Friday, 21 November 2014

Just a Tiny Minor Panic



'Blimey Charlie' - I've just realised I've only got 4 weekends left till Christmas week (not counting this weekend)........

Last night Andrew was talking about Christmas Party invites.... and work dinners.... and visiting Charlie..... and these were all in December so was, obviously, miles away

                  .....but....

......when I came to put them all in my diary, suddenly, it all appeared to be not that far off and I haven't done anything yet to plan for the Christmas holidays - good job my brilliantly organised Mum has already made the mincemeat & Christmas pud - passing some of these on to me during our visit last week......phew! one less thing to think about.

So time to organise the troops and leap into action....

This weekend we need to go and pick out our Christmas tree. This has become a family tradition and usually we do it around the second weekend in November. We all don wellie boots, warm coats, gloves, scarfs & hats and head out to the back fields of our local plant nursery where they have hundreds of Christmas trees growing, all different shapes, sizes and varieties.

Armed with a little white plastic label, given to use by the owners, we head off into the trees to take a look. Over the years we have discovered that we need one about a foot taller than Andrew, so that by the time it's been cut down, trimmed and potted up it will just be touching the ceiling in our lounge - ideal!

Soon the woods are ringing with the cries of 'come and look at this one' or 'here's the one' or 'no it's a bit lopsided' or 'don't you think its too thin in the middle' or ' not enough branches higher up' it goes on and on and usually when we find the ideal tree, the perfect high, the perfect distribution of branches, the right colour and it's just THE ONE ....... there will be a little white label on the other side proclaiming that the family further up the valley have already bagged this one (sometimes I'm so tempted to move their label to another tree!!! - not in the spirit of Christmas though!)

Eventually after a good hour of trudging around we find the tree, label it and head home to a roaring log fire, a hot chocolate, with maybe a dash of whiskey or brandy added, followed by a hearty stew and dumplings......

That's when I know that my Christmas has started and I'm ready to take on all the other things that I love to do to prepare for the holidays........

Have a lovely weekend
Love Lizx

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Just wanted to show you what I found growing at the bottom of our garden this week.....


I looked it up in my 'big book of fungi' and it's an ink cap mushroom described as 'Edible although sometimes poisonous' enough to make me leave it undisturbed. Apparently, it was known as 'tippler's bane' in early England and eating of it increases sensitivity to alcohol - resulting in extreme symptoms and sometimes causing a mild heart attach - who'd of thought it from such a pretty looking plant!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Marshmallow


Hello, my name is Liz and I have a problem......

I'm some what OCD about marshmallows.......

I have to have them in the house, even if I don't need to use them in a recipe or even want to eat them, I just have to have them......but......

                                         and this is a big but........

As soon as they come into the house they have to be separated into jars - I can not have pink & white marshmallows co-habiting..... it makes my hands itch and I get all stressy!!! They have their own separate glass jars and they live on different shelves in the kitchen! They also must never ever mix -  not ever again - not in a recipe or as a dessert sprinkle - they must remain separate....always.....and this applies to all sizes of marshmallow even the little tiny ones......

There, I now feel better for that confession maybe it's the first step on my road to recovery from this strange and slightly scary addiction!


Well, last week, I decided to fancy up some marshmallows that were destined to be melted on the top of hot chocolate drinks for our bonfire party......

The colours all looked so good that it became a proper photo shot......


First off I spiked all the marshmallows - pink today (and only pink) with wooden skewers...


and my chosen decoration was 100's & 1000's........


I got a carried away with my pictures.....


Getting more & more creative.....


Glad I don't mind these colours mixing......


anyway - back to my decorating....


I melted a little white chocolate and the swirled the marshmallow top into it....


as you can see....


I then dipped it into the 100's & 1000's - making sure they were evenly coated.....


Leave your marshmallow Popsicles to dry in an upright position or all the little candy balls will move to one side....


Once dried you can either leave them as they are for people to either melt in their drinks, eat as a lolly pop or even toast over the fire....

Or you can pull them off their sticks and seal in a jar until needed....their own jar mind you, these little sweeties can no longer live with the plain pink ones! These are now fancy pink ones...........oh! I'm realising that I really do have a problem.........thanks for listening......



Hope you enjoyed this cheerful picture post....

Have a great Thursday
Love Lizx

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Pomegranate Salad


I hit the perpetual problem of the blogger really hard today and that's 'What do I call this post?'......

Mozzarella, Pomegranate & Rocket Salad with a simple olive oil & lemon dressing? too long....

How about Pomegranate & Mozzarella Salad or Just a rocket salad with extras?.....

....and I'm going to serve it with some black pepper & lemon pork so do I include that in the title?

Golly ...... I just haven't a clue ........ I think I'll work on the pictures and the post notes and see what I decide......inspiration strike here please!

anytime now would be good....

I love seeing the pomegranates arriving in our stores this time of the year - I always used to beg my Mum to buy them when I was a little girl - I just loved all the seeds hidden inside.They weren't used in cooking that much then as they are now and recently it has become quite a fashionable fruit to use. I like to add the seeds to salads or sprinkle over a finished dish to serve.....



Well here's my recipe it's a very simple and tasty side dish you could add some extra mozzarella and maybe some nuts (I think whole walnut halves would work well) to make it a more substantial salad to serve as a lunch or supper dish if you want, but I served it with some simple black pepper & lemon loin pork which worked really well....

Serves 4

1 bag of rocket - washed and drained
1 pomegranate
1 or 2 balls of mozzarella ( I used 1 but two would have been better)
1 lemon
Olive oil - the best you can stretch to it  - a tasty extra virgin is best (hmmm that sound so wrong)
Sea salt crystals
Freshly ground pepper

For the pork
2 loin chops
1 lemon
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Honestly this salad is so simple I'm almost embarrassed to write about it - but it's so photogenic I just had to take some pictures and show you......


First off grab your serving plates - you can do individual salads, like I chose to do, or make one big one....

Place your rocket on the plate.....


Next take your mozzarella and tear it into bite size chunks - don't cut - tear it looks more beautiful and scrumptious....... well I think it does to me......


Right now you need to get the seeds out of the pomegranate - loads of ways to do this - I can remember spending hours as a child at Christmas with a darning needle picking out each individual seed to eat -one little jewel at a time.

But with the aim to do this more quickly, you can either cut the pomegranate in half and then invert it onto your palm and give a couple of hard bangs on to your palm and apparently the seeds fall out - this does not work for me I just get a wet hand but I've seen others do it and it works for them. The way I do it id to cut in half and, placing my thumbs in the middle of the outside of each half, try to turn it inside out. This works really well and you can just rub off the seeds into a bowl.

  
Now sprinkle over your pomegranate seeds.....


Drizzle over some olive oil.......


 Grind on the black pepper and sprinkle on a few whole sea salt crystal. Cut the lemon into wedges and place on the side to be squeezed on just as your about to eat - the lemon will discolour the salad if added neat to early.


For the Black pepper & Lemon Loin Chops.

Place your loin chops into a shallow oven proof dish that has had a slick of olive oil run over the bottom. The dress with some more olive oil, loads of black pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Place under a pre-heated grill and cook until the edges have browned and the pork is cooked right through - make sure you don't dry it out to much. Once cooked lift from the dish and cut into thick slices. Serve next to your salad.


If you want you can make a quick sauce from the juice of the pork - just drain into a pan or , if the cooking dish is hob proof place over a high heat, and reduce with a little more lemon juice and pour over the pork.

You can also dress the rocket with a little rich & thick balsamic vinegar or if you have (or can get it) it fig balsamic vinegar works really well.....


Have a great Wednesday

Love Lizx