Thursday, October 15, 2015

October kitchen

I always love spending time in the kitchen, whatever the season, but autumn is a bit special. I love how the menu shifts unashamedly into warm, spicy, rich mode. I thought I would share some of the foody goings on in my kitchen this month.

Spiced banana muffins - recipe from here, except I substituted the cinnamon and nutmeg for 1 tsp of pumpkin spice. Well, it is October, after all.

These were delicious freshly baked, and lasted well too. We enjoyed them warm, with butter for breakfast next day.

We've been eating lots of soups, stews and risottos. Pumpkin risotto is our all time favourite meal.  I tried this recipe, for chicken stew with dumplings, just for a change. We did enjoy the stew very much, but the dough balls just weren't a hit. I possibly didn't cook them for long enough, but they were disappointing and stodgy. We'll just stick to potatoes and rice.

Much more success with my Caramelised Apple Turnovers. Peel and chop 5 apples - I just used a selection from whatever was sitting in the fruit bowl. Add to a pan with 2 oz brown sugar and 1 oz butter. allow the butter and sugar to melt.  Add spice if you like, but I like the pure apple taste in this recipe.

Simmer away in the carmerlised juices until the apple is soft. As these were desert apples, they stayed firm when cooked. Leave to cool. Make shortcrust pastry. I used 8oz plain flour and 4 oz butter. Allow pastry to rest in the 'fridge. While all this resting and cooling is going on, let's pop out for a wee stroll down to the pier. 

Enjoy the autumn seaside colours.

Watch the waves.

Wish you had brought a basket.

Notice the beauty everywhere. 

And now we're back and its time to make the turnovers. Roll out the pastry, and using a tea plate as a pattern, cut into rounds. There was enough for 4. 

Spoon some of the apple caramel onto one half of the pastry round and then turn the other half over and seal the edges together. I added a spoonful of cream cheese to a couple of the turnovers, just because I thought of it at the time. Brush tops with milk and bake until golden brown - about 20 - 30 minutes at 190C (375F) 

Dust with icing (confectioner's) sugar when done, then  serve with cream, ice cream, custard or whatever you fancy.

.I love that Americans call them hand pies - they are made to be held in the hand, and munched as you walk around the garden. Perfectly portable.

If you have any leftover caramel apple, which we did, it is delicious as a topping for porridge, yogurt or ice cream.

So that's what has been going on around the my table this month - good, hearty, comforting food, What's cooking in your kitchen? xxx

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Seven Days

We were completely awestruck at the most incredible Aurora Borealis, viewed right from our very own front doorstep. Photographs, and adjectives can never truly capture this amazing natural wonder, so we only took a couple, and then surrendered ourselves to the moment.

I had a little potter around the garden, tidying up, getting ready for winter, and sitting dreaming and planning for next year. My sister brought me this cheery red thermal mug, and I have used it constantly.

We really enjoyed the TV show, Portrait Artist of the Year, on Sky Arts, and were sad when it finished. Now we have Landscape Artist of the Year, and it looks to be equally as good. It certainly got James inspired to follow along.

The car was in the garage for an MOT, and so I took the chance to wander in the woods nearby for a couple of hours. It was good to be among trees, and smell that autumn scent - so uplifting. 

I started cutting out the blocks for the quilts I am making to finish off James' room. I am recycling the fabric from the old window blinds. I have a plan, just need to see how it works out...

After a shopping trip to town, I stopped in at a favourite cafe, and indulged in hot chocolate, slice of cake, and a dip into my new charity shop book.

More wandering around this stunning landscape, enjoying the big skies, soaking up this golden weather, grateful for all the beauty around us.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

On National Poetry Day

That time I thought I could not 
go any closer to grief 
without dying.

I went closer
and did not die.
Surely God
had His hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
"It's not the weight you carry

but how you carry it -
books, bricks, grief -
it's all in the way 
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down"
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world 
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled -
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

Mary Oliver: Heavy

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Corners of my home: The Blue Room

I finally finished decorating James's bedroom; a long planned, but often procrastinated project. A few weeks ago, however, we bit the bullet, had a huge declutter, and set the wheels in motion.  He decided he wanted a blue room, which was fine, but our ideas about shades of blue differed somewhat, so we had some extensive negotiations on the final colour. I worried that the very strong blue James liked, would be too dark; he thought my pastel preference was boring.  Eventually a slight compromise was reached on James's part ( a very large one on mine), and the room was painted. And it is blue - very blue indeed - much more blue than I would have gone for. But, you know, it works! Having two windows, South and West facing, means that the room benefits from lots of light all day, and so the strong colour is not overpowering. He said he knew that, and of course he did... it is his room after all.

Anyway, with the decorating completed, it was time for the accessorising. New window blinds, bed linen, cushions, his favourite posters, and other wee bits and pieces, make this a bright but cosy room for a boy. 

I converted the built in cupboard into a desk space. I am very pleased with this, considering it was my first power tool project - thanks to Pinterest and You Tube for the inspiration and assistance. James loves it and it's proved to be a great addition to the room. 

I remembered I had a remnant of Star Wars fabric lying around in the old stash, and made a quilted seat pad. I just traced the shape of the seat onto paper and used it as a template. It was a really speedy make, and It felt so good to just have an idea, and then the finished product, in the same afternoon!

Oh, and there is one more outstanding project that will just finish the room off. I am making a couple of quilts using the fabric from the old window blinds. The yellow should give a nice pop of contrast colour. They will take a bit longer than the seat pad, but hopefully they'll be done soon.

So - that's a quick tour around the blue room. I hope you enjoyed it. I am thrilled, with the room and I keep sneaking through just to admire it.


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