Saturday, 28 January 2012

Coffee any one?

Remember this?
Kitchen - boiler end
Well now it looks like this

Barista bar
Espresso, latte? Or maybe a chilled glass of white?

Until next time


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Pear & Panettone pudding

So during breaks from wafting around the house in a listless manner I have been indulging in some cooking and one of my winter favourites is this Pear & Panettone pudding. Somehow a couple of these slip into the shopping basket post-Christmas when they get heavily discounted.

If you can't get hold of one then I think a brioche loaf with a handful of mixed dried fruit would work. In fact I'm thinking of this in the summer and substituting apricots for the pears.  It is a rich pudding but not at all heavy - you won't know you've eaten it. Perfect after a long walk when it's like this......

Frosty morning walk
Anyway for the ingredients you need:

3 medium eggs
150g golden caster sugar
425 ml. double cream
425 ml. full cream milk
1 tbls. dark rum (I've also used Cointreau in the past)
Softened salted butter
10-12 x 1cm. slices of panettone
2 slightly under ripe pears, peeled, cored quartered and sliced longways

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/GM4

Chunky slices

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl, then whisk in the cream, milk and rum. Butter the panettone and arrange lengthwise in overlapping slices to cover the base of a 35cm/2.6 litre oval gratin or shallow oven proof dish. At this stage make sure you've chosen a dish that will happily fit inside another dish.

Buttered & arranged

Scatter the pears over the top. Pour the custard mixture over and around the panettone and pears.

Place the dish in a roasting dish with water ⅔rds of the way up the side. Bake for one hour till the custard is puffy and the bread golden.  You can warm some apricot jam and brush the bread to give a nice glaze.

In the oven

Leave for half an hour before eating, works well cold (if you have any left over).

Now on a completely different note  the delightful Kirsty dropped in from her blog to say hi and suggested that I allowed my e-mail for you to comment on. So I will be setting up a new email address just for your exclusive use. No more excuses for all of you who read the blog (and I know you're there as I can see you on the stats :-)) not to say hello.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


I had to search hard for a word to describe how I feel at the moment and decided that it was listless. Usually January sees me raring to go, full of enthusiasm but not at the moment. All I really want to do is stop, just have a guilt-free me day but the puritan in me won't allow it, I feel huge angst if I'm not busy. And it's worse because, even as I type, Andrew is tied to his desk with a major graphics job. I have  several projects that I need to tackle but all I'm doing is picking at the edges, getting easily distracted, concentrating on the mundane tasks that keep me busy but don't really achieve anything. And certainly don't earn me any money or progress the house.

Maybe it was the race to get the kitchen done, we were full on for several weeks and then Christmas & New Year came and we still didn't stop. The weather isn't helping, I want crisp, cold days and we keep getting warm, grey days with the odd gale thrown in for good measure. It's not that I'm depressed  or self-pitying just, well, listless.

Hey ho. Maybe another espresso will help. And a good slap around the face with a wet kipper :-)

Until next time


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Kitchen worktop

So back to the kitchen. We had decided on oak worktops, I wanted the warmth of them against the cool of the cabinetry and to give a feel of a country kitchen without going over the top. I sourced them here and the service and quality were excellent. We went for the square edge, chunky ones at 40mm thick. My only concern was whether I would be able to lift them. I was OK with the 3 metre length but came unstuck with the 4 metre. Fortunately 500mm needed to be trimmed off and I managed to wrestle it into the kitchen.
Waiting to be cut
We used (I'm using the royal we here, in fact it was Andrew) the cardboard sheets protecting the wood to template the spaces, which worked well.

Because the worktop has a square edge, not a bull nose finish, Andrew didn't need to worry about fancy angled joints but he did get to use his router for the joining bolt cut-outs.

Neat job Andrew
Some people worry that wooden worktops are difficult to maintain and damage easily, but if you treat them right they're great. The first few days you need to keep coating with worktop oil and treat the surface gently for the first couple ofweeks until the oil has hardened properly. We got six coats on as quickly as we could and have added another couple since, and will probably add a new coat every two months or so. When we put liquid on the surface it just sits there as a little droplet and doesn't penetrate. If after a few years the wood starts to look tired then you can just sand it back and start again.

Getting the worktop in meant two important things:

1. After eight months I got a hob - and the first thing on the menu was a risotto

2. No more washing up in the bathroom basin - and I get to fit my wonderful sink

Franke sink (piping to be boxed in at some stage)
Now I appreciate that it's not everyone's cup of tea but I love it. Designed by Porsche and manufactured by Franke it's big enough to take my largest baking trays with room to spare. And added to it's appeal is the fact that I only paid £5 for it. When I worked in a kitchen showroom two or three years ago we had a refit and the display kitchens were sold off. Nobody took the sink so I donated £5 to the company's approved charity and it was mine. At that point I had no idea where I was going to use it but I had to have it. The sink we found at Screwfix and chose it as it echoed the square design of the sink.

We need a trip to Ikea to buy a couple of bits to finish off the kitchen  - we made a couple of last minute design changes - and then the biggest job is the wall tiling.  So hopefully I'll soon be able to show you some pretty photographs.

Until next time


Tuesday, 3 January 2012


I was late in taking the washing in from the line the other evening but didn't regret it. I looked up and saw the tiniest of moons between the branches of our walnut tree.

New moon

Until next time


Sunday, 1 January 2012

Let there be light

We found the rest of the chilli light.......

........I love my chilli light.

Until next time