Saturday, January 24, 2015

Win £50 voucher from Brainbox Candy

Are you broke and full of January gloom?  Do you need something bright, cheerful and irreverent to bring a smile to your miserable face?  Fantastic, I've something to bring a chink of light into somebody's day, and it could be you.  The sarky sods at Brainbox Candy have given me a £50 voucher for one of you to have a little shopping spree in their online store and you can be as politically correct or filthily rude as you like in your selection.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Raspberry Frangipane Tart

Over the holidays, I saw sheets of all-butter pastry appear in the supermarket aisles.  I love these as they taste so much better than standard ready rolled versions and you could easily pass them off as home made, just saying...  I was going to my friend's house for a Ladies Night In which involves takeaway, one or two sociable glasses of wine and some dessert so I volunteered to bring the dessert. Naturally, I had a roll of the sweet shortcrust pastry in the fridge for such an eventuality so it had to be a tart.  Actually, this tart was made from store cupboard and freezer ingredients so it's something you can make in an hour without leaving the house to buy ingredients.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Still Saving for a Rainy Day

Last January, I wrote about a really easy savings plan that I'd heard a lot about in the internet and in the papers.  The idea was  to start saving with just a euro, and add a euro every week.  I'm fairly disciplined about saving but The Hubs isn't, so I figured out it would be a great routine for him to get into, and sure I'd do the same.  So we started the plan on Saturday 2nd January 2014 and we stuck to it.  Religiously.  I know, I'm a little bit surprised at that too considering that the theme tune to my life is "She wasn't good (but she had good intentions)". 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Kitchen Nightmares

It started off as just a normal Sunday in winter.  The Hubs went to work and I was dragged out for a walk by the little fluffy dog, who sniffed every plant, gatepost and blade of grass along the way.  By the time we got home, I was absolutely freezing cold and in need of a bit of warmth.  I thought that making a batch of soup would do the job so I chopped, diced and sliced until my giant soup pot was full, added a dash of olive oil and left it all to simmer away.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

From all of us to all of you.  Thanks so much for reading, commenting, cooking and enjoying.  I appreciate it more than you'll ever know.  Have a wonderful 2015!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Dinner Potato Cakes

If your house is anything like mine, you've a fridge full of leftovers from Christmas Dinner and they gaze balefully at you every time you open the fridge door.  And you don't know what to do with them apart from make sandwiches or curry.  I have a suggestion : Christmas Dinner Potato Cakes.  I know it sounds a little bit strange but nearly all of your leftovers can be used here to create a delicious meal.  Just add a crisp green salad or reheated red cabbage and you've created something simple but incredibly tasty with a crisp buttery crust.  Don't forget a healthy dollop of cranberry sauce on the side...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

On Christmas Eve

It's almost time for Santa and presents and good food.  Today I've spent most of the day cooking, washing up and cleaning while The Hubs was working. Sometimes I'd love to swap roles with him and let him plan what we're going to eat for our big Christmas dinner tomorrow.  But then I sit down for a minute with a cup of coffee and glance over at our tree, filled with memories, and realise that there's nowhere else I'd rather be on Christmas Eve.

Our tree isn't a carefully colour co-ordinated Norwegian Spruce curated by artisan hipster crochet artists.  It's a super skinny fake tree with a mile of LED flashing lights and decorations that don't match.  Apart from the scandi-chic painted stars and flannel angels, but trust me, that was purely by accident rather than by design.  This Tree That Taste Forgot has a long and varied history.  Pour yourself a glass and allow me to ramble on about the eclectic mess that is our decorating style.

Top right is the Angel.  Vintage, if you like, as it was given to me when I was three months old and has appeared on top of my parents' tree every year since.  My Mum handed it down to me when we bought our house and this is my angel's 14th appearance on our tree since.  Due to her fragility, she's been retired to a more sedate spot near the top of the tree and her understudy the Fluffy Fairy from Avoca has taken her place.  She spends the rest of the year swaddled in bubble wrap in the attic and nobody else is allowed to hang her on the tree but me.  I'm rather territorial about this, as The Hubs has discovered to his cost.

To her left, is the Yoke.  I actually don't know what it is. but it's The Hubs' version of my pretty angel.  It's basically a goblin made out of pipecleaners on a swing. But he loves it. So I relocated it to the side, where he can see it from his perch on the sofa.

The rest are all souvenirs.  We got a little bit obsessed with Christmas shops in the US when we were there on our honeymoon and bought bags and bags of decorations.  Most of them are just pretty but some are very special momentoes including our Santa who loves NY and our Martha's Vineyard Santa, there's also one from Boston to include the three places where we had a wonderful time.

We also have a beautiful handpainted grey egg from Budapest, where thanks to a competition win, we spent a weekend in a very posh suite in Le Meridien and got hopeless confused by the exchange rate and introduced an English stag party to the joys of Palinka, much to the mirth of the barman.  There's quite a few from our Seven Year Itch holiday to San Francisco including Alcatraz (how random!) and some cable cars.  Finally, another handpainted egg, this time from Dubrovnik on our Very Posh Cruise in October.  They mightn't be the most stylish, but every single decoration on our tree is very special and holds so much meaning for us. Every time we place them on the branches, we remember the lovely memories which they bring back to us.

Do you have decorations like ours?  I'd really love to know...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Gifts : Lovely Things

I'm one of those horribly organised people you all love to hate.  I start thinking about gifts in September, once my birthday is over, and I start squirrelling away stuff as I see.  I know that not everybody is as ridiculously disciplined about buying presents and for most people, half of the fun is going shopping, whether it's in the shops or online from the comfort of your desk at lunchtime or on the sofa in the evening.  I've compiled (if I was a hipster sort, I'd say "curated") a list of lovely things that you or somebody you love might really really like...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Gifts : Books for Cooks

With two weeks to go until the big day, there's still time to get presents for your loved ones.  If they're like me and fond of a cookbook or two, might I make some recommendations?  Here's five of my favourites and I think they're perfect books for cooks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sponsored Video : Magic & Sparkle at your M&S

As the song goes, it's the most wonderful time of the year.  It's time for spending time with loved ones, giving and receiving gifts and eating a substantial quantity of food with lots of bubbles to wash it down with.  And where can you find practically everything that you'll need for a Christmas with lots of Magic & Sparkle?  That's right, at your local M&S.  Founded in 1884 by Howard Marks and Thomas Spencer, the first store opened in Leeds as Marks' Penny Bazaar.  95 years later, the first non-UK branch of M&S opened on Mary Street in Dublin 1 in 1979 and you can now find branches in 54 countries across the world, including Lebanon, China and India.  It's a long way from Leeds.