Thursday, 28 January 2016


Good Morning to you,

I do love a good detective story.

I don't like anything which is violent, with scenes of blood and gore, I just love a good old fashioned whodunnit. I love films where you are told something has happened and it is left to your imagination. I enjoy films where there are no horrible images. To be honest, I really am squeamish. I like films, which I can sit and watch comfortably, without having to bob up and down, to hide my face behind a pillow, each time something awful happens. I find it so exhausting that by the end of the film, I'm a nervous wreck.

So I was pleased to discover there is a wonderful detective series, which requires no pillow, showing on the television at the moment.

No, not Agatha Christie mysteries, which incidentally I love, but,

.... a wonderful series called Father Brown.... I love it. Honestly I cannot recommend it highly enough.  If you are a lover of old style detective stories, with charming characters and beautiful scenery, then this is for you.

Let me tell you a little bit about Father Brown.

Father Brown, is a fictional Roman Catholic priest, created by G.K. Chesterton over 100 years ago. Father Brown is an unusual priest, because along with his parish duties, he always seems to get embroiled in investigations of crime, which happen in his village.  He is a bit of an amateur detective, much to the chagrin of the local constabulary, because whenever a crime is committed, Father Brown is around, getting 'in the hair' of the chief inspector, who in turn feels Father Brown should stick to his church duties and not interfere with police investigations. By the end of the series the chief inspector, gradually, but begrudgingly, comes to respect Father Brown's intuitiveness.

The characters are marvellous.

Mark Williams plays Father Brown beautifully.  You will remember Mark as the father of Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films. I love his quirkiness and he makes you really love the character of Father Brown. Trust me, you will fall in love with him.

Sorcha Cusack is marvellous as Mrs Bridgette McCarthy, the parish secretary. I think it would be fair to say, she is a little bit of a busy body, but with a good heart.... and she wears the most fabulous hats.

Nancy Carroll, well, she is brilliant playing Lady Felecia Montague, the bored aristocrat who vies with Mrs McCarthy for the attentions of Father Brown. Each of the lady's spend much of their time, trying to outdo each other, to capture Father Brown's attention. Mrs McCarthy thinks Lady Felecia is just 'decorative', with nothing else to do, but to spend her time on her appearance. In one of the episodes the ladies decide to help Father Brown, because he has broken his leg and cannot get around. Father Brown asks them to find a letter, which he has seen, being thrown into a dustbin, which he feels is crucial to the investigation. The ladies stand beside the dustbin and both hesitate to put their hands inside. Lady Felecia says 'I can't possibly put my hands inside the dustbin as these gloves are Chanel darling'. Mrs McCarthy replies 'I'm sure Chanel will never know'.... but underneath it all, as much as they bicker, they do like each other.  Have I said too much, I hope not, I am trying to give you a flavour of the characters.

Alex Price plays Sid Carter, the chauffeur of Lady Felecia, and a bit of a rascal.... but lovely with it. Although he is Lady Felecia's chauffeur he always seems to be running errands for Father Brown and getting involved in his investigations.

Now I had better stop, before I start giving too much away, but I would say, if you are a lover of Miss Marple you will really enjoy Father Brown.

Perhaps you have a favourite series you can share. For instance, both Phyllis, my mother and Sadie, my mother-in-law, love Murder She Wrote with Angela Lansbury.  I have been known to ring Phyllis for a chat, then ring Sadie afterwards and they are both watching Murder She Wrote.  A little like the time I told you when George, one Saturday afternoon, was watching a cowboy film, later we discovered, his father was watching the same film and both of his brothers.... as they all love cowboy films.

The series of Father Brown now showing, is a repeat, because I missed it first time around and as it happens, what I am making today, is also a repeat,

this Soda bread... but there are a few differences in the recipe and this time I have added olives to the mix.  I was not sure if it would work, but I am so pleased to say it has, so now I feel confident sharing this recipe with you.

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

is a step back in time.  Do you remember Bobby Rydell?

I heard this song on the radio the other day, and it made me smile.  Listen to Forget Him and tell me what you think.... I even remembered all the words.

So while I organise my ingredients I am listening to, Wild One but first, George and I are having a little bop around the kitchen... this is certainly George's style of dance music.




450g wholegrain flour
23 medium sized black, stoned olives
1 heaped teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of salt
300ml buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
olive oil to brush around baking tin
1 sheet of aluminium foil to cover baking tin.


Pre-heat oven to 190C

Brush a 19 cm loose bottom cake tin 
with olive oil. Then line the base
with parchment paper.

Place the flour,

bicarbonate of soda
and the
into a large mixing bowl 
stir the ingredients together.
Set aside for the moment.

De-stone the olives
cut into quarters.
Set aside for the moment.

In a separate bowl
whisk the egg

 the buttermilk
and add 

chopped olives.
Mix everything together.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients
mix everything together
to form a soft dough ball.

You might find at this point you will need
to add a little water to 
bring the mixture together.

Place the dough ball in the
pre-prepared cake tin.
Pat down the dough ball to fit the cake tin.

Cover with tin foil
and bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the tin foil
and return the soda bread to the oven.

Bake for a further 20 minutes,
but I would check the bread after 15 minutes.
I'm not sure why, but sometimes the
baking takes a further 20 minutes and
other times it takes 15 minutes.

Remove the soda bread from the cake tin
and allow to cool
a little on a wire rack.

as I always say,


I thought you would like to see how the black olives had settled in the bread.  Now the amount of olives I gave you was quite exact wasn't it.... 23 in all.  The reason for this is, I had 23 olives which I wanted to use up and so, as a trial, I decided to add them to this soda bread.

Way back in 2012... gosh is it that long, we made soda bread and I shared with you how I made the cross a little too large,  so the bread became a little misshapen.  It did not spoil the taste and texture, it just looked a little odd. Well I recently discovered the book, The Handmade Loaf written by Dan Lepard and if you are a lover of bread making then this is the book for you. This is where I came upon Dan's technique of covering his Waterford Soda Bread with tin foil.  I forgoed the cross and I tried Dan's technique and it makes so much sense, the soda bread rose evenly, making it easy to slice the soda bread evenly.  Not that even slices is really that important, but I have found it is easier to toast the soda bread and also to make open sandwiches.

So I am proud to say, there are no mistakes this time.

Just before I leave you, I wanted to say, I have not been visiting you as much as I should just recently and also I have not replied to your lovely comments. Life has been a little hectic of late, but I promise to catch up with you in the coming week.

Take care, and as always, I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining.

As Always,

Thursday, 21 January 2016


Good Morning to you,

Are you a bit of a nosey parker?

Are you someone who doesn't mean to, but you can't help but listen-in, to other people's conversations?

I hold my hands up.... I am a bit of a nosey parker. I don't mean that I like to know people's business, in fact the opposite is true and  I don't go out of my way to listen-in to other people's conversations, but if I am on my own and I am within ear shot, well, I can't help myself. I think the best way to describe myself is inquisitive.... I find other people so fascinating.

.... and George, well he certainly would not be described as a nosey parker, but the other day he came home from swimming and told me a wonderful tale, about a conversation he had overheard at the swimming pool, between a little girl and her daddy.

I'll set the scene.

George had completed his daily swim when he noticed, up ahead, a little girl holding her daddy's hand. As they walked, the little girl was chattering away, none stop to her daddy. He said it was a lovely scene and it reminded him of the days when Natasha and Danielle were little girls.

George then went for his usual sauna and when he finished he walked into the changing room to take a shower and to get dressed.

He had just locked the door of his cubicle, when he heard this wonderful conversation between the little girl, he had noticed earlier, who he came to know as Daisy, and her daddy.

It went like this.

Daisy. 'Daddy, you don't put my vest on that way. Mammy puts it on the other way.'

Daddy did not respond.

Daisy. 'Daddy you've put my pants on the wrong way.  Mammy doesn't do it like that.'

Daddy. 'Daisy, I do it this way'

Daisy. 'Yes but daddy, mammy does it the other way'.

Daddy.  'Daisy, there are different ways to do things and this is my way'.

George heard a sigh from Daisy and all was quiet for a little while.

Then Daisy piped up. 'Daddy, you've put my socks on the wrong way, they are inside out'.

Daddy. 'No they're not Daisy'

Daisy. 'Yes they are daddy'.

Daddy, getting a little exasperated.... 'Daisy they're not'.

Daisy.  Yes they are daddy, the pink lace should be on the outside, not on the inside.

Daddy.  Daisy they look fine to me.

Daisy.  No they're not. I'm going to tell mammy when we get home, because you've done it all wrong'.

Daddy.  'It's alright Daisy, mammy will understand.'

Brief silence.

Daisy. 'Daddy,'

Daddy. 'Yes Daisy.'

Daisy.  'I need a wee.'

Daddy.  'Really, I just took you for a wee.'

Daisy.  'I know daddy, but I need to go again.'

Daddy.  'Really.'

Daisy.  'Yes daddy, I need a wee.'

Daddy.  'Ok Daisy let's go.'

Daisy.  'Wait a minute daddy.  I need to put my flip flops on.'

Daddy.  'No Daisy, you don't need them.'

Daisy.  'Yes I do, they are my new flip flops'.

Daddy.  'Honestly Daisy you don't need them because you have your socks on and we would have to take them off again.'

Daisy.  '.... but I do,  I do need them daddy, I really, really need them'

Daddy.  A little exasperated.  'I will carry you so you won't need to put them on.'

Daisy.  No, I don't want you to carry me, I want to wear my new flip flops.

.... d-a-d-d-y,

Daddy.  Yes Daisy.

Daisy.  'I'm going to tell mammy about all this.'

Daddy.  'Don't worry Daisy, mammy will understand'.

Daisy.  'No she won't.

Daddy.  Ok Daisy, let's just go to the toilet and you can tell mammy all about it when we get home.

Daisy.  Thank you daddy. Daddy.

Daddy.  Yes Daisy.

Daisy.  I love you.

Daddy.  I love you too Daisy.

Daisy.   But I'm still going to tell mammy, because you've done it all wrong today.'

.... and with that, it all went quiet.

George said he had to really control his laughter, because it was such a funny conversation between Daisy who was about 4 years old  and her daddy.

.... but what really made him smile was it reminded him of when our girls were little.  If things weren't as they should be, they always told George that they would tell mummy when they got home.

It's nice to know things haven't changed.

..... but what I have changed a little is,

what we are making today.... a spicy red lentil dahl. It has a little spice, but not a lot and it is lovely eaten with pitta bread.  I have even added it as a side dish along with a piece of fish.

I do apologise to my Indian friends, because this dahl is not authentic, but I feel sure you will forgive me, because we all adapt recipes to suit our own tastes.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to, well here's a hint. If I say, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.... do you know who it is?

Of course you do, it's Bryan Adams.  There are so many songs to choose from, which I love, but I feel sure you will enjoy, I'm Ready.... it's such a beautiful song.

.... and I know the weather is not warm and sunny, but after you have danced to Summer of '69 (now that took you by surprise didn't it) you will have a lovely warm glow about you. So while your dancing, I will gather my ingredients together and of course I am dancing as well.  I cannot imagine anyone listening to this track who did not want to dance.


100g red split lentils
500 ml chicken stock
1 medium white onion
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1/2 tablespoon of fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt to taste


Finely chop the onion.
My knife skills are not very good
so I used my food processor.

Place the olive oil
into a pan
add the finely chopped onions.

Cook over a low heat
until the onions
are golden.

Crush the garlic
add to the pan.
Cook for a minute.

Grate the ginger
and add to the pan.
Cook for a further minute.

Add the paprika

the curry powder.
Cook for another minute.
The aroma of the spices will fill the kitchen.

Add the 
chicken stock to the pan

the split red lentils.

Increase the heat
stir well 
to incorporate the ingredients.

When the  mixture comes to the boil,
reduce to a low heat
place a lid on the pan.

Cook for 15-20 minutes
or until the chicken stock has been 

After 10 minutes
stir the ingredients
Replace the lid, but keep a very close
eye on the dahl
as you want the 
liquid to be incorporated,
but you don't want the mixture to burn.

After 15 minutes, if the liquid
has not reduced,
I remove the lid and with a wooden spoon,
move the mixture around the pan until
the liquid has reduced.

Season to taste with a little sea salt

as always,

We ate this spicy red lentil dahl for lunch with pitta bread and it was the perfect lunch.

If you are a vegetarian, then add vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Now I have written that the dahl will take between 15 and 20 minutes to cook.  The difficulty in pinpointing the exact time is how different our cookers are.  I cook the dahl on my smallest gas ring and as I said over a low heat, but your gas ring might be larger than mine, so it will take a little less time.  The trick is to keep an eye on the dahl whilst it is cooking, because you do not want the dahl to burn.

Spanish paprika might seem an odd spice to add to an Indian dahl, but the reason for adding it is, I had run out of chilli powder and turmeric. So instead of going out to buy more I decided to add the paprika and curry powder instead, as they were the spices I had to hand. It was such a success that I don't add chilli powder and turmeric anymore.

We enjoyed this dahl so much that George has asked that I make it again this weekend so he can have it as part of his 'little plates' of food, whilst he watches sport on Saturday afternoon.

What better recommendation could I give you.

Oh and before I go, I thought I would mention that 'mammy' is a regional word for mummy.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,



As Always,

Thursday, 14 January 2016


Good Morning to you,

On Monday morning I went about my usual routine.

I opened the shutters, put the kettle on, then switched on the radio, to hear a David Bowie record playing, then another and then another.... which I thought was very strange.

When the final record finished playing, the radio broadcaster went on to say, what an utter shock it was, that the music icon, David Bowie, had passed away, at the age of 69 years.

I was shocked as well and I felt very sad, but I'm not sure why, after all, I never knew David, he was not someone who was close to me, so why the sadness. 

On reflection, I think it was because I have enjoyed his music on and off throughout the years.  He was unique. He was not afraid to change, to re-invent himself, as he did so many times. 

In the early '70s, when he became Ziggy Stardust, fans, both male and female, used to go to his concerts dressed up as Ziggy.  The hair, the makeup and the clothes were so distinctive. If you saw someone with a lightening bolt painted on their face, you knew that he was a fan of David's. I think his style showed people that it was alright to be individual, it was ok to be different, that we don't all have to be the same. It's fine to be just who you are.

When David gave his final performance as Ziggy Stardust, I remember fans were heartbroken.  Here was a man who was riding high with his alter ego, but he wasn't afraid to let him go.

I remember Phyllis saying when her music idols passed away, how sad she was, and being young I never really understood, but I do now.  

I thank, with all my heart, the incredibly talented singers and musicians, who on a daily basis, enrich our lives with their wonderful music and lyrics.

.... and whether you are a David Bowie fan or not, there is sadness, knowing someone has passed, who, touched so many lives and brightened so many days.

So 'Let's Dance' while we make,

Parsnip soup with a touch of curry. The curry powder adds a little zing and along with turmeric, lifts this soup from being a little pale and uninteresting, to more colourful and interesting.... a little like Ziggy Stardust.

So it's on with the pinnie, and quite honestly, there is only one man's music I can play today and of course that is,

David Bowie.  I downloaded Let's Dance today, so along with the other 29,317,954 people 'Let's Dance' even if it is only for the duration of this song.

So while I dance my own personal dance, I will gather my ingredients.


Serves 6

750g  parsnips
2 large leeks
2 medium sized potatoes
1 level teaspoon of turmeric
1 level tablespoon of curry powder
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 litre of chicken stock
sea salt
black pepper


Slice the leeks,
and drain.

the olive oil into a medium sized saucepan
add the sliced leeks.
Make sure the leeks are dried
otherwise they will spit and spatter.
Using a low heat
cook until soft.

Whilst the leeks are cooking,
peel and cube 
the potatoes
and set aside for the moment.

Peel and cube
the parsnips
and again 
set aside for the moment.

When the leeks have softened,
add the
curry powder

and stir for a minute.
Be careful with the turmeric
because it will stain.

When you can smell the spices,
cubed parsnips
and the
cubed potatoes
and stir until everything is coated.

the chicken stock
stir the ingredients together.
Bring to the boil
and then
place a lid on the pan
and simmer
30 minutes
or until the vegetables are soft.

Using a handheld blender,
blitz the soup until it becomes smooth.

Season with
sea salt
and freshly ground black pepper.

Ladle into your favourite soup bowl,
(the following is optional)
add a tablespoon or so of cream
and some
little croutons


Now when you blitz the soup, you will find it might be a little too thick, don't worry, there are a couple of options. You can thin the soup with a little more stock, or, you can add milk or cream.  On the occasions where I have added milk, I found that it gave a creamier flavour.

Soup is a perfect winter meal and I always make enough so that I can freeze a couple of portions, hence the fact that this recipes serves six. It makes life easier, on those very busy days, which we all have, I can take the soup from my freezer and with the snap of my fingers, I have a quick and easy lunch on the table in no time.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


As always,

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