Thursday, 31 July 2014

Bit of baking.

I've tried out a few new recipes recently but most of them have been from my Ella's Kitchen cookbook, as I try to introduce my son to real non pureed foods.  Unfortunately by the time I've cooked these meals I remember that it would be a good idea to blog about them but by this time the baby wants his tea and so do I!  Every so often recently I've had the chance to do a bit of baking when people have graciously watched my little boy for me.  The most recent thing I baked was some polenta and cranberry biscuits this evening.

I'd been thinking about making this recipe from my Homemade Baking cookbook for a while as I had the ingredients but not the time. Thankfully today my boyfriend finished work early so I got chance to relax and do some baking, just what I need!

The recipe was a bit fiddlier than what I would normally like but I actually found it quite therapeutic tonight to follow all most of the steps properly.

To make these you need:

80g cold unsalted butter cut into smallish pieces
100g fine polenta (as well as a bit extra for dusting)
115g plain flour
50g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 1 orange 2 teaspoons of orange juice with bits
100g sweetened cranberries

So can you tell what I changed? To start I turned on the oven to pre-heat then measured out my dry ingredients into my measuring bowl before adding the butter and rubbing them together into what I seem to remember breadcrumbs should look like.

Then I beat my egg, got the orange juice out of the fridge and added that as well as the egg to the dry ingredients before measuring out & popping the cranberries in. Then I got a wooden spoon out and started stirring only to realise that the recipe said to mix together well with your hands... so I scooped the mix off the spoon and kneaded it all together.

Once I'd got the mixture into a ball shape I put some polenta on my work top, tore bits off the ball of mixture and rolled/formed them into little mini cigar shapes before putting them onto lined baking trays.

When that was done I popped the trays in the oven and turned my oven down to 190c/375f/gas mark 5 and put a 10 minute timer on.  I checked on them after ten minutes but they seemed anaemic so I waited a few more  minutes and got the first batch out.  As I did this I then switched the tray that was in the centre of the oven to the top so that they would get browner faster then took those out a couple of minutes later.

After what seemed like forever the biscuits had become cool enough to not feel like molten lava in my mouth and I tried them. (It's not right to just try one...) They were nice but the polenta gave them a crunch texture which takes a little getting used to, the boyfriend isn't as sure. More for me then! Hehehe!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Local love.

I thought it might be nice to write a bit about local businesses that I am glad reside in this fine city with me and I've decided to start with Birds Yard Sheffield.

It is a business that I've mentioned before but one which I still think is great because it provides a home to a number of independent businesses like Handpicked Books and Poco Nido. Because of this Bird's Yard is a great place to pop in for gifts, clothes, books, jewellery and even baby clothes! Although you can't quite get everything there, it is the perfect place to get something a bit different and it seems there is a sale on at the moment before they move to new premises.

So I wish them all the best in the future and hope that they remain as varied and interesting in their new shop.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Tuesday thoughts.

This Tuesday has been a very lazy one for me as I was up half the night feeding my teething son I was allowed a lie in by my lovely boyfriend. However, as a consequence of these things we missed my the opportunity to take our little one to swimming and ended up staying in for the day.So today I have been thinking about how good tea is when you have the opportunity to drink it and don't have to guard it from curious small people.

I have also been thinking about travelling beyond these four walls and reminiscing about my travels to Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and New York. (If only in my head...)

Chocolate obsessed me for a short while... until I procured some anyhow!

After that I let myself look forward to my friends upcoming wedding celebrations and my sister's extended 30th celebrations. As well as the return of the Great British Bake off and Doctor Who next month. Those are few things which I have been thinking about today as well as: books, how to stop my son destroying our Nintendo Wii/my Ukulele, food, mess, projects and the cats.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Monday movie: Cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

This is another Netflix offering as I haven't been to the cinema as much as I'd like in recent years and this sounded fun after the Europa Report.
This film if you haven't already seen it  is about the trials and tribulations of wannabie scientist Flint Lockwood.  Flint has a creative mind which he sets to solving problems, often with a modicum of success but which tend to create as many problems as they solve. Despite his many set backs he doesn't give up and eventually stumbles upon an invention that people love, a way of making food rain from the sky. Unfortunately even this invention has it's problems...

In many ways it's a standard children's film complete with talking animals and wish fulfilment but in other ways it's great because it reminds adults of the insecure children many of us were. I also enjoyed the reverse make over of the weather girl from socially acceptable to nerd as the obsession with princesses and looking pretty is not one that does not sit well with me. 

This is a very silly film but I enjoyed it because the main character is not muscle bound or popular but a scientist and they are normally sidelined in place of action heros in most films.  Definitely one for the geeks and nerds.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Recent reads July 2014.

Unless you don't know me at all then you will realise that it is a miracle if I can find time to do anything other than survive most days what with chasing after the hunter of electrical wires... so when the diminutive terror is asleep I mainly attempt to contain the chaos. (As well as other mundane but sadly necessary activities.) In spite of all this I have managed to find some time to write a few blogs and even read a couple of books!

One of the books I managed to read was World War Z by Max Brooks which I got out of my local library whilst grabbing a few family/baby recipe books to help me feed my little monkey.
Now I guess I'm a bit weird because I'm a bit squeamish about the idea of death and dismemberment but I do enjoy a good zombie book.  I don't know why but I guess it's the idea of surviving insurmountable odds and impossible situations.  That and I find the status-quo of modern life a bit boring so I prefer the drama of dragons, space battles or just a load of reanimated corpses.

One of the things that I liked about this book is the narrative style as it is not just told from one point of view you end up finding out how people experienced the outbreak in China, America, Cuba, Japan and a lot of other places. Some stories seemed a bit boring where as others were a little close to home for me and made me sit up thinking what I would do with my little one in a crisis situation like a civil war. (My brain hates me and wants to think about all the things at the wrong times of night. Annoying brain!)

After I worked out how this book's narrative worked I ended up getting hooked and reading it in a few days which is a lot faster than I have managed to read anything recently.  I would recommend this book as it is interesting to look at the idea of a zombie apocalypse from a number of different perspectives and it's always good if a book makes you think. Probably not so good if it gives you nightmares but swings and roundabouts, eh?

The next book I read was The Long War by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett which is a sequel to their previous collaboration The Long Earth.

This story is set 25 years from the start of the previous novel and the events of step day are still being felt in the original or Datum Earth and across the stepwise Earths.

This book tells the story of the mistreatment of sapient natural steppers known as the Trolls, tensions between the Datum and the colonists who have stepped away to other Earths and the people exploring even further into the long Earth than has previously been managed. While I enjoyed this book I didn't find it quite as engrossing as World War Z but then again it is a different type of improbable/impossible scenario... none the less as the book follows at least four possibly more different characters it takes time for the situation to be explained.

I enjoyed the different ways the characters we follow saw the long Earth and how their adventures intertwined so I carried on reading despite it seeming like it was taking a long time for the war in the title to actually happen.  I felt like the main event which was foreshadowed was reserved for the last few chapters to get the readers hooked just like in the last book, so you will need patience if you're waiting for the action.  Despite the slow pace of this book I want to know what happens next and read The Long Mars! I wonder how long it will be until the library gets that in?

So whilst I wait for the library to get The Long Mars in I'm reading Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett which I could describe as a guilty pleasure but I'm not po faced.

I love Terry Pratchett's writing style even if it isn't considered literature. Then again James Joyce's Ulysses is still sitting on my bookshelf... I tell myself that I'll finish reading it one day.  So that's what I've been reading other than Tabby McTatt & What the Ladybird Heard x 100.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Movie Monday: Europa Report.

This week I didn't get to Kino Bambino at the showroom due to a sudden attack of hypochondria... but worry not I don't have scabies! So instead of heading to the cinema I switched to netflix and watched Europa Report instead.

Now the Europa Report is a film about the first manned trip to Jupiter's moon Europa in the search for water and life.  Obviously this isn't as straight forward as they first thought and the story is partially told in the aftermath of the mission from the point of view of the organisers and one of the astronauts.  It is mainly set in the rocket which is where we learn about the crew's roles and relationships with each other but it does venture outside of the rocket into space and onto Europa.

Now as a Doctor Who fan this story reminded me a bit of a story called The Waters on Mars; however, it was darker and less supernatural than that tale, it also does not include David Tennant.  If you want a quite realistic story about space travel in the near future then this might be for you but I will warn you it contains scenes of sadness and existential questioning.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Movie Monday: The 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and dissapeared.

I decided that I wanted to watch this film because it had a catchy title... only kidding! It was shown at Kino Bambino and sounded a bit different so I thought that I'd give it ago.
I'll admit right away that I missed the beginning as I set off late, struggled parallel parking and was just generally a tad disorganised. Due to this I didn't see the moment that the main character Allan escaped the nursing home but came in at the moment that his disappearance was discovered. It turns out missing the start didn't spoil my enjoyment of this film.

The story is mainly set in Sweden and is about 100 year old Allan and his life. He tells of the central events of his life and his philosophy of not thinking too much which makes him seem a tad simple, it also shows the situations he finds himself in as he makes his escape.

It might sound like it might be a boring film the ramblings of an old man and his opting out of sheltered care but I found it quite funny, although much of the comedy is dark comedy. I must admit I loved the explosions and matter of fact way most of the deaths were handled but I realise that for this reason it won't be everyone's cup of tea. Then again some people don't even like tea so there's no accounting for tastes is there?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

National Trust Adventures!

This year for my birthday I decided that I don't need lots of new things and instead to ask for things that I could go to or do like tickets to shows, gym memberships and national trust memberships. So my Mum kindly obliged and bought me a year's National Trust Membership.
My membership card came with this exciting handbook and free parking sticker!)
For the first use of my card I headed down the M1 with Dylan to Hardwick Hall to look at the impressive architecture, friendly squirrels and metaphor riddled tapestries.
We had a lovely time and I'm now contemplating where to head next, any suggestions?