Saturday, 31 December 2011

food, friends and family...

We cooked a lovely ham yesterday and welcomed friends around to share it, unfortunately it was enjoyed so much there are no leftovers! I boiled the ham in preparation the day before and then marinated it in cider and wild flower honey, before cooking it for a few hours on a low heat. 

To go with it I made a homity pie (a favourite of mine) which is essentially potato mashed with sour cream, onions (I fry mine first), garlic and peas, topped with a little grated cheese, then baked in a wholemeal pastry case. I also made an onion tart loosely based on an Elizabeth David recipe, again a pastry case blind baked, then filled with fried onions, with a mixture of three egg yolks and 200ml double cream poured on top and baked at gas mark 5 for about half an hour. I also did a quick beetroot, pear and apple salad, just grated with a squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil and some pickled eggs! This menu proved to be easy and affordable and can be served hot or cold and is great laid out for people to pick at as they please. 

Now I just need to muster some energy to party the night away! 
Happy New Year all x 

Thursday, 29 December 2011

wild wintery walks...

I love the lull betwixt Christmas and New Year, for us an excuse to do nothing but slow down and eat! The boys however, don't take kindly to our lethargy and, in order for everyone to stay sane and to keep them from climbing the walls, need fresh air and exercise daily. 

Yesterday, our short woodland walk rewarded us with the discovery of some ladybirds hibernating in a thistle! The eight year old spotted the tiny spec of red in what was otherwise a very brown and dull landscape, I would have walked straight past! I must remember to slow down and be more observant - I wonder how many other things I miss? 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I made a delicious leftover turkey and leek pie loosely based on this Jamie Oliver recipe yesterday. I forgot to buy any creme fraiche, so made it with double cream and added the last of the cranberry sauce for more of a kick instead, which worked a treat! The day before we had bubble and squeak, made with leftover roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts with some cold turkey and cranberry sauce. We just have a little left for sandwiches, soup and/or a curry and that's our turkey all used up - how are you doing? 

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

junk modeling...

Have you seen these amazing cardboard cities, made by Australian artist Annalise Rees? Aren't they amazing? I have been saving shoe, cereal and delivery boxes so we can make something similar, a perfect post Christmas activity, especially as our local council doesn't accept cardboard in our recycling boxes! 

a Bradshaw Christmas...

I hope you have all had a lovely Christmas? Ours was small, simple and quiet, just the way we like it! The boy caught chicken pox and on Christmas eve was sporting a delightful display of red spots, which were quickly renamed 'turkey pox'. 

Luckily the friends we were due to spend Christmas eve with, weren't put off by the 'pox' and we got to spend a lovely evening eating a big beef stew and dumplings and drinking hot chocolate together. I had a bit of a disaster with the homemade marshmallows, the first batch set so quickly as I forgot about the mixture in the bowl and by the time I came back to pour it into the tin, it had set hard. The second batch, made to the same River Cottage recipe didn't set at all, so the stars you see above were practically runny and not at all as nice as they look! 

Grandma and granddad liked their homemade presents, the boys made grandma a garden with packets of seeds and granddad had a shed, with local beer and biscuits inside! We ran out of time to decorate the gingerbread house this year, the boys made it completely themselves with our next door neighbour, and it looks a little barn like without any icing on, but I like it and decorating is something to do over the next few days perhaps? 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

dear father christmas...

I have been a really good girl this year and I would like...

some Toast pyjama trousers £49 & hand thrown mugs £17.50 each (above) and some stubby candles from £9.50 (below)

A gift voucher to see the new Giffords Circus show along with afternoon tea! 

A panettone and some yummy products from Green & Spring (below)

sheepskin scuffs £45 from Hush & a new cookbook (above)
and finally a lomographic camera to replace the broken one that took some of these pictures

Monday, 12 December 2011

an apple for the teacher?

We always try and make Christmas gifts for the teachers and classroom assistants at school as they put so much hard work and long hours in. The boys are incredibly fond of their teachers and love school, so enjoy making jams or biscuits as small tokens to say thanks. 

This year we thought we would make some chocolate truffles using an old recipe from the Dairy Book of Home Cookery (1996). 

150ml fresh double cream
350g   plain chocolate, broken up
25g     unsalted butter
+ coating 

1. Heat cream in a small pan until boiling point
2. Add chocolate and stir until melted
3. Stir in butter until melted
4. Pour into a bowl
5. Place in freezer to harden up (in my recipe book it says for 20 mins, it took me about 40-50mins!)
6. Using a melon baller scoop out rounds or use two teaspoons
7. Roll in cocoa powder/ grated white or plain choc/ coconut or whatever you fancy to coat the truffles
8. Place on a plate in refrigerator and store until ready to serve

This was a fab recipe as it was really simple and easy for the boys to follow and make, plus had the added reward of having a bowl to scrape afterwards! 

We then wrapped them in a small square of tissue paper and popped them into some small kraft boxes, with small snowflakes and tied up with raffia, adding a luggage label hand written by the boys.  

They have turned out really well and are a really effective but not expensive gift!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

the elves at work...

Thanks to Steph's comment on my last blog post suggesting seeds as a good grandma present, we were inspired to make a 'grandma's garden' in a box, packed with her favourite flowers and veg seeds. 

We secured the seed packets to the base with blue tack, then the boys stuck in flowers on pipe cleaners, a grass carpet and a fence with lollypop sticks. We hope she likes our packaging! 

Monday, 5 December 2011

Christmas planning...

It's about time I started to do some Christmas planning. I haven't even bought any family presents yet! 

Things I/we need to do...

Present shop for the boys (most important!)
Get the Christmas tree
Make, write & send Christmas cards (have got some lovely brown cards like these - just need to buy white ink)
Chop lots of kindling for the fire
Order turkey and beef for boxing day from local farm
Make wrapping paper with a new reindeer stamp and brown parcel paper
Bake small cakes for the boys to decorate, put in kraft boxes and give to their teachers
Find where I have hidden the stockings (always somewhere different each year!)
Make sure I have all the dry ingredients for lots of biscuits/gingerbread/mince pie baking
Make small sachets of mulling spices to hang on bottles of apple juice
Make gingerbread biscuit garlands to decorate the house/tree
Check the sledge is in full working order and wax the runners (just in case we have snow)
Find the Christmas pudding knitted tea cosy, which I always forget about! 
Find nice presents for grandma and grandad - I have no ideas this year!
Plan for a super special magical Christmas eve with our friends
Tidy the house ~ I don't believe Father Christmas visits messy ones! 
Buy next years calendar & diary (I am usually much better organised than this)
Buy some large buttons from craft shop and find some old pipes and scarves in a charity shop to make some 'snowman kits' to give as gifts (obviously if I do this it won't snow!)

Is this everything? 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

games night...

At parents evening last week we were handed a 'card, domino and dice games' handout from the teacher for us to do at home. We laughed and said "we always play dominoes in the pub!" then as she looked at us, we wished it didn't sound as if we went to the pub all the time! Don't you always feel as if you are the child at parents evening? 

Anyway apparently the youngest is quite a whizz at maths, he has always been quite good at dominoes, I remembered this holiday a few years ago, when he was only three years old he would regularly beat us! So now we have got the cards out too and are trying to teach them and at the same time remember some basic card games! 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

the family food challenge...

Last weeks menu planning went really well, especially as we had such a busy week too, the preparation really paid off. This week, another busy week with nativity plays and events in the village to go to, and we are all feeling a bit tired and run down. This time of year, there are always lots of sniffles going round both school and at work and I find myself obsessed with vitamin C. 

Also this week the chickens are feeling the cold weather and dark days, and are in a bit of a tiz, they have stopped laying and are starting to molt! Last year they supplied us eggs all the way through the winter, even through those frozen temperatures, I guess as they were still very young. But today, for the first time in 18 months, I have had to buy eggs! 

Tonight we had a fie pie for supper, which is one of my favorite family meals. We call it pirate pie to make it more exciting for the boys, and their challenge is to find the hard boiled eggs aka 'the treasure' in it! Tomorrow it's chicken for sunday lunch, and on Monday i'll make a pie with the leftover chicken and add leeks, a simpler version of Jamie's leftover turkey pie. Then with the bones I'll make a simple chicken stock to make into soup, that I can take to work for lunch on Tuesday. We have bought lots of local apple juice and cider this week, so for a mid week supper, I'll do something like pork chops in cider, Nigel Slater has a good simple recipe, but I usually just make it up as I go along! I'll do a heap of creamy mash and greens to go with the pork, then the following day we can make bubble and squeak, with a fried egg on top! 

I am also starting to think about Christmas food and baking, and want to fit in this list of treats over the next few weeks;

mince pies (of course!)
marshmallow snowflakes for a special hot chocolate
Christmas cupcakes for the teachers 

Friday, 2 December 2011

viewmaster heaven...

I just have to share this fab website Image3D I have just discovered with you. Remember the old viewmasters that I found and gave to the boys for their birthdays earlier this year? Well this company actually makes the reels you put in them from your own images, I know, exciting huh? 

It's a bit too close to Christmas to do this now, but wouldn't they make great birthday or party invitations? My mind is whirring with the endless possibilities...

Thursday, 1 December 2011

getting ready...

letters written and taken to the post office for posting to a certain someone! We arrived at the post office just as the post lady did in her van, she showed the boys inside the post box and told them their letters would be delivered to Father Christmas straight away. We then stocked up on brown parcel paper and luggage tags ready to make our own festive wrapping paper with festive stamps and glitter! 
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