Friday 31 December 2010

Post Christmas Feasting

Here’s Jamie’s pie, as made by Marion on Tuesday evening…leftover turkey and leek pie

• 2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
• ½ bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
• olive oil
• a large knob of butter
• 2kg leeks, washed, trimmed; white end chopped into chunks, green end finely sliced
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 800g cooked white turkey meat, torn into big chunks 
• 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
• 2 pints turkey, chicken or vegetable stock
• 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche
• 1 x 500g packet puff pastry
• 12 jarred or vac-packed chestnuts, roasted and peeled
• 2 sprigs fresh sage, leaves picked
• 1 egg, preferably free-range or organic, beaten

jamie pie

main courses | serves 6-8
Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Put your bacon in a large pan on a medium heat and add your thyme leaves. Add a lug of olive oil and the butter and let it all fry off a few minutes. Add all of your prepped leeks and fry them off for about 3 minutes so they are well-coated in the butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper then pop the lid on top, turn the heat down to medium and let them cook away gently for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes to make sure they don’t catch. When your leeks are ready, add the turkey meat to them and stir. Add the flour, mix it in well then pour in your stock and stir again. Add the crème fraîche then turn the heat up and bring everything back up to the boil. Have a taste and add a bit more salt and pepper if it needs it then turn the heat off. Pour the mixture through a sieve over another large empty pan and let the wonderful gravy from the mixture drip into the pan while you roll out your pastry.
Get a deep baking dish roughly 22 x 30cm. Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with a bit of flour and roll your pastry out so it’s about double the size of your dish. Crumble the chestnuts over one half of the pastry then tear a few of the sage leaves over the chestnuts. Fold the other half of pastry on top then roll it out carefully and evenly so you have a rectangle big enough to cover your baking tray. Spoon that thick leek mixture from your sieve into the pie dish and spread it out evenly. Lay your pastry on top, tuck the ends under then gently score the pastry diagonally with your knife. Add a pinch of salt to your beaten egg then paint this egg wash over the top of your pastry. Pop your pie in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. When the pie is ready, re-heat the gravy and serve with your pie, along with some peas.

Bob made Jamie’s Slow Roasted Marmalade Pork from the Sainsbury’s Christmas Magazine. [similar recipe here]

sainsburys mag

We had a brilliant evening – great food [notice how the proud chef serves his meat on a wooden board, in true Jamie style!]



The coleslaw was colourful as well as tasty


Marion said later [as we played a riotous game of Pictionary] “The trouble is, you always risk ending up on the blog now, when you spend time with Ang” I don’t think she knew I had already snapped her during dinner!

As I am typing this, Bob is preparing a turkey and ham casserole for Sunday’s lunch. It smells fabulous! This Christmas has certainly proved that I am related to a lot of very good cooks!

Thursday 30 December 2010

Back To Narnia!

dawn treader

We went into Norwich and watched The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader at the Castle Mall Vue Cinema [useful tip – park in the CM car park and Vue give you a discount on the parking ticket – we were there for almost four hours, and ended up paying nothing for parking!] Spent my Christmas M&S vouchers on a pair of shoes, but otherwise ignored the sales [Lakeland was a little disappointing]

I thought the film was super. Great effects, close to the original book, Tilda Swinton as cold and scary as before. The new character, Eustace Scrubb, was played by Will Poulter. This actor is almost 18, although he looks considerably younger.

He reminded me of Michael Gove, the moment I saw him on screen!

will poulter

michael gove

By the end of the film, Eustace has seen the error of his ways, and turned into a thoroughly nice chap, making wise decisions, both for himself and the benefit of others. Let us hope that Aslan can work similar magic on the Secretary of State for Education during 2011!!

After a few days of resting and relaxing, we have got a weekend of family visits. We had a lovely meal with A&M on Tuesday [Marion made a lovely turkey&leek pie – one of Jamie’s recipes]Tonight Adrian, Marion, Lucy, and Chris are coming for a meal [Bob’s cooking] and Saturday we are making a flying visit to Essex to see my cousin & co down there. On Sunday all the Almond’s are descending for their first visit to Cornerstones [Bob’s cooking!] Do you notice a pattern regarding the cooking here?

Then it will be back to Leicestershire and a new year of busy-ness.

Wednesday 29 December 2010

The Anniversary Of An Iconic Picture

Seventy years ago tonight, during the Blitz of WW2, an incendiary bomb fell onto St Pauls Cathedral and started a massive fire. People watching thought the great cathedral was doomed.

Two teams of specialist fire watchers recruited from the Royal Institute of British Architects — and hand-picked because they had heads for heights — were soon ­crawling along the wooden beams with hand pumps to reach the ­blazing section.

But suddenly the incendiary bomb, having burnt through the wood, fell far, far to the nave below, where it was easily put out. Though almost every building around St Paul’s ­perished, the cathedral survived.

blitz st pauls

Herbert Mason, a Daily Mail photographer was on the roof of the paper’s offices, less than a mile away, watching the conflagration.

'The glare of many fires and sweeping clouds of smoke kept hiding the shape. Then a wind sprang up. ­Suddenly, the shining cross, dome and towers stood out like a symbol in the inferno. The scene was unbelievable. In that moment or two, I released my shutter’

The next morning, it was bitterly cold. There was a light scattering of snow as office worker Dorothy ­Barton emerged from London Bridge station on her way to work. She gazed in horror at the acres of smoking and still burning ruins —then her heart lifted as she looked up at St Paul’s, towering over the scene. ‘I felt a lump in my throat because, like so many people, I felt that while St Paul’s survived, so would we,’ she said. [full story here

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Missing Mr Hudson!

I am still not quite sure about the new U/D. It isn’t quite right. All good fun, but I am finding it hard to reconcile the new series with the original.

The only things in common are the house and Jean Marsh [again playing Rose Buck] and Eileen Atkins. EA, along with JM, was one of the original ‘creators’ – but now she is appearing as one of the main characters – Maud, Lady Holland.

In the ‘old days’ they had a butler, cook, lady’s maid [Rose] upstairs maid [various actors] and kitchen maid [Ruby] as well as a manservant and a chauffeur [various actors] and Mr Bellamy had a female secretary.

Now they have a butler, cook, manservant and maid – and a housekeeper [Jean/Rose] and Maud has a male secretary [Art Malik] It feels as if the characters of the housekeeper and Maud have been written to give JM and EA important roles. Which is fair as it was their idea in the first place, I suppose, but I am beginning to feel that they said “You can’t reprise this unless we get big parts” [Jean Marsh is 76, which makes her a bit old to be running a big house like that!!]

They are getting through staff pretty quickly though – first manservant out for breaking the law, and lady’s maid died, chauffeur ‘on probation’ for fascist views.

The series is getting quite mixed reviews – and many comparisons with Downton Abbey [but I never got into that so cannot comment there] It is sad that some people in the cast had to make rather unpleasant remarks [here]

I would like to be two stone lighter and wear a bias cut silk evening frock! But I suspect my destiny is to be a stone heavier and wear a sensible pinny. [My family have always been downstairs, not upstairs.]

upstairs downstairs 2010 (4)updown7600

I have just watched Episode 2 where a pregnant Lady Agnes is knitting baby clothes whilst “We’ll gather lilacs” is playing in the background. I am a little confused, as this is meant to be summer 1936 [Cable Street/Mosley etc] and I thought the song was written during the War, and later incorporated into the 1945 musical “Perchance to Dream”. I didn’t think Ivor Novello penned it back in the thirties. As far as I know, he first sang it to the troops in Belgium in 1944 [after he came out of Wormwood Scrubs, where he’d been incarcerated for cheating with petrol coupons!!]

novello cardiff I can only assume that this anachronism occurred in the programme because U/D was not filmed in London’s Eaton Square, but rather in Cardiff, and the scriptwriters forgot to be accurate when they saw the new Ivor Novello Statue outside Cardiff's Millennium Centre. It was a popular tune after all!

Ah well, last programme tonight, all about The Abdication.

I’m really looking forward to “The King’s Speech” with Colin Firth in January, though. I am hoping that will be historically accurate! [I have persuaded Bob that he should take me to see it – I am a royalist with a keen interest in history]


Just in case you missed this sketch, in the great tradition of Fork Handles…

Monday 27 December 2010

A Date With Mr Churchill!

Here’s the Cabinet War Rooms “Wartime Christmas” recipe for Orange and Date Cake. I made it the weekend before Christmas and it tasted surprisingly good.

Notice how it is artistically arranged to show off one of my Christmas plates!



  • 2 oz margarine
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 3 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 4 oz dates, finely chopped
  • 7 oz self raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 tbsp milk or water
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda [baking soda]
  • 1 egg [fresh or reconstituted dried!]

Sift the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl combine the other ingredients. Mix all well together [if it seems a little stiff, add another tbsp milk or water] Bake in a loaf tin at 170°C for about 50 minutes.

This is a fairly economical recipe – and if you have any dates left over from Christmas in one of those ‘glove boxes’, you could use those.

Why do so many of my wartime recipes include dates? Surely they were hard to get hold of?

roosevelt and churchill

Aw, come on Winnie – can’t your Clemmie let my Eleanor have that Orange and Date Cake Recipe?

That recipe is a State Secret. Never!

Sunday 26 December 2010

Ay Up Me Duck!**

Boxing Day began with Church [well, it is Sunday!] We dismantled the paper chains we had made  in yesterday’s service  and  we each got a section containing a task or two which would be an Act Of Random Kindness, or a Reminder Of God’s Goodness.


My two links said “Look Up At the Stars” and “Take Cakes To Colleagues At Work”

I shall do #1 whilst at Cornerstones, and #2 when term starts again.





Back home for lunch. Bob is now Officially On Holiday, so he cooked two superb curries [a veg one and a turkey one]

I filled the pavlova I had prepared earlier with some cherries and raspberries from the freezer.




Then we went for a walk in Abbey Park.[One of Bob’s paper chains said “Go for a walk”]

It was like ‘Walking In a Winter Wonderland’. The river and boating lake were frozen.the ducks seemed very cold. The waterfowl came right up to us though [we hadn't taken any food for them though]


On the bridge, looking at the ice


Nobody is going in the water today!


More cold waterfowl [is that a crane?]




Weird sculpture [wonderful daughter]


The Chinese pagoda and bridge



Cardinal Wolsey looked very cold too!


The ruins are picturesque


Back home for tea and hot buttered crumpets. Later on,  Liz and Bob made Bubble’n’Squeak for our evening meal. Real Comfort Food!

Then we watched “Upstairs, Downstairs”. I am reserving judgement till I have seen all three programmes!

Looking forward to Cornerstones tomorrow – but sorry to be parting from the girls, we have had such a great time together.

**Ay Up Me Duck is a popular expression in Leicestershire. According to the BBC it means “Good Day Sir [or Madam]”

Saturday 25 December 2010

Peanuts At Christmas

Almonds At Christmas

We opened our stocking and had breakfast [Liz made amazing Danish Pastries] then off to church.

This morning, all five candles were lit **


Despite the icy paths and cold weather, we had loads of visitors, and enjoyed film clips from Yogi Bear and the Muppets!

Back home to open the rest of the gifts [carefully!]


Then a splendid lunch [mostly prepared by Steph, with help from Liz and Bob]


Then Bob and I went back to church, where Jo and Bruce had been catering for those who attended the lunch there


Everyone was really enjoying themselves, and we all went into the Chapel to watch Her Majesty on the big screen


Back for coffee and mince pies – but I caught someone helping out by finishing off the bowl of trifle!


A lady from the village, who’d been to ‘Get In the Picture’ had donated all the table decorations


Thanks Jo, Bruce [and Sophie and Jessica] and Geoff for giving a lovely day to those who would otherwise be alone

**all those Advent hope/joy/love/peace cards are now assembled on a large display


Bob and I walked home [carefully] and noticed a large crack in the pavement through which water was leaking at quite a rate. I rang Severn Trent Water and a helpful chap called Robert said he would get it checked out. I sympathised with him that he had to work today, and said my husband was working too!

We played our annual family game of Cranium


Steph made some chocolate mousse. I do love having the girls home, they produce such delicious food! Then we watched Dr Who [with Katherine Jenkins]

smith jenkins etc

And Bob worked on his final sermon of the year, ready for tomorrow.

No more blogging tonight – hope your day has been good too!


The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth

mel and shane


I posted this same picture 3 weeks ago, and mentioned that Mel was expecting her first baby in the new year. Annabelle Grace has arrived ten weeks early, weighing just 3lbs. She is holding her own, in our Local Neo-Natal Unit - but please pray for this family and their precious little bundle of joy.

Friday 24 December 2010

My Amazing Village…

Sign as you enter Kirby Muxloe…


other trees turn right, presumably!


See Amid The Winter’s Snow…

Frozen Carol Singers outside the gift shop


The Newest Family Member

We moulded…


…and we sculpted…


…our snowman


But we did not want to leave the Jester Hat unattended, so after Bob’s photo-shoot we removed it


Then he looked sad, so we gave him a Santa Hat


Liz sent a photo to Jon, who replied that the snowman looks stern. therefore I have decided to call him Laurence.

Some useful Laurence Sterne quotes…

I am persuaded that every time a man smiles - but much more so when he laughs - it adds something to this fragment of life.

I take a simple view of life. It is keep your eyes open and get on with it.

You can always tell a real friend; when you've made a fool of yourself, he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job

Christmas Canapés

I used my Lakeland Minimorsels Set to make some canapés for the Open House on Wednesday Evening


I ended up passing this nifty gadget round during the evening to show my guests how easy it is! [Details - click here] I made pastry with Trex in my food processor [200g plain flour to 80g of Trex, plus 4 tbsp cold water – and either 1 tsp salt or 2 tsp icing sugar for savoury or sweet recipes as required]

I did some filled with smoked salmon and chive, some with cheese and smoked paprika, and some sweet pastry ones with chocolate with chopped pistachios.


They come out so neatly, and it didn’t take long to bake this little lot


This gives you an idea of the finished size.

I also cooked a batch of cocktail sausages with honey and mustard dressing. Simply heat 1 tablespoon of runny honey, 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup and 1 teaspoon trad English mustard in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir well, then place 40 cocktail sausages in a non stick baking tin and brush with the dressing. Bake in hot oven for about 15 minutes till golden brown and sticky. Serve on cocktail sticks.

Liz says she uses 50/50 Trex and butter, as it makes the pastry less ‘short’ and crumbly and improves the flavour!

Thursday 23 December 2010

Move Over Rudolph

I don’t feeling like dashing thru the snow to Aldi for a box of teacakes, but  A Thrifty Missus has posted this picture of her Teacake Reindeer and it amused me

teacake reindeer

Amazing raisins can do [with teacakes, pretzels, and glacé cherries!]