Friday, 28 October 2011

Hello Kitty, Halloween and Half-term.

Yes its been a rather busy week in our household. The children are at home on half-term so chaos has returned. We've had builders in and out of the house all week fixing up our cloakroom and now I have a few moments peace to catch up with my latest news and also catch my breath.

Only a few bits and bobs this time. The first been a rather failed attempt at some Springerle biscuits ( German biscuits with an embossed design ). I say failed but I think its more a case of "not quite tehe end product I was intending" - they still tasted ok , a little on the hard side but nothing a  cup of tea couldnt sort out and besides the children actually liked them.

We did do some other baking to keep the children amused - Autumn Owls we called them.

I did also manage to complete a knitting project I was busy with - a Hello Kitty doll. I do declare my needlework skills need a bit of work still but practice makes perfect. Guess I still have a lot of practicing to do. ( Aimee loves it though ).

Finally a Happy Halloween to you all. - We have got our pumpkin ready for carving so more pictures to follow soon. But here's a real Bonfire Night treat - Toffee/Candy apples.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Simple Pleasures.

Take time to enjoy the simple pleasures that surround you. It will make a big difference to your day. I decided to make some butternut soup today. The weather is getting colder and there is nothing nicer than a big bowl of smooth velvety warm soup to really give you a great big hug.

Homemade Butternut Soup. ( my recipe )

1 butternut peeled and cut into chunks.
1 onion peeled and sliced
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 clove of garlic crushed
About a litre of chicken stock.
A pinch of chilli powder
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Lightly fry the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft. 
Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 30 - 45 minutes until the butternut is soft. 
Blend until smooth . 
Season to taste and enjoy. 
You can add some double cream or creme fraiche if you wish.

This is one of my simple pleasures I enjoy. A few other which might inspire you are :-

  • Putting one clothes straight from the dryer  - warm and snuggly.
  • Slipping into bed and enjoying the feel and smell of fresh, crisp bed sheets.
  • Making someone smile.
  • Lying snuggled in bed listening to the rain on the window.
  • The smell of freshly brewed coffee.
  • Chocolate cake.
  • A Family Cuddle.

Having a busy time at the moment - christmas gift plans are in full swing. Will put some more details up when I have goods to show. There is also Halloween around the corner too - so I might try ghoulish treats or two. Bonfire night and birthdays and I was worried I wouldn't have anything to do when the children were at school.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Autumn is in the air

Autumn is here or so the garden tells me. Our pumpkins have been harvested and are proving in the sun. I feel rather proud of our artistic display of pumpkins and squashes this year. Its amazing what our lovely garden can produce.

Whilst on the topic of garden produce. We made a delicious Pear, Hazelnut and Chocolate cake with the last few pears. It was rather moreish. and very easy to make. We had it warm with ice-cream and custard and also cold too.

Pear, hazelnut and chocolate cake

100g blanched hazelnuts
140g self-raising flour
175g butter , cut into small pieces
140g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs , beaten
5 small, ripe pears
50g dark chocolate , chopped into small chunks
2 tbsp apricot jam

Preheat the oven to fan 140C/ conventional 160C/gas 3. 
Butter and line the base of a 20cm round cake tin. 
Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until fairly fine. 
Add the flour and mix briefly. Add the butter and pulse until it forms crumbs. Add the sugar and eggs and mix briefly. 
Peel, core and chop two of the pears. Stir the pears and chocolate lightly into the cake mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Peel, core and slice the remaining pears and scatter over the top of the cake. Press down lightly and bake for 50-60 minutes, until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool on wire rack. Warm the jam and brush over the top. Serve warm or cold.

The weather then decided to confuse us all with a heatwave in October. The temperatures reached 29.9 degrees celsius and broke the records for the highest temperature recorded. Normally here in the UK we would be digging out the winter coats etc but no we had a last chance to get in a barbeque and don our shorts and t-shirts. As it was so hot I got a chance to test out a recipe I've been dying to try.

Lychee ice-cream:

500ml natural yogurt
150ml single cream
75g caster sugar
425g can lychees 

Blend all together with 200ml of juice from lychee can.
Freeze for 1 hour
Whizz in a food processor til smooth
Freeze for 2 hours
Process again in food processor
Freeze until firm.

And finally for this weeks news I made a start on the childrens Christmas Elf hats. Here is a picture of what they look like - just need to add some bells ! ( only 2 more to go ).