Tag Archives: Kitchen

Casserole dish of dreams…

Last week it was our six year anniversary…

We don’t normally celebrate with actual presents, so this year I made The Boy a silly present inspired by pinterest and a cheesy chat up line he used on me on our first meeting.

It's Rolos wrapped in red paper...or your very own, home-made "sex-bomb".

The Boy thought he would take it one step further and celebrate by buying us some Iron (that’s the six year present for if you are married, which we aren’t). He did very, very well and I was so excited when I opened the massive box at 6:30 am and found this…

Oh yes...

He’d gone for the grand dame of cooking utensils, something I had coveted for years:

A Le Creuset Casserole dish in the original Volcanic Orange colour. It is a beast of a dish and very heavy (even unfilled!) I think he bought it so he can show off his muscles lifting it in and out of the oven for me! It’s very much a present for us, I will use it, he will reap the rewards by eating it’s contents as often as possible.

We started off with a delicious Lamb recipe from Valentine Warner’s What to Eat Now Autumn and Winter recipe book which looked like this when it went in…

But unfortunately didn’t last long enough to have it’s picture taken afterwards! It was made with lots of herbs, camomile and honey and slow cooked in our new dish for 2 1/2 hours…it was absolutely lovely, I can’t recommend it highly enough! It was perfect on Sunday afternoon after and lot of hard working DIY-ing at the weekend..the fruits of which I will show you soon!

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Clocking off…

I have been promising and promising the kitchen reveal but the truth is, I don’t think it feels ‘finished’. The wall with the sink on is too bare and we need a clock. Our solution has been to look for a really big clock, to fill up the space and so that I might actually start timing what I cook instead of popping my head in the oven every five minutes (The Boy does NOT like me doing this)!

I have seen lots of pictures…

I love the size of this one (above), but I think I want one with a face as I think one like this in the kitchen might look a bit like a garden clock. Although, I’m not sure that it looking like a garden clock would be such a bad thing, what do you think?

This one is even bigger! And the eclectic mish mash style is exactly what we are going for, I think it works really well.

Regardless of this ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS Halloween display, this clock is probably closest to what I would like, although, it might be too dark? What do you think? Big Clock or no? Also, any ideas where we would find such a thing? I have looked in lots of my ‘go to’ shops but nothing has been big enough or authentic looking enough, any ideas?

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Guinness Brownies…

I made the fatal error of making a cake for my office to celebrate my birthday. Now, I am “the girl who bakes cakes”. My friend approached me sheepishly the other day with a neatly printed off recipe for these Guinness Stout Brownies with the suggestion that, if I were to do any more baking that I could possibly try making these.  Now, I have seen, and even tried, Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake but these are a whole other story! The recipe (or at least the way I made it) produced the juiciest, fudgiest dense brownies that I have ever eaten (I’ve sampled a few in my time! Especially the day the The Boy’s brother was at Borough Market and helped the guys at Flour Power City Bakery pack their things away out of the rain and came home with a brick of brownie as a thank you!)

So give them a go, they are so easy and so worth it!

Guinness Brownies
Inspired by this recipe

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons of Stork, room temperature
350g Bournville Chocolate
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 bottles Guinness Foreign Extra
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g milk  chocolate chips

– Preheat the oven to 190C and lightly grease a 9×13″ pan.
– Pour both bottles of beer into a medium saucepan, and simmer on medium heat until it’s reduced down by just over half.  It should take about 15 minutes. Leave the beer on the side to cool.
– Mix together flour, cocoa, and salt until evenly combined.
– Melt butter and Bournville in a double-boiler over very low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.
– In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar  until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.
– Slowly to avoid lumps, mix the flour/cocoa mixture into melted chocolate mixture. Whisk in the reduced beer mixture and the vanilla. The batter will be runnier than a normal cake batter, but this is normal. Pour into your baking tin and sprinkle your milk chocolate drops over the top.
– Bake 20 to 25 minutes on middle rack in the oven. Keep an eye on it though and if you think it looks ready stick a skewer in, if it comes out clean then whip them out. Mine only took 20 mins and they were crispy around the edges. It depends how you like them really but 20 mins was perfect for me.
– Cut up the brownies (I cut them too big at first, as in the pics, but they are quite rich so be strict with yourself!) and leave to cool on a cooling rack for as long as you can resist. If you leave them for 20 mins or so then plonk some vanilla ice cream on the top they will be delicious!!

I have put this recipe up for both my Mum and The Boy’s Mum. My Mum asked me for it before I had even made them! I think that they would go down well in New Zealand where The Boy’s Mother lives. I just hope that she can easily get her hands on the Guinness and the Bourneville!!

Fudgy, chocolatey goodness…just perfect now that the evenings are drawing in. I wonder if they would mind if you took them to the pub to eat with a Guinness by the fire?

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Comms are down…

at the moment I have no internet or phone line so, aside from this sneaky post from work, I can’t post until we are back up! I will have a chandelier make over to show you and possibly a kitchen reveal!!

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Not doing DIY…

This week I have been not doing DIY…well I have, but not the glamorous, transformative and interesting DIY that I could show you pretty pictures of.

I have not been transforming my left over furniture into beautiful new pieces, I have not been re-vamping my lovely old dressing table that I bought back from my parents house and I have not been painstakingly cleaning my 2nd hand chandeliers in order to light up our lounge and hallway.

Instead…

I have been laboriously applying coat after coat of satin paint around the frame of the sliding door in the lounge. This has involved getting home after work every night, applying a coat and then washing up all of the involved paraphernalia so as to begin the process again the following day. I then ripped off the masking tape to reveal that I had also ripped off large chunks of the carefully applied paint. Wielding my craft knife I deftly sliced through into the beading (seriously, it was having a tough time getting through the masking tape, except for when I slipped and it went…straight…through…the wood!). So I have backed off that for a bit.

Before: Dark surround

After: White...thrilling!

I turned my attention to caulking. It wasn’t until my father visited that we had an explanation as to why all the wood work in the lounge looked so grotty. Neither the picture rail or the skirting board had been sealed to the wall. So instead of a lovely moulding seamlessly emerging from the wall, you get what looks like a great big slab of wood slammed against a wavey wall…like so…

Before: Grotty

This is a two man job so The Boy and I set to work first all trying to neaten up around the door frame. It is actually immensely satisfying. A couple of pointers…use a wet finger, wet cloth or wet sponge to smooth down (it’s the water that makes the difference)…the less you touch it, the better is looks (applying, smooth with wet item and leave-you can always go over it again if it shrinks back, which it does sometimes).

After: Not so grotty

I have been fitting out the under stairs cupboards. We have been concentrating on these as they will provide us with the storage that we need to put stuff away so that we can get on with the decorating without ruining everything.  This one took ages and looks deeply unimpressive…(but we have a place for our dyson now)

Before: Urgh...

After: Meh...

I have been without a kitchen again as the plasterer came in to sort out the walls…

Two steps forward...one step back...

I have been spending far too long in B&Q with The Boy discussing precisely the shade of white to paint our kitchen. Why is it that the swatch in the book, the sticker on the pot and the painted swatch in the store bear no relevance to each other whatsoever? We went with Almond White (your guess is as good as mine!).

I have also been taking a moment on a Sunday, cooking my breakfast, watching my coffee pot boil (bought in Bagnone, Italy: site of Europe’s largest lottery win, FACT) to be truly thankful that I have a kitchen!! And, as painstaking and slow as these jobs are, we are getting there and we will get there!!

Bliss

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Kitchen Teaser…

So very nearly there…

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Kitchen Ripping and Planter update…

The Boy has been working tirelessly this week ripping out the old kitchen which appears to be stuck in place with old kitchen grease and willpower!  Just removing the top cupboards has instantly made the work surfaces easier to use and brought light into the room. But seriously everything was so greasy that he kept sticking to things and ended up with plastic bags on his hands in lieu of rubber gloves! I, thankfully, was at work whilst all this was happening so just got to come home and see the rip out procedure at the half way point:

Whilst I can see from these photo’s that it still pretty much looks like a squat right now, it has really opened up the space and I can kind of begin to see what it will look like. We are not going to have the kitchen fitted until the week after next but The Boy is going away to France for a few days next week so he will have to strip it all out for the electrician and plumber to come in whilst he is away. This will leave me cooking on the barbecue and in the microwave for the entire week! My fingers are crossed for sunshine because if it’s warm I can happily survive on salads for a week!

Speaking of sunshine last weekend was pretty lovely and I was so excited to see that the lavender in my planter has, at last, been attracting some bees! I was worried that we just didn’t have any on the Isle of Dogs as none had visited since I had planted the lavender but last weekend we had plenty of visitors. They were the proper golden coloured honey bees too. I am happy that they are visiting the planter, it has really come on since I replanted it:

I couldn’t get any pictures of the bees, 1. because they move too fast for me and 2. because I am, perhaps just a little bit, scared of them!

So, the kitchen is finally beginning to happen and the planter is doing it’s job things couldn’t get any better. Until of course The Boy found himself a $100 note in the kitchen!

Very exciting, although entirely unhelpful here in the UK!

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