Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dinner, 24/2/15: Red Pork Curry with Green Beans

We love this and have cooked it several times before - the main change I've made to the recipe is I only add the palm hearts in right before the end - maybe 2 minutes, just enough to warm through. Otherwise they get mushy.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dinner, 23/2/15: Courgette and Goat Cheese Frittata

Taking advantage of Olivia being away to cook a meal using two things she really doesn't like - eggs and peppers. Sometimes I make her eat them anyway - especially peppers, which we have in a lot of meals - but it seemed like a good time to cook a meal with both of those things in it!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dinner, 22/2/15: Mexican Style Salmon

A nice easy salmon dish, with potatoes - the salmon cooks on top of the potatoes (just for a few minutes at the end) - and then you add the salsa on top before you eat it. Tasty!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book 16: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente (re-read, JF, aloud)

This was my bedtime book with Alex, after finishing up Watership Down. I've actually read it before myself, but it was new to him. It's a lovely and strange story, full of quirky fantasy and reminiscent in some ways of those odder bits of children's fantasy such as Alice or  Oz (especially the books, which are odder than the films in many ways). There are at least two more in the series (of which I have read one but not the other), so I imagine we'll be seeing these characters again at bedtime, though not next, as next up is Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as we make our way through the rest of Narnia (four down, three to go).

Book 15: Foolish Mortals, Jennifer Johnston

I always enjoy a Jennifer Johnston, and was pleased to pick this up in a charity shop a while back. A great portrait of a rather disfuntional family in the lead up to Christmas - a very quick read, partly because it's very readable, but also, there's lots of dialogue, which reads quickly. Not much to say about it, except the characters are well drawn and ring true (in a novelistic, slightly over the top, Irish Character way in some cases) and the whole thing, while somewhat High Drama also feels quite real. 

I think I've read 5 or 6 books by Johnston, but there's quite a few more than that listed inside, so perhaps I should check the library and see if they've any more in stock (because I need more books to read!)

Dinner, 21/2/15: Greek Lamb with Orzo

A lovely casserole - really tasty and warming. We've had it before, according to my notes, but not for a while. But very simple and the orzo is fantastic in it....

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dinner, 20/2/15: Chicken Soup with pasta

Using the stock from the roast the other day, plus some of the leftover meat. Can't beat a good chicken soup!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book 14: Losing Nelson, Barry Unsworth

I'm generally a fan of historical fiction or fiction mixed with history or other things of that ilk, and this book appealed despite my lack of extreme interest in All Things Naval. And for the most part, I enjoyed this story of a man obsessed with Nelson's life and the parallels he sees with his own life. The writing was very good, and I found the main character (often painfully) well drawn; in the end, I did skim a bit in the last third or so, as I just found it a little too much Nelson and naval engagement re-enaction for my taste, but I have another book by the same author on my shelf (not about Nelson!) and I'm looking forward to reading it in due course. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dinner, 18/2/15: Roast Chicken, Oven Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts

A roast dinner mid-week? Must be holidays... And I'll make stock with the carcase tonight so that we can have soup on Friday... (Tomorrow I am out all day with Olivia, so I'm not cooking.)

Spring walk

The weather in England is a funny thing - cold, rain, grey skies are often a feature of the winter, but most years, we get at least one sunny day, where it's warm enough for a nice walk outside, during the February half-term holiday (some years, several days, like this year). So of course, we went for a walk - this one was just Alex and me, as the girls both had committments.  The sun is low, but you can see it shining brightly for us, nonetheless!

This is one of our favourite walks - Morden Hall Park - because you can walk through a park, a little wetlands, down to a petting farm, along to an old mill down the Wandle (River) Trail, and then back, via a playground, and end up at  a National Trust teashop. All in the space of an hour and a half or so, depending on how fast you walk (and how long you spend at the little farm - these days, we don't spend long).  You can't beat that - especially not 10 minutes drive from home!

Oh, and you also get to cross a tram line - this is less of a thrill now that my little boy is 12, but when he was about 4, it was one of the highlights of the walk...

Part of the tram line is single track; we got to see them waiting to pass at the double point - very exciting if you are a small boy who loves trains. We are neither of us that any longer, but it was still interesting.

And the best thing was, I put a chicken in the oven to roast (on the timer, so it would turn itself on) before we left, so we came home to the smell of roasting chicken!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Double Pancake Kind of Day

It's not often that Pancake Day falls during the half term holiday - usually it's during the school year, which means that although we can try to slip in pancakes for dessert, it's hard to have them at breakfast. This year, we had a lucky opportunity, which also meant that we could have both kinds of pancakes: the American kind, which are fluffy  and more cakey - in the UK you'd call these either Scotch pancakes or drop scones, probably; and also, the English kind, which are thin and pliable - what in the US (and France) would be called crepes. So we had the American ones for breakfast with various toppings and the English ones for dessert, with butterscotch sauce. Of course, in our house, we probably won't stop eating fatty, rich foods just because it's Lent. But I doubt there will be any more double pancake days for a while...

Alex helped make the American ones for breakfast.

I did most of the making for the English kind, though Alex did practice his flipping skills. No photo of that, unfortunately!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dinner, 16/2/15: Pasta Bake with Garlic Bread

We've had this so many times I probably don't have to say anything about it at all any more... It's one of our go-to recipes...

Books in

Well, I know I said I'd try not to buy books this year, but as we were having a poke around charity shops yesterday, I couldn't resist these two - the Anne Tyler I've read, and actually won't count in my unread stack as I will shelve it with the rest of my Anne Tyler (I've actually read all of them, but only own some - however, as they are something I might well read again, I do pick them up when I see ones I don't have in the charity shops (especially at 90p, the price on this one!) - same is true of a few other authors...).  The Fannie Flagg, however, will go in the To Be Read pile (which isn't really a pile, it's more of a windowsill).  Still, one book in and a number out, so it's not too bad!  And I resisted several others which I normally would have bought without thinking about it. So far this year, that's 7 out of the TBR and only one in, so I'm not doing too badly...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dinner, 15/2/15: Beef Burgundy

One for the slow-cooker, with shallots instead of small onions. Makes the house smell gorgeous all day, as well!