Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reasons to be Cheerful...

1.  Slow Sundays. To lie in bed browsing, sunshine pouring through the windows, before I tuck into freshly baked croissants and coffee. They are crisp and flaky on the outside; warm, doughy and buttery on the inside. Heaven. 

2.  The satisfaction that comes from clearing a very cluttered space. Now there is flow.

3.  The miracle of technology means that I can see and talk to my gorgeous daughter every day, even though she is far away. What joy to see her spring onto my screen and hear her happy voice.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Links I Love

1.  This has to be the easiest DIY cheeseboard I've seen.  Can't wait to try it out.
2.  The most heavenly romantic looking Raspberry Rose Cocktail for February 14th.
3.  How to perfect the post workout pony.
4.  Quiz.  The 36 questions that lead to love.
5.  DIY Ikea hack.  Gilded bookshelves.



Monday, February 09, 2015

February Musts...


 It's cold and grey outside and I want to do nothing more than snuggle up on the sofa under a soft throw, light my Neom candle and shut out the world.  Only one thing can make this scenario any better, and that's the smell of something delicious slow cooking in the oven.  That something delicious at the moment is slow cooked shoulder of pork.  It takes about 5 hours to cook - completely necessary for that melting, pull-apart meat, as the shoulder is quite tough, but the gelatin in the meat renders down to make the tenderest joint imaginable, if you just let it cook slowly.  I tend not to follow a recipe, but buy the best quality joint you can afford, rub it with Chinese five spice and whack it in the oven at 220 degrees c for twenty minutes initially.  Remove from the oven and cover with foil, turn down the oven to 170 degrees c for another four hours and remove the foil for the last half an hour, before resting for a minimum of half an hour.  There are endless things that you can use this meat for - here are some ideas to spin it out...

More Ideas for Pork Shoulder

Ways to Use Pork Shoulder

A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel — an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics — their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him — nearly destroying him — Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

An unforgettable journey into one man's remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

 Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has "the memory", the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he's previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel's unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now "Lucy" in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

A magical, suspenseful, heartbreaking story of true love, My Name is Memory proves the power and endurance of a union that was meant to be.

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, this film is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason, who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. This drama charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. The film is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.
February is of course, the month for lovers.  If like me, you don't buy into the huge commercialism of it, but like the excuse to say 'I love you' by making something for someone special, then these ideas are for you...

Valentine Flip Book

Love Light Bulb


Monday, February 02, 2015

Chicken Pot Pies

In this family we love our pies.  Maybe it's a northern thing, after all I spent my teenage years ducking out of school to visit the nearest Greggs for a cheese and onion pasty!  I'm not a great lover of puff pastry though - something about the soft pastry doesn't work for me when combined with the gooey interior of the pie.  For me the best pie has a crumbly, crisp shortcrust pastry that melts in the mouth.  My current go-to is a one-pot chicken pie.  It came about as a way to extend the life of the Sunday roast chicken and it's become a favourite dish.  Part of the attraction is you get a pretty damn good pie for a small amount of effort - and that's always a winner in my book.  I can get in from work and have this made and on the table within the hour.

The basic recipe came from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals but I adapt it to whatever I have to hand.  As my children don't like mushrooms I substitute them for leeks.  I serve it with buttery mash and braised lettuce, peas and spring onions (trust me it's delicious).   The proof, as they say, is in the pie.

{I've also made this as a giant pie, rather than individual servings, with everyone able to just tuck in from the big pot}