Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Grand Day Out to Baddesley Clinton

Wednesday was such a lovely day.  N and I were both at home so we decided to go out for the afternoon.  We were setting out quite late so didn't want to venture too far and were tempted by what we had read about the Priest Holes at Baddesley Clinton.    Baddesley Clinton is a National Trust property almost on our doorstep although neither of us had been there before.   

The house is beautiful.   I find a lot of the larger stately homes rather overwhelming and uncomfortable looking;  as a person who almost constantly feels cold, I am always conscious about how unpleasant it would be to live in a house with enormous rooms and no central heating.   Baddesley Clinton though was the perfect size.  Lovely well proportioned rooms, warm wood panelling  and comfy furnishings.   A fire was lit in the sitting room and it was so warm and cozy in there that I sat in one of the armchairs and was tempted to take 40 winks.

There is a very beautiful private chapel in the upstairs of the house and we saw the Priest Holes that the house is famous for.  Of course, as is the case with National Trust  properties there was a very good cafĂ© and we had a lovely late lunch.   I definitely recommend the fruit crumble and custard!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Week In View

Spring is definitely in the air here in Birmingham: Crocuses are in flower, birds are singing and this afternoon it was warm enough to sit outside without a coat and drink a cup  of tea. 

I've had a busy week and have been quite organised for a change, although that takes a lot of effort on my part.   The most interesting thing that I did was to go to a restaurant named "P'shou" which serves Kurdish food.   

I had Quzy and Fasolia and I enjoyed them so much.   The restaurant is on the top floor of a very unprepossessing building, not the sort of place where you would expect to find good food, and it was a little slice of Iraqi Kurdistan in the inner city of Birmingham.   

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A Week In View

This week I have been feeling a lot less tired and anxious than I have for a long time and I've been using some of my extra energy in the kitchen. I cooked something new everyday. Among the dishes that Hubby and I enjoyed most were Onion Tear-and-Share bread ( recipe from BBC Food magazine),; Mushrooms stuffed with cream cheese; and  Orange-mustard stir fry with tofu and Asian greens (recipe from Bite-sized thoughts  ). I know there is a popular idea that life is too short to stuff a mushroom but the preparation time for the ones I made was about 10 minutes and they were so enjoyable that it was 10 minutes (plus some cooking time) well spent.

I finally got a cheque from my insurance company so I could replace my car, which had been written-off when a huge 4x4 ran into the back of me while I was waiting at a red traffic light. I found the crash and the aftermath very traumatic and I'm sure that the collision has played a part in my recent ill-health. During the week I went out with N to look at a few cars and finally bought the Ford KA in the photograph. I've driven it out and about a few times this week and am pleased with my choice. I enjoy driving very much so it is so good to have my own little car again.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

In My Kitchen - February Kitchen 2015

For a long time I've been an avid fan of the blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, written by Celia,  and l love catching the other "In my kitchen" blog posts that she links to.  This month I've finally plucked up the courage to take part as well so here is what's in my In My Kitchen  in February 2015:



In season at this time of the year they've been featuring a lot in my winter cooking.  Some of my favourite dishes have been when they were paired with Gruyere cheese as a filling for twice baked jacket potatoes; in a homemade chicken and leek pie; and when they were combined with another seasonal vegetable, celeriac, in Celeriac and Leek soup (recipe from River Cottage) which I served with homemade bread sticks.

A new pie dish

I love blue and white enamel ware and this pie dish is the latest addition to my collection.

A jar of Tiptree Mincemeat

This was a left-over from Christmas.  I can't think of mince pies outside of the period between the start of Advent and the end of the New Year holiday so I wanted to use this mincemeat to make something a bit different.   So, I made shortbread mincemeat slices.

The shortbread was buttery and crumbly and the mincemeat was full of plump, juicy fruit (I highly recommend Tiptree Mincemeat to anyone who doesn't want to make their own).  A slice with a cup of Earl Grey made delicious elevenses.

Liquorice Catherine Wheels

I don't venture into Birmingham city centre very often but when I do I like to pay a visit to Mr Simms Sweetshop and treat myself to some old fashioned sweeties.  On my most recent visit I bought liquorice Catherine Wheels, which brought back memories of Christmases when I was a child.  My Christmas stocking always contained a  selection pack filled with assorted liquorice treats including my special favourites,  Catherine Wheels - long, thin strips of soft liquorice wound around a bejewelled aniseed sweet. They are as good as I remember them to be.