Friday, 22 December 2017

Christmas - Reading and winding down.

Hello, Happy Christmas to you all. All good social clubs are ending with a party or film it seems this time of year. Christmas is unfolding slowly here, the Knit and Natter had their party yesterday. Last week the WI craft group had their last meet up for 2017, working on your own project we took a plate of food to share. The youth group took to the cinema to see Ferdinand, a 'fun' family film with David Tennant as the Scottish bull Angos.
Last Saturday I took the teens and their friend to see the Star Wars film - The Last Jedi. I've heard mixed reviews but personally I loved it, the cinema was packed and I'm glad I'd booked tickets. At the end of intense scenes, I was a bit surprised to see other people in the room with me. It's not often I feel completely engrossed in a film.


Apart from socials, after finishing my blanket, I've been crocheting a few angels as Christmas gifts.  Like everyone else, there's been Christmas shopping, card sending and present wrapping to do. I start each year with good intentions of brilliant organisation of all things Christmassy but by December 1st it's the usual panic stations!
                                      book cover of Summer at Shell Cottage

I'd planned some Christmas reading but so far haven't read any. Instead I've just finished listening to Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond on audible books, appalling language but... very enjoyable, I would definitely recommend it. It was lovely having a summer story to listen to during the cold UK weather.

We've put Christmas cards in their display rack, there are so many ways people display their cards nowadays.

Hung up the advent calendar I cross stitched many years ago. It was stitched on - bookmark Aida and then sewn onto a felt backing, there was supposed to have been a cross stitched picture on the top section. The teens have been so used to it looking blank now, bless them. I usually fill the pockets with wrapped chocolate coins each year.

Put out the old rather battered Santa's post box made from a shoe box and covered in tissue paper.

Put out the musical Christmas tree in the dining room. It was a gift from my friend a few years ago, originally with biscuits in it.

Hung up some knitted Christmas stockings, the one at the bottom has been crocheted. They were meant to be filled with stuffing as tree ornaments. I used to knit these for Reception children in the local primary school and fill them with a chocolate lolly and coins.

Displayed a wooden tree bought from Lidl, counting down the last 15 days to Christmas.

QT under the tree, not interested in anything Christmassy, just wanting to look at the birds.

Tomorrow I need to catch up with laundry and dusting, more wrapping and relaxing. Definitely relaxing. I need to make more sausage rolls and mince pies, no cake has been baked yet. No Christmas pudding either, as nobody ever wants to eat it. I'm hoping to crochet one more angel, just for me.
Whatever you're doing this weekend, have a good one and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Cookery Challenge Challenge

A while ago I cooked 2 recipes for the Cookery Calendar Challenge, led by Penny at Homemade Heart. I missed last months though Gillian at Tales from a happy house took part. The book 'Ministry of Food' by Jamie Oliver accompanied his TV series stating 'that anyone can learn to cook in 24 hours'. Inside the book he pays tribute to Marguerite Patten, one of the original Ministry of Food girls. Calling her a national treasure and incredible food guru. There is a wealth of info on-line about how you can get involved in your community, with his mission to see the nation eat, cook and educate themselves with better choice and less waste. 

I enjoyed the TV series, the people's stories were emotional at times and excerpts feature in the book. Jamie Oliver sets out with a clear aim to empower the nation to cook one recipe at a time and then teach it to someone else. As each person develops in confidence, they feed their families well and commit to the 'pass it on challenge'. There is a pledge to sign in the book - agreeing to learn a recipe from each chapter and teach them to 2 or more people, on the condition that they pledge the same. Did I do that.... er no, but please don't tell anyone. 

The book itself is divided into sections, the usual breakfasts, quick meals, salads and curries etc. The emphasis is on easy but also to cook from scratch, though the curries are made using Patak's curry pastes. There is a section further on in the book for making your own curry pastes when you've gained more confidence. The salads work in a similar way in that you start with a basic salad and make an 'evolution salad' by adding further ingredients. One last thing I like about the book is the stew type recipes that he then tops in different ways eg dumplings, a pie lid, mash or hot pot.

To many who have been cooking for years this book may help with different ideas or encouraging you to 'try' making your own curry pastes, salad dressings or meat burgers. Or even to think about doubling recipes and eating stew today and a pie the next. Other than that, I was just fascinated with his enthusiasm at cooking good enjoyable food and encouraging others to do the same. It is photo heavy with steps and stages and would suit anyone who hasn't much of an idea for cooking and for people who already love cooking and looking at cookery books that teach rather than simply list instructions. 

So onto my 2 recipes, the first was 'Meatballs and Pasta'. I must confess that I've never made meatballs before, I envisaged a stodgy mince ball in a thick gravy and this put me off. These ones were nothing like what I had in mind, they were delicious. You can use beef or pork mince or half of each. Everything, including cracker biscuits in the meatballs is chopped, smashed and mixed, rolled into balls drizzled with oil and placed in the fridge. I omitted the mustard which would've given a moist texture but not everyone likes it. When you are ready to cook, you begin with making your tomato sauce, then cook the spaghetti whilst frying the meatballs for 8-10 minutes. The spaghetti is drained and half the sauce added and stirred into it. After serving the meatballs on top of the pasta, add the remaining tomato sauce then some small basil leaves and Parmesan. 

My second recipe was called 'My Sweet and Sour Pork'. He says it's all cooked fast and to concentrate and stay on the ball. I tend to prepare all the ingredients at once before cooking generally, so this wasn't a problem. It's basically a stir-fry and as you can imagine with Jamie Oliver, it packs a punch in flavour, delicious!

After preparing all the ingredients, you cook your rice, drain and keep it warm, whist stir-frying everything else, the meat first with the Chinese five spice. Removing the meat to keep warm you then stir fry all the over ingredients and then adding cornflour and liquid ingredients before returning the pork to the wok and checking seasoning. The sauce is reduced for a few minutes before serving the dish on a bed of rice with shredded lettuce, sesame seeds and reserved coriander leaves.

I was sceptical about the lettuce leaves particularly as teen 2 never makes healthy choices. The lettuce gave a crisp, fresh texture that I think is perfect to balance the other strong flavours, all of which were amazing. I left M his dinner as he was home late and I dashed out for the evening. He chose not to add the extras at the end which makes me wonder if others find Jamie's habit of - 'just add this', and 'I think it just needs this...' that he's so fond of on TV, a bit annoying too.

Overall, both dishes were fantastic though the meatballs were a little dry, maybe more sauce is needed or something added instead of the mustard next time. Also I forgot to add the Parmesan cheese on top of the first recipe which was a shame, as I'd specially bought it for this dish.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my cookery calendar challenge this month, where I choose a cookery book off my shelves and pick 2 recipes to cook that aren't cakes or biscuits and then write about them the following month.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Winter Project Link Party - December

Hello everyone! Well it's finished at last! The Moorland blanket, details here, I started it in January 2017 and finished the last stitch on Friday night. It could have been finished much earlier but... excuses, whoever wants to listen to those! I did enjoy crocheting it and unpicking bits too. I'm a perfectionist when it comes to crafting and it has to be right. Many a time after working on it, I've had to frog it, oops! Too much chatting at Knit 'n' Natter. 

Whilst I was busy crocheting away, I kept thinking about 'the next blanket', as you do... but now I've finished it, I'm just not sure. As this one was a CAL (crochet a long), the idea is to stay on target. Of course you can take as long as you like or need but it does become an issue after a while, knowing that you should be working on it but itching to start something else. Lucy over on Attic24 has many other blanket designs I could consider.

I've loved making this, each stitch including the edging was enjoyable. The colours are rich and soothing, the pattern with its neat wave going up and down showed the stitches were lining up correctly. The Knit 'n' Natter group have loved seeing its progress so I'll take it along soon to show them. Making the blanket has produced a bit of a yarn stash and as I was wanting to make some bunting, this will be made in some of the Moorland colours. The bunting is just for celebrating birthday etc not to be left out all year. The Moorland colours, when together, are ideal as they are fairly gender neutral.

For now I'm enjoying 'the finish'. It's good to be able to look at other things and think, yes I can make that. I have free time! I've started a small reindeer kit that was free in Crochet Now magazine. I'm not sure I'd buy it again, at £5.99 I think it's a bit pricey. I started a knitted Shawl last year that needs finishing, that was a KAL (knit a long) with a picot edging and beads. Like many people I have a long list of craft projects waiting, knitting, crochet, sewing and cross stitch that I would like to see finished. A while ago I purchased some yarn for knitting some socks, in fact teen 2 has put 'knitted socks' on his 2017 Christmas list, for - 2018. He is so cheeky, but alas... correct. I now need to surprise him by knitting him a pair before then. The challenge is on!

Maybe in the future I will make another blanket, possibly with a more natural wool type yarn. For now natural or recycled yarn remains expensive and not widely available. If you know of supplies please do leave a comment, I'd love to know and will check them out. Most that I've seen on-line, start from £6 upwards for a 50g ball.
Thank you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...