Friday, December 3, 2010

December Already

I took the bull by the horns some time ago and decided to get busy with my paintings, my cooking and my cupcakes.   I cook all day and night on a Monday and Tuesday morning with yoga inbetween afternoon deliveries, I draw and paint on a Wednesday and weekends when I have commissions, bake on a Thursday and deliver on a Friday.  Hence my lack of posts, dear friends.

It's been a revelation: I've discovered a certain style to drawing that people seem to really like which I'm delighted about and I've attended many fairs this autumn/winter and intend to travel next year further afield (any fairs near you?).  It's all very busy and exciting.

I make family meals on a Monday for busy mums and dads and made a few new discoveries: stews are always a success, the humble cannellini bean is great for slow cooking, I now know 101 things to do with a tin of tomatoes, whereas many meals are great for reheating, some don't quite work and trying to ban children from the kitchen on a Monday is a laborious task.  I've found out that you should never cook a meal for others that you've not tried first; if it isn't to your taste, don't serve it and trust your own judgement at all times.

It's been a busy, eye-opening time but I feel it's all taking shape and I'm getting into a routine.   It all went up in the air this week with the annual sickness bug affecting all three kids but I managed.   We cheered ourselves by putting up the tree and lighting Christmas scented candles yes, Christmas scented....Christmas has a smell!...with Helen's Hot Hottie Chocolate although the kids couldn't have any because they were ill.   I felt it was evil to drink it in front of them so Brian stood in a cold kitchen, sipping his with a bobble hat and gloves on.

It's -12 and very, very snowy here in Scotland.   Brrr.   But here's some cake to keep you need to go put the kettle on. 

 Grandpa's Victoria Sponge and Buttercream Icing Birthday Cake, November 2010

Angela's 40th Birthday Party Cake, November 2010. Bit of a weird picture, it was dark!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Aw, wee lamb!

Aw, wee blog.  Wee lamb.   Totally neglected by the big bad Scottish lady.   Here's a wee dusting, pet.   I'll be back soon for the proper clear out.   Sorry, blog.   Sorry fellow bloggers, I miss you.   Thanks for not ditching me!

 Far too much contemplating, not enough work.............


Saturday, September 18, 2010

If Food Be The Music Of Love....

....Why Don't You Stop Yer Whingeing a good wee word; think a cross between wining, moaning and's not fun...And Just Eat It?   So said the lady to her wee boy in the cafe, sitting next to me.   He had said "This Tastes Minging" and then, surprisingly, considering his young age around 7, "Isn't Food Supposed Tae Be The Music Of  Love....or sumhin like that?"   "Cos If Ye Loved Me, Ye Widnae Make Me Eat This Mingin Stuff".   And that's when she replied.  

I had to leave so that I could laugh; it was funny and in it's own wee way, very sweet.   I guess you had to be there to see how she smiled at him and they both chuckled to each other.  

Beef and Barley Broth

It's been stews, casseroles and pies this past few weeks; the chill is already in the air and we've felt like coorying up with a bowl of something hot, soothing and meaty!   I'm having smaller portions than everyone else but that's ok because a stew like this fills your belly pretty quickly.   All recipes to come next week.

More Broth!

Chicken Pie with Cheesy Cobbler Topping...oh my.

Tasty garlic bread

Beef, Sausage and Potato Stew...this was later topped with dumplings.   Very tasty.

Carbonnade a la Flamande with Mash and Crisp Vegetables

This is a traditional Belgain dish made with Belgian beer and slow cooked for hours.   You caramelise the onions first, making this a really tasty meal with a hint of sweetness.

Friends, trying to eat in peace; "fer goodness sake, can I eat my soup??"

I promise all recipes next week; I have my first fair this week and I'm head to toe in badges and paintings!   Have a wonderful weekend, lovely bloggy peeps.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The squatters have moved in.

The amount of 'anonymous' piffle on my comments has grown exponentially since my hiatus.   Begone, evil anonymous pifflers, I'm back and you can just bog off with your 'buy adult chickens' and 'buy bizarre liquids'; what is an adult chicken anyway?   Aren't all chickens 'adult'?   Does anyone ever click on these links?   Have the anonymous computer generator peeps nothing more substantial to do with their time?

Aaaaand rant over.

How are you all?   How have you been?  I missed you.   I've been cooking, crafting and generally messing about, limiting my time to mimimum use of the computer.   I've still been shopping on a budget, as usual and cooking tasty meals...or so the kids tell me...even taking photos, knowing I'd be back one day....and looking after the family as always.

My life in food...and badges!    Recipes to follow...I'll be back on Thursday.   Have a wonderful week.

 Sweet and Spicy Goats Cheese and Prawn Salad

Roasted Scallops, Potatoes, Onions and Chorizo...sublime!

Slow Cooked Spicy Lamb Shanks

Chocolate Tart

A bit of a tart...and fruity to boot!

Kids' Fish, Potatoes and Cucumber...pretty tasty, kids!

Helen's New Badges and Gift Tags

Such fun to make and selling well!

Customised for Birthday Favours

Who for?   You guessed it....


Night Nurse

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Edwin Morgan Dies

One of my favourite poets died this week aged 90.  

 He was a Glaswegian, like me, and I met him once or twice in The Ubiquitous Chip (or so said the old man with a wicked sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye...).   I have the fondest memories of learning his work, including the following poem whilst still at of my all time favourites...from the Glasgow Sonnets:

A mean wind wanders through the backcourt trash.
Hackles on puddles rise, old mattresses
puff briefly and subside. Play-fortresses
of brick and bric-a-brac spill out some ash.
Four storeys have no windows left to smash,
but the fifth a chipped sill buttresses
mother and daughter the last mistresses
of that black block condemned to stand, not crash.
Around them the cracks deepen, the rats crawl.
The kettle whimpers on a crazy hob.
Roses of mould grow from ceiling to wall.
The man lies late since he has lost his job,
smokes on one elbow, letting his coughs fall
thinly into an air too poor to rob.

RIP Edwin Morgan.  I think of you, as Carol Ann Duffy said, with love and gratitude.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Food Week in Pictures

The last day of summer, the sun shone with glee.   We spent the day loitering in the garden, lazing on deck chairs and enjoying the warm sun.   We had a BBQ and Brian and I stayed up to watch the sun set.   The kids, tired and excited about the return to school, smiled through half shut eyes as they wearily set of for bed, windows open to let in the cool air.

Breaded Cobbler with baby buttered potatoes and cucumber slices

Goats Cheese and Spicy Prawn Salad with Sweet Chilli and Black Pepper Sauce

Yet more prawns!   Prawn Broth with Noodles.   Mmmm.

You know we love Chicken with roasted veg

Healthy BBQ food; halloumi and mushroom kebab, mixed salad, sunblushed tomatoes drizzled with pesto, loives, BBQ'd asparagus and baby buttered potatoes.

Homemade mini burgers and lamb koftas

Prawn skewers coated in spices and olive oil

Lucy enjoying the BBQ and the sun!

That's BBQ'd baby sweetcorn sticking from his gob!

Kelly eating and reading at the same time as usual!

And the sun sets on a beautiful day.

The food, as you can see, has remained light and healthy...the weather allowed us another few BBQs and we've had a busy, productive and tiring but lovely week.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Summer's Over....

That's it, the last official day of the school holidays.   There was hollering over haircuts, spanking new school trousers  too small, brand new shoes suddenly too big.   The weather has been rubbish: rain, wind and cold....the cost, a lot; trips to the pictures, pizza, shopping and indoor entertainment-all designed to blow your mind at the minimal cost of £50 per trip, per family....roll up, roll up!  

There have been highlights; having them here has been wonderful, watching new friendships form, clubs being created and books being read.   They've baked cakes and bread and ate them with relish.   Seeing them play in the odd pockets of sunshine has been great, faces held to the sun to catch the rays as they stay out all day, coming back for dinner and juice and then running off again before the fork stops clankering on the table.

They've all grown at least an inch and have a grubby, rosy glow about them.   It seems like not the greatest summer to me, but through their eyes, it's been fantastic and filled with adventure and fun.   That's all that really matters.

Coconut Prawn (Shrimp) Curry with Noodles

Absolutely delicious; light coconut milk is used, making this a low fat but very tasty tea.   Recipe to follow.

Hearthbread pizza

Hearthbread topped with homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella, herbs and a drizzling of olive oil.   Delicious, but for kids (and dad) only right now!

Lettuce boats filled with roasted veg, olives, garlic and cured meats with a low fat dressing and mint

A great alternative to bread...well, not really, but when you're looking to loose a few pounds, then yeah, it works well!   I roasted asparagus and artichokes in a little olive oil, sea salt, mint and black pepper, filled the lettuce boats alongisde a little chopped chorizo and Parma ham.   Thin slices of cooked garlic and olives were added along with a little lemon and honey dressing.   Lovely.

Monday, August 9, 2010

It's That Time Again....

 All dishes still to be cooked this week and any in the near future will be with weight loss in mind.  I know that when it comes to this subject, many of us want to run screaming for the hills; fat content, weighing and calorie counting don't figure in my plan life is too short but lots of fresh vegetables, smaller portions and tasty little bites of treats do as does a wee bit of gin and tonic and wine...lets face it, you didn't expect any less. I don't intend to tell you my weight gawd help us all as I don't have scales but when I'm down a few dress sizes, I'll letya know!  

I'll work out the calorie and fat content of some meals for those that requested it last time.

I like something sweet in the mornings so that's when I'll be treating myself: digestive biscuits with margarine and jam, Welsh cake, croissant or cookie but just the one.   Lunches will be soups, light snacks, crackers like Ryvita with goats cheese, tomatoes and salads with light sprinkling of nuts and seeds.

The fridge and freezer heave with leftovers yet I have lots of fresh food; it's a battle over which to eat first.   Fresh veg should always be used so today I made chicken soup with chickpeas and grilled vegetables with halloumi cheese.   The kids had a separate meal of salmon pasta.

Pan-fried Salmon Pasta with Parmesan, Lemon and Peas

Cook pasta as per instructions.   Drain and drizzle with a little olive oil, a knob of butter, a large handful of grated Parmesan cheese, a good squeeze of lemon juice and a heaped teaspoon double cream.   Mix well and add in the cooked salmon, cooked peas and top with a good grinding of black pepper and some more grated Parmesan.

 Chicken Soup with Chickpeas
This recipe was taken from Sophie Dahl's 'Voluptuous Delights'.   I highly recommend it, I love this soup!   Mildly but expertly spiced, delicate yet full of flavour, I could live off this for a long time.   I intend to make it at some point with the addition of cubed potatoes, maybe some toasted cumin seeds and serve it with flatbread.   Delicious.
1 medium onion, chopped**
**white onion but I used red this time, worked well
2 tbs olive oil
Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon 
Half a teaspoon of ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric
A pinch of ground cumin
1 swede or turnip, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, washed and sliced
2 litres/8 cups of chicken stock
750g/1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped **
**I used two free range chicken breasts this time around....approx 250g...I think the recipe suggestion is rather a lot of chicken but I think thigh meat would work better
400g/13oz can of chickpeas
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley or coriander/cilantro, to serve

Sweat the onion in the oil in a big, deep pan over a low heat.   Add all the spices, stir to coat and cook for several minutes.   Throw in veg and stir, cooking gently.   Add stock and chicken and cook for a further 15 minutes.   Add chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes.   I put lid on and simmered slowly.   Season to taste.   I added a squeeze of lemon juice too.   Serve with the chopped herb of choice and Sophie recommends a splash of olive oil but I didn't use this time.

Grilled Vegetables with Halloumi Cheese
Sophie Dahl again!   Tasty although I hate it when veg goes soggy so make sure the veg is thinly sliced so that it crisps up quickly. This was nice but I'm unsure if I'd make it again until my grill is fixed (I used the oven this time).   Thinly slice aubergine and courgette (eggplant/zucchini).   Salt the aubergine and leave for 30 minutes...this will draw out the moisture.   Rinse with cold water and pat dry.   Place with the courgette on a tray, sprinkle with ground cumin and then combine 2 tablespoons olive oil and the juice of half a lemon and drizzle over veg.   Grill for a few minutes (I actually used the oven as my grill isn't working...grilling would be MUCH better) and then turn over.   Add halloumi cheese and blast under the grill under golden. 
Artichoke Tart and Jersey Royal Potatoes with Pesto

Salmon coated in Panko Breadcrumbs with Baby New Buttered Potatoes

The kid's chocolate cupcakes with Nutella and Malteser Topping...well done kids, delicious!

Ryvita with Brie, Pesto, Olives, Cherry Tomatoes, Parmesan Shavings and lightly grilled Parma Ham

 Day One: Today's breakfast was two digestive biscuits with margarine and jam, lunch was crunchy salad and dinner and supper was the chicken soup with a little of the grilled veg.   I ate two chocolates with coffee as I had visitors.   Lets call it dessert.....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Dress Blues

I bought a new dress today from a funky new store in town; on returning home, I put on the dress to show my lovely, supportive family yeah, not so much.   I stood in front of the kids and watched their silence unfold; Fraser cocked his head to the side and declared it "old-fashioned".   Lucy kinda smirked and the words "oh dear gawd" emanated from every fibre of her being.

The kids followed me upstairs, giggling as I went to show husband.   He looked me up and down, grinned and asked "did you make it yourself?" followed by "so that's what you've been doing at all those night classes".....playing to his audience of giggling children, he went on to describe his horror in many forms which ended with me curled up under the duvet, with only eldest daughter hugs for comfort.


Thank gawd there's always cake.

Chocolate Cheesecake with mixed berries

I had friends over at the weekend and I served antipasti with basil pesto, sunblushed tomatoes, brie, fresh bread, dipping oil, olives and balsamic vinegar, Parmesan, a variety of tarts including caramelised red onion and goats cheese, artichoke and mint, goats cheese and pesto, asparagus and cheddar.   There was also lasagna, pasta Bolognaise, macaroni cheese, green salad with a honey and balsamic dressing all followed with apple pie, chocolate cheesecake, extra thick double cream and Colpi ice cream.   Twas a great night and no-one went hungry!

Apple Pie

Helen's buffet, suitable for kids!



Pasta Bolognaise and Asparagus Tart

William's cupcakes...tasty cakes, well done lad!

Val and Colin's Chocolate Cake...the icing was an experiment, 
I need to make again before I decide if I like it or not or whether to share!

I'm a bit late in giving the shopping list but suffice it to say, it was within budget and will last for 10 days in total; meals include the following:
Rosemary and Garlic Roast Lamb with a Pesto crust, served with roast asparagus, broccolli, green beans and roasted potato with a red wine gravy
Chicken Soup with Chickpeas
Fish & Vegetable Stew with dumplings
Salmon Tempura with Sesame Fried Rice and green veg
Prawn coconut curry
Grilled Vegetables with Halloumi
Macaroni Cheese
Lamb Curry

Recipes and pictures to follow, my friends!