Sunday, 25 October 2009

This Week Recap

This week was slightly hindered as I didn't feel well for the whole week and ended up off sick on Thursday and Friday. I am still feeling a bit fragile but managed to:

  • Send Australia presents before the mail strikes took place.
  • Write all my Christmas cards.
  • Check out the Harrods Christmas department.
  • Do the Martha Mondays project.
  • Have lunch with ex-work colleagues.
  • Visit Brighton and Arundel for Christmas shopping (even though very unsuccesful).

It was not a great week for getting things done. I missed out on the opening day of Anthropologie which has finally opened a store in the UK. I also moped around quite a bit but will make sure that I stay on top of things and have a really good week this weekend.

Martha Mondays - Texas Red Chili

It was Megan's turn to choose the Martha Monday project and I was pleased that she choose the chilli as it meant that a meal would be cooked instead of part of a meal. I had liked the idea of the chilli but looked at getting dried chillies and had decided to leave it. I was pleased that I got to make it in the end.

I managed to get the ingredients. Although I substituted beef chuck (still don't know what it is) for stewing beef and the chillies for Kashmiri chillies as this was all the supermarket had.

The recipe was easy to make and I made it on Saturday and we ate it on Sunday.

We liked it, although thought the beef was a bit tough, which was my fault. I would make the sauce again but probably do this with mince as we usually do when we have chilli.

Thanks for a good Martha Monday project.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Decorating with Gourds

Last year I was in Australia at this time and therefore missed out on both Halloween and Bonfire Night. This year I am here and have been gearing up for Halloween for quite a while. We like to keep the decorations to a minimum and decorate more in relation to the season rather than the holiday. However we will add the finishing touches next week with a pumpkin or two. Halloween isn't celebrating a great deal in the UK but there are quite a few children in our street so there are always knocks on the door on the 31st.

With dad having an allotment and spare space there was room for gourds to be planted. They have come out well and on Monday night I sorted them out, cleaned them and arranged them.

There were about forty gourds.

Sitting on the mantelpiece. The large gourd was a gift from a fellow allotmenter.

The orange and green gourds sitting on top of my adored cake stand which was a present for my birthday.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

This Week Recap

I have decided to document my week so that I can see my accomplishments and what happened that I am proud of.

Since last Sunday:

  • Dinner with Charlotte (a good friend and ex-work colleague).

  • Tried seabass for the first time.

  • The doctor gave me my test results for the lump removed from my arm and it was benign : )

  • I did a huge clear out of my makeup and found that I had been holding on to many things that I should have chucked out a long time ago.

  • I started my Christmas shopping - books and things from Baby Gap

  • I did a trip to Fortnum and Mason with mum and bought teas to be sent to Australia.

  • I wrapped presents to be sent to Australia.

  • I managed to get into two pairs of trousers that I haven't been able to wear for two years as I bought them needing to lose weight - which I have finally done!

  • I finally managed to work out how to put a hyperlink into my blog.

I had a lovely dinner with Charlotte and we had a great laugh. Since getting my test results back I have been a lot calmer. A good week I think!

Martha Mondays - Pork & Chive Pot-Stickers

This week's project was chosen by Brette, the founder of Martha Mondays. There were two tasks to choose from but due to time restraints I chose the pot stickers. These were completely new to me and I watched Martha and Lucinda on the show to see how to do them.

I made a special trip to the Asian supermarket to pick up wonton wrappers but mine were square and not circular like Marthas. I wasn't fussed. I knew I wouldn't have time to locate circular ones anywhere.

The recipe was simple and apart from omitting the sherry I had everything else I needed apart from sesame oil. I could only find toasted sesame oil but this has been a revelation and I love it.

I made the pot-stickers on Friday night and then cooked up a few which we really liked - the photos were taken on Friday night.

I did have trouble cooking them in a tablespoon of oil as they just stuck to the pan and I ended up chucking those ones out. Instead I used a lot more oil and it was easier to stop them sticking. I then placed them on kitchen towel to absorb some of the oil. The rest we had with a 'Chinese' dinner on Saturday night - pot-stickers, sweet and sour chicken and Muse In The Kitchen's garlic rice - so good.

We all agreed that they were very tasted. I will make these again. To keep them from sticking I laid them on a plate covered in semolina - it seemed to work. Next time I will try to be more like Martha and make them a bit neater and try to keep the air bubbles out.

Thanks Brette - I would never have tried them without Martha Mondays!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Martha Mondays - Sticky Toffee Pudding

Oh Boy! Sticky toffee pudding! Chosen by Lorraine of Sweet Lorraine Bakeshop, I was in heaven just reading the name, knowing that I would be able to come off my Special K diet for this treat. It was strange as although it is known as an English pudding and as someone who lives in England I have never tried it and neither had many of my friends. It is on dessert menus a lot but it has never taken my fancy.

This was a great recipe as apart from buying butter and cream, I didn't have to stock up on anything else which I have had to do with other Martha Monday recipes.

The recipe was easy to make, and I halved it as there are only three of us.

Things fell apart (literally) when I tapped out the still warm cake as directed. I had greased and floured the pan well and the cake was fully cooked so although I thought it crazy to take a warm cake out of the pan I proceeded.

Expletives rolled around my kitchen as the cake fell apart, I had planned to serve it at dinner as a special treat for us. But I continued and 'stuck' the cake back together.

The toffee sauce was lovely and I poured this all over. It was wonderful.

I managed to get one reasonable portion out of the cake, but the rest is a bit of a mess. I had some left over and so put this in a jug to be poured over the cake - true joy!

We however loved it despite the way it looked (a good lesson here I think) and dad even had seconds. I will have my second portion whilst watching the X Factor tonight.

Thanks for a wonderful Martha Monday project - the most successful in the Singer household so far!!!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

I'm Feeling Better

I had such a fright on Friday when after eating dinner (and nothing hard at all) one of my back teeth felt strange. I ran to the mirror and saw that I was in need of the dentist as a crack had appeared in the tooth.

In the UK if you get a problem with your teeth on a Friday night, unless you pay for an emergency appointment (which is very, very expensive) or go to the hospital to have the tooth pulled out you have to wait for Monday morning to arrange an appointment.

I stayed strong over the weekend (only breaking down twice in tears) and on Monday morning at 9.00am I rang for an appointment, by 10.30am I had managed to get through and I got an appointment for Wednesday afternoon.

Anyway, today is Thursday and my tooth has been sorted out. I stayed strong despite the enormous needle, drilling, and laserlight.

The thing is, the tooth thing really set me back. I had been coasting along pretty fine (apart from a lot more work at work) but this really did stop me in my tracks. I felt useless until my tooth was sorted out and moped around quite a bit. And of course, talked about my tooth all the time.

But I am pleased to say that I am happy again. My tooth is sorted, work has got a lot better since the secretarys had a meeting about helping each other out more, the weather has improved and I am looking forward to gearing up for a great weekend ahead.

Hope you are all well and not having setbacks with teeth or anything else.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Martha Mondays - Warm Vanilla Cider

This weeks Martha Mondays project was chosen by Teresa of She chose Warm Vanilla Cider from the October issue of Living (which I can't wait to get my hands on).

I think this is our first drink that we have made and I was excited (although I did check with Brette to see if apple cider was alcoholic as it is in the UK and was informed that it wasn't. This explains last Christmas when I made a spiced apple cider with alcoholic cider and then added brandy - there were a couple of merry afternoons during Christmas!!!

I had the ingredients that the recipe called for but had decided that I would not add the addition of cream or the honeyed walnuts as I didn't have the time and it would have ruined all my hard work of dieting.

This was good. The recipe was easy to follow and it tasted good (although I couldn't taste any nutmeg). With the addition of brandy (I didn't have bourbon). I had a very merry afternoon and will make this recipe again.

No picture this week I am afraid, as I drank it pretty quickly!

Thanks Teresa.