Tuesday, 20 December 2011


The latest production by the "Heeley Hoofers" was last month, a musical comedy called "Crazy Capers, Dodgy Deals". The play was set in 1971, hence the somewhat disturbing costumes.

 This group picture has just over half the cast, that's me on the far right, but what is most disturbing is that my  costume came entirely from my own wardrobe, and yes I was supposed to be a Hippy.
Maureen is wearing a wonderful Crimplene Vintage blouse that I found in a local charity shop.  Liz is wearing a blouse I made using a period pattern "Style 1144",

 This is John in his "Burglar" jumper.  The stripes really should have been wider, but I had only budgeted for one pot of fabric paint.  Never mind "Fluffrick really likes this t-shirt, it may find it's way into his wardrobe.
  A fancy dress party was a plot point in the play, so here we have the Wicked Queen, Snow White and a Princess.  The Wicked Queen costume was far more dramatic in person, or maybe that was Jeanie's performance.  I have to say I did put off making this costume for a long time, but it turned out better that I expected. I did enjoy making the Snow White costume and it wasn't too difficult to make.  Fortunately Lola fitted in the the "Princess" dress I made for our last production, can we work a very slim princess into our next show?
 Another recycled costume from our "Treasure Island" production, I just had to make the mask
Marcia as a wonderful Bumble Bee, I'm sure she was very glad she was only in the costume for ten minutes as it was made of fur fabric and rather warm and boy was it hot backstage. 
 Luke, on the right, was so ecstatic with is Batman costume, even more so when I found him some tights that he could get past his knees.  Women's tights are not designed for men who are over six feet tall, who knew.
 Chris and John in drag, they did make such classy women.

This was a massive production in terms of costumes, I had to procure 46 different costumes for a mere 16 cast members and I'm no good at delegating when it comes to costumes.  We are running out of space under the bed for all the costumes from the last three productions, all I can say is thank goodness for vacuum storage bags.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Why do I feel like I'm being taken advantage of?

I don't dress my dog up as a fashion accessory, but with the weather being so cold and wet at the moment, the only way to get her out the door is to put a coat on her.  Then she will happily scamper about in the park, or maybe she is trying to fling the coat off.

So I bought this pattern last week, it is a Simplicity Sew Simple sewing pattern, containing only one sheet of tissue paper and three pages of instructions and priced $1.49 (or so it said at the bottom of the catalogue page).  However this isn't the price I paid here if the UK, where $1.49 translates to £0.96, no I was charged £3.45, a 250% mark up.  I really do feel that I am being ripped off.

Sprout Soup Anyone?

This is not a recipe of my own invention, it is courtesy of Mary Berry's Family Recipes circa 1979 and she called it Frugal Soup, did she not think Brussel Sprout Soup would be appealing?

Ingredients -  serves 4

225g Brussel Sprouts
1 Leek
25g Butter
500ml Stock (from a cube, I use Kallo) Chicken or Vegetable
25g Plain flour
300ml Milk

Wash and roughly chop the sprouts, you don't need to trim them other than to remove the bottom stalky bit.  Wash the leek and cut into rounds.

Melt the butter in a large pan, add the leeks and soften gently for 5 minutes, don't allow to brown.  Add the hot stock and then the sprouts and bring to the boil.  Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sprouts are tender.

Blend or liquidize the cooked sprout mixture, I use a hand blender, but they weren't around back when this recipe was initially written.  Whisk the flour into a little of the milk and add to the blended sprouts, followed by the rest of the milk and mix thoroughly.  Bring the soup back to the boil, stirring until slightly thickened, season with salt and pepper.  Serve with a little grated nutmeg.

You could make it even more festive by adding some cooked chestnuts after the soup has been blended, I keep meaning to try it like this, but have yet to get sound to it.

If you wait until next week to make this soup, you should be able to buy a bag of sprouts that the supermarkets are trying to off-load for mere pence, just don't try to give this to anyone who doesn't like sprouts.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

What to Eat This Week

Although most of the focus at this time of year seems to be on what to eat next Sunday, we still need to eat this week, so this is what I'm going to inflict on the family.

Mushroom and Stilton Pie with Creamy Potato and Celeriac Bake and Carrots

Norwegian Fish Pie - from the wonderful show Economy Gastronomy, why did they never make a second season?

Vegetable Fahitas

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

Vegetable Lasagne

Smoked Salmon Tartiflette

Courgette Spouffle

Festive Burgers

I wasn't going to write up this recipe as it is only 3 ingredients and beyond simple, but then I realised just how festive it is.  Green pepper, red onion and turkey mince, you can't really get more in the season.

Ingredients - for 8 burgers

1 450g Pack of Free Range Turkey Mince
Half a Green Pepper
1 Red Onion

 Chop the green pepper and red onion finely, it has to be fine as it is cooks with the burger, then add to the turkey mince.  By far the best way to combine the ingredients is just to get you (clean) hands in there, squidge everything together so that the pepper and onion is evenly distributed.

Divide into 8 equal (hopefully more equal than mine) portions and form into burgers.  Then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Fry in a little olive oil for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Ensure that the burgers are cooked all the way through, before serving.  If you are an over achiever like me, serve them with home-made spiced oven chips and home-made baked beans, but you can serve them with whatever you like.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Yummy Aubergine Bake

For quite a while I never knew what to do when an Aubergine arrived in the veg box.  Of late I have been making Moussaka, with either a turkey or vegetable filling (no cute little baa lambs eaten in this house), but the frequency with which the Aubergine shows up has sent me looking for other recipes.  One of these days I will post a recipe that does not include tinned tomatoes, but that day is not today.

Serves 4 -  Ingredients:
1 Large Aubergine
2 Eggs
50ml Milk
50g Plain Flour
150g Breadcrumbs
1 Medium Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tins of Tomatoes
Olive Oil
125g Mozzarella
250g Ricotta
50g Parmigiana
Peel the Aubergine and cut into slices just over 1/2 cm thick. In a shallow bowl mix the milk with 1 of the eggs, put the flour and breadcrumbs into 2 other shallow dishes. Flour the aubergine slices, dip into the egg & milk mixture and finally into the breadcrumbs.  Put in the fridge for half an hour to dry a little before frying.
 Fry the breaded Aubergine in olive oil (it may take quite a bit of oil)until golden, then drain on some absorbent paper.
Now for the tomato sauce.  Finely slice the onion and garlic, gently fry in a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes then add the tomatoes and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes on a medium heat.
For the cheesy layer. In a bowl combine the half the grated mozzarella, the tub of ricotta, the parmigiana and the other egg.
In a large oven proof dish, put a third of the tomato sauce on the bottom and over with half the Aubergine slices.  Top with a further third of the tomato sauce and then all the cheesy mixture.
Top with the other half of the Aubergine slices and then cover with the remainder of the tomato sauce and the remaining grated mozzarella.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 and bake for 30-40 minutes until it is bubbling and the cheese is melted.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Disgusted of Sheffield

As I've said here before "I don't do Christmas", but I do do Christmas lunch. What can I say, I'm a Contrary Mary. But what I heard today, just disgusted me (and resulted in a few choice swear words).

Can you imagine charging someone to come to Christmas lunch? I'm not talking about a restaurant or hotel or a pub, they earn every penny they charge. No, what I heard today was about an individual's own Mother asking for payment from her own child. I don't meaning asking someone to bring the sprouts, or a bottle of bubbly or a bag of prawns, but asking for £30 hard cash. I know many people are feeling the pinch this year, but even still who among us would demand cash from their own family for the privilege of sharing Christmas Day with them?

Warming Food for Cold Days

The weather has been cold, wet and horrible; which just puts me in the mood for warming and hearty food. So let me introduce you to Chicken Casserole and Dumplings. It's also pretty damn easy to make.

Ingredients for 4 Hungry People:

For Casserole
1 Large Leek
2 Parsnips
2 Carrots
Half a Celeriac
5 Mushrooms
1 400g Tin of Tomatoes
8 Chicken Thighs or Drumsticks
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Plain Flour

For Dumplings
200g Self Raising Flour
70g Vegetable Suet
1 Tsp Mixed Herbs

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/190 oC/375 oF. Wash and slice the leek, both white and green parts, the long cooking makes it all tender.

Peel and chop the root vegetables into 1-1.5 cm dice. You don't have to use these vegetables, it's just what I had to hand. Also great would be, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, sweet potato, I wouldn't use potato as they tend to turn to mush.

Quarter the mushrooms and remove the skin from the chicken portions.
Heat a large casserole (with a lid) on the hob and add the olive oil, gently fry the vegetables for 5 minutes with a little salt and pepper. Add the plain flour and stir it in well. Add the tinned tomatoes and then 1 tin full of hot water. Finally add the chicken portions and try to submerge them in the liquid. Heat on the hob until it is bubbling, then put on the lid and put in the oven for an initial 1 and a half hours. Now go and snuggle up on the sofa and keep warm, or as we did today go to a cold and wet Sharrowvale Market.

Now for the dumplings. Put the self raising flour, suet, herbs and seasoning in a bowl and mix together. Add enough cold water to make a soft slightly sticky dough. Spoon golf ball sized portions on top of the casserole, then return to the oven for a further 20 minutes, this time with the lid off.

Serve up to hungry people, all that will be left is the bones.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

What to eat this week

Started the weekend by making Quark Pastry (from my Nordic Bakery cookbook) and making Jam Pinwheel Pastries. Very yummy.

Spouffle - quick easy and very delicious

Mushroom & Stilton Pie with Potato & Celeriac Mash and Broccoli


Orecchiette with Broccoli, Chilli & Pine Nuts

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Smoked Salmon Tartiflette

Chicken & Mushroom Pie and Veg (lets see what comes in the box)

For Fluffrick's lunch this week I made "Mexican Tomato & Bean Soup" from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's new book.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

What to eat this week

So we are already half way through the week, but I want to keep a record of what we are eating.

Cauliflower Cheese

Country Chicken Casserole with Dumplings

Vegetable Fajitas

Trout, Potatoes, Broccoli and Dill cream sauce

Stuffed Butternut Squash with Blue Cheese and Walnut

Turkey Lasagne and vegetable

Chicken and Mushroom Risotto - we should have had this last Friday, but I've had a cold, so we had Chinese Take Out instead

For Fluffrick's Lunch this week I made him Five Root Soup a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Special, I was going to make some bread from my new Nordic Bakery book, but I haven't felt up to it, I hate having a cold.

A Day Out in Bradford - or the dangers of letting me loose in a fabric shop

Last Wednesday (yes, I know a whole week ago) Fluffrick and I had a day out in Bradford. It may not leap to the front of everyone's mind as a day trip destination, but it was a grand day out, which my love wrote a post about over on his blog.

As well as the cultural stuff at Salts Mill and The National Media Museum, I was indulged by going to the lovely fabric shop "The Shuttle". Despite the fact that I really do not need any more fabric, I came away with the following lovely things.

From Top to Bottom:

Sage Green Irish Linen - £1 a meter - 3 meters
Mint Green Baby Cord - £2 a meter - 2 meters
Brown with a blue Stripe Linen Mix - £2 a meter - 3 meters
Golden Irish Linen - £1 a meter - 3 meters
Lilac Baby Cord - £1 a meter - 1.1 meters
Navy Jumbo Cord - £3 a meter - 2.5 meters

They have wonderful shelves in the back with discounted fabric, I could not resist. I already know what I want to do with half the fabric, the Green Baby Cord is going to be another "Boden" inspired dress for me. The brown stripe and Navy Jumbo Cord and both going to be trousers for Fluffrick. When I pull my finger out and actually make theses things I will post pictures here, Fluffrick will be so happy to model again.

In addition to the David Hockney gallery at Salts Mill, there is a great Cafe on the top floor and a wonderful bookshop on the second floor. I do love a good bookshop. I know it is far cheaper to buy books on-line, but there is nothing quite like browsing round a well laid out bookshop and I came away with this little treasure.

There are lots of lovely breads, biscuits and sweet things to try, it should be fun.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

What to eat this week


Pumpkin & Prawn Curry with Naan Bread

Roasted Squash Falafel, Cous Cous and Halloumi

Twice Baked Potatoes


Chicken & Mushroom Risotto

As I am a cooking from scratch sort of girl, this week's menu is dependent on me not be totally shattered. Fluffrick is on holiday this week and we have plans to tile the hall floor. It's about time too, as the tiles have been hanging around for ten months patiently waiting to be put into service. I just can say I'm looking forward to trying to tile a floor that is in constant use. We may just end up having Scrambled Eggs or Cheese on Toast all week.

Dr Who?

I have no qualms about saying that I am a huge Sci-fi geek, how could I not be when I share my birthday with Gene Roddenberry. I am also a major league Steven Moffat fan, having watched him from the very beginning. Technically I should have been too old for "Press Gang", but that didn't stop me watching and loving it. So to say that I love the Steven Moffat iteration of "Dr Who" would be an understatement.

Last night saw the season finale of "Dr Who", and many questions answered, but oh so many more asked. How am I going to last until next autumn for the next season of Who? At least there is the Christmas Special to look forward to, I am counting the days.

But there is one little thing filling the sci-fi void that Dr Who has left and that is the network premier of JJ Abrams "Star Trek". It doesn't matter that we have the film on DVD, that we wnet to see it three times at the cinema, including once in IMAX.I will still be watching it on Channel 4 tonight.

Who would have thought that two science fiction shows created in the 1960's would still be going strong and entertaining audiences over forty years later. Personally I think that's just brilliant.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Pretty in Pink

When my lovely Mum in Law was down to visit the other week, we went for Lunch at Endcliffe Park Cafe and I had the Borscht. So when I asked Fluffrick what he would like for lunch this week, he suggested Borscht.

So here is his very pink lunch. I got some lovely beetroot at Whirlow Hall Farm, with which to make the Borscht. The beetroot I bought had beautiful tops, which I chopped up to put in these savoury muffins.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

25 September 2011 - 3 Months until Christmas

Any trip into a Supermarket these days will be a trip into a Christmas Grotto. Tins of Quality Streets, Mince Pies and Panettone already festoon the aisles. Is it just me or is all this just a little bit crazy?

Okay, I am coming at this from a slightly different angle than the norm. This will be the third year in our household where we haven't done Christmas - No tree, no decorations, no cards, no gifts, no stress. I will be cooking a special lunch, but as it will probably be for only 3 or maybe 4 of us, it won't be very stressful either.

This all makes perfect sense to me, I'm an Atheist, so why should I be celebrating Christmas?

It is a course of action I strongly recommend. Imagine not having to battle through stupidly busy shops to buy presents for people because you feel you have to, not because you particularly want to. And possibly most pertinent these days, there is no crippling debt in the new year.

I would much rather give a present to someone "just because".

Saturday, 24 September 2011

What to eat this week

The menu planning seems to be going okay so far, what I planned I actually ended up making last week. So here we go again...

A trip to Green Steps Fish & Chips - should this be on the list as technically I'm not cooking?

Roast Chicken, Stuffing & Veg followed by Key Lime Pie

Mushroom Omelette for Mum, Fluffrick & I are off out

Arroz con Pollo - Chicken with Rice

Tuna & Pasta Bake

Tartiflette 3 ways - Mum likes the classic with Onion and Bacon, Fluffrick likes his without the Onion, mine is without the Bacon but with Mushrooms instead.

De-constructed Toad in the Hole - My sausages in Toad in the Hole always seem to go rubbery, so I'm going to try cooking the batter and sausages separately, wish me luck.


So we had the Spouffle for tea last night and I've been given to go ahead to cook it again. I went with the courgette version and I think it turned out just like the picture (it's not very oftern that happens). This is a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's new book River Cottage Veg Everyday. I bought this with the birthday money my sister sent me, which I thought was appropriate as she is also a Hugh fan.

That's yet another book to add to my Hugh collection, we may have to reinforce the cook book shelf. Once challenge I should set myself is cooking more than just one or two recipes for all my cook books. It is so easy just to keep going back to the same familiar recipes, rather than trying something different. It may be that neither me, Mum or Fluffrick like the new dish, but it could just as easily turn into a new favourite.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Inspiration, the Pattern, the Result

I don't know how but I somehow got on the mailing list for Boden. Lovely clothes, but laughable prices. Anyway I was flicking through and saw the above dress and I was in love, but I was not in love with the £69 price tag.

But of course I can make myself one, so the quest began for a pattern, because of course I didn't already have one I could use (this is a big fat lie). And as Simplicity happened to have a half price sale on...

This is the pattern I chose. I really like the pleat detail at the neckline, and as it had a panelled front I knew I would easily be able to add pockets (I always need pockets).

It has taken me far too long to realise that I need to alter commercial patterns. My back length is 5cm longer than the pattern standard, so if I don't want everything very high waisted, then I need to add in some length. I also took it in a little bit at the waist, because it didn't have enough shape when I tried it on. Another thing I need to remember, is when I add length to the back, I need to take it off the hem, because it is easier to do to the pattern, then the dress. The other addition I made was some little puff sleeves, that I borrowed from another pattern.

So this is the finished result. It is made from fabric from my stash, I think it is a linen cotton mix, but it also has a bit if stretch to it. This stretch meant that I didn't need the zip, which is one advantage of being fairly straight up and down. I really like how it came out and this is definitely a style I will be making again. The original was made of corduroy and I have some bottle green cord in my stash, so that might be my next attempt, now that I've sorted out the pattern niggles.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


This is what we had for Tea this evening.

It was as per Monday's menu except for the addition of prawns. Mum did wonder if something alien had landed on her plate, but it was only the potsticker dumplings. I do like these little dumplings, however on this occasion they lived up to their name and did stick to the pot.

I am going to have to improve my photography because this meal was actually far more appetising than it looks. Maybe I can practice on something cold, because I don't think anybody here would be happy to have me to faff around taking pictures, when all they want to eat their tea.

Minnie Mo is obviously feeling back to her usual self because she serenaded us with her best squeaks through this evening's meal. It is amazing just how insistent a little Terrier's squeak can be.

Monday, 19 September 2011

What to eat this week

My Mum is always asking me "What are we having for Tea?" to which I usually reply "Food." Maybe now I can just point her in the direction of this blog.

MONDAY: Mushroom Dopiaza, Aloo Gobi, Rice maybe some Naan Bread
TUESDAY: Turkey Burgers, Sweetcorn Fritters, Mash Potato
WEDNESDAY: Cashew Fried Rice, Potsticker Dumplings
THURSDAY: Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti
FRIDAY: Spinach (or Courgette) Penne Cheese Spouffle

We get a weekly Veg box delivery, which this week contained, Cauliflower, Cavelo Nero, Tomatoes, Large Red Pepper, Courgettes, Leek, Green Beans

Mum may not be delighted that there are more Veggie meals than meat meals, but that seems to be the direction that Fluffrick and I are taking.

Of course the plan may well go out the window, we'll just have to see.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The last of the Brambles?

The Bramble crop has been early this year, so this may be the last decent picking.

A Bramble & Apple Gallet, that has collapsed a bit unfortunately.

I made some Bramble Jam with the first picking, which should last us for a fair few weeks yet. There have also been a few other pies and some mini Bakewells made with fresh berries rather than Jam, which I think have been my favourite.

On the home grown front, my three tomato plant have been truly pitiful. If we've had 15tomatoes in total I'd been surprised. My four chilli pepper plants have been doing great though. Now I just need to do something with the twenty or so ripe chillies I currently have. I'm thinking a Chilli Jam, but as I've never made one before we will just have to see how it goes.

Long time no type

So I don't quite know how it got to be over a year since I last posted, I have been doing stuff, honest.

I've been making more costumes for the "Heeley Hoofers". We have another show coming up in November, so it's a 1970's costume bonanza.

I've been over-protective of our little dog Minnie. The over-protectiveness really kicked in when we were told she had kidney problems. Thankfully she is doing much better, she will now eat her Renal dog food without too much protest; even though it does give her the most awful bad breath.
Recently I've been doing quite a bit of reading. All seven "Harry Potter" books in the space of three weeks. Having the luxury of time to do that has been lovely.

I will try to post more often, if I can find something interesting to post about.

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