V & A Museum of Childhood

pao and I had a couple of days in London. Unfortunately, our accommodation wasn’t as nice as it could have been but I won’t go into all of that here. We did make the best of it but visiting some nice places though. I had a little list of places I wanted to see as I didn’t want to go to all the big places that tourists normally go to.

child1
On the top of my list was the V & A Museum of Childhood. We had a little picnic outside before we went in and as the weather was very hot indeed.

child2
The display in the foyer was made by a whole load of school children

child3
and was themed around a birthday party. I kind of liked that there were all sorts of things the children had made and were put together like that.

child4
I’ve been doing a lot of collage recently and enjoyed finding this cutout cat. It reminds me a bit of my childhood in the 70s.

child5
What I enjoyed the most of was seeing toys I’d played with like this Viewmaster. It might seem so old fashioned to kids today but it was properly exciting to me when I was a kid. I can’t remember what my disks were but I think probably of London. As I wasn’t living in England then, it was probably all the more exciting to play with.

child6
Of course, I couldn’t resist loving Snoopy. I still love Snoopy to this day.

child7
I thought these knitted Punch and Judy characters were pretty neat. Given how violent they are to each other, the knitted aspect does soften the blows.

child8
Anyone who knows me knows I can’t resist a cat or three.

child9
I think this is exactly the kind of thing I wished my grandma would have given me when I was a little kid. I’ve taken to eBay without success to see if such a thing still exists to no avail so I’ll just have to keep an eye out in thrift stores to see if I can find one.

child10
Spirograph was one of the top toys of my childhood. I still remember the ads but I also remember thinking they weren’t as satisfying as they could have been. I remember the whole making lots of lots of circles thing.

child11
A cat? Yes, this is Millie. She is one of the two things that made our accommodation vaguely bearable. A sweet girl who loved to be brushed and loved a cuddle.

June Babies

moorhens1
I saw this lovely little scene and spent a few minutes watching the little family wandering around the car park near my doctor’s surgery.

moorhens2
Lovely to see the whole family together.

I’m sorry my blog silence has been so long. I’ve just been very sad lately and I don’t know why this is. I should be happy but I guess that we can’t always be happy which sucks a whole lot. I’ve been doing some odd bits of art and making and a whole lot of working so I’ve not had a lot of space and time to myself yet this year. If anyone is still reading, say hi, please if you’d like to!

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.