decorating, drEAming, fEAsting, general chit chat, homestEAding, meal planning

Meal Planning and a bit of chit chat…

For those of you who are interested you will find my menu plan for the week over on Re-routed

I don’t know about you it has been a very busy weekend here eating all that chocolate and cake LOL! 
But we have made progress – the kitchen planner came on Saturday and we now have a plan and room views of the proposed kitchen we just need to decide on the style, range and everything else.  I did find it very odd that one of the first questions on the form our planner fills in was “will you be wanting a cutlery tray?”
Of course we always manage to choose something from the expensive range no matter what we are buying so we may have to compromise a bit on what we want – good job we have a small kitchen! 
After many splodges on the wall we have at last found the paint colour we have been trying for.  With all the tester pots we have we could have produced a patchwork effect as a feature wall (maybe not a bad idea).  We are having the same base colour throughout all the rooms in our house and now that decision is made I need to go and get a tester pot to choose a ceiling colour.  We are having Farrow and Ball paint we have used it many times before and it does give a good finish.  All I need now is for Homebase to have a 20% off paint day sale and we will be first in the queue.
To get back to my focus for the month which is simplifying my space I have been doing a task a day and I will be posting about that soon.  I would have done it tonight but I have my appraisal at work tomorrow so must go now and fill in the dreaded form – which bright spark invented appraisals???
Hope you all had a good weekend and better weather I will catch up with you in the week.
being thrifty, fEAsting, food shopping, meal planning, trEAsury

Reducing the spending is back…

For anyone that is interested I am restarting my Reducing the spending posts over on my sister blog Re-routed.
This is where I will be taking stock of my grocery budget and meal planning.  I will also be moving the posts on ‘What I have bought this week’ over there just to keep these challenges separate from this blog.
Very soon I will be updating you on this months focus which is to Simplify my Space.
Have a good day tomorrow lets hope the weather is calmer.
fEAsting, meal planning, organising, rEArranging, trEAsure

Easy steps to organised cooking…

Believe it or not there is a term that incorporates organising with cooking.  If you saw the state of my kitchen at times after a baking session you would not think this possible.  The term I refer to is ‘Mise en place’ – quite simply it is French for ‘put in place’ a trained chef would refer to it as prepping.  

I like to call it Blue Peter cooking if you can remember that far back (and no you do not need any empty Fairy liquid bottles).  Every ingredient is pre weighed or prepared and then placed into something like a glass Pyrex bowl.  If you want to refresh your memory just take a look at this brilliant clip (wait for the trailer to finish) and note the bowls of ingredients all ready to go.  I think I might even make those cute mini Dalek cakes!

Having quite a tiny kitchen I adopted this method a while ago and it has much improved the way I keep myself and the kitchen organised whilst cooking and baking. 

Firstly I read through the recipe and collect all the ingredients together. 

mise en place 4

Then I weigh and pre-prepare everything and place into little bowls such as these cuties I found recently in Waitrose…

Pyrex Bowls

Now you might think that this method increases the washing up load with all those little bowls (and you would be right to some extent) however, I find that having one ingredient per bowl isn’t necessary as you can generally combine many of the ingredients. 

For instance when making a cake all the dry ingredients can be put together,

Mise en place 5

or with something like Nutloaf I combine the nuts and breadcrumbs and similarly with veg soup I would combine any veg added at the same stage of cooking.

mise en place 3

 

…then have a good clean up before launching into the mixing and cooking.

 

I don’t weigh out the olive oil for cooking but I do get the bottle out of the cupboard and have it ready together with all the utensils I am going to need.  Before I begin I would also check I have the right baking dish and prepare that too.

The bonus of this method is you don’t come across those little surprises halfway through a recipe when you discover that the only egg you thought you had has been eaten for breakfast that morning and too late to abandon the recipe you end up dashing to the local shop or next door.

The tendency is always to rush into the mixing and cooking but I find organising myself this way I avoid burning one thing in the pan whilst I am hurriedly preparing something else or forgetting an ingredient altogether.  I can remember many times trying to add that pinch of salt or herbs to a rolled up ball of pastry having forgotten to include it when it was just at the crumb stage!  

I noticed that the ‘forgotten’ ingredient happened quite regularly on the Bake Off – and who, I would like to know, does all their clearing up?

bEAching, cottage garden, fEAsting, meal planning

An apple a day keeps the Deer happy…

Homegrown Apples

Some of these cooking apples may be a little misshapen and show signs of pest attack but they are home grown at our Beach Cottage in Scotland and taste delicious in a crumble.  I am hoping there will be a few more when we go up in a couple of weeks time.

If you look closely at this picture below, which I took back in July,  you can see a young deer that had ventured into our garden having a crafty nibble at my apple tree.  Fortunately all the apples are on the higher branches and out of reach.  I think it is quite probable that we have  a lot of  visits by the wildlife when we are not there, this lovely lady did seem a little surprised to see me pointing a camera at her.  I expect she usually has the garden to herself.

Deer with Apple Tree

 

This week we have been enjoying Plum and Apple Crumble.

Plum and Apple Crumble

read about it on Re-routed