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The Homemade Heart
Central Scotland
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As I write, it is a warm day at the end of May. The dog is lying, panting, on the floor at my feet, occasionally opening a lazy eye to check all is well before snuffling back down into summer dreams of baby rabbits and cool walks in the wood. I have been mulling over this blog for such a long time now, so uncertain how to proceed. Sitting here today, it feels natural, and good, to type these words; there is no difficulty, and so much to tell, yet for so long I have not been inspired to write..... Isaac has left school, and starts at Music Academy in August. He is well, and thriving, and the joy of that is in itself a reason to celebrate every day. Jacob is thriving; he is in Thailand, on holiday with his adorable girl friend, and has finished 1st year of uni. The changes for him this year have been monumental, and all positive, another reason to rejoice. The boys are older, more independent; their lives have changed, and mine also, in response. I am quilting and sewing, and finding such creative satisfaction in doing so; creatively I am almost fulfilled, though there is lots more I want to do. Life is busy, the boys are moving forwards, I am seeing a time on the distant horizon when they will both be pretty much independent. In many ways I have much more time than I did when they were younger, though Mother Nature abhors a vacuum, and so my days seem more full and hectic than ever. So where does regular writing for this dear blog of mine fit, in the changed pattern of my days? Simple answer is I don't know.......... Until I decide what to do, I am closing for the summer season.I hope to be back, but I need time to think, and refresh my ideas, and perhaps blog with a slightly different emphasis, or try a new format. Thank you for reading my blog, and for your friendship, it has been a gift. I will still be on Instagram, and the blog will still be here, but for now it's 'Au Reservoir' as my fictional heroine, Lucia would say, twinkling off down the cobbled street with silken scarf trailing, hat tilted just so, to protect her porcelain complexion from the sun; her mind buzzing with a million plans for the summer, as is mine...... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2018 at The Homemade Heart
Love the idea of an egg stirred in to the mashed potato, I imagine that would be lovely and rich, as well as making the top extra crispy. Yum. X
Yes I think the morning tea ritual is one I could enjoy, particularly if someone else was doing the washing up..... x
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Welcome to the Cookery Calendar Challenge for May 2018. The Cookery Calendar Challenge is my monthly challenge to choose and make two new recipes from one recipe book, and share them on my blog. Everyone is very welcome to join me; you will find a summary of the Challenge at the end of this post, and any other details you need can be found on the Cookery Calendar Challenge page. My chosen recipe book for this month was Fortnum and Mason The Cookbook. This book is a visual delight; it is beautifully made, the paper is thick, smooth and luxurious, and it is liberally decorated with original illustrations by Edward Bawden, which make it a joy to look through. The book is divided into chapters covering Breakfast; Morning Tea (yes, a whole chapter devoted to morning tea), Lunch, Ice Cream (yes, a whole chapter devoted to Ice Cream), Afternoon Tea, Savouries, Puddings, Supper, Cocktails.... It is essentially an epicurean meander through the day of a privately educated lady or gentleman of refined tasted who has never quite escaped the Nursery. I love it. The recipes have been gathered and edited by Tom Parker Bowles , as opposed to any of the chefs actually producing the meals and delights at Fortnum and Mason, so there is slightly disconnected feel about the writing. It is well enough written, but Tom is admiringly recounting the recipes of others, rather than describing recipes he has developed himself. This is not a criticism, merely an observation. My first selected dish was Fish Pie. I love a fish pie; the fish is always cooked through, removing any nervousness about undercooking, and the béchamel sauce takes on the flavour of the fish so nicely. Topped with mashed potato and cooked until slightly crispy on top, if you throw in a handful or two of peas, or sweetcorn, it is a complete dinner. Tom (writing on behalf of the F and M chefs) recommends fine green beans cut in half, but give me some good old Birds Eye frozen peas every time. He also adds some parmesan to the mashed potato on top, which is a delicious addition I will adopt forthwith. There's a slight problem with Fish Pie in our house- I'm the only person who knows they like it. Derek always says he doesn't like it, so will only deign to eat it about once a year. He always enjoys it when he does, but then immediately resorts to not liking it again, until next time. Timing is everything when it comes to Fish Pie and Derek. We should really have an annual Fish Pie Day, then at least I could look forward to it. Jacob, being at University in another city, wasn't home for dinner, and Isaac was out with his wee friends on Fish Pie night (they are all 16 now, but I still think of them as his 'wee friends'). I tentatively presented the fish pie to Derek, saying in encouraging tones 'This is from the Fortnum and Mason book you gave me for Christmas', which I thought was rather clever of me, as he couldn't very well criticise it without damning his own choice of gift. I needn't have worried, as the pie really was delicious, and Derek ate it without complaint. Equally without compliment, but considering his Fish Pie aversion, that's pretty good going, and with that, Fish Pie night was over for another year. (Unrelated illustration, but it made me laugh. Looks like Derek and me, we always wear evening dress at dinner......) My next foray in to the Fortnum and Mason book was one evening when Jacob was home for a few days with his lovely girlfriend, A, of whom we are all inordinately fond. Jacob likes onions; he actually loves almost all foods, but one of his favourite flavours is onions. I quite often roast red onions as an accompaniment to various dinners, and if I make sausages and onion gravy for him, it has to be heavily populated with onions to meet his approval. I decided to make Baked Onion with Courgette from the F and M book, the plan being I would have that as my Veggie dinner, and everybody else would have some roast chicken alongside. Each onion is peeled, the top is sliced off, the root is left intact. The onions are roasted for about 50 minutes with some seasoning, butter and a little water. The difficulty comes after the onion is cooked, and the recipe directs that the insides are then scooped out, and combined with breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic, then all stuffed back in and baked again. I was in a hurry, so didn't leave the onions until cold to scoop out the insides, but even so it proved almost impossible to remove the inside of the onion, as it remained firmly attached to the root. The inner layers slipped around unpleasantly on the horizontal axis of the onion, but the insides remain stubbornly within, and I began to feel like a desperate Ophthalmic Surgeon attempting Enucleation Surgery. In the end I resorted to brute force (I can only hope that an Ophthalmic Surgeon would have more patience) and hacked in to the onion with a sharp knife to remove the innards, cobbling it back together for the second bake in the oven.. After all that palaver, the flavour was only ok, and provided a fairly bland dinner for me, and an unremarkable accompaniment for everyone else, so essentially not worth the trouble. Overall, I really like this book. It is more of an over achieving coffee table book rather than a fully functioning recipe book, and is so beautiful that I was nervous of spotting or spilling ingredients on it whilst I used it, but it is sumptuous, and quite funny somehow, with its recipes for Scrambled Eggs with Lobster Bisque, or Cucumber with Mint Cream Cheese sandwiches, or a hundred other examples of almost impossibly posh and expensive, yet simple recipes. However it has plenty of good, reliable and delicious looking recipes too, and some lovely baking. My intention is to photocopy some recipes and use the photocopied sheets rather than risk spoiling this book. Not the sort of treatment that could be rolled out for all recipe books, but well worth it for this one. After all, who could feel anything other than affection bordering on love for a book offering, for example, a recipe for Ice Cream Floats for the Young at Heart, But Old of Age. My selected book for next month is 'Take One Pot' by Georgina Fuggle. I have had this book for ages, several years I think, and have no clear recollection of where I bought it. I have looked through it extensively but have not yet cooked from it, so it is high time I did so. If you joined me last month, thank you. If you are wondering whether to take part in the challenge this month, I hope you decide to. Through the Cookery Calendar Challenge I have discovered some dishes that are now firm favourites in our house (as well as some I will never make again!), and I now make better use of my recipe books than before. It is an ongoing project, so it is never too late to join, and everyone is very welcome. Here's how to take part: Select a cookery book from your shelf, and cook two new recipes from it over the course of the month. The recipes can be for anything: main meal, pudding, a cake or bake, a preserve, anything at all which is a recipe that is new to you. At the beginning of the following month, blog about it. That's all there is to it, describing the book, and recipes you have used, and announce your chosen cookery book for the month ahead. Add your post to the linky on my blog, to allow others to see what you have made. If you haven't taken a photograph of the dish, don't worry, you can still describe it, and let everyone know how it worked out. Similarly, you are welcome to share a recipe if you wish, but there is no pressure to do so. This project is more about the process of reconnecting with your cookery book collection, than about recipe sharing or food photography. I would appreciate a link back to this Cookery Calendar Challenge post in your post. There is also a Cookery Calendar Challenge badge to display on your blog too, if you like (just copy and paste the code on to your dashboard). You can also join via Instagram using hashtag #cookerycalendarchallenge (you will find me on Instagram @penny.homemadeheart ) All this information is also on the Cookery Calendar Challenge page, should you wish to check anything in more detail, or of course you are welcome to message me also. An InLinkz Link-up Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2018 at The Homemade Heart
Thank you Ashley X
Thank you Gillian! It is not always so polite, I can assure you! I have never used a slow cooker, and tend to get them mixed up with pressure cookers, though having said that now I realise they must in fact be the total opposite of each other....! X
It so nice Gina, ans seafood is one of the very few dishes that everyone in this house will eat, so its quite nice to only have one meal to cook at night rather than two or three! X
Yes though my lot are quite liable to tell me something I have cooked is disgusting, so sometimes an ‘ok’ is as much as I’ll get! X
Fingers X’d x
Thank you B Xx
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Welcome to the Cookery Calendar Challenge for April 2018. The Cookery Calendar Challenge is my monthly challenge to choose and make two new recipes from one recipe book, and share them on my blog. Everyone is very welcome to join me; you will find a summary of the Challenge at the end of this post, and any other details you need can be found on the Cookery Calendar Challenge page. My chosen book for March was 'Feast' by Sabrina Ghayour; this book an impulse buy in Waitrose on a dark and rainy day at the end of February. The cover, with its vibrant Paisley pattern, and of course the title 'Feasts' (note the plural, how sumptuous) made me think of easy relaxed meals on warm days, and I momentarily, uncharacteristically, yearned for summer. There is a bright and welcoming Introduction from Sabrina, and thereafter the book is divided into 8 chapters, from 'Breakfast and Brunch' through to 'Vegetarian Feasts', 'Special Occasions' and 'Comfort Food'. Scattered throughout the book are many enticing photographs of tables laden with colourful dishes, and each chapter page also has a charming line drawing of foods relevant to the recipes within. My first selected recipe was Eastern Prawn Linguine. This is in the 'Quick Fix Feasts' chapter and true to its promise it was a very quick dish to make and serve. Garlic is thinly sliced and cooked for a few minutes in hot oil, then set aside to infuse the oil with garlic flavour. Once the oil is suitably infused (it was a cursory 20 seconds in my kitchen, but perhaps longer in yours), the prawns are added and cooked until pink. Meantime, cook the linguine as usual, and once cooked, drain, reserving a couple of ladlesful of the cooking water (I can honestly say this is the first time I have ever actually followed that instruction in a recipe, pasta waster having, to my mind, a close affinity with dish water: both are necessary, but should surely be tipped down the sink straight after use?) Return the drained pasta to the pan, throw in the prawns and garlic oil, and the reserved pasta water, then grate in the zest of two lemons, pul biber chilli flakes (mine were just common or garden supermarket chilli flakes), some crumbled chunks of Feta, torn basil leaves and salt and pepper. This dish was pretty much the sum of its parts, but was extremely tasty, and quick to make. I had been in a slight flap because Jacob was coming home for dinner that night with his lovely girlfriend, and, as entirely befits his stage in life as a 1st Year Uni student, was not sure what time they would arrive, so this dish was pretty much ideal for that situation, as it was a fifteen minute job to make, but was flavoursome, light, and suitable for serving with salad and warm breads (a child of the '70's can't hide when it comes to food presentation). Well mannered remarks greeted this dish (I sense the influence of a guest at our kitchen table...) 'Mmm, thanks Mum, nice' (Jacob) 'Not really my type of thing but I'll eat it' (Isaac) 'Yes its fine' (Derek) 'Delicious, thank you, I am enjoying it' (Jacob's delightful girlfriend) My second selected dish was Yogurt and Harissa Marinated Chicken, from the 'Lighter Feasts' chapter. I like making a marinade; it does most of the work for you and can be done in advance. It is one of those activities that makes me feel competent and in control of my domestic life, and God knows there are few enough of those. Greek yogurt, fresh coriander, garlic, rose harissa (thank you Waitrose), lime zest and juice, olive oil, and salt, are whizzed in a food processor, and poured thickly over the chicken. This rests in the fridge for 30 minutes, or overnight. Or for a week in my case, as it wasn't eaten the night I had planned it for, and as the days passed by I was uncomfortably aware of the longest running marinade of all time happening in my fridge. I eventually cooked off the chicken and gave Derek a hefty portion for dinner with cous cous and roasted veg; made his dinner with one of the breasts chopped into a tomato and veg pasta sauce the next night, and used the several remaining breasts sliced for his lunchtime sandwiches for the next couple of days. Derek had by now forgotten a time in his life when he had eaten anything other than Yogurt and Harissa Marinated Chicken, and so the final chicken breast was thrown, with some regret, in to the food recycling bin. He said it was 'ok', but whether that was because it really was only ok, or that he was just having a reaction to having eaten it for the best part of a week, it is hard to tell. Either way, I will wait for some time before cooking it again... Overall, I really liked this book. The recipes fit the chapters they are included in; the flavours are rich, the colours are bright. There are several gorgeous looking cakes and bakes, as well as many other recipes I would like to try, so this one's a Keeper. My selected book for April is Fortnum and Mason, The Cook Book, given to me by Derek at Christmas. I an a devoted fan of F&M and was simply thrilled to unwrap this beautiful tome on Christmas morning. I have looked through it extensively, and just can't wait to make two new recipes from it in the coming month. If you joined me last month, thank you. If you are wondering whether to take part in the challenge this month, I do hope you do. Through the Cookery Calendar Challenge I have discovered some dishes that are now firm favourites in our house (as well as some I will never make again!), and I now make better use of my recipe books than before. It is an ongoing project, so it is never too late to join, and everyone is very welcome. Here's what to do: The first week of every month, select a cookery book from your shelf, and cook two new recipes from it. The recipes can be for anything: main meal, a cake or bake, a preserve, anything at all which is a recipe that is new to you. If you haven't taken a photograph of the dish, don't worry, you can still describe it, and let everyone know how it worked out. Similarly, you are welcome to share a recipe if you wish, but there is no pressure to do so. This project is more about the process of reconnecting with your cookery book collection, than about recipe sharing or food photography. At the beginning of the following month, blog about the book and recipes you have used, and announce your chosen cookery book for the month ahead. Add your post to the linky on my blog, to allow others to see what you have made. I would appreciate a link back to this Cookery Calendar Challenge post in your post. There is also a Cookery Calendar Challenge badge to display on your blog too, if you like (just copy and paste the code on to your dashboard). You can also join via Instagram using hashtag #cookerycalendarchallenge (you will find me on Instagram @penny.homemadeheart ) All this information is also on the Cookery Calendar Challenge page, should you wish to check anything in more detail, or of course you are welcome to message me also. An InLinkz Link-up Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2018 at The Homemade Heart
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They are SO good Gina, and super quick. The hardest part is letting them cool down before eating! X
I know, they really should have been delicious! i am still trying to work out why they weren’t! I have had so many culls of recipe books over the years that I actually blush to think how many I have handed in to the charity shop. On the flip side, I often pick up recipe books in the charity shop too.... x
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Welcome to the Cookery Calendar Challenge for March 2018. As the name suggests, the Cookery Calendar Challenge is my monthly challenge to choose and make two new recipes, and share them on my blog. Everyone is very welcome to join me; you will find a summary of the Challenge at the end of this post, and any other details you need can be found on the Cookery Calendar Challenge page. My chosen book for February was Dorset Cereals Breakfast Book. I picked up this book up in our local garden centre a couple of years ago, and have enjoyed making quite a few dishes from it. This time round, Isaac helped me choose two new recipes to try. My first selected recipe was Baked Egg Baguettes. Isaac and I had this for our tea one evening when Derek was out. We had high hopes, it sounded simple, savoury, and delicious. Finely chopped bacon is fried off until crispy (we used Quorn bacon), then mixed with eggs, double cream, grated gruyere, sliced spring onion, and seasoning. This mixture is then poured into the baguettes, from which a 'V' has been cut, to contain the mixture, and the dish is baked in the oven until fully cooked through. As you can see from the finished dish, cutting a 'V' into the baguettes was a demand too far for my knife skills, but even if I had managed, I think the mixture would still have run over the top of the bread and poured into the baking dish. This meal contained some of my favourite ingredients: eggs, cheese, cream and bread, but unfortunately neither Isaac or I enjoyed it. The flavours somehow did not make a harmonious whole; the spring onions were a bit overwhelming, and the cream and cheese together made the dish sickly, or 'glaggy' as we say in our house! Sadly this was a definite thumbs down from both of us, and a big red 'X' for 'Epic Fail' on the family food scoring system! The second recipe I selected was Peanut Butter Energy Bars. Butter, soft brown sugar, peanut butter and honey are melted together over a low heat, then poured over porridge oats and muesli, and this mixture is baked for 30-40 minutes until golden. With that list of gorgeous ingredients, it is hardly surprising that these earned a resounding double green tick* They are sweet, with a slight glaze on the outside, created by the cooked honey. They have a satisfying 'give' in the middle, courtesy of the porridge oats. They are nubbly and nutty, thanks to the muesli and (be still my beating heart) the crunchy peanut butter, and a good pinch of salt prevents them from being overly sugary. They are also supremely speedy to make; 5 minutes prep at most, and although I have only made them as per the original recipe book so far, I can imagine them lending themselves to all sorts of lovely additions such as dessicated coconut; raisins, flaked almonds, dried apricots..... These are a joyous addition to my baking repertoire, and I suspect they might be to yours too; here is the recipe. Ingredients: 125g unsalted butter 150g soft light brown sugar 125g crunchy peanut butter 75g runny honey 150g porridge oats 150g muesli (I used Jordans 'Simply Granola') good pinch of salt Method: Preheat oven to Gas 3/160c Grease and line a 20cm/8" square baking tin. Put butter, sugar, peanut butter and honey in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a low heat and stir until melted and well combined. Weigh oats, muesli and salt into a bowl and combine briefly, before adding the peanut butter mixture. Mix thoroughly. Scrape into baking tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden in the centre, and golden brown at the edges. Cool completely in tin, then turn out and cut into squares. n.b. The original recipe includes the finely grated zest of an orange and a lemon, and some extra runny honey for glazing. They also keep well for 5-7 days in an airtight tin. On to my selected recipe book for this month, which is 'Feasts' by Sabrina Ghayour. I have used one of Sabrina's books before for a Cookery Calendar Challenge with unhappy results, but this one was on offer at Waitrose, and the cover is beautiful, some of the recipes look delicious, and, well, I'm just a sucker for a new recipe book so it somehow jumped in to my trolley and came home with me. If you are wondering whether to take part in this challenge, I do hope you decide to join me. Through the Cookery Calendar Challenge I have discovered some dishes that are now firm favourites in our house (as well as some I will never make again!), and I now make better use of my recipe books than before. It is an ongoing project, so it is never too late to join, and everyone is very welcome. Here's what to do: The first week of every month, select a cookery book from your shelf, and cook two new recipes from it. The recipes can be for anything: main meal, a cake or bake, a preserve, anything at all which is a recipe that is new to you. If you haven't taken a photograph of the dish, don't worry, you can still describe it, and let everyone know how it worked out. Similarly, you are welcome to share a recipe if you wish, but there is no pressure to do so. This project is more about the process of reconnecting with your cookery book collection, than about recipe sharing or food photography. At the beginning of the following month, blog about the book and recipes you have used, and announce your chosen cookery book for the month ahead. Add your post to the linky on my blog, to allow others to see what you have made. I would appreciate a link back to this Cookery Calendar Challenge post in your post. There is also a Cookery Calendar Challenge badge to display on your blog too, if you like (just copy and paste the code on to your dashboard). You can also join via Instagram using hashtag #cookerycalendarchallenge (you will find me on Instagram @penny.homemadeheart ) All this information is also on the Cookery Calendar Challenge page, should you wish to check anything in more detail, or of course you are welcome to message me also. (* double green tick = 'Yum, new favourite'.) An InLinkz Link-up Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2018 at The Homemade Heart
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Hi Amalia, I don’t think you are alone, but there is a special joy about using real books I find! X
Hi Sam, yes I am slowly getting Jacob being away, and we are so fortunate that he comes home every few weeks for a night or weekend, which is just a joy. Isaac is doing really well thank you so much X
So happy to have you joining me Cathy x
Thanks Gillian, it made me use my recipe books more too! X
Every second month would be great Christina! Good luck with the Vegan week, that sounds interesting.... and potentially expensive?!! X
Thanks for the tip Jayne! I think we have used Valspar before and it was very good indeed X
Please yield to temptation Gina, and join me! Like you I have discovered quite a few recipes that I now turn to routinely from doing the Challenge, and as you know, it doesn’t have to be every month, just when you feel like it X
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Welcome back to the Cookery Calendar Challenge. After a break of a few months, the Cookery Calendar Challenge is back for 2018, and this time anything goes, meals, cakes, bakes, and preserves, are included. Everyone is welcome, and if you would like to join this month, you will find all the details you need on the Cookery Calendar Challenge page. As the Cookery Calendar Challenge has been absent for a few months, I do not have any new recipes to share from last month, so will instead announce my chosen book for February, which is The Breakfast Book by Dorset Cereals. I have cooked from this book several times in the past, but recently Isaac and I have looked through it together and have earmarked a few nice looking recipes to try. I do hope you decide to join me this month, and if you do, it couldn't be easier. This is an ongoing project, so it is never too late to get involved, and everyone is very welcome. The challenge is simple: the first week of every month, select a cookery book from your shelf, and cook two new recipes from it. The recipes can be for anything: main meal, a cake or bake, a preserve, anything at all which uses a recipe that is new to you. If you haven't taken a photograph of the dish, don't worry, you can still describe it, and let everyone know how it worked out. Similarly, you are welcome to share a recipe if you wish, but there is no pressure to do so. This project is more about the process of reconnecting with your cookery book collection, than about recipe sharing or food photography. At the beginning of the following month, blog about the book and recipes you have used, and announce your chosen cookery book for the month ahead. Add your post to the linky on my blog, to allow others to see what you have made. I would appreciate a link back to this Cookery Calendar Challenge post in your post. There is also a Cookery Calendar Challenge badge to display on your blog too, if you like (just copy and paste the code on to your dashboard). You can also join via Instagram using hashtag #cookerycalendarchallenge (you will find me on Instagram @penny.homemadeheart ) All this information is also on the Cookery Calendar Challenge page, should you wish to check anything in more detail, or of course you are welcome to message me also. An InLinkz Link-up Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2018 at The Homemade Heart
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Oh that's a shame Amalia! They can be a bit like that, can't they. So far I have managed to go to yoga x2 weekly since New Year, so I hope I can keep that one going. Just about to write my next blog post too, so fingers X'd for resolution number two! x
That would be lovely Katie X
Thank you dear friend X