Monday, 31 May 2010

Busy Bank Holiday

My brother asked us whether we could look after his three little darlings on Sunday evening as he and his wife were going out.

We enjoy looking after his kids - after all they were one of the main reasons we moved 140 miles North a few years ago!

On telly recently, there has been a series called "Junior Masterchef" where young kids, of about the age our nephew and neice are, cook a series of dishes, some of their choosing and some not, and battle it out for a trophy at the end.

The series inspired us to get Martha and Leo doing more cooking when they visit us, so I went into town on Sunday morning, and found a really lovely beginners cook book to inspire them!

I looked at quite a few other childrens cookbooks, and this was the best! I was also pleased because it had a recipie for Spaghetti Carbonara, which was what M&L had decided they wanted to eat that evening.

The next few photos show cooking in progress. Both kids did well, and were impressed that Douglas has "Chefs fingers" - the ability to handle things that are rather hot (like putting spaghetti into boiling water)

I love this photo, because Martha is concentrating very hard on her frying onions, and the way Douglas put the spaghetti into the saucepan is beautiful!

Another great photo... Both kids in on the action!

Carlo, being nearly 6, is a little too young to be looking after things on a hot stove, but he "supervised" and gave encouragment (oh, and told them to hurry up lol) whilst his older siblings were busy! (I admit, I did suggest to him that he could encourage them AND to tell them to hurry up!) - oh what a wicked Aunty I am!

Dinner being ready, the three kids and Douglas all tucked in to a very well made meal (I dont really like spag, and Im veggie, so I left them to it)

Carlo looks like a little angel in this photo.. he ate up every scrap of his meal and would have eaten more had there been any!

After tea, we got the kids washing up a few plates each. This is not part they enjoyed very much, but its an important part of the process, and has to be done!

The next installment is going to be..... leek and potato soup when they next visit. Martha has taken the cookery book home with her, and has probably spent all evening pooring over the recipes trying to decide what to make after we have made soup! (ahh.. so many choices.. but lots of time too)

The kids stayed over, and this morning we took them swimming. We had about an hour and a half in the pool, playing with an inflatable ball, and the kids having fun in the waves and water flumes.

My brother had invited us round for a BBQ at lunch, so after nipping home and making a potato salad, we went round t their house and had a really lovely lunch with them.. my brothers roast pepper quiche was really fantastic!.. it was possibly the best BBQ he has done :-)

Home later that afternoon.. exhausted but happy.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Body of Sound busk for ASSIST

Today my choir met in town and did an hours busking for ASSIST - a local charity that helps destitute asylum seekers in and around Sheffield.

Here is a peice from their website, but click here to find out more.

Asylum seekers become destitute when all the support they have been receiving from government is withdrawn following a final negative decision on an asylum claim. We often hear that they are failed because they are not genuine, but researches in 2003 by a group of MPs found that over half of those refused were in fact genuine; a proportion thought to be even greater now due to lack of adquate legal help.

Refused asylum seekers are not allowed to work, to register themselves as homeless, or places in local authority night shelters. There is no legal way for them to support themselves. Many become destitute, struggling daily for food, accommodation and clothing. It is estimated that there is about 1000 destitute asylum seekers in the Sheffield area alone.

What help do we give?

  • finding night shelter for those sleeping rough
  • finding temporary accommodation with host families
  • paying a small weekly grant for food and basic living expenses
  • advising about other sources of assistance available (charitable and non-charitable)
  • giving free bus pass vouchers to those with serious medical problems, and pregnant women who would find it difficult to walk
  • giving free bicycles
  • finding longer term solutions by assisting clients to pursue their asylum claims
  • raising awareness to the problem through events and talks
  • opportunities for volunteering

And now.. some lovely pictures of the choir raising money and awareness for this group!

If you look carefully, you can see me in the background next to my very smily friend Magali!

We sang for an hour, and had a great time.. hopefully we raised a bit of money for this worthy charity :-)

Monday, 17 May 2010

Pineapple Friday

I purchased a lovely big pineapple last week, knowing that my parents have a marvellous pineapple slicer machine.

I popped into see them on my way back from work on Friday to have a tutorial from my talented father, in the art of pineapple slicing!

My dad cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple, pushed the device into the middle of the fruit, and started twisting. The blades go into the pineapple, turning it into rings as he twists.

I had a go at this, and didnt make such a good job my pineapple .... it went squiffy. I think either you need to be pretty strong, or you need to develop the knack for it.. or both :-D and I dont have either!

Action shot ! The white tube with the spiral on is hollow. The hard core of the pineapple gets sliced off and pushed up the tube - a wooden spoon is good to push it out.

Juicy pineapple being taken out of its skin

When the rings have been taken out, you can use a sharp knife to slice the last little bits out of the pineapple tube you are left with.

End result..rings of juicy sliced pineapple. It tastes about a million times better than stuff from the can!

For those of you who now feel like rushing out to buy one of these devices, my parents got theirs from Lakeland. They have a video showing how it should be done, but personally, I prefer my sequence of photos as...

a) My photos have my dad in them and not a poncy presenter and

b) I still have a load of this pineapple downstairs in my fridge and freezer!!!

NOM NOM NOM! (As they say in Cafe World lol)

For those of you who need a translation, this means yum yum yum :-D

Walkies last Thursday

A while ago I got an exercise machine from a colleague at work - I thought it would be a good idea to do a 20 min session now and again.

I put it up, and tried it out, and realised why it was given away.. its pretty scary!!

I decided that the best thing to do was abandon the idea of the exercise machine, and do some of the real thing... Walking! (yeah yeah.. comments from the family expected on this one lol)

I had an enjoyable 20 min walk round our local block, stopping only to take a few photos en route, which I thought I would share with you. I shall walk that way again :-)

My favourites are the black tulips, and the sausage cat at the end.. a long bodied, and short legged tabby who came to say hi.

I hope you enjoyed my walk as much as I did. I think the cat was a reward for getting half way :-)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Kid sitting

Last night we had a special delivery - Martha and Leo our nephew and neice. The younger nephew, Carlo is with his best friend, and the grown ups (well, my brother and parents) are out canoeing along the River Wye.

Douglas made a really fantastic looking Shepherds pie which the kids and he enjoyed whilst they watched Dr Who. I watched with them but had curry instead :-)

Having thrown them into bed at about 9pm, we went up about an hour later to find they were both still reading!! Lights were turned out at some point, and sleep for all of us ensued.

I fed the cats at about 6am as usual, then after a while went back to bed. Martha got up about 8.. but this photo below was taken at 9am.. a certain Someone had a bit of a lie in lol!

We had a slow morning, watched most of a DVD, then Martha and I vanished off to the cinema to watch "How to train your Dragon" a film about a Viking boy who finds that rather than killing dragons, he has the knack to befriend and train them. It was great :-D

Douglas and Leo went to see "Clash of the Titans" loosley based around the story of Perseus. That started quite a bit later, and they went by tram, so they didnt get home until 4pm!

Martha and I had a bite to eat at Flaming Dragon after our film. We ate some rice and noodles, then for desert, Martha turned into an orange eating monster!

When we got home, it was quite a nice sunny day, so she and I went into the conservatory and planted some lavender, some chillies and some feverfew. The feverfew had its Latin name on, and I thought it was another type of chilli, so now we have chillies one end and feverfew at the other end of the trough - we had a good laugh over that :-D

We seived some compost, (ok.. we riddled it) and Martha was very careful to rescue all the worms to put back into the compost head with the stuff that hasnt quite turned into nice soil yet.

We sewed some nasturtium seeds on the bank at the back of the garden, a row of leeks in the veg patch and watered it all in.

I hope that my parents and their dad have had a good day.. hopefully I will be able to post some lovely photos from their day later in the week.

Kids are being picked up after tea.. we have had a lovely day with them!!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Home made (in every sense of the meaning)

Please feel free to drool over a home made, and home grown rhubarb tart I made this evening.

My mum wasnt sure it would work, and suggested I make a crumble instead as rhubarb can be quite sloppy when cooked, but as Im stubborn I went ahead anyway ( I did, however listen to her advice and pre baked the pastry to stop it going completely to mush when the fruit went in)

As you will see below, it came out looking really nice!

Anyone fancy coming by and trying some? I dont know what it tastes like yet, but it looks delicious.. will let you know tomorrow.

Further to above.........

When I was making the pie, I chopped the rhubarb up and put it in a bowl to mix it with some nice fake sugar stuff called Splenda, as both Douglas and I have to be careful about the amount of real sugar we consume.

Douglas suggested I put some cinamon in too, so I got the jar from the cupboard and shook it over the rhubarb for the first sprinkle... strangely some little red bits came out of the jar, and I realised I had picked up and shaken the chopped dried Chilli jar instead!!!!

I told my beloved, who was quite amused, and as only a few flakes dropped in, we decided to leave them there.

I tried the delicious pie yesterday (the day after I made it) and whoa!! I realised Douglas and I had made a discovery.. HOT Rhubarb pie! (and I mean Chilli hot!) The pie has a kick!

Sadly, my parents are not keen on food with a kick, and as I try to be a good kind daughter, I have pre warned them, so when they come round today (Bank holiday Monday.. yeah!) they will avoid the delicious looking item in the fridge.

Maybe I should suggest this idea to Heston Bluementhal?