The arrival of spring hasn't really brightened up indoors yet. We have had lots of welcome rain, but also more than our share of grey, overcast days to help the rain along.
So to cheer us up, and add a bit of colour, I'm making a tissue paper mobile.
Strictly speaking, it's not a mobile at all, it doesn't move, it just hangs. As I seem incapable of throwing out tissue paper (and wrapping paper really), I had plenty of colours to choose from. I've kinds stuck to spring-y colours, pastels with a bit of red thrown in for good measure.
And a bird
and bobbly bits.
Now I just have to work out how to attach it to the wall....
I'm still cooking Nanna Food, just no photos. The arrival of this lovely creature has me all a flutter with new ideas, and I am wanting to chop everything. It has replaced my nearly 20 year old Magimix, whose only fault was a cracked bowl and lid. It's much bigger though, and I'm loving it already.
Tonight I am tackling Toad in the Hole. Stodgy goodness, but sadly, no chopping involved.
Here's mine, which is obviously taking the scenic route, because it has yet to return to the school. Most have made it back safely, a small handful are still on the way. I hope none get lost. There may be tears.
Maybe the Postie didn't like mine and binned it. Or maybe really liked it and decided to keep it. Either way, I do hope it arrives soon, or there may be grown up tears.
And of course, I made Tuna Mornay. How could I not?
What are your thoughts on Tuna Mornay? Like or dislike? I like, it's a real no-think meal. Like Spaghetti Bolognese.
Mine always has small pasta shells, so I guess, strictly speaking, it's really a Tuna Bake. It must have peas. It must have corn. Sometimes it has pineapple, and I'm rather partial to tinned champignons, but nobody else is, so it's rare they get a look in (in fact, I think I am the only person in the world to like these). It also needs a crusty, golden top. I have vague recollection of my mum using potato crisps as a topping, but I daren't go there...
Dessert was heart attack food. Truly.
Golden Syrup Dumplings.
Mmmm. Good. I think. But they may be the death of me.
A small serve of this goes a long, long way. This is a dish my Aunt made years ago, and as a kid, I loved it. My kids loved it, so it's a winner.
Are you gracious? I am not. In fact I am downright awkward. I don't like being the centre of attention, and deflect compliments faster than I can say thankyou. I'm quick to point out flaws in my work, and can't help but say don't look too close, it's not very good.
When it comes to giving compliments, I don't think I am much better. Of course I see things I like. Everyday. But do I take the time to tell people? Not so often. Perhaps this is why I like blogging. Giving and accepting compliments is so much easier. So enough of the introversion and more of the Nanna Food.
Today I am cooking a vegetable and barley soup. With alphabet noodles. No tricks here, just a reliance on homemade chicken stock to make it sing.
This soup is good. I make it at least once a week, and love it with toast soldiers for dipping. Because I have time today though, I am making dinner rolls to go with it. Petit pain, infinitely better than those nasty, bake at home ones that our local supermarket sells. Not to mention making the house smell all burnt because I forgot them lovely and yeasty.
So to copy the words (and image) from pinksuedeshoe, from now on I will try to say a simple thankyou. Then I'll just shut up.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add lamb mince and cook, stirring to break up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until lamb changes colour.
Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until combined. Add stock, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile: cook potato in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Return to the pan with the butter. Use a potato masher or fork to mash until smooth. Add milk and use a wooden spoon to stir until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Spoon lamb mixture into a 2L (8-cup) capacity ovenproof baking dish. Top with mashed potato and use a fork to spread over lamb mixture. Brush with butter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until mashed potato is golden brown.
I served this with minted peas, beans and romanesco broccoli.
Dessert was baked apples. I remember making these as a kid, but in the microwave, not baked like these. I used both Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples, cored and scored them around the centre, then stuffed them with a mix of flaked almonds, dried apricots, fresh breadcrumbs, butter and amaretto. They were then dotted with butter and sprinkled lightly with cinnamon and sugar. Bake in a moderate oven until soft. Great with homemade warm custard.
The leftover shepherd's pie was used to fill puff pastry lined dishes, then baked for 20 minutes. These will freeze beautifully and make a handy single serve meal for the kids.
Last night's curry was also used to fill pies, but these ones were topped with pastry as well. These are small enough to fit in the kids lunchboxes. It's such a great idea, and if you want further lunchbox inspiration, pop over here.
This week is dedicated to Nanna Food. You know exactly what I mean don't you? Simple, uncomplicated stuff that the kids will love. Casseroles, pies, puddings and cakes. Basically no-chew food.
So I'm starting off with two things that are quintessentially granny, yet I have never made either.
A beef curry.
Not my typical, asian style hot, hot, hot curry, but one of those old classics. This uses curry powder, and a mild one at that. It's sweet, with a big helping of dried dates and raisins and an apple thrown in for good measure. I can't believe I've never made one of these before, it smells delicious and tastes great.
1 kg stewing steak
3 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup raisins
250g chopped dates
2 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp fruit chutney
2 tbsp cornflour, blended with 2 tbsp water
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
500 ml beef stock
Heat oil in pan and brown meat over high heat.. Add the onion, apple, dates, raisins, curry powder and lemon rind, stirring through to combine. add remaining ingredients and cook in a moderately slow oven for a couple of hours, or until meat is tender.
Serve with steamed rice.
If the leftovers don't disappear, I think this would make a great filling for pies.
Dessert (or afternoon tea) was a Pineapple upside down cake. Let me just start by saying YUM. Sweet? Sure. But with a nice healthy dollop of cream on the side, it was well balanced. Beautifully syrupy, and ever so nice with my cup of Earl Grey tea. Why are glace cherries such a rarity these days?
So I've got my thinking cap on, and will sit down tonight, while I crochet, and channel that inner nanna for more ideas.
You may remember me mentioning that we were off to see the stage show of Mary Poppins a while back. Well see it we did and let me tell you, we are now more than slightly Mary Poppins obsessed. The musical was great, the DVD has taken up permanent residence in the player, and tunes are playing on small IPods.
My favourite scene in the movie is when they step through the chalk drawings. We have just read that chapter in the first novel, and I love it. I had no idea that it was actually a whole series of books (eight in fact) that were written by P.L. Travers, not just the one.
So deep in the recesses of my mind, I remembered making chalk, many, many moons ago. Then I remembered I had a bucket of plaster lurking somewhere and tempera paints too.
And that is all you need.
Mix 1 cup of plaster to 3/4 cup of plaster, then stir through your colour.
I would really, really recommend using disposable tubs for this. I had some old plastic containers left over from a takeaway that were perfect. Believe me, it sets fast and hard, you really don't want to deal with this once it has dried.
For the same reason, don't be tempted to make a larger batch. You have to work at a fairly quick pace to get this mixed and in the moulds before it sets.
I used rubber moulds from Ikea. They are easy to remove the set chalk from, easy to clean, and they were just the right shape.
Fill each mould, tap to remove any air bubbles, and smooth the surface over.
This is messy. Very messy, and you need to be really careful not to get that powder everywhere.
Let them slowly dry in the mould for up to 24 hours before removing. That's the hard bit. They may well look dry much sooner, but trust me, if you remove them too soon, they will just crumble.