Friday, 31 December 2010

This moment - Winter Warmer

This Moment was inspired by Soulemama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Warm Winter Night

As the old year goes out I made a warm winter dish to satisfy the soul.

Sausage and Root Vegetable Stew

2 tabsp. olive oil
6 Lincolnshire sausages
1 glass of cider
1 onion - chopped
1 leek – sliced
2 potatoes – peeled and cut into chunks
1 parsnip – cut into chunky cubes
Large handful of chopped mixed herbs – parsley, rosemary and sage
Black pepper
Cornflour to thicken

Pre-heat oven to Gas 4/180C.
1. Heat 1 tabsp. oli in a large saucepan and brown sausages over a medium
heat. Transfer to casserole dish.
2. Pour the cider into the pan and stir to degalaze, scraping to release any
bits of caramelised meat from the base of the pan. Pour over the
3. Heat the rest of the oil in the pan and add the onions and leek. Cook
gently for 10 mins until softened.
4. Return the sausages to the pan and add the potatoes and parsnip. Add
The mixed herbs, black pepper and enough water to cover all ingredients.
5. Bring to simmer and then pour all ingredients back into casserole dish.
6. Cook with lid on for approx 1 hour 30 mins or until everything is tender.
7. The potatoes should have thickened the sauce a little.
8. If you would like the cider sauce a little thicker, then make up a cornflour
paste with a couple of teaspoons of cornflour and water – stir in until
required thickness is achieved.
8. Serve with extra chopped parsley.

Baked Apples with Mincemeat

2 Bramley apples
2 dessert spoons mincemeat

Pre-heat oven to Gas 4/180C
1. Core and wash the apples (no need to peel them)
2. Place the apples into an ovenproof dish and make a score around each
apple, to allow them to cook without bursting too much.
3. Fill the centres of each apple with mincemeat, pressing the mixture well
4. Bake the apples for approx 45-50 mins until tender.
5. Serve warm with single cream

NB I use mincemeat left over from making mince-pies. The apples can actually be filled with anything, as you only need a small amount:
- mixed dried fruit, pinch of mixed spice and teasp. brown sugar
- dried cranberries and a pinch of cinnamon
- blackberries and a teaspoon brown sugar
- chopped dates and apricots

I like single cream poured over the apples, but you could use plain yoghurt, vanilla ice-cream or warm custard.

A Spot of Cooking

The last day of the year and a spot of cooking is called for.

Macaroni Cheese with Leeks and Bacon

1 leek
25g butter
25g plain flour
250ml milk
150g Red Leicester cheese
Pinch mustard
Black pepper
4 rashes bacon
150g macaroni
50g garden peas
1 slice wholemeal bread

1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 4/180C.
2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the macaroni for 10 mins.
3. Grill the bacon and chop into small pieces, leave on one-side.
4. Wash and slice the leek.
5. Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently sauté the leeks for 3-4 mins.
6. Add the plain flour and cook for a few seconds.
7. Add the milk and stir until the sauce begins to thicken.
8. Add the 100g of grated cheese, black pepper and mustard.
9. Add the peas to the macaroni and continue to cook for another 5 mins.
10. Drain the macaroni and peas.
11. Add the cheese sauce to the macaroni and mix well.
12. Make breadcrumbs using the slice of wholemeal bread, add the
remaining grated cheese and seasoning.
13.Pour the macaroni cheese into a large oven proof dish and sprinkle on
the breadcrumbs.
14. Bake for 20-25 mins until golden and crunchy on top.

Whilst the macaroni was baking I decided to make some Digestive Biscuits to have with coffee.

Home-made Digestive Biscuits

250g spelt wholemeal flour
250g butter
250g oatmeal
75g soft brown sugar
2tsp. baking powder

1. Pre-heat oven to Gas 4/180C
2. Place flour, oatmeal, butter, baking powder and sugar into food processor.
3. Pulse until all ingredients combine into a sticky dough - add a drop of milk
if too dry.
4. Gather mixture into a ball and gently knead until smooth. Wrap in cling
film and leave in fridge for 15-20 mins.
5. Roll out on floured surface – cut out shapes and place on a baking tray.
6. Bake for 10-15 mins until golden brown – DO NOT over bake.
7. Leave to cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight box.

These are really yummy with a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Noggin Bops - What has made you smile this Christmas?

Two gifts at the bottom of a Christmas bag brought a smile to our faces. Noggin Bops - just wind them up and watch them twist. Our Christmas table has been piled high with magazines, books and newspapers. As we sit drinking coffee, eating the odd mincepie and chatting about snippets that we come across the Noggins have kept us company. We stop what we are doing every so often to wind them up and watch them go - such simple pleaures that make us smile.
What has made you smile this Christmas?

Monday, 20 December 2010

Merry Christmas to The World

Where-ever you live in the world I wish you a Merry Chistmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, 12 December 2010


Two little tutu's waiting for two little poppets. Faryl and Poppy love to dress up and I came across this idea - a no sew version, and so easy. Once I had cut out all the strips it took about half an hour. A last minute Christmas gift - go on have a go. Purple for Faryl and pink and white for Poppy

Friday, 10 December 2010

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Snow Snow and more Snow

Well it was forecast and down it came, snow, snow and even more snow. Scotland has probably been the worst hit with temperatures reaching as low as -21 (thats what I call cold). School was closed to-day as many of the staff could not travel into work. I am sure the children had a blast in the snow and I will hear all thier storeis over the next few days. I had a walk in the wonderland, baked bread and generally got caught up on lots of little jobs.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Advent Bags

I got this idea from so easy to do and I used up some bits from my 'bit box' on the plain bags. I bought some little red pegs to hang them on the tartan ribbon. This little collection of advent bags are for the grandchildren that I share with my sister. She is going to fill them with little chocolate treats.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Go into your attic and search for treasure

This week it has been reported that a couple who were clearing out an attic came across an old Chinese vase. They thought it might be worth around £800. However it came to light that it was a rare Chinese vase and sold for £43 million pounds. As the bidding soared higher higher the couple had to go outside in complete shock.
What a find. So all you budding treasure hunters go into the attic and have a good rummage, you may be surprised at what you find.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Back to School on Monday

Well that's it, the end of a two week break from school. I can honestly say I have made the most of everyday. The clocks went back yesterday and it will be dark in the mornings when I go to work and dark when I come home again. I quite like this term, comfort cooking and getting ready for Christmas. I will need to look for some inspiring recipes to make with the children. I have been inspired over the past few weeks with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his 'Everyday Meals'. To day I made the slow roast lamb and the house was filled with the smell of rosemary.
I served the lamb with creamy mashed potatoes and buttered cabbage.
It was great recipe.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

This Moment - Waiting for Halloween

This Moment was inspired by Soulemama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Mosaic Monday

I know I am on holiday and should have all the time in the world to make up a mosaic of photographs, but I have just finished making a slideshow to show off my Autumn photographs. Will this do for Mosaic Monday?

Slideshow: Autumn 2010 - Slideshow

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Scooby Do Party

This was a party with a difference. As you know I share grandchildren with my sister. Archie is 5 years old, Poppy is 2 years and Faryl is 1 year old. Archie is kinda frightened of Halloween so my sister said she would have a Scooby Do party instead and hold it week earlier than Halloween, just because she is away travelling.
So the Scooby Do theme took off. My sister had Scooby Do images all over the house and the table was decked with Scooby Do decorations and chocolates. She had colouring books for the children and I provided some bits and pieces to make masks. My sister cooked a hugh cheese and potato pie, sausages and she served it with a variety of chutney. My cakes were a welcome sight on the table along with a gingerbread/parkin recipe. The children danced and watched a video of Scooby Do and so was born a Scooby Do party. We may have another one next year.
I actually like Halloween, so will be decking up my own house with spooky things and am already making candies for neighbours children who will call at the house over Halloween.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Scooby Do Party

I have been invited to a Scooby Do Party tomorrow. I have no idea what to expect, but I though I would go prepared and take a few goodies.

So I made some citrus candy with the left over oranges after making some juice.

Then I made another Whacky cake as an earlier blog and lastly the best ever Caramel and apple loaf. I left out the walnuts.

Will let you know how the party goes over the weekend.

This Moment

This Moment was inspired by Soulemama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

I Found Her

As promised I hit the charity shops yesterday and there she was in the window looking a bit lost. I share grandchildren with my sister and Poppy wants a doll that she can dress up. So I went in search for something suitable and there she was. How could I resist her, and such lovely hair and eyes. The eye lashes actually flutter. I paid just £2.00 for her - a real snip I thought. So today I have been busy making some little outfits. Take a look and see what you think. I have called her Dolly Dewdrop, but I am sure that Poppy will re-name her as soon as she sees her.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

All before Noon

Yesterday was such a wash out with the weather, but I had still had my walk. I had found by pure accident a little lane running from Little Eaton to Brackley Gate.
Yesterday I walked in the rain, but today I went back with my camera. I set off early to capture the morning sun. The batteries were low and I only manged a few photographs, but I will go back to see what else I can see. The woods were so beautiful in the morning light, capturing th Autumn leaves.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Chicken, Chicken and more Chicken

On Sunday I roasted a chicken using the 'Barefoot Contessa' recipe.
There was enough chicken left to make another meal.
Chicken and Rice

1 small onion - peeled and finely chopped
1 yellow pepper - chopped
1 green pepper - chopped
handful of mushrooms - sliced
1 teaspoon tumeric powder
cup of basmati rice
handful frozen peas
2 tomatoes - chopped
cold sliced chicken

1. Heat a glug of olive oil in a saucepan.
2. Add the onion, peppers and mushrooms and saute for a few mins until onions start
to soften.
3. Add the tumeric powder and stir well
4. Add the basmati rice and stir until well coated in the tumeric powder
5. Add enough water to cover the rice. Bring to the boil for 5 mins
6. Switch off the heat, cover the pan with foil and a tight fitting lid.
7. Leave the rice to cook - NO HEAT - for 15 mins
8. Remove the foil and all the water will have been absorbed leaving the fluffy
9. Add the frozen peas, chopped tomatoes and sliced cooked chicken
10 Stir well and serve with crusty bread

Still some chicken left.

Chicken with Mushroom Sauce and Pasta

1 small onion - peeled and finely chopped
1 small pepper - any colour - chopped
handful of sliced mushrooms
1 tabsp. flour
300ml milk
handful of peas sliced cold chicken

Method1. Put a glug of olive oil and a knob of butter into a saucepan
2. Saute the onions, peppers and mushrooms until onions start to soften
3. Add the flour and cook for 1 min
4. Add the milk and continue to stir over the heat until thickend sauce is made
5. Add the chicken and frozen peas.
6. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with a glug of oil and a pinch of
7. Add pasta and cook for 12 - 15 mins until soft.
8. Drain the pasta and place into a large serving bowl
9. Pour over the sauce and serve with crusty bread

All the chicken has now gone except for a few slices for the Lucy the cat.

I wonder what I will eat tomorrow? - NOT CHICKEN

I also made a 'Whacky Chocolate Cake' this afternoon

Whacky Cake

• 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 teaspoon vinegar
• 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 cup cold water
In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Make three wells in the flour mixture. In one put vanilla; in another the vinegar, and in the third the oil. Pour the cold water over the mixture and stir until moistened. Pour into 8 x 8-inch pan. Bake at 350°F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it springs back when touched lightly.
Decorate with glace icing.

I am having a really good October Break so far.

Monday, 18 October 2010

October Break

A two weeek break from school - great. The weather has that Autumn feel about it and yesterday it was blue skies and sun - even though there was a nip in the air. I am at the start of a two week break and eager to make the most of every day. Yesterday I finished organising the garden for winter, swept up some leaves - I am sure there will be many more of them over the next few weeks - and had a walk (photographs above). I also picked all the tomatoes left in the greenhouse and made some tomato sauce ready to use with pasta and pizza. I gathered all the apples from our one lone apple tree, stored some of them and then peeled and chopped all the others to use in pies and crumbles over the winter months. I mixed some of the apples with cinnamon and some with mixed spice. the kitchen smelt just like Christmas - Oh! no not the word Christmas, let's just enjoy this two week break first.

Tomato Sauce
5lb freshly picked tomatoes - cut in half
1 large onion - finely chopped
1 whole garlic bulb - peeled and chopped
black pepper
mixed herbs

1. Place all chopped ingredients into a large pan.
2. Add a glug or two of olice oil.
3. Simmer on a low heat until all tomatoes are soft
4. Add some black pepper and mixed herbs for taste
5. Continue to simmer until sauce becomes thick.
6. Whizz in the blender until smooth
7. Bag and freeze for later use

Saturday, 16 October 2010

This Moment - Hey there Neddy

This Moment was inspired by Soulemama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Sunday Walk

There never seemed to be enough hours in the day last week for all that I wanted to do, but to day the sun shone, blue skies and that Autumn look so I decided that whatever had to be done could wait - it wasn't life or death stuff anyway, so another day would make no diffference. I pottered in the garden, dug up all my potatoes up and put them into bags, pulled the last of the carrots and beets. Generally got the garden ready for the winter and then off for a walk. I was hoping to see more Autumn trees, but whilst some have the most beautiful reds and oranges, not all are ready yet for taking photographs. I stopped to talk to a horse and then stood for ages looking up into the tree tops. I also came across a tree that had so many red berries on it, it was a shame not to take a photograph of it.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Green Tomato Chutney

Most of my green tomatoes turned red after awhile, but I was still left with a whole load, so Green Tomato Chutney it was.

Green Tomato Chutney

•500g green tomatoes
•500g red onion
•250g sultanas
•250g brown sugar
•2 tbsp Salt
•1 tsp cayenne pepper
•1 tsp ground green cardamom
•500ml Malt vinegar

Chop everything up, no need for a perfection, and put it in a good heavy based pan .

Bring it to the boil and then turn down the heat , simmer for about an hour until reduced to a thick pulp.

Spoon into sterilised jars and enjoy either after standing for a while to let flavours develop.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Little Eaton Produce Show

The Little Eaton Produce Show was held on Saturday 11th September in the new Village Hall. The day dawned bright as I picked my marrow from underneath the many leaves that were covering it - was it damaged? would it be alright? I carried it indoors and gave it a wipe with a cloth and spoke a few kind words to it. I busied myself making a Lemon Drizzle cake and making sure my pot of strawberry jam was labelled as the instructions. I found a fabric shopping bag that I had made in the summer - nothing fancy just a plain bag for carrying those essential items. I was ready. I drove very carefully to the village Hall trying to make sure that my cake did not slip off its plate. All was ready and my itmes duly displayed. I must admit my marrow looked a bit lost as it sat next to two rather fat marrows spendid in colour. However I reassured it that it didn't matter - he was spendid to me.
WE all went back in the afternoon. It was the first time I have entered anything in a show and being involved in our new village life. What a splendid time we had looking at all the items. I loved the photographs and the work. from the little nursery and junior school. I received a second place for my lemon drizzle cake, but I was proud to have taken part.
The photograph shows my lttle marrow and don't forget to take a look at the slideshow on the sidebar

Saturday, 11 September 2010

This Moment

This Moment was inspired by Soulemama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Hi everyone
I just had to write and say a BIG THANKYOU to a lady in Slovenia. I received a beautiful sheep pillowcase in the post this morning with a little note attached saying a pillowcase made with love for someone special. This pillowcase will be added to others I am currently making for ConKerr Cancer. As you know I have started a'Chapter' here in the UK donating pillowcases to children who have cancer or other chronic illness. All pillowcases are gratefully received and donated to local hospices. You can see more about this charity on

Happy Weekend

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Brown sugar pastry - Blackberry Meringue

I found this recipe whilst searching through magazines for ideas of what to cook with the children at school.

Brown Sugar Pastry - Blackberry Meringue
350g plain flour
75g brown sugar
125g butter
2 egg yolks
drops of vanilla essence
5-6 tablespoons water
500g blackberries - hulled and washed
100g sugar
2 egg whites
50g caster sugar

1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 6/200C/400F
2. Place the flour, butter and brown sugar into food processor
3. Whizz to fine crumbs and then add the egg yolks, vanilla ess. and water until
binded together
4. Tip dough onto table and divide into two portions - freeze one portion of pastry
for another day as you will just love this pastry
5. Roll out the pastry and line a baking dish, prick the base with a fork and bake
blind for 20-25 minutes - remove from oven
6. Whilst the patry is baking make the filling.
7. Combine the blackerries and sugar into another dish and place in oven below
the pastry - the blackberries will roast until soft for approx 20 mins
Remove from oven and cool
8. Place blackberries onto pastry base - remove any excess liquid or pastry becomes
9. Using an electric mixer whisk the egg white together until thick and stands up
in soft peaks.
10. Add the sugar gradually until you have a thick, glossy meringue mixture
11. Spread over the blackberries and bake for 5-6 mins on Gas 6/200C/400F until
meringue is golden brown.

Serve with ice-cream. What could be nicer than this for a Sunday pudding?

Friday, 3 September 2010

This Moment

This Moment was inspired by Soulemama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Meringues with Blackberries

You can only freeze so many blackberries and make pies and crumbles before you begin to get a bit fed up with seeing blackberries - BUT I decided to make some meringues and serve them with roasted blackberries. I was really good and served them without cream - BUT next time I will use cream, how can you serve meringues without cream.


3 large egg whites
175g caster sugar
drop of vanilla extract

Blackberry Sauce
500g blackberries
100g sugar

1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 1/140C
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper
3. Place the egg whites into a large mixing bowl (make sure it it is dry and grease- free with no egg yolk)
4. Whisk the egg whites until you have soft peaks
5. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time - do not rush this stage
6. You will end up with a stiff glossy mixture
7. Spoon the mixture onto the tray - perhaps 6 or 8 - you can pipe if you wish
8. Bake the meringues for 1hour and 30 mins. If you prefer a real dry crisp
meringue then turn the oven off at this stage and leave to dry out for approx 3
9. To make the roasted blackberry sauce, place all ingredients into a dish and
place in the oven alongside the meringues. They will soften, but keep thier
10. When the meringues are ready ust peel carefully from the paper and serve with the
blackberry sauce either hot or cold -yummy!

Friday, 27 August 2010

This Moment

This Moment was inspired by Soulemama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

No BLUE sky and no BLUE moon - what is BLUE?

No BLUE sky and no BLUE moon _ what could I use for alphbae thursday rainbow school?

There is was the colour of the logo I have been looking at all week.

I have just started a ConKerr Cancer Chapter here in the UK and have been busy making pillowcases to donate to hospices.

I have donated 8 pillowcases to Demelza House

I have another 8 to go to Bluebell Hospice

and another 20 to go to

Making cheerful pillowcases to help make hospital stays as pleasant as possible for chronically ill children certainly brings a smile to my face.
If you want to wash away those BLUE moods then join me in making pillowcases.
You can contact me via this blog from the UK or check out

Happy BLUE day.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Ashbourne Show 2010

This afternoon we visited the Ashbourne Show for the first time. The show was held at Osmaston Polo ground in Osmaston, a small village near Ashbourne. What a delight. The country show had something for everyone and you can see from the slideshow that we just about saw everything there was to see. The food, the tents and stalls were just brilliant and Ashbourne Show will be on our calendar for next year.

Friday, 20 August 2010

This Moment

This Moment was inspired by Soulemama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

ConKerr Cancer - Donation of Pillowcases

Thought I would share with you all my first donation of 8 pillowcases. I have set up a Chapter in the UK - Derbyshire. I am currently busy getting together flyers, brochures etc to spread the word about what I am doing and asking for volunteers and donations of fabrics.
I made 20 pillowcases so far and donated 8 to Demelza House ttp://
This is a small childrens hospice.
Once you have your fabric cut and washed it takes about 15 mins to make each case. Such a little time to bring a smile to the face of a child. So what are you waiting for? Get sewing and make a pillow case today. Check out!

My inspisration came from

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Will they ever ripen?

I decided this year to try and grow tomatoes outdoors - not the best plan living in the UK - when there is no guarantee of sun every day. However it has not been a bad summer so far, but hey my tomatoes are still GREEN. I have five pots outdoors - lots of GREEN tomatoes as you can see. If nothing happens in the next few weeks they will be made into GREEN tomato chutney - beware tomatoes it is you last chance to ripen before you are put into the pot.
My GREEN beans are doing very well and already have loads in the freezer. I love GREEN beans in white sauce.
My GREEN courgettes are also doing very well. I met a friend for coffee yesterday and she said let the courgettes grow a bit more and then you can make Marrow and Ginger Preserve - sounds good to me.
Have a Happy GREEN day.