Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple." - Woody Guthrie

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Marrows are not photogenic ...

This week I spent a relaxing couple of hours with the craft club members, many of whom were born in the local area and have witnessed significant social change.  The conversation this week turned to the shops that would have graced a road I frequented in the past, when doing the school drop off. In times gone by this road would have provided all the needs for the local population without resorting to a trip into town, which is practically on our doorstep.

Cheap as chips, Corn Chowder.

This led me to thinking about the sad loss of community whether it be your local bank manager, post office or the little corner shop where you could purchase 2oz of cheese or a couple of slices of bacon.  Or, in my case, a wonky Christmas Tree one year for the princely sum of £5.

In addition, this year I have tried to support local businesses and avoided the chains even when eating out.  This does make the organic route challenging in our corner of Kent but I am sure I won't start glowing in the dark if my diet isn't 100% organic and as you know from a previous post I am no saint when it comes to sugary treats that are certainly neither organic nor healthy. 

So inspired by the craft club conversation, my love of community and the frugal bloggers out there who are undertaking the store cupboard challenge, I decided to forgo my 'big shop' at the supermarket this week and see if I could survive by shopping local and using my veg box in a more inventive manner.  I remember Giles Coran once describing his compost as liquid gold because it was regularly fed the contents of his veg box.  Lets just say I am as guilty with my lush compost!

On Friday the local butchers came up trumps with some plump chicken breasts and a wonderful chicken stew courtesy of Jamie Oliver was whipped up for our evening meal, followed by Chicken with Moroccan-spiced vegetables on Saturday which was preceded by the freshest, tastiest corn on the cob I have eaten in years purchased from the local green grocer.  

Chicken with Moroccan Spiced Vegetables
Part of this challenge was to also try and not waste so much which I find you can end up doing if you work long hours and shop once a week or you are a total fluff head like me.  So I followed a recipe for Spiced Apple Cake (sorry can't find the blog that led me to the recipe) and as a result didn't waste four eating apples and 200g of mixed fruit.   I was on a roll now, and being a lover of spicy soup I produced my version of corn chowder with the remaining corn on the corn, some green beans whithering in the fridge, half a red pepper, half a small butternut squash (a distant cousin of the ones in my compost bin), a carrot, two small red onions, two tomatoes and a pinch of chilli flakes and salt & pepper.

Today a small piece of bacon is roasting away in the oven, enclosed in my vintage enamel bakeware and should provide today's meal plus sandwiches for tomorrow and Tuesday.    The rest of the week we shall eat out of the freezer, since there are plenty of left-overs to finish off.  Which brings me to the title of my post, a visit to our local farmers market this morning resulted in the purchase of a marrow for the tidy sum of 40p.  It will taste great stuffed but boy it is a ugly creature and has no photogenic qualities at all but then again neither does raw chicken! 

Have a great week xxx

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Simple pleasures ...

My hot beverage of choice is coffee, freshly ground, filtered and milky.  However there are times when a nice rooibos or some green tea can also quench my thirst.  The 'nappy pin' you see in the picture above is my tea infuser, a gift from Sweden, where apparently they sell tea in the loose leaf form.  I have no idea whether the Swedish nation truly shuns the convenience of the teabag but I do know the infuser languished in my kitchen drawer until the recent opening of a shop selling a wide range of loose tea in nearby Margate.  Much fresher than tea purchased from a supermarket, or as someone recently described it; "anything else will now taste like floor sweepings" the choice is pretty mind boggling.  After a little mutter to myself, I settled on Teddy Bear's Choice Fruit Tea, don't you just love the name?  If you get the chance to visit the Broadstairs Food Festival next week and you take your tea loose or if  like me you prefer it served in a 'nappy pin' pop along to Lady Tesha's Loose Leaves stall and see for yourself.

Opposite me whilst I take tea is a winter cyclamen, both gorgeous and cheap at £1.50 in the local market.  The plant pot is another 50p purchase from the boot fair last week and my first 'Made in Germany' purchase.   I researched the brand; Scheurich on the internet and found an ceramics company that has been established since 1927.  There are also some interesting vintage pieces for sale on Ebay, all for 50p!

Finally, lunch today was one of my all time favourites; cheese omelette. What could be simpler?

Have a peaceful weekend xxx

 A big welcome to my new followers in particular Fatdormouse and Lou at Jumbles and Pompoms.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Things I am loving right now ...

50p dish from the bootfair,

new ironing board cover,

fairy lights,  


Have a wonderful week xxx

Friday, 21 September 2012

Bits & Pieces ...

Today's post is going to be a bit of a mish-mash.  Firstly I want to share with you two of my favourite pictures, one picked up last year in a little vintage/antique shop and the second at a garden sale earlier in the Summer, each within walking distance of our home.

Both are by the artist C. Z.  Shand who I can't  find much detail on, other than postcards for sale on Ebay.  Usually when you buy something at a flea, vintage or boot fair there is little you know about the previous owner, but what I like about these two is that there a small, if but simple story behind  both.   The one on the right is called 'Ready for the Ball' and features a girl and Pierrot and was purchased from a collector who sells at Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair.   The one on the left I bought from a couple with connections to the theatre and one of whom used to have a stall on Portabello Road.  I personally love the anonymity of on-line shopping for just about everything, but when I buy something old I like to make a connection with the vendor, one of the nicest things about buying this way is the people you meet and how talented & interesting they are. 

Talking of talent I was lucky enough to win Athomewithred's first giveaway.  I chose the lemon print which arrived yesterday, beautifully packaged.  I am both pleased and delighted with my win.  Once I find a suitable hanging spot and frame I will post a photo.  In the meantime, please take at look Dawn's craft which I describe as beautifully classic.

Finally, here is the recipe I promised for the Pear & Ginger Cake I posted earlier in the week.  This was my entry for the baking club I have joined.   The irony was that after mentioning the 200g of butter required for this cake on Sunday, the club had arranged a presentation on healthy baking which was excellent, although I did feel a little guilty about my fat content!  It is fascinating to see how club members interpret the given theme, which results in such a wide range of delights that we  have the pleasure of sampling, my particular favourite was the Pear Frangipane Tart.  The Pear & Ginger Cake received positive feedback but my favourite review has to be from a colleague at work who sent me the following message after trying the cake;

'Moist, sweet with a generous kick of ginger, perfect balance of sweetness vs crystallised sharpness'.

Have a great weekend xxx

Welcome to my new followers, in particular Lisa at Jumble and Jelly and Penny at Being Penny Wise.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

I blame Homes & Antiques ...

We visited Deal Braderie today, which is the town's annual antique, collectables and bric a brac street fair. Or as someone who shall remain nameless calls it 'a load of old tat'. Personally, I think my love of old tat is genetic and I have good cause to 'blame it on the parents' although in my case, one parent with the other having no interest whatsoever, which is good for me as I get the cast offs.

So having read a feature in this month's Homes & Antiques, which is now doing the round of my neighbours in an attempt to bring them over to the dark side, I am now the proud owner of this piece of kitsch. I know, I know I am not too sure what possessed me either but she makes me smile, hopefully in not too crazy a way.

In addition to this, I now know I am officially the mad bag lady of the street because yesterday, one of my kindly neighbours gave me two embroidered table cloths she had no use for.

Hope to be back later in the week with the recipe for this lovely cake, but I warn you it contains 200g of butter so you might want to stop eating now.

Have a good week xxx

Friday, 14 September 2012

A Christmas Post ...

Stop I hear you cry, please no, not yet, it's too early. 

Well it is never too early to talk about tea towels. I have a tea towel confession to make. I love tea towels, all sorts and all types.  It probably stems from school trips in my youth, when the best present you could buy your Mum in the National Trust gift shop was a tea towel. I can't even rid myself of the old, soft and frankly tatty ones that would be better suited as a colander. Obviously I don't pin those on the line to dry! What would the neighbours think? I also find it difficult to break free of my tea towel shackles when it comes to using some of my prettier ones. I hide these at the bottom of the pile in case some unsuspecting dryer upper should stray across one. What I am thinking? What am I waiting for? A visit from the Queen? I even have one, unused, that I purchased from a shop that has been closed down for many years now.

My current tea towel obsession is to purchase the perfect tea towel for Christmas. "What to cover with coffee stains?" I am asked. You can guess who the tea towel philistine is in this household, can't you? I have been sensible and purchased a job lot of the classic yet functional pure linen 'glass cloths' to deal with such behaviour. A quick squirt of bleach in the wash and everyone is happy. Marriage guidance, who needs it? 

So I thought to myself there will be like minded people out there in blogland who will understand my tea towel obsession and share the joy of my purchase for Christmas. But don't expect me to be flashing the tatty ones around here anytime soon.

Have a great weekend xxx
PS - don't forget to pop over to the lovely Thriftwood who is having a super vintage giveaway, to be drawn on 30th September.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Words to live by ...

During our visit to Deal we came across this poster.  I immediately considered adopting it as a manifesto for life, but wasn't too sure about the fighting and the chances of finding a hoping machine in these parts are pretty slim.

With grateful thanks to the anonymous owner of the poster, I was inspired to research Woody Guthrie.  I rapidly discovered that I have reached this ripe old age without fully appreciating Guthrie's simple but powerful quotes including; "If we would just take the profit out of war, there wouldn't be any".  

However, my personal favourite has to be the following;

"Any fool can make something complicated, but it takes a genius to make it simple."

- Woody Guthrie

Pure poetry xxx

PS please pop over to Athomewithred for a lovely first giveaway, but be quick.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Another piece of tat and a kaleidoscope breakfast ...

Took a little trip into Deal yesterday but not without first the sound of screeching breaks (slight poet licence there) when a garage sale was spotted not even a minute into our journey and another piece of green china joins the happy gang!

The trip was made because it was a beautiful day and to visit the Black Douglas Cafe.  It is obviously very popular, judging by the fact that they were out of sausages & bacon by the time we had arrived albeit a little late on account of my short lie-in, well it was almost lunchtime.  Slightly down-hearted we put our choice into the hands of the waitress who had a tendency to describe everything as 'yummy'.  But 'yummy' it was, a vegetarian big breakfast with chorizo on the side and this big fella watching us as we ate.  Apologies if the lino-cut print of a woman's nipple offends but you should have seen the one to the left of the black-bird!  If you ever get the chance to visit Deal, the Black Douglas comes highly recommended, they seemed a very hard-working young crew with good taste in music.  What more could you want but reggae to accompany your breakfast.  Is that just me then?

A little mooch round the shops and market awaited us with lots of lovely sunny flowers to ease the journey into Autumn.

  Happy Sunny Days xxx

Friday, 7 September 2012

Friday flowers and old bakeware ...

Time for a deep autumnal shade for my flower selection this week.  A good range of chrysanthemums were available, but I am not quite ready for a full blown seasonal change in my flower choice just yet.  This is probably because the weather has been glorious this week and apart from cold feet at night you would not know we were heading for autumn.

After a walk along the promenade and a visit to the local library, we called into one of our favourite haunts for what turned out to be a most enjoyable meal.  Whilst waiting to be served we thumbed through our library books which included COOK EAT SMILE by Bill Collison who set up Bill's Produce Store & Cafe in Brighton, which I note has now expanded to a number of additional locations including Cambridge, hopefully expansion has not affected the vibe which seems really positive.   However, I can confirm that there is nothing quite like flicking through a good cookbook to get the digestive juices going.   

The meal was so good that I had tucked into mine before I realised that I should record the moment for posterity.  As a result I only have a photo of my beetroot and horseradish slaw which fortunately colour coordinates with my weekend flowers.

As you can see our side orders were served in traditional enamel pie dishes.  A few of which I also own, having picked up a lidded enamel roaster at a boot fair for a £1 and the stallholder looking so delighted he had found someone enlightened, or maybe mad enough to buy it threw in the pie dishes for good measure.  Not knowing what to do with them, they have languished in one of our recycling boxes ever since.  Tonight they will be reborn and allowed into my kitchen as perfectly good serving dishes. 

The meal was rounded off with homemade stem ginger ice-cream which was divine, and no there is no photo because a woman should not be delayed when there is great ice-cream around.

Happy Friday xxx

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Big Revamp ...

It never fails to amaze me how much you can learn from the internet and how bloggers openly share their ideas and creativity across the world, now that is a frightening thought.  Whilst I know there is a downside to technology, my  personal view is that this is greatly outweighed by the positivity in blogland.  So having picked up some great ideas I decided that, as someone very special would be visiting, a little bit of creativity and upcycling was required on my part.

So this started out life as


Happy Cooking xxx

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Boot fair haul ...

And this was supposed to be no spend September, from which there was an epic fail before I had even started.  "What date is it?" said I.  "1st September" came the reply, "ok" I pronounce, to anyone who could be bothered to listen, "it will be a no spend September" having already forgotten that I had purchased some Liberty fabric from Ebay not an hour earlier.  It is fine to mislay my keys but I don't need to start suffering from shopping amnesia, where would the pleasure be in that?

I liken the no spend feeling to a diet, you proclaim to all and sundry that you are giving up chocolate and then you can't stop craving it, even though you might normally only eat chocolate once a month.  Also I hold the firm belief that boot fairs are good exercise with all that fresh air and tramping around fields trying to avoid sheep poo.  The question comes every Sunday "where do you want to go?" and the reply is always "the sheep poo one".  We are nothing if not classy in this household. 

Happy Sunday xxx