Friday, October 31, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A day at the Dive Centre

One of Olivia's birthday presents was a trip up to the Olympic Park to dive at the London Aquatics Centre - what was the competition pool for swimming and diving in the 2012 Olympics is now a public swimming pool - it has set sessions and you often have to book in advance, but it's open to anyone who wants to come. She was keen to dive off the very boards and platforms used the in the Olympics, so I knew it would be a nice thing to do in half term.  We'll definitely visit again, as it's easy to get to and not very expensive - and they put this huge inflatable obstacle course in the Olympic pool for a fun session, as well...

Here's the outside...

A special treat when we got there - the dive session was a little delayed because Tom Daley was giving a little tour - he and a bunch of other very good divers had been practicing when we first got there, as well, Eventually they let the public session start even though he was still up on the high platform with his tour.  This photo shows Olivia as a splash in the water, with Tom Daley looking down to see if the water is clear as he's going to dive off himself shortly... this. 

Here he is, poolside, talking to his group. Ah, my brush with fame  :)

Some pics of Olivia getting into and out of the pool... I posted more in an album on Facebook, if anyone is interested. There are also some videos on FB, of Olivia doing some dives - here's one...  and here  and here.


Today's baking theme is biscuits/cookies, so Alex requested these family favourites. Hope they go down well at the Gang Show (my hunch is the cast and crew will eat just about anything...)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dinner, 29/10/14: Chicken and Vegetable Bake

It's an odd week for dinners, as Alex has had to be at rehearsal or performances every night at 6pm (until 10 or so), so he's not eating with us. Sarah is away in Cornwall with a friend for the half-term week and I am chaperoning at Gang Show performances quite a few of the nights.  But this night, we were watching from the audience, and while that meant dropping Alex for 6pm, then coming home and going back to the theatre for a 7.30 performance, there was just enough time to eat, as long as it was something I could shove in the oven to cook itself while I was driving to and from Sutton.  So, chicken thighs on top of potatoes and some vegetables (what we had in the fridge, plus some baby fennel).  Such an easy meal - essentially cooks itself, which is perfect for a night like this.

Gooey brownies

The baking theme tonight for the Gang Show is chocolate, so these are some chocolate brownies with white choc chips in them. I also threw in some mini-marshmallows, which kind of float to the top and melt into the mix, which just makes them chewy and gooey...  Tomorrow the theme is cookies & biscuits!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

An afternoon in Richmond Park

A lovely sunny afternoon, unseasonably warm, so Alex and I had to get out for a little while at least - he's so busy with Gang Show performances every night, that I want to make sure he has something else as well, and on a day like this, who can resist being outside?

Climbing on very large felled trees was de rigeur...

And looking at other interesting trees...

We were lucky to come across a herd of deer, close enough to get decent photos (while still staying the recommended 50 metres or so away).

A young male approached the group and was prompty chased off by the dominant male...


 A lovely few hours strolling with my not-so-small boy...

Ham & Cheese Scones

Gang Show week involves lots of baking - because it's half term and I'm not working, I've done a little (it's to feed the cast and crew during performances - each night has a theme and a contest. I'm not bothered about the contest part, but it seems fair to feed the starving masses!).  Tuesday was savoury day, so ham & cheese scones it was... Of course I made a double batch so there were some for home as well...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dinner, 27/10/14: Chickpea & Spinach Curry

This is a recipe that I've cooked many times - it's a firm favourite in our house, and is usually accompanied by flatbreads from our local shop.  And sometimes poppadoms, too! The recipe does include instructions for making your own flatbreads, and while I've done that, and they come out well, it's a lot easier to buy the ones from the shop, if you are lucky enough to have a local shop which makes fresh....  The recipe doesn't seem to be on the Good Food website (though there are other, similar ones - but not with potatoes in, or including the flatbread recipe) - but I've posted a scan of it. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dinner, 26/10/14: Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Rosemary, Mashed Potatoes

Alex had afternoon rehearsal for the Gang Show (a Scout & Guide affiliated variety performance) and I was chaperoning in the dressing rooms, so it was definitely a day which called for a slow-cooker meal.  Lamb shanks always work well in the slow-cooker, as it gives a chance for the tough, membranous part of the shank to cook away into nothing. And leave the meat lovely and tender. 

The recipe is from Slow Cooker Cooking by Lora Brody, and I've made it before. I adjusted it a bit - I used less lamb - only about 1kg - but didn't decrease the amount of sauce - and a lot more carrots (we like carrots). I also added chopped celery so there was more veg to it. I also didn't cook it as long as the recipe says, but my slow-cooker cooks very hot (for a slow-cooker), so I'm not sure it needs as long - I did about 2-3 hours on high, and then about 5-6 hours on low.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dinner, 25/10/14: German sausages, oven wedges, sauerkraut

Not much to say about this - it sort of cooks itself. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dinner, 24/10/14: Chicken Fajitas

Olivia's birthday and a change from the often birthday dinner of pizza, partly because we've had a lot of pizza recently and partly because one of Olivia's best friends, who was due to have dinner with us originally, has a serious dairy allergy, which rules out bought pizza (we could have made our own, of course, but see the first point). Fajitas are always popular, though, and one can put cheese on (or not) as one likes...  As it happened, the friend wasn't well anyway, so it was a moot point, but we still got to eat fajitas, so I'm happy with that. We don't really have a recipe, we just put the stuff on the table and people help themselves. I do a spiced chicken, some cooked peppers & onions, a fresh dish of avocado & tomato and then various sauces, cheese, etc. And we all build our own. Easy & fun. No birthday cake because it's a weeknight and the last day of the term at school, so I knew I'd be too tired for cake too - so we had some Krispy Kreme doughnuts and there will be some sort of cake over the half-term holiday...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dinner, 22/10/14: Tomato, chickpea and cumin soup

Someday, I shall learn to photograph soup in a way which makes it look appealing. Though apparently, not today. It was tasty, though - we've had this before, a couple of times, and it's nice and flavourful - thanks to loads of cumin seeds and thyme leaves. A very autumnal soup.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dinner, 21/10/14: Spaghetti with Chicken, Artichokes & Lemon

This is something we've had before a few times - it tastes good, but as Geoff says, one of the problems with it (and many chicken and pasta dishes) is that it's only one colour. If I have fresh parsley, that helps, as it adds some green, but I used dried, which doesn't really add the colour accent. Still, it's a tasty enough way to have a quick meal, so it comes out into the rotation from time to time. I also used some of the pecorino I had leftover from Saturday, when we forgot to put it on the chorizo salad. Doesn't add any colour, but the flavour is nice.

Recipe appears to be from a Waitrose magazine, originally.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dinner, 19/10/14: Steak and Ale Pie, Chantenay Carrots, New Potatoes

This was almost a team effort between Sarah and me - I made the filling for the pie, but she had to finish it off (add crust & bake & do the veg) as I had to go out to listen to Shostakovich and fetch Olivia. As one does. No photo of the veg as I forgot to remind Sarah to take a photo - this is actually cold, after I got home. It tasted nice, though - I heated up a small piece for a late supper - and there will be more leftovers for dinner tomorrow. 

Recipe: Hairy Bikers Superb Steak and Ale Pie, from their cookbook, Perfect Pies. Also found online here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Autumn Walk...


and berries


and turning foliage - yep, it must be autumn.  After our lovely lunch, we took our fairly usual walk --a nice circular (well, technically a loop I suppose) walk which manages to encompass horse stables, a wetlands and two cemetaries, all within an hour's stroll - and yes, we are still only 25 minutes from central London by train.  I love where I live!...

Not everything was autumnal yet - my favourite tree, for instance, has not quite turned yet, though you can begin to see some yellow in the leaves. 

There was still a bit of late blossom on the brambles

and a few wildflower stragglers.

The seagulls all seem to be coming inland, though - there was a whole colony of them over in the wetland area. 

And also over in the wetland area...

here we all are - a kind passerby took a photo of everyone together, which means you even get to see me, which is of course not usually the case - lucky me!

Couldn't resist sharing this photo of the children using the playground equipment...  A year older, but not any more grown up.20