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Baking Mojo

So, what do you bake when the Baking Mojo comes over for one single day?  Well, when it coincides with your monthly Stitch and Bitch, you bake something savoury like Nigella’s  Savoury Onion pie (From her How to be a Domestic Goddess book)… delicious and also good in making you think that at least you’re having something lunch-like before you eat something sweet like peanut butter choc chip cookies, blueberry muffins and victoria sponge cake.  Aaah, feeling my hips get wider just thinking about all that food.    There was no time to take photo’s, we tucked in a little to quickly for that. 

Overall, it was a good stitching session, we mulled over which patterns to use, knitted and finished off some projects and finally felt the weight of the week drop away.  If I could bottle that very relaxed and happy feeling, I would be very rich indeed.

Spare time

Those are the two words that I would love to hear right now but unfortunately January has been a little busy here at The Other Monkey house.  We’ve been busy at work generally, I’ve been busy with knitting and suddenly from out of the blue, someone has offered me freelance work. Well, who can say no?

So, in order to drive the January blues away I’ve been drawing like crazy at night while still trying to fit reading a fabulous novel in, the “sequel” to Pride and Prejudice.  I am a very big fan of Pride of Prejudice and read the book once a year just to meet Darcy again.  I do love Mr Darcy so.  A colleague at work has lent me this book, which is about Lizzy and Darcy’s married life.  Who can resist?

I started reading the book last night and it’s um, graphic in some detail.  I was blushing on behalf of Jane Austen.  If Jane were alive, I do not think she would be pleased with some of the turns of phrase but overall, so far, this has been quite an eye-opener for me.  I always wondered if Darcy’s aloofness will melt with marriage. 

I hope everyone one is well and if you have parked the car, like Charlotte recently, may you find some of your energy soon.

Found it!

christmasstockings

I finally found my Christmas cheer!  It was hiding under some flour, a day baking with a friend and mulled wine.

I hope everyone has wonderful time this Christmas and may you get everything you wish for.  If you are not one for New Year’s resolutions but want to start off with an intent to do something better (whatever that may be), may I suggest that you read this post from Christine Kane.  I haven’t decided what my word is going to be yet but I am sure I will figure out in the next few days.

Merry Christmas!

frankie

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. and here is a picture of Frankie, upset that we disturbed his sleeping place…

‘Tis the season?

Well, we’re all here in December merrily settling in for the festive season and although I can find my Christmas cheer quite easily at home I am struggling a bit in the office.  You see, I married a man who believes that the office is where you go to work,  nose to the grindstone all day.  I, on the other hand, believe that there should be some social aspect to work.  You spend more than 7 hours a day in the office with the same people, you are bound to find out about their lives.  But since living with R I have veered a little to his way of thinking.  For example, do I really need to know that the person sitting opposite me has a rash THERE? 

Recently I received a few Christmas cards from colleagues I barely speak to signed with ‘love’, been told to buy secret gifts for people at work that have to be ‘cheeky and fun’ and finally to add to the commercial feeling, was informed loudly by my boss that they spend on average £ 500 per child on presents alone (they have two children).   And that’s when I started feeling a little sad for Christmas.

So, I’ve decided that although I won’t be sharing many Christmassy festive thoughts at work, I will definitely save up all my cheer for home and family, where it should be.

Anyway, enough of the Christmas bah-humbug feeling OtherMonkey!  I hope that everyone will be spending time with the ones they love and that Christmas this year is all that you hoped it would be.  I’ll be posting up some Christmas decoration photo’s up soon so that should really get me into the festive swing of things.

This post is a little late as we went to the Bath Christmas market last Friday but there you go, proof that time flies and sometimes not everything gets done.  Well, first of all, I would like to say that Bath is on my list of places to live.  It’s a beautiful city with wonderful architecture, lovely restaurants and a bustling high street that has all the usual high street stores but there is a big enough ratio of quirky small stores to keep you entertained.  But since I am not the only person that finds Bath attractive, the house prices are a little out of our reach.  This doesn’t stop a person from dreaming though, so I’ll carry on doing that (it’s free.)  Here’s a picture of the sunset that day…

bath-sunset

The Christmas market was packed with many stalls of quaint gifts and ideas to give to friends and family but I tend to gravitate towards the food stalls more (what a surprise).   Whenever R and I pass a cheese stall we always, always have to taste test since we are firmly in the ‘I heart cheese’ side of the things.  We were incredibly lucky to find a company that was not only generous with their taste-testing portions but were friendly and welcoming as well.

We bought nothing but cheese after a morning in Bath, which I think says a lot for the cheese and not much for our staying power in crowds.  The Snowdonia Cheese Company has a range of cheddars with different flavours, my favourite being ‘Pickle Power’ which has a lovely taste of strong cheese and pickled onion, perfect with some home made bread on the weekend. R preferred the ‘Amber Mist’ truckle which is mature cheddar laced with whiskey, I think the Irish in him loves the idea of cheese and whiskey together.

We loved the cheese so much that we ordered some more online and will be handing some out to friends as a small gift for Christmas, I hope they are cheese fans!

snowdonia-cheese

Family matters

tablerunner1

I received a wonderful gift in the post the other day.  My mom and aunt decided to make each girl in the family a Christmas table runner for our tables this year.  What a wonderful idea, knowing that in the various parts of the world on one day of the year we will each have something to remind us that family matters.  That no matter how far you are away from loved ones, someone is thinking about you.  So, thanks Marmie and Auntie Alta, you made this girl feel a lot happier.

tablerunner2

Even though winter hasn’t seemed to settle in just yet by us, we still have some cold enough days to justify a steak, ale and cheese pie. This takes a while to be cooked but in truth, you do about 20 minutes preparation and the oven does the rest. Perfect to have a lazy Sunday at home when the most pressing matter is when you can eat the delicous pie and what movie to choose to see you into the evening. I love weekends like that, don’t you?

This recipe comes from a friend that loves Jamie Oliver recipes so much that she passes them around to anyone that will listen. She had made at the words “steak”, “cheese” and “pie”.

Steak, ale and cheese pie

olive oil
2 onions chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
30g of butter
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery peeled and chopped
about 4 field mushrooms. sliced
1 kg brisket of beef or stewing steak cut into 2 cm cubes
small amount of fresh rosemary picked and chopped
salt and pepper
1 can of Guinness
2 tablespoons flour
200g fresh Cheddar cheese
500g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

In a large overnproof pan, heat about a tablespoon of oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for a few minutes. Turn the heat up and add the garlic, butter, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Mix everything in before stirring in the rosemary, beef, some salt and a teaspoon of pepper.
Fry for a few minutes, then pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and add some water (if needed) to cover. Bring to the simmer and cover the pan with a lid and cook in the oven for one and a half hours. Remove and give the stew a stir, continue cooking for another hour.
Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese, season and let the filling cool slightly.

When you are ready to make your pie. Roll of a piece of the puff pastry to line the bottom of your pie dish. Butter the pie dish and line the pastry inside, leaving some edges dangling. Pour in your filling mixture and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Roll out another piece of pastry for the top of the pie and place over the mixture. You can do whatever fancy pie work here you like but I usually just crimp the edges together, create a hole in the centre with the tip of a knife and brush the top with beaten egg. Bake for 45 minutes until the pastry is cooked and golden. Jamie suggests serving this with peas, and if you would like to feel really English, add some chips (fries) as well.

Unfortunately my photography did not justify the taste of the pie and it was too lovely and warm from the oven for me to spend that much time trying to get a decent shot. But trust me, this recipe is a keeper.

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