Wednesday, 30 November 2011

# 154 Finished...

Mum's lap blanket

A scarf to be given as a Christmas present

A hat for myself to go with this scarf

Another scarf, also a Christmas gift

2 new pais of slippers (instructions here)


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

# 152 Fridays recipes: Tea biscuits

I found the recipe for these biscuits online and they're so delicious and simple to make I've baked them several times already. I've left out the icing decoration because I'm not vey good at it but also because I prefer my biscuits simple.

If you'd like to try these yourself, the recipe can be found on the Baking Mad website here.



Wednesday, 23 November 2011

# 151 Autumn walks in Berkeley

These last few days have been grey and wet and with darkness closing in a little after 4 it's no surprise some people suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) at this time of the year.

Today is slightly better though, there are a few rays of sunshine coming through the clouds once in a while and hints of a blue sky here and there, so I grabbed my camera and went out to try and capture some much needed colour.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

# 150 Making Winter: Sweet chestnuts

To me nothing embodies the spirit of Autumn as chestnuts, roasted or boiled they are delicious and comforting.

I received a parcel from my mum last Saturday and among other things I found a bag full of lovely chestnuts which I boiled as desert for after dinner. If you've never tasted boiled chestnuts you should because they are so good.

First score the skin of the chestnuts with a sharp knife (mind your fingers!). Put them in a pan and cover with water, add a pinch of salt and a generous pinch of ground anise (this is the "secret" ingredient that will make them taste heavenly). Put the lid on and bring to the boil, then let it simmer for 30-40 minutes or until they're cooked through. Drain the water and allow the chestnuts to cool for a few minutes before peeling the skin off.



Friday, 18 November 2011

# 149 Fridays recipes: Herby roast chicken with potatoes and cherry tomatoes

I love a good roast and roast chicken is my favourite. This dish is simple, delicious and just perfect for a cold winter day.

Herby roast chicken with potatoes and cherry tomatoes

1 whole chicken
Potatoes, peeled and cut in half
Herbs de provence
Mild chili powder (optional)
Olive oil
Cherry tomatoes

Place the chicken and the potatoes in a baking tray, sprinkle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of herbs de Provence, some mild chili powder if you want, season with salt and drizzle a little olive oil.

Roast in the oven, basting occasionally. Add the cherry tomatoes about 20-30 minutes before the roast is ready.



Friday, 11 November 2011

# 148 Fridays recipes: Pork and cider casserole

At the end of each month I always look out for ASDA's free magazine, there's a recipe section which I always browse through and cut out all those recipes I think we might like to try. The October edition included a very appetizing Pork and cider casserole.

I have since cooked this dish twice and it's delicious, of course I had to make a few changes as I didn't have all the ingredients listed and had to replace them with the ones I had in the cupboard I also left the mushrooms out because husband and son don't like them.

Pork and cider casserole

Olive oil
4 pork steaks
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 celery stick, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
100ml medium cider
1 chicken stock cube
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
2 or 3 tablespoons reduced-fat crème-fraîche
1 level tablespoon cornflour

Pour a little olive oil into a pan, add the chopped onion and celery and soften. Add the pork steaks and brown on all sides. Add the carrots, cider, stock cube, dried thyme and mustard seeds. Cover and simmer very gently for 30-45 minutes. Add more cider if needed.

Add the apples to the pork with the crème-fraîche and the cornflour (mixed with a dash of cold water) and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve with vegetables and mash potato or chips.

Note: The second time I made this dish I used 2 small pork joints which I cooked in the slow cooker. The method is the same as above except that after you have browned the joints on all sides you then transfer it to the slowcooker. Cook it on low for 4-5 hours and then check to see if the meat is done or if it needs a little more time. Also, this time around I blended the sauce before serving to make it smoother.

Enjoy :-)


Thursday, 10 November 2011

# 147 The BMM (Bread Making Machine) challlenge: Bagels

These weren't the prettiest of bagels, they all turned out more squarish then round but they tasted so much better than the shop bought ones we'd tried before.

I followed a recipe from the book Simply Good Bread by Peter Sidwell but made a few changes as below.


1 teaspoon fast action yeast
400g strong white flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons butter
220ml water

Place all ingredients in the bread pan following the order given in your bread machine user guide and set it to the dough setting (2h 20m in mine).

Once the cycle is complete remove the dough to a bowl, punch it down, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough so you have equal portions and quickly shape each portion into a smooth ball. Punch a hole in the centre, for this I used a round cookie cutter. Place on a baking sheet greased or lined with greaseproof paper and allow to prove for 20 minutes.

Bring a shallow pan of water to the boil and place 2 or 3 bagels in at a time. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes on each side and them place them on a baking tray. Brush with an egg yolk wash and bake for 20 minutes at 180 ºC.

These are great for packed lunches and picnics and make a nice change from the normal bread we have everyday.



Tuesday, 8 November 2011

# 146 Making Winter: cozy crochet slippers

Whether you love Winter or really don't like it at all and prefer Summer you might want to check out the Making Winter challenge set out by Emma from Silverpebble and her friend Mrs ThriftyHousehold.

Me, I've always prefered Winter to Summer because where I come from Summers are always very hot and I don't cope well with all that heat. For me Winter is all about wrapping up so you feel nice and warm, it's about being cozy, eating delicious food that is piping hot, drinking lots of tea with homemade biscuits, going for walks and look out for any hint of colour amongst the grey and so much more.

In the spirit of coziness I've been making woolly crochet slippers for myself and to give away as gifts to family and friends. I'm using 100% wool and leftover wool blends from previous projects. I'm really happy with these, they're comfy and have been doing a great job keeping my feet warm.

What about you. Do you love or hate Winter?


Monday, 7 November 2011

# 145 Weekend outing: Stourhead

If ever there was a case of a picture being worth a 1000 words this is it. Stourhead, in Wiltshire, is stunning this time of the year, I know my photos don't do it justice but they'll give you an idea of the beauty of the place.

The photos below are only a small selection you can see more on my Flickr album by clicking here.


Friday, 4 November 2011

# 144 Fridays recipes: Buttermilk scones

I love scones and over the years have tried many different recipes (with various degrees of success)! I also bake all year round but, to me, scones are an Autumn/Winter treat and I just love to bake them for Sunday tea after a long walk or day out.

These are delicious and you can go from weighing the ingredients, to kneading the dough, baking them and and having them on the table ready to eat in just 20 to 30 minutes. Serve them warm with butter or clotted cream and jam and a pot of tea. Lovely!

This recipe is from the Big Book of Bread by Anne Sheasby.

Buttermilk scones

225g self-raising white flour (I usually use plain flour and add a teaspoon of baking powder)
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g butter, diced
150ml buttermilk
Beaten egg or milk to glaze (I sprinkled them with a pinch of cinnamon and sugar instead)

Preheat the oven (gas mark 7) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl, lightly rub the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in enough buttermilk to form a soft dough.

Turn this dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently, then roll out until about 2cm thick. Use a plain or fluted cutter to cut the dough into rounds (to cut the scones in the picture I used my brownies pan divider which allowed me to cut several scones in one go). Place on the baking tray with a little space between them.

Brush the tops with beaten egg or milk or sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on top. Bake for about 10 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve warm or cold.

Enjoy :-)

Note: To the scones above I added a few raisins.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

# 143 October photo scavenger hunt

It's time for another photo scavenger hunt hosted by Kathy author of Postcards from the P.P. This is my 2nd time joining in and I'm enjoying the challenge of going out with the camera looking for photo opportunities that fit the clues. These are my entries for this month's challenge, to see them larger just please click on the image.

Seen last Sunday in the kitchen garden at Baddesley Clinton.

This is our public library back home, there are a few samples of grafitti on the wall there but to the left, across the road there's a wall full of wonderful paintings. I had actually made a mental note to photograph them while on holiday in the Summer but with one thing and another I never got the chance.

Golden tree in the nearby Deer Park.

Nearby River Severn.

First signs of Autumn.

This photo was taken in the Summer while on holiday in Portugal.

Early morning at the beach.

900-year old Berkeley Castle, still inhabited by the Berkeley family and practically on our doorstep.

Pumpkin carved by A.

Fake creepy crawlies at Packwood House.

Carved pumpkin in the woodlands around Packwood House.

One of the many witches we saw last Sunday when we visisted Baddesley Clinton.

You can see what others have come up with by clicking here and maybe join in the fun next month.