Thursday, 28 June 2012

# 235 Photo Friday: Words

The first thing that came to my mind for this challenge was books, lots of them but then I came across this photo of A. having a go at writing with a quill. The photo was taken in 2010 when we visited the cottage that belonged to the poet Coleridge so it couldn't be more appropriate to this week's theme.

To join in or to see what others have come up with please click on the Photo Friday button at the bottom of the sidebar.


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

# 234 Easy Rice Valenciana

Most people know this dish by its Spanish name Paella, in Portugal it's called Rice Valenciana.

My mum makes the best Rice Valenciana I've ever had, it's a special dish reserved for special occasions as a lot of the ingredients are expensive namely the fresh squid, the prawns, the shell fish (mussels and clams) and the saffron.

I make a much simpler and cheaper version as you can see from the photo above and the recipe below, hope you like it.

Easy Rice Valenciana

6 chicken thighs
250g frozen king prawns, precooked and peeled
A few slices of chorizo (regular or spicy)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Olive oil
1 teaspoon mild chilli flakes
2 teaspoons ground tumeric (I use this as replacement for the saffron which is a lot more expensive)
2 fish stock cubes
2/3 cup rice

In a large frying pan pour a little olive oil, add the onion, garlic, chorizo, chilli flakes and tumeric and cook for a few minutes until the onion softens. Add the chicken and cook until it's nice and golden on all sides. Add the stock cubes and half cover with boiling water. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes with the lid on and over a low heat.

Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve. Add the rice and a little more boiling water if necessary. When the rice is half cooked add the chicken and the frozen prawns and cook for a few more minutes until the rice and the prawns are done.

Serve immediately.



Notes:  I don't add any peas to my Rice Valenciana because my son doesn't like them at all and will pick them out one by one. If you don't have this problem you can add them when you add the chicken and the prawns to the rice. Also when cooking the rice check the quantity of liquid in the pan, if like me you like a runny rice just add a little more boiling water but be careful not to add too much.

Monday, 25 June 2012

# 233 Flapjacks

I've been collecting recipes for flapjacks for sometime now. Everytime I see one somewhere I print it out or write it down and make a mental note to try and make it as soon as possible and then promply forget all about it. Then at the end of last week A. brought home from school a recipe for flapjacks as they will be cooking them sometime next week during Food Tech and parents need to buy the ingredients that children will take into school.

I'll definitely be baking these again and again for A. to take to school in his packed lunch as he loved them. Here's the recipe if you'd like to have a go at making them yourself.


 2 cups oats
1 cup self-raising flour (or plain flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder)
1/2 cup sugar ( I used golden granulated sugar)
250g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/2 cup sultanas or 4 tablespoons chopped dried apricots (optional) *

Preheat the oven to 160 ºC/Gas Mark 4.

Grease a large foil tray or line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Melt the butter with the golden syrup in a saucepan on the hob and then add to dry ingredients, mix well.

Press into the tray and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cut into square while still hot. Let cool completely on a wire rack before removing the flapjacks from the tray.


* I left out the optional ingredients as A. doesn't like sultanas or dried apricots, other things you can add are chopped walnuts, chocolate buttons, pistachios, peanuts and maybe chopped marshmallows?


Thursday, 21 June 2012

# 232 Photo Friday: Clothing

This was a difficult one for me, I had to go through a lot of photos before I found a few that would fit the theme and this is the one I chose. It was taken last year at Basildon Park, there was an exhibition on the name of which I can't remember but I think it was something to do with designers of the 60s.


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

# 231 Ah the sun, the sun

After a few days of very crazy weather it has settled a little and since Sunday it's been lovely with bright blue skies and a warm sunshine. Apparently this will last until the end of the day tomorrow and then there should be some rain for Thursday which is OK because it's what makes the English countryside so beautiful.

I've been trying to make the most of this beautiful sunshine by going for short walks around Berkeley. The photos below were taken on walks yesterday and earlier this morning.


Monday, 18 June 2012

# 230 Weekend outing: Dyrham Park

Dyrham Park is probably the National Trust property we've been to the most after Woodchester park. One of the reasons is that it's relatively close to us (only 30 minutes by car) and the other is the huge deer park with the most amazing views of the surrounding countryside.

I've blogged about Dyrham Park before here and here and there's also more photos of the house and grounds on my Flickr if you'd like to take a look.


Friday, 15 June 2012

# 229 Photo Friday: Geometric

Every Friday a new theme is set for the following week's photo challenge, last Friday that theme was Geometric and this is my entry. This photo was taken last year on a visit to the Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

# 228 Pineapple cake

This is one the cakes I made for the baking challenge set by Dawn from Rattling On for the Jubilee wekend.

This is the type of cake I think of as a Summer cake because it's moist, refreshing (if you do as I did and keep it in the fridge) and so light you won't believe it, it almost melts in the mouth. I made mine in 2 sandwich cake tins, but you can also use a round one and then cut the cake in half.

Pineapple cake

20g melted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar or caster sugar
Tinned pineapple pieces
90g butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180 ºC, Gas Mark 5. Grease 2 sandwich cake tins with the melted butter and sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar. Drain the pineapple pieces but reserve some of the juice in the tin. I used a few sheets of paper from a kitchen towel roll to drain the pineapple as much as possible. Arrange the pineapple pieces on the bottom of the tins.

Cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs little by little and keep beating. Fold in the flour with the baking powder and add 1 or 2 teaspoons of the pineapple juice.

Divide the batter between the 2 tins making sure the top is nice and smooth. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes or until done. Remove the tins from the oven and wait 10 minutes before removing the cakes from the tins. While still warm drizzle some of the pineapple juice over the cakes and then allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.

When they are at room temperature, sandwich them with whipped cream, spread whipped cream over the top and sides and decorate with pineapple pieces. Keep in the fridge.



Tuesday, 12 June 2012

# 227 Breakfast pancakes

Once in a while I like to make something different for breakfast and this happens especially on Sundays as that's when mornings are usually calmer. A. likes to have what he calls a "special breakfast" of pancakes, crispy bacon and a mug of warm milk with honey.

These are savoury pancakes but you can make them sweet if you want by adding 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey to the mix before cooking. As I usually have jam for breakfast and A. likes to drizzle his pancakes with honey or golden syrup there's really no need to add any more sweetness to them.

Breakfast pancakes

1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a bowl mix the flour with the baking powder and the cinnamon. Mix all the remaining ingredients until well combined.

Grease a nonstick pan with a little melted butter and add enough pancake mix to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook over a low heat until the top is dry, flip the pancake and cook the underside until brown. Remove the pancake to a plate and repeat until you've used up all the batter.

There's usually no need to grease the pan further but if the pancakes start sticking to it just add a knob of butter and swirl it around to grease the pan.

Serve the pancakes warm and enjoy! Alternatively you can try this other pancake recipe.


Monday, 11 June 2012

# 226 March, April & May crafts review

It's been a while since my last crafts review but that doesn't meant I've been idle as you can see below.

Here's what I made in those 3 months.

Starting at the top left, there's the crochet cushion cover I made for A's bedroom followed by the April and May calendar pages. Then in the middle the cross-stitched fridge magnets and the pair of oven mittens I made for a friend's birthday and finally the front and back of the last cushion and a set of pregnant mums made for a commission.

Not shown in the photo are my 2 Summer tops and a pair of pyjama bottoms I made all by myself.

What have you been up to craftwise?


Friday, 8 June 2012

# 225 Chilli con Carne

Did you know that Chilli con Carne originated in the United States, more precisely in Texas? For whatever reason I was under the impression this was a Mexican dish but no, Wikipedia says differently and this took me completely by surprise. Good thing I checked first!

Anyway, I doubt my Chilli con Carne in any way resembles the traditional recipe but we like it. I cook the meat in the slow cooker but you can make it in a pan if you don't have a slow cooker, the difference being that in a pan you might need a little more liquid and to stirr it occasionally.

Our son A. loves this dish and usually the following day he takes some of the meat in a pitta bread in his packed lunch.

Chilli con Carne

400g lean mince beef
1/2 onion, chopped
A few slices of chorizo
2 garlic cloves
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
2 cans chilli beans
1 orange pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
Pinch of chilli flakes
Small bunch of fresh coriander
Olive oil
2 chicken stock cubes

In a pan fry the chorizo, the onion and the garlic in a little olive oil. Add the mince beef and cook until the meat is brown then add the remaining ingredients. Put the lid on and simmer for a few minutes.

Transfer to the slow cooker and choose the setting you want, I usually put it on medium for about an hour and then change to low and cook for approx. 3 hours.

Serve with white rice.



Thursday, 7 June 2012

# 224 Photo Friday: Grandeur

The theme for this week's Photo Friday challenge is Grandeur and this is my entry, this photo was taken at Basildon Park when we visited sometime last year. I have a thing for trees, I'm fascinated by them especially the very old ones, the ones that have been around for centuries. I can never help wondering what stories they would tell if they could talk.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

# 223 Jubilee weekend

I hope you enjoyed the long weekend despite the change in the weather. Ours was cut short because the husband, who was meant to have yesterday off as well as Monday, suddenly had to go to work.

On Sunday we revisited Dunster Castle in Somerset, there's a lot to see inside but the rooms were so crowded that we could only take a quick peek at each one before being pushed to move on to the next. Not really how I like to visit this kind of places, I like to take my time looking around. After the quickest tour ever, we strolled in the gardens and watched the Taunton Garrison in action.

Swording demonstration by the Taunton Garrison.

On Monday we visited Avebury Manor, we'd been there a couple of years ago and at the time the house was empty. Last year renovation work was carried out in the house and in the garden, you might have watched the BBC programme about it. We really enjoyed our visit to Avebury, especially the house. There are no rope barriers, you can touch everything (except for the handpainted wallpaper), open drawers, pick up objects for closer inspection, have a go at embroidery and even try the beds!

In the garden we found many interesting sculptures and outdoor furniture which will be on display until June 10th. You can find more information on the National Trust website.

Then we went for a walk around the Stone Circle, this a World Heritage Site and it's considered the oldest stone circle in the world.

Now this was my favourite object in the house, can you guess what it is? The instructions on the lid might give you a clue!

Did you say a bread maker? If so you're right, there's obviously a part missing which should go in the hole on the lid.

I have a Flickr page where I post pictures taken at the places we visit, you cand find it here if you'd like to have a look.


Sunday, 3 June 2012

# 222 May photo scavenger hunt

The Photo Scavenger Hunt is a challenge hosted by Kathy from Postcards from the PP.  To take part or to see what others have come up with for each month's challenge please click on the link.

Here are my photos for May, there are one or two archive photos but all the others were taken with this challenge in mind.

Berkeley Power Station
One of my favourite drinks is tea, this photo was taken in the Kitchen at Upton House.

You probably need to click on this picture to be able to see it but there's a baby rabbit hidden in the grass. Can you see it?

Front page of this month's issue of the Berkeley Flyer.
A selection of teas and a treat for a friend.

Small packages I made using templates.

We keep all 1 and 2p coins in a jar and when it's full it goes into our son's savings account.
Wild garlic, Woodchester Park. This photo was taken last year and it seemed the whole park was covered in wild garlic and the smell was so intense.

Nine windows at Snowshill Manor.
Not very obvious this one, taken at Croome Park.

Rapeseed flower.


Saturday, 2 June 2012

# 221 Jubilee cakes

I admit I love cake so when Dawn from Rattling On challenged other bloggers to bake a cake for the Jubilee and to post a photo of said cake I couldn't resist taking part.

I've just had a quick look at Dawn's cakes and other people's too and they're so much better looking than mine I'm almost ashamed to show my efforts here but it's all in good fun so here they are. On Thursday I baked this pineapple cake, it was so light and moist it melted in the mouth. I added a couple tablespoons of the pineapple juice to the batter and then soaked the cake while warm with some more juice. The whipped cream and the fact that I kept it in the fridge made this a very refreshing cake, perfect for a sunny day.

Earlier today I baked this butter cake. It's made of 3 layers sandwiched with whipped cream and strawberries, so delicious!

I'll post the recipes for both these cakes very soon.


Friday, 1 June 2012

# 220 Photo Friday: Of House & Home

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home and as that's where I spend a significant part of my day I couldn't agree more. When I saw what this week's Photo Friday theme was I immediately thought "Kitchen" but as my own kitchen is so uninteresting I chose to show you this one instead at Upton House, whenever we visit any historic houses one of my favourite rooms is always the kitchen.

If you want to take part or just browse through to see what others have come up with just follow the link at the bottom of the side bar on the right.