Archive | April, 2012

Life Without Bacon

22 Apr

Life without bacon is hard…

Don’t get me wrong… I DO eat bacon

I just can’t cook with it on accounts of D being a meat-free zone

This is much more disabling than you might imagine.  For example, many soups and stews use bacon to add a little flavour.

I am, therefore, always thinking of ways to adapt recipes.

I thought I would share this one with you as it looks like it’s becoming a staple in our house.

Kipper, Kale and Bean Soup 

This recipe came from the waitrose supermarket website i-phone app.  It originally contained bacon, not kippers and celery (D doesn’t do celery either).  I am increasingly discovering that kippers make a fairly good, cheap bacon substitute.  This soup proves my point.

This is supposed to feed four but we eat the lot between the two of us.  I think you might get away with two adults and two small children but otherwise I would double the quantities!


2 carrots

1 big leek

2 cloves garlic

1 tin of mixed beans/pulses

200g Kale

150g Kippers ( I buy the cheap boil-in-the-bag ones)

1 veg stock cube


cube the carrots and finely slice the leek and garlic.  Shallow fry untill soft.

Rinse the beans and add to the pan

add 1 litre of boiled water and the stock cube to the pan

Simmer for 10 min

Add Kale, simmer for 5 min

Chop kippers up into small strips

add to pot, simmer again for about 5, untill kale and kippers are cooked through

Serve with grated parmesan and crusty bread


destroy your waistline… and the healthiness of this meal by making cheese muffins to accompany!


These really make it  what I would call a ‘weekend’ rather than ‘weekday’ meal.  They are fab and so easy to make you can make them while the soup is cooking

It makes 12 so I always half the quantities as I don’t think they keep very well and there are only two of us!

2 cups plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp english mustard

black pepper

2 cups grated extra mature cheddar cheese

2 eggs

1 cup milk

(I’m using ‘cups’ as this was adapted from a basic american recipe. you need a special measuring cup or just measure up to  200 ml in a measuring jug)

Mix the dry  ingredients and grated cheese together,

Mix the wet ingredients together,

Mix the wet and the dry ingredients together…but don’t over-mix!

Spoon into greased muffin tray

Bake for 10-15 min at 200 C or until golden brown.

And there you have a perfectly healthy meal turned into a weekend treat…

Still… at least you ate some veg eh?!


Doggy Sunday

22 Apr

A thesis free day!

A lay-in (until 8)

Laid back pups bundling D on the arm-chair

Walkies in a NEW PLACE

Finding a dog-friendly community cafe

Meeting doggy people

Drinking tea

(Replacing the tea our dogs knocked over)

Chasing cyclists

Woofing, running, fighting, bouncing, bounding, bombing madness

And home

To lay on a cold floor

Totally pooped

Ready for couch-time

Snuggly, lovely, sleepy-time

Untill our next walk…

A Belated Easter Post

21 Apr

I started writing this post over Easter and thought I would try to write a seasonal one for you all (I’m sorry it’s late!).  I have had a busy time thesis writing, I wanted to get as much done as possible before I started my new clinical placement. Fortunately, the lack of blogging and the persistent slogging has paid off and I’ve written pretty much all I can untill I start getting the results of my experiment in.

Unfortunately, I pretty much missed easter altogether!

In England Easter is a bizarre and fantastic conglomeration of  the Pagan celebration of new life, the Christian marking of the death and rebirth of Christ and blatant consumerism.  To celebrate I usually make a cake; a simnel cake to be precise, which is a medium-light fruit cake with a layer of marzipan baked into it, it is our favorite but really should only be served at Easter.  I really missed the simnel cake but I did allow myself to make some easter nests!  Which were scrummy:

They are just made with crushed shredded wheat cereal and melted dairy milk chocolate, mixed up and squished into nest shapes where you place your little mini eggs. Leave to set in the fridge.  Not exactly high brow…


Untill you serve them with this:


That would be a peaty single malt whisky


Had I have been at my mother’s house for Easter, food would have been of central importance.  It still was here, only not so fancy! At my Mum’s we would have had fish on good friday and a roast dinner on Easter sunday (probably lamb- but not necessarily).  D does not eat meat so there is little point in cooking a roast dinner in this house.  We were able, however, to have fish on the friday.  This took the form of a smoked mackerel salad:

I know it’s a ‘salad’!

This always puts us off too, untill I actually make it and realise how ‘yum’ it is.

I think the recipe came out of one of my mum’s magazines years ago, I can’t remember where and I have probably sufficiently altered it for it not to matter too much.  It’s basically a bag of mixed leaves (preferably something peppery); sliced radishes; sliced Gherkins; Smoked, peppered mackerel and new potatoes.  I make a seriously unhealthy dressing by mixing mayonnaise with grated horseradish (or horseradish sauce) and lemon juice.  No measuring involved just to taste.  The flavours are fantastic= Smoky fish, tart gherkins, peppery radishes/leaves and the freshness of the lemon= Grand!  We washed this down with a few pints of homemade Woodfordes Wherry, a Dark Ale which didn’t seem to disagree with the fish as much as you might expect.

For Easter sunday we went with a cheats ‘toad in the hole’.  I’m ashamed to say I bought the (boat-shaped) yorkshire puddings and just added meaty sausages to mine and veggie sausages to D’s, served with gravy, Kale and mashed potato neither of us minded too much!

And that was our easter,  I hope yours was more seasonal and I look forward to a time when I can embrace public holidays and celebrations again! (maybe then you will get to see my simnel cake!).

Happy weekend!




Unfinished Adventures in Crochetland

1 Apr

Good evening and welcome.

I wanted to take this opportunity to document all the projects I hope to complete once my thesis is out-of-the-way.  However, in taking photos ready for this post, I have realised there are far more unfinished projects than I imagined…

It turns out I am REALLY GOOD at planning and starting things….but finishing…meh!

(I wonder if this explains, to some extent, why the thesis is SO hard)

Any way,  I am aware this could turn into an exercise in self-criticism so I will try to keep it sweet, perhaps by starting with something I actually finished!?


Here he is:

Augustus, the Italian Greyhound with thanks to a pattern I found here.  Augustus was my therapy project after Annie died. I wanted to give him to a friend with a similar looking dog for her birthday…so he was a Time Limited Project.  He was also the only thing I made myself do after Annie, I wasn’t up to much but knew I should do something.

Augustus is what I did and I loved him so much I almost didn’t give him up!  coincidentally- he does look somewhat like Odin don’t you think!?

The Beach Bag

Another technically finished project, just not particularly sucessful.

I used the attic24 flat circle as a base and then stopped increasing stitches when I thought it was big enough.  I wanted it BIG…

Well… I got greedy

It was HUGE

Furthermore,  I didn’t line it- so as soon as you put anything in it, it just drags on the ground.

Not a total failure but at best unfinished, pending lining!

So here are the real shame-inducing finds from my project box…

That Japanese Flower Scarf…

Oh I fell in love with this pattern BIG TIME and convinced D to buy me the yarn for my last birthday (almost a year ago). I want to finish this baby but I think it needs my full attention, that wool is pretty special and I REALLY don’t want to mess it up

…SO this is as far as we have come.


A related project involved the same pattern but with cheap acrylic yarn.  I did better with this, perhaps because it didn’t matter if I messed up; it was ‘just an experiment’.  This one has been much more fun, although I’m not sure what it will be when finished..

(I have bizarre ideas about using it as a curtain (yeah I know…. they don’t make curtains out of wool…and there is probably a really good reason for that)).

Still, I think I may actually finish these two.. I Really Want to get back to making them ASAP!

Twine Bags

After my bag failure (see above), determined not to sew I thought I would try crocheting bags out of tougher stuff.  I looked in various garden shops for coloured twine without much joy.  Then, randomly, on holiday in devon (last September) found this stuff in a little gift shop:

I think it will make lovely bags…if only I can get it on my hook!

Ahh time will tell!


Having not made the twine bags I had intended to, last December I went out and bought wool to make christmas-present-scarves with.  I even learned to knit! (a teeny bit!).

Sadly, despite buying enough wool for four scarves, just one, lonely scarf got made.  It went to a very good home and, on a positive note means I have next xmas sorted (ha).

My final confession is this one:

The Baby Blanket

My Friend told me she was pregnant with her second child in December 2010.   I started to make her (at that point gender unknown) baby a flower blanket using a pattern D’s mum uses regularly with fantastic results.  I used blues, pinks and yellows, thinking it would be gender neutral.  I think the trouble was that I never really liked the colour combinations enough. As a result I’m not convinced it would ever be good enough to give to someone!  My friend had a beautiful baby girl in the end and I wish I had just made a proper girly one…maybe I still will.  However, as D keeps pointing out, the longer I leave it, the bigger the blanket will need to be…hmm… maybe she would like a flower scarf?

    Oh the shame!

On a slightly removed note, I have been writing this while keeping the pups entertained with chewy toys.  This does require fairly regular breaking up of fights over whose chew is whose but on the whole makes for a peaceful evening.  I observed these pups ‘being in the moment’ with their chews, happy and not worrying about what they should have done, should be doing or will do in the future.

It occurred to me that while they were chewing their new chews they also have a big box of ‘unfinished’ chewing projects.

I couldn’t help myself.  I had to point this out to them, happy in their little chewy world.

Did it cause them anxiety, guilt, frustration, longing or despair?


They took what they liked best from the pile and chewed it.


They didn’t even argue.

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