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The morning after we found out, C woke me up with surprise tulips, green bananas, conference pears and a red pepper from the greengrocer. All my favourite things!

So there has been a bit of quiet here, while i adjusted to the news that I am pregnant, and made some big decisions for the future. Sadly i will be leaving beautiful Bath city, home of roman ruins, Jane Austen and cider; but it never made much economical sense to live here. It’s amazing though, how family comes through for you at a time like this, offering not only advice but a roof and support and real friendship. We will be moving far into the Wilderness of The North, with fishing boats and biting winds and timorous beasties…couldn’t be much more different from here, and for that i am excited.

But with every decision comes a few regrets, and i will be sad to leave my close friends, and be even further away from my side of the family. I’ll miss the architecture, the Avon, the hundred sweet little antique shops…but I won’t miss the price of renting. And sometimes, just sometimes, that little thing called money is important.

So as i fight off feeling incredibly sick by nibbling on breadsticks, i’ll end this with some very new phrases to me: i am 6 weeks in, and the estimated due date is the last week of august.

Here goes nothing…

as the time ticks away, and we settle firmly into a new routine and a new year with new things happening…

i must not forget to ground myself and look for beauty in simplicity and the everyday.

my recipe for mature cheddar cheese biscuits with a bite; great as canapes with wine and cocktails, or as a treat instead of bread with soups.

grown-up cheese biscuits:
(mine made 4 baking sheets of little bitesize biscuits)

8oz plain flour
5oz stork (hard cooking margerine) or cold butter/cookeen/lard
tsp cayenne pepper
tsp paprika
heaped tbsp dried mixed herbs (and/or any fresh you have in the garden)
good pinch of salt
8oz mature cheddar, grated
an egg

this recipe is basically an enriched version of the shortcrust pastry i use for quiches, pies and tarts all the time. that’s 8oz flour, 5oz stork and 1 egg. but whatever recipe you use, the real trick of good pastry is cold hands 😉

combine dry ingredients in a bowl. use the herbs and spices you like best which compliment cheddar cheese, or use parmesan! add chilli or curry powder if you want them to lift a boring soup, or leave all spices and cayenne pepper out if youre making them for kids. or use english mustard! i’m getting excited just thinking about the variations. back to the recipe:
combine dry ingredients and add the cold stork/butter. use a knife to chop the fat into the flour, to speed up the next part: rub in the fat, just like pastry, until it looks like breadcrumbs.
add the grated cheese and gently mix it with your hands so all the cheese is coated with the dry mixture. add the egg (and a little water if it needs it) and mix with your hand until it forms a ball.
if your kitchen is warm, put it in plastic and into the fridge for 20 mins or so. if you can see your breath in your kitchen like i can, there’s really no need! roll it out on a floured surface until it’s the thickness of corrugated cardboard. that’s the cardboard that makes wine boxes, incase you were wondering!
use gayly coloured, amusingly shaped cookie cutters to make fun little biscuits, or be reserved and make them round (boring!). place them on lightly oiled trays (they shouldn’t spread, so pack the trays but don’t let the biscuits touch) and bake them in a 180 deg. celcius oven (gas mark…6?) for ABOUT 10 mins. they are cooked when they don’t squish when you poke them, and they are a nice golden colour. they are overcooked when the edges go dark brown.
note: if you wanted to do this in a food processor (recommended if youre making large batches for a party) i would first grate the cheese in it and set aside. then put butter and dry ingredients in and blitz until it looks like breadcrumbs. stop the motor and add cheese and the egg (i’ve had so many shell-related accidents by not stopping the motor in this way!) and blitz again JUST until it forms a ball. take out and carry on as usual.

the butternut squah has got to be my favourite vegetable (go on, just argue that it’s a fruit!). it’s got such versatility in the way it can be cooked, but more importantly lends itself so perfectly to my favourite meals to cook – soups. here’s my first recipe shared through this blog, which will also be located on the ideas & tutorials page at the top.

sweet butternut soup:

(for 2 hearty bowlfuls)

half a butternut squah

a large carrot

a small white onion or handful of shallots

a sqeeze of tomato puree

half a tin of your choice of beans eg. borlotti, butter beans

various condiments and cupboard supplies!

first you need to peel and chop the vegetables. chopping them smaller means the soup takes less time to cook! put them in a heavy pan with a little oil and fry them on a low heat, moving them around a bit for a few minutes.

while they’re softening, open the tin of beans and rinse them thoroughly (or use dried beans that you have soaked in water beforehand).

pour some fresh water into the pan of vegetables, about quarter of a pint, and squeeze in some tomato puree. the reason i’m not using vegetable stock is that the butternut squah flavour is brave and will carry through the others i put in. cover the pan and simmer for 20 or so minutes until the vegetables and very soft. check a couple of times to make sure there’s still liquid – add a bit more water if it’s boiled away – and then mash it roughly.

that is your basic butternut soup, and now it’s time to customise it to your taste.

i like this soup to get sweet with earthy undertones, so i add a spoonful of honey, and then a splash of balsamic vinegar. a little salt but no pepper as i don’t want to spoil the squah flavours. and some dried herbs because i don’t have any fresh sage.

for something a little hotter, add a pinch each of chilli powder and ground ginger, or some tobasco.

for the beans, my favourite for this soup are butter beans, as they compliment the flavours so nicely. today i used borlotti beans, but i wasn’t impressed with their brownish awful colour in the tin. if you don’t like beans throw in some arborio risotto rice, and simmer until the rice has swelled and is soft.

served with my soup here are some little cheddar cheese biscuits, the recipe for which i will post for you tomorrow!

new things today:

i’m going to weigh myself once a week – EEK!

i just joined flickr, and will upload something when i take a january photo

i’m counting my 5-a-day…only i’m starting with 2 to make it more realistic

there are no badminton clubs cheap enough for simple folks like us to join. i’m going to start one.

oh and i’m going to move that huge pile of rubbish so i can use the garden.

first photo of the year!

With mum and dad.

It’s that time of year when bloggers all over share the siliness and happiness of the holiday just gone. Possibly something i was more excited about than the actual day, is sharing it with this new community…and being reassured that my family isn’t the only crazy one out there!

After seeing my old friends for the first time since leaving for uni (too long ago!), i spent the holiday with my family, and C. We had just celebrated our 1st year together before Christmas, so it was lovely to spend the day with him for the first time too.

There was lots of making the table look pretty…

And drinking my homemade Sloe Gin and lemonade…

Lots of making vegan mince pies from my homemade mincemeat…

And drinking Sloe Gin and lemonade….(i call it the Pink Lady)…

And it’s always lovely to have us girls together…My sister at the front there, me in the middle and my mum at the back!

I’ll have to wait for the recipients of my handmade gifts to send me some photos, as i was so last-minute in finishing them, i didn’t have a chance to photograph before wrapping them up!