Sunday, 23 October 2011

New life!

Sunday morning and I am sitting down for a moment to update my blog, while watching a pile of stuff smouldering away in the garden. It's an autumnal morning, not particularly cold, grey sky with blue bits peeping through. Pip the dog is on the bed, as always, the cats are outside investigating.

This past week has seen my gorgeous new floor being laid in the living room I’ve also had new skirting boards and architrave, stained to match, and the door has been rehung so it fits better. I’ve lived with old damaged and filthy floor boards for over a year now, so to finally get to this stage feels really good. I love it. The floor was fitted by the lovely man who did the kitchen, windows and French doors, and again he’s done a lovely job. Anyone in the Potteries area could do worse than contact Mick Barr, Joiner – thoroughly recommended. Being able to trust someone with your house keys and just letting them get on with it means a great deal.

Yesterday Dave and I replaced the furniture which we had giggled over removing the weekend previously. Dave insisted on getting the dusters and gunky furniture polish and giving everything a damn good cleaning (which it badly needed). I did the table, so I wasn’t entirely idle....

Although we put most things back in their original places, we moved some things, left one item out (it’s now in my bedroom), and the whole room looks so much better. I’m just waiting for my sofa and chair now, but have a sunlounger for the time being. It just feels so much more like the home I wanted, and not just a random collection of Old Charm items bought mainly off eBay. The table has now gravitated to the back end of the room, in front of the French doors, and I think that’s where it will stay, because the view over the garden will eventually be rather splendid....House Beautiful, eat yer heart out.

I’m spending today putting my books and CD’s in place and cleaning stuff up as I go. But first, a badly-needed cup of tea – it’s nearly ten o’clock and I haven’t had my first yet!!!

I dunno.....somehow, it doesn’t just feel like a new floor, it feels like the beginning of a new life. Burning the rubbish just now, even though it was only cardboard packing and other bits and pieces, felt symbolic. Out with the old, and in with the new.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Monday, 17 October 2011

This weekend (just gone)

The weekend flew by - today is my Mum's birthday, so on Saturday we ventured to the Smoke on the train, to see the Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy. I can totally recommend this - even as a non-lover of Impressionist painters, I was well impressed. Even familiar paintings over-used on greetings cards and other various kinds of twee ephemera, looked fresh and new in the flesh. Or the oils and pastels and gouache, to be pedantic.

I have often wondered what the Victorian ballet was like....and I realised on Saturday that it was as athletic as today. The dancers weren't as lithe and skeletal as they tend to be now, but they were still slim and muscular and well-trained, with the same aim for perfect turn-out and accurate positioning of the body.

There were also plenty of Degas' photographs, one in particular which I found absolutely stunning, and which we went back to have another look at.

If you have the chance to go, do so. It's a treat.

The rest of the day was great; meal then train home later in the day. I was so tired I saw to the furry team and then collapsed in bed.

(no change there then)

Sunday saw Dave and I lugging heavy furniture into the hall (and elsewhere) in readiness for the new floor which is now being laid in the living room. Having engineered wood flooring (like laminate but the top layer is real wood). So far it looks great and I'm really pleased. We had a lovely day yesterday too; went for some nosh later in the day (much needed) and then a nosey round Brereton and Kidsgrove.

Want to say a huge Thank You to Dave who, true to form and despite our own personal difficulties, went the extra mile to help me because he knew I needed it. I am grateful.
I am blessed. I have some truly great friends. And life's good!

The week continues......

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Misty Mountain Curry

You can, actually, make this with any veg you have to hand, but as I had picked up a reduced-price green spiky cauliflower from Morrisons the other day, (hence the name) and had some spuds in the cupboard threatening to sprout, I used those.

Fry an onion in oil (or butter...) and then add some garlic, and a decent dollop of your favourite Patak’s* paste. I used a scoop of brinjal pickle, a teaspoon of tikka paste, and a lump of Rogan Josh paste (simply because they were the only ones in the fridge). If you want to extend the Ring aspect of this dish, add chilli to taste....mmm, explosive! Add water to the mix, along with the cauliflower and potatoes, which should be cut into uniformly sized pieces so they cook through in about the same time.

Pour this little lot into a round based balti dish, so that you have the potatoes and the base of the spiky cauliflower pieces sitting in the curry sauce, but also leaving the spikes above the surface (as these will take a lot less cooking). Now do you see the mountainous quality?

Cover the dish – if using foil, make sure that it doesn’t come into contact with the food, as curry and foil do not, I have found, make the best of companions. Bung it in the oven and wait until it’s done. Having first made sure that the oven is on.

I’ll be serving mine with my rather fabulous pillau rice, which I have to say I’m rather proud of.

I haven’t bothered to clean the frying pan as there is only a curryish residue in it. Add oil, then fry another onion and some garlic, then add turmeric (I like a lot of this for colouring), cumin to taste, ginger if you’ve got any, paprika ditto, a bit of salt (about the only time I ever use salt in cooking), and black pepper. And any other spices you might like to use.

Then stir in cashews and basmati rice.

I will also be frying leeks with my onion because I’ve got one that needs using. This is also good made with fried up mushrooms, but I forgot to buy them when out shopping. Never mind.

Once the rice is in, add water to only just cover the rice and then – tada!! – the essential ingredient, a good scattering of fenugreek leaves. I like to add loads but be warned, it IS very strongly flavoured.

Bring it quickly to the boil then put the lid on the pan and turn the heat right down. And LEAVE IT ALONE. It won’t stick, and if it does look like it needs a bit of water, you can always add some more. Hot out of the kettle is better to keep the temperature up. Doesn’t take long, about ten minutes, but if you don’t need it right at this minute you can either leave it in the pan, or decant it into an oven proof dish, cover and keep warm in the oven.

I can quite honestly say this is yum, but then I do like a good curry. Sorry there aren’t any weights and measures – I don’t bother with any of that nonsense, just pile in and get on with it.
*Other curry pastes are of course available, but I think Patak's are about the best. Avoid Sharwood's like the plague....unless you know different....

Last summer day?

Yes, I know, it's October today, but already it's warm, there's a clear blue sky and birdsong outside my living room (one of the fabulous things about French doors!)

Today is forecast as being the hottest in this mini-heatwave. Something to be enjoyed!
Have a good day, all, whatever your weather is like.