Monthly Archives: November 2012

Right now

:: knitting with my dwindling supplies of wool, in the sunshine.

:: baking dark chocolate macarons with white chocolate ganache. No photos – useless!

:: writing list upon list – to do, to eat, to make…

:: watching my tutorials. I’m taking a Coursera course! “Think Again: How to reason and argue“. So far, so interesting.

:: daydreaming about possible future plans. Who knows what the future brings?

:: counting down the days until very special people come to stay for Christmas

:: dehydrating lots of oranges for frugal Christmas decorations :)

:: fighting off the cold that has been passed around bébé club

:: loving the new series of Peep Show ;)

:: wrapping up warm, 100km winds surround us!



#imapiece – a crafty update

I am cringing at these photographs, but my intentions were good.

Shake has had to put up with me complaining about my lack of skills an awful lot recently. I was planning to sew this properly at craft club, but baby hasn’t been napping so well during the day and I just can’t bear to take a grumbling boy out to see people.

It’s silly, I know. The ladies keep telling me they want to see him but I just don’t relax if he isn’t “himself”.

So, as a result I had to sew the shape by hand which I’ve never done before, hence the stupid looking shape. I also have very little free time and even less patience…

It doesn’t matter though. My piece will be part of a bigger picture, with an important message.

Why not get involved too? If I can, anyone can! (You can even buy a kit now…)



Favourite posts this week

:: Delicious, seasonal recipes from Mr Ottolenghi. Have you been watching his TV show?

:: Really useful post on kitchen substitutions.

:: I like to take my time cooking too, but do appreciate the odd quick meal, still home-made of course. What do you think?

:: Shake loves Pecan Pie but I’m yet to make him one. This may change that, but maple syrup is expensive…

:: Love the look of this Winter pavlova.

:: What do you want to learn? Watch this video on how to learn anything

:: Gorgeous photos of mushrooms.

:: Perfect chocolate cake? I personally love Nigella’s, but might check out this version.

:: Another amazing recipe (Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette) from The Smitten Kitchen cookbook – I.Need.That.Book.

:: Excellent suggestions for how to have a thrifty Christmas.

:: Moving and thought-provoking post on poverty, written far better than I could hope to.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy weekend.



Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

’tis the season for squash, so here is a very quick and simple recipe for you!

Butternut Squash Soup
serves 3-4 

1 butternut squash
1 medium onion, diced
a few glugs of olive oil
small knob of unsalted butter
dash of cumin seeds
vegetable stock – up to 400ml
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180degC

Slice butternut squash in half, lightly drizzle with olive oil and season with pepper (salt too if you aren’t sharing your food with your baby!)

Roast in oven for about 45 minutes, or until knife can easily be inserted into the squash

Once the squash is roasted and cooling, heat another glug of oil with butter in a saucepan and soften the diced onion

When you are able, scoop out the flesh of the butternut squash and add to the saucepan with the onion

Add cumin seeds (I guess I use about a teaspoon) and mix together in saucepan over a medium heat

Use as much stock as needed to cover the squash. I tend to add a stock cube and just top up with boiled water, topping up again once blended if the texture is too thick

Blend with handblender or processor to create a smooth soup

Season with salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper as desired

Optional: serve with yorkshire pudding for baby :)

Favourite posts this week

:: This post about mac and cheese made me laugh!

:: Such pretty little choux pastries (in French).

:: Upcycling old jars – will be trying out the glow in the dark paint for baby!

:: I am convinced my mum makes the best yorkshire puddings (we had some today even ;)) but this whole meal looks delicious!

:: Beautiful post about much more than a job.

:: Am I allowed to live this way? I’ve asked myself the same question.

:: 50 things to do with kale, if you wanted to…

:: Yummy looking raw cookies and lovely words. Love is good.

:: Smitten/101 whole-wheat scones. Perfection. Really want that book (hint ;))

:: Finding time to read – helpful post, I need to read more and internet less…

:: Caught on camera :)

Wishing you a lovely weekend! We have a village dinner, but no lamb this time!





Humour me. These words have been playing through my mind all week:

And you are the mother
The mother of your baby child
The one to whom you gave life
And you have your choices
And these are what make man great
His ladder to the stars

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand
Hold your hand

Thanks Mumford and Sons


Favourite posts this week

:: Cashew cream and its uses – really not nut fans (except pistachios!) but we are trying.

:: Sweet shirt for a sweet girl. More inspiration for me to sort my sewing out…

:: I’m pretty happy with my current go-to brownie recipe, but olive oil brownies? I need to try this out!

:: We make lentil burgers to have with baby (maybe I’ll share the recipe one day) but mushroom and lentil sounds yummy too.

:: Forget Heinz, think white beans with sausage. Perfect for Autumn/Winter.

:: Cute camping pics coupled with a beautifully honest reflection on marriage. Wow.

:: George and fish – I like the Guardian but he makes a very valid point, let’s hope someone listens. Just ignore the majority of the comments though, urgh. 

:: Aaargh this really upset me  - what are these people thinking? Shameful.

:: Seeing as someone is crawling, standing and doing lots of falling these days (8 months old today!!) we really need this baby-proofing advice!

:: Brussel sprout salad? Worth a try :)

:: Lagom. Cool word, even cooler meaning.

:: 100 Wild Huts – what a fun challenge!

:: Lastly, some dubstep.

Wishing you an awesome weekend!!



Crafty activists

A few weeks ago I came across this initiative and it really, really stuck with me.

Every year, 2.3 million children die because they don’t get enough of the right food.

Doesn’t that just make you sick?

Whilst I am pretty useless at all things crafty, I wanted to put my “free-time” to good use and try to learn something at the same too.

I mentioned months ago that once we were settled here, one of my goals was to learn to use our sewing machine. Well, I still don’t have any power supply for our machine(!) but I did start to use my mum’s.

I say started, as I actually broke it. Not sure how…

Fortunately, it turns out that in the village on Tuesday afternoons the ladies (men welcome too!) hold a craft group. You can turn up with your own projects or take part in something else, with the group supplies (last week it was mosaïque)

For an annual fee of €5 I can’t go wrong, especially when there is homemade cake and a tisane involved at the end of the afternoon ;)

Baby comes along with me and the ladies just swoon at his charms. He has them (and me, naturally) wrapped around his chubby little fingers!

All of this blabber is just to explain that as our machine(s) are out of action, the ladies are going to help me use the group sewing machine.

Above is my jigsaw piece terribly traced and cut out and ready to sew, I think. I still need to decide on my message.

If you have the time and inclination, why not become a crafty activist too? Or consider signing the petition.

In the meantime I have been busy knitting a few bits and pieces. I’m feeling inspired, especially with a special baby girl due to arrive mid-January! [OOPS – just to clarify, this isn’t our baby girl…! Sorry!]

In my knitting bag I also found the beginnings of a glove I bought the materials for two years ago and gave up when I got to a part I didn’t know how to do. Oh my. I’ve now got a lovely group who can explain how to do it – it makes such a difference to me.

So, baby boy has a winter hat and some booties to keep those lovely little toes cosy on our afternoon walks and future baby girl will have a few more bits and pieces. Maybe then I will finish those gloves of mine :)




Favourite posts this week

Tuesday craft group tea break

:: I’m very lucky to be able to have lunch with my husband every day. With our budget we eat very little meat, but the baked squash with garlic cream sounds delicious!

:: Editing fairytales – something we should do for our boy too. Not just for girls, right?

:: Tuna sandwiches! Got to love them. Toasted bread, mayo (homemade) and lots of pepper for me. I can’t say I have a problem with sweetcorn though!

:: Fig newtons – don’t think I’ve had them, are they like fig rolls? Sarah’s version look amazing though, will try and make next week…

:: Chocolate caramel tartlets. Love the teeny, tiny size. Potential Christmas treat?

:: A very good friend of ours has just set off on an epic world journey with his girlfriend. I love his writing, you might enjoy it too.

:: This cake is similar to our chocolate guinness cake. Sharing simply because I loved the post, it made me miss my dad!

:: Twice baked potato pie – love that their daughter came up with the idea!

:: Aaaaah this is crazy! My mind is blown by these kids.

Wishing you a very happy weekend!



Savoury Courgette Cheesecake

I know it’s November (November?!) and you’re all thinking about pumpkins and feeling snug and cosy with the heating on etc, but whilst I can still buy them, I am making the most of courgettes.

The truth is, I’m just not ready to move on.

When we have beautiful, warm weather like this…

…I don’t feel like wrapping up and eating something hot!

This recipe was inspired by a post I saw a few weeks ago. I think I shared it with you too?

I changed it up a little, as usual, and we are really enjoying the result – the lemon zest in particular just makes it taste extra special.

I made it during a baby nap, so you know it doesn’t take long to whip up!

It isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but it really tastes delicious.

Courgette cheesecake
- serves 4-6

Note: I used two tins, one of 18 cm and one of 13 cm (used in the photos). You could probably just use the large one and have a deeper cheesecake. Or use a bigger tin of course.

100g crackers/savoury biscuits, crushed – I use TUC, Ritz would probably also work well
50g melted butter
1 large courgette, grated
200g goats cheese
3 large tablespoons fromage frais/crème fraîche/natural yoghurt
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove – I used 2, but would use just 1 if serving to other people
small handful of basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons plain flour
Salt and pepper, as desired

Preheat oven to 170degC

Melt butter and add to crushed crackers. Stir to coat and press into cake tin.
You want a buttery biscuit base ;)

Bake the base in the oven for around 10 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

Beat goats cheese in large bowl until softened. Add garlic, fromage frais, eggs, plain flour, lemon zest and mix together until combined.

Add the basil, grated courgette and season. Stir so that courgette is evenly distributed.

Pour mixture onto buttery biscuit base and return to the oven for about 40 minutes. The cheesecake should start to colour but not be completely brown. You don’t want it to jiggle too much either.

Serve warm, or cold from the fridge.