Monday, May 9, 2011

Blogger has Deleted My Bloglist

Oh woe is me: my follow list has been pillaged and is no more.   I seem to have lost a host or is it a bunch, a posse...or maybe a flotilla of followers which means that the ones lost were those who only followed me because I followed them.   Well, that's ok then.   Lets face it, those kinda bloggers are unwilling to commit to my rants and diatribes, flaky behaviour and periods of absence.   Only the true follower would hang in there, not particularly noticing or caring about your absence but happy to see your wee name pop up every month or so nonetheless.

But what am I to do, I'll miss those peeps I followed, albeit quietly, stalker-like in my silence but reading nonetheless.   Thanks Blogger.   Better say it again in a whisper, they may pillage my page next......thanks a lot, Blogger.   Insert sarcasm.

But to food.   Always to food.

Sainsburys in the UK has started an ad campaign "Feeding Four For Fifty".   Hmmm.   I think my fifty could take their forty in a fight but check it out, it's all about paying less and eating healthy and the recipes look good so I'm all for it. 

We've had sausage meatballs in a tomato and basil sauce this week alongside tortellini in an oregano, tomato and ricotta cheese sauce, turkey chilli with a lovely yoghurt and avocado dressing....soooo good and a lot less fat and cost than beef....Sloppy Joe Bake, a wee invention as my kids and I can't bear the thought of eating it on buns; I know it's cultural and would no doubt taste great I promise to give it a go but for now, we tried it topped with potatoes, bread, cheese etc.

This post has no pictures...wah, I hear me you cry but that will be resolved once I can once again upload the darn things.  

Stay with me peeps, it's about to get tasty round here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easter Holibags

April is the month of no return; the kids are at school for a total of approx. 7 days, the rest being dedicated to Easter holidays, bank holidays, the Royal Wedding and there may be an election in there too.   So how do you keep them entertained?   No, seriously, HOW.........?   Nah, only kidding, I have this down to a tee after years of practice.   It's a finely tuned balance of food, entertainment, jammie days and the occasional throwing money at the situation.

The secret is not to peak too early ain't that the truth....; so here's how it's going so far: Saturday after school ends, have great friends who throw a party or throw it yourself to celebrate the start of the holidays and who will supply you with a constant flow of gin and champagne, the kids a constant supply of sweeties, Easter egg hunts and dvds.   A bit of sunshine helps, if you can arrange it as an hour at the park for the kids, and only the kids, you'll be sitting sipping that gin and tonic helps tremendously.

The Sunday, arrange for some visitors...not too early, you've been drinking gin remember, but not too late either, you'll be in need of those bacon rolls and lemon cake to aid your recovery.   It just so happened it was Mothers Day...perfect; breakfast in bed, for me a toasted bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese and huge mugs of tea....then up to make the cake and then chill on the sofa with the Sunday papers until mum and sisters arrive.   See, we're all happy; the kids are happy to see their family, adrenalin pounds at the excitement of it all tiring them out and you get to sit still.  And eat.   Doing not much at all.   That's important.  

So they've had a busy weekend, it's time to take stock and chill for a few days but only if it's raining; if it's sunny, you must go out in Glasgow as we don't know when that rare ball in the sky might surface once more or at least, throw the kids out but in general, Monday is the day for jammies, dvds, cookies, food and games.

Tuesday was a wee bit similar, truth be told I spent the day cooking, see below, but it gets them ready for a nice long walk to the train station come Wednesday for a trip the the cinema .   By 7.30pm, they're home, fed and tired and mum can go meet her pals at the pub.   


That leads us nicely to today; the girls are having a pony day where they get to clean out, pony ride etc. and me and the lad get to have some laddie time:
"So, Fraser, what shall we do today?"
"Stay in, play the Wii"
"The sun is shining, son, lets go do something"
"I think that would be good, but for now, I really think you should have a coffee and a biscuit first and why don't you go on the computer for a wee while?   You deserve it"

Hence my bloggy update.  

Now to the issue of food: this week, I cooked Martha's Beef Goulash, Moroccan Style Chicken with Couscous and my Original Chilli recipe; I've experimented over the past year with chilli, my favourite having sirloin steak in it as well as mince but you know how I like to get value for money and although it is indeed a tasty chilli, the sirloin and extra ingredients push up the cost enormously.   My original chilli costs less and is a good starting point where extra ingredients can be added.  

Helen's Original Chilli

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced (I like the long, pointed peppers as sweeter) 
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram or mixed herbs containing marjoram
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 410g can red kidney beans 
  • Square of dark chocolate
  • Teaspoon cocoa powder
  • Half cup coffee

  1. Add oil to a large pan and add the onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium; stir occasionally.  Once the onions are soft, add the garlic, red pepper, chilli, paprika and cumin. Give it a stir, then leave it to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Brown the mince. Turn the heat up, add the meat to the pan and brown; break up the mince with your wooden spoon.  Keep stirring and breaking up the mince until totally browned.
  3. Mix the stock cube with 300ml/1⁄2 pint of hot water. Pour this into the pan with the mince. Add the can of chopped tomatoes and the marjoram, sugar, cocoa powder, coffee, tomato puree and add a good shake of salt and pepper. Stir.
  4. Bring to the boil, give it a good stir and put a lid on. Turn down the heat until it is simmering and leave for 1 hour. Stir every now and then.
  5. Add the beans and chocolate.   Bring to the boil again, and gently simmer without the lid for another 15 minutes, adding a little water if you think it needs it. Taste and season well.   Have a wee bowlful because hey, you made it, you deserve it but then leave for at least an hour or overnight before serving for dinner as the flavours really get a chance to adhere.
* I serve mine with flatbread or rice, topped with a little grated cheese and natural yoghurt.
** Add chopped up chillies for an extra kick.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ode to a Goldfish

Yesterday was frought with drama; the day started pleasantly enough very pleasantly actually, even though I did my headless chicken act for an hour beforehand but hey, that's life as a mum, isn't it?   So is rambling, apparently, as my friend Shona picked me up to take us into town for coffee and shopping.   We had some toast, chatted and then went our separate ways, on the hunt for gifts, knick knacks and sundries.

On looking at bags in Debenhams, they had a 20% sale on, you'd think they were offering them with a Faberge egg and a year's supply of lottery tickets, a scuffle broke out between two women I say women, one was growling so much, she may have been part Rottweiller over one, frankly, rather tatty looking creation and they turned to me for 'advice' by advice, I mean a decision.   By decision I mean they both wanted me to tell them that they were right.   I suppose you got all that from the quotes anyway and there is really no need for me to explain further...well, tough, I'm in a lyrical lyrical I mean....oh never mind.   On stating that I wasn't getting involved, they both decided to 'involve' me anyway by turning their lovely mouths to terms of endearment in cursing form; that was fun.   By fun I mean not fun.   By cursing, I mean swearing ....oh, you got that?   Good.   Just wanted to clarify.   One called me a bitch.   Can you believe that?   Me?   Lovely, unbitchless wee me.   Man, that bag was fugly.

I had no phone with me to tell the time I don't wear a watch, I'm a rebel without a Cassio.... and didn't worry about it too much, considering I left the house at 9.15am and didn't have to be back until 3.30pm.   On entering a very calm, sedate establishment who sell nothing but white yes, white....just white...I became aware of a man becoming increasingly angry.   He'd been back three times looking for 'pomegranate' you don't want to know and they STILL didn't have it?   It was an OUTRAGE.   The girl suggested he go to Jo Malone, they did Pomegranate apparently...   Her manager wasn't too impressed.   My outrage managed to surface for a brief millisecond when I realised Pomegranate was what I wanted too or had he just put the power of suggestion into my mind? but quickly subsided when I realised Ginger was better.   I wanted to call after him "HEY!   Ginger's better!   Pomegranate SUCKS!" but thought better of it.

You'd think that would be it for my day, wouldn't you?   Nooooooo.   I've not even started on the food yet and there's some way to go.   For those of you waiting for pics, just scroll down to the bottom and ignore the rest of this diatribe.

Asking someone the time, you'd think I'd asked for a kidney, the way she sighed and told me it, eyes raised to the sky, reluctantly looking at her watch, as if lifting up her arm caused her enough activity to have to go lie down for an hour, I realised that I was, in fact cutting it fine and headed for the train station.   On waiting at Partick, the hub of all activity in's like the Rail version of the Bermuda Triangle....strange things gather and drama abounds....the usual token nutter comes up the escalators, shouting abuse at rail staff at the top of his voice.   We're used to this sort of thing, it doesn't happen every day but usually, the nutter will go sit somewhere away from everyone and continue to shout until he falls asleep and is removed by local authority.

When the train pulled in, everyone headed for one carriage, away from the shouting bearded man and that was fine, until he got lonely and came looking for us, so he could shout some more.   What's the point after all, without an audience.  

So eventually the train pulls to a halt.   The man is wrapped round a pole, refusing to leave.   Twenty of them mingle round, scratching their heads and drawing up plans on How To Remove A Nutter From A Pole.  

Some time later, the Big Man gets on the train.   He surveys the scene, look of bored disgust on his face, arms folded in front of him.   He assesses the situation and without even looking at anyone, he simply kicks out his foot, just enough to make the man fall over so that he is caught by the other twenty and dragged out of the carriage.   The Big Man shakes his head at the Little People, annoyed to be taken away from his sports fixtures and goes about his business.

The train continues and I arrive at the station, a 30 minute walk from my destination.   So to cut a long story a tiny bit shorter, I've been walking for hours, I get the kids, we go food shopping, I have ten minutes to get organised for yoga and even refuse an offer to go to the pub...unheard of, I can assure you...and go home to normality.   I open the door to find the youngest wee lass crying her eyes out, the other two looking crestfallen and an upside down fish being given resuscitation by an anxious dad.   So the rest of the evening is spent massaging a fish, comforting children and falling asleep exhausted.   Our lovely wee goldfish died, after six years, just as two baby gerbils arrived.   What HAVE we done?

 Raspberry Shortbread and Whisky Cream Cupcakes for Burn's Day.

 Vegetable Lasagna being prepared; recipe to follow, this was delicious!

 Helen's Calzone Attempt.

 Caramel Apple Granny; wish I'd got a better picture but, mmmmmmmm.  This was good.

 The Apply Granny; you can't find a recipe for this so I made it up ans was pretty happy with the results...I promise to share.

 Making Chicken and Potato Chimichangas...frying the potatoes in a little turmeric, salt, pepper, thyme, garlic clove.   I used leftover chicken which had been breaded.

 Filling the tortilla.

 Adding the cheese, Monteray Jack if in the US, grated Mozzarella if in the UK.

 Folding up the chimichangas.   From here, fry for a minute or so both sides in a little oil then bake in oven for 10 minutes.   They go lovely golden brown, the cheese melts and everyone enjoys.   Normally, I'd make this with chillies, salsa, etc. but sometimes you just have to use up those leftovers the best way you see fit!

 This looks like a blob but man oh man, was this good; chocolate orange cake, recipe to follow.   I'm making one tonight so more a whole cake this time!  

 Pork, chorizo, roasted pepper,s new potatoes, tomato sauce, thyme, olives....the list goes on.   This dish was so easy and very tasty.   Again, recipes to follow.

 Wholemeal chocolate cupcakes with Nutella Icing.   Grand.

 Aunty Marion's cupcakes.

 The cupcakes were lemon drizzle with lemon icing.   They were well tasty!

Root Vegetable Gratin....another winner, recipe to follow.

In memory of our wee goldfish.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

To A Haggis

Happy Burns Day!   Today, in Scotland, we celebrate Robert Burns, our national poet by eating, drinking, reciting poetry and generally making merry.   For our Burn's Supper, we eat haggis, after serenading it with it's own special Address...and other verse of such blethering words, only those who are Scottish, drunk or sleeping can understand it...oh, and how we love it!

Here is my daughter, Addressing the Haggis.....

Tonight, we had Haggis Pie with neeps and tatties.

We'll be having a Burns Supper on Friday night with friends.   Cullen Skink, Haggis Neeps and Tatties and Shortbread Pudding will be served alongside a wee dram or five.   I promise to explain what this all means, then.   


Friday, January 21, 2011

Some Food

Well, bloggy peeps, another year is well underway, another chance to eat well, work hard and play.   I've been warming up the cold, frosty days  with lots of stews, soups and broths as well as a few salads and cakes because lets face it, everyone needs cake in their life
 Lemon Chicken Stew
 When I first made this, it looked wonderful but didn't taste so great; I went against my instinct and stuck to the recipe.   I realise now, my instinct is probably pretty good when it comes to food and although I should probably act on it, I have been surprised before.   I remade it by marinading the chicken in lemon, ginger, thyme, sesame oil and olive oil with a tiny bit of chilli and lots of salt and pepper.  The full recipe to follow.

 Patatas Bravas with Chorizo....mmmmm.

 Helen's Samosas
 Coming up this week: Haggis Samosas!   

 Scallop Salad...a wee bit of sunshine amidst the stews


 Will's Cheeseburger Cakes!   Yup, cake....very clever and tasty.

 Brooklyn Blackout Cake filled with cream and berries, covered in Nutella Icing

 Grandpa's Steak Pie!

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