Sunday, 25 September 2011

silent Sunday


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Cooking the perfect - thanks to Woman's Hour

I'm a bit of a R4 fanatic and can't resist Jenny and Jane on Woman's Hour
Not that I get to listen during the week.... But I can catch up on the website most times.
I've been listening to "Cook the perfect" and been tempted to try many of the recipes.
The fish soup sounds easy and I must be able to master scones although I've not tried either.

But today, inspired by the Lakeland madeline tin I thought I would try my hand at these little delicacies.

The recipe is actually very easy - an egg, sugar, flour and ground almonds and some lemon zest. The challenge for me was the beurre noisette. I'd never made this before and although the instructions said 'low heat, heavy bottom pan, leave for 3 minutes', it seemed to take a bit longer than this and I think I could have left it longer.

It's a case of creaming the egg and the sugar, sifting the almonds and flour and then folding these together before adding your beurre noisette.

Mmmm, then it says leave for an hour. Try explaining that to a 3 year old who wants them now !

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Finding time - saving meals on wheels

I just watched the Hairy Bikers in their campaign to save Meals on Wheels -

I'm a big fan of these guys - I find them very genuine and down to earth.

It wasn't until tonight that I remembered my granny g - no longer with us and a long time on her own.
She relied on MoW - for many years. I remember the smell of her dinners which she loved,
the lady that delivered it - whom she could tell you many stories about.

But none of that mattered.

She was well fed. She had company that we couldn't deliver daily.

Then things changed. The council started delivering microwave meals.
Granny didn't understand the microwave.
She hated it.
She hated the meals.
She stopped eating.
She got confused.

Meals on wheels is a fantastic service when it delivers good quality, hot, fresh food.

The Hairy Bikers are on to something.

I only wish I could find time to help them - or is that me finding an excuse.

Another dilemma to add to the list.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Too young for pocket money

Toots is 3 and a half. That's a big half when it's 15% of your life !

Her behaviour has been very good generally. Well, almost always.
She responds well to a star chart and to gets generally excited when it translates to something more tangible.

But every now and again we have meltdowns. They tend not to be minor meltdowns but great big major ones.  We've had to remove all the toys, we've had a screaming match outside Boots, we've had to threaten to remove dance class. Oh dear. Not the best parenting of a pre-schooler. But what else to do?

I've been wondering if we should take a different tack. What if stars = money and money = magazines. So rather than good behaviour resulting in a treat, good behaviour gets pocket money and then she can decide what to do with it.

I was inspired by the lady on the checkout in Asda who said that her 3 1/2 year old had managed to save up the pocket money provided by her grannny (mum in law) to pay for half of a pair of Ugg boots. So this pre-schooler managed to save £40 quid from her pocket money and bought a pair of boots. I was quite disgusted by this at first. But the more I thought about it the more I wondered if it would work.

I remain unconvinced. But perhaps teaching the value of money at an early age can only be a good thing.

Now where did I put that piggy bank????

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Cleaning is good for the soul

I know you are supposed to do it in spring time. I did - in fact, I cleared out masses of stuff and put it into storage to get the place ready to sell. But I never really did any spring cleaning...

So here I am in September, cleaning, and hoping that it cheers my mood somewhat.

Maybe it's the impending winter that's pulling my spirit into the dolldrums or maybe it's the lack of being able to plan life because we are in the middle of selling (or not as the case may be!!). Maybe it's the continual whining from Toots or the screaming to be picked up by P. Or maybe it's something else.

Why is it that the girls are all smiles for daddy and all grumps for me? Is it me?

In an attempt to clear out my soul, I have "oven-mate"-ed my cooker to within an inch of it's life. It's gleaming. I have vax-ed the hall carpet (what idiot chose cream for a hall carpet with two monkeys.... ooops lets pass over that one). And now I am about to embark on a clear out of all things electronic.

Has it made me feel any better? Not yet. But at least the place is a bit more spic and span. So perhaps when I wake up tomorrow to a clean carpet and a clean oven - and lots more space for lots more things on this ancient old laptop - the world will feel a brighter place.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Lyons Fish stew - an easy dinner !!

Lyons Seafood (they do prawns) have launched some new ready to make meals.
They are available in Sainsbury's and are currently £4.99 - they'll go up to £5.99 sometime soon so they are around the same price as an M&S ready meal.

I thought I would try the Catalan Fish Stew because it is absolutely one of my favourites. I know it's not hard but it's been a long week.

First impressions are good - the veg look really fresh and I can see squid and mussels in the seafood.

It claims it will be ready in five minutes - so here goes.

OK so I've read the instructions and I don't think 2 minutes is enough to cook courgettes so I'm going to change things around a bit.... so rather than do the fish first I'm going to do the veg first and then add the fish....

Two minutes down and the veg are starting to look nice but still a bit too al-dente for my liking....

Seafood and chorizo added - smelling nice.

Sauce added and bubbling nicely. Smelling very bbq. Why would that be???


Tasty, doesn't look much but filling and it really doesn't look like the box !

My summary
- it is fast.
- I prefer to cook the veg first
- not masses of fish but the beans fill you up !
- def needs bread
- not sure what is Catalan about it - him indoors described it as a gumbo
- there's quite a lot of packaging
- think I might buy it for me if I was having a special night in !!!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Mull-ing around

OK so we've been back for a few days but I wanted to share my musings on holidaying in Scotland.

I need to be honest. I love Scotland. I live in Scotland and I love holidaying here.
There is something special about the west coast - especially when the dreaded midge has gone.
If you don't know what I mean.... feel free to have a look  here !

So when we were considering an autumn break, we were keen to return to the Isle of Mull.
This is significantly less far than the amazing Isle of Skye but reducing driving when you have a couple of small people in the back of the car is a good plan. You need to take a ferry - obviously - which goes from Oban, a 3 hour drive from Edinburgh. Apparently.

But the *joy* of Scotland means that some places are a bit more inaccessible. And the word "diversion" sends shivers down the spine. Mmmm, our diversion added some 85 miles, 2 hours and the remaining tank of fuel. I would like to say "luckily I had thought about that" but I hadn't. So there was no milk, no food. Idiot..... Thankfully, daddy picked up SIX bananas which were eaten en-route.

Needless to say, screaming, vomiting, sleeping and screaming again followed. And that was just daddy.

But we arrived. Just in time. It could only get better.

It did - a wonderful cottage at Calgary on the north west of the Island, some amazing weather and a great trip to Staffa.  (Sans kids - the joy of taking the inlaws but that's another story)

Staffa is another island which is the home of Fingals Cave. Now this place is amazing. It is effectively the other end of the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland and is managed by the National Trust for Scotland. I took ooodles of photographs - but perhaps this give you an idea of the place. Well, it doesn't really. Believe me if you are in the area, go. It is stunning. I didn't hear Mendelssohn but was gobsmacked.

Our journey was taken aboard the Hoy Lass thanks to lovely Iain from Turus Mara. Iain has a wicked sense of humour and you feel safe in his experienced hands.  (I love the fact that Turus Mara means journey by sea).  He is quite a character.

When we got home - unfortunately without any significant wildlife sightings - we wanted some local seafood. But the local restaurant was closed......

Thankfully it was raining the next day and we were able to partake of some gorgeous Inverlussa Mussels. We had to take the girls but that's another story too.

But here they are. Inverlussa mussels thanks to Am Birlinn where the food was great but the service could have had more of smile.

There is more to say but I will save it for another day. Next year I think we'll head for Islay. As him-indoors said "more distilleries" as he poured himself another dram of Tobermory Whisky !

Happy days.