Friday, 28 November 2014

Pistachio and sour cherry brownies...

I had a little slip up with a recipe recently - you know when you  get over confident and charge in and chuck all your ingredients into the bowl and then realise that it says 6 egg whites - not 6 eggs! maybe its just me but that sort thing happens to me too often. This time I decided to make the most of my mistake and make brownies - Nigellas brownies from her Domestic Goddess book. That's a lot of eggs for a Brownie mix but its shows in their rich deliciousness and as the supermodels say...they're worth it!

Nigella uses walnuts in her recipe and so do I usually but this is usually greeted with faces of disgust by my children who loathe them. She warns against uses pistachios as they don't give the required crunch when cooked into the brownies but I thought Id give them a go and find another way to create some crackle. the sour cherries gave them a bit of a grown up feel without overpowering them - but they still needed something more so I set to work on a topping. 

I made a simple caramel adding a pinch of Rock Salt and then let it set rock solid in the fridge. Whilst this was cooling I blitzed the left over pistachios then set to work on the sugary glass - breaking it up and then blitzing it into a dust with the nuts. I brushed the tops with a little bit of sugar syrup and then dipped them in the dust - hey presto crumbly crunch!
My poshest brownies to date - and all gone, which has to be a good sign!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Homemade snowglobes...

The mantra that greets me every morning goes like this 'Mum, when are we putting the tree up? When is it Christmas? When is it December? When it's December can we put the tree up?

Don't worry I haven't buckled yet - there will be no Christmas trees in November. Instead I've opted for distraction and decoration by stealth! I've put our child labour to good use and employed the minis in the business of making their own decorations, and we started with ....snowglobes. 

Upside down jam jars and hot glue gun ready, we went in hunt of small festive things to decorate them with. We tracked down some cake decoration reindeers and model trees (fortunately BH is a model maker so we raided his supply!) with a bucket load of glitter we decorated the base and glued the figures in place. 

My girl lovingly created a winter snow scene that Disney would be proud of...

My boy decided that nothing says Christmas like WW2 soldiers gunning down Bambi...

I swear this is what happens when you go out of your way to ensure that your children's toys are non gender stereotyped - they go and do it anyway!

We're going to fill them with a mixture of water, glycerine and glitter and glue the lids on -  then we can give them a shake and let it snow....

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Buche de Noel- chocolate log to you and me...

I know it's Stir Up Sunday but as the only one in the house who likes Christmas pudding, the tradition has never quite taken off here. Not one to be deterred though, I was determined to bake something today that got us preparing forthe coming season. Inspired by our walk through Dalby Forest yesterday,  the minis and me opted for a chocolate log...

We went for the Buche de Noel from Nigellas Christmas - although we agreed that it couldn't be a Christmas log yet - it is still November! 
A quick round up of the kitchen cupboards gave us everything we needed. The recipe calls for the eggs to be separated and the whites mixed like a meringue - we got a bit distracted and put them in whole at first - oops! Not ones to waste ingredients we worked them into a batch of brownies but that's a whole other post! After that mishap SG was on serious supervision watch - although she did ask why the recipe called for it to be mousey - when I explained 'moussey' she looked extremely relieved! 

The egg whites were whisked into peaks with sugar, the cocoa and egg yolks folded in and baked for 20 minutes. After cooling we turned it out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and made a rich chocolate buttercream to spread all over before rolling up. SG got busy with the spatula and voila...
Le Buche...

notice how we're sticking with pine cones for now though!... resisting the urge to get festive just yet!

Friday, 21 November 2014

My new project...Field and Forage!

At last I can reveal my secret project - Field and Forage. theres been lots of planning and developing and meetings going on but finally I can share it!

About three years ago I met Charlotte, who like me is mad about delicious food, local and seasonal produce, be it from the harvest or the hedgerow. Unlike me, Charlotte has a beef herd that she and her lovely husband and children have been working hard to ensure is the best that it can be. Manor Farm Beef was born and they run a very successful beef business, not surprisingly as the beef they rear is delicious (apologies to my veggie and vegan friends!)

Char and her family produce biltong and for a quite a while now have been selling mouthwateringly amazing hot pulled beef sandwiches - that's where I come in...

together we are developing the catering business, catering events, private parties etc. I've been bursting to blog about the business in development but it didn't feel right to till now.

So many exciting things have been happening over the past few weeks - we've met with a brand and logo designer, we've launched on twitter, registered a web domain and facebook page - all getting ready to launch. We've met with an events company and...

we have our first event in the diary!

Driffield Christmas lights switch on (4-8pm) 4th December, will see Field and Forage on their first official outing. We have some promo materials to hand out on the night but our official logo and materials won't be unveiled till just before Christmas.

You can follow our progress on twitter as Field and Forage and I can write about our adventures here now too - my secret love's no secret any more!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Dad's Army bring Hollywood to Yorkshire...

So this week we all got to use the best excuse ever for being the filming of the Dad's Army movie has taken over our local town. The old town in Bridlington is a beautiful old street where the shops and houses have all retained their original character and so it has made the perfect choice for recreating Walmington on Sea!

 Catherine Zeta Jones, Bill Nighy, Jaime Winstone, Bill Patterson, Sarah Lancashire - the list of actors spotted around town goes on and on - every local Ive spoken to has a story to tell of who they've bumped into or whose been staying at their hotel -there's a great buzz and its lovely to see Bridlington getting attention for all the right reasons.

On Saturday they filmed a big parade and crowds turned out to watch - my mum was on hospital duty and had to pick up from the pharmacy in the middle of the street so whe was ushered beyond the tape and suddenly realised the parade was marching towards her - she was quickly directed inside before panic totally set in!

A Facebook campaign called Bridlington Dads Army has been started to keep some of the storefronts the same after filming is finished - I hope they do as it would make a great tourist attraction. Page Dads Army is such a classic - even my seven year old  has been known to shout 'Don't tell them your name Pike! I think they ll be there for a bit longer so its definitely worth a visit for fans of the show  - You never know Jonesy the butcher might even be there to greet you!


Monday, 10 November 2014

Taking Stock - November...

Today I'm taking inspiration from one of my favourite bloggers - the fabulous Pip Lincolne at meet me at mikes - every month she writes a list called Taking Stock - I think she's putting it in her book too. I like it because it gives a snapshot of what's going on, how she's feeling and what inspires her but also because doing its just a really nice way of focussing on the things that we enjoy and that make us smile...

this is how it goes

this November I am

Making: my hitchikers scarf and two superhero capes for Friday's Children in Need Day
Cooking: Jerusalem Artichokes any which way we can
Drinking: coffee - too much and yet never enough
Reading: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chinamanda NGozi Adichie
Wanting: to finish the hallway decoration already.
Looking: at autumn leaves and berries - relishing the last bursts of colour
Playing: David Sedaris Audio books - laughing my way through SAD
Wishing: autumnal cinnamon bakes were fat free
Enjoying: the kids new found rapping skills
Loving: my new project - I cant wait to share it
Smelling: the last of my Jo Malone Red Roses - Do you hear that Santa?
Wearing: black skinny jeans that I can fit into again - hurray
Anticipating: Christmas party nights out - bring on the bling
Buying: as little as possible other than Christmas gifts
Disliking: mud being trailed into the house
Eating:bananas - im like a minion for bananas right now
Planting: as many tulip and allium bulbs as time will allow - roll on Spring
marvelling; at how cool my girl is, how unfazed she is by her school assessment day
wondering: if i'll ever be organised in time for Christmas
feeling: happy

How is your November going?
Hope its a good one x


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Invasion of the Artichokes...

Spot what's wrong with this picture - okay don't dwell too long on the weeds or the wobbly paths...Spot the great big clump of Jerusalem Artichokes that some Doofus (namely me) planted in the wrong place, right at the front of the plot! I didn't believe they would grown to two metres - I laughed at the idea they would take over, and now I admit it...I was wrong - so very wrong! My mission this Autumn is to dig them all out and re site them - do I think Ill succeed? Not likely!
But the first dig started today and to paraphrase Miss Celie from The Color Purple - 'they sure is ugly'! the kids think they look like Grubs or great big maggots - lovely!
I'd usually hide them in a soup but as we're sworn off butter and cream and all things that make artichoke soup lovely another way had to be found. I can't overwhelm the house menu with them as their nickname 'fartichokes' is well deserved, so we're going for little and often and thoroughly well cooked.
Tonight we had them mashed, seasoned and stacked with baby vegetables. Delicious and as far as the side effects far, so good!

Friday, 7 November 2014

A dog in the manger...

This is what happens when you buy your Jack Russell a new bed and the Airedale feels left out!
                             It should look like this....
But as soon she she stepped out it looked like this...
Really Arthur! 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Halloween catch up

We were so busy with Halloween parties and trick or treaters I didn't get chance to share our pictures...
this year we got a bit carried away with pumpkin carving..

even the lashings of blood couldn't deter the halloweenies from scoffing severed fingers...

but then what can you expect when your house has been invaded by the the Queen of the Dead and Skeleton Ninja!

I think KISS are missing there newest member!

Trick or treat!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Michaelmas Fair - part two...

Half terms over and it's back to our usual routine. The jobs got done, the lie ins were enjoyed and a bit too much Halloween chocolate got scoffed!
I spent the first weekend helping out my friends from Manor Farm Beef at Burton Agnes Hall Michaelmas Fair. Our hot pulled beef sandwiches were delicious- topped with horseradish, chilli or sour cream and chives and before we knew it they were all sold out!
The stand looked so good...
And we were in the best place right by the barbecue as the temperature outside dropped! 
I got a bit of a look round too - there were some great stalls showcasing amazing crafts and artisan producers. Here a few to give you a flavour of the day...

Even the cold weather couldn't stop us sampling the ice creams!
It's never too early for decorations...or pumpkins...

It was autumn and Christmas all rolled up into one- and the perfect place for wrapping up warm up warm and enjoying some retail therapy!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Half Term Happy and Michaelmas Merry....

Ohhhhh... It's Half Term, can you hear the sigh of relief and the popping of corks signals? A week to catch my breath and catch up on writing, making, enjoying family and..........whats the other thing, oh that's it...housework!
Its been a long half term and a busy one and everyone in the Freerange House was ready for the break. Our new cooker is installed and I'm really looking forward to using it more this week.
Yes its red - super fire-engine, hot jalapeno red and I love it! I did however join Slimming World at the same time it arrived and so its been used for little more than steaming vegetables so far - I can't wait to put it through its paces this week!

I have joined Slimming World - I know that many of the bloggers I follow have had great successes their so I thought I'd give it a go. 10 years of sitting behind a desk and driving to work have taken their toll! So far its been great - quite easy to follow without feeling as though we're being deprived, and even better...I won a slow cooker at my third meeting, so lots of new recipes to explore!

Campfire Stew with butterbeans (recipe to follow soon)
and I've got a new project underway - one that I'm super excited about and dying to write about but can't yet...soon, I promise...soon!
But back to half term...we will be
1. tidying the garden ready for winter
2. planting lots of bulbs (late I know but we never get them in till half term)
3. digging up dahlias and drying them ready to pot
4. carving pumpkins
5. helping my friends at Manor Farm Beef selling delicious Hot beef sandwiches at the Michaelmas Fair at Burton Agnes Hall (tomorrow if your in the area - come and join in the fun!)
6. conquering laundry mountain
7. celebrating my folks wedding anniversary
8. preparing freerangegirl for her secondary school visit (I cant believe its come round already!!!)
9. visiting dentists and opticians to make sure we're all in working order!
10. cracking on with the quilt i'm making for freerange nan and bionic grandpa

until then its an early night before another day at the Michaelmas Fair - I forgot to take pictures today so I'll take lots tomorrow - there are some gorgeous crafts and delicious food (especially the beef!)

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Cooker disaster...

Disaster struck this week when our cooker finally gave up the ghost (just after I'd agreed that Christmas would be at our house this year)...

It's served us well but over the past year the thermostat had started to play up and on Monday decided to call it quits completely. Something had popped the glass on the top which decommissioned one the rings but as the other four still worked we carried on regardless - but no oven or grill were the final straw. One trip to Currys (who were very helpful) later and our new one was bought, booked and delivered 5 minutes ago!

Here it is...
Now we just need the gas fitter to install it! I've had enough of electric hobs - I just prefer gas. It has electric ovens though so no fear of anything blowing out half way through a bake! I can't wait to unwrap it and play!

Monday, 8 September 2014

When courgettes go rogue...

One of our courgette plants showed no promise all summer. It flowered then the flowers would fall off and despite reguring checking not a single fruit was to be found. Until now....

Left entirely to its own devices, in the overgrown untended patch, the plant produced one solitary courgette, which grew and grew and..

...and I suspect wouldn't have stopped if I hadn't tripped over it whilst watering! Weighing in at 4.7kg, this hefty marrow is probably as woody as can be inside, but on the off chance it isn't....has anyone got a good marrow recipe that will convince my marrow phobic family that's its worth eating....suggestions please!!!!

Missing my spring garden...

I really have to do something about our borders, they look glorious in May but by August they're done for! I'm going to photograph them over the next couple of weeks as I plan for next year, but for now here are some of my favourite moments of early summer...



How quickly it goes! I'm already writing myself reminders to plant more clematis and alliums but to leave some space for later flowering plants too. Already counting the days till next spring!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Beanbag for my boy...

So this started as a quilt...
That was the plan anyway, but between my boy and me we got a little impatient for something finished, something finally out of the project box and in use. 

So I made a back panel, 
I bought a zip and used up the leftover beans from the Honeybun Poufs and we transformed a never to be finished quilt into a beanbag.

It's great for chilling out on and boy hasn't been out off by the flowery fabric at (so far!). I'm especially pleased by these patches...

The campfire ones came from his favourite smart shirt, a gift from his godfather when he was just a wee one! 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Shabby days and autumn colours....

It's always the same at the end of summer, we get busy elsewhere and the garden is left to its own devices. The grass grows longer, the edges are blurred and the blooms that once stood proud and vibrant lean on their supports, signalling another summers end. 

I used to give myself such a hard time for runniing out of time and energy in the garden as autumn arrived. ' I should be extending the season' planting for winter, hoeing every weed. But the reality is that when you work and have a family something's got to give and for me that's manicured lawns and weed control! 
I'm learning to let go and see the beauty in our garden as it is, shabby edges and all. The truth is something's have thrived without the high maintenance attention they got in spring and look better for it, alas something's haven't but there's always next year. For now I'm just enjoying the last hurrah of colour that its got to give us.....

Sunday, 31 August 2014

From Best in Show to the Doghouse in a day...

See this guy...

He had his proud moment at the Thorpe Hall fun day, winning best in show! He stood to attention, paraded and trotted up and down like a good un and was rewarded for his gorgeousness. We couldn't be prouder....

Until 4 o clock this morning when the street was woken by a wailing that could wake the dead. We ran down stairs in panic expecting to find a dying dog but instead found Arthur and his sidekick Pearl   , our Jack Russell, in the middle of a stand off. He was limping and she had a nip on the top of her head. Thankfully no serious damage, but what had caused this tiff in the middle of the night we'll never know. But for now they're both looking pretty sorry for themselves...

 They've both been put to bed in different rooms tonight - what's the betting they're yowling to be together by 2am. 

Next time I'm putting doggy cam up to see who started it!