Thursday, 26 September 2013

# 375 Photo Friday: Nature walk

For one reason or another it's been a very long time since I last joined in with the Photo Friday challenge, all the way back to February apparently according to my blog's archive.

This week's theme is right up my street so here's my entry.

This photo was taken a few weeks ago when we revisited Snowshill Manor. There's a very nice circular walk from the village with great views along the way.

To know more about this weekly photography challenge just scroll down the sidebar and click on the Photo Friday button.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

# 374 Meatballs in tomato and basil sauce

When writing our meal plan the other day A. suggested I make meatballs as it's been a while since we had them last. Meatballs are really easy to make but a little time consuming so when I make them I always make an extra portion to keep in the fridge for another meal. They're also good for packed lunches, A. likes his in a pitta bread.

You can of course make your own tomato sauce but this time I went for the lazy approach and used sauce from a jar.

Meatballs in tomato and basil sauce

800g extra lean beef mince
5 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Pinch of salt
Pinch of paprika
Half a teaspoon of crushed chillies (add more if you want more heat)
Half a jar of good quality tomato and basil sauce
1 small onion, chopped
Drizzle of olive oil
Plain flour

Put the beef mince in a bowl, add the breadcrumbs, salt, paprika and crushed chillies and mix until well combined. Form small balls and place them in a plate or board dusted with plain flour, cover with cling film and keep in the fridge to firm up until cooking time.

Drizzle a frying pan with a little olive oil and when hot brown the meatballs in batches. The aim is just to sear the meatballs  and not to cook them through. When all meatballs have been browned add the chopped onion and cook until soft, then add the tomato and basil sauce and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the meatballs.

Add a little boiling water if you think the sauce is becoming too thick. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes over a low heat stirring occasionaly.

Serve with white rice, mashed potato or spaghetti and a side of salad.



Thursday, 19 September 2013

# 373 Books & Bracelets

A friend of mine has been sorting through her large collection of cookbooks and I've been the lucky recipient of a few of them.

My 2 favourites are these which apparently tie in with a cookery series called Farmhouse Kitchen produced by Yorkshire Television and shown from the early 70s to the late 80s.

I wonder whether I can find any episodes from the series on YouTube! I was a teenager in the mid 80s and not really into cooking so this wouldn't be something I'd watch. How things change!

Another friend has sent me these bracelets as a birthday gift.

There was also a pair of the most comfortable and warm handmade slippers and a kumihimo disc which is what she made the bracelets with.

I found instructions online for a simple 8 strand bracelet and I can tell you this is addictive. You can make a bracelet from start to finish in well under an hour.

These are the ones I made, they're not as well finished as my friend's but they're not too bad for a first attempt.

If you like carrying a craft project in your bag for those moments when you can't do anything else but wait this is the ultimate portable project as you only need the disc and some cotton thread.


Friday, 13 September 2013

# 372 Cornmeal cake

Here's another recipe using cornmeal. Sarah from Down by the Sea asked on my last post what else I used cornmeal for so I thought I'd share this cake recipe I tried recently.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this cake. It was fluffy and moist and very moreish, so much so that it didn't last for very long. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. The photo is not very good and really doesn't do justice to this lovely cake.

Cornmeal cake

200g butter, softened
320g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
150g plain flour
150g fine cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
200ml milk
Zest of 1 lemon

Grease a tube cake tin and dust it with flour. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

In a bowl cream the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time beating between each addition. Gradually add the flours and baking powder then the milk and lemon zest and mix until well combined.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and gently fold them into the mixture until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes before removing from the tin to cool completely.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.


Monday, 9 September 2013

# 371 Cornmeal bread

If, like me, you like toast you'll love this bread. It has a slightly grainy texture and it tastes great especially when spread with butter and a little drizzle of honey. It's also the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of soup.

Cornmeal bread

20g fresh yeast
320ml water
400g strong white flour
100g fine cornmeal
Pinch of salt

Dissolve the yeast in the water.

Pour the flours into the bowl of your stand mixer, add a pinch of salt and the yeast mixture. Knead with the dough hook until all ingredients are well combined.

Tip onto a work surface lightly greased with olive oil and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. put back in the bowl greased with a little olive oil, cover with cling film and prove until doubled in volume.

Knock back the dough, tip it onto a work surface again and shape it to fit into a loaf tin lined with baking paper. Prove again for 30-40 minutes until doubled in volume.

Bake in a preheated oven to 22ºC for 10-15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to about 190-200ºC and bake for a further 20-30 minutes.

To check if the bread is baked tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow it's done.



Monday, 2 September 2013

# 370 Crafts at the library

I think I've mentioned it before in passing that I'm a volunteer at our community library and that's one of the reasons why there haven't been many blog posts from me this Summer as I've been busy planning and hosting the children's crafts sessions and enjoying every minute of it.

Besides the normal crafts activities we do there were also a few events tied in to the Summer Reading Challenge which is about to finish.

Here's a very small sample of the things we made.

The children had great fun making lots of these creepy lizards in various sizes.

A giant spider made with a pompom, pipe cleaners and googly eyes.

A spiral snake, hang it on the washing line and see it spin.

A seascape inside a box.