On the menu: winter food

Monday

 

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I’d been craving a decent macaroni cheese for ages and by decent I mean lots of flavour (not necessarily lots of cheese) and preferably bacon. Problem is Boy Lacer doesn’t like cheesy pasta (the strange child) and although the rest of us like / love macaroni, I try not to go down the route of cooking separate meals for each person often, so macaroni just doesn’t get made. But it was a Monday lunch time, just me in the house, I had (for once) a bit of time, so I had a google for macaroni cheese recipes for one and found this one. I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I substituted onion powder for some herbs de provence, skipped the bread crumbs and of course put bacon in and it was gorgeous. I did overcook the pasta a bit, I knew to cook less than the recommended time on the packet but I should have gone for even less time but even then it was still fine and really quick to make to (relatively)!

Monday and Wednesday

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Inspired by actually getting my act together and making the macaroni cheese I also made gingerbread biscuit dough on Monday evening, stuck it in the fridge and baked them on Wednesday (couldn’t do it any earlier :( ). The recipe is from the Primrose Bakery Christmas book and as I was making it (a process that smelt alchemically gorgeous by the way) I couldn’t help thinking (as much as it was fun making) that I had found the perfect gingerbread biscuit recipe last year and I should have looked up on my blog to see where I had found the recipe. It was only after I had baked the biscuits and eaten one some did I think “hmm this is good and very familiar”, the mix of spices and orange peel in the biscuits is just perfect for Christmas and only then did I look up where I had got the recipe from last Christmas and I found that last Christmas I had in fact used exactly the same recipe but I had got the recipe from the Primrose Hill Bakery app. So there you go, if you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gingerbread biscuit recipe, there’s two places you can get it from.

Dust

Dust (Silo, #3)Dust by Hugh Howey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, the final part of the Wool Trilogy, a dystopian series mainly set in a group of underground bunkers called silos. I’d been sort of saving it because I didn’t want the story to end. In the third book, Dust, we come back to silo 18, with Jules trying to rescue her friends in silo 17, meanwhile in silo 1, some of the characters are trying to undermine the control that silo has over the others, as you can imagine, things don’t go smoothly.

I liked the ending, it didn’t have any of the “argh you’ve been spinning me this tale for three books and you’ve ended it like that!?!” sort of thing, which was good. I don’t feel like I can say anything else without spoilers.

I am very much looking forward to when the series becomes a movie.

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On the menu – Portuguese Potatoes

Sunday

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I recently bought some paprika because I was attracted to the packaging and it smelt exactly like Pringles Paprika crisps (which have to be my most favourite flavour, but yes I know, oh so sophisticated reasoning on my part). So then I had to find some recipes to use it in, I know I’ve probably got countless recipes in my way too large cookbook collection but as usual I was way too lazy and googled instead.

The result was Portuguese potatoes (scroll down to the bottom of this link) and it turned out to be one of those cruel recipes which smell absolutely heavenly when cooking and a bit bland when actually eaten. The potatoes were roasted in a mixture of water, paprika and red wine vinegar and the only real taste was that of the vinegar. So my search for a decent paprika recipes continues.

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Wild Olive Christmas Sampler

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Wild Olive has released a really sweet Christmas sampler pattern and I just had to have a go.

I used Sulky Solvy for this again (despite it being redwork – red embroidery thread, despite supposedly being colour fast is notoriously colour leachy) and my love hate relationship with Sulky Solvy continues. Sulky Solvy has completely spoiled me with its ease of pattern transfer, it’s just what happens to your work after you’ve washed the stuff off that doesn’t always make me happy. As I’ve said before (and will no doubt say again, I’ve recently started two more embroideries using the stuff), as well as problems with colours leaching sometimes, as you’re getting the embroidery wet to wash the stuff off, it can also make the fabric feel stiff and it leaves your stitches slightly raised. In the specific case of this embroidery, my satin stitching of the word Christmas looked a darn sight neater before it was washed and there was some staining, from I think the glue of the Solvy Solvy as well as some red leaching. I ended up washing the piece twice, the first time by hand and the second time on the hand wash setting of my washing machine. The second wash did get rid of some of the redness and some of the (I think) glue stains but not completely, so there’s some slight black staining either side of the piece, near the gnomes hats. Also, thanks to my unreliable washer – drier and having recently tumble dried my fluffy dark blue dressing gown before I washed the embroidery, it got covered in blue fluff, which I haven’t been completely able to get off. So, as a result I’ve only pinned the piece onto the mount board, I may try and wash it again or do something with it that will cover the stains, but not right now, there’s other things that have got my crafty attention now.

November on Instagram

Not much happened on Instagram this month with me and some of what I’ve snapped has already been blogged about but here’s what’s been missing.

7th November

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London street scene at night.

12th November

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A reward to myself after a recent job, the skull is actually a small bowl and if you want a Mr. Skull of your own (that’s what me and the kids call him), you can find him here.

21st November

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I like old walls and I can not lie.

The Vanishing Witch

The Vanishing WitchThe Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was ok but no where near up to the form of Maitland’s earlier books. Set in the reign of Richard II, it tells the tale of a widow who bewitches a wealthy married merchant, it soon turns out that this widow has a bit of a past and the merchant and his family may be in danger. There is also a separate subplot about a boatman and his family, struggling to find work. The two plots are only very loosely tied together. The problem I found with this book was that I had so little sympathy for the merchant, I struggled to find any reason to care about what the widow did to him.

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The Book of Life

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I seem to be going through a phase of catching up with all the series and sequels of books I’ve previously read at the moment. The Book of Life is one such book, the last in the All Souls trilogy. I remember loving the first book and being a bit dubious about the second and with the third I had trouble remembering the who’s and the what’s and the where’s at first, then I had to delve past all the sickly sweet love scenes. BUT it was worth it, the All Souls trilogy, the story of a vampire and a witch falling in love, is certainly not high literature but it’s not pretending to be, it’s good escapist fun and it certainly made me feel a little wistful, wishing that such creatures really did exist in this world (well maybe not some of the vampires) and about how wonderful it must be to have such large families, even if the bickering can get physically violent sometimes.

There were more than a few plot holes, in particularly some of the characters responses to the bad guy character, who put it this way didn’t have to put much work in with chasing after the family. But sigh, grand houses, castles and apartments across the world, blood sucking seems to have some obvious escapist benefits! The story has completed but there were some hints that more problems may befall my favourite vampire-witch family, so I really hope more books come from this world.

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