Happy new Year

December 31, 2011

Scottish Hogmanay preparations underway here, Mr K is cooking tonight and Victoria and Rob on cooking duties tomorrow – result! Pics are from Rob and Victoria's visit to Edinburgh yesterday.

So, in true Scots fashion I wish you all "A Guid New Year tae ane an' aw', an mony may ye see!"

Translated means: Happy New Year to everyone when it comes, let's hope 2012 is a good one…

Christmas past

December 30, 2011

Victoria aged 17 months when life was simple and we still put tinsel on the Christmas tree. Page made with products from Anna Aspnes.

Chicken Divan

December 29, 2011

I'm always being asked for this recipe, I make it regularly, it's incredibly tasty but more importantly easy to do and is one of those meals that can easily expand to feed loads of folk –  not so much cooking as assembling!

1 medium ready to eat roast chicken ( I tend to buy chicken breasts 4/5/6 depending on how many I'm feeding, cook them in the oven for 20 mins then chop them into bite size pieces)
500g broccoli (increase quantity depending on numbers)
1 x 295g tin of condensed cream of chicken soup
1 x 200ml tub créme fraiche (use 300ml for a creamy sauce)
3 heaped tablespoons mayonnaise (ready made is fine, lets get real...)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 heaped teaspoon medium curry powder
4 oz breadcrumbs (if I'm stuck for bread I've also used rolled oats for the topping)
2 oz butter
2 oz mature cheddar grated (optional)
Black pepper

Cut chicken into bite size pieces and put to one side.

Trim the broccoli into bite size florets. Blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes then drain thoroughly.

Mix together the condensed cream of chicken soup, créme fraiche, mayonnaise, lemon juice and curry powder. Season with black pepper.

Fry the breadcrumbs in the butter until golden brown.

To assemble: place the blanched broccoli in a lightly greased baking dish around 13 x 10in followed by the chicken pieces then spread the sauce on top. Sprinkle the grated cheese over, followed by the fried breadcrumbs * I've missed out the cheese loads of times and I don't think it makes a significant difference to the taste but it will make a big difference to the calorie count!

Cook in the top half of a pre-heated oven Gas mark 3, 200°C for 45 – 50 mins

Serve with a crisp green salad, baby potatoes, fresh green vegetables

By yon bonnie banks

December 27, 2011

"Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond"... not today though.
We took a trip to visit Aunt Maureen via Luss and Glen Douglas and a VERY hilly windy road which made everyone in the back of the car feel sick, happily nothing actually happened and like our summer excursion in Mull we managed to get to our destination without a mishap, it was a close call though, Granny went worryingly quiet at one point. It was important to us that Rob saw a little bit more of Scotland this visit and we are proud that we successfully coached him to say Loch correctly rather than lock Lomond like a tourist! It was rather grey but at least the rain stayed off until we got to Maureen's house for a lovely cup of tea and some Christmas nibbles, it's a sad fact but all we seem to do these days is eat and drink!

The last pic is for my Australian friend Carol who always asks where the photographs of me are... well here I am sitting on the floor in front of the fire enjoying a cup of tea!

Christmas Moments 2011

December 26, 2011

Well, it's done, Santa arrived and a great time was had by all, it was worth all the effort in the end just as it always is! The festivities started on Christmas eve at Sara and Craig's flat where both families got together for a pre-christmas celebration, I'm thinking that this is going to become a tradition, I certainly hope so as it was great fun and this year the two Grannys and Grandpa got to meet for the first time and got along fabulously, discussing sheltered housing and the merits of different types of hearing aids... We had a civilised late start to Christmas morning unlike Christmas eve where I had a 6.30 am visit to Tesco to pick up the last few bits of food shopping then (more domestic goddess) made cranberry and white chocolate cookies; recipe courtesy of Cherry Menlove. They really are delicious, go on give them a try, the sugar load will rot your teeth and you will instantly put on two pounds but isn't that what Christmas is all about  – Oh no, I forgot! it's the baby Jesus's birthday isn't it, nothing to do with mass consumerism and stuffing your face with calorie laden food...
Victoria had an excruciating wait on Christmas day until Sara and Craig arrived at 2 pm before we could open any presents and she was just about to crack and open one when they arrived. Granny surprised everyone with the cutest Charlie bears plus a startling amount of gorgeous jewellery and remote control helicopters for Mr K; two helicopters not one - what is this woman like? - can't wait till the stormy weather stops and we can go outside and try them out. Victoria surprised Rob with an ipad which floored him and he surprised her with a coffee machine which bless him, he carried all the way from london. Mr K suggested that he could have just shown her a picture, and left it back in London but that just wouldn't have been the same would it? it's certainly going to be fun trying to get on the train back to London with the extra amount of luggage that they have accumulated over the past few days!  After dinner we played Articulate, which was hilarious, Mr K doing the describing to me " swims in the sea" fish "Correct" "on a cliff" ???? Would you have got the answer which was Perch... Happy days! Happy Christmas!


December 23, 2011

Before the Christmas celebrations start I want to post about another of our recent Fife weekends, this one celebrating our friend Jimmy's 80th birthday. It was a fabulous night thanks to his lovely wife Helen and two beautiful daughters Rowan and Flora. Jimmy knew nothing about the plans, it was a real surprise to him when he arrived at the pub for what he thought was a quiet pint - not so it turned out! Mr K and I had a brilliant time, so brilliant in fact that I didn't manage to get a photograph of the birthday boy, it was just so packed with well wishers that there just didn't seem a good photo opportunity so I've used a photograph from January 2009, well what's a couple of years between friends and it's a perfect picture to accompany the cool cake that Rowan made for her Dad; Jimmy and a glass of red...

I got my camera out later on in the evening and insisted on Flora being my model, sadly I still haven't a clue about that pesky ISO thing so the photographs taken without flash were very dark but hey, I like to think I'm a problem solver so I've just used a couple of filters. It has to be said that I usually hate photoshop filters but on this occasion I think they look not too bad. I seriously loved Flora's gorgeous sparkly eye make-up and kept trying to capture it but this is the best I managed after God knows how many attempts. Rowan was also coerced into the photo shoot with her sister - what beautiful girls!

I hate Jamie Oliver

December 21, 2011

It happens every year without fail – pressure, guilt. Last night I wanted to smash Jamie's face in as he smugly demonstrated on Jamie's Christmas how to make taco/pork breakfast things, OMG! who would do stuff like this? I also really don't need him and every other celeb chef to be so patronising about getting organised on Christmas eve so we can all enjoy Christmas day cooking (is that even possible?). Am I the only person struggling to juggle work with everything else; I think not, give us a break! I left after the breakfast tacos part of the programme feeling inadequate and sulkily started filling the washing machine as I have this stupid idea that there should be no mounds of dirty washing over the Christmas holidays; ironing is a totally different thing. We once hid an Apple Macintosh computer under a pile of ironing in our bedroom until Santa could come get it and deliver it back via the sleigh and chimney... I love that about Santa, how he does that magical delivery thing. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without the reindeers pawing on the roof jingling their bells; Bless! Sara swears she heard them one year...

I digress. Mr K, sensing something wrong joined me in the kitchen but then made the fatal mistake of mentioning some wonderful culinary feat Jamie had achieved with the turkey. My answer: " F%&k Jamie! It's Jamie's job to be a chef, get that - he's a chef! Did Jamie work all day in the kitchen chopping and sweating then go shopping when he was so tired he could cry? Did he really fit buying all the food around his day job? Did Jamie decide what to buy everyone? Did he buy all the Christmas presents FOR EVERYONE? Did he buy the wrapping paper and ribbons? Did he wrap all the Christmas presents? Did he design the Christmas cards, get the Christmas cards printed, write the Christmas cards, post the Christmas cards? Did he decorate the tree, did he? Did he wash out the bathroom and change the beds for guests? Did he? DID HE?" Silence. You can sense the mood in the kitchen was not Joy to the World.

Normally, it has to be said in fairness to Jamie, I am a fan, we have all his books, but there's something about the pressures of achieving that perfect Christmas that drives me insane – it's everywhere, it just makes me want to run away...

However... In Kirsty Allsop style I did manage to knit all the girls in Graphics some natty little fingerless gloves for Christmas. Did Jamie do that? Smug smile.

Fife frolics

December 18, 2011

The last two weekends have all been about the Kingdom of Fife! First visit started with a night at our friend's lovely holiday house in Upper Largo, and of course no visit to Largo would be complete without a visit to the Crusoe hotel, where else could you find such fabulous decor, I love it! It looks kinda deserted in there from my photographs but that's because we were starving and desperate to get some fish and chips down, Mr K and I were there before anyone else. Lots of reserved signs on the tables and it did start to fill up just as I was finishing my sticky toffee pudding; I wouldn't want you to think it was some creepy bad taste eatery that only the desperate visit - no siree, it's really popular. Mr K and I decided to walk from upper to lower Largo taking a shortcut through the woods, which we've done before but we underestimated just how dark it was sans flashlight and it took a bit longer than planned, so no shortcut after all. I took the photograph of the little twinkling lights across the Firth of Forth on the way home, maybe North Berwick, while reminiscing about how I found sights like this quite magical when I was a child; maybe this was where my love of fairy lights started! Second and third nights we stayed at The Inn at Lathones, with John and Libby and yes, it was another Groupon deal, a little treat before Christmas.

We grabbed seats beside the wood burning stove at the Inn at Lathones, Mr K with the ipad and me with my knitting, and we stayed there cosy and happy until dinner, my kind of perfect.

It was freezing during our walk along St Andrew's beach, so cold that John took up my offer of a hat, I'm sure he'll kill me if any of his London colleagues see this - although I think he looks pretty cool in the Ski hat and should adopt this look for London too...
I did the self portrait thing with Mr K, it always looks strange, the ubiquitous arm reflected in glasses thing, does everybody else have loads of these arm pics too?

The good thing about doing a long walk is that you feel quite self righteous afterwards and subsequently  feel no guilt whatsoever about getting tucked into loads of delicious food - and it was; the food at The Inn at Lathones was really good. Here's a small sample...

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