Friday, 27 July 2012

# 250 Exhibition of drawings and embroideries

My friend Tanya is having her first solo exhibition in a few weeks time here in Berkeley. In her own words:
"Other people's..." is a one night only exhibition by Textile Artist Tanya Stanyer. An exhibition of drawings and embroideries inspired by the lives of others. In many of my pieces the subject matter are the people, but just as important are their surroundings. There was also an element of interaction in the making of the artwork as some of it has been created by requesting pictures of pets on a social networking site. The people who responded to this have almost curated part of the exhibition themselves in a sense. All that was asked from them was photographs of their pets and permission to use them for an exhibition."

If you can't come to the exhibition you can always visit her online shop here.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

# 249 Photo Friday: Youngster

Another week almost gone by and so it's once again time to post my picture for this week's photo challenge. This one was taken maybe a couple of years ago at Woodchester Park.

To join in or to see what others have come up with for any of the challenges just click on the Photo Friday button you find at the bottom of the sidebar.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

# 248 Lemon cake with blueberries

My fridge is in need of another good clean which means using up all those bits and bobs that get pushed to the back. At the back of the freezer I found a bag of blueberries and in the vegetables drawer a lemon that needed to be used and that's how this lemon cake with blueberries was "born".

Lemon cake with blueberries

175g butter, softened
175g self-raising flour
2 eggs
175g golden caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
100g frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180 ºC/Gas Mark 5. Line a cake tin with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

Beat the eggs and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Slowly whisk in the melted butter and then fold in the flour, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Spread the frozen blueberries on the bottom of the tin making sure you have an even layer. Pour the cake batter in the tin and bake for 30 minutes or so or until the cake is baked through.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes then remove it from the tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack.



Sunday, 22 July 2012

# 247 Weekend outing: Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses

How was your weekend? I hope it was as sunny and warm as ours and apparently this spell of good weather is here to stay for a little while. Hooray!

We couldn't let this opportunity pass and so with a picnic basket filled with goodies we set off to visit Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses. The views from Kinver Edge are amazing and the rock houses are really worth a visit. I'm including a few links at the end of this post if you'd like to know more.

View from Kinver Edge

Entrance to one of the rock houses.

 The information below is from one of the boards at this National Trust property.

"From the 1600s until the 1960s, whole families lived comfortably in cave dwellings hewn into the soft sandstone along Kinver Edge. Although others survive at nanny's Rock and vale Rock to the south, the rockhouses here at Holy Austin Rocks are among the finest in Europe."

 "In its hey-day, eleven families lived of Holy Austin Rock in a warren of whitewashed rooms on three levels. But when the rockhouses were finally abandoned in 1967, they soon fell into decay. Now painstakingly restored by The National Trust, the lower rockhouses contain a recreated 1900s parlour and bedroom open to the public."

Kinver Edge, Staffordshire Walk

Kinver Rock Houses

Kinver Edge


By the way if you'd like to see more photos of Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses, please have a look in my Flickr album here.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

# 246 Photo Friday: Countryside

The theme for this week's challenge on Photo Friday is one very close to my heart, the countryside. I was born and raised a city girl and until I moved with my husband and son to a quiet, small rural town in England I had no idea how much I'd come to love it. And as I love taking photos, whenever I go for a walk my camera goes too so this means the difficulty this time was actually deciding which photo to choose from from the many I've taken over the last 5 or so years.

This photo was taken during one of our walks at the nearby deer park and on a clear day the views are simply amazing. The river you see in the distance is the River Severn.

To take part in this weekly photo challenge or just to browse through the photos other people have taken please click on the button you find at the bottom of the side bar.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

# 245 Savoury muffins with chicken and bacon filling

These are great for packed lunches and picnics plus they're a lot easier to eat and less messy than sandwiches.

The fillings may vary according to your preference, you can use bacon and/or sausages (precooked and cut into strips or slices), ham, chorizo, cheese, etc.  Just experiment with what you have to see what kind of filling works best for you.

Chicken and bacon filling

1/2 onion, finely chopped
6 slices of bacon cut into thin strips
Leftover cooked chicken cut into small pieces
2-3 tablespoons double cream
Olive oil

In a pan pour a little olive oil and soften the onion, add the bacon strips and cook until crispy. Add the double cream and simmer until it thickens. Remove from the heat, add the chicken and mix well. Set aside while you make the batter for the muffins.

Savoury muffins

300g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 eggs
200mll milk
200ml vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 180 ºC/Gas Mark 5. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.

Pour a tablespoon of this batter into each paper case, then a little filling and then cover with batter making sure the cases are not to full so as not to overflow during baking.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the muffins are well risen and golden.

Remove from the oven and wait 10 minutes before removing the muffins from the tray, allow to cool completely on a wire rack.



Monday, 16 July 2012

# 244 A dry weekend

Well almost! It did rain Saturday morning until about 11 or 12 but then it cleared up a little and remained dry for most of the afternoon.

Sunday was even better, it was dry all day and there was a lovely, warm sunshine just perfect for a walk. After breakfast we headed off to Newark Park and took one of the the 3 public foothpaths, it was very, very muddy and slippery but everything looked lush and green and the views are amazing.

This time we walked all the way downhill until we came to this narrow country road.

Climbing up again, fortunately there were a few benches along the way and some great views too.

Grey clouds gathering again, but it did stay dry for the rest of the day.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend.


Saturday, 14 July 2012

# 243 Sunday Roast Chicken

Apologies for the quality of the photo but when there's a hungry husband and son waiting to be served some food there isn't much time to play with camera settings and angles!

This is one of the ways my mum roasts a chicken and it's a favourite with all of us, hope you like it too.

Sunday Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 or 5 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (mild)
1 teaspoon paprika
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 a lemon cut into segments

Place the chicken whole or cut in half in a tray. Peel and cut some potatoes (I like to use Maris Piper) to roast in the same tray as the chicken.

In a pan heat the olive oil with the butter, over a very low heat, until the butter melts. Add the chilli flakes, paprika, garlic, lemon and salt and stir.

Pour this mixture over the chicken and potatoes making sure they're evenly covered (you can use a brush or your hands to do this) and roast. In my oven this usually takes 1hour 30 minutes on Gas Mark 5 and I stir the potatoes and turn the chicken half way through.

Serve with salad or steamed vegetables. Instead of the roast potatoes you can also serve the chicken with white rice and chips.

Enjoy your Sunday roast!


Friday, 13 July 2012

# 242 Photo Friday: Sports

Ready, Steady, Go...

This photo was taken on Sports Day last year at the local primary school while a few of the Y6 children wait for the whistle to blow.

Photo Friday is a weekly challenge open to anyone who likes photography no matter the skill level (as you can see from my photos!!), to join in or simply to see how others have interpreted the theme just scroll down and click on the Photo Friday button you find on the side bar at the bottom.


Thursday, 12 July 2012

# 241 Eggless chocolate salami

This post is for Lyn who writes the blog Everyday Life. Quite understandably she was concerned about the use of raw eggs in my chocolate salami recipe and this made me wonder if there are any recipes out there for an eggless version of this treat and not surprisingly there are.

Below are just a few of the recipes I found, I may try a few myself as they look delicious.

Sweet Salami

Chocolate saucisson

Italian Chocolate Salami



Tuesday, 10 July 2012

# 240 Chocolate Salami

I just looked up Chocolate Salami on the web and according to Wikipedia this is a traditional Portuguese dessert. I've been making this since I was a child and had no idea!

Anyway, this has got to be one of the easiest sweet treats to make and it's much loved by children and adults alike. There are many versions of this, some people like to include raisins, sugar or condensed milk (my mum makes hers with condensed milk which I find makes it a little too sweet but A. loves it) and even a splash of Port wine but obviously in this case you shouldn't serve it to children!

This is how I make mine, the quantities below are approximate as I don't usually weigh the ingredients for this, instead I keep adjusting the amount of dry and wet ingredients until I have the right taste and consistency (of course, by doing it this way it means you have to do several taste tests, as my son calls them, just to make sure!). The mixture shouldn't be too dry or it will be too crumbly nor too wet as then it will be too sticky. Also I don't add any sugar because I find the instant hot chocolate and the biscuits are already sweet enough.

Chocolate Salami

400g Rich tea or Digestive biscuits
200g instant hot chocolate
150g butter, melted
1 or 2 eggs

Start by breaking the biscuits, you can do this by hand or in a food processor. Leave a few bigger biscuit pieces for crunchiness.

In a bowl, mix the broken biscuits with the instant hot chocolate and mix well, then add the melted butter and 1 egg and mix until well combined (I usually do this with my hands). If the mixture is too dry add 1 more egg if on the other hand it's too wet and sticky add a few more broken biscuits and mix.

Once all ingredients are well combined squeeze the mixture in your hands to see if it holds its shape. Transfer to a pre cut sheet of aluminium foil or greaseproof paper and gently but firmly roll into a salami shape, you can roll it as thick or as thin as you like. Flaten the ends of the salami, roll it tightly in the aluminium foil or greaseproof paper and put in the fridge for a few hours to firm up before slicing and serving.

For children's parties instead of rolling the mixture in a salami shape you can roll little balls between your hands and put them in little paper cases. You can also dip each ball in melted chocolate and decorate with coloured sugar sprinkles.

Chocolate salami shaped into balls, perfect for children's parties.
Don't forget this is made with raw eggs, so keep it in the fridge and eat within a day or 2.



Sunday, 8 July 2012

# 239 Sunday

We didn't make any plans for this weekend on account of the weather but as it turned out yesterday and today were not bad, there were some showers but these were few and far between, more importantly there was sunshine and it was warm enough to dry all my washing on the line.

After breakfast today we went for a walk around the Deer Park, A. wanted to see if he could find deer antlers but had no luck and then after lunch we went for a short walk along some of lanes around here. It was good to be able to go out with a blu sky above our heads.

Clearing up.

A fast flowing stream thanks to all the rain we've had in the last few days.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

# 238 Photo Friday: Dog

I must confess I'm not a dog lover, they scare the living daylights out of me and this is no irrational fear either but based on personal experience the worst being the 2 attacks suffered by my son on 2 different occasions when he was little by dogs dogs their owners thought wouldn't hurt a fly! Fortunately we were able to act very quickly and the scars are mostly psychological.

This cutie however does not need to be on a lead and always behaves.

To join in or to see what others have photographed just scroll down and click on the button on the sidebar.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

# 237 Citrus biscuits

It's been gloomy and grey and wet and windy and just generally miserable. Apparently June has been the wettest ever here in the UK with only about 19 hours of sunlight! One thing is certain it does not feel like Summer, at all.

My way of dealing with this sunlight deprivation is by concentrating on things I love like sewing and reading and baking. Talking of which I have tried a new biscuit recipe from the book Super Cookery Chocolate & Baking and if these don't pick you up you can always send them to me :-)

Citrus biscuits

100 g butter, softened
75 g caster sugar
1 egg, separated
200 g plain flour
Grated rind of 1 orange
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 lime (which I didn't use because I didn't have any)
2-3 tablespoons orange juice

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 200 ºC/Gas Mark 6.

In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the egg yolk.

Add the flour and mix well. Add the orange, lemon and lime rinds with enough of the orange juice to make a soft dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, cut the biscuits with a biscuit cutter and place them on the baking trays. Prick the surface of each biscuit with a fork.

Lightly whisk the egg white and brush it over the biscuits.

Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.



Sunday, 1 July 2012

# 236 Butter cake with strawberries and whipped cream

A while ago I took part in a baking challenge set by Dawn from Rattling On, the challenge was to bake a Jubilee cake. I baked 2 cakes for that challenge, the first was this pineapple cake and the second a delicious butter cake filled with whipped cream and strawberries.

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

Butter cake with strawberries and whipped cream

200g butter, softened
200g sugar
4 eggs
200g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of an orange
Whipped cream
Strawberries, thinly sliced for inside the cake

Pre-heat the oven to 180 ºC and line 3 sandwich cake tins with baking parchment.

In a bowl cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time and keep beating the mixture. Add the orange zest and fold in the flour with the baking powder.

Pour into the cake tins, make sure the batter is nice and smooth and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until done.

Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes or so before removing the cakes from the tins. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack and then sandwich with whipped cream and strawberries. Spread whipped cream on top and decorate with strawberries. Keep in the fridge.