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Archive for November, 2008

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

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Hearty Steak and Ale Pie

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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Had one of the weirdest dreams last night, a real humdinger! Usually my dreams are quite intense to begin which end up with me sitting up in bed talking in my sleep and flapping my arms around. Yes, if you ever want a panic attack in the middle of the night, sleep next to me.

Anyway, I digress. So the dream started off with me receiving a cloth cheque through the post addressed to my mom but sent to me and the note that was attached to it (also made of cloth, kind of like calico) informed me that my mom had won a prize and would be receiving £32.00 per week for the next 10 weeks due to winning an advertising competition. Seeing as this was all wrong and that the cheque should have gone to my mom directly, hubby and I decided to go to the advertising company to inform them of this horrendous mistake and try to find out what we can do to solve this.

We got to the office (in an instant, I like dream travelling) it seemed to be the standard government type building, square and depressed. Walking into the building were a group of people, all dressed in black looking serious and importantly chatting to each other while milling around. I whispered to R ‘they’re evil’ and then sat down and waited to be called into the office of the big honcho.

When we were finally called, we walked into an office with the worst carpet ever, 70’s type feel with the light greasy coating that all office carpets usually get when not cleaned to often. The big honcho ended up being a woman who held a baby covered in a terrible red rash, almost like huge boils. She was incredibly helpful, but in that slimy fake way. I picked the baby up and quietly rocked it to sleep while explaining that my mother’s prize money either needed to be sent to her directly or addressed to us so that we can collect everything and pass it on to her when we see her (which, in real life, is February 09 woohooo) Creepy lady agreed, I put the baby down, folded the cloth cheque and preceded to leave the office but no matter how many stairs and levels I climbed down I always ended up on the second floor. Finally realised that in order to leave I needed to make a run for the fire exits and ran down endless corridors, making many turns before seeing the light of the afternoon. Made it outside and slowly woke up to the alarm.

Hmmmm, maybe I ate too much Candy Corn?

And for news in the real world, our laptop has done the final dance of death and we’re currently in negotiation with the bank account to see if we can purchase another one.  Is it a bad thing  that I want one in a nice  pretty colour?

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baking, baking, baking

It has been a busy couple of days here at the other monkey house, the smell of baking has been overwhelming.  Various things needed to be baked this week. Rocky road bars made for a work Halloween charity sale, lemon cake baked for a friend, and chocolate fudge brownies made for a Halloween party last night.

I do love going to a house where you are guaranteed to have at least 4 different desserts at the end of the evening.  I must say the pumpkin cheesecake was my favourite and luckily we managed to bring some home with us as well.

The most important thing of all is that I was introduced to the very addictive candy corn!  Yummy!  How do Americans restrain themselves from eating it all the time?

I was going to write a post about slow-cooking as I made a delicious steak, ale and cheese pie the other weekend to celebrate the new season coming but, unfortunately the pictures were deleted, ahem.  Will post it another time as I am sure that more pies, stews and casseroles will be made here at the other monkey house in the coming weeks.

Wow, November already.

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