My New Favourite Thing …

Is my slow cooker:

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Work commitments plus the social lives of my children mean that there’s not always much time for cooking, especially during the working week. I found that I was cooking the same kind of meals each week because they were quick and easy but they weren’t always particularly tasty or interesting. I did a bit of research on the internet and read various reviews, we went to the shops and I chose the ‘Crockpot’ above. The fact that the ceramic dish can be used on the hob to brown meat first and/or soften onions etc is a real bonus. We’ve had our slow cooker for just over a week and I’ve used it 4 times so far to cook: salmon; lamb; pork and chicken. All have been delicious and ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ tender. The lamb korma below was incredible – I tried to persuade my family that it was down to my skills as a cook and had nothing to do with the crockpot but I don’t think they fell for it!

Lamb Korma

Yesterday we had pulled pork wraps, again the meat was succulent and tender – not at all dry or chewy. The pork joint had been slow cooking for 8 hours in orange juice and beer, an interesting yet tasty combination. It had been rubbed with a variety of herbs and spices which gave it a very subtle, warm rather than spicy flavour.

Pulled Pork Wraps

I think that the best thing about our crockpot slow cooker is that there are now days when I come home from work and the house is filled with the aroma of a delicious home cooked meal – my husband says that now I know what it’s like for him when he gets home, what a lucky man he is!!!

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Cake, Découpage and Quilting …

I’ve not posted for a while for various reasons but mainly because I started a fantastic new job at the beginning of September and more importantly, my Dad was taken seriously ill a few weeks ago and whilst it’s been a huge roller coaster of emotions and worry, there are some hopeful signs. Needless to say, I’ve not really been feeling particularly creative.

Over the past week though, I have had a go at my very first quilt and whilst some of the stitching is somewhat random, I am quite pleased with it as a first attempt:

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Whilst trying to take a decent photo of it, someone decided to ‘help’:

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I’d really like to make a large quilt for our bed but think I need to practice on some more smaller projects first.

Baking has not featured much here recently apart from the cakes made for my sons’ birthdays – they are just over 3 weeks apart, with mine thrown in the middle for good measure! My younger son loves cheesecake and he chose a raspberry ripple cheesecake as his birthday cake:

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My older son’s cakes are coming in 2 batches, the first were salted caramel cupcakes, he chose these because he was out on the evening of his birthday and is away this weekend, we will have the last 4 when he comes home later today. The 2nd/proper cake will be made next week when we are all home to enjoy it:

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I’m finally posting about our découpage fireplace. I did this way back at the end of the summer holidays, it took me over 5 hours and it was one of those things where I really wasn’t sure whether it was going to turn out ok or not. Originally, the tiles were a green/grey muddy colour and looked horrible, having lived with them for 13+ years, I decided to do something about them. At first, I was going to spray paint the whole fireplace purple, fortunately, I decided against this and went for découpage instead. I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste but I love it. The fireplace looks so much better now, we never have a fire in there – it’s in our dining room and anyone sitting next to it at the table would severely overheat !! The fireplace now looks like a proper focal point of the room:

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New, for Fishfest 2014 …

It’s that time of year again, this Saturday is our very local and very fantastic Fishfest Arts Market, from 11am. In order to show something new I’ve used photos of some of my favourite places in Bristol. This is a small trial run to see what people think – I’ve used my own photos which I’ve then adapted:

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I’ll certainly use some of these myself, I hope others like them too!

Francophile Fabric …

I decided against the baking route today – there will be more of that this weekend – and instead focussed on sewing. I found some lovely ‘francophile’ fabric yesterday and have used a small amount to make a ‘wall hanging desk tidy’ – as you do !! I’ll nip in to work tomorrow to make sure it works but it should end up with various pens, rulers, pencils, glue sticks, stickers, post-it notes etc inside:

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The backing material is lovely linen and I really like the quirky style of the French inspired fabric.

Some of the stitching wouldn’t pass close inspection and the pockets are not all completely level however, I am really pleased with the end result and my desk should be a lot tidier for it.

Madelaines …

We’ve just returned from a wonderful holiday in France, to make that holiday feeling last just a little bit longer I made some madelaines – any excuse !
The recipe was from Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ and included the addition of a raspberry into each madelaine plus some home made lemon curd once the cakes had been removed from the oven:

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It took several attempts to get the quantity of batter right – I kept putting way too much in and the cakes overflowed their moulds – I got it just about right in the end though.

These tasted lovely and light, still warm from the oven.
I wonder what I can cook tomorrow to extend that holiday feeling !

What a Treat …

Doughnuts are something that I’ve never made before, thinking that they would be too difficult and probably just as good as their shop bought counterparts. How wrong was I ?!!
Not only were these incredibly easy to make, they tasted delicious – my son licked his plate clean!!

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We were very restrained and didn’t eat them all in one go – one with a vanilla latte later today is something I’m looking forward to!