Happy new year to everyone. Rather late in the day, being half way through January, but the year already seems to be racing past at speed.
We are back in Cornwall after spending Christmas and the New Year looking after the most beautiful black labrador in the Cotswolds village of Bretforton, while her owners went off on holidays for a couple of weeks.
Thrown in with the deal was a velvety black rabbit called Bumbles – a comical, cantankerous, unpredictable, dish-hurling, naughty, affectionate little diva. After two weeks, we came to an understanding – she could nibble my jumper sleeves as long as she didn’t nibble my wrists, and I would provide her with an endless supply of brussels sprout tops, kale, cabbage and the occasional stick of celery. That seemed to work. To be fair, the dish-hurling only happened twice – unfortunately this then involved me crawling into the pen on my hands and knees, Christmas-enhanced backside in the air, trying not to kneel on rabbit poo, in order to retrieve it. We’ve had more dignified assignments. Oddly enough, Robin left rabbit care to me, though I admit he more than made up for this by taking on responsibility for the early-morning dog walks.
Continue reading “High-fibre beef & lentil chilli”
Despite the mostly inclement weather, we’re enjoying being back in Cornwall, and it is especially novel not sharing our house with the plumbers, carpenters and electricians. We quite miss them though – they are a happy and helpful bunch – though we don’t miss the early morning start time. They were here last week finishing off a few bits and pieces, but I think that is everything now until the summer. Robin is muttering about ‘getting up the floor of the conservatory’ to install underfloor heating, as that is our only dining space and it can be parky at this time of year. Personally, I favour a large rug. The thought of having the floor up fills me with horror. I am hoping he will have forgotten about it by the summer. Continue reading “Hot and sour Thai noodle soup”
We have just returned to Cornwall after spending a few weeks in Warwickshire with our families – hence no blog posts for a while! I am sure we couldn’t have picked a hotter spot in the British Isles if we had tried. We tortured ourselves daily by watching the BBC weather report and seeing that, back here in Cornwall, it was a whole ten degrees cooler. Obviously we’ve come back to cool weather and rain, though it does make quite a change. We will be back in Turkey in a few weeks, so there will be plenty more sunshine to come. Continue reading “Blackberry pork”
When we lived in Istanbul, we used to frequent a fine establishment near our shop, called the Meşhur Tarihi Sultanahmet Halk Köftecisi Selim Usta – yes, a bit of a mouthful, it roughly translates as ‘The famous and historic Sultanahmet people’s meatball seller, Master Selim’. It is my kind of place because I hate making up my mind from a menu, and there’s really only one reason to go there – to entirely pig out on köfte and piyaz. (Talking of pigs, see later para). Continue reading “Piyaz (Turkish white bean and tahini salad)”
Robin’s favourite favourite is fish pie. Closely followed by fish pie. It is not mine, on several counts: a) I find it a bit on the mushy, school-dinner, nursery-fare, side; b) it doesn’t look very appetising once it’s slumped onto the plate; and c) it is a right faff to make, what with having to pre-cook the fish, cook and mash the potatoes and then make a bechamel sauce with the cooking liquid. You feel as though you need to start thinking about dinner roughly five minutes after you’ve put the cornflake bowls in the dishwasher, and you’ll need more pots and pans than Jamie Oliver.
But help is at hand. I was idly watching a Mary Berry programme back in the summer and she made a fish and cauliflower gratin – a kind of fish pie by any other name. Now, I am not overly keen on cauliflower and I certainly don’t think it goes with fish – it’s just about OK if it’s been swathed in a particularly Cheddary-mustardy sauce and baked to a golden crisp in the oven, as a bit of a mid-week tea, but as a component of a fish pie, well, yuk. However, I decided Mary definitely could be on to something with her idea for a more simplified method and, with a few judicious tweaks in the ingredients department, I came up with a yummy alternative. Continue reading “No-faff fish pie”
I just noticed that my last blog post was back in January for December’s Cookery Calendar Challenge, more than a month ago. Several things have got in the way of blog posting – we were away for ten days in January, looking after a family of Greek rescue cats in the Midlands while visiting various branches of the Tassell/Pearson family and now (I can hardly bring myself to say this) I AM ON A DIET. Yes, the dreaded ‘D Word’.
While we were in Warwickshire, I met up with my old school friend Carole, who was about to embark on the Slimming World programme. Last summer’s pasty frenzy left about 50% of my summer wardrobe rather too snug for comfort – painfully aware that I will be needing to wear it in a few weeks time when we get back to Turkey, I decided I would keep Carole company. Continue reading “Chicken and sausage cassoulet”
On to Round Two of December’s ‘Cookery Calendar Challenge‘. I can see the obvious flaw in that statement – yes it is January, but Christmas happened and so I ran out of time. In actual fact, I cooked this on New Year’s Eve, so I can probably still legitimately claim to have fulfilled the challenge – the problem was, what with having mates here to stay, Prosecco may have been taken and we’d eaten it all before I even thought of getting out the camera.
On the upside, this salmon dish from Rachel Allen’s ‘Recipes from my Mother’ was absolutely delicious and so ridiculously easy that we’ve eaten it again since, even though we are only a week further on. I’ve even managed to make it look quite nice for the photo, which is an improvement – perhaps 2018 will be the year I conquer this photography lark a little more. Continue reading “Fillet of salmon with capers, fennel & Dijon butter (Rachel Allen)”
Happy new year to everyone – it is so hard to believe that we are already half way through the first week of 2018, yet it seems like only last week that we left Turkey and returned to the mayhem that is our house in Cornwall.
We’ve had a couple of weeks off from our lovely builders, who will be here with their boots shined (and coffee mugs at the ready) towards the end of next week, ready to start on Phase 2. This involves knocking down a wall (eek) and installing a new RSJ (not necessarily in that order, I realise, no need to write in to let me know that my house is about to fall down). I shall be glad to avoid the accompanying mess by being away in the Midlands, visiting friends and family, and cat-sitting for the same trio of Greek cats that we looked after back in the summer. In return for providing Claridges-style five-star catering and door-opening services for the Grecian trio of whiskered musketeers, we get to stay in Rosie’s lovely home in a pretty village on the Warwicks/Northants border, which handily means we are minutes away from our family and friends. Continue reading “Steak & ale hotpot”
Christmas appears to be almost upon us, though it will be a quiet event in our household this year. Last year we went to Prague, having spent much of 2016 to-ing and fro-ing to various distant bits of the world, so we promised ourselves a much quieter year in 2017. That didn’t exactly go to plan, what with buying and renovating a house in Cornwall and going backwards and forwards between here and Turkey, so we shall be very grateful not to have to shop for – and entertain – legions of guests, or to be cooking (or eating) mountains of rich food. We have friends coming for the new year, but we’re looking forward to spending the next few days builder-free, not doing chores and generally chilling out by the fire with a book. Continue reading “Oxtail & pearl barley soup, and The Cookery Calendar Challenge”
With the exception of the occasional overnight monsoon, our gorgeous late summer weather continues unabated. We sneak down to the beach most afternoons, determined to make the most of the sunshine before we return to Cornwall at the beginning of next month. Nature is certainly confused – the banana trees in the marina are loaded with fruit and the Brugmansia clearly hasn’t spotted that it is winter either. Continue reading “‘Cornish’ pie”