto the baking sheet, atop a baking tray or pizza tin; press out until it nearly fits the tin. spoon over some sauce and bake in the oven for approx. fifteen minutes. Check, you don't want it to burn.
Turn oven down to about 220 and add a little more sauce...just a little and fresh mozzarella, sliced. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper or any other toppings of choice. Pesto or basil would be lovely with this. Cook until mozzarella has melted and browned a little...approx. 5-10 minutes.Serve with the chips, salad and some cold meats; you have the option of course of putting the meats...salami, chorizo, pepperoni...on top of the pizza before the cheese. Enjoy.
Edited to add: I forgot to say, with this being served for a family of five, the calorie content per person was 372 calories. There is also lots of tomato sauce left over for pasta and bread pizza.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Fraser and Lucy were just around 2 years old when this picture was taken. The expressions were just so typical of them, it has become one of my favourites, despite them sitting in the hall of our old house with bags stuffed full to be taken to the charity shop.
This was our first trip to the zoo. They were so excited to see the animals and Kelly insisted on holding on to wee Lulu's hand. Aww. Notice the double buggy at the back with a single pushchair laying on top of it; three kids under two: this was life, Jim, but not as we knew it.
Kelly's first day at school. She was not yet 5 and looked so tiny; I didn't think it possible for me to be so happy and sad at the same time.
I used this as a profile pick way back in the 90s. I was an early adopter of the internet! This was taken on honeymoon in Florida in 1996. I recognise this girl but I don't necessarily see her looking back at me anymore. My eyes are the same but that's about it.....such is life, kids and time.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
The new electronic scales lay upside down, seeped in milky batter, a glass tottered around the floor, little shards glinting from my big toe. I sat there, horrified and then yelped out loud at my own idiotic, irritating stupidity. Kelly came running through, all concerned to see her mummy lying in a heap, uncooked Yorkshire pudding surrounding her; she;d have been less shocked if it had been blood.
She tried to come to my rescue, the wee soul but I told her to go get daddy who no doubt sighed when Kelly suggested that there had been an accident. The clumsiness of his daft wife (who has realised that these 'episodes' happen 1 month apart...)must irk, especially as he usually has to pick up the pieces; he came down the stairs to rescue me.
Before he arrived, as I sat with my face in my hands, I saw two little feet heading towards me; I peeked out from between my fingers to see Fraser suddenly freeze, take in the situation and slowly retrace his steps backwards, like a cartoon burglar, hoping to have not been seen. This was less to do with the fact that he didn't want to help and more to do with him thinking he'd somehow, somewhere, get blamed. He is of the Bart Simpson school of "It wasn't me!" even if caught with cookies in his hand and chocolate round his face.
Brian cleaned everything up, fixed the scales although they kept saying 'error'...a bit like my head...and I sighed, got out more eggs, weighted scales and started all over again. To add insult to injury, I had to use the hand whisk as the electric ones had egg yolk running up inside the plughole.
We eventually had a meal of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, buttered baby jersey potatoes and a variety of vegetables. With gravy. Lots of gravy.
Vintage Kitty....I couldn't leave a comment or message, then I saw your wee tag; hope everything is ok! x
Saturday, July 25, 2009
They searched for fairies, goblins, hidden packets of Haribo and Bob. They didn't know who Bob was but they knew if they found him they'd get a reward. I just love saying the name. Bob. Bob. B. O. B. BOB.
I packed a picnic and helped them get ready, reluctantly climbing the stairs to put some mascara on my weary eyes. By the time I came back down, Who Bob What Pants was on so they were glued to the tv. Of course by then it was lunchtime so I ripped open the foil and they tucked in to their sandwiches there and then.
Eventually there was no choice so we went on our adventure; a train ride to the SECC, a stroll along the canal and a busy festival was underway. We didn't stay long but watched the boats, the paddle steamer, the people and little plastic ducks. We decided we'd come back early tomorrow for a boat ride and to take part in some activities so we explored then ate ice cream, eventually getting a train home.
I began making lamb burgers when the phone went and it was a message from my friends Ricky and Irene, inviting us up to splash around the hot tub, have a BBQ and a wee drink and chat. I gladly accepted and changed my burgers to koftas (same recipe), added some of my BBQ sauce and chunks of onion and wrapped it all up with some mint raita to take with us.
So, despite the fact I promised a walk to Asda beforehand to pick up a DVD and that I have 50 minutes to get to Ricky and Irene's, I sit here typing, trying to gather the last reserves of energy to walk the hour it will take to do all these tasks. Incase you wondered why I walk everywhere, I enjoy doing so but I also...gasp...don't drive. I'm thinking of getting a pony and cart.
Have a wonderful Saturday night, peeps and remember, red wine contains flavanoids which help keep you healthy and chocolate contains phenylethylamine which keeps you happy. So eat, drink and be merry.
Friday, July 24, 2009
With him left holding the lemon sole, I continued my shop, and bumped into Dave and Olwen, my old English teachers, looking tanned and healthy after a walking holiday in France. They looked healthier than I did, despite them having had the journey home just an hour or so before and being 20 years older. Sigh.
Brian is away looking for gold once again so we've played in the garden, read, chased each other and they all helped make the bread. It is a lovely day and I'm considering scooping them up and taking them to Massimos as it would be a nice walk there but the house is brimming with food and everyone seems quite happy and content so we shall see.
I spent £54 exactly and have enough meals for at least 10 days. The menu so far:
Children & Adults:
Garlic & Parsley, Rosemary & Thyme Hearthbreads with cold meats and cheeses.
Seasoned Sausage Ragout with Baby Jersey Royal Potatoes
Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding
Ciabbatta toasted with cheeses, tomato and basil
Hearthbread Pizza with homemade tomato sauce and fresh mozarella
Vegetable curry with Chick Peas and Rice
Afternoon Tea: Cucumber, Egg and Ham Sandwiches, Scones and Mini Pancakes
Lahmacun with green leaves and goats cheese
Lamb Meatballs with Rice
Chicken Noodle soup
Penne Pasta with tomato Sauce and Parmesan and garlic bread
Pan-fried Salmon with Tomato and Rocket Pesto Salad and crispy courgettes
Lamb Burgers served in a wholemeal bun with sweet potato fries
Carrot, honey & ginger soup
Spaghetti with Pesto, Goats Cheese & Pine Nuts with leftover Hearthbread
Bread & Butter Pudding
Danish Pastries inc. Almond
Fresh Gingerbread with lemon icing
Pastries, Fruit Loaf, Toast, Pancakes, Cereal, Porridge and Eggs.
I made the hearthbreads this afternoon and we had them with chorizo, salami, parma ham, thin slices of Parmesan, tomatoes with seal salt and basil, olives and olive oil for dipping. We will have some of the remainder tonight with ham, turkey and green salad.
Garlic & Parsley, Rosemary & Thyme Hearthbreads
This recipe is inspired by Nigella Lawson's Hearthbread recipe
Makes 2 baking sheet sized breads. You will roast your garlic before cooking any bread so set the oven to 190 degrees celsius/gas mark 5.
500g strong white flour (I used strong white bread flour)
1 sachet instant yeast (7g) or 15g fresh yeast
1 tbsp salt
300ml warm water
5 tbsp olive oil plus extra for the parsley mix and drizzling
1 head fresh garlic, top sliced, drizzled with oil, roasted in the oven in sealed foil for 45 minutes
Bunch of flat leaf parsley, most stalks removed (don't worry about this too much)
A small handful of chopped, fresh rosemary and thyme (dried would work though)
Maldon sea salt or other salt for sprinkling
2 small baking trays and parchment paper, lightly oiled
Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and mix together in a jug the warm water and 5 tbsp olive oil. Stir wet mixture into the dry one and combine the two...use more water if you need but this should be plenty. Place dough onto a lightly floured working surface. Knead for around 10-15 minutes or until dough is supple, elastic and smooth. Knead using the balls of your hands, just below the thumb and push the dough away from you and then wrap it all up again, occasionally turning over the dough and adding a sprinkling of flour if required.
Clean your large bowl or, like me, use a different bowl and lightly oil it with olive oil. Place the bread inside and then turn over so that all the dough has some oil on it. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for around 1 hour until is has double in size. I placed mine inside the plate cupboard.
This is the point I roasted the garlic but you could do it beforehand. You want it to cool down and then you add it to the parsley which you have chopped in the food processor and blend. I add a little sea salt at this point. As it is slowly blending, add some olive oil, not too much. You don't want it too runny but more of a pesto consistency. Set aside. Put the oven up to 200 degrees celsius.
After your bread has risen, punch down dough and leave it for 10 minutes, then, divide into two. Place each dough onto the parchment paper and pull out with your fingers, pressing it into a rectangle or oval shape. Place dough, still sitting on parchment paper, onto baking tray. Cover with tea towels and leave for a further 25 minutes.
With your fingertips, poke all over the bread to dimple it, pushing it out a bit more in the process. Sprinkle the breads with a little sea salt and pour the garlic and parsley mixture over one of the breads and a liberal sprinkling of olive oil and the rosemary and thyme over the other.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the top is golden; if you tap it, it should sound hollow. Once they came out of the oven, I laid little slivers of butter on the rosemary bread and a good drizzle of olive oil on the parsley bread.
I served, the kids ripped it apart and we really, thoroughly enjoyed it. Never getting enough olive oil, I had a little drop in a bowl to dip the bread into. Delicious. Really delicious.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Anne and I went to the Burnbrae; she came with me at short notice tonight and had to walk in the rain with me to get there. We had a gin and slimline tonic or three, some good chat and a great laugh, even if it was at both our husband's expense. The men at the next table are traumatised for life. I discovered a gin and slimline tonic is 50 calories whilst a large glass of wine is 135. This makes me happy. The crisps are a post-requisite of the pub, but just the one packet!
I've spent the last few days in old tartan pj bottoms and a scabby t-shirt with my hair in a knot on the top of my head. It really isn't a good look. I hardly made any improvements when sis and mum came to visit yesterday; I did put on some proper trousers and a top (hurrah, I heard my husband cry) but the knot remained right there, having not shifted, even during my shower and I was make-up-less. One of the good things about family visiting though is not really having to make too much effort with your appearance, right? I made the effort where it counts, with the grub.
The cleaning and clearing is not yet finished...there is still a lot to do but I need to get out for some exercise and fresh air. I've done yoga a few times this week but without the usual joy or energy behind it and I think that is because of the lack of wind on my face and rain on my bonce. I've not walked at all and I usually walk every day. So today, I'll no doubt completely overdo it in my usual lets-make-up-for-everything-in-one-day kinda way.
The wee 'un has gone to her friend's house so the laddie and Kelly will come with me. They don't look particularly enthusiastic, considering the weather but I think we'll go on an adventure anyway and take the train. I've no idea where we'll end up but I shall be sure to let you know...I may even remember to take some pictures.
Last night, we made spring rolls. Having never made these before, we definitely over used the filo pastry a little but we all agreed that they were still good. We all prefer the muffin filo idea though to wrapping the filling up into a roll. We made savoury ones for dinner followed by some bizarre and wonderful sweet creations...Nutella...of course...marshmallows, banana, sprinkled sugar etc. Brian and I had some homemade sweet chilli sauce with ours, the kids just a little sesame oil until we all realised they were a bit dry; then the kids asked for gravy...I ask you! I obliged though.
Savoury Spring Rolls
Cooked chicken, chopped...we used leftover but I'd say a small handful per roll
1 grated carrot
2 finely chopped spring onion
1 finely chopped red pepper (we didn't use as kids and Brian don't like it)
If making for myself, I'd have added some beansprouts
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce or sesame oil or both!
Butter and oil for brushing the pastry
Lightly toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling
Place chopped chicken in a bowl.
Melt some butter in a bowl and add a little oil then mix. Use this for brushing between each layer of pastry and for brushing over the finished roll.
Then place in a medium oven for around 15 minutes or until browned.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This week has been spent in the house, mainly cleaning. I'm not even going to begin to bore you with the details except to say, God I'm Bored. If the children say they are Bored, I tell them non possible, mon petit pois (pretentiousness runs in the family) the only people who get Bored are stupid people, people with no imagination. We once had a funeral for Bored (hence the capital letter...you were wondering where I was going with that, weren't you?). We buried him in a box (yes, Bored is a he...of course he is)and said a few kind words and then Bored no longer lived with us. Bored, Can't and Won't all had funerals. We mourned their passing briefly but emotionally.
But Bored is back. He has risen from the dead and I'm trying to keep him hidden within the confines of my head. I can't let the kids see him as they'll be scared, confused and happy, all at the same time. I know how to get rid of him but I miss the wee fella and he has to stick around whilst I continue my rant round the house. Or else Clutter and Confusion will come back. Sigh.
Bored had a nap whilst my mum and big sis visited with wee baby M. I made my usual indoor picnic, this time consisting of cold meats, a round of Camembert, crackers, tomatoes, Parmesan, Pastrami and rolls. The kids had cheese and pickled onion sandwiches with chopped apple and crisps. I then made Welsh Cakes. I had forgotten how much I love these little treats. You cook them in a dry pan which makes life kinda easy as they take around 5 minutes and taste delicious either on their own or with jam...of course, Kelly poured half a jar of Nutella on hers. I tried to tell her everything tastes good with Nutella and maybe she should try it on it's own first but her invisible lalalala and fingers in the ears look was apparent.
125g cold, diced unsalted butter
250g self-raising flour
75g caster sugar (plus a bit more for sprinkling)
Quarter teaspoon ground allspice (if you can't find, mix some powdered nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)
100g sultanas or raisins
1 large egg, beaten
Crinkle Cutter, round, approx. 7.5cm and griddle or frying pan
Rub the butter into the flour like you would pastry until it resembles sandy breadcrumbs...don't worry if a little lumpy, then add sugar, spice and dried fruit and stir. Add egg and mix with spatula or wooden spoon. I get in with my hands at this point just to give it a quick knead but hands should be cold and work quickly so it doesn't get warm. You don't have to do this though. Form a ball and then flatten a bit into a disc shape, cover with clingfilm (is this the same as serrano wrap?) and place in fridge for at least 20 minutes.
Roll out onto floured surface to just under a cm thick and then use crinkle cutter to cut out rounds. You will need to re-roll to cut out the rest. It should give you between 10-16, depending on the size of your cutter and the thickness. Neither matters too much.
Preheat the pan over a medium heat, no oil, and place Welshcakes inside and cook for approx. 3 minutes each side. The cakes will rise a bit and go golden-dark brown. I like these on the dark brown side. Remove to a cold plate and sprinkle with caster sugar. Leave to cool and set in the middle before eating with jam, plain (too dry for me)or even that bleedin' Nutella!
I have so many things to sell on ebay; I'm going to start with my teeny weeny Karen Millen suits that I used to wear for work. They are in excellent condition, will now be viewed as vintage and will be worn by some slim, young girl who doesn't know the half of it yet...good on her! I'm putting the proceeds towards my Canada Fund. More on that later...
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I can stand the clutter no more. I've put up with it because I have three children, lots of paintings, a hoarder husband and more junk, clothes and shoes than you'd care to shake a stick at...clothes ranging from tiny to really rather large...designer jackets to Asda t-shirts, cheap trainers to Karen Millen slingbacks, circa 1988, crystal roses, wooden vases, strange sculptures. It is all just taking up space IN MY BRAIN. It no longer simply fills cupboards and boxes and plastic containers, it doesn't just spill out of drawers and from under tables....it now lives on top of me. So it has to go. That is it. All of it.
I shall make a pile to sell on ebay; the vintage, the unusual and the unworn. The rest will be tied up, kicked about a bit and thrown into the car to be sped to it's doom at the local recycling and dump-what-you-no-longer-want place. I won't even say goodbye.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Warning: Mild Screaming
The weekend was really lovely. The house we booked was much better than it looked on the webpage and it looked pretty damn good; the photos did not do it justice, for instance, we had no idea that the kitchen would be so lovely, spacious and well equipped or that the huge bedrooms, all ensuite would be tastefully furnished or that there was even a balcony with a great view and the smell of lavender coming from huge pots next to the garden.
We were the first to arrive and the kitchen was my first port of call as I was cooking dinner that night. I prepared roast lamb by stabbing a leg joint with a knife and placing inside thin slices of garlic and sprigs of rosemary. I sprinkled on some salt and pepper and wrapped it in foil. I cooked it at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes and then turned it down to around 160-170 for a further 2.5 hours, maybe longer...I was sipping the wine by then and everything became slightly warm and fuzzy...
I made my bbq sauce but this time, I added in two star anise and some ground fennel seeds just as the onion mixture was ready. I cooked these for a further minute before adding the soy sauce etc. Totally worth adding these if you can find them.
I had previously prepared my lamb koftas; bloody nora, I loved these! Especially with the bbq sauce. I think they'd also make great burgers and the low fat content really appeals.
We served the lamb with plain boiled rice, tsatziki, roasted tomatoes with thyme and Parmesan, with a little help from Ian, a lovely salad prepared by Val, pitta bread, olives and caramelised onions....except I forgot to reheat the caramelised onions and they sat in the fridge, cold and forlorn. We 'rescued' them the following evening by enjoying them with the BBQ. The BBQ was prepared and cooked by my friends whilst I sat back and enjoyed; the wonderful potato salad, pesto marinaded chicken, Aberdeen Angus steak beefburgers, tomato and mozzarella salad to name but a few was a feast to behold and I stuffed myself silly.
We visited nearby Coldingham Bay with it's wonderful beach, ideal for surfers. It was raining but we didn't care. We built a dam and a town to be destroyed. Val seemed to take great pleasure in this...my respect for that gal just grows and grows. Ann stood at the back to catch any 'real' children who may get swept away and I of course, supervised after one solitary dig.
What goes up....
Must come down.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
We rushed back from Coldingham, near St. Abbs, stopped off at the house to grab supplies, jumped back in the car, sped to Tesco for more supplies (not Asda, Tesco was nearer!) and then hot wheeled it to Mugdock for the BBQ we were hosting. It was lovely but ohmygodamishattered.
See you tomorrow.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tomorrow, we are going away with a few other families to a lovely house in St. Abbs near North Berwick, Scotland. I've been cooking up a storm all day and have so far came up with caramelised onions, roast lamb, what looks like a thousand filo pastry muffins with a variety of fillings including goats cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, cheddar cheese, Parmesan etc. They look and taste lovely. These are the easiest but most impressive looking little starter dish; you basically cut filo pastry into squares then oil the muffin tin, place in the first filo layer and press it down, brush with butter or oil (I used olive oil) and repeat four to five times. Don't worry about the edges, the rougher the better. Then fill.
My first filling was tomatoes, salt and pepper, goats cheese, some fresh thyme and rosemary. The second batch was similar but with caramelised onions...you get the idea. Anything you want. Then, for every batch, pour the following mix in carefully...1 egg, about 4 fl. oz. double cream and a huge handful Parmesan cheese; whisk together and pour into each muffin until half to three quarters filled. Bake in oven at 170 degrees celsius for around 10-15 minutes...basically, as soon as they go brown and the cheese is bubbling and golden. Keep your eye on them after the first then minutes.
Wonderful munch...scooby snacks....crunch...
Lamb koftas were made to go alongside the roast lamb. I'm going to make my homemade bbq sauce in the morning but this time I'm going to add ground fennel and star anise...oh yes, my friend, time for some good old experimentation! I'll report back of course.
The bbq sauce will be brushed atop of the lamb for the last ten minutes of cooking and also used to brush over the lamb koftas.
* 500g minced lamb
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 2 tsp ground coriander
* 2 fat garlic cloves , crushed
* 1 tbsp chopped mint
* oil for brushing
Mix together all the ingredients until well blended. Divide into 6 balls, then roll each ball on a board with a cupped hand to turn them into ovals. Don't worry if they look more like lumpy brains...
Thread onto 6 skewers and brush with oil. I shall also be brushing it with bbq sauce at the last minute.
To cook on a griddle: heat the pan until you can feel a good heat rising and cook for 3-4 mins each side. Don't turn until they are well sealed or the meat will stick to the grill or pan. Season if you want, and set aside. Serve the koftas with yogurt and spiced flat breads or as I plan to do, tsatziki, pitta bread and a whole host of other accompaniments.
Put the meat skewers on the grill over a medium heat for about 3-4 mins each side.
BTW...140 calories per Kofta!!
I've not cooked these before so I'm a little premature in posting the recipe...I can't see how it could possibly go wrong though.... ;O) Good luck Karen.
I'll post the other recipes when I return my lovely blogger friends. I leave you with some photos...far too many photos...of my filo muffins.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
What do you do when you find these sitting at the bottom of your fruit bowl?
If you're a normal person, you say yeuch and bin them. If your slightly odd and tight as only a Scottish mum of three greedy children can be, you devise weird and wonderful ways to use them up. I settled on Banana Bread.
Banana Bread is straightforward enough to make but you needn't have all the ingredients in your cupboard. As with any recipe, don't go buying an ingredient especially for just one dish you don't know if you'll make again, improvise and use what you have. In this case, Dark Rum is required, which I have...I have every conceivable alcoholic beverage in my drinks cupboard, some so old I could probably sell them as antiques. Before I found the Dark Rum however, I spotted some Malibu...white rum..and would have used this or some whisky instead.
The alcohol is used to soak into the sultanas...I didn't have any so used raisins...and despite the alcohol content, it can be served to children as the amount is small and the fruit acid soaks up the alcohol making it plump and sweet.
Banana Bread (Nigella's Recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess)
100g sultanas (or raisins)
75ml dark rum or bourbon
175g plain flour (Used some self-raising too as ran out)
2 teaspoons baking powder
Half teaspoon Bicarb of soda (Um...I forgot to put this in....)
Half teaspoon salt
125g unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
4 small, very ripe bananas (approx. 300g without skin) mashed
60g chopped walnuts (didn't have any so didn't use)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Loaf tin, buttered and lined...a paper insert would be pretty but I used parchment paper.
Put sultanas or raisins in saucepan with rum and bring to the boil. Take off heat, put lid on and leave for up to an hour to soak and then drain.
Preheat oven to 170oC/gas mark 3.
Put all dry ingredients (except sugar)into a bowl and mix.
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat well. Beat in eggs one at a time then add mashed bananas. Then stir in the walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract.
Add the flour mixture a third at a time, stirring well each time. Scrape into loaf tin and bake in the middle of oven for 1-1 and a quarter hours. I checked mine with a thin skewer (or toothpick) after 1 hour...it should come out cleanish...and it did. If not, put back in.
Leave to cool. This is one that really needs to cool as it needs to set a bit.
Serve with whatever you like...butter, jam or Nutella. I had jam as did Brian, Lucy ran away screaming, Fraser was out with Sam and Kieran and there is enough left for breakfast. Hurrah!
Edited to add: winners of the wee competition, gifts have been sent! Let me know when you receive. Tammi, yours will go next week as I only just got your address. Thank you peeps!
I've brushed off the old waffle machine and I'm going to make a batch but with pancake batter. My kids do not seem to like the few waffle recipes I've tried so if anyone has a tried and tested one that all the family love, please pass it this way! It works really well though, with pancake mix and I usually sneak a few for myself, covered in maple syrup. Not this time though...I'm now officially in training. I'm not really training for anything in particular but I have my eye set on finally completing a marathon one of these days...no earlier than Autumn 2010. I have this idea of doing the New York Marathon and when I stop laughing at myself, I think, why not?
I was doing half marathons before Kelly was born and everything ground to a halt when I got pregnant with the twins. I do a lot of walking everyday and have plenty of stamina but not enough energy or fitness. Luckily, Brian is kinda feeling the same way and he has an Aikido week coming up in September which he'd like to get fitter for so he has decided to accompany me on some walks. That means taking the kids with us as it is the holidays...I'm pretty good at luring them into a false sense of security though..."just over this hill....just round this corner...can you SMELL the ice cream?" and they can easily and happily walk for an hour.
We're also going to start running again. I ran all the time before kids and off and on afterwards. I've never really found a proper routine...or the willpower to be honest. I'm hoping to go look for it whilst having Brian by my side. Who knows, it may just be what I need..or I may want to kill him, either way, it's a start.
The kids made Bread and Butter Pudding yesterday, all by themselves! I'm not a fan but their version smelled and looked delicious, even to me. I probably don't like it much because of Brian. Since we started going out many years ago, he's been trying to force feed me bread and butter pudding, one of the few dishes he liked to make. Now, I don't think he was doing it right and the kids have naturally corrected his mistakes! Wow. Better not tell him...
Bread & Butter Pudding
Grease a loaf or pie tin.
25g/1oz butter, plus extra for greasing
8 thin slices bread
350ml/12fl oz whole milk
50ml/2fl oz double cream
2 free-range eggs
25g/1oz granulated sugar
Sultanas or Raisins
Cut the crusts off the bread. Spread each slice on one side with butter, then cut into triangles.
Arrange a layer of bread, buttered-side up, in the bottom of the dish, then add a layer of whatever ingredient you choose; we use raisins but we have also used choc chips before.
Sprinkle with a little cinnamon if you like (the kids didn't but I like the sound of that), then repeat the layers of bread and raisins, sprinkling with cinnamon, until you have used up all of the bread. Finish with a layer of bread.
I know when some people make the custard, i.e. the milk, eggs and sugar (cream is optional) they heat up the milk first. We don't. We simply add all the liquid ingredients together and whisk before pouring over the bread and butter pudding. I also will admit to us not usually measuring out the milk or sugar but just putting it in with the one egg. I of course wouldn't expect you to be so irresponsible so have given measurements above.
If there are any gaps at all, butter some more bread and layer them in. Sprinkle sugar on the top so that you get a nice crunchy, sweet top and a little grating of nutmeg if you like.
Preheat the oven to 180C/355F/Gas 4.
Place the dish into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the custard has set and the top is golden-brown.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Oh, the biscuits....I was peckish when I came in, threw the biccies across the room and instead had a few slices of parma ham wrapped around some olives. Pretty good, considering the scooby snack I felt coming on.
Pancake mixes vary and I won't give you my wide variety of mixes as it is basically flour, sugar, milk and eggs of varying amounts, but mostly made up in my head...you can never really go wrong though if you stick to the following:
4oz of every ingredient, i.e.
Basic Pancake Mix
Mix everything together using a whisk. Add more liquid if you prefer. Simply double the amount for double the quantity. One quantity will give you approx. 8 pancakes.
Here are some tips:-
1. Always pour melted butter (1-2 tablespoons)into your batter just before cooking pancakes and stir.
2. When putting butter in the pan before cooking pancakes, heat up and then wipe with a kitchen towel.
3. Leave the pan to heat up for a good minute or two on medium. Always regard your first pancake as a trial so put in less batter for that one. Only turn up heat if really necessary and only a little at a time.
4. Wait a few seconds before adding chocolate buttons and raisins or any other filling.
5. Always cook the flipped side for half the time of the first.
I sometimes make a pile of pancakes by sandwiching them all together with Nutella. This is a request I usually get for birthday breakfasts and is just like a tasty cake.
Crepes are slightly different but just as straightforward; I shall be making them this weekend whilst in St. Abbs with friends so watch this space!
I rounded up a batch of kids today and threw them into the park. They were not all mine but no-one seemed to mind. A few of them managed to stowaway in the car and stayed for tea. The kids are having a really chilled out, great summer so far and sometimes it's the little things, like having friends over to play or sleeping in late ( a HUGE thing to me!) and watching cartoons past bedtime. I'm enjoying it too...so far. But, as the lovely Jo pointed out, it really is time for a pint, for the sake of sanity, so I shall combine my evening walk to coincide with the Burnbrae and accidently stumble upon a double gin and tonic. The kids are going to grandmas. Woohoo.
Monday, July 13, 2009
The beautiful and creative Vintage Kitten has the most mouth watering recipe on her page for Watermelon Daiquiris....I recommend giving these a go. I shall be trying them tomorrow tonight.
The lovely Silver has given me an award! Thank you, glittering one, I am truly touched.
The award from Ces of cesandherdishes sais:“I designed this award to celebrate art in the blogs and to honor the value of friendship, sisterhood, sharing and caring. It is to be awarded to the gifted, accomplished, eloquent and talented blogger whose friendship and influence inspire us to do our best. That I named it after Bella Sinclair is because she epitomizes all of these things. She is an inspiration to many of us”.
“I hope that when Bella returns, this award would have already circulated in the blogs. It is my honor to give this award to the first recipients who I hope will find the same pleasure as I have in spreading its crown, giving shade and the comfort of friendship and caring and of sisterhood by sharing this award with their blog-friends and sisters!”
I shall pass it on in due course.
We were met by hundreds, if not thousands of people littering the area outside T in the Park with beer bottles, rucksacks, boxes of wine, discarded wellies and themselves. It looked like many had camped there from the Friday night, no doubt waiting for their weekend tickets to become eligible, waiting for friends or trying to buy a ticket from passers by or touts.
We entered through the hospitality entrance, thanks to the wonderful Mairi and Gary who had got me the tickets and entered a nice, quiet field with a huge bar, enormous T in the Park chair (think Alice in Wonderland size) and clean toilets. Relief. The field was filling up by early afternoon but the bar remained accessible, we could always find a seat and the music coming from behind the giant sized radio was excellent leading the entire filed to break out into spontaneous song, particularly when Sweet Caroline was played!
After burger and chips and a pint of Tennent's lager (mines was a shandy!) in the Balado Bar and Lounge...it has to be the first meal at a festival...we entered the main area and explored. It was a sight to behold; there was an amazing flag art installation which looked just brilliant blowing in the wind, a huge blue Toblerone pointed stage tent which turned out to be King Tuts Wah Wah Hut and hundreds of other food, drink and music emporiums which made Balado Airfield Scotland's fifth largest city for that weekend.
The sun shone beautifully and all the girls rocked the Kate Moss look: a multitude of welly designs, mainly Hunter (the kind the Queen wears) with the shortest of skirts or shorts, tanned legs and quirky make-up. The lads were in a variety of cheeky t-shirts, costumes and dresses...yes, dresses. There is something about the British male that just loves any excuse to dress up in as feminine a way as possible. They all appeared so comfortable, especially the crazy guy in the fur coat, apron, fishnets, blonde wig, eyeliner and huge sunglasses.
I never got his name but along with his friend the fireman, they were the funniest double act of the festival. They plonked down beside us and regaled us with tales of their disaffected relationship and encounters at T in the Park. Their long suffering friend Heather was glad of a reprieve and after apologising for leaving them with me, danced away to The Ting Tings...which we missed most of, listening to their patter instead...but I laughed so much, it was worth it. The fireman told us that the day before he was dressed as Peter Pan and how he got really annoyed that people kept mixing him up with Robin Hood; he pointed to his sword and asked them all "Does that look like a bleedin' bow and arrow?".
We saw a succession of amazing acts but in some ways (many will disagree), the best was Bjorn Again, a tribute Abba band who started off the Saturday by getting the entire audience to it's feet, singing and dancing. Whoever booked them deserves a medal...ingenious. It got everyone ready for more. The best act of all however, amongst a lot of great acts, was Seasick Steve...."I'm lyin' there in the glass, in the GLASS, in the grass". He was funny, self-deprecating and talented..."see this? (holding up a guitar with three strings).."this is a three stringed piece of s%^&" and then began to play it beautifully, then did the same thing with an an actual stick with one string.
I was delighted to see Squeeze play and hearing them sing the classic 'Up the Junction' live was a highlight of the weekend. Paolo Nutini and Elbow were really good of course although the lead singer of Elbow was talking rather a lot of mince to cries of "sing already, ya numpty!" and Lady Gaga left me perplexed. A huge crowd descended on the NME stage to watch Lily Allen but the sound was awful (not due to her singing) and we left after a short while.
On Sunday night, Snow Patrol were delayed because the Blur singer was rushed to hospital but yet managed to be ok in time to come on stage late. We saw some of Snow Patrol but missed Blur as we had to get the bus home but I'm guessing he may have gotten a hard time from the crowd as many did not believe the story being fed.
But enough of the music...this is a food blog after all. If I had to score the food I'd give it ten out of ten. I think there may have been a problem with the noodles from a particular establishment however as the entire festival site became Noodle City; noodles littered everywhere, as far as the eye could see. Apart from the usual festival grub of burgers, fish and chips, falafel, chinese food and donuts there was Healthy T; they served homemade stovies, porridge, hog roasts, fresh seafood from Loch Fyne, smoked-in-front-of-your-eyes kippers from Spinks, sushi, stone baked pizza, noodles and freshly cooked pasta, to name but a few.
After our burger and chips and several performances, we headed over to Healthy T for some good Scottish fayre. I started with Cullen Skink, a fish and potato soup and then a salmon roll: freshly cooked pink salmon in a wholewheat bun with falafel mayonnaise and salad leaves in a lovely dressing. Truly delicious. Graeme went for the stovies which they inexplicably served with beetroot and oatcakes...we think because they'd bought plates with three sections and for no other reason...but Graeme said it was good. As the weekend progressed, I had a hog roast roll with crackling and mustard...wish I'd seen the apple sauce first...a smoked kipper, spring rolls and donuts with milk chocolate dipping sauce. This weekend was worth it for the food alone.
Now that I'm home, all I crave is a cup of tea in the house, the Sunday Papers and a lazy day. All have been provided, along with bacon rolls and a small antipasti for lunch. Thank you, husband.