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Thursday, 29 September 2016

SPICY ROAST POTATOES

Good Morning to you,


I had such a funny conversation with George yesterday.  It's not the first, and I feel sure it will not be the last.

I'll set the scene.

After supper, I stretched out on the sofa to read my book. George took up residence in his favourite, big, comfy armchair.  He put his feet up, his earphones on his head..... you'll understand why, when I tell you, that he was playing Yahtzee, on his Ipad. For some reason, and one known only to George, he loves to hear the roll of the dice, when he plays Yahtzee.  Now that is fine for George, but I have to tell you, the sound drives me insane.  So we have come to an agreement, that when he plays Yahtzee, he wears his headphones, that way we are both happy.

Every thing fine so far.

About 15 minutes into the peace and quiet, George started singing to himself.

All I could hear was "Go Daddy, dum de dum".... and these are the only words I heard.  Now to say this wasn't distracting, is an understatement. As I mentioned, George was wearing his earphones, so the "Go Daddy, dum de dum" was very loud indeed. Now, I am not the type of person who can read a book with music playing. I love to listen to music, but not whilst I am reading.  When reading, I like to immerse myself in a book, but to do this, I need peace and quiet.

So after 5 minutes of "Go Daddy, dum de dum" I thought it was time to say something, as I was distracted from reading my book. You see, I had stopped reading my book because I was trying to recognise the song, George was singing. I think maybe I am being generous, when I say  "Go Daddy, dum de dum" was singing.  Anyway, while I was thinking, George looked up and said "What's the matter?"  I said, "What is the song you are singing?" George said, "Oh a Nina Simone song" Whereby I said, "What's the song called?" George said I have no idea, these words just keep running through my mind.

I couldn't concentrate on reading, so I put my book down and thought, I've got to work this out, otherwise I won't settle.

I said "Are you sure it's a Nina Simone song"

"Oh yes" shouted George.... remember he was wearing earphones.

I carried on thinking. I couldn't think of any Nina Simone songs with these words.

.... after a few minutes, I had the thread of a song, and I started my own "dum di dum" sound.

I had an idea, but I couldn't verbalise it. You know that little itch, when you know, you know the answer,  but your brain will not release the answer.

Then in a moment of inspiration, I sang "Take a dive and run to daddy".... I couldn't get the rest of song. All I could sing was "Take a dive and run to daddy".... but it was a start.

George stopped playing Yahtzee.  He looked up and said, "Don't think about it and the rest of the song will come".

A good idea I thought, because that is what usually happens, so I picked up my book, but I couldn't concentrate, the line of the song kept running through my head, without going anywhere. After what seemed like an age,

I sang, "Take a dive and swim to daddy, Take a dive and swim to daddy, Take a dive and swim to daddy, swim, swim, swim, to daddy". The word 'run' was wrong, the correct word was 'swim'.

Have you any idea of the song title yet?

So a little while later, I realised, the song was sang by Sammy Davis Jnr and not Nina Simone.

When I said this to George, he said as quick as a flash, "Ah but they were friends".

I'm not sure what that had to do with anything, but there you are, that was his reply.

So where did the song come from?

I could have looked it up, but I felt so happy that I had remembered the song.... it was a start. I returned to reading my book and decided to look the song up today.

.... but after breakfast, I skyped Natasha and told her the story.  In a matter of moments, she had found the song on the internet, and there it was, no wonder I remembered the song, it was  'The Rhythm of Life' from the film 'Sweet Charity'.  I love watching this film, but hadn't seen it in years. Natasha found a Utube clip and there was Sammy, singing 'The Rhythm of Life' with the dancers, dancing, in that wonderful 1960's way. Did we really dance like that?

Well I have to tell you, I for one definitely did. When Natasha was home last, I showed her how I danced, when I was a teenager. We had such a laugh together.  She asked George how he danced and he said, "We boys, didn't dance, we used to stand around the edge of the dance floor watching the girls dance". Which isn't true, in his youth George was brilliant at the jive. He could even dance a very mean "Bump". Do you remember "The Bump"?

So while we listen to, The Rhythm of Life from Sweet Charity it's on with the pinnie, because today we are making,


Spicy roast potatoes.  As you know I love chocolate and I love potatoes.... not together, although if I could make up a recipe including both, I would be very happy indeed. Now there's a thought for the future.

These spicy roast potatoes are perfect, with just enough spice to go with anything plain, such as a roasted chicken.... I have to tell you, I love them even when they are cold.

INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL NEED
TO MAKE
SPICY ROASTED POTATOES

5 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 kg floury potatoes
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes or powder

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F

HOW TO MAKE
SPICY ROASTED POTATOES

1. Using a large saucepan, half fill with cold water.

2. Peel the potatoes and cut into half and then into quarters, then place into the pan of water.

3. Try to keep the potatoes the same size, you might find you will have to cut some potatoes in half and not into quarters. This allows the potatoes to cook at the same rate.

4. Drain the water from the pan, leaving the potatoes in the pan.  Refill with fresh water.  Just enough to cover the potatoes. Place a lid on the pan.

5. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

6. Bring the water to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes for 7 minutes.  You want the potatoes to still be firm.

7.  Pour the oil into a baking tray and place in the oven, as you want the oil to be hot.

8. While the  oil is heating. Place the rest of the salt, black pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli flakes in a dish and mix together.

9.   Drain the potatoes.

10. Sprinkle half of the spices over the drained potatoes and toss, to coat the potatoes (this is why the potatoes still need to be firm so they don't disintegrate when shaking the pan). Add the rest of the spice mixture and toss again.

11.  Remove the tray from the oven. Using tongs, place each potato in the oil.... the oil should sizzle. You will find you have a little spice mix left in the bottom of the pan. We will use it when we turn the roast potatoes.

12.  Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the potatoes and sprinkle the remaining spice over the potatoes. Roast for a further 15 minutes.


When the potatoes are crispy, remove them from the roasting tray.

I would say, the timings are approximate, because all our ovens cook at a different rate.  What you are looking for is a crispy potato.

If you are a lover of spice, these spicy roast potatoes are fabulous.

Do you know something, it is really strange not sharing step by step photographs with you.  I feel somehow that I am cheating. I know I will get used to it, but having shared step by step photographs for over 4 years, it is very hard to get out of the habit.

Oh and before I leave you, guess which film we are watching on Sunday.... yes that's right, Sweet Charity. I can't wait.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,

and

As Always,










Thursday, 22 September 2016

FIG, RICOTTA CHEESE AND PROSCIUTTO TOASTS

Good Afternoon to you,


As you know, George and I love walking.  

I think it would be fair to say, that I am a fair weather walker and George is an all weather walker.

When it is drizzling with rain, he will encourage me to join him for a walk.  I'll huff and I'll puff, but eventually, I will give in and put my walking clothes on and go out with him. I don't know why I make such a fuss when it's drizzling, because once I'm out walking I really enjoy it.

So, having such unexpected warm weather these past few weeks, has been really lovely and I have been enjoying my walks immensely.

Last week, we decided to turn left, out of our house, instead of the usual right. We walked to the top of our road and as we turned, we could see, in the distance, a lady walking her dog.  Nothing unusual in that, but this type of dog I haven't seen in years.

It was a Bassett Hound and he was adorable.

We stopped and chatted to the owner and we discovered the Bassett's name was Gus.  He looked up at us with his big doleful eyes, and started wagging his tail and that was that, we were smitten. 

Bassett Hounds are such an unusual breed of dog, because I feel, their legs, although strong, are way  too short for their body.  I feel they should have longer legs to support themselves, although they seem to cope very well with their short legs. 

While George was stroking him, we stayed and had a little chat to the owner. One of the things she mentioned was that Bassett hounds do not like to be left on their own, and Gus was no different. Gus loves to be around people, the more the merrier.

.... but there is a problem,  the owner of Gus, has to go to work, so  you'll never guess what she has to do. She hires a dog sitter, who comes and stays in the house, to keep Gus company, while she is out at work. The reason for this is, if Gus was left on his own, for more than 10 minutes, he will show his displeasure, by continuously howling, and apparently he could keep the howling up for the whole of the afternoon, until she returns home from work. Which obviously doesn't please the neighbours.... and if you've ever heard a hound howl, you know it can be painful on the ears. 

I loved the fact, that she loved Gus so much, that she hired a dog sitter.

We stayed and chatted for another 10 minutes and then we had to leave.  If we had the time, I think Gus would have allowed us to stroke and fuss him all day, but we needed to get on with our walk and the lady needed to take Gus for his walk, because the dog sitter was due in an hour to keep Gus company while she went to work.

We said goodbye and George turned to me and said, 'I could just eat a liquorice allsort' and I asked what on earth made him think of 'allsorts' and he said, 'Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts' are my favourite.

George had used word association, to make him think, he fancied a Bassett Liquorice Allsort. Before meeting  Gus, he never mentioned anything to do with sweets. In the end, George didn't buy any Bassett Liquorice Allsorts, because once we were halfway through our walk, he didn't mention it again. Not even when we arrived home. So that was just a whim. 

.... but what is not a whim is,

my love of figs.  I adore them. As we don't live in Cyprus anymore, we have to forego the pleasure of walking into the garden, to pick our figs fresh from the tree. Instead, I have to wait patiently for September to arrive, because I know, for just a few short weeks, we'll be treated to a glut of figs.

I buy mine from the Grainger Market in Newcastle, because they are always big and plump and ready to eat. 

Grainger Market is a fabulous place to buy fruit, vegetables and meat.  I was surprised to learn that it first opened its doors to the public in 1835.  I remember visiting Grainger Market as a young wife with Sadie (George's mother) and Auntie Mim (Sadie's sister).  They showed me the best stalls to buy fruit and vegetables and the owners of the stalls always had a bit of cheeky banter with the ladies, which they in turn loved.

While I was waiting patiently, for the fig season to arrive, I was so pleased to see, in the August edition of Good Housekeeping.... my favourite magazine by the way, a recipe for Fig and Parma Tartines.  I'm always on the look out for new fig recipes,  so of course, I was eager to try this one.


I have changed the recipe slightly, to use the ingredients I had in the house. This is something I often do, because I don't want to shop for new ingredients.

So it's on with the pinnie. I have to tell you, I am really looking forward to trying this recipe, as the figs George bought are just perfect.

INGREDIENTS YOU WILL NEED
TO MAKE
FIG, RICOTTA CHEESE AND PROSCIUTTO
TOASTS

Serves 4

6 large figs, sliced
4 slices of date and walnut bread
250g tub of ricotta cheese
grated zest from 1 lime
8 slices of prosciutto
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons of runny honey
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

HOW TO MAKE
FIG, RICOTTA CHEESE AND PROSCIUTTO
TOASTS

Place the date and walnut bread under a pre-heated grill and toast both sides until golden brown.

Place the ricotta cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper into a small bowl and mix together.


Divide between the four slices of toasted date and walnut bread.



Top the ricotta cheese with 2 slices of Prosciutto ham.
Set aside for the moment.

In a medium sized bowl, pour in the balsamic vinegar, the runny honey and mix together.

Add the sliced figs, a few at a time. I added 4 slices. Spoon over the balsamic vinegar and honey mixture.


When the figs are coated, carefully remove from the bowl and place the sliced figs on top of the Prosciutto ham. 

I had some balsamic and honey dressing left over, so I drizzled a little over each toast.



I have to say, the toasts were delicious and my chief taster, George, loved them.

I thought maybe the honey would make the toasts a little too sweet, because a ripe fig is very sweet, but the balsamic vinegar and honey dressing was just perfect.


How could I ever have doubted the team at Good Housekeeping.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,







Thursday, 15 September 2016

JOIN ME FOR A STROLL ALONG NORTHUMBERLAND'S BEAUTIFUL COASTLINE

Good Afternoon to you,


What are you up to today?  Do you have a bit of spare time to join me for a little stroll?

I'll not tell you where we are going, it can be a nice surprise.  What I would say is, if you decide to join me, do wear layers of clothing, with the final layer being  a fleece because you can never be too sure of the weather here in Northumberland.  If the weather decides to become a little warmer, we have all bases covered. You can peel away the layers and feel cool, but if needs be, you will also be warm, wearing your fleece.

Oh yes, and the final thing I should mention is, don't wear your good walking shoes as you might regret it, because if you decide to keep your shoes on, by the time we finish our walk, not only your shoes, but your socks will be covered in sand.  Oops, I think I've just given the game away.

So are you up for it?

Do you fancy a walk?

You do..... brilliant, let's go.




You'll really love walking through these dunes, because you never know what's around each corner. Please watch your step, as some of the paths are quite narrow. If someone walks towards us, I would recommend we walk in single file. Having said that, you will find, these rules do not apply to children, because as you will discover, they will race past us, to get to their destination, so if we do see some children, I'd advise that we give way.




There are many paths which will take you to where we are heading and I don't think I've ever taken the same path twice.



As you can see, this is a well worn path, do you see the many footprints. Some footprints are leaving as their owners have had their fun and are making their way home, whilst others, like us, are walking onwards. Don't worry, there is no rush, we have plenty of time.



Just a little further  along this pathway, then we will walk over the hill.... honestly its not much further. Aren't the Yellow Wort flowers, growing amongst the grasses, beautiful, they are such a vibrant yellow. It never ceases to amaze me that wild flowers can grow so close to the sea and survive.



.... and this is what the trek through the dunes was for, this beautiful, sandy beach.  There's a little hint of something, can you see it, just below the left hand corner.



I can't quite see it.  I'll move a little closer and see if I can capture the image. Just a minute.



That's better.  Although it isn't very close, this is as close as my camera will zoom in.  This is a photo of Farne Islands.

This is one of Europe's most important bird sanctuaries.  During the summer months we could take a boat trip around the island to see the many different species of birds. We might even spot a family of grey seals.  My favourite are the puffins, but that will have to wait for another time. We can make a date to go next summer.



I cannot wait for us to take a walk and enjoy this beautiful beach. It will give us the chance to stretch our  legs a little. How I love the smell of the fresh salty air.   When I lived in Cyprus, we used to walk along Larnaca beach almost every day during the winter. It was such good exercise.... and it was free.  No gym fees for us.



Have you walked for long enough.  Are you ready for a cup of tea? You are, brilliant, me too. Let's head back to the car.



I just need to have one last look before I leave. How beautiful is the sky.  Do you know something, it really is the little things in life which give me joy and puts a smile on my face.

I hope you enjoyed our stroll together.  Next year we can organise a trip to the Farne Islands and I will also take you to see Alnwick Castle.... now that will be special.

Take care and I will see you again on Thursday.

This week I will be joining,



and


As Always,







Thursday, 8 September 2016

OH, HOW I'VE MISSED YOU

Good Morning to you,


Well, I have to say, that was a long 'few weeks' wasn't it.

I had not intended to be away for so long, I had truly meant to have just a little break, to help George with some decorating, but as you know, sometimes, quite unexpectedly, our lives can go off in a very unexpected direction. Hence, the month or so became 4 months. 

For that I am sorry, but  I am so pleased to tell you, life has now returned to normal and everything is as it should be.

So how have I been spending my time during the summer months?

One of the things I have been doing is, getting myself acquainted with chalk paint.

Yes I know, I am light years behind everyone else, but to be honest, I never really envisaged a time when I would use chalk paint. Not to say that I haven't seen some wonderful transformations, because I have. Its just that during the early 1970s, we young things, did not want the dark furniture our parents owned, instead we decided to have a lighter look and much to the horror of our grandparents and parents, we painted any dark furniture given to us, white. Which they thought was dreadful. I have to say, I am the same with fashion, I never want to revisit the clothing my younger self wore.

So why now?

Well the truth is, as you know I am saving for a fabulous chair, which I am hoping will grace my living room very soon, so I did not want to spend money buying new bedside tables, I wanted to keep the money I have been saving for my chair.... we all have to make choices don't we and so I had to decide, what did I want more, new bedside tables or a new chair, well hands down, it was the new chair.

So I got to thinking. 

Tucked away in our garage was a couple of very old bedside cabinets, which were really scuffed and not very attractive, but still useful, so they did not warrant throwing away.  I kept the bedside cabinets in the garage, as they were useful storage and helped to keep some of my sewing overspill contained.

So while George was busy painting the living room, I went into the garage and brought the cabinets into the kitchen. I emptied them and then I wiped them down.... and to be honest they did not look very good at all, but structurally they were sound.

Then I went onto the Internet to do a little research.... people are so brilliant at sharing their work, so I learnt a lot about how to use chalk paint. 

After I had completed my research, I then popped to the shops to buy the chalk paint and some wax.... to tell you the truth I was very excited.

By the time I arrived home, it was time to make supper, so the painting had to wait until the following day.  I told George my plans, but he was not going to let me paint over the garish orange pine, without sanding it.  I told him there was no need as the chalk paint would glide on beautiful.

He did not believe me, even when I showed him the tin, he said if a job was worth doing, it was worth doing properly or not at all..... something my Gramps always used to say.

So the following morning, the sun shone,


and George took a break from painting and decamped to the garden with his sander and sandpaper. Do you see the space on the fence behind George, well that should have been covered with a beautiful white clematis. Unfortunately this year because we had such a wet spring and wet early summer, the weather has decimated my clematis and to be honest the roses have struggled this year as well, with many buds failing to open.


After a lot of hard work on George's part, the garish orange disappeared, to leave the pine wood looking much nicer and feeling very smooth indeed.

Do you like my pink trainers? Do you know where I bought them?  Of all places Avon.... and they are so very comfortable. Anyway I am digressing, as I know I often do.


With the wood prepped and ready, it meant that I could then begin, the part I was looking forward to the most.... the painting. Honestly, the paint was a dream to use.


.... and I had the first drawer painted in no time. Once I had painted the three drawers and unit with three coats of paint, it was a matter of waiting for the final coat to dry, so that I could wax everything. So while I was waiting I painted the second bedside cabinet.


The following day they both received two coats of wax, the first I allowed to dry, before the final coat of wax was rubbed into the paint.

I was so impressed with the chalk paint, because I was able to complete the painting task in just a day, as  the chalk paint dries so quickly.


I had fully intended replacing the drawer knobs, but do you know, I quite like them.  I will live with them for a while before I decide.  Having said that, I have seen some drawer knobs with the letter G for George and the letter D for Daphne which I thought would be a fun addition.


The cabinets are now in place, and I have to say, they are looking very nice indeed. Sorry about the old fashioned wallpaper, but this is an old house and once the paper is removed, the walls will need replastering, so that is a job for another time.

I have to say, I am really thrilled with the fact, that for a small sum of money,  I was able to re-use these cabinets, as structurally, there was nothing wrong with them, they were just so ugly.

.... so now, it is time to reveal to you, how the cabinets looked before they received their new colour. I have to say it's not a pretty sight.


Even with all the scratches and marks the units were perfect for storing my sewing bits and bobs in the garage, but visually an eye sore.  This bedside table could hardly be called a thing of beauty.

but now,


there is no comparison.  You might have noticed that I have not sanded any corners to make the piece look old.  I do appreciate the style, but as I mentioned before, it isn't my cup of tea I'm afraid. I just know myself so well, that if I did sand the edges, it would only be a matter of time before I would be itching to touch up the paint.

At the moment I am smiling to myself, because yes, I do love the transformation, but  this is not a true representation of what I have on my bedside cabinet.



Whilst the other photograph is lovely, this is what I really have on my table.  

A good angled lamp so that I can have the light in the right position when I am reading my book.

Books, because I love to read a chapter or two before I go to sleep. At the moment I am reading Nobody's Child by Kate Adie. 

Ayurvedic rose and jasmine hand cream, because believe it or not, it's the last thing I use before I get into bed. 

A little notebook and pencil, in case thoughts spring to mind before I go to sleep,

and finally a little round light, which I'm not sure what its actual use is, but it is very low wattage, so it means if I have to take a trip to the bathroom during the night, which I inevitably have to, I don't wake George by putting on the large light.  


As you can see, not as pretty, as the dressed bedside cabinet, but it works for me.

How about you, what essentials do you have on your bedside table?

Before I leave you, I wanted to mention, that whilst I have been away, I have been giving some thought to Ivy, Phyllis and Me! I can honestly say I have loved sharing my recipes with you, and that will not change, but I have decided, for now, to stop the step by step photographic instructions. Instead I will share my recipes, with just a few photographs. I do hope that is alright with you.

I have to say, it will take me a little while, but I will visit and catch up with you. I am really looking forward to seeing what you have been up to.

So take care and I will see you on Thursday.

This week I will be joining,



As always,







Thursday, 12 May 2016

MY KITCHEN IS CLOSED

Good Morning to you,


I just wanted to pop by, to let you know, we are busy decorating at the moment,


which means my kitchen will be closed for the next month or so. 

Have a wonderful few weeks and I will catch up with you, when the paint on the walls is dry and everything is returned to its rightful place.

As Always,




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