Wednesday, 30 July 2014

GAZPACHO

Good Morning to you,


Do you know, I have learnt something about myself since I started blogging.... I did not realise I had so much to say.

If I had to describe myself, I would say I am quite shy, that is until I get to know you, in fact I would go so far as to say I am a very private person..... so the fact that I share so many stories with you is a surprise to me.

Sometimes the memories I share with you are so far back in time, they are memories I have quite forgotten, that is, until I start talking to you.

For instance, when I mentioned Phyllis' wash day experience, it was a memory which surfaced when I saw the mangle at the car boot sale and one I really had not thought about for many years. The same applies to Ivy and Gramp's biscuit tin. These are distant memories.

Memories are fascinating.  I sometimes question my memories and ask myself if my version is a true version, but of course they are a true version, because they are my memories.  For instance two people can experience the same situation, but when asked  to recount the memory, would offer two versions of  the same event. It is a matter of perspective.

I have a great capacity to allow bad memories to recede. What is the point of focusing on regrets.  I focus on the good memories as it is so easy to get caught up with 'what should have been'.

Life has taught me, to always look forward and not behind, what's done is done and it cannot be changed.... and when you have the courage to look forward, you never know what is going to greet you around the corner. Yes of course, what is around the corner may not be exactly what we expected, it would be naive to think that, as life is full of ups and downs.... but with each new day we are offered the chance of new experiences, which turn into new memories. Which we choose to remember is up to us.

For instance, today I am making, 


Gazpacho and whilst making Gazpacho a lovely memory surfaces. Roughly 25 years ago, a  Maltese friend of mine, shared this recipe with me. When we enjoy warm summer days, Gazpacho  is the perfect cold soup, and my mind returns to a time when I spent many a lovely day with my friend. Sadly over the years we lost touch, but I have never forgotten her, I still have my memories.

So it is on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,


the fabulous Etta James. I can recommend 'I'd Rather go Blind', 'A Sunday Kind of Love'..... what am I saying, I can recommend the whole album.

So whilst Etta is singing 'Stormy Weather' it is time for me to organise my ingredients.

THE INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL NEED
TO  MAKE 
GAZPACHO

2 slices of bread
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
800g tinned tomatoes
or
800g fresh tomatoes
1 red pepper
100g sun dried tomatoes
300ml tomato juice
1 tablespoon of capers
6 spring onions
1/2 a large cucumber
sea salt
black pepper

GARNISHES

1 yellow pepper
2 spring onions
croutons
4 radishes

HOW TO MAKE
GAZPACHO


Cut the bread into cubes
and


place in a bowl.

Add


the lemon juice,


olive oil
and


crushed garlic


and set aside for the moment.

For this next part of  the Gazpacho,
you might find you need
to blitz the ingredients
in two batches.


Cut the peppers into quarters
and remove the membrane and seeds.

Place in a food processor
along with


the tomatoes,


sun dried tomatoes,


capers,


tomato juice,


cucumber,


and
spring onions.


Blitz
until you have a relatively smooth mixture.


Add the bread, garlic, lemon and olive oil
mixture
and blitz until combined.


Taste for seasoning.
Add
black pepper and sea salt.

Set aside for the moment.

THE GARNISHES


Make the croutons
as we did here.

Chop the cucumber and pepper into cubes.
Slice the spring onions
and 
either leave the radishes whole
or chop them into smaller pieces.


If you have never eaten Gazpacho.... the thought of a cold soup might not be appealing, but do not dismiss this soup, without trying it, as not only  is it a very healthy soup, but it is also  perfect for a warm summer's day.

If the consistency is too thick for you, add a little water to thin the Gazpacho.

You will have noticed that I wrote 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice in the ingredients, this is because as I have mentioned many times before, lemons vary in taste and it is easy to add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and then to add a little more until you get the correct flavour, but it is difficult to disguise the flavour of lemon if you add too much.

Oh yes, if you are using fresh tomatoes, which I sometimes do, then remove the skins and if you prefer remove the seeds as well.

I just know, once you try Gazpacho, you will make it over and over again.

Take care and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,

and





Sunday, 27 July 2014

GREEK YOGHURT WITH HONEY AND WALNUTS

Good Morning to you,


My word, our English weather has been wonderful. We are enjoying bright blue skies and glorious sunshine.... it is heaven.

The arrival of the warm weather, brings with it, a different start to my day, it allows me the pleasure of taking my morning cup of coffee into the garden,  to walk around, inspecting my flowers, checking to see which of the plants need a little trim and which, if any of the plants need a morning drink.

After checking on my flowers, the other pleasure this warm weather brings, is the pleasure of sitting in my garden. When all is quiet, sitting in the warm morning sunshine and listening to the sound of bees buzzing around, makes for a wonderful start to the day. 

..... and there is a plant which the bees are excited about at the moment and that is the lavender bushes, of which I have many. There must be over nine bees buzzing around each plant at any one time.  I'm proud to say my garden is a haven for bees.... this has not happened by accident, it is by design, as  I have carefully chosen plants to entice bees and butterflies into my garden.

Another bonus of  the warm weather  is, it allows me to fling my windows open wide,  to allow the fresh air to flow through the house, but along with the fresh air, I am also visited by  the odd bumble bee.... and that is exactly what happened this morning.

I awoke to hear a buzzing, not an ordinary buzzing, but a frustrated buzzing. A bumble bee, was frantically trying to escape through the window, but unfortunately, it could not escape because the windows were closed.  So I needed to enlist George's help.  Now in our family, it is widely known that George can "sleep for England", so he did not hear a thing.... but I did need to wake him, as I needed his help, as he is brilliant at catching insects which have become trapped inside the house and then releasing them safely back into the garden.

I gently woke him up, as I did not want him to wake up thinking something was wrong. I told him what had happened.  He leapt into action and checked to see what needed to be done.  He disappeared down the stairs and returned with a jam jar.  He told me to carefully pull up the blind whilst he positioned himself to catch the bee.  The bee had somehow landed on her back which was fortuitous for George, as I am glad to say, he managed to catch the bee with the first attempt. He replaced the lid on the jam jar and we took it into the garden.  On the way through the kitchen, I stopped to collect a couple of grains of sugar, which I was going to place next to the bee, as she was so tired, she could not have flown away.... but George ignored what I was doing and placed her straight on to one of the lavender bushes. Once she realised she was on the lavender bush, she started, what I can only call, frantic feeding.  Honestly she buzzed from one flower to another and it took quite a few minutes before she started settling down. We stood and watched her for what must have been 5 minutes, after which time she flew to another part of the garden.  We were both pleased that we were able to help the bumble bee, as bees are reducing in numbers with each year that passes. It is important that we all plant flowers which attract  bees.  So next time you plant a flower, check to see if it is a 'bee friendly' flower.... as every little helps.

Because of the hullabaloo with the bumble bee, it brought to mind, one of my favourite summer desserts,


Greek Yoghurt with Honey and Walnuts. This recipe is as easy as 1, 2, 3, as that is how many ingredients you need.  If you use a good quality Greek yoghurt, a good quality honey and some delicious Californian walnuts, you will so enjoy this dessert.  Sometimes, when the weather is as warm as it is at the moment, I will start my day with a breakfast of Greek yoghurt.  

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I had intended playing was 'Summer in the City' by The Lovin' Spoonful..... but where it is I do not know, I have a sneaky suspicion that Danielle might have borrowed it, as she loves vinyl music. I am sure she asked if she could borrow it, but my memory being what it is, I have forgotten. I must remember to ask Danielle if it is tucked away with her albums. When cds became the new way to listen to music, most people discarded their vinyl and canny Danielle, bought those discarded vinyl records, for pennies. She has a huge collection which she plays on her old 1960's record player. In the early 1990's, when Natasha was home from university, Danielle, Natasha and I, would have 'Vinyl Nights'... these were such fun evenings. We would listen to amongst others, John Denver, Barry Manilow,  Elvis Presley and one of George's favourite albums 'Band on the Run' by Wings...... we  knew all the words and we would sing to every song.....they were fabulous nights.

So instead of the Lovin' Spoonful, I am listening to,


the soundtrack to Sleepless in Seattle.... don't you just love that film. I love 'In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning' 'A Wink and a Smile' and 'Make Someone Happy'.  George, as a lover of western films loves 'Back in the Saddle Again'.

So with 'A Kiss to Build a Dream On' playing, I will organise my 1, 2, 3 ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

250g Natural Greek Yoghurt
50g Californian Walnuts
2 tablespoons of Wildflower Honey

HOW TO MAKE
GREEK YOGHURT WITH
HONEY AND WALNUTS


Place the Greek Yoghurt

into


a
glass.


Chop the walnuts
into small pieces
or 
if you prefer,
as George does,
leave them whole.


Place them on
top of the
Greek Yoghurt.


and 
drizzle 
the
Wildflower honey
over the Greek Yoghurt
and 
Walnuts.


So as I mentioned before
it really 
is
 as
 easy 
as
1, 2, 3.


We don't always need to use lots of ingredients to make something which is enjoyable to eat, you will find when you make Greek Yoghurt with Honey and Walnuts, you will agree with me.

What am I going to do now......  I am going to sit in the garden, with my feet up and relax.

What about you..... are you relaxing today?

Take care and I will see you on Wednesday.  

This week I will be joining,

and





Wednesday, 23 July 2014

TOMATO AND PEPPER SALAD

Good Morning to you,

Are you a dreamer?


I don't mean are you are the sort of person who sits and day dreams, I just wondered if you are a person who dreams and then are able to recall those dreams?

Ordinarily, I am not able to recall dreams..... I'm not sure what that says about me.  I'm not sure if I should be able to recall my dreams, so I was surprised to wake up the other morning, being able to recount a dream from start to finish.

Let me begin at the beginning.  I have had something on my mind for a long time..... something I needed to face..... something that I needed to sort out, but I kept putting it to the back of my mind and delaying the inevitable. I  thought that if the problem was given time, it would resolve itself.  Well of course that never happens does it.... when there is a problem it has to be sorted out, otherwise it all becomes too upsetting..... so, I faced the problem, as difficult as it was,  and do you know, I felt a whole lot better.

That very night, when I slept, I dreamt and the amazing thing is, when I awoke  the next morning, I could recall every detail of the dream.

The dream started with me on my own, in the middle of the night.  I was wearing a dress and a cardigan and I was riding a motor bike.  I was in a hurry to get home, and I was driving down a road, I have not driven on, for what must be 35 years.

I was half way home, when what I can only describe as 'little beasties' were trying to jump onto my motor bike, I could not see them properly as it was pitch black. I could only see the light straight ahead of me, which came from my headlight. I did not stop driving, as I knew I had to get home. I just kept swishing them off the bike and with each swish came a sense of relief.  I was not afraid of the dark, I was not afraid of the 'little beasties'. Each one that tried to get onto my motor bike, I just swished off, as if I was swishing a fly.  Finally after much swishing, they were gone, the 'little beasties' had given up and I continued home.  I remember feeling such a sense of freedom and elation.

When I woke up, I recounted the dream to George and he was as surprised as I was, because only now and again can I recall a dream. I can recall fragments, but not the whole dream. Even when I recounted the dream to George, I felt a sense of freedom. The decision I had made was a hard decision, but it was the right decision, for me.

I can remember three complete dreams which I have had in my life, and yes lots of fragments of dreams, but I wonder do you ever recall your dreams?

Do you remember fragments, which don't really make much sense, or do you remember complete dreams?

Talking of dreams, I have something today which can be described as a dream, because it is a dream to make.


A Tomato and Pepper Salad with olives and Halloumi cheese. Don't let the few ingredients deceive you, as this little salad is bursting with flavour and with the abundance of tomatoes and peppers, it is the perfect time of  year, to enjoy this salad.

So, it's on with the pinnie, and the music I am listening to today is,


Gord's Gold, the fabulous album by the Canadian singer, Gordon Lightfoot.  I could listen to his voice all day long.  There are many songs which I could list, but for now, you will enjoy 'If You Could Read My Mind' and 'Sundown'.  I just know you will recognise those two songs.

So whilst I am listening to and singing along with, 'Summerside of Love' I will organise my ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

THE SALAD

Serves:  4

4 large tomatoes
3 red peppers
24 green olives
250g Halloumi cheese

THE DRESSING

80ml of olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon rind
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of chives
1 tablespoon of fresh basil leaves
and
1 small jar with a lid

HOW TO MAKE 
TOMATO AND PEPPER SALAD

FIRST THING TO DO
is
Roast the peppers and remove the skins.
Allow to cool
and


slice.
Set aside for the moment.

THE DRESSING


Place the olive oil,


lemon juice,


grated lemon rind,


grated garlic,


chopped chives

and


torn basil leaves
into
a


jam jar.
Replace the lid
and


shake
for a few minutes.

Set aside for the moment.


Slice the tomatoes.

Decide which plates you are going to 
use..... I tend to use white plates
as these ingredients look spectacular
when served on a white plate.



Arrange the sliced tomatoes,


the roasted peppers


and
the olives
onto four plates.


Pour over half of the dressing.

NOW IT IS TIME 
TO COOK
THE 
HALLOUMI CHEESE


Slice the Halloumi Cheese.

Heat a wide pan.
Place the Halloumi cheese into the pan.

At first, you will find a milky residue
will appear in the pan, but don't worry,
once the milky residue has cooked out,
the Halloumi will start to brown.

Keep checking as you want the Halloumi
to be a golden brown. 

When one side is browned, turn the Halloumi cheese
over and brown the other side.


Place one or two pieces of
Halloumi Cheese over the salad.

Pour over the remaining
dressing.

Eat with some good crusty bread
and you will
have a fabulous lunch.

George loves mopping up the juices with
his bread.

You might be wondering why I left the Halloumi cheese until last to cook.  It is a preference of mine, I love Halloumi cheese, when it is warm as it has a soft texture.  Left to become cold and it tends to have a rubbery texture..... a texture I don't enjoy.... but one which George does.  So it is all down to personal preference.

Also there is no salt in this dish as Halloumi cheese is salty, as are the olives. So salt is not required.

Please don't be deceived by this salads simplicity, as these few ingredients make for a lovely lunch. I always have roasted peppers in the fridge during the summer time, so this salad really does not take long to make.

Oh yes, before I go, I thought I would mention..... I have never driven a motorbike in my life, but as a teenager, I rode pillion on a friend's motorbike..... the sun was shining and we rode along a deserted, sandy beach in Cyprus..... I can remember  the overwhelming sense of freedom I felt.

mmm, that is interesting.... I have discovered the link to the motorbike ..... I haven't thought about that day for many a year.

Take care and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,


and






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