Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Final Countdown

Urgh, sorry. Do you have that song in your head now?

Listen to this instead. Much better.

Too busy around here for me!

I’m feeling lost.

We leave in a few days and my mind is flipping from being excited to panicking to impatience to anxiety and then back to the start seemingly every few minutes or so.

I’m sure this is normal when moving country, with a baby.

There seems to be little I can do until Monday when we will pack the cars as much as possible and see what will have to stay here, for now.

So this last week I’m trying to use up all of our food, say farewell to our lovely friends and family, visit the doctor, dentist and hairdresser, eat as much of this as I can and learn a little more french :)

It’s going to be busy around here for the next few days, but we are sure to be in touch once we are there! In France! Aaaaah!!

If only I had this bed to fall into once we arrive. Too beautiful. Shake is going to make me one, I love how he says that about everything :)

See you on the other side!







Chicken and vegetable pie


My Dad is notorious for calling me on a Thursday night, at around 6pm, on his drive home from work.
I know it is him as soon as the phone rings, and I also know what our conversation is going to be about: Nigel Barden’s latest recipe.

Mr Barden has a weekly slot on Simon Mayo’s BBC Radio 2 show where he showcases a dish. I must admit that I have never listened to him on the show, but from what I understand he brings the dish with him and they eat it, discuss the ingredients and method etc.

I really should listen on iPlayer as my Dad raves about him. Fortunately the recipes are then posted on the show’s webpage, so that they can be recreated by listeners.

So, the pie.

This is the one recipe that my Dad has talked about most for months and months. Funnily enough, when we recently visited him I checked what was in his fridge (as daughters do) and found all the necessary ingredients for the pie all on one shelf. Subtle huh?! :)


Pastry is not my favourite thing to make but fortunately my Dad anticipated this and bought some ready made.

I know it can be simple, especially with a mixer, but I tend not to use mine and have too little patience (and time, especially now) to make it by hand.
Having said that, I’m happy to make sweet pastry following a lovely course I went on for my birthday. More about that another day…

Chicken pie - ready to be baked!

Chicken pie – ready to be baked!

For my first attempt at the pie, I followed the recipe to the letter (bar the pastry), however since then I have made several modifications depending on what I have in the fridge.

As such, I would say that what follows is my adaptation of Nigel Barden’s recipe, which in turn appears to be based on Tamasin Day-Lewis’ recipe.

Chicken and Vegetable pie
Served 5 greedy people


4 chicken breasts or 8 chicken thighs (I prefer using the thighs)
2 carrots – sliced
Bunch of herbs – sage, thyme, rosemary all work well

1 Courgette, chopped
2 leeks, chopped – I used the greens in the cooking liquid with the chicken
4 bacon rashers or a handful of lardons

55g butter
55g plain flour
150ml stock – chicken or vegetable
150ml milk
150ml double cream
Black pepper
Small bunch of herbs – chopped

Pastry – enough to cover large dish (I am lucky enough to have a mother-in-law who will make it for me)

1 egg, beaten

Large ovenproof dish (or several small ovenproof dishes)


Preheat your oven to 180degC

Place chicken, carrots and herbs in a large saucepan. Season with black pepper.

Cover with water and simmer over a moderate heat for at least 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon/lardons until cooked and set aside. If using bacon, once cooled chop into smaller pieces.

Reserving the bacon fat, in the same frying pan fry the leeks and courgette until softened, but not too coloured – about 10 minutes on a low to moderate heat.
Alternatively, steam the vegetables.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the water and when cool enough to handle, slice into bite-sized pieces.

Combine the carrots, other vegetables, bacon and chicken in your large ovenproof dish and set aside.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low to moderate heat.
Add the flour and stir to combine. Keep stirring over the heat for a few minutes.

Slowly add the milk and cream (I mixed them together in a jug) and keep stirring the whole time to ensure no lumps.

Then, add the stock and continue stirring until nicely combined.

Season with lots of black pepper (to your taste – my boys like A LOT) and stir in the chopped herbs.
Try not to eat it all.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and mix until everything is evenly coated.

Top with pastry, making a hole for steam to escape, and if you are good glaze with a beaten egg (I rarely do).

Place in the oven and cook for 35 – 45 minutes, depending on the depth of your dish, until pastry is nicely browned.

Obviously you can change the herbs or vegetables to whatever you have at home. I’ve used mushrooms instead of courgettes before too. Let me know what combinations you try!

Oh, and remember to take a photo of the pie once cooked and before it’s all been gobbled up – I always forget..! Photo now added :)




My first father’s day

I couldn’t have asked for a better present. My wife knows me too well :)

Fairly traded frame and beautiful words

Kahlil Gibran - On Children

Kahlil Gibran – On Children

The Prophet has a special place in our hearts, going back to the early days of our relationship. Then more recently, we had a passage from The Prophet as the reading at our wedding. Then again, a few days before our little boy was born I heard this particular passage (On Children) quoted on Radio 4 as I was driving home from work; it was just the inspiration I needed at the time.

And this is the frame it deserves. Both fairly traded and weathered with the signs of life and our world.

Then to top it all off, I think I have pancakes on the way right now.

Shake out.

Right now

:: chuckling at these adorable apricots. Too cute!

:: reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. This novel tells the story of Hadley Hemingway, wife of Ernest, and their life together in Paris. I’ve only just started but am really enjoying it so far.

:: counting down the days until we depart. 11 days of work for Shake, 19 until we go!

:: drinking lots of hot water with honey and lemon. This has been a poorly mummy week, so glad to be getting better.

:: thinking about my friends having babies. I can’t wait for our little man to have lovely friends to play with. It’s also a great way to distribute his newborn clothes!

:: wishing baby would stop growing, that time would stand still a little while and for my mind to focus on the priceless moments I have with my boy.

:: writing letters to my boy so that I remember this time. I have a terrible memory and there are some things I really don’t want to forget. Birth story?

:: researching lots of fun trips and activities to entertain our guests in France, we have visitors for the first 3 weeks already and more coming in August :)


Goal: learn about and make my own dairy products

I am a big dairy fan.

I love cheese, I could eat it every day. (Maybe I will – there is always a cheese course whenever we eat in France.)

I love to bake with yoghurt but also enjoy it with stewed fruits or accompanying the many Persian dishes that my Mother makes.

And who could resist delicious bread smeared with salted butter, or tender, buttered vegetables such as asparagus or green beans?

For my birthday last year Shake bought me¬†Ashley English’s book “Home Dairy”.
Not only would it make economic sense to be able to make our own, but I’m sure it will be lots of fun too!

I haven’t yet read too much of the book, but from what I have seen so far I think it will be a great guide and is also full of lots of lovely looking recipes – Strawberry, Chevre and Balsamic Ice Cream? Yes please!

Again, once we are settled in our new home I will keep you updated with my progress.

My parents have friends who keep goats so I’m already looking forward to homemade goats cheese, honey and my darling Shake’s sourdough bread with lots of ground black pepper! (We first tasted this wonderful combination here on our anniversary last year)


Apple Tart


We spent our Jubilee in Scotland visiting my Daddy, brothers and sister.

It was a lovely weekend and baby did ever so well in the car for 7+ hours each way! The good ol’ Scottish air helped him sleep well at night too :) Magic!

My Daddy loves good food and had saved a few recipes that he wanted me to make for him. We started with Raymond Blanc’s Apple Tart from his BBC show.

It turned out very well the first time (I made 2 in smaller tins than stated in the recipe) so we decided to make 4 more for the Jubilee party we went to with his neighbours.

The only change I made was to add vanilla bean paste to the custard filling. Delicious!

I also made a chicken, leek, mushroom pie. Recipe soon!

Hope you all had a lovely long weekend :)