Monthly Archives: May 2009

Cookin’ and Lookin’

Well I’ve been baking and cooking a lot this past week and I’m finally getting around to blogging about it.

I’ve been also doing a lot of work in the crafting world—crocheting, learning how to make granny squares, sewing and various other crafting activities.  Today I took the bus to the nearby town (not the village) and bought some amazing fabric at Fabric World.  I couldn’t believe how busy it was in there today!  You’d think that everyone with the recession or ‘credit crunch’ has resorted to making their own clothes or something it was that busy.  I also got some fabric to make a blanket—well I can’t really sew (of which I hope to learn how to do this week, the basics anyways), in which I’m going to sew on some crochet pieces.  Due to the fact that I can’t sew yet, I resorted to buying some fleece material, that way the blanket would still be warm, and I could customize it with my handiwork.  When it comes to crafting, I usually have several projects or bits and bobs (odds and ends) going on at once, which is just typical of how my mind works.  

So here’s some pics of what I’ve been up to in the kitchen lately, which has been a lot:

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Rain rain, go away!

Ugh, it’s an unpleasantly rainy day here in England today–cold and rainy, the kind that makes you want to stay inside all day.  We haven’t had good weather or a spot of sunshine in some two weeks here.  I’m dreaming of a Spanish villa somewhere in the sunshine….I’m tired of being cold.  I’m also starting to wonder how people do indeed put up with the weather on this island for so long!  I can see why sitting inside drinking tea and making up for the weather’s miserable existence by eating tons of cakes and cookies is the norm here.  

Although I must say, despite the gloomy weather today, three things excite me: one, it’s FRIDAY, always a good thing even when you’re not working, two, I FINALLY managed to find some polenta at the grocery store, something I’ve been trying to find for a while now (I’ve been wanting to make this: Sweet Breakfast Polenta), and thirdly, I just received a gift from Coldplay in my inbox: a free download of a live album they put together just for their fans!  Sweet!  

Oh and I went to the Dorchester Market during the week and scored some greatness as usual!  I came home with a weaving loom for only £1, a way cool ring made out of sea shell, and some dried fruit for a cake for really cheap.  I’d never taken a train by myself before even though I’ve been living here for over a year now, and it was my first adventure on the rails!  Thankfully it was uneventful and I made it home without any transportation mishaps.  Oh, and I also bought some rhubarb since it’s now in season, and made this for tea the other day:  Sour Cream Rhubarb Squares. They were indeed deliciously moist with a faint hint of rhubarb.  I made some in a muffin tin and the rest of it I made in a loaf tin and froze for later.  

Tomorrow night for dinner I’m trying my hand at Apricot Pork Chops with Jersey Royal potatoes and I’m making my first ever Shoo-fly Pie!  I bought a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook ages ago at my local library and came across the recipe today, so I’m going to make it.  It will also be my first time making a pie or even working with molasses!  So here we go!  Wish me luck!  

Brrr!!! I’m really cold right now!  I think I’m going to make a tea loaf now…my new thing is to make baked goods and then freeze them for later use/enjoyment.  With only three of us in the house, it’s kind of hard to eat everything up within the week, even though believe me, I’m trying my best!  So by freezing it, it lasts longer and we can have things available for tea in only a couple of hour’s notice.

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The oven’s back in town!

Well I’m glad to report that the oven is back in action!  Yes!  So naturally, I’ve been hoarding a couple of recipes over the past week that involve the use of an oven.  So on Saturday, I was in the kitchen for a good part of the day.  I made a gluten free chocolate cake, some deliciously rich chocolate cookies, and even tried my hand at roasting chickpeas for a crunchy snack.  

It was indeed topped off as a food filled weekend when I went to the Christchurch Food and Wine Festival with my BF’s mom.  Oh it was a glorious couple of hours filled with tasting different kinds of olives, to munching on strawberries from France, and yes, even speaking French with the vendors!  I guess I still remember some French after all! Ha ha.  There was so much to take in and see and do and eat!  I bought some locally made biscotti from the New Forest, Italian corn and rice couscous, French forest honey, dried apples covered in cinnamon, Italian cookies, and a German sausage for my lunch!  My BF’s mom bought lots of goodies too for all of us to try–green olives stuffed with lemon, pâté, Italian cheese, and even a calzone.  It’s the season for asparagus and rhubarb right now, so we picked up a bunch of asparagus for some soup for tomorrow night’s dinner.  Tonight’s dinner will be some Sicilian stuffed rice balls and a ham and cheese calzone with a salad.  My BF’s mom grows various salad greens in her garden out back, so we’ll be picking our own salad for dinner.  You can’t get any fresher or more local than that!  Delicious!

There is something so inspiring and engaging about going to food festivals/markets like these.  I like seeing some fresh produce or fish and then thinking of a great meal to make with them.  I like meeting the people that are the faces behind the product and knowing that I’m supporting the local guys.   

Here’s some pictures I took at the market/festival with my mobile camera phone:

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No oven, no name

Well even though yesterday was a glorious day that prompted inspiration, today is far from it.  It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s grey outside…I have done a variety of activities as I normally do on any given day which include some watching Ina Garten, Rachel Allen, or Ching’s Kitchen on the UKTV Food channel, crocheting/doing some sort of yarn craft, and making sure that I’m keeping up on reading all those lovely and amazing food blogs out there.  However, as a result, I have what feels like billions of recipes I want to try and the list is ever growing.  I feel like sometimes I think too much about food, but then again, to me, it’s an important part of my life and it always will be.  I would also like for fashion to be a part of my life too, but that’ll have to come with time and money.  Cooking and baking on the other hand, are much more accessible to me right now.  

Before I forget, there’s a lovely recipe I’d like to share with you all–Elise’s (of Simply Recipes) deliciously easy banana bread, yes, I know there’s so many banana recipes out there, but I find this one to be one of the easiest ones I’ve found yet, and tasty too I might add.  You can find her wonderful website here: Simply Recipes No kidding folks, EVERY single recipe of hers I have tried has been fantastic and always finds its way to my archives.  Ok, here’s the recipe, and yes, I’m adding it to my yummy files!

Banana Bread Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

METHOD

No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

I’d make some more of this bread, or any sort of baked good for that matter, if I could–but our oven is on the blink!  We think the heating element may have gone…..so it’ll be a good couple of days until the new part can come in and get that oven on its way!  Alas, I am resorted to having to think of non-oven using baked goods…Hmmm….a little tricky.  I might make something like peanut brittle or chocolate creme pots for dessert this evening.  Does anyone else have good ideas for easy treats made on the stove top??  I’d love to hear your recipes–just share them by posting a comment!     

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