Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Round Up


  • 31st: Saddle of Lamb, Roast Potatoes, Cabbage
  • 30th: Veg & Chorizo Soup
  • 29th: Chili con Carne (Geoff cooking)
  • 28th: Creamy Sausage and Rocket Pasta
  • 27th: Pork and Turkey Curry
  • 26th: Christmassy Leftovers
  • 25th: Christmas Dinner with all the fixings!
  • 24th: Christmas Eve party
  • 23rd: leftovers from freezer
  • 22nd: out (up town)
  • 21st: Christmas party at a friend's house
  • 20th: Vegetable Paella
  • 19th: Filled pasta bake
  • 18th: fend for yourself
  • 17th: Roast Haddock Supper
  • 16th: Chicken and Vegetable Soup
  • 15th: Pasta with Brussels sprouts and pancetta
  • 14th: Chicken Pot Roast with Veg and Potatoes
  • 13th: Pizza (Homemade)
  • 12th: Tikka Salmon
  • 11th: Pork Chop, Spinach, Potatoes (Geoff only)
  • 9th: Ginger and Chicken Noodles
  • 10th: Chickpea and Chorizo Soup
  • 8th: Fish, peas, potatoes (Geoff & Alex only)
  • 7th: Beef Bourguinon
  • 6th: Sausages, mixed chard, oven potatoes
  • 5th: Fish fingers, oven chips, peas
  • 4th: pork chop, greens, potatoes (Geoff only)
  • 3rd: Lamb Steaks with Orange and Redcurrant Jelly, peas, mash
  • 2nd: Roasted Squash and Red Onion Pasta
  • 1st: Celeriac and Bacon Soup

Dinner, 31/12/14: Saddle of Lamb, Roast New Potatoes, Cabbage, Gravy

A lovely rolled sadlle of lamb from the Farmers' Market, helped us with our New Year's Eve dinner... New Year's Day will be full of leftovers, as it happens - lots in the fridge which wants using, and as I always spend New Year's Day taking down Christmas decorations and cleaning the house, it will be a nice way to have a good dinner with very little work!

What I read in 2014

Looking back at my book lists for the past few years, I see that I tend to read about a hundred books a year - this year, I'm sure it's a bit less, as I know I haven't been averaging 8 books a month, especially the latter half of the year. Still, it's worth checking. This is the list in reverse order, and includes books I didn't finish, which I will have to subtract from the total. The important thing, though, is not how many, but which ones I thought were best. In the manner of previous years, I have highlighted those I thought my absolute favourites (not counting re-reads) and underlined the ones I thought very good but not quite among the best...

It's unusual this year in that a non-fiction book made my list of favourites - I have a strong preference for fiction and don't really read much non-fiction, but I'd been meaning to get around to Barbara Kingsolver's book about her family's experiment in living locally (foodwise) for a while, and was not disappointed - it was highly readable and very thought-provoking without being preachy. Of course, I really enjoy her fiction, so I knew the writing would be good.

Turns out, there are 91 books in the list. Of these, one I haven't yet finished (it's on the Kindle, which isn't mine, so I don't like to take it out of the house and sometimes it's being used when I'm inside. I counted it, though, as I will finish it). Of the others listed, there seem to be only 5 I didn't like enough to finish. Amazing - usually there are at least twice that many. Which means that I've read 86 books this year, which is just over 7 per month, which is not as bad as I thought it would be!
  • Northanger Abbey, Val McDermid
  • The Christmas Mystery, Jostein Gaardner
  • The Accidental, Ali Smith
  • The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell
  • The Dovekeepers, Alice Hoffman (Dec 2014)
  • Dead in the Family, Charlaine Harris
  • One Moment, One Morning, Sarah Rayner
  • Lost Dogs, Kenton Kilgore
  • How the Light Gets In, Louise Penny
  • The Anteroom, Kate O'Brien (Nov 2014)
  • Allegiant, Veronica Roth (YA)
  • Insurgent, Veronica Roth (YA)
  • Divergent, Veronica Roth (YA)
  • The Virgin Blue, Tracy Chevalier
  • Dead and Gone, Charlaine Harris
  • The Beautiful Mystery, Louise Penny
  • Bones to Ashes, Kathy Reichs (Oct 2014)
  • The Secret Scripture, Sebastian Barry
  • Bury Your Dead, Louise Penny
  • The Unfortunates, Laurie Graham
  • The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton
  • Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes (Sept 2014) (mostly)
  • The Glassblower of Murano, Marina Fiorato
  • Angelmonster, Veronica Bennett
  • The Elusive Language of Ducks, Judith White
  • The Brutal Telling, Louise Penny
  • Where Three Roads Meet, Sally Vickers
  • No Book but the World, Leah Hager Cohen
  • The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden, Jonas Jonasson
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver (August 2014)
  • The House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz
  • Unexploded, Alison McLeod
  • Perfect, Rachel Joyce
  • My Life as a Fake, Peter Carey
  • Rule Against Murder, Louise Penny (July 2014)
  • Tinkers, Paul Harding
  • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • There but for the the..., Ali Smith
  • 1000 Days in Venice, Marina de Brasi
  • Sisterland, Curtis Sittenfield
  • In the Time of Butterflies, Julia Alvarez
  • Black Narcissus, Rumer Godden
  • The Last September, Elizabeth Bowen
  • From Dead to Worse, Charlaine Harris
  • All Together Dead, Charlaine Harris
  • Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
  • That Summer at Hill Farm, Miranda France
  • Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, Susan Grigg Gilmore (May 2014)
  • Washington Square, Henry James
  • The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, G W Dalquist (50pp)
  • Garment of Shadows, Laurie R King
  • Sex and Stravinsky, Barbara Trapido
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy (re-read)
  • I Know this Much is True, Wally Lamb
  • The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Ardin (re-read)
  • The Silver Metal Lover, Tanith Lee (re-read)
  • The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
  • Margarettown, Gabrielle Zevon (April 2014)
  • The Witch's Daughter, Paula Brackston
  • The Brief History of the Dead, Kevin Brockmeier
  • Lunch in Paris, Elizabeth Bard
  • Number 9 Dream, David Mitchell
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie (reread)
  • An Icy Cold Grave, Charlaine Harris
  • Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie (reread)
  • Definitely Dead, Charlaine Harris
  • Dead as a Doornail, Charlaine Harris
  • A Caribbean Mystery, Agatha Christie (reread)
  • The Moving Finger, Agatha Christie (March 2014)
  • The Cruellest Month, Louise Penny
  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catheryne Valente
  • Stardust, Neil Gaiman
  • Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie (reread)
  • Black is the Colour of my True Love's Heart, Ellis Peters (reread)
  • Dead Cold, Louise Penny
  • Acceptable Loss, Anne Perry
  • The Piper on the Mountain, Ellis Peters (reread)
  • The Monster in the Box, Ruth Rendell
  • Never Pick up Hitchhikers, Ellis Peters (reread)
  • Break no Bones, Kathy Reichs
  • Brooklyn Bones, Triss Stein (50pp) (Feb 2014)
  • Grave Secrets, Charlaine Harris
  • Grave Sight, Charlaine Harris
  • The Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West (half)
  • Embers, Sandor Marai
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce
  • Olive Kitteridge, Eilzabeth Strout
  • Food of Love Cookery School, Nicky Pellegrino
  • The Almost Moon, Alice Sebold (50pp)
  • Bitterblue, Kristen Cashore (Jan 2014)
I can't really choose a favourite, but I have to say that The Bone Clocks, The Goldfinch and Life After Life were all particularly good - though I expected to like them all as I've like at least some of the other books these authors have written. Olive Kitteridge was by an author I didn't know, but I thought it was fantastic. And surprisingly for me, a non-fiction book made the top part of the list - I'm not a big reader of non-fiction. But Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was highly readable and very interesting, about her family's attempt to live for a year sourcing almost all their food locally and ethically. Thought provoking, but not, I thought, in a preachy way.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dinner, 30/12/14: Veg & Bean soup with Chorizo

Basically, this was a soup to get rid of some of the stuff knocking about the house, and some vegetables I inherited from a friend who has gone away for a few weeks, whose cat (and house) I am keeping an eye on - hence the last minute addition of a courgette. This was the end of the brussels sprout tops, along with carrot, potato, leek. And a little chorizo for flavour. Served with crusty bread (and a loaf of garlic bread, also from my friend's fridge!)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dinner, 29/12/14: Chili con Carne

And what nicer to come home to after a day out and about, than a meal that someone else has cooked? Geoff made chili while we were gone, which was tasty anyway, and all the more so from my not having to cook it when I got back from being out!

A day in Portsmouth

Took Alex to Portsmouth Harbour for the day - we had resuable tickets from the summer - it was lovely. Really cold, but not rainy, and not at all crowded - a nice change from the summer, when it was fairly packed.  A lot of the small boats were stacked up for winter.

 Here's a view of the HMS Warrior, a 19th century warship.

Flags flying...

Decorated for Christmas below decks!

Side on view of the wheels.

These buildings are the Royal Naval Museum - of course with a crane in the background - how could I resist?

Alex decided that I wasn't going to take his picture - at least, not from the front. Or maybe he was just cold!

 A few pictures from inside the Mary Rose Museum - really nice as it wasn't crowded and you could really get close and see what was in the glass cases.  These are various canon shot of different sizes.

And the dog skeleton found in the wreck - ship's dog!

Here's the ship having air of the right temp and humidity pumped through to dry it out properly.

We had a look through the museum, including the Nelson exhibit, which I'd not done before. There were very few people in there. Here, Alex is trying to figure out what something is by touch. I think it was a bosun's whistle. 

Heading on board the Victory for our guided tour. Because it was off season, they were only doing tours, which was great - no extra cost, but you did have to book a time. The tour was very good - pitched just right with some interesting information but not too much. 

Here's where Nelson fell when he was (fatally) shot. 

View of the bow end of the Victory - with a crane, of course!

General view across the harbour. We looked into going up that cool tower, but decided it was more money than we wanted to spend on going up a tower. Maybe next time.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dinner, 28/12/14: Creamy Sausage and Rocket Linguine

A standby. From the recipe below, only I used spaghetti instead of linguine, and didn't skin the sausages, and chopped all the rocket into small pieces instead of leaving some whole for a garnish, and chucked in some sour cream which wanted using, and...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dinner, 27/12/14: Pork & Turkey Curry with Okra & Flatbreads

Yum.  Using up the leftover Christmas meats (we had some last night as well, cold, along with cold stuffing, Bubble & Squeak made from the leftover potatoes and brussels sprouts and the leftover carrots, fried up) - and even better, I didn't have to cook it - I came home from a day out with the girls to find it had been cooked already and was waiting for me.  How lovely is that!

Portobello Road Market

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bailey's Cheesecake

Dessert for Christmas Day - we decided on Bailey's Cheesecake. We usually like to have something which isn't too heavy, as we've all just eaten a huge meal.  This was very nice and not too rich. 

I did modify the recipe slightly - once I'd done the biscuit crumbs for the crust and put them in a tin the size the recipe said, I decided the base was way too thick, so I put them in a larger tin - and then upped the ingredients in the middle by chucking in a half a container of cream cheese, a bit more Baileys and some extra whipped cream. Probably should have added a little more gelatin (technically I used vege-gel) as well.  And we had already decided to skip the coffee gel on the top, though I'm sure it would have been nice with it. It was very nice with just shaved chocolate, though.

Dinner, 25/12/14: Roast Pork, Turkey, Yorkshire Puddings, Roast Potatoes, Sprouts with Bacon, Chantenay Carrots, Parsnips with Mustard, Sage & Onion Stuffing, Chipolatas, apple sauce, cranberry sauce and gravy

My Christmas dinner plate - yum!

Here's the table set before any food was on it - we eat with friends (who live just a few houses away), and use their house as they have two tables, so it's easier.

Here are the ladies with the meats - Lana is holding the turkey crown (wrapped in bacon) and I'm doing game show hostess hands towards the roast pork shoulder.  Mmm. 

Chantenay carrots with dill butter

Sage & onion bread stuffing

roast potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce (overexposed - sorry)

roast pork and crackling, brussels sprouts with bacon, yorkshire puddings, apple sauce (just peeking in at the left)

Christmas 2014

Alex (up first out of the kids, but still not before about half past eight) about to delve into his stocking. 

Olivia's stocking, waiting for her (with a bag of very large marshmallows)

and Sarah's, with Mr Reindeer pepping out - just realised now he doesn't have a red bow around his neck, like the others!

This was a little magic trick box from Alex's stocking - everyone had fun trying to work out how to get it open. 

Sarah tries to explain to her dad why she DOES need another pair of shoes. 

My new mug, made by Olivia

A little birdie picture, also made by Olivia - the bodies of the birds are little stones. She got the idea from Pinterest, bless her.  I love it!