Tuesday, 29 December 2015

A James Bond girl by association - Spectre

I recently went to see the latest Bond movie, starring Daniel Craig in Spectre.  I have seen all the Bond movies, starting with Dr. No when I was a child.  I had a particular interest in Spectre as I have recently started a new hobby of being a film extra.

One dark wintry Sunday morning, I entered the London Film School for my second day of filming a short film set in a hotel reception.  I shared a makeshift dressing room with Nigel Barber who made an impressive entrance and introduced himself, quickly asking me how long I had been in the business.  When I revealed I had started only the day before he was very helpful in sorting out the timing for me in the scene we shared.

Back to Spectre, Nigel played the Head of the World and try as I might, I couldn't spot him in the film.  When watching the credits, his name came up under the Tokyo team and I realised he had played the Head of the World at the head of a table in the dark, withholding his identity to those in the room.  Complicated.  Now I want to see the film again.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Good restaurants are worth waiting for

I have visited Felixstowe for the last 20 years to visit my mum, either on my own or with my husband and son. Sadly on this occasion it was to organise her funeral and on the last day before returning to London, we decided to try the Alex. It was a Friday lunchtime and we had been advised by the Minister at the funeral to try to get a window seat upstairs in the Brasserie. It was busy, so we sat a row back. The restaurant was buzzing and modern which I like.

The food: Great choice and quality stuff.
We had the olives and bread of the day to start with...excellent.


 Hubby had the smoked salmon, crayfish and avocado basket with lime coulis from the Starters which he shared with me as I have a small appetite. Then I chose the Hot seafood medley (no idea why as I'm not mad about fish) which was really tasty. He chose the calf's liver and we swopped plates halfway through. The wine was excellent. I prefer French so chose the Picpoul de Pinet which was nicely chilled and served in a thin topped wine glass (I notice these things) and I finished with the Blood orange meringue pie.


Sadly, we have no reason to visit Felixstowe any more so we are unlikely to return. Wish we discovered you earlier. One night we were staying in a local hotel and drove all the way to Ipswich to buy pizza takeaway, passing the Alex on the way!

I nearly forgot the best bits.

1) We were relaxing with our aperitif when somebody vacated a window table and the waitress offered us a window table with the lovely view and helped us move our things over in a smooth manner.

2) The toilets are just amazing with coloured lights changing colour constantly.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Wisebuys, Narbeth High Street, Pembrokeshire, Wales - “An Aladdin's Cave for Foodies”


5 of 5 stars
http://www.wisebuys-wales.co.uk/

Whilst staying at the nearby Bluestone Resort during really bad weather, we just wanted some nice food to cook in the Lodge and hide from Gale Barney. We grabbed the umbrellas and drove to Narberth High Street where we discovered a lovely butcher, tapas restaurant and the exceptional foodstore, Wisebuys. We bought beautiful baby potatoes to go with the lamb chops we bought from A J Rees and Sons.
http://www.andrewreesbutchers.co.uk/

Then we stocked up with a few treats to take home to London, such as Sakis Greek Baklava, pistachio soft nougat from Italy, the essential Welsh cakes, and a pecan and maple cake from Cottage Delight. The vegetables were very fresh looking with unusual mushrooms and other delights. Lots of ideas for gifts such as a pack of curry ingredients etc. or a choice of hampers.

They have an online shop and deliver around the UK.

The Spa at Bluestone in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK

“Beautiful lighting and aroma”


We went to Bluestone with a romance package which included 2 hours in the spa with a massage, as I understood it. No mention was made of the massage and I wasn't in the mood to complain. Was just happy to chill out having recently lost my mum. We arrived during Gale Barney, so the weather was windy and non-stop rain. After 3 days struggling to do anything with the heavy rain, we decided to visit the spa taking our umbrellas.

We got into our dressing gowns which were provided. I found the changing room to be well equipped with hairdryers and towels but the room was cold. We did the rounds of the 2 different types of sauna, 5 minutes in each room was enough with our high blood pressure (under control with medication), the salt room which I loved but my husband couldn't see the point of it, then 2 steam rooms, one herbal. All rooms had pretty sparkly lights in the ceiling and crystals everywhere, smellie candles, power showers with 6 jets, and the ice room....I was scared of the ice room but it was lovely after the sauna.....so after 30 minutes we'd had enough and went to the coffee shop and saw people outside in the jacuzzi under the rain. We decided to join them and walked along the non slip mat in the rain and got in just as the bubbles started. How invigorating it was. 35c. It's a shame they don't have an indoor jacuzzi.

We had a hot shower and capuccino after that and were done for the day.

We had a two storey lodge with the lounge upstairs.  This was the view of the bungalow opposite us.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Refreshing side salad x 2

Ingredients:

Iceberg lettuce
Cucumber
Avocado
Celery
large on the vine tomato

Dressing:

Salt and pepper
Lemon and extra virgin olive oil

Method:

Simply chop all ingredients into similar size cubes and dress with salt, pepper, lemon and olive oil







Ingredients:

Large on the vine tomato
Cucumber
White salad onion (or red)
A few sprigs of coriander

Dressing:

Lemon juice (or lime)
Sea salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil


Method:

Slice the tomato, cucumber and onions into rings.  Chop the coriander into very small pieces.  Add lemon or lime and olive oil as well as sea salt and black pepper.  Give a good stir to coat the ingredients with the dressing.

This is great with an Indian meal.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Road journey from Kuwait to England in 1965 (properties in Syria)

Houses in Syria in 1965
I was going through old photos this week and came across this black and white photo I took, probably with a Kodak Brownie in December 1965.  I assumed these were houses in Syria and wrote that on the back of the photo.  We slept in the car one night as towns in the desert were far apart back then.  We stayed at a hotel in Damascus for one night.  In the morning, a local person begged us to visit the town of Hama where there was a beautiful water wheel.  I have a photo of that but cannot find it.

How things have changed.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Notting Hill - the carnival 2015

Rain seems to have stopped play.  This was taken yesterday when it was damp and miserable.  Today, everyone has an umbrella.


Quick mid week roast dinner - sorted







Ingredients:

1 small lamb joint
Venezia baby potatoes or any other waxy salad potato
No peel carrots, topped and tailed and cut into chunks, on a slant
Dry thyme
2 oz. of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 leeks, cleaned and sliced in rings
White cabbage, chopped
Creme fraiche
1 large onion
Mushrooms
Bacon
A splash of white wine
Salt and pepper to season

Method:

If you have a rotisserie, then skewer the lamb, brush with olive oil and seasoning.  If not, it will be fine in an ordinary oven heated to 200C.  Turn down to 180C after the first 15 minutes.  This piece weighed 575g so I cooked it for 1 hour.  To have been pink inside, I think 45 minutes plus resting time would have been better.

Whilst the lamb is cooking, the rest is fairly straightforward.  

Mushrooms, bacon, onions in white wine

Peel and slice the onion.  Cut in half and cut into slices and fry in a little butter and olive oil.  Snip the bacon with kitchen scissors and drop the pieces in the pan.  Then slice the mushrooms and add them.  Stir them altogether and cook for about 5 minutes before adding a splash or two of white wine.








 Thyme glazed carrots


 Cook the carrots in salted water until tender.  Drain and return to the pan with a knob of butter, black pepper and thyme.  Simmer for a few minutes until coated.



 Creamy leeks and white cabbage in creme fraiche

Boil the leeks and cabbage in salted water for around 5 minutes, then drain in a colander.  Add a knob of butter to the pan and the creme fraiche, warm gently and return the leeks and cabbage to the sauce with some black pepper.



Venezia potatoes boiled then roasted 

Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes until cooked through.  Meanwhile heat some oil in the oven.  Drain the potatoes in a colander and place in the oil.  Return to the oven for half an hour at 200C.

 

 If you aren't keen on lamb it could be replaced by beef or pork. 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Cat's Eyes

Cats are born blind.
They are commonly thought of as colour blind but can see, greens, blues and reds.
Their eyes glow as they have the tapetum lucidum, a reflective outer layer.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Maldives, Me and You - A Poem

In my dreams, I wake and walk
Across the room to lift the blind
No need to think or even talk
Just feel your presence close behind
I open the blind to let the sun glint through
Then turn around to stare at you
You catch my eye and I pull the cord
Letting in the sun and the sound of water
I wander out of the room on stilts
Wearing only my bronze silk nightie
Then I sit on the steps and swish
My tanned legs in the calm waters
Here we are in the Maldives
The sun beating down on my shoulders
So early in the morn
Must get dressed and go to eat
Fresh fruit and eggs with
Orange juice and coffee
All laid out on pure white linen
Cannot wait to start our day
I bend over the chest of drawers
Looking for my shorts and vest
When you approach me from behind
Encircling my waist with two firm arms
I reach up and take your hands
You kiss my neck and whisper
Words of love
I feel your strength and tender touch.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Pierre Loti

Pierre was a French novelist and naval officer.

"It is with the approach of WINTER that cats wear their richest fur and assume an air of sumptuous and delightful opulence.

- Pierre Loti

My version of minestrone soup





Ingredients:

3 spring onions, cleaned and finely chopped
Olive oil
2 large carrots, cleaned and cubed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
tomato puree, about a tablespoonful
2 teaspoons of green pesto sauce
3 soft tomatoes chopped
A quarter of a green cabbage
Vegetable or chicken stock
Fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
A handful of vermicelli

Gently fry the spring onions in a little olive oil.  Then add the carrots, garlic, tomato puree and pesto sauce.  Add about 1 litre of the stock and bring to the boil.  Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes until the carrots are cooked.

Then add the other ingredients, season and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread.

You could always add a tin of cannelini beans, celery and such like, if you have them to hand.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Do you collect Teddy Bears?

Meet Tedward




He's the latest in my collection and was born in Hamleys.

A little history on Teddy Bears:-



A POTTED HISTORY OF THE BEAR

In Switzerland and France the proof of bear worship can still be found.  In Berne (meaning Bear), the capital of Switzerland, there are still bear pits where you can feed carrots to the bears.  Many bones and skulls of cave bears have been found at a site in Drachenloch in Switzerland.  Why Neanderthal man began hunting the Cave Bear is not certain.  It was a formidable animal, standing more than eight feet tall when reared in anger, and must have been a dangerous foe.

Teddy bear collectors are known as arctophiles from the Greek words 'arcto' (bear) and 'philos' (lover).

Theodore Roosevelt, the American President, was responsible for the first “teddy bear”.  On one of his Mississippi hunting trips it is believed that his assistants cornered a black bear after a long chase and tied it to a willow tree.  Roosevelt refused to shoot it saying the immortal words, “Spare the bear!  I will not shoot a tethered animal.”  Clifford Berryman of the Washington Post drew a cartoon of the scene and eventually the cartoon bear became smaller and cuter.  In 1903, a new stuffed toy was developed by Morris and Rose Michtom, owners of a store in Brooklyn and when they put it in their shop window they used a sign saying “Teddy’s bear” and it became a great success.   Almost simultaneously in Germany Margarete Steiff, a disabled seamstress, was making stuffed teddies and selling them to the USA.  The Steiff company went on to sell millions of teddies before the First World War in Germany, as well as the UK and USA.

A family business called Merrythought in the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge in Shropshire, England, have been making teddies since 1930.  In the 1980’s they made showpiece teddies, some 6ft. tall for Hamleys and Harrods.  In 1992 they won the TOBY (Teddy Bear of the Year Award) for Master Mischief designed by Jacqueline Revitt.  In 2013 they produced a special edition bear to mark the arrival of Prince George of Cambridge.













Lamb stew with light green courgettes

This makes a nice winter meal served with pure white basmati rice and a chopped mixed salad.




Ingredients

4-6 light green courgettes, washed, peeled and cubed
1 tin of chick peas, washed and drained
1 chicken stock cube
half a kilo of cubed lamb from the leg or the neck
olive oil
salt and pepper

Fry the cubed lamb in a little olive oil until browned.  Add 1 pint of chicken stock, salt and pepper.  Then add the chick peas and courgettes.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for about half an hour until the lamb is soft.


Monday, 25 May 2015

Polydactls also known as The Hemingway Cats

Most cats have four toes on their back paws and five toes on their front paws.  Exceptional cats can have six toes, or more rarely, seven toes on each paw, making 28 toes.

Ernest Hemingway had more than 50 cats at his Florida home, about half of which were polydactls, cats born with extra toes.

The word is Greek in origin, "poly" meaning "many" and "dactylos" meaning "digits."

Polydactls were popular on boats with fishermen.  With their extra toes, they had a better grip on the deck if the sea turned rough.


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Spanish Style Roast Lamb - Castilian - with Potatoes and Onions

This is a popular dish in Spain when eating at home or outside.  Each person is often served a whole baby leg of lamb but a large one between a family will do just as well.

Ingredients:

Large leg of lamb (3-1/2 pounds) or 1.5 kg.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme (or dried)
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
A wine glass of white wine
1/2 a pint of water (300 ml)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of wine vinegar
Juice of a lemon
6-8 large potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1cm thick rings
2 large onions, peeled and sliced into rings

Method:

Rub the olive oil into the lamb along with the thyme, salt and pepper.  Make slits in the lamb and insert the sliced garlic slivers.  Set aside for about an hour for the lamb to absorb the flavours.

 

Put the onion rings and potatoes in a roasting tin, together with the garlic cloves.

Put the lemon juice, wine vinegar, water and white wine into a pan and bring to the boil.  Pour half over the meat and place in a preheated oven at 230C/450F (gas mark 8) for 15 minutes.

Then reduce the heat to 180C/375F (gas mark 5) and continue to cook allowing 15 minutes per pound if you like it rare or 25 minutes per pound if you like it well done.  Baste with the remain liquid occasionally.

Serve the lamb on a platter with the potatoes and onions.  Green vegetables would be a great accompaniment as would a bottle of Faustino red wine.



Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Fried Emperador or Swordfish in English

Swordfish is a straightforward way to eat fish without worrying about bones.  The Spanish word for swordfish is emperador.





Ingredients:

2 swordfish steaks
A little olive oil
A few threads of saffron soaked in water or milk
Salt and pepper
Juice of half a lime or lemon

Method:

Pour the olive oil into a shallow frying pan and when warm add the swordfish and fry slowly, adding the salt, pepper and saffron.  After about 4 minutes turn the fish and add the juice of the lime.

Serve with white rice or baby potatoes with fried tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Spanish Style Tuna Stuffed Eggs



Ingredients:



5 eggs, hardboiled and peeled
Half a tin of tuna
1 tablespoon of salad cream or mayonnaise
A dash of salt
Paprika to decorate

Method:

Cut the eggs in half.  Snip a little off the bottom so they sit flat on a plate.  Take the yolks out and place in a bowl to mix with the tuna, salt and salad cream.  Spoon this mixture back into the egg whites and sprinkle with paprika.

As an alternative, mix a little curry paste in the stuffing and leave out the paprika.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A Simple Salmon Salad

When summer is just around the corner, this is good for a light lunch or supper.


Ingredients:

Some lettuce, washed and drained
Cucumber slices
Tomato slices
Mooli (washed, peeled and sliced)
Boiled baby potatoes, cooled and sliced in half
A few olives
2 slices of Haloumi cheese
1 portion of salmon
Juice of half a lemon
Cumin powder
Pickled cucumber
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Place the salmon in a tin foil parcel....sprinkle with lemon juice, salta and pepper, followed by a teaspoon of cumin powder.  Cook in a preheated over at 180c for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile roll the Haloumi cheese in seasoned flour and fry on a griddle pan with a little olive oil and sprinkle with chopped coriander.  Cook until crispy, about 2 minutes each side.

Serve the salmon and cheese accompanied by the salad ingredients.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Chicken with spinach and egg

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 breasts of chicken, skinned and cubed
Half a tin of chopped tomatoes
2 spoons of curry powder
Half a bag of frozen spinach
Small amount of water to cook with
Salt and pepper to taste
Boiled eggs (1 per person)
A little oil to fry

Put a little oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions, until translucent.  Then add the chicken and cook until sealed.  Add the curry powder, salt and pepper and stir together.  Then add the chopped tomatoes with a little water to cover the meat.  Leave to simmer for half an hour before adding the spinach and peeled boiled eggs.  Simmer on a low heat for another 10 minutes and serve with slices of toast.


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Let's remember our Welsh Poet W.H. Davies today

It has been a lovely warm spring day over much of the UK.  So a timely reminder of his great poem:

"What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep and cows....."

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Pedigrees Cats of the World - The LaPerm

The A-Z of Cats
Pedigrees of the World - The LaPerm
The LaPerm is a unique combination of curly hair and an affectionate personality. One cannot deny the love and affection a LaPerm will shower upon its owner nor the curly or wavy hair that also makes the breed so interesting.
The first LaPerm was born in 1982 and was a spontaneous mutation in an otherwise normal litter of kittens. Linda and Richard Koehl owned a cherry farm in The Dalles, Oregon, USA, located near the ancient hunting and fishing grounds of the Wishram Indians, and had obtained some farm cats to keep the farm clear of mice. One of these was a plain but hard-working brown tabby shorthair called Speedy who gave birth to a litter of kittens which included a rather bald, long skinny kitten with a blueprint of a tabby pattern on her skin. She was named Curly. Linda wondered if something was wrong with the kitten but as she grew she developed a soft curly coat which everyone liked to touch. Perhaps this was also why she turned out to be so affectionate and a favourite of everyone on the farm.  In order to show her new breed of cat, Linda had to come up with a name for her genetically-unique felines. She came up with "LaPerm", which means wavy or rippled in several languages, and so, a new breed was born.  During the next 10 years no attempt was made to breed selectively but as the frequency of bald kittens increased in the random bred litters, the owner of the farm began to seek additional information about her unusual cats. She had no knowledge of genetics or breeding and thus allowed the cats to roam freely throughout the barns and orchard for several years. As she became aware of how truly unique these cats were, she started to confine the cats and control the breedings. It appeared that the curly gene was dominant and carried by both males and females. This breeder was totally unprepared for the interest and excitement generated by cats she decided to enter in a cat show.
Curly grew up and also worked as a farm cat. One day Curly, and the whole LaPerm breed, were almost wiped out when she climbed into the warm engine of a pick up truck and was injured by the fan when it was started up. She survived and became a house cat for a while convalescing from her injuries, but she managed to find her way out and became pregnant to one of the farm�s toms. An inexperienced first-time mum, she gave birth under a tree in the middle of a rainstorm one night. Linda heard strange noises and took a torch outside to find Curly fiercely staving off barking dogs while straddling her newborn babies. Linda put the kittens into her pockets and took them into the warmth of a barn to make them a nest in the hay. The next day when Linda was able to look at them in daylight she realised that all five kittens had the same appearance as their mother had at birth. All five were male and grew up to have the same soft curls. None of the five were neutered and their breeding activity led to many more curly coated kittens being born.  Linda found herself with a growing colony of unusual rex cats which included long and short coats and (thanks to the input somewhere along the way of a local cat who had a Siamese mother) chocolate and colourpoints too.  It was only when people started commenting on her odd cats and asking what they were that she did some research and realized that she had some kind of rex.  She took some cats to a show to ask for feedback and was told by exhibitors, breeders and judges that she had something very special. Several key people in the USA cat fancies gave her their support and the breed has grown and become a well established championship breed in the States with breeding programmes in many other countries around the world.
After birth the kittens can go through several stages of coat development. Many will stay as they were when born but often they will drop their coats either entirely or in part. Such "moulting" generally produces a denser coat when it comes back in. Occasionally one will drop the coat and stay bald or maintain only a sparse coat.  The kittens born bald will generally grow a curly coat with age. The coat continues to develop for up to 3 years and will have varying degrees of curl. The coat is low maintenance with little tendency to mat and little shedding compared to other breeds. The coat is the breed�s most distinctive feature; it is unique and does not feel like the coat of any other breed.  There is also a tendency for this breed to cause fewer allergies in humans than with other breeds, probably due to fewer guard hairs.
Although the look of each kitten varies, one thing always remains the same: the great personality of this new breed. Even the occasional straight-haired kitten is blessed with it, which makes finding good homes for them very easy.  The LaPerm is still a young breed but is rapidly gaining in popularity around the world.  Breeders often use the initials BC, BS or BB in their kittens� names; these stand for, Born Curly and Born Straight or Born Bald. Those kittens like Curly who are born bald, then develop a curly coat, have become rarer as the breed has progressed.
LaPerms are gentle, friendly and affectionate but also very active. They seek human contact and purr as soon as they become aware of your presence. These cats are face lovers; they will reach for your face with their paws and rub their faces against your head, neck and face. They love being kissed and will kiss back. They beg to be held, drooped over a shoulder or cradled in your arms while resting on their backs.  However, they are not lazy and are inquisitive in nature and will even learn to fetch as well as many other tricks. They are generally quiet-voiced but may be vocal when wanting attention and they do like lots of attention and cuddles. Being a working cat on the farm, they are excellent hunters, as well as gentle companions. They adapt well to apartment living because of their strong bonding instinct.  Unlike many active breeds, the LaPerm is also quite content to be a lap cat. The LaPerm will often follow your lead, that is if they are busy playing and you decide to sit and relax, simply pick up your LaPerm and sit down with it and it will stay on your lap, devouring the attention you give it. LaPerms seek human contact and will purr as soon as they become aware of your presence. They are inquisitive by nature and always want to know what is going on around them.  The breed has captivated nearly everyone who has the opportunity of seeing one.
The first LaPerm in the UK was Uluru BC Omaste Po of Quincunx, a lilac tortie and white Longhair who was bred in the USA. She was imported by Anthony Nichols using the Pet Passport in May 2002 after a stop-over with a LaPerm breeder in Holland. She arrived pregnant and gave birth to a litter of five kittens shortly after who were used as the foundation stock for the UK breeding programme. The UK is the home of the LaPerm Cat Club. The breed has made solid progress within the GCCF.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A Simple Chicken and Pasta Dish




3 chicken breasts, skinned and cubed
1 onion peeled and chopped finely
Half a tube of tomato puree
1 tin of good quality chopped tomatoes such as Napolina
Heaped teaspoon of oregano
Heaped teaspoon of Provencal herbs
A bag of penne pasta, or fusilli
1 teaspoon of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A little oil to fry

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or big saucepan.
Saute the onion until transparent.
Add the chicken and seal for a couple of minutes.
Stir in the tomato puree and cook through for a minute.
Add sufficient water to cover the chicken and onion, the tinned tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper.
Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes until the sauce thickens a little.

Meanwhile boil a large pan of water with a splash of salt and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Drain the pasta and add to the tomato and chicken sauce.  Mix together and serve with a side salad and crusty bread.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Freyja's horse-sized winged cats; more about mythological felines

Do you know in Norse mythology that the Goddess Freyja is often depicted riding through the skies on her golden chariot?  The chariot is pulled by two large blue cats, a gift from the God Thor.

Friday, 20 March 2015

PATRIPATAN A Mythological Cat - South East Asia

Have you heard of Patripatan?  A cat in Hindu mythology?

It was a monk's cat.  When his rival went to heaven in Devendiren and came back with a flower from the parisadam tree, the monk sent his cat to do the same thing.  The cat was kept in heaven for 300 years as one of the goddesses fell in love with him.

When he returned to earth, he brought not a flower but a whole branch of the sacred tree.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Black cats...lucky or not???







In the UK and Japan, seeing a black cat cross your path is considered good luck.  Did you know the same encounter means bad luck in the United States?

In Scotland it is thought to bring prosperity.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Quick lamb curry to go with vegetable rice

Yesterday I posted a vegetable rice with turmeric.  So here is a quick lamb curry to go with it.





Ingredients:  For 3 people

1 onion, finely chopped
Some vegetable oil to fry, or ghee if you prefer
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
Half a kilo of fillet neck lamb, diced......use a kilo for more than 3 people
2 tablespoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of dried chillie or chillie flakes
8 cloves
8 cardamon pods
1 pot of Greek yoghurt


Put some oil or ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the meat until it is sealed.  Take the meat out with a slotted spoon and leave it aside on a plate.

Then fry the chopped onion in the oil or ghee in the same pan if you like, and when the onions are golden add the garlic and stir for a minute.  Add the cloves and cardamom and let them spit a little in the oil.  Stir in the paprika and chillies.

Fold in the Greek yoghurt on a very low heat and add a little water.  Put the meat back in and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about an hour on a low heat on the hob.

Great for a Friday night meal with vegetable rice (see earlier post).



Monday, 9 March 2015

Vegetable rice with turmeric to accompany curry






Ingredients:

1 dessertspoonful of vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped or crushed
8 cloves
8 cardamon pods - green
2 teaspoons of turmeric
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
Coriander leaves, washed and chopped with a few stalks chopped as well
1 teaspoon of salt and a few grindings of black pepper
Water to cover

Additional options
a few frozen peas
a few fresh green beans topped and tailed, then cut in half

Method:

Put the oil in a pan and fry off the onions and carrots until the onions are a golden colour, then add the garlic, cloves, cardamon, turmeric, coriander and potatoes.  Stir for a minute to incorporate the turmeric.  Then add the salt and pepper and cover the ingredients with water, just a fingernail over the ingredients.  Bring to the boil and put a tight fitting lid on the pan (with a small tea towel between pan and lid or a piece of tin foil.  Turn the heat to very low (preferably with a diffuser) and leave for 20 minutes.  Take off the heat and leave for 10 minutes before peaking inside.  It should be fluffy and the vegetables cooked through.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

HOME-MADE VEGETABLE SOUP






Home-made Vegetable Soup



1 onion, peeled and chopped into slices
3 carrots, peeled and cubed
2 leeks, chopped in slices
Quarter of a white cabbage, sliced
2 large potatoes cubed
A few frozen broad beans
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 chicken stock cube
1 teaspoon of green pesto
2 pints of water
A splash of Worcestershire sauce
Mixed Provencal herbs to taste (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon of oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
100g of orzo pasta

Put the leeks, onion and carrots in a large saucepan with the stock cube and water.  When softened, add the other ingredients and give it a big stir, before leaving to simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve with half a lemon and crusty bread and butter


Variations could include:

Adding frozen peas or sweetcorn
A tin of white beans
A handful of left over cooked chicken

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Borrowed from Gino D'Acampo Chicken recipe

Chicken with melted mozzarella and tomato pizza sauce




Ingredients:

4 medium, skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 x 125g mozzarella balls, drained and finely sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crispy Italian salad to serve

Method:

Using a sharp knife, slash each chicken breast four times, cutting through to the middle of the breast.  Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the garlic and the chicken over a medium heat for 2 minutes on each side until golden all over.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes and oregano and season with salt and pepper.  Cook uncovered over a medium heat for 8 minues.  Halfway through the cooking, turn the breasts.  meanwhile pre-heat the grill to it's highest setting.

Remove the pan from the heat and place the sliced mozzarella on top of the chicken breasts.  Grind over some black pepper and place the pan under the grill for about 1 minute or until the cheese starts to melt.

To serve, pour some of the tomato sauce into the middle of 4 serving plates.  Top with the chicken breast and enjoy with a side salad.

PS....I didn't use the grill as mine makes the kitchen smokey, so I just popped them in the oven (in an ovenproof dish) at 180C for about 20 minutes.




Monday, 9 February 2015

A simple spring salad for lunch

Good quality mozarella cheese cut into slices
A large beef tomato cut into similar size slices
A little gem lettuce washed....leave the leaves whole
Baby potatoes, with or without skin to your preference
A boiled egg or two peeled and cut into quarters
Half a cucumber, washed and semi peeled, cut into chunks

Put the lettuce leaves on a plate first, followed by cucumber, potatoes and boiled eggs.  On the other half of the plate, layer the tomato slices with the cheese slices as shown in the photograph.






Can be served with:
French dressing plus salt and pepper
Extras could include:
Cooked or tinned green beans
Croutons
Chopped anchovies
Basil leaves


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Almost Fat Free Diet (Quorn beefsteak - meat protein)

My husband is on a fat free diet awaiting his gall bladder operation.  He has been waiting over two months now and is getting tired of boiled turkey and boiled rice with a side salad, minus any dressing.

So last week he decided to try Quorn beefsteaks.  What to do with it?




1 Quorn beefsteak (meat protein)
1 onion finely chopped OR a few spring onions cleaned and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped in chunks
A portion of green beans (fresh OR tinned)
A portion of broad beans (frozen)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 or 3 oven roasted red peppers from a jar
Spray oil can

Spray a deep frying pan with a tiny drop of oil.  Use a ceramic pan if you have one.  Add the onions and garlic and cook on a low heat until softened.  Then add the Quorn beefsteak, turning after a minute or two.  Put in the tin of tomatoes, together with the red peppers.  Add the green beans and broad beans.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked through.

Serve with boiled white rice or boiled baby potatoes if you are on a fat free diet.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Acting with Nigel Barber who will be in Mission Impossible 5 with Tom Cruise - Part Two



Sunday, I woke at 5 and jumped in the shower at 6.  I went through the same make up, hair up, hat on etc.  Then the director told me where to get some breakfast.  Meanwhile Nigel Barber came in and introduced himself and shook my hand and asked if I had been in the business as long as he had and I quivered and said, "Er, I'm just an extra, first time yesterday".  He said he liked my look, he said it was perfect for the 30's.  There were no mirrors so I have no idea what I looked like.  He was so imposing, his accent, posture, beautiful clothes including an amazing mac, just couldn't place him... googled him when I got home he was in The Bodyguard which I saw at the theatre with friends in the West End of London. He was also in Magnum PI, TJ Hooker, Baywatch, Knightrider and more recently on Hallmark TV in The Sweeter Side of Life.  Well, we were sharing a makeshift dressing room so I went to have a coffee to give him some privacy to change, and prayed I didn't have a speaking part....came back up when he had changed into his 30's suit and was chatting to the director who is a very young guy but with a certain charisma....sure he will be famous one day...so then I was called on set to come downstairs and walk to reception almost bumping into Nigel Barber carrying a goldfish in a bowl, so the timing had to be spot on....then the receptionist introduced himself to me and asked what I had been in before!!! He was Joe Grossi from The Da Vinci Code.....I mumbled something about working in the offices of television and yesterday being my first day on set, never mind with a speaking part.  We did about 8 rehearsals and then went for real....it was a take in 2.  Then I had to walk across set again for a fresh scene, with me in the background....meanwhile there was a stills photographer taking lots of pictures.  I had my own camera up in the dressing room but felt embarrassed to ask these actors for a picture.  I attended the premiere at The London Film school with my husband a few weeks later.  It was hectic and very strange seeing myself up on the big screen, especially in the speaking part.  The short film is now doing the rounds of the film festivals and has been listed on IMDB. 

Since then, I have worked as an extra in a banking corporate film which was paid and such fun too.