Sunday, 28 September 2014


Good Morning to you,

"I'm late, I'm late,
for a very important date.
No time to say, hello, goodbye.
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.

.... well, that quote from the 1951, Alice in Wonderland film, certainly applied to me on Wednesday.

Shall I tell you what happened.

Our lovely neighbour is building a new deck in his garden and in doing so, he had tons of top soil which he wanted to dispose of.

So, on Sunday, when George was working in his garage, our neighbour popped over to ask, if we would like some top soil for the garden. George said we would love some, as we have been building up our flower beds, but we still needed quite a lot more soil. Our neighbour was so pleased that we could make use of the soil, so the soil, was duly wheel barrowed into our garden.  

We were doing a grand job of dividing the soil between our flower beds, but we had really only made a small dent in the huge mound of soil. When we started the project, the weather was fine, but then we heard the weather was going to change and that rain was heading our way. Yes, you've guessed it, we needed to get a wiggle on and get all of the soil onto the flowerbeds before it rained, otherwise we would have had a large muddy mess in the garden..... and there lies the problem.  We were both so enthusiastic, George filling the wheel barrow and me, digging in the soil, that I overdid it and  hurt my knee.  I have to say that is typical of me, where the garden is concerned, I do not go slowly, slowly, I go on, and on, and on, and on, until the job is finished.  I should know better, but where the garden is concerned, if a job needs to be finished, I get so involved with what I am doing, that it isn't until I stop, that I think to myself, "I think I have done just a little too much".  Has that ever happened to you? I feel sure I am not on my own in this.

We managed to complete the job, but it was when I was making our supper that my knee started to hurt, so I was ordered, by Dr George, to put my foot up on a stool, for a couple of days, and not to walk on it.... of course I resisted, saying my knee would be fine, but that was fruitless, as George was watching my every move. 

So I am sorry I did not meet up with you on Wednesday, but I am really pleased to be tapping on my keyboard, and sharing with you, 

a lovely, Autumnal, Pea and Ham Soup.  This soup is not a rich, thick, winter soup, instead the broth is quite light and slightly thickened with red split lentils.

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

the most fabulous Ella Fitzgerald.  I have a number of her albums and never tire of her wonderful voice. Listen to 'It's Only a Paper Moon', 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love' and 'You'll Never Know'.  I just know, you will love Ella's voice as much as I do.

So whilst I am listening to, 'Taking a Chance on Love' I will organise my ingredients.


225g smoked gammon
2 large onions
2 sticks of celery
4 large carrots
100g red split lentils
200g frozen small garden peas
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 bay leaves
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1-2 chicken stock cubes


2 litres of  cooking liquid
from the cooked ham


Firstly, place the gammon into a saucepan
and cover with cold water.

Bring to the boil and simmer
50 minutes - 1 hour

When cooked, leave to stand in the
cooking liquor for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove the ham from the
cooking liquor and place on a plate.
Cover until needed.

Towards the end of the gammon's cooking time,

finely slice the onions.

Pour the 
olive oil into a pan.
Add the onions

cook until golden brown.

Whilst the onions are cooking,
dice the celery into small pieces

cut the carrots
into large chunks.

Place 2 litres of  the cooking liquid,
from the cooked ham,
into a fresh pan
dissolve the chicken stock cube or cubes.

Add the cooked 
diced celery,

red split lentils,

along with
the bay leaves,

sea salt

black pepper.

Bring to the boil.
Place a lid on the pan,
reduce the heat
and simmer
30 minutes.

Add the garden peas
and simmer for another 3 - 4 minutes.

Juice the lemon.

Taste the soup, being very careful
as the soup is hot.
Add a little lemon juice,
add more if needed,
until you are happy with the flavour.

If you feel the soup needs more seasoning, then
add a little more
sea salt and black pepper.

Ladle the soup into a bowl
and shred
as much or as little of the ham as you like,
into the soup.

I have a little and George has a lot of
shredded ham.

Then pick up your spoon and enjoy.

You will have noticed that in the ingredients section, I have called the ham, gammon, but when the gammon is cooked I refer to it as ham.  The reason being, before a ham is cooked it is known as gammon, but once cooked, it is referred to as ham.  I thought I would clear that little nuance up, in case you thought I had made a mistake.

I love the flavour of browned onions, but if you prefer your onions translucent and maybe cut a little smaller, then please do so.

Before I go, I was just wondering,

when you read the quote at the beginning, did you see the White Rabbit in your mind's eye? Could you hear him saying the words?

.... and are you wondering why I chose the quote? 

Well, I shall tell you. Many years ago now, when Natasha and Danielle were little girls, they both loved the story of, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, but I could not remember if the quote 'I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date' came from the book, I have a feeling, the words are incorrect.... but I remember they were spoken by the White Rabbit in the 1951 film of Alice in Wonderland.... and do you know how I remember this.... well the girls, not only loved the book they loved the film Alice in Wonderland and they watched it so many times, that many of the quotes are etched in my mind.

So take care and I will see you on Wednesday.

This week I will be joining,

Sunday, 21 September 2014


Good Morning to you,

For those of my friends, who have been reading my blog for a little while, you will know about my love affair with chocolate. I have to tell you, it cannot be just any old chocolate, it has to be a good quality chocolate.

We all have our favourite chocolate and of course there are many different types of chocolate available, German, French, Belgian, Swiss and Dutch chocolate are amongst my favourites, oh yes and I must not forget Spanish drinking chocolate, if you have never enjoyed the experience of Spanish drinking chocolate, then you really must add this to your list of things to try.

I am being honest when I say, I find, eating one square of good quality chocolate is much more satisfying than eating a couple of squares of cheaper chocolate.

....but there is an exception.  What is it about Nutella.... I just love it. I came very late to the joys of Nutella, I never imagined I would like it, but when I tried it, I found I loved it. Sometimes I will spread Nutella onto toasted date and walnut bread, and with the addition of a small coffee, it tastes fabulous.

So what do you think we are making today,

you will not be surprised to hear that it is something with a dash of chocolate. I am making chocolate muffins today, but with a little something added in the centre.... Nutella.... well a girl can never have enough chocolate.

So without further ado, it's on with the pinnie, and the music I am listening to today is,

the Dixie Chicks. Listen to 'Ready to Run', 'Cold Day in July, and 'Good Bye Earl'.

With 'Good Bye Earl' playing, it is time to organise my ingredients.


Makes 10 large muffins

175g unsalted butter
125g plain chocolate 
(70-80% cocoa solids)
50g dark brown sugar
200g caster sugar
125g plain flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
12 teaspoons of Nutella


Pre-heat the oven to 180C

Place 10 large muffin cases
into a muffin tin.
(The red muffin cases are because I did
not want to leave the two centre
muffin holes empty)

Using a bain marie,
or a bowl over a pan of simmering water.



chocolate into
the bowl
gently melt,
stirring when the chocolate and butter melt.

When melted
transfer the chocolate mixture into a large
mixing bowl

stir in the brown sugar

caster sugar.

Whisk the eggs

with the
vanilla essence
add a little at a time to the
chocolate mixture.
When the ingredients are thoroughly mixed,

sift the flour

cocoa powder


gently fold into the mixture.

Place a tablespoon of the
mixture into each muffin case

1 teaspoon of Nutella into the centre.

Divide the rest
of the chocolate mixture
between the muffin cases,
so that the Nutella
is covered with the chocolate mixture.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

You can enjoy your
chocolate muffin
dusted with a little
icing sugar

as we sometimes do,

with a little
stem ginger.

If eaten warm the Nutella is soft, but if the muffins are eaten cold, the Nutella is firmer,  which is just as lovely.

Do you know how I eat my muffin?  I peel off the paper case, cut the muffin into quarters, divide the stem ginger between the four quarters.  This way I know I am not getting too much Nutella, but just enough with each bite.

.... and I always enjoy chocolate with a strong cup of coffee.

Take care and I will see you on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


Good Morning to you,

On Sunday, I  really enjoyed telling you about  Bob's love for his garage  and I really hope you enjoyed reading about it. I find once I start thinking about a subject, especially when there is a family link, the words just seem to flow and my fingers merrily tap away on my keyboard and then before I know it, I have written more words than I had meant to.

The lovely Mariette mentioned in the comments section, that she did not know who Sadie was, and would like to know a little more. I have spoken about Sadie before, but maybe she is new to you. Sadie is George's mother.  Sadie is the same age as Phyllis, my mother, and although Sadie lives in the north of England and Phyllis in the south, they have been friends since George and I married all those years ago.

So after reading Sunday's post, you will have gathered, that Bob loved his garage and all of it's contents. Over the years the contents of the garage never diminished, as he always found more items to replace the ones he had given away.

When Bob retired, he did make a couple of changes....  he   added a deckchair to sit on and a radio to listen to, and he was happy.

As you will remember, I have mentioned before that Bob had a sweet tooth and he loved cakes, but cakes were his downfall. When Bob retired, he was not as active as he used to be, and he put on, a little weight around his tummy, so Sadie decided she would help him,  she would not buy cakes from the baker, as she felt this would help him lose weight, but unbeknown to Sadie, although Bob was not eating cake in the house,  Bob had been visiting his favourite bakers and he had his own little store of cakes in the garage.

..... and how do I know this, well it all came about when Bob passed away and the garage had to be cleared.

As you can imagine, clearing the garage was very emotional for everyone and it took quite a while to empty the contents. Two days into the job, almost at the back of the garage, a few tins were found, and when George's brother opened the first tin, he found a selection of cakes which Bob had bought from the bakers, inside a smaller tin, were biscuits and in another, boiled sweets. So when Bob said he was going to potter in his garage, yes he was pottering, but away from Sadie's prying eyes, he was also enjoying his favourite cakes, biscuits and sweets.

To Bob, the garage was his private little world, and like a magpie, he loved to fill it with his own version of 'sparkly' things. 

Whenever any of us retell this story, we always smile, as Bob did not have a lot of money during his lifetime, but he was such a kind and generous spirited man. He would do anything to help, when help was needed. When Bob passed away, we held the service in St James' Church in Newcastle and the service was taken by George's cousin.  St James' Church is a beautiful old church which was built in 1833. Although it is a large church, there was not enough room for everyone to sit inside, so many of Bob's friends had to stand outside because they could not get into the church to hear the service. 

Isn't that a marvellous testament to the life of a man..... you do not have to be rich and famous to place your mark on the world, you just have to be someone  who  has a kind and generous spirit.

So with Bob's smiling face in my mind, it is time to tell you what we are making today.  If you remember on Sunday, I made Mackerel Dip, well today we are making,

the Crisp Breads. These crisp breads are just perfect eaten with the mackerel dip.

So it's on with the pinnie, and the music I have chosen to listen to today is,

Moulin Rouge.  I remember when I went to see this film, at the cinema, with Natasha and Danielle, the music made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.... I loved it so much.  I love 'Your Song', 'One Day I'll Fly Away' and 'Come What May' just pulls at my heart strings.

So while I listen to 'Come What May' for the second time, I will organise my ingredients.


4 slices of brown or white bread
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
sea salt



Using a sharp knife,

cut the crusts from the slices of bread.

Find your rolling pin


roll out each slice of bread thinly.

I thought I would show you that the bread
is thinner, but there is not a huge difference
in size.

Continue rolling the 3 other slices of bread
in the same manner.

Brush the slices of bread
olive oil.

Cut each slice of bread into 4 triangles
place the bread, oiled side down
on a baking tray.

Brush the top side of the
bread with olive oil

sprinkle with sea salt.

Pre-heat the oven to 160C
and bake in the oven for
10 - 15 minutes.

Check after 10 minutes.
You want the crisp breads to be golden in colour.

Remove from the oven 
allow to cool.

As you can see,
these crisp breads are so easy
to make.
If you do not want to add salt,
dried oregano, or dried chilli,
it is really up to you what flavour you choose.

.... and are you wondering what I did with the
crusts cut from the bread?

They were whizzed in the
food processor


placed in the freezer to use
as a coating
potato cakes.

Just before I go, it occurred to me that you might like to see St James' Church, in Newcastle as it is a very old and interesting church, so I have added the link.

Take care and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,

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