25 February 2010

Recipe roundup

We've been hard at work trying out some new recipes this month. My selection seems to get stranger (and by that I mean less coherent) - maybe that's because so many of the regular recipes that we make are already documented in Recipes for Millie, so it's only the fancy new ones that get blogged about. There's over 250 recipes up there now, which is scary!

So far this month, we appear to have eaten:

Pasta with anchovies, broccoli and stilton
Ginger cheesecake
Kipper flan (this was a real 1970s throwback!)
Wheat tortillas
Carrot and marmalade muffins
Seville orange marmalade
Fish pie
Pork and olive stew

Still to go up: szechuan pork, hot cross buns (no, I don't think we ate them together!). I think my favourite so far was the ginger cheesecake (warning, if you're coming to eat at our house any time soon, this may well show up on the menu!).

Still to try out: I was given the Rachel Allen book, Bake, for Christmas - and there's an apple cake in there with my name on.

21 February 2010

Arts Corner: February is film month too...

...courtesy of the £1 a ticket showings at Empire Cinemas on a Sunday (it's just a cheap excuse to go into Newcastle so we can go to the Chinese bakery afterwards, I suspect), and the charity shops of Gosforth (it's amazing what you can find on video for 10p).

So far, we've seen:

Bolt: on DVD, which we were given for Christmas. It was the first full-length feature film M ever saw, and just as exciting to revisit. Good storyline, accents that can be understood by a four-year-old, and, for once, a thoroughly fabulous heroine. Penny doesn't wear pink, she isn't obsessed with being a princess - she's a proper action girl, who has the best scooter ever. I may have had to pretend to be Bolt the dog running round the park more times than I would like, but hey, it's worth it for less princess/fairy/kitten nonsense.

Sound of Music: 25p on video from the charity shop. A special edition, with original intermission, no less (including lots of pictures of the lovely Austrian countryside). I'd forgotten there were so many good songs in this film - my favourite has to be Raindrops on Roses. I'd also forgotten just how *long* the damn thing is...we had to watch it in two sittings. M loved the children and Julie Andrews, and was completely bored by the love story. I sat there in a haze of nostalgia, remembering when I played Sister Margaretha (complete with habit and fishnets) in the school production. My little brother's never really got over playing Kurt (I think it was the long socks and shorts that did for him).

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: at a proper cinema (hurrah for the large screen!). This was excellent - far better than I expected. It was funny, had lots of jokes for adults (including lots of references to other films, apparently, which I didn't get but which Orb thought were hilarious), and some fantastic special effects. And the love interest is a geek weathergirl. How cool is that?!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: another charity shop purchase, which we watched while munching hot cross buns. I can't quite believe (a) it was made in 1968 - the special effects are still rather good (b) how bad Dick Van Dyke's accent is - although not as bad as his cockney Mary Poppins one and (c) how scary the child catcher is still, even as a grown up.

Next on the cards: more charity shop purchases (including James and the Giant Peach, and Ice Age), and maybe a trip to the cinema to see Colin Firth in A Single Man.

15 February 2010

Chinese lanterns

We've also made a Chinese dragon puppet and a tiger mask (it is Year of the Tiger after all. And it's freezing cold outside, so I wanted a nice indoor activity - after two hours at the park this afternoon, my fingers had turned white).

The lanterns were dead easy: take 1 sheet of A4 (or whatever size) paper, and fold in half lengthways. Starting at the fold, cut lots of vertical lines that stop a couple of centimetres from the end of the paper. Unfold your paper, bend the short edges round to each other, and staple. Use a strip of paper to make a handle across the top.

(there's lots of diagrams here: www.show.me.uk)

08 February 2010

Why I hate February

And, no, it's not the whole Valentine's Day debacle. I'm quite looking forward to that, actually. I rather like the overload of kitsch cheesiness as the whole country takes leave of its senses for a day. And we're planning on having foie gras, salad with seared scallops, and ginger cheesecake for dinner (probably with a bit of fizz). That should be suitably cheering.

So that's not the issue. It's the whole dark, dank, dismal month that's the problem. Every time I go out of the house it's raining, or dripping, or foggy. M and I took a walk down to the parade of shops in the middle of Low Fell today. Aside from pretending to be Penny and Bolt, we spent our time looking in everyone's gardens for signs of spring. There were precious few - a couple of patches of snowdrops, and several frozen-looking primroses were our lot. Everything was damp, soggy and slippy underfoot - and we were hailed on on the way there and back.

Roll on the spring proper. I want to go to the park and not have to retreat after an hour because we can't feel our fingers, no matter how much 'explorer' mix (nuts and chocolate) we eat to give us energy. I want to see all the bulbs in the pots in our back yard poke their heads through and start shooting up towards the light. I want to see a bit of blue sky.

Until then, I'll have to make do with baking cakes, booking summer holidays and eating curry.