::Food fest at our house::

I love summer food. A food fest. Salad, coleslaw, especially red cabbage coleslaw, and lots and lots of lovely juicy fruit salads. Then there are the savoury salads, oh my! Avocado, walnut and peach – yum yum. Feeling inspired to try a new salad courtesy of my blogland friend Loopy, I decided to team it with some homemade pizzas too. Here is the post that set me off on this food fest at our house extravaganza.

20140805_185434Look I made it- however I didn’t have pumpkin seeds so I used toasted walnut pieces instead and I used cider vinegar (not as sweet or sugary). It was yummy. Hmmm… but what to have with it? A good fest needs to have … more food!  So I started some gluten free bread in the bread maker – I know cheating but I was busy packing for my holiday and writing this post!

I used 450g of gluten free bread flour,  270ml of warm water, pinch of salt, 1 yeast sachet, 1 teaspoon of sugar, knob of butter and that was it.

If not using a bread maker then mix and combine, and once mixed put in a warm bowl and cover with cling film for about 1 1/2 hours. then knead it until soft and forgiving. I used it to make two bases by rolling it out. I covered two large baking trays and then left them for about 15 mins whilst I did the rest.

20140805_184047I fried off some red onion and some portobello mushrooms which were not going to last a three week holiday, no they weren’t. Added garlic to some chopped tomatoes and whizzed them up to make a tomato sauce for the base.

20140805_184100This one had the tomato base, the onion and mushroom mixture, olives, and some ricotta cheese blobs. I added the rest of the grated cheddar towards the end.20140805_191900Then I made one for the boys with plain pepperoni, ham and cheddar- they don’t do olives and ricotta!20140805_190335

It was all so very delicious and food fest like. So a blogland friends post about her well-being and recipes turned into a food fest at our house! Oh how lovely it all was, and there is even a bit left over for lunch tomorrow. Hmmm… what to have then- I’ll be checking with Loopy to see if she has anymore ideas!

 

::Simple Mixtures::

I often think about how life can, at times, be a wonderfully simple mixture of a whole bunch of happy things. A great cup of coffee, a piece of homemade cake or a snatched moment of something creative. Crochet, family, food and a feast of sensory delights is my idea of the simple life – not necessarily in that order – a happy mixture.  So today I focussed on the things around me that brought me a simple pleasure – May Mixtures.

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Whilst catching up with all my Facebook and Blog friends, I saw this cushion and was immediately reminded of Lucy’s projects over at Attic24 for Yarndale this year. She’s championing Mandalas- It’s May Mandala Mayhem! The idea is really simple but incredibly effective. I saw this photograph a while ago, and it happens to be the same one that has inspired Lucy with her Yarndale project, from Finnish artist Anu Tuominen. Simple and stunning.

ImageThen there is the amazingly glorious Babette blanket from Ellblo on Ravelry, this stash busting arrangement of granny squares is the best I’ve seen so far. I LoVe LoVe it so much. It makes my heart squeeze and swell with adoration. Simple mixtures of colour and sizes, no black or white was her only rule. It works brilliantly.

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It always fills me with delight waking on Saturday mornings after a hectic week at work, to my crochet, Saturday Kitchen and a lovely leisurely breakfast with super good coffee and maybe even toast! Toast is such a simple pleasure- buttery, crispy and warm. No time during the week, oh no, porridge it is at 6.30am to fill me up until playtime (10.30am). Oh yes, toast is a simple pleasure for a simple life especially when someone else makes it for you!

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J decided to take me and little J out for lunch. We decided to go to Priest’s MiIl at Caldbeck again as I haven’t been since I was ill at February half term. I found my first glimpse of the bluebells that begin to fill the verges and hedgerows here, they sweep beautifully , nodding their heads in the breeze.ImageImage

Aren’t they just adorable?

Lunch was a simple affair; leek and cheddar tart and a mixture of delicious homemade salads, (they do the best apple chutney) with another good coffee. In fact it has been a good coffee day!

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A pop into the Wool Clip, for more Wild Wood Wool from Cecilia and Jean’s collection of delicious yarns. I went for a mixture of darker plum, grey and navy shades this time. I have a quick and easy project in mind. Image

On the return journey home we passed some beautiful trees, I just had to take a photo of them. Simple colours in nature but stunning.

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Today seems to have been a mixture of lots of simple little bits and bobs, but I think they come together well enough in their own patchwork of simple snapshots.  It always fills me with joy to be reminded of the simple things around me, pulling me out of work mode and the intensity of work life at this time of year with the year sixes and all their changes. Enjoying the simple pleasures of life, mixtures and bubbles of calm moments, help to ground me over the weekends. Recharging my batteries, connecting with the world around me and stopping me in my tracks to appreciate all that is simple and good in my life brings me calm. I cherish it all. :O)xxxxx

::Wasdale – Part two::

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It has taken me a couple of weeks I know to come back to this post about our Caravan trip to Wasdale – I have been so very busy with school, family and getting sorted that I almost forgot that I’d left this one just hanging there!!

Waking up in Doris the caravan in Wasdale was incredibly funny- the sun blazing through the windows (note to self, get blackout blinds) at 4am, was both lovely and conversely irritating. It did enable a quiet cup of tea and a little bit of crochet ripply happiness whilst J and little J slept. They didn’t even stir when I boiled the kettle – although I did catch it before it began to whistle it’s happy tune!

For day two we decided to go for a picnic up to a tarn adjacent to Scawfell Pike. My back was feeling lots better and although I wanted to have a good walk, I was conscious of not overdoing it.

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ImageImageImageThe tarn was a shimmering, flat, oasis in the middle of the grassy, bumpy, flatland between the fells.

The sky reflected beautifully and it was quite bizarre to find it nestled there 240m up!

The ground was very soggy so we sat on our coats to have our picnic.Image

There had been a deluge of water up there, only a few days before, and the sight of a big blob of Frogspawn, in the middle of the grassland confirmed how deep the water had been, but also how much it had receded. Unfortunately this bunch of early frog life wasn’t going to make it now, in the clear warm sun. I was assured that it wouldn’t be right for me to interfere with nature, as I tried to think of a way of returning these little guys to the water. J and Little J were right of course. It was nature’s way.

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The walk back was lovely, with that satisfying tired feeling of having accomplished something, physical tiredness as against the mental tiredness I experience mostly as a teacher. I enjoyed retracing our steps as we followed the cairns, seeing how the light had changed over the hours we had been walking, and also thinking of ice-cream rewards!!

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We returned to Doris, satisfied, hungry and ready for a snuggly caravan evening; a little bit more crochet ripples, good cups of tea, and we made plans for the next and final day of our mini-break.

We decided that we had weary legs, (well I did anyway) and so St. Bedes would be a great place to see. It is the  western start of the Coast to Coast walk, the Wainwright path, and also I had heard it was quaint and untouched. So off we went. It was a much more blustery day and we could feel the Western coast chill in the air.  I needed my hat!ImageImageImageImage

We climbed up the coastal path to see the sea and view the town below, feeling the cool air and the warmth of the sun on our faces. Lots of caravans in the static caravan park. It’s a bit of a shame that there was some vandalism and graffiti, which did put me off a bit really. The old part of the town, inland a little, was so much more piratey and smuggler-like. But as it started to rain we decided to go for a cup of coffee and cake instead.Image

 We ventured over the Gosforth Pottery for a souvenir of our trip and I bought a lovely hand thrown vase that now sits beautifully on my kitchen table with my favourite floral delights.Image

It has been lovely going away in our Doris caravan, and visiting Wasdale, my favourite part of the lakes. I have enjoyed being with J and Little J, sleeping almost outdoors, being away  from the rough and tumble of life during the working week, and most of all connecting to the beautiful countryside and drinking in it’s glamour, glory and power.

::Easter Simnel Muffins::

ImageHappy Easter everyone!!

Here is a little treat post, won’t be a long one I promise, for those of you who enjoy a Simnel cake but find the cooking of it takes an age! These Simnel Muffins are amazing and are from the BBC Good Food cookery Book. I discovered them through a Facebook friend, who posted a picture of her muffins fresh from the oven. Ooooooh I wish I was able to smell them as they promised to be AmAzInG!!I have included any dairy or gluten free adaptations.  Anyway here are the recipe and the pictures.

They really are easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!!!!!Image

Soak 9oz Mixed fruit for an hour with the juice & rind of an orange, (keep back 2tbsp juice for the icing) – or microwave for 2min if you forget!

Beat together:
6oz butter (or free from margarine)
6oz golden caster
3 eggs
1tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
10oz self raising flour (I use gluten free)
5tbsp milk ( I use rice milk)

Add in fruit.

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Half fill muffin cases then put in a flattened ball of marzipan ( I put in small chopped chunks). 6oz will do all 12 muffins
Top with remaining mixture.

25 – 30 min 160-180C

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Make a thick ish icing with 8oz icing sugar & the orange juice then top with Mini Eggs

Then you can have your very own TA-DAH!!! moment and once the icing has stuck a little bit, enjoy them. They are really delicious!Image

Good for my tummy brownies

Good-for-my-tummy-Brownies

I love making hess brownies, especially as they are good-for-my-tummy, and I know I can enjoy them without feeling ill. They are gluten and dairy free so don’t keep so well (oh dear!), I just eat them and treat myself when they’re gone they’re gone.

How to make Good-for-my-tummy- brownies:

200g dark chocolate melted- no dairy (70% is good)

100g gluten free flour

100ml sunflower oil

2 eggs

100g sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

Method::

Mix all the ingredients and put into a lined 23cm square tin and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180c. It should be a bit soft, but not sinking , in the middle. leave to cool and sprinkle with icing sugar before devouring! :O)Image

::Half Term – It was all going so well::

CAM00071:: All was going so well.

Half term week was ahead with all it's promises of finished blankets, wool winding sessions and family times, see it started really well here and here. Despite a cold and a cough, I had a lovely lunch out with my boys at Green's of Grassmere, then later in the week with my Hubby at the gorgeous Watermill cafe, and a pootle into the Wool Clip – the ladies behind Woolfest! I even bought me some glorius Blue Faced leicester from Cecelia and Jean.

CAM00087:: It was all going so well.

I have nearly completed Little Em crochet granny square blanket, and watched the first two of the Lord of the rings trilogy, something I've attempted to do for some time, but never had chance to watch seven hours of film before in a oner!! Then, just when you should be careful what you wish for…

BAM!

Me coughs, colds, and viruses just don't get on very well. It's my asthma, doesn't like it when my airways are at all compromised, I can see that! (and feel it too!)

So once that feeling starts, and sometimes, (like this one, that didn't even creep up) it just HITS me with a PUNCH in the chest and a STAB in the lower right back lung region!!

:: So snuggly days ahead this week…

CAM00093Doctors orders!! No talking, take my steriods, rest, sleep, drink lots, no talking (again), more steroids and keep warm –  Yes Ma'am!!

And my lovely hubby, well he bought me tulips!! He knows how to cheer a poorly girl up!

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other more cheerful mixtures

:: Tulips::
::Summer holiday bits and bobs::

::Breakfast pancakes::

Well it's the end of the official half term week, before the normality of weekend and back to work, so what better way to end the week than with a deliciously different breakfast.

We sometimes have them on the weekend but it's such a treat to have them in the week, being a working Mum and all that- so when I asked Little J if he would like pancakes for breakfast his response was sheer delight!

Not the french crepe style pancakes… no, no, the fat, podgy, spongy, american style pancakes, that I used to eat as a child covered in golden syrup, or lemon juice, sugar and sometimes a bit of banana and jam! Yum, yum!!

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So batter up!!

I always make the batter up the night before- but you don't have to, you can just mix it up and splodge away!

150g plain flour

2tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

25-50g sugar

2 eggs

100-125ml milk

25g melted butter

fruit of your choice, mashed banana, raisins, raspberries, etc

sunflower oil

::Method::

Mix all of the dry ingrediants together and in another bowl place the milk, eggs and melted butter, then mix them together whisk the life out of it so it's really bubbly.

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CAM00064I use my Aga warm plate- not the other one as that's the hot plate!You have to oil the plate slightly first. I just put desert spoonfuls of batter mixture on and use a pallette knife to slide them over once the bubbles start 'a' popping on the top!

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CAM00067Silly me forgot that I have to put sunflower oil on the hot plate – not BUTTER- 'cos it burns the edges!!

CAM00070But, they must have tasted goooood, as Little J happily ate most of them with his juice and a sprinkling of sugar- he left the slightly 'darker' ones for his Dad who has them with jam! He said they were delicious!

So ready for anything now me thinks!!

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More MixTures

::This week so far…::
::Relaxing::
::Transition::
::Handpicked, harvesting and homemade::