Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lemon & Sugar Pancakes







We found ourselves out on the town on pancake day this year and I really missed it. I can't say I've ever observed Lent but I find small yearly traditions (like the using up of butter, sugar, flour and eggs on Shrove Tuesday) really grounding.

Anyway, to make up for this remiss we had a leisurely pancake breakfast this Saturday. I use the same Delia Smith recipe that my Mum used to make pancakes for me when I was small. I fry them thin and crispy in butter, drizzle them with freshly squeezed lemon juice and sprinkle them with sugar before rolling them up in a sausage.

If you would like to make your own thin and crispy pancakes you can find Delia's recipe here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We be painting


Not much going on around here this week except bathroom painting! I left the ladder leaning up against the wall near the entrance to the loft (which is bizarrely through a concealed panel in the back of the bathroom cabinet, I must show it to you some time) and when I got back from work on Monday I found lots of little dusty Toby footprints leading in and out of it. I wish Toby could talk so he could tell me what he thought of his adventure amongst the fiberglass insulation and camping equipment!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fondue

Whilst there is still a chill in the air why not imagine you're in a remote chalet in Switzerland and settle down to a cheese fondue? It's a jolly, social dish - If you prepare everything else beforehand and grate all the cheese you can seat your guests (or guest) at the table with a glass of wine and take it in turns to stir.

You need a soft white bread with a good crispy crust so that it doesn't fall apart in the cheese. A baguette or white flute is perfect. You will be consuming what is really an insane quantity of cheese so I usually just serve a simple salad of lettuce dressed with lemon and olive oil and some crunchy cornichons and pickled onions to cut through the richness of the cheese. Remember your fondue is only as good as the cheese you buy so go for the counter rather than the shelf.



350g Emmental - grated
350g Gruyere - grated
1 big clove of garlic
500ml dry white wine
Nutmeg
1 tbl spoon Kirsh, Gin or Brandy
White baguette or flute cut into bite-sized cubes

First peel your garlic clove and cut it in half. Rub the moist, cut end of the clove around the inside of your fondue pot (a cast iron one works best as the rough surface really takes the garlic). Fire the whole contraption up and place your pot above the flame. Pour in the white wine and allow it to heat up. Once the wine is hot start adding the Emmental and Gruyere a handful at a time. Sir with a small wooden spoon and let each handful melt before adding another. Once all the cheese is in and has melted to a pleasing consistency, turn the flame down low and add your Kirsch and a good grating of nutmeg.



If you don't have a fondue set then a pan over a hob would work fine. Though if you do have one it will come with little sticks for pronging and dipping the bread so it's worth investing. As the fondue progresses it will get thicker and thicker and more and more delicious! Our fondue set was one of our engagement presents - thanks Mum!

Monday, February 13, 2012

DIY Wedding Flower Tutorials

I'm planning on doing all the flowers for our wedding myself. Actually that's not quite true - I'll be roping in some of my home girls for a day of bouquet and table centre making the day before the wedding. We'll get up early and head down to the New Covent Garden Flower Market (which is actually in Vaxhall) before driving down to my Mum's. Florists do great work there's no denying it, however, our budget only extends to the flowers themselves so I'll be spending the year trying to soak up as much flower arranging skills as possible.

Love My Dress, one of the great wedding blogs I frequent has some fabulous tutorials.

In this inspiring Love My Dress tutorial, Miss Pickering shows you how to make beautiful buttonholes. I love the way they are all different and have little pieces of ribbon here and there. I'll definitely be taking inspiration from this for our wedding!




And in this clever tutorial Laura Coleman (of Laura Coleman Flowers) shows you how to make your own heart shaped wreath! Wouldn't this look beautiful hanging off a church door? You could also gift it to a good friend to take home after the wedding. This is something I would really like to try and would be completely out of my reach unless I was able to make it myself.


And last but not least, here Rebbecca Morgan (Blush Floral Design) shows you how to make DIY floral headdresses (wouldn't these look sweet on little flower girls?).


Actually the process for making this isn't dissimilar to how I made my Festival Flower Crown but I think it's safe to say it's a few steps up!

All photos are from Love My Dress

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekending

Two Birthday parties this weekend have lead to a rather late start to the day today. It's now exactly 5.00pm and I'm having a min-afternoon tea break! A pot of Earl Grey and a slice of Christmas cake.


Nevertheless we have managed to get some bits and pieces done - sample pots of Farrow and Ball paint have been purchased in London Stone and White Tie for the bathroom. These may even get cracked open tonight! Next weekend has been set aside for bathroom re-decorating and after that we plan on tackling one room a month. The room I'm most looking forward to and most dreading at the same time is the living room. It's a big space with a high ceiling but I think between us we can manage it.


On the way back from the paint purchasing we picked up these hyacinths from the flower stall - they're going to come up blue. Ciaran recognised the stallholder as the man who sold us our Christmas tree and whilst we were umm-ing and ahhh-ing over which one to take suggested we 'forget the tree and get down the pub'.




After having friends in and out (and sleeping on various soft surfaces around the house) all weekend Toby is glad to have the place back to himself. He is usually at his most affectionate during weekend breakfasts where he not only sits up on the dining table with us (which he does most mealtimes) but repeatedly rubs his head against my hands begging for cuddles (and scraps of smoked salmon).


Tonight's dinner is going to be a slow cooked duck with star anise and ginger from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries. This is a cookbook I haven't picked up in a while and I'm not sure why. I love the prose and the way the recipes gently shift with the season. If you open it up on the month that you're currently in you're likely to find exactly what you're in the mood for. There are recipes for grand and special occasions and luxurious suppers (like tonight's) but it is peppered with the kind of dinners we all have occasionally - beans with chilies, bacon sandwiches and leftovers. Not recipes as such but simple meals that can be elevated with a few store cupboard investments - mushroom ketchup or home made mayonnaise.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

50 Words For Snow

Have you heard Kate Bush's new album? Of course you have, it's been out for ages. I only heard it for the first time very recently when my Sis bought it for me for Christmas. I love it! Thanks Flo. So frosty and magical - perfect for the cold snap we're in the middle of.

Photo via pinterest

There are so many amazing photos of Kate on Pinterest it's taken me all evening to choose this one.

The snow in London is melting, though there are still a few patches here and there in the grass. I spent the weekend in Birmingham visiting a good friend and the snow fell all day on Saturday. We took the dog for a walk, went to an exhibition of ten drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci at the Birmingham Museum (check them out - they're touring round England and they're free) and braced the snow drifts in order to go out for dinner and mulled cider.




Happy February!