Monday, 27 May 2013

Whitsun Monday Meal

Its a bank holiday Yipee, the weather has been glorious double Yipee.  I decided to expand my horizons a little with my main meal of the day today.  I sort of followed a recipe by Atul Kochar- Homestyle chicken curry.  Well homestyle means what is says I suppose, I altered the recipe a bit to suit what I had in the cupboard and my taste. I don't like very spicy food so my spice measurements are quite conservative.

This was enough for me for two meals.  This dish took me 45 mins to prepare, and it is cooked on the hob.

Ingredients and measurements that I used.

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ginger                    
1/2 tsp Black Peppercorns
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
splash Vegetable Oil
2 Bay leaf
2 Small Onions
2 diced Chicken Thighs
1/4 tsp Chilli Flakes
1/2 Coriander Leaf
1/2 Ground Turmeric
1 400g can Chopped Tomatoes
1 tspTomato Puree
1/2 Garam Masala

Rice to serve.  I used Basmati.

I strained the pulp from the juice of the canned tomatoes then reduced the juice to a thick syrupy mixture, I then added the pulp and reduced it a little.
In another pan, I sweated the onions then added the spices, stirring all the while to prevent the mixture from burning.

I added the chicken thighs and cooked the mixture gently, frequently stirring to prevent burning.
I added the tomato mixture.  The resulting mixture was thick and paste like, so I added some water to make a more creamy consistency.

I cooked the mixture thoroughly, to ensure that the chicken was cooked through.


Whitsun in the garden- pruning and planting

Although the weather forercast for this weekend earlier on last week was not good, It actually turned out to be quite a nice weekend.  Saturday was a bit blowy, but Sunday and Monday have been glorious. As usual there is plenty to do in the garden.  My forsythia needed pruning, the best time to prune Forsythia is immediately after flowering, so out come the secateurs.

Forsythia In Flower earlier in the year

Forsythia before pruning
Forsythia after pruning

As you can see I have left a bit of the height, to give a little privacy to the other end of the garden.

I potted on some more hardy annuals that I sowed to flower later in the summer and I have started to plant up my troughs and concrete and terracotta pots.

I have started to plant my hardy annuals in the garden.  I put some cornflowers, some virginian Stock, and some Nasturtium India in the front garden.  Its a bit difficult because the bulb leaves have not yet died down properly, and I need to leave the leaves as much as possible to maximise next years flowers. The Brooms (I think I have both the  Genista and Cystisus varieties), the perenial flowering strawberries (Fragaria) , and the Heuchera are all flowering in my front garden at the moment.

Heuchera and Forget me Nots

This time of year is lovely in the garden, so much is happening. There is something new to see every day.  its even better if the weather is kind to us.

Fragaria and Ajuga

The front Garden 

Saturday, 25 May 2013

dinner today

I  have always been interested in food and try to eat healthily whenever I can.  I attempt to cook as many of my meals from scratch as possible, although sometimes I fail particularly when I have had a difficult day at work.

I love sandwiches, and today I decided to make one of my favourites which is egg salad.  Egg sandwiches are a standby in the cook chill fridges at the local supermarket and can be very plain and they are usually either too dry or two moist making the bread soggy. I wanted some extra flavor in my sandwich. I hard boiled 2 eggs as I want to have some left over for lunch tomorrow.  I mixed some mayonnaise with some french dressing, some lemon juice, a couple of very finely chopped cornichons and 1/2 a stick of very very finely chopped celery.  You want a bit of crunch to offset the egg but not big chunks of celery to gnaw through.  Lastly I added 1 tablespoon of chives to give a mild oniony flavour. I added seasoning and covered the mixture and left it for a while for the flavors to meld together.

Tonight, I decided to cook myself a mushroom and bacon risotto.  I started off by sweating off some onions  to release their sweetness, I added celery and cooked for a few minutes.  I then added some chopped rindless back bacon, some dried sage, rosemary and thyme and lastly some rough chopped field mushrooms.

Whilst this was cooking I cooked my risotto rice, I use Arborio, I briefly dry fried the rice in a small amount of Olive Oil just enough to coat the rice.  I then added stock bit bit bit and a splash of white wine and simmered stirring all the while until the rice was cooked to my taste.  When the rice was cooked I added the bacon and mushroom mixture to the pan.

75 g Arborio Rice
1 flat field mushrooms
2 rashers bacon
a mixture of stock and wine,enough  to cook rice in.  I don't measure this as I put my wine in first, and add enough water to cook the rice.
Rosemary I used 1/2 teaspoon
Sage I used 1/2 teaspoon
Thyme I used 1 teaspoon.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Saturday May 18 2013

Brighton Meet Up.

So up with the larks, no problem for me, out of the door at 6 30 am to catch the 6 56 to Brighton.  I did not have to leave this early but a day out is a day out might as well make the most of it.  2 1/2 hours later, I am at Brighton Station.

The meet up was not scheduled to begin till 1130 so I had an hour or so to acclimatize myself.  I had been in Brighton for approx 20 mins when I decided that If I had to move house then Brighton it would have be. London by the Sea perfect!  Lots of shops, lots of history, lots of character and I could get to London easily if needed.  Anyway I digress.  Back to meet up.  I met Claire (Sew Incidentally) at the prearranged time.  Organised as ever she produced a map out of her trolley for us to follow.  We waited for Jo and then proceeded to our eating/swapping destination.  The meet up coincided with Brighton Fringe festival and the town was packed, we passed street dancers, Shakespearean actors and crowds and crowds of people, all looking to have a good time in the sunshine.

We walked down a street with a fleamarket taking place.  Now my house is an ongoing project.  My taste is towards upcyling as much as I can.  But just recently I had run out of inspiration for my kitchen.  I had an idea that ultimately did not work.  (there will be another post about my kitchen in the future).  Whilst walking through the  fleamarket I saw some chairs covered in old sacks, and my passing thought was ooh. I could do something like that and it's just the style that I like.  Then a few yards down the street I spied this stall.

Well what can I say I bought two.  How I am going to use them is still to be finalised.  But I am thinking cushion covers for the kitchen.

We ate at All Bar One.

After eating and swapping we proceeded to fabric shopping.  First up was New Fabric Fair,  I did not buy anything here.  Then to Ditto.  A crowded shop quite small, but fantastic fabric.  I bought this one, again for housing projects.

After this shop, we had a look in a couple of the numerous independent shops around the area, (this place is heaven for committed shoppers who like to shop at independent shops), then to the Brighton Sewing Centre where I bought these two giant ric rac braidings,

and some buttons.
I have ideas for these to complete projects I am currently working on.

Oh and I must not forget to mention the shoes, I bought.   Look aren't they gorgeous.

All in All,  I had a lovely day, thanks to Claire for organising it.

Monday, 13 May 2013

blowy sunday in the garden

I am on holiday this week, and one of my major tasks is to keep up with the gardening, as well as finishing some of the dressmaking projects that I currently have on the go. I still have loads of baby plants to pot up and nurture and still clearing and tidying to do.   This is the top terrace as it is at the moment.  It needs a lot of work and I am hoping to start today.

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Some of the seeds that need to be potted on

 Petunia Limoncello

I also have loads of hardy annuals ready to be put into their final resting places.  The weather is warm enough  now at night.  

My favorite photo on this shoot is this one

My learning curve continues as you can see with this photo, I am an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to photography, as this photo proves.  I use my smartphone to download the images and have just added an panoramic app to my phone.  This is my third attempt at a panoramic photo.  Not sure about it really, as you can tell from the messy join. but I will persevere and see how I get on.  

Friday, 10 May 2013



I feel I have been neglecting my dressmaking a little in favor of the garden, that always seems to happen to me at this time of the year.  I do carry on making clothes, but when the weather is as nice as it was over the bank holiday I end up working in the garden.   A couple of weeks ago, I went out with my work mates for a special birthday lunch for one of our colleagues.  I wore a skirt that I made a while ago, but have not been able to wear because I had put on too much weight.  I have been able to lose the weight and decided to give this skirt an airing.

I bought the fabric in Walthamstow market a long while ago at least 3 years.  It was sold to me as a linen blend, It certainly creases like a linen.  I think my original intention was to make a pair of summer weight trousers with it but for some reason it ended up as a skirt, I can't remember why. I wanted to try applique, so although it is a basic straight  skirt, I cut up an old curtain that had elements of the similar colours.  There are circles and wobbly stars, which I zig zagged around the edges and then sewed on.  The appliques continue around the back as well.


 I am hoping to wear it a lot more this summer.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

May Day in the garden


What a glorious day, as usual I was up and about early.  I did some housework, then I pinned up a new jacket that I am making.  Then back to the garden.  Another list:
To sow:

Clarkia Elegans

Sweet Pea Winston Churchill

Nemophilia 5 spot
Nemophilia Baby Blue Eyes

Virginian Stock

Poppy Ruby Bonanza

Calendula Fiesta

Californian Poppy Summer Sorbet

and last but definitely not least Night Scented Stock, I have not taken a photo of this seed packet because to be honest during the day time the flowers are nondescript at best.  BUT in the evening, they open out to a luminous pale purple and the scent is heavenly.  I have grown them every year for as long as I can remember for the scent alone.

I also had to continue tidying the front garden.  I took off some of the dead wood from the hardy fuschia and the Lavender.  I planted Escallonia Apple Blossom in a gap at the front of the garden for more privacy.  I have this Escallonia in the back garden as well it is pale pink summer flowering and evergreen, Its eventual height and spread will be enough to give me a good sized hedge.  I also have a white Escallonia in my back garden  which is magnificent in early summer,  its height is and spread is approx 6ft X 6ft

In the back garden, I planted a Hydrangea in a dappled part of the garden accompanied by a Lupin, I grew from seed  I also planted another Lupin in another border.

I potted up a pink Marguerite, a cutting of Lonicera Fragrantissima (winter Honeysuckle) and a Chaenomoles Pink Lady, both potentially destined for the front garden.

I weeded the top terrace so it is less like a train wreck, I have a picture in my mind of how I want this secluded part of the garden to look.  It gets very warm as it gets the afternoon sun from lunchtime onwards and would make a lovely summer evening garden.

The day was very peaceful, it was beautiful weather barely any cloud all day and windless.  All in all a perfect May Day bank holiday.

I leave with some more photos of my favorites over this bank holiday.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Sunday May 5 2013

Sunday May 5

I love Sundays, especially the mornings.  It's just that feeling of everything being more relaxed.  I am an early bird, so always up and about by early, especially at the weekends I think it is the excitement of having a whole day that I get to decide what I do.  For me on a Sunday that is the best time of the day.  Everybody is still asleep, it is quiet, yesterday, it was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky and remarkably not windy.  The forecasters said that it was going to be a sunshiny, warm, day.

Jobs for today are splitting up more seedlings and attempting a tidy up of the borders.  So to start, seedlings to split up are Lobelia,  I use the old favorites, Crystal Palace and Sapphire Pendula.  Then I split up some HHA Asters, some more Phlox Tapestry,  and some Anntirinum dwarf bedding.

I am still in the process of tidying the garden after last years dreadful weather and the long winter.  I planted a pale pink shrubby Potentilla I bought last year. I put it in dappled shade in a dryish part of the garden on a slope.  Although Potentilla likes the sun, I have found the flowers tend to fade in bright sunlight.  I split some white Iris last year and grew some Lupins and Aquiligia from seed, I have planted these as companions for my Potentilla.  I also planted a small rhubarb plant.

I have sprayed the weeds with weedkiller.  so hopefully they will die soon.

I then went into my train wreck front garden. Although I love this garden, and it gets the evening sunlight,  but for some reason I am not so keen to work it as the back garden.  Possibly because the Berberis I
planted some years ago is not quite high enough to provide me with total seclusion, but it is getting there.  When, digging the borders I cannot now be seen by passers by, but I can see them, just how I like the it.  I  did some weeding.  The soil is deep and loamy, but very free draining. A good soil, but even so it was very hard we have not had a lot of rain recently.

Absolutely shattered by the end of the day, so indoors to have dinner and watch a film.

Some Honesty, and Wallflower Aurora, I grew from seed last year.