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

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Chocolate Brownie Time ...

Inspired by Penny Wise and her recipe for Turkish Delight Chocolate Brownies and Kelly's recipe on Hand made at Home I thought I would share the very first recipe I picked up in my early days of blog reading. This is an absolute fail-safe brownie recipe that can be made with a minimum of fuss, baked on numerous occasions since.   I am thrilled that after four years I also found the original link on a beautiful blog called Walter and Me.  Thanks to Walter and Me everyone who tastes these brownies, mistake me for Nigella!

Melt 100 g dark chocolate and 50g butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan.

Combine 200g caster sugar, 50g plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 100 g chopped walnuts* and 1tsp vanilla extract in a bowl.

Add to this the melted chocolate & butter mixture along with 2 beaten eggs, stir until combined.

Place in a lined brownie tin and bake at Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes.

* you can use whatever you have in the cupboard, today I used hazelnuts and they were just as tasty

Enjoy xxx

Friday, 26 October 2012


It is a dull, dark day here, just as if I am wearing sunglasses indoors.  In need of warmth and not wanting to put the central heating on, I have indulged in a large bowl of porridge with honey.  Absolutely yum but doesn't make for a good blog visual. 

Inspired by Thriftwood's recent post on her housework regime I have taken a new approach to maintaining a tidy home, which I describe as 'take it with you'.  I have read about similar approaches to keep your house tidy on the basis of tiny steps, straightening a cushion before you leave the room, putting things back in the cupboard immediately after use, hanging clothes up as you take them off.  Well I can tell you it is working a treat in keeping the clutter at bay, but as you may realise I am not your modern minimalist but a tidy vantage point with only what you need on display works for me.

My general housework regime is deal with it when it becomes noticeable, like this morning chatting to the builder and noticing the fine layer of dust atop the bathroom door.  So whilst I had my trusty Dyson in hand I thought I would share a view of my 'newly' dusted bedside cabinet with only the essentials on display and to hand for use. 

I think my approach is very much captured in the following little ditty;

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better to paint a picture, or write a letter, bake a cake, or plant a seed.
Ponder the difference between want & need.
Dust if you must, but there is not much time, with rivers to swim and mountains to climb!
Music to hear, and books to read, friends to cherish & life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world's out there with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair, a flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
this day will not come round again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
old age will come & it's not kind.
And when you go,
and go you must,
you, yourself, will
make more dust!

Happy living!
Welcome to Annie at Moving On, Anne at Marmalade and Catmint, Lazy Daisy Jones and Heidi at HH Photography.

Friday, 19 October 2012

On my needles ...

Made a start on a woolly hat this afternoon, with Radio 4 Extra playing in the background.  The hat is from a free Erika Knight pattern in Making magazine, last year.  Made with Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky, it can be a bit itchy but is extremely warm.  I made a similar one last year but whilst culling my magazine collection threw the pattern out, only be reunited with it after a search on the Internet.  Fortunately I took a screen shot, because I can no longer find it otherwise I would share the link with you.  

I love Radio 4 Extra and make the most of the BBC Radio iPlayer, with my current favourites being Doris Lessing - The Grass is Singing, Ruth Rendell - The Keys to the Street and a wonderful production of Wind in the Willows which is dramatised and narrated by Alan Bennett with Ratty played by Richard Briers.
Even though I love reading for pleasure, after a long day at work my ability to relax and concentrate on the written word is seriously impeded so I rarely read a book but instead listen to plays and unabridged audio books.   This way I don't miss out  and can knit, drive, cook, rest or just generally potter around whilst enjoying a good read.

In my kitchen today I have a recipe for Christmas Quiche.  Yes I know it is two months away but I think you will find a slice of this is worth the Christmas mention. 

I am unable to recall where this recipe originated from but I vaguely remember it was linked to using up Christmas leftovers.  A couple of slices also accompanied me when I drove through the snow to Surrey last year to collect relatives who were due to stay with us over the Christmas period.  I can be quite brave and adventurous with my trusty Tupperware by my side.  As well as instilling bravery or foolhardiness, this quiche is the only one that is welcomed in our house, with others such as broccoli likened to something from an episode of Doctor Who, restaurant critics all of them!  

Christmas Quiche
375g pre rolled shortcrust pastry*
3 eggs
150ml single cream
50g Cheddar cheese - grated
100g ham - shredded
50g Stilton
Preheat Oven to Gas Mark 4
Line a 20cm tin with the pastry
and place in freezer for one hour**
Blind bake for 15 minutes
Remove baking beans and bake for a further five minutes
Beat the eggs with the single cream
Sprinkle in the grated Cheddar, Ham & crumbled Stilton.
At this stage you can snip in some Sage leaves if you wish.
Season with salt & pepper
Bake for 25 minutes until golden
* I make my own shortcrust so I can alter the amount of pastry depending on the size of my quiche dish. 
** I don't do this because I have already chilled my pastry before lining the quiche dish and blind baking

Enjoy xxx

Welcome to my new followers Gina King, Carol - Tales from Spring Cottage, Eleanor from Stitches and Seeds, Fading Grace & Country Rabbit.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Food Rules...

A few years back I borrowed a book from my local library called 'Food Rules' written by Michael Pollan.  Michael is described by some as an author activist, which for a job title sounds pretty cool to me. I am all for simplicity so 'Food Rules' appealed to my way of thinking.  In particular, I loved the rule 'don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognise as food'.  He also suggests we 'don't get our fuel from the same place as our car', which seems pretty sensible advice when you consider the type of food available from petrol stations.  Recently I have been following the  'get out of the supermarket whenever possible' rule but I score a big fail on 'do all your eating at a table'.  Certainly not at home but at work bolting down lunch at my desk has become a habit that I need to break.  If you have not yet had the opportunity to read this book and fancy a common-sense, humorous and thought provoking read you could do worse than Food Rules.

Welcome to my two new followers gladley and rusticvintagecountry, also hop on over to vintagesheetaddict who is having a vintage wallpaper giveaway.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Shop Local ...

One of the many by-products of shopping locally, as well as saving money, is finding yourself slipping into a more seasonal vibe revisiting old favourites from your childhood, including cobnuts and greengages.  Apart from in the more upmarket, pricier supermarkets you don't find these delights stocked at all.  If you are lucky enough to find this type of produce they are priced as 'niche', yes that is expensive to you and me. 

Another benefit is that you tend to eat healthy meals, which this weekend included my non photogenic marrow stuffed using a recipe found here.

As with all healthy eating a balance must be struck, so in deference to the US Presidential Election these cookies were baked, now renamed by the editor as Republican biscuits. 

Of course, purely for the purposes of political neutrality, the Democratic recipe will also need to be tested soon!

Have a great week xxx

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Nigel is back ...

My favourite cooks; Nigel, Jamie & Bill.  Nigel Slater because he is genius, Jamie Oliver because he taught my eldest to cook (not literally), and Bill Granger because he has a cute family and some tasty recipes.
I am glad to see that, once again, we will be treated to some wonderful recipes when Nigel Slater returns to BBC 1 for his fourth series, Dish of the Day, next Friday at 7.30 pm.  Even though I am terribly disappointed that he has changed his kitchen layout, you know where I will be next Friday.  I have been known to watch some dreadful programmes just because the interior design was to my taste, don't tell me you haven't.

Oddly enough, to celebrate this momentous occasion I am sharing a tasty and simple recipe for chickpea soup which is in fact a Delia recipe.  The reason is that today I have had a chickpea fest by using a packet of dried chickpeas to make soup, hummus and falafels, for the price of one pot of supermarket hummus.  Very thrifty.

However I have fallen off the wagon as far as Stoptober is concerned.  Having avoided the boot fair this morning, how was I to know that a boot fair stall would be at the back of the supermarket when I dropped by to pick up Tahini for the hummus.  Two pieces of pressed glass, my favourite, were purchased for £1.50 but it was for a very good cause; community support for our local park so really a charity donation.  Alright I know I am trying to justify my weakness.

Happy Weekend xxx
A big welcome to Dolly Mixtures at Just a Little Less, Trudie at Trudie's Cottage and A Whole Plot of Love.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Baby it's cold outside ...

When the weather is like this,

it is time to hibernate with a slice of this,

and a nice cuppa.

Stay dry xxx