Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Monday, 28 May 2012

Greenfinches

We've been seeing quite a lot of greenfinches recently - here's one adult, and  one very fearless young one I spotted yesterday.














Saturday, 26 May 2012

Friday, 25 May 2012

MIB5 / Chicken Soup

Men In Black 5  ~ not that I've seen 1 or 2, but I've been seeing the poster ads for 3 around the place.


Last Saturday night I took two chicken breast fillets out to defrost. On Sunday morning I remembered that we'd decided that one was sufficient for the stir-fry that I was making.
So I took out a chicken carcase (I get them free from the butcher from time to time, and stick them in freezer) and made a good stock, poaching the spare chicken breast in it for a short while...
Then we had a lovely chicken and sweetcorn soup.

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup: (serves 4)

 1 litre good chicken stock (with sliced ginger if you like, although I found that adding grated ginger at the end was sufficient).
6 spring (green) onions
2 slices fresh ginger
12 oz creamed sweetcorn
1 chicken stock cube if you like extra flavour - I don't like extra additives
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tblsp cornflour
1 egg white
4 ounces /100g shredded cooked chicken

Strain the stock and remove excess fat from the surface.
Chop 4 of the spring onions, grate the ginger and  put in a pan with the stock, sweetcorn, stock cube and sesame oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil.
Blend the cornflour with a little cold water, stir it into the soup and cook for a minute till it thickens.
Whisk the egg white with two tablespoons of cold water and drizzle it into the soup, stirring continuously.
Add the shredded chicken and heat through.
Serve and garnish with the remaining spring onions finely chopped.

As I only made half the quantity, the remaining stock went into a green vegetable risotto which we had for dinner tonight.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

...and blooms

As always my aunt's garden was full of flowers. Here's a small sampling, as it was only a short visit. Pear (I think) blossom, a clematis in the shade under a tree, osteospermum and a teasel.
It was a LOT warmer in her garden than it was down along the seafront. 





Monday, 21 May 2012

Birds...

We went out to my aunt's this afternoon when I finished work, to try to get a generic cartridge installed and working in her printer. Before calling up we had a picnic lunch (leftover Cornish Pasties from Saturday's major baking session) on the seafront in Greystones. Sunshine and blue skies, at last, but with a stiff wind from the sea it was quite cold and after we'd finished the pasties and fed the crumbs to the rooks, we went back to the car for our fruit and peanut-butter cookies.
One of the crows had a really deformed beak - you can see it in this picture, and also you can pick him out in the next one.








We saw some swallows, too - the first I've seen this year. And my aunt and I saw what looked like a juvenile coal tit on one of her feeders.
I've been seeing a robin more regularly too - usually with a beak full of insects as he flies back to the nest. The nest must be in a very different place to any other robins we've had, as he flies over the back gate and out towards the road. So I don't know if we'll be seeing any baby robins on the patio this year.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

You-nique

Out and about in Dublin.



It doesn't seem like so long ago since I took a photo of this wall when it was just gently shabby looking, not totally weathered like this. I'll have to look it out!

Our robins aren't around too often this days - we often see them in front picking insects out of the hedge, less often in the back. So it was a treat to have one fly down this morning when I went to put the bin out and shut the back gate.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Hot off the needles

This is the jacket I knit for little George - the wool was left from one of C's sweaters, and it was great to be able to put it to good use. I enjoyed this because it was all knit in one piece - and sewing things together at the end is my least favourite part of knitting. I did have to learn not just one but two new casting on methods - amazing, after all these years of knitting.




His real present was two books which we had when we were kids, but I also had this altered project which got left out of the Christmas parcel for Waterford.






I spotted one of my orchid irises in bud this morning when I went out to re-pot some bamboo that I had been overwintering indoors, and the nigella is starting to blossom. But it feels cold for May except when the sun is out - I'm still wearing a hat most mornings, and there was one day last week when I'd have been happy to have my gloves, too.

Friday, 4 May 2012

April cards

Favourites from April...it seems to have been a good month on the creative front. I'm so pleased that Rangers brought out some more colours in Liquid Pearls, especially some better greens. They're fun to stamp with, as in this Asian card.






I find it harder to send such simple cards as this, in case people think that they've been short-changed, but they'll always get used somewhere along the way.


Tomorrow's project is finishing off a knitted jacket for my nephew's birthday. Rather stupidly I forgot to bring the wool to work this morning - at least I was able to pick up all the stitches for the front bands so it was all ready to start knitting this afternoon. Picture to follow...

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Neglect

tr.v. ne·glect·ed, ne·glect·ing, ne·glects
1. To pay little or no attention to; fail to heed; disregard: neglected their warnings.
2. To fail to care for or attend to properly: neglects her appearance.
3. To fail to do or carry out, as through carelessness or oversight: neglected to return the call.
 
What I am, apparently, doing to my blog. And what happened to this hanging basket - although to be fair, it's hanging outside a pub that is a victim of the recession, rather than wilful neglect. And in my case it's lack of time rather than wilful neglect.



We had these Sicilian onions the other day with some lamb chops - definitely on the repeat list. Even though they spattered oil everywhere and left C a big clean-up job on the hob afterwards.


Sicilian caramelised onions
12 oz / 350 g small or pickling onions
2 tblsp olive oil
2 fresh bay leaves torn into strips
thinly pared rind of one lemon
1 tblsp soft brown sugar
1 tblsp clear honey
4 tblsp red wine vinegar
Skin onions - blanch in boiling water first if needed.
Heat oil in a frying pan, add bay leaves and onions and cook for about 6 minutes, turning occasionally, till onions are browned all over.
Cut lemon rind into thin matchsticks (I used zester thingy). Add to the frying pan along with sugar and honey. Cook for 2-3 minutes till the onions start to caramelise.
Add wine vinegar, being careful as it will spit. Cook for about 5 minutes till onions are tender and liquid is almost all evaporated/absorbed.

I used shallots, being what I had. Next time I think I'd just fry the bay leaves whole in the oil - I think you'd still get enough flavour from them, and they were quite chewy and we ended up picking them out. 
 
I promised some owls. I still haven't finished editing my photos, but here are some of the long-eared owl, along with one of the barn owl and the only good one I was able to get of the Snowy. Since the Snowy Owl was still in its cage, and you couldn't get close enough to the bars to really lose them with a wide aperture, it was very difficult to get anything worth keeping.
 


 


Tomorrow - or Saturday - I'll try to sort out a new blog header for May and some of my favourite April cards...