Tuesday, 30 September 2014

festival of thrift

This was the second year for 'the festival of thrift' a free family fun festival at Lingfield Point in Darlington.  After visiting last year and thoroughly enjoying the event I was really looking forward to going along again.

The festival site as last year, was set over a large area with substantial parking, great buildings and enjoyable spaces.

There was so much to see and do and a fantastic family fun atmosphere, it was brilliant to see that the event had grown in size, in the number of stalls and activities and the numbers of people attending.

...one of several camper vans where you could enjoy an afternoon tea
or a meal themed to match the van's decor
...enjoy a 10 minute show - viewed inside the Whalley Range's All Star PIG
(notice the curly tails!)
singalong with Ida Barr's Mash Up
...call in at Madame Chapeau's to get your own designer hat
...create a terarium
...have fun inside plastic greenhouse with huge amounts of sparkling confetti -
it reminded me of the crystal dome in The Crystal Maze (showing my age!)
...make your own miniature garden with the Nu-urban Gardeners
...boogie with the Car Boot Disco Bingo!
...jamming inside the 'Jamallot' tent.

I wasn't quick enough to book onto one of the workshops this year:
 chocolate / sushi / charcuterie / bread making / fish smoking / 
tapestry /patchwork / jewellry / fire glass / crochet, etc.
I'll definitely be signing up for one next year.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

big green sunday

Today the weather was lovely, although a tad on the cool side.  Whilst the rest of the country seems to have been blessed with sunny and warm weather over the last few days, we've had mist, drizzle and much general greyness. 

However, sunshine and blue sky appeared today and this was perfect for the Big Green Sunday my OH and grandson were involved with.

Held at a retreat centre in 60 acres of parkland in Northumberland, Minsteracres provided a fabulous backdrop to a day of fun outdoors.

We had a go at pond dipping...


bird box making...

and saw sheep dog demonstrations...

 ...and although we missed the bushcraft and dry stone walling we saw some interesting fungi...

spectacular Giant Redwoods...

and beautiful artwork...

I hope you had a lovely Sunday too!

Monday, 15 September 2014

log blog!

Autumn will soon be upon us...nights are drawing in, mornings are darker, the temperatures are slowly dropping and leaves are turning golden and falling. 

We had delivery of small logs - and some larger logs destined for other things - as it's now time to restock the woodpile in preparation for the coming cooler weather.

Grandson stocked baskets with logs...

...and gave them to grandad to build up the woodpile - or the bus stop as we like to call it, after our son asked us why we had a bus stop in the yard

We are now ready for autumn!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Pecan Pie with Bourbon

I have a confession to make...I can't do pastry! 

So I've set myself a challenge to learn to make pastry.  It's not that I don't understand the ingredients, the measurements or the technique.  I. Just. Can't. Do. It.  

Now you may say it's easy - as many have done - but I don't agree.  I think I have a mental block about it just in the same way that I used to say I couldn't do maths.  Cakes, bread, and yorkshire puddings hold no fear for me and I love attempting new recipes, but pastry, no thank you.

However, at a training day this week (unrelated to pastry/cooking) we were asked to think of a challenge we'd like to overcome and given the current showings of 'The Great British Bake Off' my thoughts turned to pastry, my nemesis of choice.

My poor family have never been given much in the way of pastry baked goods: pies, pasties or tarts, I just haven't wanted to make pastry as I knew I'd be setting myself up to fail.  Although to be fair neither do I particularly like pastry myself - I'm like one of those parents whose children have never tried bananas because the parent doesn't like them (I do like bananas by the way).

So my challenge is to make pastry successfully, enjoy the process, and not eff and blind as I have done in the past (my daughter and OH were witness to that particular event).

The prescribed solution was to take small steps before building up to fully fledged pastry, i.e. cheat!  So I bought some shortcrust pastry to use first - then I'll try a bag of pastry mix before being let loose with the real stuff.

So what to make first?  Obviously (as the title of the post says) Pecan Pie with Bourbon, a Jamie Oliver recipe.  I had all of the ingredients in the cupboard and found the whole recipe fairly easy to do, particularly given the bought pastry.  Although a costly dessert as pecans are quite expensive, I thought the expense worthwhile if it helps me to succeed in my challenge.  You'll find the recipe at the end of the post...

The assembled ingredients (please ignore the plastered but unpainted wall).

A pastry case baked blind....and I'm actually enjoying the cooking although I suspect I rolled the pastry a bit thinly in places, hence the browner bits.  But please notice that there is no soggy bottom!

The pecan, sugar, bourbon, treacle, eggs and cinnamon mix before going into the pastry case.

The finished pie - delicious with some ice cream.  Not too sweet, warming from the bourbon and a successful  start on my pastry journey.

Tonight it's Corned Beef and Potato Pie at the request of my OH (using the remainder of the bought pastry).

Bourbon Pecan Tart (Jamie's America)
Serves 10-12.  
Oven temp: 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

Sweet pastry (I used ordinary shortcrust pastry)
450g pecan nuts
3 large eggs
175g golden caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100ml molasses or black treacle
50g unsalted butter, melted
50ml bourbon whiskey

Make pastry according to the recipe.
Take half of the pecans and using a rolling pin smash them up in a bag or tea towel.
After chilling the pastry roll it out and bake blind in a preheated oven.
For the filling whisk together the sugar, eggs and cinnamon.  Add the smashed pecans, molasses/treacle, butter and bourbon and mix with a spoon.  Stir in the rest of the pecans.
Pour the mixture into the pastry case.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set at the sides.  
remove from the oven and cool in the tin before serving (at least an hour).
Serve with vanilla ice cream.