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!

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Wonderful Weekend …

We didn’t have much planned for the weekend but it’s turned out to have been a pretty good one. Yesterday, my husband and my older son went to see the Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, this left my younger son and myself with a day to ourselves.
We began by having breakfast at the Thali Restaurant, Easton, Bristol. We both had their coconut and banana pancakes with honey:

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We spent the rest of the day shopping and film watching and finished it off with our second visit of the day to the Thali restaurant, this time to fill up our tiffin tin with delicious curry:

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Today, myself and my husband went to visit Jekka’s herb farm herb farm, just north of Bristol. There was an open day today – it’s not normally open to the public – and we bought some delicious looking herbs as well as a yummy recipe book:

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The herbs are, from the top: Silver Sage, Black Peppermint, Zi Su Egoma (I’m not sure either but it’ll be fun finding out!) and Apple Mint.

I’m really looking forward to trying out some new recipes from this book:

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Lunch today was a very simple bread & cheese affair followed by a completely spur of the moment raspberry and strawberry roulade:

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We are loving the weather at the moment and eat outside at every opportunity – loving the summer!

Bank Holiday Weekend …

Our bank holidays here in the UK have a bit of a reputation for bad weather and traffic jams, I think that this one has been the exception here in Bristol. The sun has shone throughout and the furthest we have driven has been around 3 miles.
On Saturday, I made 10 napkins with some very summery beach hut material, perfect for picnics:

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Whilst the sewing bit was very straightforward, the measuring and precise cutting that were needed did take some concentration!

Yesterday one of my boys asked if we could bake something together. I passed him my Paul Hollywood book and asked him to choose something. His choice was a fruit loaf (or rather, 2 fruit loaves):

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The result is a delicious, moist, fruity bread, perfect for tea last night and breakfast this morning!!

Today, we went to the BBC Food Festival, we arrived quite early which was just as well because it became really busy by the time we left. It was a great foodie treat with a huge range of artisan producers. I really liked the fact that at most of the stalls, food was cooked to order and was definitely worth the wait. The boys (including my husband) tried scotch eggs, sausage rolls, Jamaican jerk chicken wraps, BBQ chicken, a selection of samosas, cider (produced just a few miles away from where we live). I had a lovely latte and treated myself to this beautiful water jug:

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All in all, a great bank holiday weekend – hope yours has been just as good wherever you are and whatever the weather.

Foiled by the Weather …

I came home from work, full of good, arty intentions, sadly the wild weather that we are having put paid to those plans. I went into the studio to find that not only has the rain come inside again but also, as soon as I sat down, the gusts of wind blew almost hard enough to blow the door off its hinges. I quickly decided to return to the relative safety of the house and to save those arty thoughts and ideas for a calmer day!
Instead, I’ll post some foodie photos. Last sunday was the 1 year anniversary of the death of a truly lovely friend. As a celebration of her life, her husband and daughter invited various friends and relatives to their home for drinks and cake – she would have approved I’m sure. I took a plate of baked goodies:

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From the left are chocolate brownies, coconut macaroons and flapjacks. We had a lovely time, it was great to meet up again in Leslie’s honour.

Monday was mine and my husband’s 25th anniversary of ‘getting together’, we celebrated at the weekend by going out for dinner to ‘Loch Fynne followed by seeing ‘West Side Story’ at the Bristol Hippodrome. Our meal out was delicious – the best bit for me was the Lobster Spaghetti, absolutely gorgeous. On Monday however, I wanted to cook something special and decided on a Lebanese Lasagne followed by a Spiced Chocolate Tart. The lasagne was interesting, it was warmly spiced and the sauce went over the top of the meat sauce and lasagne sheets, it was a white sauce that then had ricotta cheese, mozzarella and parmesan cheese dotted all over it. This was then topped with a combination of breadcrumbs, more parmesan cheese, oregano and cumin:

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The chocolate tart was spiced up with cardamom seeds, cloves and black pepper. It was tasty, if very rich following the lasagne! It definitely tasted better the following day though, once the flavours had had a chance to mingle:

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As only small slices of the tart are needed, there’s still some left for us to enjoy this evening, yum!

Happy New Year …

It’s a bit late I know but I wish everyone ‘wordpress related’, be they readers, followers or bloggers, a very Happy 2014. We’ve spent yet another day being bombarded by rain and wind, we were in real need of some sunshine. For us, our sunshine came in bowls and in a bottle:

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This lemongrass cordial was made prior to Christmas and still tastes light and refreshing. Our dinner this evening was a Prawn Biryani, one of our favourite prawn curries – the key I think is in the spice blend: shallots, garlic, fresh ginger, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom seeds, turmeric, coriander seeds and a finely chopped chilli:

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To finish, we had the most amazingly light Lemon Sponge. The recipe was from my new ‘Leon, Book 2, Baking and Puddings’ which my mother-in-law gave me at Christmas. I’ve tried a few recipes from this book (including Coconut Macaroons which I made yesterday, honey was included in the recipe and they tasted incredible, I’ll have to make them again just so I can photograph them) and each one has worked really well. This sponge pudding has an element of soufflé about it, it’s really light and the lemon hit givs it a real zing:

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So, whilst we’ve had non-stop rain today, we’ve had at least a small ray of sunshine in terms of food. Hopefully tomorrow will be little less wet!

Phew, what a Scorcher …

Now that Wimbledon’s over (very exciting towards the end), I can get back to some painting. I went to paint once the day had started to cool a little (down to only 32ºC in my ‘shudio’!) and was struck by how perfect the weather would be for a hot air balloon ride. Bristol is well known for its balloons, we have the fiesta in August and it’s not that unusual to see several balloons flying across the city throughout the summer months. It was thought of these that inspired this painting:

Whilst watching the tennis, I’ve been doing a cheeky chicken cross stitch, there will be 9 of them when I’ve finished, so far, 6 are complete: Lunch today was a very summery affair, my mother-in-law came for a pre-Wimbledon final lunch – I prepared the caramelised red onion and goats’ cheese tartlets and sausage rolls earlier this morning: We had these with a green salad which included beetroot and ‘tomberries’. The latter are the smallest tomatoes that I have ever seen, literally the size of berries. They were deliciously sweet and juicy.

To follow we had our old favourites of raspberries and shortbread biscuits – again, made before the day became too hot. The ice cream was a new recipe, lemon,vanilla and cardamom ice cream. The mixture had been infused overnight with lemon zest, lemon rind, a vanilla pod and lots of crushed cardamom pods. The result was a rich yet lightly refreshing ice cream which went incredibly well with the juicy raspberries. I look forward to trying out more ice cream and sorbet recipes over the next few weeks – hopefully our summer will last that long!

This last photo is of the beautiful sky this evening, I hope that the sun is shining wherever you are.

Big Fun at the Big Top …

We had a truly amazing evening at the ‘No Fit State Circus’ last night. They were nearing the end of their month long stay in Bristol and we were fortunate enough to get tickets for their final Saturday night performance. They are a contemporary circus company and their show is incredible. The audience stood, throughout the evening and was often shepherded to different areas of the floor to enable different routines to be performed. As a slight nod to our visit to the circus, I painted a more traditional big top today: