Friday, 27 September 2013

The Incredible Spice Men

Did anyone catch The Incredible Spice Men series recently shown on the BBC?  It was brilliant and very funny.
I know, you wouldn't normally expect a cookery programme to make you giggle but it did.  These two guys have such great personalities, they were a pleasure to watch.
As a get well present my hubby bought me the cookery book and ever since I have been cooking some amazing meals.
I made the honey-roasted chicken with outstanding roasties and both were delicious.
As you can see it looked just like the picture in the book.
Since then I have made the hot and sticky prawns, the exceptional gammon with cider and cinnamon, Ferdinando's roasted potatoes and bread and butter pudding with orange and cardamom.
This is definitely a cookery book to get hold of if you want to spice up your life.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Spiced Parsnip and Coconut Tea Bread

This has to be one of the nicest cakes I have ever tasted, hence why there is only half a cake left to photograph.

150ml sunflower oil
100g soft light brown sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
75g golden syrup
175g wholemeal self-raising flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground nutmeg
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g grated parsnip
75g sultanas
25g desiccated coconut
1tbsp poppy seeds

For the topping
2tsp lime marmalade
200g low-fat soft cheese
30g sifted icing sugar
toasted desiccated coconut

1) Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C/325 degrees F/Gas 3.  Lightly oil and base line a 1-litre loaf tin.  In a large bowl or electric mixer, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and golden syrup until combined.  Mix in the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, bicarbonate of soda, grated parsnip, sultanas, coconut and poppy seeds and pour into the prepared tin.
2) Bake in the oven for 1 hour 50 minutes (check to make sure the cake doesn't burn, if it browns too quickly cover with a piece of baking parchment) until risen and firm, but springy when lightly pressed.  Insert a skewer through the centre if you are not sure.  If it comes out clean, the loaf is ready.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
3) While the cake is cooling, make the topping.  Warm the marmalade in a microwave or small saucepan until melted.  Beat it into the soft cheese with the icing sugar.  Place in the fridge to firm up, and when cold, spread over the cooled cake.  For a final touch, scatter some toasted coconut over the top.

Monday, 16 September 2013

New Crafting

The road to recovery can be slow and as a result of sitting around feeling sorry for myself I decided to check out a new craft and complete another that I have been playing around with since returning from my jolly holiday.
Free form knitting and crochet intrigues me simply because being one of those people who likes to abide by the rules of a pattern, this type of craft is totally alien to me and quite frankly I find it a bit messy and unpredictable.
Anyhow I decided that as I am sitting in bed a lot at the moment this mindless type of activity might be right up my street.
This was my first attempt.  I started by following a few basic instructions I found here and this gave me the confidence and structure I needed to get started. 

Second attempt

I'm not sure if this is the creative path you are supposed to follow every time e.g. think of something, think of a number etc or if you just sit with your yarn and needles and just let the juices flow.  I am a bit of a book junkie and might send for a manual to help me get my head around it all.  There are some lovely images on Google if you type in free form knitting and crochet and these show you what you can make with the finished piece.  Some projects are like works of art.  Sadly mine are works in progress and will remain so for a long time I suspect.
The other thing I have been doing is making a holiday picture.
Whilst away I decided that it would be nice to take a picture, buy a frame and collect some shells all from the same place and then put everything together as an armarge (not the correct spelling but spell checker is being particularly unhelpful today) to the lovely day spent by the sea.

So I took a lot of beachy photos of Wells, collected lots of different sized cockle shells and a few other interesting ones and bought an unloved photo frame from a charity shop in the same town.
I painted the frame with 'sand' coloured acrylic paint and stuck the shells on the frame with my glue gun.  Unfortunately the picture I so lovingly chose (see above) kept sticking to the inside of the glass which made it look like it had greasy marks on it so I had to chose a picture taken in Blakeney. 
I actually preferred the boat picture as it happens but now the completed project is an armarge to the holiday rather than the day.
I am happy with the result though and it sits proudly at the top of the stairs on a little seaside themed window sill.

The window will soon be subject to a makeover of its own as I am currently designing something to hang there as a little crochet curtain.
Is there no end to this crafting addiction?

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Back to Normal - almost!

Here I am at long last.  I had my operation yesterday which went well.  There was an awful lot of waiting around but that couldn't be helped.
I went straight to bed last night after eating a lovely meal prepared by Joe my son.  He is a really good cook and I was hungry enough to eat a scabby donkey.  Not that that was what I got!
Sleep was a problem as I kept getting twinges but I still feel refreshed.  I recomend being rendered unconscious to everyone.  You definitely get a better quality of sleep.  Fortunately the anaesthetic didn't bother me at all and I felt really well afterwards.
Today is a take it easy day with a short walk just to make sure my legs don't seize up or get these nasty DVT's the nurses have warned me against.
The Norfolk photo's follow just so this post isn't all about me, although I could talk about me all day you know.
Little nature reserve at Blakeney

Holkham Beach

Holkham again
More to follow.
Thank you for dropping in. It is great to see how many visitors stop by. 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Reasons for my absence

Firstly my apologies for not being in touch.  Life has certainly got in the way lately and unfortunately I may be away again in the next couple of weeks as I have to go in to hospital to have a Fibroid removed.  I was told that I would have to have a Hysterectomy but that is hopefully not going to happen.  Anyway the op is a week tomorrow.
Secondly I have recently bought a Fitbit One which is basically a pedometer but way more expensive and clever.  I watched the Horizon programme about three weeks ago which talked about how phone aps are the future in terms of health and as part of the theme all the people involved were given these Fitbits to try out.  I have a more advanced version but my hubby has the tiny Fitbit featured and both are amazing and so cute.
This one not only counts steps it also calculates calories burned, stairs climbed and distance covered.  At night I strap it to my wrist and it tells me how long it took me to fall a sleep, how many hours I slept, how many times I awoke and how efficiently I have slept. I can then connect it to my computer wirelessly and monitor my food intake.  It even tells me how many calories I need to eat and burn in order to lose weight at a pace I choose.  I can't praise this product enough, it is really cool.
And finally I have just got back from an amazing holiday in Walsingham, Norfolk.  This will be our third year but we still had a great time.  I will post many more photos but here are a couple to whet your appetite.
Sand dunes at Wells on Sea

Back to work tomorrow so I will be back in to a routine and should hopefully blog more frequently.
Bye for now and have a great day.