Thursday, 1 December 2016


Good Afternoon to you,

Did you brave Black Friday, the new phenomenon which has crossed the water from America?

My goodness, the first year Black Friday arrived, I was horrified to see how people behaved. It turned, what I perceived, to be normal people, into aggressive people, pushing and shoving each other, to bag a bargain. I can honestly say, I had never seen anything like it. For instance, there were a couple of people shown on television, arguing over the same television set. They were pushing each other, trying to keep their hands on the television and they were so aggressive. It really was a sad sight. I remember thinking at the time, that if the television was still inside the box, it would be neither use nor ornament, because by the time the couple had argued over it, the television would be smashed to smithereens.

So last year, I avoided Black Friday, only to discover that many other people had avoided it as well and that the shops were pretty quiet.

So this year, George and I decided we would test the waters and buy our Christmas gifts on Black Friday. On Thursday evening, we sat down and listed our family and friends and thought about each gift we wanted to buy. George usually shops for the men in our family and I shop for the girls. We agreed, when shopping, there would be no dilly dallying, we would not be side tracked, we would focus on our lists.

We were up and about early on Friday and braced ourselves, but do you know what, we were fine.  At the start of the morning there were no crowds, but we did not linger. As agreed, we went to each shop and bought the gift we wanted and when we reached the end of the list, we decided to go home.

I have to tell you, it was just as well we decided to shop early in the morning, because by the time we had finished our shopping, the town was jam packed with people. 

.... and as we were walking through the crowds, we were secretly smiling to ourselves, because we knew, we were heading home,  to put our feet up and enjoy a cup of coffee.... oh such a nice feeling.

.... and what goes nicely with a cup of coffee? Well, chocolate of course, so this delicious Chocolate Filo Coil certainly hits the spot.

I love using filo pastry in savoury pies and sweet pies,  although I don't use it as much as I used to. 

A friend of mine gave me this recipe a number of years ago, and I found it whilst leafing through one of my old cookery books. So I thought it the perfect thing to make, especially as I love, the combination of chocolate, ground almonds and chopped dates, especially Medjool dates.... for me they are Top of the Pops where dates are concerned. You know about me and my sweet tooth, plus the flavours are so Christmassy.

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

the marvellous Milos Karadaglic.  I adore this album and today I was in the mood to listen to some beautiful music.

I wanted you to listen to,  El Testament d'Amelia, which is on this album, but I could not find a You tube clip.  So instead I chose Quizas, Quizas, Quizas.... listen to it and tell me if you recognise the music.

So while your listening I will gather my ingredients.


Serves 6-8 people

275g packet of filo pastry ~ thawed
75g unsalted butter

For Dusting

1 level teaspoon of icing sugar           
1 level teaspoon of dark cocoa powder
1 level teaspoon of cinnamon             

The Filling

75g unsalted butter
125g dark chocolate
115g ground almonds
115g chopped dates
75g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

You will need a 25cm round cake tin


Butter the cake tin.


Place the butter with the chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

Bring a quarter filled pan of water to the boil, reduce to a simmer and place the bowl containing the butter and chocolate over the pan. 

Do not allow the bowl to touch the simmering water. If it does, then empty some of the water from the pan. Make sure the bowl fits comfortably.

When melted, remove the bowl from the heat. Place a tea towel on your work surface so that the bowl does not slip. Stir the butter and chocolate together.

Add the ground almonds
Add the chopped dates
Add the icing sugar
and finally,
Add the cinnamon.

and mix the ingredients together.  The mixture will slowly come together.

Set aside to cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F

Melt the butter.


gently unroll the filo pastry.

Remove the first sheet and brush with the melted butter.

Lay another sheet on top of the first sheet and brush the second sheet with melted butter.

Place some of your chocolate filling along the bottom edge of the filo pastry, about 1/2 inch from the edge and gently roll the filo into a long sausage shape.  With each turn, brush with melted butter.  I find this much easier than trying to turn the flat sheets of filo pastry.  It will take a little longer, but it is worth the effort.

To give you a guide, I used 8 teaspoonfuls of chocolate mix for each roll.  Do not overfill each roll, because otherwise, when you get to the final roll, you will not have enough mixture.

Place the first roll around the outside of the buttered cake tin.


repeat the process, until

the cake tin is full.

Brush the coil with the remaining melted butter.
If you find you do not have enough melted
butter, then just melt a little more.

Place the Chocolate Filo Coil in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the filo pastry is a golden brown.

Allow the pastry to cool a little and dust with the icing sugar mixture.  As you can see, the icing sugar has melted, because my filo coil was a little hot. I really did not have the time to cool the filo coil. 
Can you guess why?
Yes, you've guessed it. You certainly know my husband.
 The aroma from the kitchen had George walking in and out of the kitchen, ready and waiting for the coil to be baked.


just like George,

cut a slice,

pour over some single cream



If you do not want to make a coil, once the filo pastry is filled with the chocolate mixture and rolled, you could also cut the roll into 2 or 3 inch pieces and cook as individual pastries.  I feel sure you would probably have to adjust the cooking time, but I cannot imagine by much.

I tell you what, next time I make this Chocolate Filo Coil, I will cut the rolls and bake them and I will let you know how long they take.

So take care and I will see you next Thursday.

As Always,

Thursday, 24 November 2016


Good Afternoon to you,

I am always excited to receive a birthday gift, an anniversary gift or a Christmas gift, but do you know, I am even more excited, when I receive an unexpected gift.

.... and this is exactly what happened a few weeks ago, when I received,

this vintage Harris Sewing Machine.

Firstly I was thrilled, that our friend Nick, even thought about me and secondly that he would take the time to drive, a couple of hundred miles, to our house, to deliver this vintage sewing machine right to my door.... how kind was that.

When it arrived, it came with this beautiful wooden cover. As you can see the handle is missing, but I am going to see if I can find a replacement.

I have never heard of a Harris Sewing Machine, and as yet, I have not had the time to do any research. When I have a spare 5 minutes, I will begin to look into the history of this sewing machine.... which I am looking forward to doing.

I'm not even sure if Harris is an English make, of course there is the possibility that this Harris sewing machine could have been made in America. I will let you know when I find out.

I am intrigued to discover this machines history, because when you take a closer look at the gold and orange design around the base of the machine, it looks more like an Indian design.  I do know, the previous owner of this machine, travelled the world, but whether this machine was bought in India or made for the export market, I'm not sure.

I am intrigued by the bobbin, because I have never seen this design before.  I have left the thread hanging so that you can see the position of the bobbin. 

I love that the needle size required for this machine is etched on the little plate.... a great idea isn't it. I know it will be of no use to me now, but back in the day, when this machine was being used, if the handbook was ever lost, the owner would always have the needle size to hand. 

.... and look at this little bobbin case, it looks more like a shuttle. It took a little getting used to, because at first I found it difficult to slot the case into the machine, but after a little practice I was fine.

.... and take a closer look at the stamped design. You can see how vibrant  the colours are, it's as if the design had only recently been stamped onto the machine.... can you tell I'm a tad excited by this sewing machine.

This beautiful machine, does need some tender loving care, as it has been put away for many years and not used. Do you know, I am so pleased to be the one to administer the tender loving care this machine needs.

I do have a friend who knows of someone who repairs vintage sewing machines.  So after Christmas, I will be paying the gentleman a visit, to see what can be done, to bring this lovely machine back to full working order.

....and what do you think of,

my Christmas Cactus?  

Isn't it just fabulous.

This little plant lies dormant for the whole year, not looking particularly attractive, but when late November arrives, it flowers and it flowers and it flowers. It  changes from a mundane plant into the most spectacular plant.

The position in the port hole is perfect as the cactus has plenty of light.  Once a month, I very carefully, turn the plant, because apparently if you move the plant too much, it will not flower so well, that year. I also water it just a little, not too much, but enough that the plant can drink. One word of advice would be, if your not sure whether or not to water your plant, my recommendation would be, touch the top soil, if it is dry, then it is time to water, but the one thing you must never do, is over water, they hate waterlogged soil.

Oh yes and when you see the tips of the cactus turning red, it is time to feed the plant.

I am so thrilled to say, I have been doing the right thing, because this flowering Christmas Cactus looks amazing.

Don't you agree?

Before I leave you, I would like to wish all my American friends, 

'A Happy Thanksgiving'.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,

As Always,

Sunday, 20 November 2016


Good Morning to you,


It is Sunday afternoon and normally I would not be writing to you, but as today is 'Stir It Up Sunday' I thought I would pop by, to see if you are busy making your Christmas puddings today.

Christmas puddings are very traditional in my home and I make them most years, and the amount I make, depends on who is coming to stay for Christmas. 

At this time of year, when I am baking my Christmas cakes and puddings, my father is uppermost in my mind, because I can hear him say, 'Lovely mince pies, but I  think the pastry could have been a little thinner'. When it came to mince pies my father loved thin crumbly pastry, the thinner the better. I have to tell you, I never knew if I ever made the pastry thin enough, I think, after years of making mince pies, it just became a joke between the two of us. Having said that, he always ate the mince pies I baked and he always enjoyed them. So I think secretly he loved them.

So I wondered.  Are you making your Christmas pudding today.... and if so, are you looking for a recipe? 

Are you checking your cookery books to find a recipe you like? Now if you have your own family recipe, I would love to hear how you make your Christmas pudding, but if you are in need of a recipe, why not give my recipe a try.  I promise you, if you are a lover of Christmas pudding, you will not be disappointed with this recipe. I have provided step by step instructions which will make it much easier to follow the recipe. 

Now, why do I feel so confident about my recipe? 

Well, my father, David,  loved this Christmas pudding.... and that is all the recommendation I need.

Take care and I will see you on Thursday.

As Always,

Thursday, 17 November 2016


Good Morning to you,

I do love my home.

I take great pride in the fact, that during our marriage, with each move, of which there have been many, I have made a comfortable home for George, Natasha and Danielle.

Sometimes, the houses were large, with lots of space, which I loved and sometimes the houses were much smaller, and it was a case of squeezing 2 pints into a pint pot, not an easy thing to do, but with all the moves, I always took comfort, in the fact, that I would be able to pack up our home and transplant it, into another county or another country and that once everything was unpacked, it would feel like home again.

So I thought, today, I would show you a little corner of my home. Are you surprised? A little unusual for me isn't it, because you associate me with cooking and baking, but I do have other 'strings to my bow', I love interior design.

.... and the reason I am sharing my home with you is, I wanted to show you this fabulous throw which I have recently finished. I know, it is very un-English of me, to blow my own trumpet, but do you know, I can't help myself, as I am thrilled with the end result.

It was not complicated, and I did not use a pattern, as I have mentioned to you once or twice before, I start with a germ of an idea and the idea grows as I sew, embroider or crochet, until I end up with the look I want.

Which is what happened with this throw. Are you disappointed? Are you now wondering, what all the fuss is about. I grant you, this throw looks simple enough, a basic treble stitch.

.... but look what I added,

Three rows of fabulous frills.  I love the heather colour of this throw.  

This throw is made up of  treble stitches, which I merrily crocheted, until I reach the length I wanted. When I finished, I knew I wanted to add something else, to make the throw a little more striking and fortunately, when I was visiting a friend a month or so ago, we decided to pop into a local wool shop.  It was there that I discovered this dusky pink wool. It was the perfect colour, there and then I knew I wanted to add some frills to the throw. I have no idea where that idea came from, but I do find ideas pop into my head, if I touch material, or I see a certain colour, they just speak to me and tell me what to do.

To be honest with you, I hadn't a clue where to begin, but I just thought, I know how to increase stitches when I am knitting a sweater,  so I picked up my crochet hook and from there, it was full steam ahead.

First I added the frill to the bottom of the throw using the dusky pink, but I felt it needed a little more 'vava voom' so I crocheted another two frills.

I liked what I had achieved, but it needed a little something extra. So I decided to add another row of the Heather wool to bring the throw together.... and I think it looks fabulous.

This is a corner of my living room, which I love, perfect for the summer months, as it is so light and airy, but I wanted to add some warmer tones for the winter.

So my summery, light living room, went from this,

to this,

to this, and I couldn't be more pleased. I am so happy with this throw that I have decided to make a Christmas version as well, using red and green.

Danielle saw this throw and loved it, so I have made one for her, in grey and dusky pink.... and then Natasha saw my throw and also loved it, so I made another one for Natasha..... which is now sitting on her settee in America, ready and waiting for the colder, winter weather, which I believe, is heading her way this weekend.

.... and if you are thinking that the frills would be a little uncomfortable to sit on.  Don't worry as the throw lives over the arm of the settee when it's not being used.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing a little corner of my home.... you never know, it might not be the last.

Take care and I will see you on Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


As Always,

Thursday, 10 November 2016


Good Afternoon to you,

Yesterday, I spent a lovely few hours visiting my hairdresser, where I had a cut and blow dry. I tend to do this every six weeks or so.

....and after my visit, I felt very shuzzy. A little like Rita Hayworth in the 1940's film, Gilda. Do you remember when Rita Hayworth swished those beautiful locks of hers, gosh her hair was fabulous.

Nowadays, my hair is just about long enough, to enjoy a slight swish, although in my mind, it felt more like a Rita Hayworth swish, because I felt so good about my hair.

So why does a visit to the hairdresser cheer me up so much.   I think the reason is, the time I spend in the hairdressers, is just about me.  That sounds a little self centred, doesn't it,  but sometimes my days are so busy that I forget about my needs. I get so caught up with other things. 

Are you the same? 

I have to say, my needs aren't many, but a visit to the hairdresser is something I really enjoy.

When I lived in Cyprus, I grew my hair longer and tied it into a bun.  Now that might sound odd, you would imagine that a shorter hair style would be much better in such a hot climate, but I found the reverse to be true. Due to the heat and swimming in the sea, I needed to wash my hair every other day. I found it so easy, to wash my hair, then whilst it was still wet, tie it back into a loose bun..... no shuzzing for me.  I still looked smart, but with much less fuss.

When I arrived back in England, I wanted a more stylish hair cut, so the shoulder length hair was cut into a bob.... and I love it. I can style it in all sorts of ways, I can straighten it, I can curl it, I can clip my hair from my face.... perfect for gardening. There are so many options.

.... and don't you find, when your hair is out of sorts and not looking as you would like it to, whatever outfit you are wearing, just does not feel as good. On the other hand, if my hair is looking fabulous, I can wear a pair of slouchy trousers, a t-shirt and some pumps and I feel fabulous.... it's all about the hair.

.... can I also include a manicure and pedicure to the list.  Now this does not happen very often, because I cook, I sew using a thimble and I am also a keen gardener.  All these loves, are not conducive to prettily painted nails, but when I am with my daughters, we love nothing better than a little nail therapy.... and because I do this once, or twice a year, when my nails are painted, I can't stop looking at them, because they are so pretty.

So how about you, what makes you feel shuzzy?

Your list is probably totally different to mine. It would be fun to compare.... maybe I could add one or two things from your list onto mine.

So what else was on my list yesterday?  

I made this Spicy Vegetable dish and served it with Bulgur Wheat. It was just the ticket. After being poorly, I really had a craving for vegetables.  I often make this dish with left over vegetables.... you know the one or two vegetables languishing in the bottom of the vegetable basket.  It really is such a versatile dish. Now please don't look at the list of ingredients and think there are a lot, because I have included quite a few spices.

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

the 1965 Rubber Soul Album by The Beatles. My word it still sounds good.

The reason I am listening to this album is,  last week, Phyllis took a trip, with her friends, to Liverpool. Whilst there, they could not miss the opportunity to visit The Cavern Club, where The Beatles used to play in the 1960's. She said it was a really nostalgic visit, because both Phyllis and my father loved The Beatles music when they were younger. So I thought it would be fun to find my Beatles albums and transport myself back to the '60's.... do you want to come along?

So while I am listening to, and thoroughly enjoying this album, especially the song 'In My Life',  it is time to organise my ingredients.


l large onion or 2 red onions
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of turmeric
3 large cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 large carrots
1 small squash (300g)
1 sweet potato (approx 300g)
1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of chick peas
1/2 pint of chicken stock
1 teaspoon of salt
ground black pepper

250g Bulgur Wheat
1 level teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil


Pre-heat the oven to 180C

Peel the skin from the squash, remove the seeds and chop into medium sized pieces.  

Peel the skin from the sweet potato and chop into medium sized pieces.

Peel the skin from the carrots and again chop into medium sized pieces and set aside for the moment.

Place the squash and sweet potato on to a large baking tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss the vegetables to make sure they are covered with olive oil.

Place in the pre-heated 180C oven and roast for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes.  

Remove from the oven half way through the roasting time and turn the vegetables over.  Return to the oven. You want the vegetables to be dark in colour.

Whilst the vegetables are roasting.

Peel and finely slice the onions.

Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a wide pan and add the sliced onions.

Cook until golden brown.

Grate the garlic and add to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes.

Then add the chilli flakes, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric and tomato paste. Mix together and stir for a further 2 minutes.

Add the chopped raw carrots and stir.

Add the tin tomatoes and stir.

Pour the stock into the pan, place a lid on the pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are just tender.  You don't want them to be soggy.

While the carrots are cooking.

Cook the Bulgur wheat as per the manufacturer's instructions ~ I add 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil before cooking the Bulgar wheat.

Whilst the Bulgur wheat is cooking, remove the squash and sweet potato from the oven and place into the pan with the carrots.

Drain the chickpeas and add to the pan.

Stir gently for 5 minutes.  There is not a lot of liquid in this dish, but if you feel that the dish is becoming a little dry, add a little water to loosen the mixture.

Add freshly ground pepper, then check for to see if you need to add anymore salt.

Place the cooked Bulgur wheat into a bowl and ladle the spicy vegetables on top.

Then, all there is left to do is, find a fork,



This dish serves 4 people, which is too much for George and I.  I place half of the spicy vegetables and half the Bulgur wheat into bowls, pop on the lids and place in the fridge to enjoy the following day.

Do you know, I think the spicy vegetables tasted better the second day, because leaving them overnight, allowed the flavours to develop even further. 

Now, I feel sure you are wondering why I did not say use one whole squash and one whole sweet potato. It would have made life a lot easier.  The reason is I couldn't find the correct weight I wanted, so I bought a large squash and a large sweet potato.  

I roasted them together and divided the vegetables to give me the correct weight for this dish,

and the rest, 

well I added some stock and I blitz the remaining squash and sweet potato and hey presto I had 2 dishes of soup for our lunch.

Nothing was wasted. Now that's my style of cooking.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


As Always,

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