Wednesday, 31 October 2012

# 288 Photo Friday: Change of season

Last week I forgot to post my entry for the Photo Friday challenge so this week I'm a little ealier than usual just to make sure. The theme is Change of season and so of course it follows that I had to post a photo rich in Autumnal colours.

This photo was taken on a recent walk in Woodchester Park. You can see other entries or join this photography challenge here.


Monday, 29 October 2012

# 287 Quick savoury traybake

With the half-term over it's back to the normal routine of packed lunches, homework projects, washing and drying of school uniforms, etc.

This savoury traybake is perfect for picnics and packed lunches because it's easy to eat (and make) and tastes good. I made the one shown on the photo with slices of parma ham and bacon, you can also use sliced chorizo, ham, sausages, gammon or any leftover cooked chicken.

Quick savoury traybake

150g white plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
100ml vegetable oil
100ml milk
Pinch of salt
3 slices of Parma ham
2 slices of precooked thick bacon

In a bowl mix the flour and the baking powder. Add all the other ingredients and mix just until they're combined.

Line a tray (I used a brownies tray which measures approx. 27x17cm) with baking parchment . Pour half of the mixture on to the tray and spread it with a spatula so it covers the bottom of the tray. Cut the meats into small pieces and distribute them on top of the batter.

Pour the remaining mixture on top and spread so it covers most of the meats. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 ºC/Gas Mark 5 for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so before removing from the tray to cool completely on a wire rack.



Edited to add:  Thanks to Chrissie who spotted the mistake in the amounts of milk and vegetable oil, they should read 100ml each instead of 1ml.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

# 286 Fruit cake

With December fast approaching it's time to start thinking about all things Christmas starting with your fruit cake. This one is lovely and moist, absolutely delicious and so easy and quick to make you may never want to use any other fruit cake recipe.

The one on the photo was made with candied mango, pineapple and dried banana chips that someone brought us from Thailand . I've also made this cake with a mix of peel and raisins and with a fruit medley of dates, apricots, prunes, cranberries and raisins. It always turned out fine.

If you'd like to give this fruit cake a try you can find the recipe here.



Thursday, 18 October 2012

# 285 Photo Friday: In motion

This is my entry for this week's Photo Friday challenge. The good thing about this challenge is that you can use photos you took in the past unlike other challenges where your photo must have been taken within the time frame given. Also taking part couldn't be easier, so if you like photography no matter your skill level why not join in?

This photo was taken on a walk along the canal between Purton and Sharpness.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

# 284 Chunky tuna and tomato sauce

I love this sauce, it's full of flavour, it's quick and easy to make (15-20 minutes and it's done), keeps well in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for longer and it can be used as the base of a variety of comforting and inexpensive meals. That ticks all the boxes in my book.

A. doesn't like tomato sauce or tuna which means that in our house a tin of tomatoes and a tin of tuna can go a long way, usually I can make 2 to 3 meals out of this sauce for me and the husband.

Chunky tuna and tomato sauce

1/2 onion, finely chopped
Olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of dried basil and oregano
1/2 teaspoon dark brown soft sugar
1 tin tuna chunks or tuna steak in brine

In a pan, over a medium to low heat, pour a little olive oil, add the onion and the garlic and cook until soft.

Add the chopped tomatoes, stirr and bring to the boil. Add the herbs, pinch of salt, sugar and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the drained tuna and mix it well with the tomato sauce. Cook for a few minutes until most of the water has evaporated and you have a chunky sauce. Check the seasoning and remove from the heat.

You can use this sauce on pizzas, with pasta with or without a topping of bechamel sauce (if using bechamel sauce, bake in the oven until the sauce is nice and golden) or in between layers of mashed potato (again bake in a preheatd oven to obtain a nice, crispy mashed potato top).



Monday, 15 October 2012

# 283 Autumn

The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge


All of the above photos were taken at Woodchester Park, a National Trust property in Gloucestershire.  This park is a lovely place for a long weekend walk and it's particularly beautiful at this time of the year, well worth a visit if you're nearby.


Friday, 12 October 2012

# 282 Banana and Walnut Loaf

This is a much changed version of a recipe for a banana and walnut loaf included in the booklet that came with my bread maker. You can add more banana to the mix if you want a stronger flavour, in fact the original recipe calls for 4 medium bananas but I prefer it this way.

Banana and Walnut Loaf

60g dark brown sugar
75g butter, softened
1 egg
100g wholemeal self-raising flour
125g white self-raising flour
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed
50g walnuts, roughly chopped

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and beat in the egg.

Add the flours, lemon zest and juice and mix until combined. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk if the dough is too thick.

Add the mashed banana, the walnuts and mix. Spoon the mixture into a cake tin lined with baking parchment or well greased and bake in a pre-heated oven to 180 ºC/Gas Mark 5 for about 40 minutes. Check with a skewer to see if the loaf is cooked.



Thursday, 11 October 2012

# 281 Photo Friday: Mood

I just remembered it's Thursday and I need to post my entry for this week's Photo Friday challenge before a new theme is announced tomorrow.

This is my entry for the theme Mood. This photo was taken earlier this year in March in a particularly foggy morning, I remember I went out on purpose to take photos in the fog just to see how they would turn out, I also remember that a little later in the day it was lovely and sunny, moody weather or what?


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

# 280 Focaccia

or "Pizza bread" as my son calls it. I've lost count how many times I've baked it this past month as it's A.'s favourite bread, besides it's the perfect accompaniment to soups and so easy to make especially with the bread machine doing all the kneading.


1/3 teaspoon fast action yeast
450g strong white flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt
Dried oregano and basil, a generous sprinkle
255ml water

Put all the ingredients in the bread pan in the order specified by the manufacturer of your bread maker. Select the basic dough cycle (2h 20m in mine).

My machine does have a Pizza setting (45 minutes) which is the one also recommended for Focaccia but I found I get better results by kneading the dough a little longer.

When the cycle is complete remove the dough from the bread pan and knead it for a couple of minutes on a lightly floured surface.

Shape it into a ball and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Roll it out with a floured rolling pin to about 1cm thickness (I'm usually not very particular about the shape).

Make indentations with your fingers over the whole dough and drizzle a little olive oil on top. With your hands or using a brush gently rub the olive oil all over the surface of the dough.

Allow to prove in a warm place until it doubles in size. This usually takes 40 to 60 minutes.

To prove bread I boil a kettle of water and pour it into a medium pan, then I place the baking tray with the dough on top and cover with a clean tea towel.

When the dough has doubled in size, poke it again with your fingers to open up the indentations you made ealier and bake in a preheated oven to 190 ºC/Gas Mark 5 for about 30 minutes or until well cooked in the center.

This bread is delicious any way but it's best served warm.

Enjoy :-)


Monday, 8 October 2012

# 279 On the subject of spiders

This one scared the living daylights out of me last night as I went into my bedroom in the dark. The light from the street lamp outside created the illusion of a giant spider on the bedroom window, I wacked it once with one of the slippers and it didn't move, wacked it again and nothing happened and then I realised it was outside the window and not in.

It's still there today as you can see weaving a giant web, as it's outside it doesn't bother me so I'm leaving it alone but I'm not opening that window anytime soon while it's there.

Are you scared of spiders?


Sunday, 7 October 2012

# 278 Sunday

Despite the weather forecast for today it stayed dry, warm and mostly sunny just ideal for a walk around Berkeley to witness the first signs of Autumn. It's also been a while since I've been out and about with my camera.

I'm not too keen on spiders but I really like the webs they weave especially in the morning when they're covered in dew.

Walking along the footpath by the small river that runs through the castle meadow we came across this huge ball of foam.

We'd never seen anything like it before on this river and were curious about it. I found some very interesting information about this on the Internet in this article here.

A little further on we found there are still plenty of blackberries to be picked, unfortunately I'd forgotten to take a box with me.

Looking in the opposite direction there's the church tower with the church to the right.

On the way home I loved the range of browns, yellows and greens in the horse-chestnut trees.

After lunch we decided to burn a few more calories so went for a walk round the deer park.

What have you been up to this weekend?


Thursday, 4 October 2012

#277 Photo Friday: Reflected

No, I didn't forget to rotate this photo it's my entry for this week's challenge on Photo Friday.

This picture was taken in 2010 in Bodnant Garden, Wales. It shows the house (which is not open to the public, only the gardens are) reflected on a small pond close by.

To join in or to simply see what other's have come up with please click on the link above or scroll down to the bottom of the side bar.


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

# 276 Spicy Spinach Soup

Mmm... soup, I love it. Sometimes we have it as a starter and some other times as a main meal with freshly baked bread and cheese. Delicious.

Hope you like this one, we did.

Spicy Spinach Soup

6 slices of chorizo, without the skin (I use this one from Asda but for an extra kick try this one)
Drizzle of olive oil
1 small onion
2 medium courgettes
2 large carrots
1/2 butternut squash
1/2 medium swede
2 chicken stock cubes
1/2 packet of spinach leaves

Over a very low heat, pour a little olive oil in to a deep pan and add the chorizo slices.

Peel and chop the onion, add to the pan and stirr.

Peel and finely slice the courgettes, add to the pan and stirr again. Do the same with the carrots, butternut squash and swede stirring well everytime you add a different vegetable to coat it in the fat that oozed out from the chorizo.

Fill the kettle with water and boil. Add the stock cubes to the pan and then the boiling water, it should just cover the vegetables. Bring to the boil over a high/medium heat and then lower it again and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Blend until smooth and then add the spinach leaves, don't forget to wash them first and also when blending add a little more boiling water if the soup is too thick. Simmer for about 10 minutes and remove from the heat.