Monday, 28 May 2012

BBQ Season

Just a little post to show what I've been up too (and eating mainly) this week. It's been mega hot here in North Wales as many of you are probably aware, and it's been perfect weather for a BBQ. I know it's a bit stereotypical for us British to leap at the chance to have a BBQ  at any hint of sun, but why not when it's so glorious!!!! It dosn't take much to make a lovely BBQ for the family, and even if your not a big meat eater, there are plenty of options available that work well.
Scott was in charge of cooking the meat (which was delicious) and I had the womanly task of marinating the chicken, preparing salads and setting the table... I secretly really like doing this so it's ok ;)
The kebabs got a bit charcoaled, but I suppose it wouldn't be a BBQ if something wasn't at least a little frazzled. We also had asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper, sausages, and red peppers stuffed with feta cheese (my favourite).
This was a second night where we had marinated chicken breasts, small beef burgers with a peppercorn crust and more sausages. The tin foil is for my mum - she likes to have fish so I think she was having rainbow trout steamed with lemon.

I'm a big shloer fan (the cranberry and white grape combination) so I always try to have it for BBQ's and Christmas.

We had the BBQ as part of family meal night, so my grandparent's were part of it, and from what I gathered they very much enjoyed it!
For dessert we had brandy snap baskets filled with Cornish ice cream, and topped with fresh fruit and a toffee sauce (the same sauce I posted in my 'pudding in a hurry' post).
And lastly - not forgetting seabear who waits patiently under the picnic table for any cast offs and crumbs, she is also a fan of eating outside as she's more likely to be fed from under the table, and as she's a Labrador her life revolves mainly around food - much like mine to be honest :)I hope Ive inspired you to get eating outside and enjoying the sun while it lasts!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

D.I.Y fruit ice cubes

Hello there :)
Here is a ridiculously simple and easy recipe/D.I.Y of how to add a little more colour and fun into a drink.

 What you will need:
Ice cube tray
raspberries (blueberry's, sliced strawberry etc etc)
mint (lemon rind, midget jems, other small fruits, herbs etc etc)

1. Add your raspberries and mint, or whatever combination you choose to your ice cube tray.

2. Fill your tray until full but not overflowing.

3. Place in freezer for half and hour - hour. Take out the trays and give the berries ad mint a little poke so that they stay beneath the ice that has formed ( this keeps the fruit central so they don't bulge out of the top of the ice cube).

4. Freeze until completely frozen and serve with a tasty drink.

These are really good if your having a summer dinner party and want to jazz up a jug of water, or even good in a cocktail.

Cupcake case garland

Here is a quick and easy D.I.Y on how to make a cupcake case garland. It' really simple, and is just a bit of a change from bunting and that sort of thing.

What you will need:
A selection of cupcake cases
A tool for creating a hole
string of thick thread
a handful of beads

It is very simple to make -
1  Cut your thread about 1.5 metres long, or as long as you'd like your garland to be!
2  Group 2-3 cases together and pierce the middle with a hole. Thread them onto the string or thread and then change to a different colour/patterned case.

3 I found to keep some in their position, it was easier to thread on a bead and tie a knot , which creates a stopper so the cases can't move out of place.

4 Carry on threading the cases on, and tie a bead at the start and end of the first and last cupcake case to keep them still.

5 Tie a knot/loop at the ends of the thread and that is all folks!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Sugar Plum Tearoom, Rhewl

Hello everyone! I'm sorry for the long gap between blogging this past two weeks, it's just Ive been totally consumed in the opening of our new tearoom 'The Sugar Plum Tearoom'. Ive been involved in so much, from decor, to preparing food, choosing crockery and adding final touches to make it extra special. Now that it has finally officially opened I will have more time to do bogging, art and cooking etc :) But for now, I have some pictures to share with you from this first week (We had a 'soft lauch' on Monday and were now at the end of the first week).

We wanted the tearoom to be a lovely place for all generations, and somewhere where you have the combination of beautiful surrounding's and delicious local food! The colour scheme is light and bright and I especially love the different coloured chairs and food tins that hold the plants :)

Scott has been wonderful, and spent so many hours helping my parents, myself and the staff at Homewoodbound out in making the tearoom possible, - so thanks Scott :) He's also head waiter and is a pro at the coffee machine already! (I'm still learning that part....)

The kitchen is open plan and all the fresh homemade local cakes are displayed on the marble counter.

Here are some blueberry cupcakes we tried on Saturday - they were so pretty and still tasted delicious and creamy.

Happy customers from this past week :) -

Cath is the lovely lady that makes the majority of the cakes - she's really talented and her St Clements mascarpone sponge cake is a real favourite already!
This was our welsh afternoon tea with bara brith and Welsh cakes, served with butter and a pot of tea for two.
My homemade 'Watercress' soup was going down a treat earlier in the week. (The same watercress soup recipe I posted a few weeks ago).

This was my grandma enjoying a cup of tea this afternoon, I love her too bits and she and my grandad have both been to sample various items from the menu.
I will post more as time goes on, but I'm also working of starting a blog just for the tearoom, so I will also post the link for that site as soon as I'm finished tweaking it...

You can find us on Faceboook - The sugar plum tearoom

And on twitter - SugarPlumTRoom

The website is also in development, but my mu Hazel has written a blog featured on Homewood Bounds site - Tearoom Blog

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Pudding in a hurry

This dessert is a bit of a cheat, but let's face it who really cares in the end as long as it tastes good!
I was stuck for an idea for a pudding after our Thursday meal night, and nipped to the supermarket to find something to make! I could have bought a fully ready made dessert but then you loose the fun of making it and the glory when everyone devours it, so I bought the flan base and topped it with fruit and whipped cream. I also had a toffee/butterscotch sauce to drizzle on top which made it really yummy.
1 large flan case
1 tablespoon of lemon curd (or another jam/jelly of your choice)
1 tablespoon of icing sugar
300 ml double cream
1 punnet of raspberries
1/2 punnet of strawberries
a few sprigs of mint
75g butter
78g dark brown sugar
100ml  double cream
Simply unwrap your flan case and place on a serving dish/plate. Spread a generous layer of lemon curd of jam along the top of the flan case. This helps to add more moisture as they can be a little dry, and adds a little tang. Now add the icing sugar to the cream and whip until firm but not over whipped. Spread your cream over the lemon curd layer.  Now chop your strawberries and layer them, along with the raspberries over the cream. I added a few mint leaves for colour, but that's optional! Dust with a little more icing sugar and that is all folks!

If you want a sauce- which I highly recommend, then this goes perfectly!
Melt the butter and sugar in a large pan. Stir gently and once all is melted, pour in the double cream. Mix thoroughly and pour into desired jug. I left the jug on the table so everyone could help themselves, and it was very popular!
It's also really good on ice cream or on its own on a spoon if you have no will power like myself....

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Stewed Plums

Stewed plums are one of my favourite child hood puddings that I had when I went to my Grandma's house. They came from a Chef who used to work at The Midland Hotel In Manchester, and then found their way into my grandma's amazing recipe book which is full of yummy timeless recipes that she has collected over the years.
 The recipe is potentially the easiest recipe ever, Providing you are not horrified by the amount of sugar!

roughly 6 plums
5 ounces of sugar at least.
1/2 Pint water.

Place your plums in a pan along with the sugar and water. Bring to the boil, and simmer until the plums are tender but not falling apart. Once this is done fish them plums out with a spoon into your desired serving bowl. With the juice left in the pan, turn up the heat and make a syrup with the sugary plum water. You want the juice to thicken and be sticky and sweet. Once this is done pour over the plums. You can serve them hot or cold,  but I personally like them cold with a scoop of clotted cream.
If you have left over juices, it makes a wonderful salad dressing or a sauce for the top of ice cream and other puddings.
As you can see the water takes on the plum colour which is the most wonderful rich pink! I love when food looks good, but to me it's more about the taste, but this sauce really has a wonderful aesthetic to it which makes it all even better!
This is the recipe from my Grandma's recipe book. It is such a special book and is now one of our family's prized possessions. The book has a hand written index and is meticulously labelled from large cakes to soups, main meals and cooked meats. The cover and pages are that used that it all has to be kept in a large bag so it doesn't deteriorate. I love how precious it is to my Grandma, and how she has always shown me how to do recipes from there since I was young.
I served the plums for dessert as part of my family meal night on Thursday, and it was enjoyed by all!

Tadpoles 10-/11 Weeks - Leg growth

Exciting news on the tadpole front - The first few legs have started to develop! I love it when tadpoles develop their legs, it means their on their way to becoming frogs and it's so interesting to watch!  I first noticed it just under a week ago, and by last night half of them had at least the start of a pair of legs. 

 Once they develop legs like above, you need to add a rock or something that slopes out of the water so that the tadpoles are able to start leaving the water. As their legs grow their lungs become stronger and are able to breath out of the water, so they need to be able to be go in and out of the water as they please.
Their arms/ front legs or whatever you'd like to call them haven't developed yet so that is the next stage, but it won't be long now until they start looking more froglike and less like tadpoles! 
As you can see here they still have long tails, which eventually ware down as the limbs grow as they will no longer be needed.

Once again I will keep you updated!

Alfie the kitten

This is Alfie, the lovely little addition to our family. He is 11 Weeks old and is such a little character already! We had many name choices including Alfie, Oscar, Charlie and various others, but eventually it was a mutual decision for Alfie. He is a Bengal cross, and looks like the Felix cat advert :) Last Thursday we went to pick him up from Runcorn after seeing the advert on the Preloved website, which I would recommend for finding pets such as kittens, puppies cats etc. We've used it before to find Lola the Hare and it's really simple to use and free!  

He loves this little radiator bed we got from the discount shop in Llandudno! It attaches to the radiator with metal hooks and is covered with a fleece material that keeps him all soft and warm while he sleeps.
It's actually really hard to take photographs of cats, especially kittens as they never stop moving, and the majority of my pictures were blurred! But I managed to sneak a couple while he was having a snooze.

This picture's a bit blurred, but it makes me laugh! He looked so confused at the whole process of a camera, but I'm sure he will get used to it soon enough, the other members of my family are quite used to me documenting things at both appropriate and inappropriate times :)
He loves the scratch pole! It's best to get a scratch pole for kittens and cats, as they are less likely to scratch the furniture if they have one, which pleases my mum!

Here are just a few instagrams I took of him as well. If you follow me on instagram you've probably been bombarded with my mass of Alfie pictures so I do apologise (beth 2852).

I will keep you up to date with his settling in, and I'm sure he will start appearing in a lot more photo's soon!