Saturday, 30 June 2012

Cornwall Holiday

A few photos
Mike and I have just got back from our summer holiday. We took a week out before the hardcore final writing stage of my PhD and visited Cornwall. We stayed in a national trust cottage at the top of a creek near Fowey. It was very peaceful and the creek was swamp like: muddy with tree-roots diving right into the mud. Another perk was that the best way to get to a pub was via a ferry (either car or passenger). We took the teacosy with us every day, along with the teapot filled with loose-leaf tea, a tiny jar of milk (for Mike) and a thermos of hot water. The teapot had 3 beach trips, but we were upstaged on the last day by a marshmallow cooking family. It was grey for the first two days, with a fair amount of rain, but we were blessed with two lovely days (we even managed a swim). We did lots of walks (a few cliff-top ones and one around the creek) and ate lots of cake and had a very relaxed time.

For our anniversary (2 years since we got married), we had a special lunch at Rick Stein's seafood in Padstow. We shared an epic plate of shellfish (the only thing I didn't like was the whelk) and then Mike had Turbot, and I a lobster pie. The chips were also awesome (wife tax from Mike's plate) but I had samphire. They gave us free petit fours at the end (with happy anniversary written on :)) which we followed with an 8 mile walk and tea on the beach nearing sunset at Beduthran Steps - a perfect day.

anniversary lunch

We also bought a print in Padstow, which I'll frame and blog sometime soon. There was lots of beautiful sea-side art to choose from but that's not how we roll.



Thursday, 28 June 2012

Quick Tea Cosy

I made a teacosy from scraps for our holidays. there wasn't a pattern - the vertical stripes give it enough give to stretch around and I left a slot for the handle, and added a gold button. The top is just Sc2tog and the bottom edge SC in white. It'll be handy to sit outside with though. I feel like I've seen something similar before so there may be a pattern for it online somewhere. 

The pink was left over from this elephant - the design is Nicki Trench's one in super cute crochet and I've made 3 very cute elephants from it in the past - they don't hang around long until somebody claims them. 


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Happy Anniversary

It's our 2nd wedding anniversary today, what a great year we've had!

I have made Mike a crossword (I know it's our cotton anniversary - we plan to buy each other a deckchair from the Eden Project). The answers to clues are all in this heart (I left the copyright of tagxedo on since I used the site to create it). 

Love, Claire

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Oddington Nature Reserve Walk

Over the winter we almost never missed a saturday morning walk, we saw some beautiful frosty mornings. But the last few months we've not done many at all due to pouring rain. Yesterday we set off on the 6.15 mile route we hadn't done for a while around the nearby RSBP nature reserve (but not all the way around incase it rained).
Oddington Nature Reserve

We had some thundery looking skies but the rain held off and we regretted bringing raincoats! I love these walk and talks with Mike - we've done them since we started going out and I find the rhythm very relaxing compared to our normal dinner time or evening discussion. It  was great to see everything so leafy and the rivers so full as we walked around.
photos of the walk
the coats were on and off due to the alternating wind and sun. Happily the rivers look very full! and the path's overgrown. 

I've finally finished all the baking to take on holiday with us (having made half quantities we've still given some away).

all the cake
1. Lemon & blueberry drizzle, 2. Earl grey tealoaf, 3. Nutella&banana bread, 4. Coconut cookies, 5. Gingerbread 6. Brownies

Our plan is to have a relaxed breakfast (i've packed my jam and marmalade), eat cake and fruit during the day after walks/rain/kayacking and then either cook or go out for dinner in the evening. I don't want to cook anything to involved (so no risotto) but I've packed some orzo and couscous to make either hot or cold meals with. We've also packed a lantern/thermos/blanket for evening hot chocolate on the beach, and plenty of wine.

Sadly the forecast hasn't improved too much (and oxford is going to be very sunny and warm whilst we're away) but it doesn't matter because we have lots of rainy fun planned too.

Have a great week


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

3 Mile Picnic

Mike and I's 2nd wedding anniversary is coming up on the 26th. We are going away to a cottage in Cornwall for it. This week is a slightly manic blaze of baking (gingerbread, cookies, a tea loaf and lemon drizzle cake), trying to find those tiny travel bottles to take olive oil and washing up liquid in, wine buying (including a very tasty dessert wine) and list making - packing, outing ideas, maps etc. Apparently Mike considers taking the le crueset with us 'overkill', similarly the dutch oven. It may sneak in anyway since it is 'the pot of magic' whereby one puts ingredients in, puts onto a fire and awaits deliciousness.

One thing I have spent a little while making is an anniversary crossword. I used an online crossword maker and all the clues are to do with things we've done or seen this year. For example - 'phone traffic' refers to the apple and blackberry jam we made in the autumn. I will schedule a post of it whilst we're away.

We went for a picnic yesterday since the weather is so nice, sat in a broad-bean field eating courgette flatbread topped with artichoke and grilled haloumi (bacon for Mike) with pea and cucumber giant couscous salad and plenty of squash. I'd forgotton that the view of the Otmoor plain would be obscured by all the broad beans though so the photo looks a bit strange. The walk was a simple 'out-and-back' route (3 miles total) since we'd done the wander down to the river a few times recently. 

In theory a beautiful view of the Otmoor plain

Friday, 8 June 2012

Lazy lasagne

I seem to be posting lots of recipes, which wasn't the intention of the blog. But I cooked this for dinner last night and the recipe was requested.

I've called this lazy lasagne because, although there are quite a few steps, it can be done whilst chatting to guests, perfect dinner party food.

this picture doesn't look very appetising...
- 1 carton garlicy chopped tomatoes (from sainsburys)
- half a bulb of garlic
- olive oil
- fresh thyme
- tub of ricotta
- bag of spinach
- pine nuts
- lasagne sheets
- mozzarella
- parmesan (or vegetarian hard cheese equivalent)
- an onion
- some plum or cherry tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
1. In a roasting dish put a carton of chopped tomatoes, the entire half bulb of garlic (skin on is fine), thyme, some olive oil, a chopped onion and a few (5?) tomatoes. Roast for 45 minutes
2. Meanwhile drain ricotta in a sieve over a bowl for 30 minutes
3. Wash spinach and then put in a pan with a small amount of butter and the lid on for 10 minutes until it wilts.
4. Pour away the ricotta liquid and, in the bowl, mix ricotta and grated parmesa
5. Use the ricotta sieve to squeeze liquid out of the spinach and add it to the bowl with some toasted pinenuts
6.  Remove the thyme from the roasting tomato sauce and use a stick blender to blend everything together. Taste and season as necessary.
assemble lasagne
7. Put a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a deep dish
8. Add a layer of lasagne sheets
9. Add 1/2 of the spinachy sauce
10. Add 1/3 of remaining tomato sauce
11. Add a layer of lasagne
12, Add the rest of the spinachy sauce
13. Add 1/3 of the tomato sauce
14. A layer of lasagne - press down so stuff comes up the side
15. Add the rest of the tomato sauce.
16. Scatter mozzarella on top
17. Roast for 30 minutes

We will definitely be making this again


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Raspberry and White Chocolate Loaf

Raspberry and White Chocolate Loaf
I made this loaf yesterday for a tea party. It is incredibly delicious, especially straight out of the oven. I think it's a supermarket magazine recipe but it's a 1:1:1 fat/flour/sugar basic sponge. 

175g Sifted SR flour
175g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
3 medium eggs
200g white chocolate
200g raspberries

Line a loaf tin with greaseproof for easy lifting and preheat oven to 160 degrees C  (fan oven, slightly more if not a fan).

1. Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla extract (I used a mixer).
2. Add a tbsp flour and beat in eggs one by one.
3. Fold in the rest of the flour
4. Fold in 100g white chocolate smashed up and 100g of raspberries
5. Bake for 30 minutes
6. Cover with a sheet greaseproof (to prevent burning) and bake for another 25 minutes (check with a skewer if cooked through)
7. Lift out as soon as cool enough to touch the paper and put onto a cooling rack. 

You can stop here, we ate a little bit that 'fell off' and it was very squishy and tasty when still warm*. 

8. Once cool, melt the rest of the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and drizzle some onto the top of the loaf, then add the rest of the raspberries and the rest of the white chocolate. 

*Straight out of the oven, pre-topping
I didn't get to eat much of it at the tea party but apparently it was very good.


Monday, 4 June 2012

lemonade scones

I made the lemonade scones today from the vintage tea party book (highly recommended by the way). They don't keep very well at all but they also don't last long because they're are so incredibly light! I didn't believe that this recipe could work but they were very yummy.

325g SR flour, sifted
6 fl oz lemonade (the better quality lemonade adds more lemon flavour but these can be made with fizzy water)
6 fl oz thick cream (I added some craime fraiche too).

Mix the liquids together and fold into the flour leaving the tiniest amount for glazing. Don't mix too much and don't worry if the mixture seems very wet. Grab small bits and roll in slightly floured hands into balls before flattening onto a lined baking tray. Glaze with the liquid and a sprinkling of sugar. Cook on 180 for 15 minutes and take off the paper as soon as you can touch them or they'll stick.


My first commissioned doll!

I was recently asked to crochet a brown-haired brown-eyed doll for the niece of a friend. I used the same pattern as before and I'm definitely refining the pattern.

I started her on Tuesday whilst husband was having man-friend time (steak and prayer). I sat in our little office with gossip girl and a glass of wine and honestly had a wonderful time!

On saturday, whilst Mike was painting a bureau for my birthday present, i finished her body on a deckchair in the garden. (I love our garden at the moment, we don't have much in there because it's rented but the pansies, alliums and irises are very joyful!)

Somehow she ended up with a little kink in the body - but this was sorted out with some extra stuffing.

 I finished off the dress on Sunday afternoon since it was a bit too wet to go out. 
The dress is more pale than I envisaged but she's lovely and was well received!

How has everyone's jubilee weekend been so far? We spent saturday morning watching a bit of tv with a cup of fresh-brewed vanilla coffee before setting about cleaning the tops and insides of the kitchen cupboards (so that it's less work when we move out). I made a test batch of lemonade scones (since I didn't trust the recipe and I had to take some to a garden party today) and then sat in the garden. Sunday morning was church followed by clothes shopping for Mike. He hates buying clothes but has lost weight so desperately needed new jeans/tshirts and a hoodie as well as a waterproof coat. The trip was a success and I managed to buy myself a few summery things as well. In the evening we had settled down to watch harry potter with a bowl of nachos when our neighbours knocked on us (northern phrase?) to come out onto the green where they'd put up a marquee and a projector and were drinking wine and watching kind hearts and coronets. We had such a fun evening as more and more neighbours came out onto the green in the middle of the close with blankets, floor cushions, wine and snacks. The marquee was lovely with the jubilee bunting designed by all the children at school and flickering tealights and lanterns. I am definitely doing this for my birthday party! The film was great too. I'm normally put off by black and white but it was very funny and highly recommended. The rain and wind meant I didn't catch it all but I was also busy crocheting a pink elephant and forgoing wine in favour of nutella melted into hot milk. I think 2 of our widowed neighbours are busy falling in love with one another too which was lovely to see. Today we had some pancakes (with the friend who asked for the doll) and then went to a garden party with the batch of the scones. I'm about to post that as a separate recipe!

 We still have one more day of holiday. Hopefully it won't rain because we have punting booked :)