Monday, 22 November 2010

Monday Musings

I thought I'd start a new regular feature on my blog - I've been reading Happy Zombies blog and I really like the 'daily cup of joy' posts - so I thought I could do something similar.  Now, I'm not sure I have enough joy for a daily cup, but a weekly one I can definitely manage.

So I thought I'd list a few things that made me smile last week.

  • The coat hanger hanging from a bush in a field on my way to work.  It's so out of place, it makes me smile everytime I see it.
  • Random gifts from friends - I've been given several packs of gel stickers to decorate my house for Christmas
  • New Christmas decorations (I always like to get a few extra each year - this year we'll need a new tree to house them all!)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Kitchen Real Estate

So... I'm back to thinking about decluttering, and in the kitchen once more.  I'm going to throw this question out to all of you, see what your opinion is - what is important enough to take up space on your kitchen worktop? 

We have far too much on our worktops - although less now as I've just squirreled a whole load of appliances in a new cupboard, and I'm possibly in danger of having nothing on the surfaces at all.  I'd like to strike the happy medium of minimal clutter, but having things close to hand at the same time.  I guess I've answered my own question really - keep things I use (Ian uses) at hand, and ditch everything else.  What are your essential items in the kitchen?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Cooking Wednesdays - Catch up

Although I've not been blogging about the food I've been cooking for Ian, I have been cooking it (well, most weeks!).  Back at the start of September I attempted Moroccan chicken, a recipe found in my good food magazine.  This was a successful meal, the chicken was nice and flavoursome, juicy, and sweet.  The only thing I think this meal was lacking was a bit of colour.

The week after that was the inedible curry mentioned in my seven days of food post.  That was far less successful, but I have learnt never to stir rice because of it (and it wasn't even me that did it, Ian was the naughty rice stirrer).  
The following week we were back to success.  I made pork steaks with pear and a creamy cider sauce.  It was to die for - not the most healthy but a yummy treat for sure! We'll definitely be repeating this recipe, but maybe only for special occasions.  I also managed to include some green on the plate this time, so I felt better about it.

For Ian's birthday week, I agreed that I wouldn't do a whole week of meals like I did last year, I'd just do one meal on his birthday, and then one at the weekend.  This was good for me because I didn't have to cook as much, and good for Ian because he wouldn't have to eat food I'd cooked! So, for his birthday meal, I went for a simple recipe, lamb with feta, tomatoes and rosemary.  Unfortunately, my feta didn't crumble, so I had to slice it, and the steaks weren't very flat, so the topping wouldn't stay put and kept falling off.  Despite this, it wasn't too bad, although it wasn't a very glamorous birthday meal. 

For Ian's weekend meal, I pulled out a tried and tested recipe that we stole from The Dog and Crook's menu, steak with sweet chilli prawn sauce.  I made some bacon and goats cheese rostis to start, which were nice, but the goats cheese flavour got a little lost (as did the corner of the flash on the camera it seems!).

Because the rostis were quite filling, we skipped the chips with the steak, and instead just had all the steaky accompaniments - it was delicious. 

And even though they were being cooked in hot butter, the mushrooms remained happy!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Halloween Birthday

My niece was born on 29th October, so her birthday always seems to clash with halloween celebrations.  This year she decided to embrace the closeness, and asked for a spider cake.  She was quite specific, a blue cake, with a black spider, so my mum and I set about making a sponge, and then covering it in blue butter icing.  Blue butter icing isn't an easy task, because the butter generally starts out yellowy, so the end result has a greenish tint to it.  We started with lurpak though, a pretty light, almost white butter, and this worked well.  

We found some glittery writing icing in Sainsburys which worked really well to make a glistening web on the top of the cake. We made a body out of black icing for the spider, and then used mikado (known as pocky in Japan) for the legs, adding some more icing to the joints of the leg for stability and to cover up the joins.  

My sister had requested two cakes, one for the family get together, and one for my nieces friends party, but we were a hand down (my mum just had a carpal tunnel op) and it seemed like too much work in too short a space of time for me.  So I suggested making small cupcakes to decorate the cake board, like the ones I did for halloween last year, and then we could eat those for the first party, leaving the main cake intact for the second party.  This worked pretty well, and considering we were going out for dinner for the main party anyway, noone really wanted a cupcake, so there were still some left to decorate the side of the cake on the second day too! 
I only differed in opinion from my mum once this time, she wanted to give the spider little boots, but I thought it looked better without (Ian agreed so I got my way!).