Saturday, 26 November 2011

Experimental cooking

Hi everyone!
Douglas and I watched Thomasina Miers recent TV series - Mexican Food made Simple, then got the book!

Tonight, I decided to make Empanadas and a roast tomato and chilli salsa to go with them.

Here are the recipies!

The Empanadas

3 Tablespoons of Mayo
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (oops I put in a tablespoon and used wholegrain mustard)
1 Green Chilli
A couple of splashes of tobasco (I used Chipotle, a bit milder)
8 oz graded cheddar
1 packet of puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Salt and Pepper

The Salsa
(these quantities make more than you need.. you could half this much quite easily)

4 plum tomatoes (we didnt have plum so I used normal ones)
2 cloves garlic
1 large jalapeno chilli (I used a red chilli as we didnt have any jalapenos)
1 large tablespoon of chopped coriander (I missed this out as D does no
t like it fresh)
1/2 a white onion finely chopped then rinsed under cold water (I would suggest frying it, or use spring onions. The raw onion was too...... raw!)
Juice of 1/2 a line (we stuck lemon juice in, as thats what we had)
a pinch of sea salt.

How to do it!

Put the oven on to 200'C, 400/F or Gas 4.
Grate the cheese, mix it into the mayo and mustard, finely chopped chilli and mustard.
Roll out the pastry and cut into circles of about 10cm diameter.

I cut round a large ramekin dish which was fine.
Get trays ready with greaseproof or baking paper on.
Put about a tablespoon of mix in the middle of each circle
Brush egg round the edges and fold over into mini pasties.
Brush the top of each parcel with egg to make them look shiny when cooked.
Cook them for about half an hour!

Whilst your empanadas are cooking...

Get a heavy bottomed frying pan and heat it up (dry)
roast the chilli, tomatoes and garlic by turning them now and then in the fryi
ng pan. They got a bit burnt on the outside, but thats how they should look! Making tomatoes and chilli stay on the bit you want to cook is also rather hard, either hold them in the right place, or prop them up with the garlic :-D
Peel the garlic, and take the skin off the tomato if you can, and bash them and the chilli (oh, take the top off it) in your pestle and mortar.

The first time we made this, D put it into the blender, and althoug
h it tasted lovely, it was rather watery. Bashing it in the pestle and mortar gives a rougher texture that is nicer.
Put the finished salsa in the fridge whilst you are waiting for your baked cheesy goods!

PS The following photo is sideways :-( I cannot convince Blogger to turn it round, even though I have turned it round on my laptop. Grrr!

I hope you enjoyed the "In Progress" photos, here is the finished article!!

The empanadas tasted lovely, and the salsa, though a tiny bit too hot for my taste was gorgeous too!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

October update

Firstly, apologies for the lack of blogging! I will try to blog more often again :-)

We started the month with a visit from my co-Freegle Moderator, Sairah, her partner and their kids, Adam who is 6, and Thomas, who at the time of the visit was officially not born as he was about 6 weeks early!Link
On the 7th October we went down to London for a couple of days to see Ds brother Simon. We found a B&B is Islington called Kandara Guest House which was in a quiet road, very close to the bus route and very comfortable, I highly recommend it if you need a base in London for a holiday.

Simon was a wonderful guide. He took us to lunch on the first day at a Malaysian restaurant. It looked a bit cheap and cheerful, but the food was good. Click here for a link to trip advisor reviews. We wandered round bits of London, and went back to our B&B exhausted!

On Saturday, Simon took us to Borough Market in South East London. We had a wonderful morning walking round the market, testing cheese and cakes, and buying some lovely stuff to take home and to have lunch. It isnt cheap, but it was a nice treat. I'm sure we will be going back at some point :-)

I'm sure the photos will speak for themselves!

We also went round a small part of the Tate Modern, and after that we were exhausted!

We got back on the Sunday lunch time, had a few hours to relax before D's older brother Mike, his wife Rhona and their kids Andrew and Aileen descended upon us for a few days!! The kids stayed with us, and the grown ups stayed in a holiday cottage a few miles away.

We had a lovely few days, going to Speedwell Cavern, and then to Chatsworth House. We all went round the house, then Mike and Rhona went for a look round the countryside, I took the kids to the petting farm where we were able to cuddle some guinea pigs. Douglas chilled out in the car whilst Aileen squeeked more than the guinepigs with her favourite word - "cuuuuute!!" - This word seems to apply to any small furry animal, including our cats who were not impressed at being enthused over ;-)

The other interesting thing we have done this month is going up to a workshop in Neon Glass in Wakefield.

We learnt how to bend tubes of glass, and saw the process of creating a vacuum in the tubes, cleaning them with Helium gas, then putting Neon Gas in to create a wonderful red colour when electricity is applied! I found this on our local Groupon email, and thought it looked fun, and indeed it was! Again, photos will say more than words :-)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Sticky end to our Holiday!

On the Sunday night, Douglas didnt feel very well. We were due to leave Monday morning anyway, so I packed the car and had breakfast - Douglas by this time was feeling worse, and didnt eat anything.

We went to say our farewells on camp, and retrieve our camping chairs, but Douglas stayed in the car feeling horrible.

As we drove into Ripon, we decided to make a detour and go to the cottage hospital. It would have been about a two hour drive to Sheffield Hospital and we decided that Douglas really couldnt cope being in a car for that long.

The staff at Ripon were lovely. They found Douglas a trolley bed, and called their Doctor who arranged for him to be taken, by ambulance to Harrogate Hospital as Ripon is only really for minor injuries. Douglas was feeling and being sick, and his temperature had risen considerably.

I nervously followed the ambulance, having never been to Harrogate Hospital before. The driver was lovely and made sure I followed her all the way.

I met up with Douglas shortly after he had been given a bed, and stayed with him for what seemed like an eternity.

The Doctors came, but some iv antibiotics into Douglas as well as some pain releif - he had contracted yet another infection that because of his poor immune system had raged right through him very quickly.

So.. there he was, stuck in a Harrogate hospital and there was I, stuck without my beloved at the end our our holiday!!

I went home, as I couldnt think what else to do. I packed a suitcase with clothes, kindle, his mbile phone and many other home comforts, and had a bad nights sleep :-(

I phoned work early on the Tuesday, told them I wasnt coming in and why, and set off up to Harrogate again. I was devastated whenI got there to find I had left the lovingly packed suitcase at home on the living room floor!!!!

My lovely husband forgave me - he was just pleased I had come to keep him company for the day :-)

I reluctantly went home, and somehow managed to work on Wednesday - I think I was on Auto Pilot!!

On Thursday I went back up to Harrogate (work very kindly agreed I could have a days emergency leave... I think I would have gone anyway!!) This time, I took the suitcase with me!

The Doctors said there was no chance of me taking him home, although he was feeling much better, but then.. right out of the blue at 2pm they said he could go home!!!!!!!

After a very looong wait for his tablets, we escaped, and got home by 6pm!

Here endeth our summer holiday.

You won't be surprised to hear that I slept like a log that night, with my Douglas back beside me, and slept loads over the weekend to catch up with what I'd missed.

Our summer holiday 2011

Every year we go up to North Yorkshire, and stay in the Ripon area.

In 2010 we found a luxiouious B&B called The Old Coach House, in North Stainley

So we decided to make a return trip. I am glad to say it was just as lovely as last time, and a great place to base ourselves for a long weekend.

The reason we go up to this area every year is to meet up with like minded Pagan friends who gather to celebrate Lammas (Harvest Festival) and to have a lovely relaxing weekend in each others company.

There are about 200 people that go to camp in what essentially is just a couple of fields with a tap and some composting loos. We also have access to a field with a stone circle that some of the campers helped to build.

On this family friendly weekend, all ages are represented - from the fairly newly born to the elderly, some of whom (like us) cheat and "camp" in B&Bs nearby. There are talks and activities, but we mainly just chill out with The Dagda, the Pagan security group that keeps us all safe and sorts out any problems.

This weekend was very special as Douglases best friend Dave was having his handfasting (like marriage) We were delighted to be there to witness Dave and Liz saying their vows and having their hands tied to represent their married lives beginning.

The camp disorganisers normally do not allow any photos on camp, as not everyone is "out" as a Pagan in their normal lives, but as Dave and Liz specifically wanted photos, the rule was waived.

Davd and Liz looked beautiful as we stood between the stones of the stone circle plighting their troth.

After the vows had been spoken, the newlyweds came round the circle with a drinking horn full of wine and some biscuits, giving some to each of the many people who had come to witness their wedding. If you look carefully at this lower picture, you will see that Dave and Liz are bound to each other. They stayed bound until the evening!

We are honoured every year with the presence of Damh the Bard. Dave as he is also known, composes, sings and plays beautiful Pagan tunes that Douglas, I and very many others at Camp adore. You can see him, looking up at the sunny day whilst a piper does his bit.

What a very special weekend that was :-)

Lumarium - Architects of Air

On Thursday 28th July - the day before our long weekend holiday, I dragged Douglas into town to see a Lunarium created by Architects of Air.

Imagine going inside a static bouncy castle and looking up at the light from the sky coming in through the plastic.. then imagine that the colours are vivid and beautiful.. reds, yellows.. purples.. blues.... This art installation had come to town just for a week. I took Douglas to see it on the last evening, and I'm very glad I did!!

Only a few people were allowed in at once, entering into a receiving chamber between two heavy flap like doors to keep the air pressure up inside.

We walked round in the maze of tunnels and cave like spaces, in awe of the beautiful colours, watching other peple wandering round, and some curled up on the floor in the sides just enjoying the atmosphere - I think one or two were asleep!

I hope you like the photos we took :-)

What a wonderful start to our holiday!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

We are alive!!! (Part 5)

Ok, I lied lol. THIS is the last update.

Whilst the guys were sorting out our patio, they found a gorgeous little animal under a stone, and put it in a bucket for me to see when I got home from work.

The boys told me it was a lizard, so I had a look and indeed it looked very lizard like, very small and very cute!!
I took some photos of it before finding a new stone for it to hide under. I sent the photos to my friend Eliese, and also put it on Facebook. My parents, and then my older brother then both told me that my dear little lizard was a baby smooth newt!!!

For scale, the white thing on the left edge is egg shell, and the green bits are blades of grass.

I was rather dissapointed, but having a newt is still rather nice :-)

We are alive!!! (Part 4)

Hello blog readers! Part 4 and probably final part of my flurry of updates.

A month or so ago my mum and I took my younger brothers three kids to Whirlow Hall Farm ( Click HERE for a link!) sheering day. We parked in the field, and walked down to the farm to watch the sheering. We also spent some time making some sheep - well Leo tried the eyes, and Martha managed to make a sheep. I made one too, but it was a bit crazy as you will see by the photos!! We had a lovely time :-)

Crazy Leo :-)

Can you tell which one I made?

Douglas modelling the disaster sheep when it got home :-D The sheep is now on his desk at work lol!!

A few weeks ago, Douglas and I decided to get our horrible patio sorted out. The concrete lintel holding it all in was coming adrift, and it was a mess of weeds and uneven slabs - it was unusable and a mess!!

My parents knew a couple of young men - Richard and Alistair - who had fairly recently set up a gardening business, so after they had come round and had a chat, we decided to let them tackle their very first patio ever! They set a price, and promised that if it took longer they wouldn't charge as it was a learning process for them!!

Sadly I can only find one before photo, but I have more during and after photos!

This shows part of the patio before the lean-to got Freegled. It shows what a mess it was!


The guys took all the weeds out, removed all the old slabs, and dug the soil into the middle away from the area where the wall had fallen down, and away from the concrete lintel running parallel to the lawn, which needed re setting back into place.

They used a load of old bricks that were hanging around in the garden to make a good solid wall at the side of the path. They cleaned them all, and then created the wall, keeping the interesting ones for the top, so we can see where they were made - many from local brick factories that no longer exist.

This is the finished article in the evening sunlight :-)

The last one is Billy, who has given it his Royal seal of approval. We are very happy with it too!

If you live in the Sheffield area, and you would like a quote from Richard and Alistair, put a note on here and I will email you Richards mobile number :-) They are very hard workers, and you can see what a lovely job they made of their very first patio!!!

We are alive!!! (Part 3)

A few weeks ago, my boss at work had some spare tickets to go see Billy Elliot in London, and very kindly gave them to me!!

I asked Douglas if he wanted to go, got a resounding NO, asked my mum who was going down to London that weekend to see a friend.. again got a no... so I thought again, and contacted my friend Eliese who was delighted!!

We decided to make a day of it, and set off quite early, courtesy of a Douglas taxi. Eliese had not been down to London for ages, so I decided we would go and explore Camden Lock. We had a great time looking at all the strange clothes and other items for sale, as well as some very strange people!! Here are some of the photos I took.

This is the actual Lock! We sat and had a drink in a lovely cafe.

We got the tube, and got to the Theatre with a bit of time to spare.. this is Eliese looking excited (we both were) before we went in.

The show was amazing, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. It was different from the film, but a jolly good stage show!!

After a curry at a nearby restaurant, we got the train home, ending up back at Sheffield Railway station at about 11pm! Douglas wasnt feeling well, so we got a taxi back to mine, then I drove Eliese the 5 mins up several hills back to her place. I went home, and collapsed into bed exhausted but very happy!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

We are alive!!! (Part 2)

We took Loonie and Amy to Bristol zoo whilst in the area. We had a great day looking at all sorts of animals - I think this one was the most fierce!

After the zoo, and dropping off Loonie and Amy, we went to Clifton (quite a posh bit of Bristol) and had a really lovely curry! Here I am having a veggie Thali - little portions of a few different curries! It made a good end to the day.

We also spent a day in Bath, having treated ourselves to a day at Bath Spa which was glorious. We each had an hour long massage, followed by four hours of the two pools and four steam rooms, broken by a glorious lunch in the Spas restaurant! This view is the roof top pool. The water is naturally warm, so sitting in it whilst feeling the cold (ish) air flow by and looking out at Bath is wonderful!!

On the day of the Royal Wedding, I watched the pomp and ceremony on TV in our holiday cottage whilst Douglas did his best not to :-)

We decided to leave a day early, because we had been invited up to Lawn Road, Fishponds, where we used to live. There is a park opposite our old house, and some of our ex-neighbours had organised a party! It was very strange to be back, but lovely to catch up with some of our old friends :-)

This photo is taken from the back of the church, looking onto our old house, and those of our ex-neighbours.

Loads of people turned up, we all brought food which was shared between all :-)

We drove back to Sheffield, got home at about ten, much to the joy of our cats who had missed us. We had a lovely holiday, but oh boy it was great to get back to our own bed!!

We are alive!!! (Part 1)

Hello my lovely bloggers!

I think a big update is in order :-)

Lets start with some photos of our "summer" holiday at Easter in the west country. We stayed in a little cottage near Wells, so we were close to Bristol to visit friends and mooch round Glastonbury and Bath once again!

This is the Grand Hotel on Broad Street, Bristol. Its just up a bit from where we used to work, and also where my parents had their wedding reception many years! We were lucky to have such lovely weather for our weeks holiday :-)

Parts of Bristol have changed greatly since we lived there. There is a huge shiny new shopping mall there, which has very sadly sucked life out of the rest of of the center of town centre. The once busy Galleries mall looked like a ghostly shell.. such a shame.

One reason we went to Bristol was to meet up with our friend Leonie, who we have known for years.... Im her daughters Odd Mother (no, not God mother) We met up in the new posh mall, and had a very expensive lunch (Not fab food either!) The photo below shows Leonie looking like her nickname, Loonie, and Douglas with his "beetle wing" clip on sunglasses.

I think Amy enjoyed her lunch more than we did!!

The place we stayed was in a village just outside Wells. It was an old dairy, converted into a little flat with a bedroom, bathroom, galley kitchen and living/diner area. It was a lovely place in a quiet area, but the bed was very soft and we didnt sleep well - its one of the perils of having a holiday, you can't take your bed with you!!

This is Douglas chilling in the living area.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Auntie Sitting

Last week my step Uncle Eddie was burried. My Auntie Lizzie had spent very many years looking after him - particularly recently when she spent many many hours by his side in a nursing home.

My parents have brought her to their home for a couple of weeks rest and recouperation.

Yesterday, Saturday, Douglas and I took Lizzie out for the afternoon. We packed her into our car, wheelchair in the back and took her out to lunch at The Old Train Station, Hassop. We had a very nice lunch before heading down to Bakewell.

We had a lovely walk round the town, stopping at various shops, and having a look round a craft fair. The nicest bit was walking through a park with highly coloured tulips in!

Lizzie very kindly gave us some money for some plants, so we got some lobelia and a couple of other things.. and a jar of lemon curd, which Douglas will enjoy for breakfast!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Friday 8th April. Kid Sitting Day

Our Nephews and Neice have started their Easter holidays, and as their parents have still been working this week, Douglas and I booked a day off to "Kid sit" (They are too big to say "Babysitting" any more!)
I went and collected them at about 8am, just before Thos and KT left for work.

To start the day off, all three kids came out into the garden and took turns mowing the lawn which they really enjoyed. We put the table and chairs back on the lawn and potted up some plants. Its great to be able to teach them how to fill soil in round a plant, bed it down with your finger tips and water it.

The weather was warm and sunny all day, and the kids had a great time in the garden, and although the lawn cutting wasnt perfect, the kids had fun, and it is good enough until next time it has to be cut.

My parents phoned to say they were popping round to visit, so we put our swimming and cinema plans on hold for a while. Martha helped me make a loaf - we have a breadmaker so its a case of throwing everything into the pan and pushing a button :-)

Leo requested to have a go at World of Warcraft - a computer game, and Martha watched "Alice" on Ds computer. Shes busy thinking about her startting role as the Red Queen in next terms school play. Leo is going to be the Mad Hatter but as yet, is not quite so excited as his sister.Carlo watched "Up" (A Film) so all was peaceful.

Having two kids aged 11, and one aged 6 to entertain can be a little difficult at
times, as the little one has different likes and dislikes, but generally they all get on well.

The parents came round with their guests, then when they had gone, we had lunch.

After lunch we consumed nearly all of the amazingly tasty still warm loaf Martha and I made. Lamb/cheese and marmite sandwiches were consumed, then we went swimming. The pool was almost empty which was great! We played with an inflatable world I found ages ago, and Carlo ventured out into the swimmers only section, which was a first for us.

I took this after swimming - its a bit blurry but still a sweet photo!

For those of you wanting to know, Top left, Douglas, bottom left Carlo, Middle is Martha and far right Leo! Leo and Martha are twins aged 11, Carlo is 6 and Douglas.. well his mental age is normally about 5 lol!!


As they are getting older, taking them swimming is getting easier.. I think we will be quite sad when they reach the point when they are old enough to go on their own, but thats a few years off yet :-)

We got back home at about 3pm, I had a sleep as I wasnt feeling very well, then at about 4 we took them home.

Once we dropped the kids off, we went into town and had an early tea at Wagamammas, which was delicious. They do Japanese noodle dishes, Im particularly fond of their Sweet chilli veg and tofu noodles (YUM) so I had that, and Douglas had some strange chicken dish. You can see my meal in the photo below.. and how much I enjoyed it by the other photo!

The plate of food magically seemed to vanish! not sure where :-D

Unusually for us, we were going to a concert that evening with Thos and KT, but we were quite early, so we went and sat in the Peace Gardens - a lovely public area with a fountain that kids (and bigger kids) can play in.

The kids enjoying getting wet, and the teenagers enjoying pulling their friends into the water, and coming out totally soaked. I hope they dried out before going home!!

At 7, we met up with my Thos and KT to go to see Karine Polwart, a Scottish folk singer with a really beautiful voice.

The venue was a not terribly pleasant nightclub called The Plug. As Karines brother (who was touring with her) said, if you stand still on the floor for too long you might get stuck there due to the sticky floor! (Far too many drink spills, and no cleaning had caused this)

Im glad to say that despite the lousy venue and the disgusting cider, Karines songs and the atmosphere were great. I met 7 members of my choir there, and one of them had somehow requested a song. Karine said that "she heard there was a choir in the house tonight" and welcomed them on stage!! About 4 of our group went up, and thoroughly enjoyed a little chance to share the glory! lol. (I was quite happy to watch from the floor)

We had a lovely evening,