Thursday, 29 January 2015

Crows in the House!

I went for an early morning walk on the beach, it was blowing a hooley, cold and stinging rain.......but I love it :)  I could never live far from the sea.  It was part of my walking 10,000 steps a day challenge.  As I was walking along I was thinking how lovely it would be to have a dog with me.  I keep looking at all the different types of dogs trying to decide which breed to get.  I even stopped a man yesterday on my walk to ask what type of dog he had.  It was a beautiful poodle/golden retriever cross, with the softest of fur.... sigh.   One day.

Anyway here are some photos I took on my phone including some birds catching the currants and two mad women playing in the surf.  They were taken in gail force winds so may be a bit blurred!

When I was walking back to the car I stopped to watch an inquisitive crow walking along the beach checking everything out.  They are one of my favourite birds because of their intelligence.  Little did I know that when I got home I would find two of them in my house!!! I kid you not.  As I walked in I could here banging and crashing which I thought was our cat having a mad moment.  As I walked in a saw a crow banging agains the patio doors trying to get out.  My first thought was that the cat must have brought it in, though very unlikely as she is frightened of them.  Then I spotted the other one behind the curtain, so there is no way the cat would have brought two in.  I opened the patio doors to let them out before they damaged themselves.  Then panicked thinking someone must have broken in and left a door or window open, but everything was all shut up.  The only thing I can think is that they came in through the cat flap.  Well you have to give them an A for ingenuity.  The cat was hiding upstairs terrified.  She still hasn't come down.  If you are a fan of the crow family, there is a wonderful book called Corvus, A Life with Birds written by Esther Woolfson who raised birds when they were injured or rescued from cats.  It shows just how clever they are.

I will leave you with this little video I took of the birds as I was trying not to get blown off the cliff.

We are off to St Ives tonight, we are having a Mexican meal for my sons birthday, I'm really looking forward to it.  Thank you for your lovely comments yesterday, and welcome to Pixie poppet.

Chickpea xx

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Cooking the Books - Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam first came to my attention with his The New Vegetarian column in the Guardian.  I used to cut out and keep the delicious, exotic sounding recipes.  Later he had a series on the television where he travelled around the Mediterranean looking at the local food. I was hooked.   In this book he has brought together many of the recipes from the column, they are all vegetarian and reflect his upbringing in Israel, and Sami Tamimi who he described as the other creative force in the company who grew up in Palastine.  He is not a vegetarian so his other books include meat and fish.

I have to  confess that despite saving the recipes over the years I have never cooked any of them.  It is the kind of food I drool over but think, well the bearded one wouldn't eat any of them so is it worth the effort.  Setting the goal of 'Cooking the Books' prodded me into action and I chose Leek fritters as I had leeks in my veg box this week.  It is a lot of ingredients but I actually had most of them already, and it is a bit of a faff, but not too difficult skill wise.  You don't have to make the sauce, a squirt of lemon or lime juice will suffice .  Here's the recipe:


Serves 4

3 leeks (450g in total, trimmed weight)
5 shallots finely chopped
150 ml olive oil
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and sliced
25 g parsley (leaves and fine stalks) finely chopped
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 free-range egg white
120 g self-raising flour ( I used gluten free)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 free-range egg
150 ml milk
55g unsalted butter melted.


100g Greek yoghurt
100g soured cream
2 garlic cloves crushed 
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
20g parsley leaves chopped
30g coriander leaves chopped

Start by making the sauce.  Blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor until a uniform green.  Set aside for later.

Cut the leeks into 2 cm thick slices, rinse and drain dry.  Saute the leeks and shallots in a pan with half the oil on a medium heat for about 15 mins, or until soft.  Transfer to a large bowl and add the chilli, parsley, spices, sugar and salt.  Allow to cool down.

Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and fold it into the vegetables.  In another bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, whole egg, milk and butter to form a batter.  Gently mix it into the egg white and vegetable mixture.

Put 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil in a large frying pan and place over a medium heat.  Spoon about half of the vegetable mixture into the pan to make four large fritters.  Fry them for 2 - 3 mins on each side, or until golden and crisp.  Remove to kitchen paper and keep warm.  Continue making the fritters, adding more oil as needed.  You should end up with about eight large fritters.  Serve warm with the sauce on the side or drizzle over.  

So were they worth it?  Yes!  I really enjoyed them, they were very light and tasty and I like the sauce with them, but they would have been fine without.  Would I make them again?  Yes I would,  they would make a really nice supper for friends served with a green salad. I did use an awful lot of dishes though!  I am going to freeze the extra fritters to see if they will be as nice re-cooked from frozen.

I went out for a walk this morning before work as part of my walking 10 thousand steps a day challenge.  It was pouring with rain and I did look a sight with my waterproofs on, it is good to get moving, sadly it isn't helping me sleep any better.

Have any of you used Greenmetropolis, an on line site where you can sell and buy used books?  I have sold and bought many books on there and this morning went on to order a book I had seen on Shrimpton and Perfect blog.  I was really saddened to see that it has closed down.  Not only was it a good way to recycle books but I also 'met' a lot of lovely people on there.

Welcome to new blogger followers Jackie and Coco Jayne,  and new Bloglovin followers Anna and Sally :)

Chickpea xx

Monday, 26 January 2015

Darn it and Boyhood

I am a fully signed up member of the make do and mend club, but unfortunately my mending and darning skills when it comes to clothes aren't always up to scratch.  My family bring me their clothes that need repairing and I manage to mend most of them to a certain extent but I will never have the skills my mum had.  That's the problem, I never really learned because I always got my mum to repair and alter anything that needed doing.  Though there were exceptions, when I was a teenage punk I had an old pair of my brothers jeans that were literally falling apart that needed taking up.  My mother was so horrified at the thought of me going out in them that she refused to do it so I stapled them up, which made them even more punk!  There was also an old matted furry jumper that looked like the one Johnny Rotten wore, the sleeves were about a foot too long.  Again she refused to take them up, so I chopped them off after which they unravelled more every day much to my delight and my mothers horror.

So now my sons and the bearded one bring me the clothes they've managed to abuse in some way.  I try my best to give them a little TLS and extend their life.

Are you a mender and darner or do you think life's too short for such things :)

We watched the film Boyhood last night, it was filmed over 12 years with the same cast.  Have you seen it?  I enjoyed it, I thought it was wonderful literally watching the cast grow up, what an amazing concept.  Well done to the director Richard Linklater for coming up with the idea and carrying it through.  The young boy Ellar Coltrane was particularly good.  The bearded one on the other hand thought it was boring because nothing happened.  Well that was the point, it was family life through the years with insights into America at the time. I was also trying to pick out the year by the music. Here's a trailer.

Thank you for all the lovely comments about my photos over the weekend, it was a wonderful morning, and I am so glad I took the time to go.  Also welcome to 1st man, who escaped to the country and is living the life I am hankering after.

Chickpea xx

Saturday, 24 January 2015

A Magical Day

Life can be hectic, life can be stressful and usually we put our needs last.  But sometimes you just have to say today my health is at the top of the 'to do' list.  After a big operation last year and a huge operation the year before my fitness has suffered.  I have put on weight and I just can't do what I did before, but I hadn't realised how little I exercise now.  Gone are the early morning run/walks the insomnia has seen to that, but even walking has suffered.  On my new phone I have a little app that tells me how much I walk, it not completely accurate as obviously I don't carry it around in the house but the average over a day is less than 5000 steps a day. when I was easily managing 10,000 before. So things have got to change!  I woke up to a gloriously cold blue-sky day on Friday with a beautiful mist hovering over low lying areas.  I decided to head to the river at Malpas where the mist would be lying in the valley.  Wow, I am so glad I did.  It was one of those magical days,  I took my camera so I will share the beauty with you.

My beautiful home city

These beautiful swans were swimming along beside me as I walked along the path, what better company could you ask for.

As they swam into the distance they all took flight, sadly too far away for me to get a photo of the beautiful sight.

The icy mist was lying along the water, making the boats looks ghostly.

By the time I returned the tide had gone out so the birds were searching the river bed,  though this trio decided to chance their luck on the cricket field.


 I hope you are all having a great weekend,

Chickpea xx

Friday, 23 January 2015

Eating Seasonally

Last Friday I posted a photo of the veg box I received, they change slightly week by week.  I thought I would share with you some of the meals I made with the veggies.

Winter tofu salad made with some of the red cabbage and carrot.

Roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips with our Sunday Dinner.

Warming and filling onion soup with cheese on toast.

Potato, carrot and parsnip rostis, so easy and quick.

They had some blood oranges in my local fruit shop, they are delicious combined with the earthiness of beetroot in a salad.  Feta and a dressing made with the grated orange skins, together with some of the salad from the box made a lovely dinner.

Kale is apparently a 'super food', I don't know about that, but it was delicious with gluten free spaghetti, tomatoes and a little grated cheese on top.

I love winter veg and really look forward to it, then again I also love summer veg. and look forward to that.   I just love eating seasonally :)

Which do you prefer summer or winter veg?

It was a stunningly beautiful day today so I went for a walk along the river and took lots of photos of course.  I will share them with you on my next post.  I'm still trying to eat less and move more, you wouldn't think it from today post!

Chickpea xx

Welcome to new follower Chris :)