Friday, 31 October 2014

A D.I.Y Halloween Horror

I have been running around like a headless chicken trying to get the guest room sorted for guests coming tomorrow!  Yes good time to start sanding the walls Chickpea!  I haven't got a hope in hell of finishing, especially as we will be wondering through the woods tonight getting the life scared out of us by Rogue Theatre!

 I haven't had a chance to sort a costume for tonight,  what do you think,  is this scary enough?  Oh well back to picking  all the Parma Violets out of the sweets for the trick or treaters.  You don't think I'm giving my favourites away do you?

I hope you all have a fun evening whatever you are doing.

Chickpea xx

Welcome to Marlene and Tess :)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Socca and Socks

Not being able to eat gluten has meant that I have been experimenting with all sorts of different flours.  Today I made socca, also known as farinata.   I have eaten it several times in cafes but never tried making it.  It is a type of flatbread that can be eaten as it is with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt  for example, or as a type of 'pizza' base.  It is really easy to make with 4 basic ingredients, then you can add whatever you like to the basic mix, garlic, herbs or spices.  It can have an Italian feel to it with basil, thyme etc. or an indian flatbread vibe with cumin, coriander etc.  Go mad, try all the different herbs and spices and see which is your favourite.... or leave it plain.

The  basic recipe I used for the socca is 1 cup of chickpea (gram) flour, 1 cup of warm water, 1 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive, sea salt,  I then added  1\2 tsp of cumin to give it a lovely 'warm' kick.  Mix it all together getting rid of any lumps and then leave to sit for a couple of hours or longer.  If you do not have the American cups, use a mug, it is basically 1 large mug of flour to 1 large mug of water.

In the mean time I thinly sliced some onions and bell peppers let them slowly soften in a frying pan with the lid on.  I added some chilli for a kick.

The thin base crumbled a bit getting it out of the tin.

Heat the oven to 200c.  If you have a cast iron pan that would be ideal, I used a couple of sandwich  cake tins to make two thin bases.   Heat the tins in the oven, pour a glug (I sound like Jamie Oliver) of olive oil in the pans making sure they are well coated, and pour in the mixture.  Spread the onion and pepper mix on top and cook in the oven for 10 to 15 mins until set and slightly browned. If you are making thin crispier bases  they can be a bit difficult to get out of the pan and may crumble a little but taste delicious.  You can add any topping you like, they could be different every time!

I then experimented by putting all the mixture into one large cake tin so that it was a deeper thickness. Again I put a bit of cumin in the mix.  Heated the tin under the GRILL this time until it was hot, added the olive oil to coat the tin and poured in the mix.  After about 10 mins under the grill with the tray on the lowest setting so it didn't burn before it was cooked through, it was firm and browning slightly. I used a loose bottomed cake tin this time so it made it easier to get the socca out.  I may invest in a cast iron pan as I intend to make this again and again.  Serve warm.   I ate this with some rocket, sea salt and a dribble of virgin olive oil.  Very easy, very flexible, oven or grill,  lovely jubbly :)

..... and the socks.  I have at last finished my first pair of knitted socks.  It's only taken years!

Thank you for all your comments and tips about insomnia.  There seems to be an awful lot of us out there!

Chickpea xx

Monday, 27 October 2014

Trying to Crack the Insomnia Cycle

Oh to be able to sleep like my cat

I have suffered from sleep related problems all my life.  I used to sleep walk until my early 20's and have suffered from bouts of insomnia all my life.  I would get it for a few weeks or months, then it would settle down again.  For the last 4/5 years it is a permanent problem, made worse in the last year by the start o hot flushes during the night that see me burning up one minute and the next shivering.

Insomnia is hell.  It affects your whole life.  If you have suffered the occasional sleepless night you know how you feel the next day, but you can catch up on your sleep that night.  Insomniacs have that every night, they can never catch up and become more and more exhausted, which in turn can affect their health.  Sleeping tablets are not the solution as they are not to be used long term and when you come off them you are back to square one.

I always wake up several times through the night, sometimes due to the overheating but not always.  Sometimes I can get back to sleep, other times I am wide awake for hours.  I used to be able to go to sleep o.k. but now I find it difficult to get to sleep.  I dread going to bed because I know I will be waking up so this may be the cause.

I have been reading about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT I) which all sounds sensible, I am not sure if it will work for me.  It can help some people, but if you have a sleep disorder it may not cure the problem.  It is worth a go, it can't get any worse!  So over the next two weeks I will be putting a plan in place.  I know there are many of you out there who also suffer so I will let you know what works for me and what doesn't.

So this is the plan I have devised for myself.

1.  Regular wake up time, even at weekends (no lying in)  This is a tough one if you have not slept much during the night, but I will be setting my alarm and making sure I do not fall back to sleep.  Funny how I can sleep when it is time to get up.

2.  Exercise during the day, sitting in an office all day does not make you physically tired.

3.  Use ear plugs, OH snores very loudly and may be waking me up without me realising.

4.  Do not have the bedroom too warm or too many blankets.

5.  The bedroom is only for sleeping, do not watch t.v. etc. which I don't, but have been known to surf the web, check emails on my phone/laptop in bed.

6.  No caffeine for 5 hours before bed.

7.  No 'blue' light for an hour before bed.  Your television, computer and phone give off 'blue' light which can affect your sleep.  I will look into apps you can get but in the mean time they will all be turned off an hour before I go to bed.  No last minute checking messages!

8.  It has also been suggested that a light box in the morning may help, they can be expensive but I will look into this.

9.  This is the controversial one.  Many experts advise having a set bedtime, others say go to bed when you feel tired and not before.  I think this may work better for me, if I go to bed early I either lie there for hours or wake up again within the hour.

Sheer coincidence but after I had written my plan there was a feature on insomnia during Womens Hour.  The tip I got from that is:-

10.  If you wake and cannot get back to sleep, get up and do something that involves using your hands and eyes.  He suggested a jigsaw, something that needs concentration.

You have probably heard the news about the death of three people in the sea near Newquay this weekend.  My heart goes out to their families.  Stay safe everyone.

Chickpea xx

Welcome to Laura, Rainbowchild and Kique Ruiz

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Occupying Exeter

OH had to go to Exeter for the day yesterday so we thought we might as well make the most of it so I joined him and we stayed the night.  Exeter is such a pretty little city I enjoy visiting whenever we can.  It has a beautiful old wall which was built by the Romans and a lovely Cathedral, so cue lots of photos of the Cathedral.  I absolutely love the details that are all over the building, so much work done by such talented stonemasons.

 I think they also have a sense of humour!

The last time we stayed there it was during the Occupy protests, there was a camp in the grounds of the cathedral.  I went along to have a chat with them and was very impressed with their commitment. It was mostly young people camping there, a lovely older lady admitted to me that she went home to her own bed overnight and came back in the morning.  The young people were very knowledgable and politically engaged.  It was lovely to hear how much they cared about the issues that faced the world and their hopes for the future.  They also told me how scary it could be sleeping in their little tents overnight as they had incidents when local drunken yobs had been threatening.    Many people passing were complaining about them without even bothering to ask them why they were there. They saw them as 'scruffy layabouts', when in fact a lot of them were students.  That evening after speaking to them we walked up to the main street to be surrounded by large groups of drunken young men and girls who were worse for drink teetering around in very little clothing.  Yes I sound like an old fogey, but I know which group of young people I was most impressed with.

Chickpea xx

Thursday, 23 October 2014


I don't have to work until this afternoon.  Am I running around catching up with all the washing, ironing dishes etc.? Am I heck!

I am hoping to go to Samba practice tonight after a couple of months recovering from my operation.  I have missed it desperately.  I get so much joy from banging away on my little tam making a HUGE amount of noise.  I have forgotten a lot of the tunes so will be practicing this morning, I don't want to look a complete numpty :)

If you are not familiar with Samba, the video is an example of how much fun it is.  We don't have as many members, and don't jump around as much as them unfortunately, but we all love playing.  I hope you enjoy it.  If you like what you see, find out if you have a local Samba band and go along!

Chickpea xx

Welcome to Rosemary :)

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Storm Chasing

We have a Yellow Alert as Hurricane Gonzalo is sweeping across Cornwall.  I couldn't resist heading down to the coast after work to have a look.  The power of the sea is truly humbling and not to be messed with.

Really stupid place to stand.

 I have lived here all my life and witnessed lives snatched away by the sea when due respect was not given.  Most people were sensible and stayed at a safe distance, I have a good zoom on my camera so rest assured I was safe.  Unfortunately you always get the few who do not give it the respect it deserves, who do not realise how unpredictable it is.  The locals have learned the hard way with loss of loved ones and lucky escapes.  When my grandfather was a daring young man he swam around Godrevy Lighthouse with four friends.  Two of them drowned.  My father, a life long sea angler fishing off the cliffs often told of how he was standing on a rock on a beautiful calm day when a freak wave engulfed the rock.  He managed to scramble to safety as all his fishing tackle was swept out to sea.  Respect the sea.

Chickpea xx

Monday, 20 October 2014

Sharing Food

I believe that one of the best gifts you can give is something you have made.  It doesn't have to be fancy, or take a lot of time of money, we can all make something.  It was my friends 'significant' birthday last week but she was stuck in bed with flu.  She hasn't felt much up to cooking  so is missing out on the very things she needs to aid recovery.  I invited her to come and share a meal that I made from scratch, full of goodness and made with love.   She is also gluten intolerant, everything was 100% gluten free so she didn't have to worry about getting ill.   This was my birthday present to her.

Gluten free lasagna

Roast vegetables

Topped with mozzarella.  Delicious!

With this gluten free lasagna, you have to ensure it is covered with lots of sauce and then covered with foil while baking to make sure it cooks.  Take the foil off for the last few minutes for it to brown.

Followed by gluten free chocolate muffins,  o.k. not exactly nutritious but a birthday treat.  They were made with the same recipe I used for my sons birthday cake which you can find under recipes.

The sharing of food is part of so many cultures, the act of sitting together and enjoying a meal while chatting and putting the world to right is something we are sadly losing in our hectic lives.  There are many people living on their own who may not be able to prepare a meal, or don't have the heart to make something just for themselves and survive on ready meals.  Even those who have meals on wheels or the equivalent just have them dropped off and are still along to eat them.  Food tastes so much better when you have someone to share it with.

I hope you have all had a good weekend.  Thank you for all your comments about the garden clearance, everyone was shattered but it was a good days work.  We are very lucky to have family we can call on.

Chickpea xx