Recipes, Reading and School Sportsday Sunburn

This week, I have once again, attempted to make the recipe on my Good Food Magazine Calendar for the month. I have actually made 4 of the monthly recipes so far and I have made them in the right months. So this calendar is working out rather well!
I didn't make the chorizo and kale hash from January. However, in February there was a chocolate and pomegranate torte which I made twice. I tried making the torte as directed, but had lots of the mixture left over, so I made mini chocloate and raspberry tartlets, which were superb! We couldn't finish all of the large torte, so we blitzed it and made cake-pops too (no photos of those though)! 

I did make the lamb and mango curry in March (no photos, sorry) - which was alright, but not my favourite. I prefer the lamb rogan josh from my Three Sisters Indian Cookbook. I didn't make the hot-cross bun cupcakes in April... I did buy hot cross buns though, so the way I see it, we're even. Last month, I did make the salmon primavera (although I ditched the asparagus and broad beans, because none of us like them). It was nice. But not amazing, and I failed to take a photograph. I am noticing that I tend to only photograph sweet food, puddings and deserts, but not savoury food... ooh! I shall try to rectify that going forwards!

June, however, was the cover recipe! A Strawberry and Peanut Crunch Pie... and it was fantastic! It's looks awesome, it tastes great and it was a no-bake easy to make recipe! Alas, with 379kcals per serving, but it's utterly utterly worth it!
My take on the Strawberry and Peanut Crunch Pie
A sneak peak at July shows a Chilli-Lime Chicken Salad, which may not make the cut as none of us like everything in it!

Whilst beloved was out at a works do the other night, I had my favourite brunch dish for supper, which was a leek and gruyere cheese tartlet, the recipe for which I was given by a chef in the John Lewis cafe one afternoon! I did remember to photograph this! Served with a basic salad, with a balsamic low-cal spray thing... hence the unwiped plate. My pastry cases didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but never mind - it tasted awesome and I had enough left over for lunch!

This one, I'd like to give you the recipe for...
I'll presume that you can make a basic shortcrust pastry (or buy it ready made), line a tart case/tartlet tin & blind bake it? Good.

I don't have measurements, I never have had, I just guesstimate amounts, so I will talk you through what I used the other night, which made enough mixture for 4 tartlet cases;

  • 3 leeks (finely sliced)
  • 200g of Gruyere cheese
  • 3 tbsps cream (I used creme fraiche last night as I was out of cream - it worked ok)
  • knob of butter
  • parmesan cheese

  • Heat the frying pan, and melt the knob of butter.
  • cook the finely sliced leek until it is transluscent - not browned!
  • Add the cheese (I add it one handful at a time) and allow it to melt. This will become a thick mixture quite quickly.
  • add the cream - again, a little at a time, and work it right into the mixture.
  • spoon the filling into the blind-baked pastry cases & sprinkle a generous amount of parmesan cheese over.
  • Grill the tartlets until the parmesan is golden brown.
As you can probably see, I oven baked the tartlets instead of grilling them, (mainly because I was being dim and distracted and forgot to change the settings on our combined oven/grill, but heigh ho). Then serve with side salad. 

Anyway, enough about food! Reading:

I am currently 5 books behind on my target of 52 for this year (most disappointing), but, I am 80% of the way through Judith Arnopp's Intractable Heart, which I will finish and review early next week.

Over the last week, I did finish re-reading one of my favourite books Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, as well as my Historical Fiction groups choice of The Greatest Knight, by Elizabeth Chadwick. I have read this before, and I loved it this time, as much as I did last time. If you haven't read it, I will recommend that you do!

Good Omens 

I love this book. It's funny, it's thought provoking, it's clever, it's easy to read, it's well paced (not too fast, but definitely not slow). If you haven't read it (firstly, you should) it's about the apocalypse.

It's written in third person pov, from multiple perspectives, we meet an Angel, a Demon, the Anti-Christ, an Occultist (who is also a professional descendant), the remnants of the Witchfinder Army, including it's newest recruit who is descended from a Witchfinder of yore responsbile for possibly the last witch-burning in England. There are also the four bikers of the apocalypse, and their four hells angels hangers-on.

The book technically starts in the year 4004BC, but don't worry, it fast forwards a little bit and concentrates on the last eleven years of life on earth before the apocalypse. 

I really don't know what else to tell you on this one. It is fantastic, if it doesn't make you laugh you must be dead inside, I gave it 5/5 stars (and it doesn't have a single viking in it, so it MUST be good).

The Greatest Knight

It's a fiction novel, but it is based on the biography of William Marshall, a real person who knew and worked with/for Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and most of their sons at various times. William's beginings were less than auspicious when at 5 he was taken as a hostage by King Stephen against his father's (John Fitzgilbert - the King's Marshall) "good behaviour". Alas, John later sided with the Empress Maude/Mathilde/Matilda and when they (King Stephen and his entourage) threatened to hang the five year old William, John is reputed to have informed them that he had the "hammer and anvil to make more and better sons". Considering that the hammer and anvil were the symbols of the Kings Marshall (or the Empress' Marshall, as John now was) this was, hopefully, more symbollic than anything. Luckily, King Stephen couldn't hang the small boy, and a good thing too.

The Greatest Knight covers William's life into the reign of Richard I, however, there is a follow up, The Scarlet Lion, which covers the rest, so I don't want to do spoilers. William Marshall was a real person though and his reputation as the Greatest Knight (or from the title of another recent book about him, The Knight who Saved England - which I have bought, but not read yet) is not undeserved. A statue of him stands behind the throne in the house of Lords, and (again not wanting to do spoilers) there probably isn't a better place for it!

Anyway, I gave this one 5/5 stars too, and this doesn't have vikings in it either... I may need to re-evaluate my criteria!

School Sports Day

Well, daughter had her second ever school sports day this week... From a sports perspective, she has had a pretty good week (since last Friday anyway)... she got 'person of the match' at football, graded at karate, was told she was 'the best' and bowled someone out on her first attempt at Cricket on Monday, it's all gone pretty swimmingly. Sports day, on Wednesday, started out pretty overcast. I wore a jacket and every second parent was holding a brolly... just in case. But the sun shone. Really shone, I got sunburned, and it was only on for about an hour!

Their team (yellow) came 3rd of 4 overall... the way it works is that the children are in teams (red, blue, yellow and green) then they are split into groups of 5 and sent off to compete in the events, which were, mini hurdles, the water race, the sack race, discs and domes, the relay, the egg and spoon and the bean bag race... they are allocated a card depending on where they come in each race and the captain runs with the cards, to a central desk. they get points depending on where they came, and the points for each group of 5 are added together to give a team total. Sounds complicated? At least I wasn't adding it up. Some of the smallest children didn't have any competativeness, urgency or motivation to run on a warm day, which frustrated the older children no end, but everyone seemed to have fun, everybody took part in every event and the emphasis was very much on taking part and having fun...

I took tonnes of photographs, but school rules are that you can't post them on social media (I presume that blogging counts right?) if there are other children in the shot... trying to get a photo without other children in, in the middle of a field full of children who are running around, is harder than you might expect... although I did get this one(----->) of her mid-sack race and then cropped the other kids out of it! I got an awesome shot of her over the hurdles (literally mid-jump) but cropping the other kids out of it will take far longer than I have the motivation to spend on it! Don't you love the school issue sun-hats? And because all of the children were wearing them, none of them felt left out. The sacks have certainly improved since I was her age, when we had hessian potato sacks, rather than these splendiforous specially made things with handles!

Anyway... Football club again shortly, so I really must dash. Don't forget that I will be reviewing Intractable Heart by Judith Arnopp early next week, and hosting the author herself on Sunday 22nd!


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