Wednesday, 31 December 2014

No matter how lazy I have become about blogging this year I have managed to put together a photo sampler each month. It's something I really enjoy doing and really enjoy looking at at. I try to include samples of what I have been cooking that month and what is blooming in my garden or the local hedgerows. I hope you enjoy this look back at 2014.













2015 will be a year of milestones for us.
In January this little blog will be 5
In February Tom will be 18 and Charlie and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
In March Katie will be 15 (not really a milestone but I didn't want to leave her out).
In July George will be 20
And in December I will be 50. 
Bring it on.

A very happy new year to all readers of this blog, may 2015 be filled with good things.

Sue xx

Post Christmas


Monday, 29 December 2014

Peppermint bark

These are all gone now. Of course.

I like these post-Christmas days. The house is full of food and drink and nobody has to be anywhere. We have a stack of new dvds to watch, a necessity at this time of year we find, as there is practically nothing worth the licence fee on telly. We have Spooks and Northern Exposure -remember that one? and Lawrence of Arabia for New Year's Eve because it is so long.

I find myself looking forward to New Year's Day when we will take down the tree, put away the baubles and start thinking new year thoughts. I've already started actually. I'm making lists; books to read, projects to knit, things to write about and subjects to photograph.

The Feast Approaches


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Christmas doesn't really get under way in our house until school finishes -school in this case referring to work, college, uni as well as actual school. This will be Friday when we will bring our tree into the house and decorate it. We will put fairy lights around the room, light candles and open the bottle of Baileys. I've talked about my approach to the winter feast here so I won't repeat myself now except to say that for our family Christmas means a holiday from work and studies, a holiday made extra good by twinkly lights, delicious things to eat and copious amounts of booze.

On the food and drink front here are some of things I plan to make during the holiday
mince pies
sausage rolls
roast beef and yorkshire puds for Boxing Day (Christmas lunch at my mum's this year)
banoffee pie
ginger ice cream
dark and stormies
peppermint bark  *Katie wants to make this for presents and I am hoping there will be some leftover
malteser slice

*See also Julie's method here.

I would like to say that I promise to photograph all of the above and bring you an 'In My Kitchen at Christmas' post but I've been such a lax blogger lately I'd better not make any promises. We'll see how it goes.

The Year In Books ~ The New House by Lettice Cooper


Monday, 8 December 2014

I thought Nella Last's War would be a good choice for my December read as it was dramatised by Victoria Wood as Housewife, 49 and housewife, 49 is a very apt description of myself this December as I am now 49 and a housewife. But I have read it several times and I am trying to read new things for The Year in Books. I do recommend it though, especially if you are interested in how women managed to keep a household going in the face of rationing and shortages not to mention great emotional upheaval. Nella was incredibly resourceful and could make a tasty meal out of almost nothing. What a great blogger she would have made.

The book I have chosen is a Persephone publication, The New House by Lettice Cooper. I was lucky enough to be given a six month subscription to Persephone Books by my generous parents and this is the first instalment which arrived a few days before my birthday wrapped in pink tissue and tied with grey ribbon. What a treat! The New House, written in 1936 describes one day in the lives of a family as they move from a large house with grounds to a new, smaller house. I haven't got very far with it yet but so far, so good. I also have Because of the Lockwoods by Dorothy Whipple waiting to be read which I know I will enjoy.

I can't remember all six of the books I have chosen and I don't want to check as I'm looking forward to being surprised when they arrive. I do remember that one is Housebound by Winifred Peck and one is Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge. I have gone for domestic books, books which like Nella Last's War deal with how women go about running their homes under varying circumstances. Persephone excel in finding such books to republish. I am sure if it weren't already in print then Nella Last would be an admirable addition to Persephone's list. The Homemaker by Dorothy Canfield is perhaps the best example of this genre, a book I must reread soon.

Meanwhile in the garden we have frosty quince leaves in abundance.

Cake of the Month ~ Date and Walnut Loaf


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Just in the nick of time here is November's cake.

I had a yearning for an old-fashioned tea bread, something moist, that could be sliced and spread with butter, something plenty of fruit in it and perhaps a bit of crunch too. Tea breads seem right for late autumn with their brown crusts and their spicy fruit hinting at Christmas mince pies to come.

While stocking up on ingredients for the florentines I make at Christmas I noticed bags of mixed dates and walnuts and decided a date and walnut loaf  would be just the kind of cake I was looking for.

I was sure I must have a recipe in one of my many cookbooks, but no, nothing quite fit the bill. A google took me straight to the Whitworths recipe page. Their recipe for date and walnut loaf made use of the very bag of mixed dates and walnuts I had just purchased. Problem solved.

Here is the recipe. The only change I made was to use orange juice from a carton because I had no oranges. I used 70 ml which is roughly the amount of juice in one orange. Of course you don't have to use a bag of Whitworth's dates and walnuts. I won't next time because there aren't enough walnuts for my liking. The cake is also very crumbly which wasn't quite what I was looking for, but that said it still tasted delicious.

2012's November cake also included walnuts and is here.

Something else I almost forgot to do this month was to show you my socks which I finished a while ago. Love them.

Today is Advent Sunday and I have dusted off our now decidedly tatty handmade advent calendar. I was all for retiring it this year but Katie has vetoed that idea. We also have our simple white candle which we light each Sunday in advent and then each day from Christmas Day until it's gone. 

And lastly here is November's sampler and a reminder that all 58 (!) of my monthly samplers can be found on the black bar under my blog title at the top of the page.

Blogging Manifesto


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

I've been promising to get a new blog list up for ages and here it is at last, on my sidebar. I decided it was time to reinstate the old rolling blog list instead of a simple list of blogs on a separate page. I think it's more user friendly, more friendly in fact. My old favourites are on it, my friends real and cyber and also some new discoveries. They are a mixed bunch covering a wide range of interests and opinions, they are funny, thought-provoking, inspiring and all completely brilliant in their different ways.

Sadly several of my favourite bloggers have stopped blogging altogether and although I have found some lovely new blogs they aren't as many as I would wish. I'm sure twitter and instagram have a lot to do with it. I do love instagram but it's no substitute for blogging. Is blogging starting to seem old-fashioned now?  There certainly seems to be a move to a more professional approach to blogging, to building a bloggy empire; book deals, monetising, product reviews etc. I thought for a while of getting into that sort of thing myself but have firmly decided against it now, I'm too lazy for one thing. I also thought I would try to approach my blog in a more professional way by having a posting schedule and planning my posts. I wrote about it here. My book full of ideas has remained unconsulted. They were too prescriptive, too like magazine articles. My blog is not a magazine, it's place to connect with others. So I have replaced my blogging notebook with this simple and personal blogging manifesto ~

Blog when you like as often as you like.

Blog about whatever you like.

Ignore the stats, they make no difference to anything.

Have at least one photo in every post (whether it has anything to do with the post's subject or not).

Keep it real.

In My Kitchen


Friday, 21 November 2014

In my kitchen this week this month the last few weeks. 

These salmon parcels with oven fried potatoes (chips) and minty mushy peas.

These chewy cocoa brownies.

This  tasty lentil cottage pie with cheesy mash.

This supper onion pie from How to be a Domestic Goddess. Simple and cheap and delicious.

These leftovers. Spaghetti with courgettes, cream and parmesan,

Made into a frittata with some bacon.

These olive toasts. Roughly chopped olives, anchovies, capers, garlic and parsley mixed with lemon juice and olive oil.

These crusty white loaves.

And this mincemeat.

What's been happening in your kitchen lately?

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