I Love Not Camping - Day One


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Not Camping is what I do when my husband and offspring go camping with my sister-in-law and her offspring. They have been doing this for nine years now. There is much about camping which appeals to me; sitting around a campfire with a glass of wine, looking up at the stars, cooking  bacon and eggs on a campfire, the peace, the break from modern life. I get it. The deal breaker is having to traipse across a field in wellies, in the dark to go to the loo. No thanks.

So rather than sitting at home feeling resentful about missing out on a holiday I didn't want to go on I decided to make Not Camping a holiday for me. I clean the bathroom thoroughly, I tidy up, I pick some flowers, I open a bottle, and I cook myself delicious things to eat. I love it.

Yesterday evening I suddenly felt that I had spent most of the day sitting on the sofa watching the Commonwealth Games and doing little else, so I made a list of everything I had done and was quite surprised to find how busy I had been.

~ Washed two loads of laundry
~ Hoovered downstairs
~ Emptied bins
~ Made a picnic for the campers to take with them
~ Took Tom into town
~ Washed the kitchen floor
~ Washed the shower curtain and bathmat
~ Cleaned the bathroom. My low effort way of cleaning the bathroom is to spray bath, sink and loo with cleaning products and to  leave it for a few hours until I have my shower in the evening. Then I take the opportunity of being alone in the house to finish the cleaning in the nude. Much the best way.
~ Picked a bunch of lavender. I wore clothes for this, my lavender is in my front garden after all.
~ Made myself a lunch of paté (not homemade), crusty bread and cherries.
~ Made Tom a batch of white chocolate and apricot rice krispie squares
~ Made some coffee ice cream.
~ Wandered around my garden enjoying the sunshine, the quiet and taking a few photos.
~ Marinated some chicken in lemon juice, olive oil, black peppercorn, oregano and garlic.
~ Watched the Commonwealth Games
~ Made a tomato and olive salsa by dicing a couple of tomatoes, a handful of black olives and little red onion and mixing it with a spoonful of capers, some olive oil, a splash of vinegar and salt.
~ Poured myself a kir.
~ Grilled my chicken, setting the smoke alarm off in the process.
~ Ate the chicken with green leaves and tomato and olive salsa.
~ Whipped some cream (leftover from ice cream making), sandwiched two meringues (leftover from last weekend) with the cream, added raspberries and a drizzle of cassis.
~ Ate it all whilst watching Sherlock. I'm having a Sherlockfest this week and will watch all nine episodes.
~ Drank some white wine.
~  Went to bed and read some of Persuasion.
~ Couldn't get to sleep for ages because it was so hot.

Today I have a lot less to do. There's no laundry, no cleaning or hoovering. I have a bit of ironing to do and Tom to pick up later but other than that all I have to think about is my supper -salt and pepper squid, green bean salad and coffee ice cream.

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In My Kitchen


Friday, 25 July 2014

I know many readers are enjoying these In My Kitchen posts. I enjoy writing and photographing them. I cannot deny though, that they are a lazy way of filling a blog and I fear they may become repetitive. Already I can see too many dishes of tomatoes and too many plates of toast and jam and far too much flipping sweetcorn. I apologise. Things will change as the seasons do. 

I am posting today rather than Sunday- my designated 'In My Kitchen' day, because I want to make room for another reader favourite. Apparently there are people who wait all year for me to not camp. Wait no longer for tomorrow sees the start of Not Camping 2014. 

~ Stripy salad. A spread-out version of a layered salad. Once everyone has helped themselves from the plate it looks a complete mess.

~ Navarin printanier -yes another slow-cooked stew in this heat, I must be mad. Actually this lamb stew was delicious and not at all heavy or wintry to eat. New potatoes, young vegetables  and lamb all in one pot. I used this recipe as a guide but there are plenty of other recipes for this classic French dish on the internet.

~ Blackcurrant jam on toast.

~ Meatballs baked in a muffin tin. The recipe is here . I used pork mince in place of beef and barbecue sauce in place of ketchup. We ate them cold with salad.

~ A batch of oaty biscuits.

~ Mushroom tart for Charlie and me, ham and sweetcorn for the kids.Tart how-tos here.

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Fireplace Art Gallery


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Our house is only about twenty years old, part of one of those large housing developments you find on the edge of most cities in the UK. The house is easy to maintain and keep warm but it lacks character. One thing I don't like about it is that there are very few areas of wall space where you can put furniture. This fireplace takes up a big chunk of wall. It serves little purpose other than to provide somewhere to plug in an electric fire and one thing we don't need in this house is more heating. Of course we could rip it off the wall but that would mean a new floor as well as redecorating. Instead I've chosen to make a feature out of it. 

It has become a miniature art gallery for postcards and greetings cards. It's a rather slap-dash blu-tacked affair but I like it. Most of them are cards I have bought especially, but some are cards I have been sent.

The beauty of it is that I can change my art easily and cheaply, replace ones that are getting tatty and when Charlie claims not to have any idea of what kind of birthday cards I like I can point at the fireplace.

There are quite a lot of Ravilious cards there, some Mark Hearld, Emily Sutton, Tom Frost, Angie Lewin and Celia Hart plus a couple of travel posters.

When the fireplace is full I shall start on the doors.

A good online source of lovely cards is Down To Earth.

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In My Kitchen


Sunday, 20 July 2014

In my kitchen this week.

~ Monday supper.
 Leftover roast chicken to use up. This was a very simple cheat's version of coronation chicken. I cooked some onion in butter with a mild curry powder. When it was cool I mixed it with mayonnaise from a jar, some cream and mango chutney and stirred it into chopped chicken. I toasted some flaked almonds and sprinkled them on top of the chicken.

~ Tuesday
Getting ready to make apricot jam. We've already eaten one jar by the way.

~ Tuesday supper.
Easy sausage bolognese. This is one of my favourite easy suppers. it's a great way to make a pound of sausages feed five big people. Make your usual bolognese sauce but substitute skinned sausages for the mince beef. You need to break them up with your spoon in the pan as they cook. I like to add fennel seeds, oregano and red pepper flakes for a sort-of-Italian-sausage flavour.

~ Thursday cake
Not everything goes according to plan. Banana and chocolate chip cake made without lining the tin. Tasted good though.

~ Thursday supper.
Beef braised in beer. Slow cooking is probably not what most people like to do on a hot summer's day but this delicious locally produced beef was such a bargain and although the oven was on for a long time the hands-on cooking time was minimal and the result was glorious. I served it with boiled potatoes and the first local green beans.

~ Sunday lunch.
Make your own BLT

~ Sunday supper
Salmon with salsa verde, this time heavy on the basil as my mint is growing coarse and ragged.

~Weekend treats.
 Burnt cream and meringues.
Both meringues and burnt cream (crème brulée) are easy to make and between them require only three simple ingredients; cream, eggs and sugar. The burnt creams use up the egg yolks and the meringues use up the whites. Most of a pot of cream went into the burnt creams and the rest sandwiched the meringues together. Perfect.

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