Tuesday, 27 March 2012

# 197 Asparagus soup

This is another culinary experiment of mine, fortunately it went well and the result was a lovely, velvety soup with a delicate flavour.

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it yourself.

Asparagus soup

1 large parsnip
2 large courgettes
3 small potatoes
Bunch of fresh asparagus (I had used the heads of the asparagus in another dish)
2 chicken stock cubes
1/2 onion
Olive oil

Peel and chop the vegetables, put them in a pan, add the stock cubes and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes or so. Add a drizzle of olive oil and blend. Check the seasoning and serve.



Monday, 26 March 2012

# 196 Spring has sprung

If you're in the UK I hope you're making the most of this wonderful weather and soaking up the sun.

I love living in the countryside and appreciate it even more in Spring when there's so much going on in nature. The weather people say this warm weather is here to last at least until the end of of the week, I guess that means I'll be taking lots of walks :-)

Sunday's after lunch walk: Purton ship's graveyard.
Isn't this little fellow so cute?
Lambs feeding.
Daffodils on the side of a lane.


Thursday, 22 March 2012

# 195 Abnormal loads passing through Berkeley - part II

The last 2 of the 5 huge boilers (heat exchangers) from the Berkeley Power Station went through Berkeley a couple of hours ago, as it happened before there were lots of people about with cameras waiting for the moment when they would go by.

Here's some of the photos I took earlier.

The building to the right is the Town Hall.

Can you see it coming down the street?


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

# 194 Spring

Hope you're all having a lovely, sunny 1st day of Spring.

It didn't start out very Spring like here this morning but then the sun came out and made everything look so much better. These are from my garden, unlike last year there's a lot more daffodils and also unlike last year only a couple of tulips.


Monday, 19 March 2012

# 193 Abnormal loads passing through Berkeley

Berkeley Power Station was the UK's first commercial nuclear power station, it was built in the late 50s, commissioned in the early 60s and finally decommissioned in 1988/1989.

Last Friday the 1st of five boilers was removed from the power station and transported to Sharpness docks, from there the boilers will be taken by boat to Sweden for recycling. According to a local publication, the Berkeley Flyer, each boiler is 22 metres long and weighs over 300 tonnes. The logistics involved in moving these boilers is amazing with some street signs and over head cables having to be removed and even some tree branches had to be prunned. There were also some traffic restrictions put in place.

By chance I witnessed some of the action today and fortunately I had the camera with me.

Getting ready for another load.

Here it comes, another huge boiler.

The second boiler of the day.

Berkeley Power Station.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

# 192 (Belated) February craft's review & calendar page for March

Lately I've been putting my sewing skills to the test with a few craft projects namely with the hand pieced table runner shown in the mosaic below. This was so much fun to make, I used a technique called English Paper Piecing (EPP for short) where the different pieces are sewn together by hand to form a motif, almost like making a puzzle really!

I've also been experimenting with Tunisian crochet (top left) and I've embarked on a big project: to sew together lots and lots of fabric hexagons to make a duvet cover. This is a long term project, very long term in fact as I intend to sew it all by hand so come back in a couple of years or so to see the end result ;-)

Oh, and here's my handmade calendar page for March.


Monday, 12 March 2012

# 191 Sun Day

I hope you had a lovely weekend, we certainly did especially yesterday. It was sunny and quite warm with temperatures well into 2 figures, at one point the thermometer in the car read 17 ºC outside! It didn't start out all nice and sunny though, when we went for a walk after breakfast there was quite a set mist but fortunately  it soon began to clear away.

Morning mist, almost like a curtain.
Clearing away to reveal a glorious blue sky.
 After a 2-hour walk around the Deer Park it was time to return home and get lunch going a Salmon, Prawns and Asparagus Pie of my own invention and which turned out delicious and certainly a dish to be made again.

After lunch we went out again, this time to the nearby village of Purton for a short walk along the canal.

Now for that pie which as I said was my own invention and got thumbs up from both husband and son, although they picked the asparagus out and transfered them to my plate but I didn't mind that, all the more left for me :-)

Salmon, Prawns and Asparagus Pie

1 block of shortcrust pastry
3 salmon filets, cut into thin slices
120g frozen prawns, pre-cooked and peeled
Bunch of fresh asparagus (I used only the heads for this dish)
3 boiled potatoes, cooled and cut into cubes (I used leftover boiled potatoes I had in the fridge)
1 tablespoon butter + extra
1/2 tub single cream
1/2 teaspoon blend of herbs for Salmon (I used Salmon Perfect Shake from Schwartz)
1 tablespoon cornflour

In a pan melt some butter and sauté the heads of the asparagus (I'm keeping the asparagus stalks to use in a soup) together with the boiled potatoes.

Meanwhile roll out the pastry following the instructions on the packet. Line a pie dish with the pastry leaving some of it hanging down the sides.

On the bottom distribute the asparagus and the potatoes, then add the salmon and the prawns. Reserve while you make the white sauce.

In a pan melt a tablespoon of butter, add some of the single cream and the cornflour. Stir with a wooden spoon until it begins to thicken. Add the remaining cream gradually whilst stirring, add the blend of herbs and check the seasoning adding a pinch of salt if needed. You want a thick white sauce.

Spread the sauce evenly over the other ingredients and fold the pastry over the top. Bake in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.



Thursday, 8 March 2012

# 190 Coconut cakes

These little cakes are a favourite with my husband and they're really easy to make. The fact that there's no flour listed below is no mistake, these are flourless cakes.

Coconut cakes

150 g caster sugar
3 eggs
250g desiccated coconut (I was 50g short but they still came out fine)
50g butter, softened
Zest of half a lemon
Glacé cherries

Preheat the oven, gas mark 4. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

Beat the eggs and the sugar until creamy. Add the coconut, the lemon zest and the softened butter and mix until well combined. Fill each paper case 3/4 of the way, place a cherry in the middle of each cake and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: This batter makes about 16 cakes so you'll need to bake them in 2 instalments.

Enjoy :-)


Monday, 5 March 2012

# 189 Look what the postman brought

I don't enter many giveaways but when I saw the one hosted by Dawn the author of Rattling On I couldn't resist entering because the prize was this book here.

And can you believe it I actually won the book? It arrived Friday morning and yesterday I tried one of the recipes, I baked the Orange Drizzle Cake (didn't make the icing though) and it's delicious, very orangey and light. Thank you Dawn :-)


Friday, 2 March 2012

# 188 Fridays recipes: Spicy chicken with pasta

This is a very simplified version of a family favourite dish which I make time and again with slight variations. For example, I will either use fresh coriander or dried basil and oregano, sometimes I'll add sliced carrots while others a selection of frozen vegetables or just leave them out altogether.

This time most of the flavour came from the spicy chorizo I used and which I bought by mistake, I didn't read the label properly and bought spicy chorizo instead of the regular one we usually have. This dish always goes down well especially with our son.

Spicy chicken with pasta

5 chicken thighs
A dozen spicy chorizo slices
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
Olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 chicken stock cube
Pasta (about one handful per person)

In a pan fry the onion and the chorizo slices in a little olive oil. Let it cook until the fat from the chorizo starts oozing out then add the chicken, let it brown on all sides. Add the chopped tomatoes, the stock cube and a little boiling water. Put the lid on and cook over a low heat for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionaly.

Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve. Add a little more boiling water and the pasta, check the seasoning, cook for about 5 minutes then add the chicken. Cook until the pasta is al dente and serve immediately.



Thursday, 1 March 2012

# 187 A blog award

I've been very rude as I should've posted this a while ago but then I kept getting distracted with other things.

Tracy from Depth of Field has given my blog this award.

Thank you Tracy :-)

She has another blog called Mad About Bags. While Depth of Field is about photography and she takes beautiful photos you should go and see Mad About Bags is a crafts blog, with plenty of crochet and bags and many other pretty, colourful things. So whenever you can, sit yourselves down comfortably with a cup of tea or coffee, one or two biscuits and spend sometime browsing through both her blogs. You'll find it's time well spent.