A holiday challenge …

Some people (who are way more strong willed than I am) set themselves resolutions to keep, tasty treats to give up and/or weekly challenges to achieve. I’ve decided therefore to set myself a relatively straightforward challenge of doing something creative each day for the next 2 weeks. It’s the school holidays and so, in theory I’ll have time each day to  create something new.

This holiday challenge did not get off to a great start as I’d forgotten all about it till 7pm tonight – it’s been a busy day! Anyway, I decided to do a quick painting using just 2 colours : rose madder and cerulean blue, the subject was a sunset (of sorts):

 

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Brilliant Bacon and Excellent Eggs in a Super Salad …

I arrived home from work having failed to stock up on food the day before and my rapidly growing boys were hungry for their tea. I looked in the cupboards and in the fridge and was faced with some unsmoked bacon, a lettuce, some spring onions, some eggs and some plain flour. After a bit of thought I came up with a meal that really worked, so much so that we will be having it again soon.

I made some flatbreads with the flour – the dough was left to rest for just 15 minutes which was when I shallow fried the bacon, hard boiled a few eggs, washed and shredded the lettuce, chopped the spring onions and made a small bowl of mayonnaise. The bacon was allowed to crisp up in the oven whilst the flatbreads were cooked. The result was a very tasty, summer-like tea : flatbreads with a crispy bacon and egg salad & mayo :

The flatbreads were rolled up with the Bacon & Egg Salad and Mayo inside – yum! For some additional heat we added some extra hot chilli sauce – even yummier!!

Notre Dame de Paris …

I was fortunate enough to have a whole day off today, not only was I not working but the sun was shining and the garden was beckoning. I decided to attempt a detailed painting as I had plenty of time – I was also waiting for a parcel to be delivered and ended up being home for most of the day.

The subject of my painting today was Notre Dame, Paris. I wanted to include some of the stonework detail as well as lots of lovely tones and colours. I worked from I photo that I took about 15 months ago, at night:

As usual, I planned my painting using watercolour pencils, this helped me to choose the colours that I wanted to use:

 

Two and a half hours later, this is the result:

I like the way the colours have mixed but wish I hadn’t painted such a definite line to indicate the left side of the building, I much prefer the effect on the right!

Having tried to dilute the line on the left and having minimal impact, I added some lovely paper to my painting:

 

Brunel’s Bridge …

Clifton Suspension Bridge is synonymous with Bristol. Every time the city of Bristol is mentioned in the media, an image of this iconic bridge is displayed. I think that explains why I’ve not attempted painting a picture of it yet, it’s almost too obvious a choice. Instead I’ve painted images of the harbourside, Cabot Tower and the Dower House. This morning however, I could resist no longer and so planned my image with my watercolour pencils:

I knew I would want to use some ‘water collage’ somewhere in my painting but it wasn’t until my 11 year old suggested that I put some fruit in the tree that it came to me:

I think this paper works really well as it makes the tree look as though it is full of (perfectly aligned) juicy, delicious fruit.

I kept the image purposely simple, this bridge really is a thing of beauty and I didn’t want to detract from that. Maybe one day I’ll attempt a more architecturally accurate painting, but for now I’m happy to stick with simple.

This is the photo I used as my inspiration:

It’s ‘Choux’ Time …

Our lunch today was in honour of it being my husband’s birthday last week and I wanted to make a dessert that I’d never tried making before, having always believed it was too tricky and too likely to go wrong. I didn’t have a ‘plan B’ and so had to give it my best shot.

I can’t believe I thought choux pastry was difficult! I followed a Mary Berry recipe and they turned out really well. The best part though was pumping each choux bun full of whipped cream – even my boys wanted to have a go!

Each choux bun was then coated in a chocolate icing before being chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Just to have a go, I attempted to make spun sugar. This too was a new experience for me and didn’t go quite to plan – the sugar syrup mixture cooled too quickly and was tricky to ‘spin’. I re-heated it a little and decided to drizzle the sugar which had by now turned to caramel, over the choux buns. As soon as the hot caramel hit the chilled, chocolate coated buns, it solidified. The caramel made an intensely satisfying sound as we all crunched our way through it. I’ll definitely be making them again – my boys have asked for a full-on Croquembouche next time though!! ❀

Spring Chicken …

we are lucky enough to be having the most amazing March weather at the moment. It’s warm enough to eat outside – to spend most of the day outdoors in fact. There were 8 of us for lunch today and it was lovely to all be sitting around the table in the garden. As an affirmation that Spring has truly sprung, I made us a chicken dish, originally called ‘Summer-in-Winter Chicken’ but I’ve renamed it Spring Chicken!

It is simply chicken, fried in a little olive oil, with pesto and crème fraîche added, followed by plenty of halved cherry tomatoes. I served it with a green salad, dressed with olive oil and some rice cooked with saffron. I made the pesto myself and in fact it didn’t have any pine nuts in it at all so probably shouldn’t be called pesto. I mixed lots of finely chopped fresh basil with some olive oil and chopped porcini mushrooms and was really happy with the result ❀