The almost matchy matchy

I was on the nail with my matchy matchy blue striped socks but these Noro ones proved more difficult because half way through the skein, the yarn was cut off and another random colourway was tied in.

noro1
They are quite a close match

noro2
but the toes are a little off.

tamyra
Tamyra isn’t bothered. She is happily ensconced in her bed!

Matchy matchy

matchy1
I’ve been laid up for the last week with acute bronchitis so between long long sleeps, I’ve been working on my matchy-matchy skills.

matchy2
I don’t think I did too badly.

tam-bed
Tamyra has been my sleeping buddy. I’m not so sure about what she did to make her bed like that but it is all fixed now and more exciting is the fact that she slept with me on the sofa for hours and hours.

Simon’s Girlfriend’s Grandmother’s Swedish Meatball Recipe

meatball1

We sometimes have international students come to stay and last year we hosted a Swedish student called Simon and his girlfriend for a short while. We were talking about Christmas in Sweden and they said they ate meatballs with beer in. I was curious and asked for the recipe which they very kindly obtained for me and we tried it out and loved it. I’ve made some adaptations as I found frying batches of them a little cumbersome and the meatballs wouldn’t stay together. I also didn’t have any French mustard so subbed some French’s Classic yellow mustard instead.

100g breadcrumbs
200ml beer
500g beef mince
500g pork mince
mustard
mixed spice
salt
pepper

Make your meatballs – around a tsp each in size and place them on baking sheet covered with baking parchment. Bake these for around 15 minutes until they are cooked through. Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables of your choice. Swedes serve meatballs with lingonberry jam. Redcurrant jelly or cumberland sauce would work just as well.

meatball2
An alternative is cooking these in a pepper sauce. I had a packet mix in the cupboard so made it up on the stove and put some partially cooked meatballs (cook for around 10 minutes in the oven as previously described) in a covered casserole with the sauce and cooked them in the oven for around 20 minutes.

Hot cross bun pudding

bread1
Happy Easter! It’s been a while but life has gotten in the way a bit but hopefully I’ll be back to normal service again.

I was having a very tiny little panic last night when I realised that I had no dessert for Easter lunch and knowing that the stores were closing later that evening and also feeling a little lazy about driving into town to collect some groceries, I thought I’d invent something and hence hot cross bun pudding was born. It is loosely based on this bread pudding recipe but I’ve given it an Easter twist. My pudding is a cross between hot cross buns and simnel cake as it has a marzipan middle which you can leave out if you don’t have any marzipan. I just happened to have some in the cupboard staring at me. Anyone who has ever visited me knows that my cupboards groan with strange and wonderful ingredients. I also have a big drawer full of bread crusts of all types and varieties in my freezer :) I started my pudding last night as it gives the bread a good chance to break down and meld together with the milk and brandy and also for the dried fruit to swell up again.

bread2
500g bread, whatever you have to hand, if it is all dried up that’s even better
600ml-800ml milk
3 tbsp brandy
500g mixed fruit, I used raisins and currants
200g mixed peel
2 tbsp mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice also would work)
2 large eggs
140g light muscovado sugar, you can also used caster sugar
100g melted butter
1 pack of marzipan, around 500g

Soak the bread, fruit and peel with the milk and brandy overnight with the mixed spice. If your bread is not taking in the liquid very well, add a bit more milk or brandy. The next day you should have a squashy mushy fruity mix.

Butter a large casserole dish – a lasagna dish would be perfect.

Beat together your eggs and add to the mix with the muscovado sugar. Stir in your melted better. Spoon in roughly half of your pudding mix into the bottom of the dish. Cut your marzipan into slices and arrange on top of the bread pudding and then spoon the rest of the pudding mix on top. Sprinkle some sugar on the top of the pudding and put into the oven to bake for around 1-1.5 hours. If it looks like it is getting too brown, cover your pudding with some tin foil.

Moroccan chicken

I had some leftover chicken from a roast and wanted to do something other than another curry so I thought I’d do something Moroccan for a change as I have a pack of Ras El Hanout in my spice cupboard. It isn’t too spicy but warming and tasty but you can reduce to Ras el Hanout if you don’t want too much spice or stir in some sour cream to tone it down a little.

You can use fresh chicken – I’d probably use one or two chicken breasts. I’d probably put it in a slow cooker if I was using fresh chicken.

morroccan

1 onion, sliced
2 tsp of ras al hanout seasoning
2 carrots, chopped in chunks
2 sticks celery
Handful of mushrooms (optional)
Handful of dried apricots
Sprinkling of raisins or currants
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
300ml of chicken stock
Around 300-400g of leftover cooked chicken

Fry your onion until soft and add ras al hanout, carrots, celery, mushrooms, apricots and raisin/currants. Soften a little and then add your tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and chicken stock.

Simmer your sauce for around 20-30 minutes until your vegetables are soft. Dried fruit will have puffed up a bit and will be all juicy. Just before you are ready to eat, stir in your cooked chopped chicken to heat it up.

Serve with couscous or bulgar wheat.

sirius
Sirius says he’ll take his chicken whichever way he can.

A sight for sore eyes! = Mickey Blue Eyes

m1
It has been pretty awful out of late – icy, snow showers, cold etc etc so not at all the weather for cats on my commute but today it was a little warmer and weather perfect for my young friend.

m2
He is, quite simply put, quite brilliant. Why? Well, he seems completely overjoyed to see me when I arrive in the car and loves a proper picking up and snuggling. He is a purr-er and loves a cuddle ever so much.

m3
It doesn’t fail to surprise me that his eyes haven’t changed even though he’s no longer a tiny kitten any more. What a sweetie. I always look out for him and sometimes just seeing his little face peeping out through the net curtains does make me smile.

Pandora’s Art Critic

work1
I was quite amazed when my friend Tracie asked me to be part of a very special art exhibition in October.

work2
It is called Pandora’s Other Box and we will all contribute one piece to the exhibition after a series of workshops until the show in October.

work3
Our theme is Maya Angelou’s poem ‘ Still I rise ‘.

work4
Our first workshop was dipping our toes in and working with collage materials.

work5
I won’t kid you – I’m worried. I can’t draw. I can’t paint and I’ve not been to art school. Can I do this? I don’t know but I know if I don’t try then I really won’t know if I can or not….

My piece represents the verse:
‘I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise ‘

work6
Of course, there is always a critic. He’s not been too harsh on the string and rope. But he’s cute so is easily forgiven.