Monday, 31 August 2015

Notting Hill - the carnival 2015

Rain seems to have stopped play.  This was taken yesterday when it was damp and miserable.  Today, everyone has an umbrella.

Quick mid week roast dinner - sorted


1 small lamb joint
Venezia baby potatoes or any other waxy salad potato
No peel carrots, topped and tailed and cut into chunks, on a slant
Dry thyme
2 oz. of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 leeks, cleaned and sliced in rings
White cabbage, chopped
Creme fraiche
1 large onion
A splash of white wine
Salt and pepper to season


If you have a rotisserie, then skewer the lamb, brush with olive oil and seasoning.  If not, it will be fine in an ordinary oven heated to 200C.  Turn down to 180C after the first 15 minutes.  This piece weighed 575g so I cooked it for 1 hour.  To have been pink inside, I think 45 minutes plus resting time would have been better.

Whilst the lamb is cooking, the rest is fairly straightforward.  

Mushrooms, bacon, onions in white wine

Peel and slice the onion.  Cut in half and cut into slices and fry in a little butter and olive oil.  Snip the bacon with kitchen scissors and drop the pieces in the pan.  Then slice the mushrooms and add them.  Stir them altogether and cook for about 5 minutes before adding a splash or two of white wine.

 Thyme glazed carrots

 Cook the carrots in salted water until tender.  Drain and return to the pan with a knob of butter, black pepper and thyme.  Simmer for a few minutes until coated.

 Creamy leeks and white cabbage in creme fraiche

Boil the leeks and cabbage in salted water for around 5 minutes, then drain in a colander.  Add a knob of butter to the pan and the creme fraiche, warm gently and return the leeks and cabbage to the sauce with some black pepper.

Venezia potatoes boiled then roasted 

Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes until cooked through.  Meanwhile heat some oil in the oven.  Drain the potatoes in a colander and place in the oil.  Return to the oven for half an hour at 200C.


 If you aren't keen on lamb it could be replaced by beef or pork. 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Cat's Eyes

Cats are born blind.
They are commonly thought of as colour blind but can see, greens, blues and reds.
Their eyes glow as they have the tapetum lucidum, a reflective outer layer.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Maldives, Me and You - A Poem

In my dreams, I wake and walk
Across the room to lift the blind
No need to think or even talk
Just feel your presence close behind
I open the blind to let the sun glint through
Then turn around to stare at you
You catch my eye and I pull the cord
Letting in the sun and the sound of water
I wander out of the room on stilts
Wearing only my bronze silk nightie
Then I sit on the steps and swish
My tanned legs in the calm waters
Here we are in the Maldives
The sun beating down on my shoulders
So early in the morn
Must get dressed and go to eat
Fresh fruit and eggs with
Orange juice and coffee
All laid out on pure white linen
Cannot wait to start our day
I bend over the chest of drawers
Looking for my shorts and vest
When you approach me from behind
Encircling my waist with two firm arms
I reach up and take your hands
You kiss my neck and whisper
Words of love
I feel your strength and tender touch.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Pierre Loti

Pierre was a French novelist and naval officer.

"It is with the approach of WINTER that cats wear their richest fur and assume an air of sumptuous and delightful opulence.

- Pierre Loti

My version of minestrone soup


3 spring onions, cleaned and finely chopped
Olive oil
2 large carrots, cleaned and cubed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
tomato puree, about a tablespoonful
2 teaspoons of green pesto sauce
3 soft tomatoes chopped
A quarter of a green cabbage
Vegetable or chicken stock
Fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
A handful of vermicelli

Gently fry the spring onions in a little olive oil.  Then add the carrots, garlic, tomato puree and pesto sauce.  Add about 1 litre of the stock and bring to the boil.  Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes until the carrots are cooked.

Then add the other ingredients, season and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread.

You could always add a tin of cannelini beans, celery and such like, if you have them to hand.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Do you collect Teddy Bears?

Meet Tedward

He's the latest in my collection and was born in Hamleys.

A little history on Teddy Bears:-


In Switzerland and France the proof of bear worship can still be found.  In Berne (meaning Bear), the capital of Switzerland, there are still bear pits where you can feed carrots to the bears.  Many bones and skulls of cave bears have been found at a site in Drachenloch in Switzerland.  Why Neanderthal man began hunting the Cave Bear is not certain.  It was a formidable animal, standing more than eight feet tall when reared in anger, and must have been a dangerous foe.

Teddy bear collectors are known as arctophiles from the Greek words 'arcto' (bear) and 'philos' (lover).

Theodore Roosevelt, the American President, was responsible for the first “teddy bear”.  On one of his Mississippi hunting trips it is believed that his assistants cornered a black bear after a long chase and tied it to a willow tree.  Roosevelt refused to shoot it saying the immortal words, “Spare the bear!  I will not shoot a tethered animal.”  Clifford Berryman of the Washington Post drew a cartoon of the scene and eventually the cartoon bear became smaller and cuter.  In 1903, a new stuffed toy was developed by Morris and Rose Michtom, owners of a store in Brooklyn and when they put it in their shop window they used a sign saying “Teddy’s bear” and it became a great success.   Almost simultaneously in Germany Margarete Steiff, a disabled seamstress, was making stuffed teddies and selling them to the USA.  The Steiff company went on to sell millions of teddies before the First World War in Germany, as well as the UK and USA.

A family business called Merrythought in the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge in Shropshire, England, have been making teddies since 1930.  In the 1980’s they made showpiece teddies, some 6ft. tall for Hamleys and Harrods.  In 1992 they won the TOBY (Teddy Bear of the Year Award) for Master Mischief designed by Jacqueline Revitt.  In 2013 they produced a special edition bear to mark the arrival of Prince George of Cambridge.

Lamb stew with light green courgettes

This makes a nice winter meal served with pure white basmati rice and a chopped mixed salad.


4-6 light green courgettes, washed, peeled and cubed
1 tin of chick peas, washed and drained
1 chicken stock cube
half a kilo of cubed lamb from the leg or the neck
olive oil
salt and pepper

Fry the cubed lamb in a little olive oil until browned.  Add 1 pint of chicken stock, salt and pepper.  Then add the chick peas and courgettes.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for about half an hour until the lamb is soft.