Thursday, 30 June 2011

# 90 Summer walks in Berkeley

There's nothing like a good walk early in the morning after A. has gone to school and that's exactly what I've been doing almost everyday.

I'm giving the Wii a rest and instead I'm enjoying the fresh air, soaking up a bit of sun, gazing at the clouds and observing the changes in the countryside around here.


Monday, 27 June 2011

# 89 Weekend outing: Basildon Park

As a fan of Jane Austen it was exciting to find out that Basildon Park, a National Trust property in Berkshire, was used as one of the main locations in Pride and Prejudice, the movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Basildon Park was Netherfield, Mr Bingley's house and some of the scenes were filmed inside.

Anyway, we spent a lovely day there. It started with a guided tour of the house followed by a picnic in a shady spot under a tree, then a long walk around the park and again into the house to see things in more detail and to take photos followed by a stroll in the garden before returning to the car for the drive home.

Here are a few pictures, but if you'd like to see more you can find them here.


Friday, 24 June 2011

# 88 Fridays recipes: Pear pie

The other day we bought a bag of pears that turned out not to be to our liking but which would be a shame to waste so I made a pie following the recipe below.

We loved this pie and I have since made it a few more times. It has a very delicate flavour and it's not too sweet.

Pear pie recipe


250g plain flour
50g sugar
Pinch of salt
125g butter, cubed
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 egg
6 pears

Mix flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and work to a coarse sand texture. Add the egg and vinegar and mix quickly without working the pastry too much.

Line a pie dish with the pastry.

Peel, core and cut 6 pears (I used only the 3 or 4 pears I had) in half. Put them on the pastry side by side and make diagonal cuts on the flesh.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes.


50g sugar
2 eggs
2,5dl milk
2,5dl double cream
Ground cinnamon

Remove the half baked pie pastry from the oven.

Mix the sugar, eggs, milk and double cream and pour over the pears.

Bake for another 30 minutes or until the cream thickens and sets.

Sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top and let it cool before serving.

Enjoy :-)


I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried any of the recipes I posted. Did you like them? Did you make any changes and what were they?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Monday, 20 June 2011

# 86 Weekend outing: Hughenden Manor

Yesterday was not too bad weatherwise and so after packing a picnic we set off on another of our National Trust "adventures". We visited Hughenden Manor in Buckinghamshire.

Hughenden was the country house of Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister under Queen Victoria. You can learn more about him and the house here, here and here.

As usual I took lots of photos. Here are a few and if you like have a look on my Flickr album to see some more.

View from the garden.

House seen from the garden.

St. Michael and All Angels Church.

Disraeli's grave.


Friday, 17 June 2011

# 85 Fridays recipes: Tuna and vegetable quiche

I usually keep a can or 2 of tuna in the cupboard and a packet of frozen vegetables in the freezer and this is my favourite way of combining the two, by making a yummy tuna and vegetable quiche.

 Start by making and blind baking the shortcrust pastry as explained here.

Meanwhile steam or cook the vegetables for a few minutes in boiling water or following the instructions on the packet. Drain the tuna (I usually use 1 can of tuna steak in brine) and shred it with a fork.

Make a white sauce as follows:

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/2 tub double cream
Pinch of salt and nutmeg
A few drops of lemon juice (optional)

In a pan melt the butter and then add the cornflour and the double cream. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon over a low to medium heat until it thickens. Season with a pinch of salt and nutmeg. Add a few drops of lemon juice if you want.

Remove the shortcrust pastry from the oven, spread the tuna and the vegetables on the bottom and cover with the white sauce.

Bake in the oven until golden brown.

Cheats version (if you're short on time):

Use a shop bought savoury shortcrust pastry case.

Spread the tuna and the cooked vegetables on the bottom.

Mix 1/2 tub of double cream with 1 egg and season with salt and nutmeg. Pour over the tuna and vegetables.

Bake in a pre-heated oven until golden brown.



Tuesday, 14 June 2011

# 84 Charity shop finds

Cute little notebook, may be a gift for an Internet friend who writes poetry.

Bag handles for a possible future project!

A pretty box.

With 3 pretty embroidered hankies with my initial on them.

Letter writing set.

Pretty little notes and envelopes.


Monday, 13 June 2011

# 83 Miss Marple came to Berkeley

Yesterday was a wet, windy and cold day. It poured down, steadily, all day long.

After a busy morning in the kitchen the result of which was a yummy chocolate cake, a pot of spinach soup, a roast chicken with chips and peas for lunch and a few puff pastry sausage rolls for A. to take to school, I finally sat down to do some crochet while watching a Miss Marple DVD with Joan Hickson as the spinster detective. Of all the Miss Marples she's my absolute favourite. What's yours?

Anyway I was watching the episode called Nemesis and imagine my surprise when I see Berkeley Castle  playing the part of "Kingminster Castle" where Elizabeth Temple is murdered, although the library where it happens is not at Berkeley Castle.

In case you're wondering, I live very near Berkeley Castle. In fact sometime ago I was a volunteer there doing guided tours of the place so it was interesting to see it on a Miss Marple episode!

Crochet wise I made a few more rows on my blanket and have began another shawl as you can see below. I really love these 3 colours together.

How was your weekend?


Friday, 10 June 2011

# 82 Fridays recipes: Jambalaya

We tried this dish for the 1st time last Sunday and loved it. Here's the recipe if you want to try it too.

Chicken thighs or drumsticks
A few slices of chorizo
1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove crushed
2 celery sticks sliced
1/2 green pepper sliced
Hot chicken stock (I dissolved one chicken stock cube in a cup of hot water)
1/2 can of chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup of rice
Fresh thyme chopped

Pour a little olive oil into a frying pan and fry the chorizo and the chicken until the meat is slightly golden in colour on all sides. Transfer to a plate leaving the fat in the pan.

Cook the onion in the frying pan for a couple of minutes before adding the celery, the garlic and the pepper. Let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes stirring occasionally and then add the chicken.

Stir in the rice and pour over the hot chicken stock. Add the chopped tomatoes, the chopped fresh thyme and stir. Cover and simmer until the rice is cooked stirring occasionally and adding more stock if necessary.



Thursday, 9 June 2011

# 81 Crafting time

Now that the days are much longer it's become a routine for A. and me to go down to the park after school so he can play with his friends. During the hour or so we spend there I usually crochet, knit or read and it's amazing how much I can do in that short time frame.

The 2 shawls below were done while at the park and using some leftover wool I had, I ended up having to buy some more to be able to finish one of the shawls but that's the problem with using leftover wool somehow it's never enough to make whatever it is you had planned and you always have to buy some more.

Anyway here they are, what do you think?

Knitted shawl using Patons Shadow Tweed, shade 06909

Half a square granny shawl using Sirdar Click DK


Monday, 6 June 2011

# 80 At home

Well, it finally rained!

The weather here has been quite warm and dry for the last 2 months. Apparently this Spring has been one of the hottest and driest in a very long time with last April considered to have been the sunniest in England since 1929, and so the rain that fell steadily all day yesterday was very much welcome!

As it was not very nice to go out we stayed home. I spent the morning cooking and baking, trying out a couple of new recipes. In the afternoon I worked on my blanket while watching "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

The blanket is now slightly bigger than what you see in the photo but there's still a long way to go before it's finished.

Wishing you all a great week :-)


Friday, 3 June 2011

# 79 Fridays recipes: Folar

Folar (pronounced something like foo-lar) is a Portuguese bread traditionally made around Easter time and it can be sweet or savoury. If savoury it's usually filled with chorizo, smoked pork belly and other pork meats.

Nowadays people make this type of bread throughout the year and use other meats for the filling such as cooked chicken, ham, cured ham, bacon (pre-cooked), etc.

My mum still makes Folar by hand and it's a very time consuming process taking many hours from start to finish. Me, I don't wnat to spend all that time kneading the dough, waiting for it to prove then kneading some more and proving again so I've adapted a recipe from my bread machine booklet and created my own version of this savoury bread as follows.


1 1/4 teaspoon fast action yeast
550g strong white flour
2 eggs
310ml water and olive oil mixture

Put all the ingredients in the bread pan in the correct order (some bread machines require dry ingredients to go in first, if you're not sure check your machine's manual). Select the Basic Dough programme, in mine this takes 2h 20m.

Meanwhile prepare the meats for the filling. I used smoked pork belly, chorizo and parsley (thyme works well too) minced in the kitchen robot.

Remove the dough from the bread pan onto a floured surface or bowl.

Using a round non stick spring form cake tin spread portions of the dough with the palms of your hands and sprinkle some of the filling on top.

Make as many layers of dough and filling as you want finishing with a layer of dough. As you add the layers of dough make sure you join the edge with the layer of dough below .

Cover with cling film and put in a warm place to prove for 20 minutes or so.

Bake in a preheated oven until golden brown.


The smoked pork belly I get from the Polish food section in the supermarket (Asda if you're in the UK).

This bread is delicious and is perfect for picnics. If you don't want to mince the meats you can use them sliced or in bigger chunks.

Enjoy :-)


Thursday, 2 June 2011

# 78 Thinking of Christmas

With only 6 months to go til Christmas I thought it was time to start making a few of the gifts I've planned to give. The reason for the early start is because there's quite a lot of knitting and crocheting involved and I always tend to get distracted by other projects along the way.

From now on until then there will be shawls, scarfs and slippers in the making or at least that's the plan!

Sirdar Click DK with wool. I love these 3 colours together.

My niece's scarf, not finished yet. Made with Sirdar Snuggly Crofter DK, baby fair isle effect.

Have you started making your Christmas gifts yet?