Sunday, 27 February 2011

Too Cold For Ice-Cream

Beautiful Prague
Prague was stunning - but rather chilly to say the least. But then the frosty temperature lent itself rather nicely to warming up with gluhwein from street vendors, beer in the beer halls, and slivovice or becherovka wherever we could get it! Sadly, it was too cold for ice-cream - even for me and I make a point of eating it whenever possible and there was an abundance of temptingly lovely ice-cream shops in Prague. On our first morning there we encountered a man eating ice-cream in the sub-zero temperature - think it was about minus 10 degrees and not rising very fast! Still, at least his ice-cream wouldn't have melted.....


Thursday, 24 February 2011

Not So Glorious....

The gorgeous husband and I have just enjoyed a few days in Prague - more of that to come. We even got to fly with British Airways (oh the comparative luxury!) from Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Where there is a Ted Baker. A Ted Baker that is open at 5.30am on a Sunday. A Ted Baker that is open at 5.30am on a Sunday morning and that has on wondrous display the 'Handbag of Glory'. He very kindly took me to see/buy this 'Handbag of Glory' but I am sorry to say that it was not so glorious, in fact it was distinctly lacklustre. This was a shame as I was told I could have it for my impending birthday. Never mind - there will be other bags that live up to the title I am sure! Such as this one - which is already in my 'SMALLER THAN THE MALES IN MY FAMILY BELIEVE' handbag collection:

And I already have my eye on some gold sandals instead - I am far too fickle I fear!

Friday, 18 February 2011

An Unfair Advantage

We're talking about the very seriousness business of HOT CHOCOLATE you understand. Apparently I make the 'best hot chocolate' - not just according to the sons, but also their friends. There are several essential ingredients:

  • caramel syrup
  • mini marshmallows
  • proper hot chocolate made with cocoa and milk and sweetened to taste

But unfairly I also have a secret weapon - my Bamix. This is like a hand-blender, but it comes with interchangeable blades that do different jobs. One of these blades aerates - and you can use it to whip skimmed (yes, skimmed - not even unhealthy hot chocolates!) up to practically the consistency of whipped cream. Perfect for topping off the hot beverage that is so popular in our house.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Chorizo, Bean and Lentil Stew

I've just finished work for the week - I know, I know it's only Tuesday I hear you say. I got home pretty late after son 1's trumpet lesson and needed to cook something for dinner.....with very little food in the house! If it wasn't for being rescued by the milkman again this morning (milk, bread and yoghurt - THANK YOU) I think there might have been a mutiny on my hands. We get through a lot of food - I say we, the cat and I tend to graze modestly during the day, the husband has scaled back his portions, so in truth it's the sons who at age 12 and 7 (nearly 8) can pack it away! So dinner tonight was a store cupboard raid, and in truth it was rather good.

1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion finely sliced
200g chorizo sliced and then the slices halved
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 carton of passata
1 tsp chilli flakes
200g lentils
2 tins cannellini beans
salt and pepper

1. lightly fry the onion in the sunflower oil
2. add the chorizo and cook for a minute or two, then add the tomato puree and cook for a further couple of minutes
3. add the vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes, passata, chilli flakes, lentils and cannellini beans and stir well
4. bring to a simmer and let it gently bubble away until the lentils are cooked - mine took about 30 minutes
5. top up with a little water if the lentils swell too much
6. season to taste
7. serve with couscous or rice, or if you prefer bread (pittta? naan? crusty baguette?)

VERY easy - I like that after a day at work! And there are a couple of portions ready for the freezer which makes me very happy too and an extra one put aside for the lovely friend's lunch tomorrow. I'll definitely be making this one again.

Monday, 14 February 2011

To The One I Love

You amaze me, you truly inspire me, you bring the very best out of me.
 I would be truly privileged to know you just as a friend, but I am your wife.
I am eternally grateful that you are my husband and that you chose me.
I know no other words as inadequate as 'I love you' in this moment,
they don't begin to express the strength of my feelings and emotions.
So they will have to do - I love you, always.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A Dirty Half Dozen

The gorgeous husband regularly brings eggs home from work. This in itself is slightly odd although very much appreciated. The latest half dozen are clearly freshly laid (sorry if you are squeamish about such things and their slightly grubby appearance) but they also made us laugh. One is a 'double-yolker' apparently. I don't think it is the blue one which is a rather lovely hue but confuses me because I don't know why we have a blue egg. We had a blue egg (and a double-yolker) last time. Can you tell which the double-yolker is? Go on, hazard a guesss!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

A Handbag of Glory!

Ok, that might be a slight over-exaggeration - but it is a thing of beauty! I love handbags and don't own nearly enough or nearly as many as the husband and sons think I do. I have never had a cross-body bag before but am sorely tempted by this lovely one. The price tag is steep though so will have to save my pennies. It is from one of my favourite shops - Ted Baker, and I do love it so.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Proof Is Always In The Eating...

I think it worked - the One Of Your Five Drizzle Cake. The drizzle was more of a glaze, but was tangy and gingery (is that a word?), and the cake was dense and moist. The husband seemed happy - he wanted to know if the cake was for general consumption or out of bounds. So here's a photo. And as the lovely friend would say "nom nom nom" especially if it was served with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

One of Your Five Drizzle Cake

Sorry to say, there will be no photographs of the peanut butter 'Fudged Fudge'. It simply didn't last long enough because it was too scrumptiously tempting - chocolatey, creamy, fudgey, nutty perfection. Ahem. Even if I do say so myself.

I've not been feeling so well over the last week - but you could tell I started to feel better this afternoon as I actually did some cooking after 9 days of living off the freezer and the generosity of the lovely friend (the same friend who brought me my Raffles Earl Grey tea back from Singapore - she is really, really lovely!). Ok, so dinner for everyone was from the freezer stockpile (that is looking a little low now) but I have baked a cake!

Due to a glut of overripe bananas, some old carrots and some slightly wrinkly courgettes (due to the no-cooking-for-9-days thing) I have made a cake by mashing and grating these, with some sunflower and pumpkin seeds thrown in too. I also haven't been to the shops for a while, so the rest of the ingredients were cobbled together so we will have to see if it works........

1/3 cup melted butter
4 mashed up overripe bananas
1 grated courgette
2 grated carrots
1 cup of golden caster sugar
1 cup of soft brown sugar
2 cups semolina flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/3 cup sunflower oil
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees centigrade
2. Melt the butter and then mix in a large bowl with the mashed bananas, grated carrots and courgette
3. Stir in the sugars well, followed by the flours, the baking powder and the ground ginger
4. Stir in the oil and the beaten eggs, followed by the pumpkin and sunflower seeds
5. Pour into a large square baking tray - my preferred one is silicone as there is no need to grease or line it
6. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 50-60 minutes, or until you are sure it is cooked through when a skewer comes out clean
7. Once you remove from the oven poke holes with the skewer all over the'll see why as you read on......

I also decided to do a crunchy lemon drizzle topping - but only had 1 very old lemon which barely yielded any juice. So I added the juice of 3 pretty ropey oranges, grated some fresh ginger (which wasn't all that fresh!) and heated this to dissolve the last 1/4 of a jar of lemon curd before letting it cool. Once cool I added in about 150g golden caster sugar and poured it over the skewered cake. 

Now all that is needed is some patience while the cake cools and the topping (hopefully!) goes crunchy (as it should!!) and an open mind when tasting it! We'll see what the husband and sons think, and I'll try to post a photograph or two. If nothing else, we will all have had one of our five portions of fruit or vegetables for the day after eating a slice of this cake!

    Thursday, 3 February 2011

    Fudged Fudge....

    I bought some very cheap peanut butter yesterday. It's actually ok, even more than ok. You wouldn't know it was the cheap stuff. Other than putting it in sandwiches for the sons with some raspberry jam I had an urge to make peanut butter fudge. I found a recipe and then hugely adapted it based on what I had at home......hence the name fudged fudge as I sort of made it up as I went along.

    65g butter
    250g dark brown sugar
    100g full fat cream cheese
    60ml semi-skimmed milk
    150g crunchy peanut butter
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    150g icing sugar
    50g dark chocolate (broken up - again, the cheap stuff)
    50g cocoa powder

    1. melt the butter in a pan over a low heat
    2. add the dark brown sugar, cream cheese and milk - stir well until combined
    3. bring to the boil for about 3 minutes only stirring if it looks like frothing over the sides of the pan!
    4. remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla extract
    5. put the icing sugar, dark chocolate and cocoa powder into a large bowl
    6. pour the warm mixture over the icing sugar etc in the bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth
    7. pour into a square baking tray (I use a silicon one for ease of removal!), smooth the top with a spatula
    8. put into the fridge to set once it has cooled slightly, then cut into squares and enjoy!

    Simple really - hoping it is nice as I could be tempted to make lots as presents. I'll try to post a photo or two of the finished results.

    The Mushroom of Love!

    I was bringing son 2 home from school with a friend yesterday and overheard part of their conversation.....

    son 2 "do you still have the mushroom of love?"

    friend "yes i do, i haven't finished with it yet"

    son 2 "can i have it back when you are finished with it?"

    WHAT is a 'mushroom of love' I asked myself, mentally noting that Valentine's Day is not far away and it might possibly be connected to some clever marketing scheme that appeals to boys of 8 or 9 who actually have NO interest in matters of romance!

    So I asked........and was answered with much laughter as they explained they were talking about "From Russia With Love" - the James Bond DVD. It will forever now be known as 'The Mushroom of Love" in our house.