Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Menu planning monday (posted on wednesday)

I did plan my menus for the week but haven't got on the computer to post them up.

This week we are having:
Monday: Slow cooked Venison with chilli & chocolate casserole with rice
Tuesday: Spanish frittata and flatbread (made with leftover pizza dough)
Wednesday: Smoked haddock kedgeree
Thursday:Lemon & garlic roast chicken pieces, pasta & pesto & salad
Friday: Gammon steaks with red eye gravy, mashed sweet potato & black bean/tomato salad
Saturday: Whatever they want
Sunday: Roast Chicken dinner

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Welcome home Sicilian Seafood Stew

My husband has been away on business this week and was due home today. So because I try to be a domestic goddess and wonderful wife, I wanted to make him a lovely dinner to come home to. It had to be one of those " there's no place like home" type of dinners. I wanted him to walk through that door, be jumped upon by two excited kids and shouts of Daddy Daddy, be hit by the glorious smells coming from the kitchen and just be glad to be home. I had to pull out all the stops because he's been in Italy eating amazing Tuscan food so the usual home cooking wasn't going to cut it. I put my thinking cap on, went to the world famous Bury market with my friend to get inspired and came up with Sicilian Seafood Stew. From the market, I got salmon, smoked haddock, king prawns, green lipped mussels, crab claws, scotch bonnet chillies, garlic, lemons & ciabatta bread all for less than £15.
Well, what can I say it was a successful endeavour. It got all the responses I hoped it would achieve. This really was the most gorgeous dinner and I couldn't help smiling as I served it because it smelt so good and it tasted even better. Anyway if you want to impress without much effort, this is the dish for you.

Sicilian Seafood Stew

1 onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 tsp crushed mixed spices ( I have a spice mix with coriander, cumin & fennel seeds)
3 bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
1 x 500g jar of tomato sauce
1 whole scotch bonnet chilli
300ml chicken or fish stock (I used a chicken stock cube because I forgot to get some fish bones to make stock)
2 glasses of red wine
1 tsp crushed mixed spices (I have a spice mix with coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds)1 piece of salmon (£3 - £4 in money) skinned & diced
1 piece of smoked haddock (£3 - 4) in money skinned & diced
6 king prawns heads & shells on
6 green lipped mussel half shells
3 crab claws

Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until soft. Add the crushed spices, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, tomato sauce & scotch bonnet chilli (just add this whole and then fish!! it out at the end). Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the stock & the wine. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the salmon & haddock and allow to cook fot about 10 minutes. Add the shellfish and leave to simmer for about 10 - 15 more minutes. Serve in a rustic bowl with toasted ciabatta drizzled with olive oil and chopped garden mint. Don't forget a bowl to put the shells in and a nut cracker for the crab claws.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Arts & Craft Disaster

It has not been a good week so far what with the awful haircut and yesterdays arts & crafts disaster. It was the first sunny day in ages so I wanted to do something fun & messy outside. I decided to do 'White Mud' with the kids. This is where you put ripped up toilet roll, grated soap and water in bowl, mush it all up and then play with the resultant slush which can be moulded and shaped like mud. Setting it up took a good hour. First I had to unravel 1.5 toilet rolls (sounds like it would be fun but it was actually very boring especially with little people constantly asking is it ready yet). Then I had to rip it up into 2-3 sheet size pieces (I thought my dughter could do this but she lost interest after about 5 minutes). Luckily when it came to grating a bar of soap I had the foresight not to use our main cheese grater or we'd have been tasting soap for the next 6 months. However, the only spare grater I had was a parmesan grater and you can imagine how long this took. Well, we were finally ready Add water and get mushing. We did have fun doing this. But then disaster struck.... within 5 minutes of playing soapy wet toilet paper was flung all round my patio, both kids had managed to get soap in their eyes and were crying, then they were so slippy from standing in it they started falling and crying more. Both covered kids were trying to get back into the kitchen thatr I'd just mopped that morning... I was standing with my head in hands shouting nooooooooooooooooooooo.... I said to myself I must get control of the situation. So I ran in and laid newspaper on the kitchen floor. I plopped my daughter on the newspaper with strict instructions to stay put while I grabbed my son and washed him in the kitchen sink to avoid getting the 'mud' all round the house. Then it was my daughters turn. I just shut the back door on the mess and left it for another day...... lets hope it rains!

Monday, 1 September 2008

The worst haircut in the world

I can't believe I did it. I've had my hair cut and.......yes it looks awful. I hate it and I want my old hair back. But it's such a severe change I'm going to have to wait months if not a year for it to grow out..... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.I didn't just have a bit too much cut off the bottom (just another half an inch!). No, I stupidly had a complete change of style and it really doesn't suit me at all.
I've been feeling particularly frumpish of late and since the birth of my son my hair has not behaved itself. It is as dry as a bone, frizzy rather than curly and no amount of conditioner was doing it's job. I decided the thing I needed was a complete change of style - do the celebrity thing, get a new haircut and a new me!!!
I have always had the same hairstyle for years. My hair is v. thick, long and naturally curly. So whenever I've gone to the hairdressers and suggested a change they've persuaded me not to do it (your hair looks nice, this style really suits you, why change, just straighten it for a change..). I have tried a few things over the years: v. short (really awful), long layers (awful).... I've always hated it and gone back to my old faithful style.
I went to stay with a v. chic friend of mine in London and she said she knew a fantastic hairdresser who would do a brilliant job and so I went. The hairdresser suggested a fringe, lots of layers to thin and give bounce and to move the parting from the middle to the side. I was that disenamoured with myself that day I agreed and off she went. Hacking here and hacking there until I was completely surrounded by my own curly locks. I felt the panic rising up inside me... oh god what have I done... but she blew dry it straight and it did look good. I swished out of the salon and felt good. Unfortunately as soon as it started raining (about five minutes after we left the salon) my curls came back and the hairstyle looked awful... the fringe no longer nicely framing my face but halfway up my forehead. All too much like a kevin keegan perm from the 80's....
So now I'm forced to use a thousand hairclips to stick all the layers back as I try and put my hair up each day. Nightmare. The moral of the story - be grateful for what you've got and the grass is not always greener.