Monday, 30 January 2012

Music Magpie

This weekend was a big stuff sorting/clearing out weekend as we prepare for the arrival of yet more samba drums to fill our house up (Dave runs a samba drumming business Ola Samba and we're starting a new community group- Ciren Samba for which we will be acquiring yet more drums!)

We gave some furniture away on Freegle and a couple of bags to the charity shop. I also tried out Music Magpie- a site which allows you to input the barcodes of any CDs/DVDs/games you no longer want and then gives you a price for them and a freepost label to send them away. You can then elect to give the money to charity, convert into M&S vouchers to spend online or receive a cheque. It was really simple to do, although I couldn't get the webcam barcode reader to work so input them manually and although you don't get much for your CDs, I'm just glad to have some more space.

Now I just need to find a box to fit them all into and wait for my £12.92 to arrive!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Chocolate Brownie Cake

Dave asked me to make him a cake today. I suggested cupcakes, he said no. I suggested muffins, he said no, even cookies were a no- usually his favourite. So I asked what he wanted. 'A whole cake, not little ones, then I can have as big a slice as I want' (now I understand!) I wanted to make brownies, but these aren't 'a whole cake'. So we compromised and I made a chocolate brownie cake from this BBC Good Food recipe.

It was decadent and delicious and I don't feel the least bit guilty about breaking my (mostly) healthy eating habits this month:

Just look at all of those delicious ingredients

Melted together (boy did I enjoy licking this spoon!)

The finished product

Slice with whipped cream, just to make it that bit naughtier

Sometimes giving in to guilty pleasures feels so good, doesn't it?

Friday, 27 January 2012

January's Seasonal Recipe: Fish and Leek Pie

One of the thriftiest, healthiest and tastiest ways to shop and eat is to use seasonal produce. We're lucky enough to have a couple of cheap, independent greengrocers in Cirencester that sell fresh, local produce that is tastier and usually cheaper than the supermarket. I always assumed that the greengrocer would be more expensive until I actually went in and I have now become an even bigger fan of the greengrocer!

The vegetables that are in season this month are:

Brussel sprouts
Green cabbage
Savoy cabbage
Purple sprouting broccoli

So this month's seasonal special is Fish and Leek Pie

Feeds two adults and two children (or in our case two adults and one for later!)

300g mixed fish fillets, skinless (this recipe is using a bag of frozen fish pie mix)
1 large swede
1 large leek
1 onion
100ml milk (I used skimmed milk powder- cheaper and you can't taste the difference in a pie!) + 25ml for mash
Salt and Pepper to season
Optional: cheese for grating

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (gas mark 4)
2. Chop the leek chunks approx 1cm wide and roughly chop the onion
3. Put the chopped leek and onion into an oven proof dish with the fish
4. If using milk powder make up 100ml (if not just measure out as usual) and pour over the fish and vegetables, season with salt and pepper
5. Pop this into the oven and put on a pan of water to heat
6. Peel the swede and chop into smallish chunks
7. Boil the swede for 15 minutes, or until soft
8. Mash with the extra 25ml milk for a creamy texture
9. Take the fish mix out of the oven and spread the mashed swede over the top. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese
10. Return to the oven for 20 minutes

It looks a bit lonely here as I forgot to take a photo in 'whole pie' form, but we actually had ours with some lovely stir fried cabbage to boost the seasonal veg count, yum!

Eat Seasonably is a great tool for checking what's in season, when. Why not download a copy of their Eat Seasonably Calendar to stick on your fridge?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Word Cloud

Today I stumbled across Tagxedo, a beautiful website which lets you create 'clouds' of words using the URL of your blog. Here's mine:

I never realised how much I write about food! 

You can adjust the colours, shapes and even omit words from your cloud. Tagxedo is free, although it's definitely worthwhile donating to keep something so lovely running. Why not head over and try it out?

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Oat and Raisin Cookies

We had a great start to the weekend watching Gloucester's rugby team beat Toulouse from work's corporate box last night, but it was back down to the not-so-dizzying heights of normal 'lodge life' today.

Instead of studying for my journalism course, I managed to procrastinate most of the day away. This did, however, result in a batch of rather tasty (and sort of healthy) oat and raisin cookies...

Oat and Raisin Cookies

50g butter
50g plain flour (or wholemeal if you have it and are feeling virtuous!)
25g caster sugar
25g soft brown sugar
80g porridge oats
50g raisins
1 tbsp honey
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
Pinch of salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C (160C fan)
2. Line a baking sheet
3. In a large bowl cream the butter, both sugars and honey until well-combined
4. Add the egg and mix well- don't worry if it's a bit lumpy at this point
5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and raisins
6. Add the flour mix to the creamed butter and mix together well
7. Spoon onto the tray in balls 3-5 cm wide. Make sure they're well spaced as the cookies will spread
8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Don't worry if they look and feel a little undercooked as they will firm up outside of the oven, if you cook them for any longer they will loose the chewy cookie texture

By the time I managed to take a photo, we'd already munched our way through a few warm ones from the oven, yum!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Eve's Pudding

Like almost everyone I know, I have given into the January cold. Feeling rather sorry for myself I needed some comfort food and made this scrumptious Eve's pudding from The Hairy Biker's recipe book which my sister gave us for Christmas:

It was a tasty and quick recipe and is definitely helping me get well soon and beat the January blues! Plus the apples totally count as one of my five a day... right?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Bunting Birthday Cards

We've been having a New Year's clearout and I've promised to cut down my boxes and boxes of 'craft stuff', so I thought I'd make a start with Birthday cards. I got out lots of leftover scraps of tissue paper, sugar paper and wrapping paper:

I then cut out lots of little triangles from the paper and grouped them together into similar colours to make bunting:

This was a lot of fun and once the triangles were cut out, it was really quick to glue them on and draw the 'string' and I think the overall effect is quite cute. Just a shame I chose a design that barely used up any of the craft stuff!

Now I've done this, it's making me think about a cloth bunting project... watch this space!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Friday Night In

We don't have a TV at home- there's not much room and we don't really watch it enough to make it worth paying for. Instead, we rent DVDs from Love Film, which for our 'light use' package is £8.16 a month (the cost of a cinema ticket for just one of us). This gets us 4 DVDs a month and 4 hours of watching the online player, with free returns whenever we like.

Today, the BAFTA nominations came out, see here so I've added lots of new DVDs to my list, but for now, I'm going to settle down to a TV series on DVD and a glass of wine... we still have so much left from NYE!

Hope everyone has a lovely, relaxing weekend and if anybody has any film suggestions to add to the list, let me know :)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Leaky Ceiling Lindt

This morning I woke up to the sound of water dripping on my pillow, duvet and later my head. We'd had big storms overnight and a leak had sprung in our roof and through the loft hatch- not good!

But our landlord came round to say sorry with these bars of the new Lindt chocolate, what a treat! Every cloud has a silver lining...

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year

Happy 2012 to all! It's been such a busy week I've only just had time to fill my favourite Christmas present- my lovely sewing box:

Here's to a crafty 2012...