Saturday, 22 February 2014


I once used to make my own bread but recent attempts have failed leaving me disheartened.  So when I saw a local class I booked up and this morning I had a wonderful time!  The class was run by Ann Hood who some of you might know from the tv Masterchef programme. Her relaxed style made every one feel at ease and I knew from the outset that I was going to have fun!

I wasn't quite sure how we would make bread in the 2.5 hrs that we were there... in my experience just the making can take that long without baking time! But I was told we would be making traditional bread, brioche, focaccia and walnut bread. Really?! Now that sounded even more of a challenge!!  But guess what?  We didn't just make one type of each, we made:
Traditional bread
Garlic tear 'n share
Bread sticks (3 varieties) some rolled in lemon zest - some with seseame seeds - some brushed with honey & sprinkled with pieces of walnut
Foccacia with finely chopped rosemary added to the dough for flavour and after baking brushed with olive oil, topped with cracked pepper, sea salt, and more finely chopped rosemary
Small rolls flavoured with chill flakes and brushed with crushed ginger infused in oil
Walnut bread which we dipped into a coffee sauce (try it before you knock it!!)
Brioche - individual chocolate chip ones with a chocolate sauce - and a plaited orange zest loaf
We also made a Balsamic and Oil dip to go with the bread sticks and the chocolate and coffee sauces.

Who would have thought this was possible in the time given?! 
But it was.....


And not only that... I also learnt so many tips and techniques! I now know that I can freeze fresh chilli's and ginger and use them as I need. I know about flour and yeast, how to get crusty bread and more importantly a light texture. This class has really boosted my confidence and de-mystified bread making.  

But how did we make so many kinds of bread in so short time? Well, Ann has developed her own technique and she warned us it was controversial.  And it is!  Forget traditional bread making with hours for proving, knocking back, kneading and more proving. Her method is revolutionary and as they say, the proof was in the eating. Luckily I took lots of notes so I should remember most of what I learnt and the recipes will be emailed later so that I can try them at home. I also popped into Tesco on my way to buy some fresh yeast. A whole block for 0.01p! I'm ready and raring to go...

So a big thank you to Ann for showing me how easy it is to make bread and to adapt recipes. I'm so glad that I discovered this class and booked it. If you want to learn some of her tips Ann has just had her first book published.  I do not get commission for mentioning it, nor have I looked through a copy, but if it is anything as good as her class it comes highly recommended. 

The Smart Book of Recipes & Tips CoverAnn runs the Smart School of Cookery    Classes are held in London and the South East and I  shall be
looking out for more to attend.

Thanks for popping by. I'll be posting again   soon about my recent sausage making experience.

There is a resurgence in my kitchen!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

5 in 5 - MELANIE February 2014


Those who follow my posts might know that Melanie is my friend who lives in Australia. She loves photography and every month she has taken part in this monthly neme.
Melanie does not have a blog and so each month I post her photos. I love that we have found a way for her to take part!
When I began this photo challenge last July I did not anticipate that this partnership would develop. It was not planned but I am SO glad that it happened because it has added something unexpected. I am so excited each month when I open Melanie's email with her monthly photos so once again Melanie, a big thank you, and over to you:

"Belair National Park is still on my list of places to go for the 5 in 5 photos but today Adelaide is back with temperatures expected to be in the thirties and it is a day of severe fire danger.  They do not actually close the national parks but there is an onus on the public to stay away from such places on days of high fire danger so not a place I would think of going to when the day is one of severe fire danger.  It is not quite as hot by the coast and when I just checked our outside thermometer which sits in the shade on our front deck it was only 28C.  Enough of the weather conditions back to photos.  I was going for morning tea with a friend who lives in Hallet Cove a place just a bit south of where I live and they have a conservation park there on the coast with a board walk, walking trail and lots of interesting rock formations. For those who would like to learn more about the park take a look at

One of my favourite places in the park is the Sugarloaf.  This rock formation was named Sugarloaf because of it similarity to a hardened block of sugar.  My photos are taken at and around the Sugarloaf.

Top left is the Sugarloaf itself.   Bottom left is a part of the boardwalk.  The middle photo is a shot of the steps leading up to the Sugarloaf.  The top right is included because this plane was circling out at sea the whole time I was walking in the park.  This is usually a sign that a shark has been sighted,  a few have been sighted out at sea during this summer. The bottom right is one of the many views of the sea which are constantly with you as you walk in the park.

Hope you have fun seeing my 5 in 5 for this month and I look forward to seeing others that have been taken".
Those of us who live in UK will be appreciating these blue skies, the idea of such high temperatures and risk of fires seems a million miles from the floods and grey skies we continue to experience. Some areas have been cut off by flood water since before Christmas, how crazy the worlds weather is.

If this has inspired you to take photos to add to this challenge you have until 25th before the link closes. It's great fun and this post should answer any questions or give any other information that you need.


Thank you to Melanie and everyone else who has taken part. Links for this months posts are here and I'll be back next month with more photos from Melanie and myself. 


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

5 in 5 - February 2014 - CURRY NIGHT

Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of
each month I post 5 photos that I have
taken in 5 minutes. 

Do you like curry?  We do. Vegetable, chicken, beef, prawn. You name it, we like it. We have a number of curry recipe books and for the past 2 years there has been a monthly box that arrives by post on our doorstep. A thoughtful gift from our children. Inside there are all the spices you need and the recipe for a complete meal including side dishes. It has become a regular routine for my son and husband to take over the kitchen and cook together. They have discovered skills and techniques they didn't know existed and there is lots of chopping and preparation, as well as laughter. They can be in the kitchen for hours and it is something they have grown to enjoy and look forward to.  
But not every curry is such effort. No, we probably have a curry at least once a week and we have a cupboard full of spices. We love experimenting and cooking from scratch and we have lots of recipes that are quick and easy to do.
And this evening I came home from work to a wonderful smell greeting me as I opened the door.  On the kitchen worktop a recipe book is open and onions are cooking in the pan.


There are spices and fresh lemon, and I look forward to another curry night. 

There are other things I like about curry too, such as the names of the spices we use: coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric, fenugreek, fennel, chilli, garam masala, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, mustard seed, and cloves. Each has its own distinct flavour and character and I love grinding seeds in the morter or watching mustard seeds sizzle and pop in hot oil. Every action is part of an enjoyable process. 
But right now the rice is nearly cooked and nann bread is ready to be warmed. I had better go and help....

Thank you for popping by and to everyone who has taken part in this monthly challenge.  I really look forward to seeing your photos and I hope you are inspired to get out your camera and join in. Here is the plan:

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a mobile timer for 5 minutes.

4.  Take as many photos you can until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool.
   You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos. 


If you want to know more there are details here.

And one more thing - when you use the link tool, please click on your post title.  This will show the web address. Please right click, copy and paste this as your link.  This will take readers directly to your '5 in 5' blog page and be easier for them to find.


Thank you to those who have taken part so far. I have loved seeing your photos and hope you will be back with more. 

And don't forget, you have until 25th to post your link!

Sunday, 2 February 2014


How many of us have niggles or things we want to change but struggle because we are stuck, lack confidence or bravery?  Well, don't give up hope. I discovered sometimes we block ourselves or get in our own way of making things happen.

Take last week. I was off work and planned to use some of this time doing things around the house that I don't normally have time for. I made up my mind not to switch the computer on until later in the day.  It is far too easy to think:
'Oh, I'll check emails' as I pass or,
'I'll just see if there are any updates on Facebook'.....
The next thing an hour or two has passed.  Are you the same?

And so I started one thing, which led to another and another, and my energy and momentum just kept flowing. It was a huge achievement and at the end of the day I had so much to show for my time and effort. I felt great!

 At the end of the day I switched on the computer and very timely I
saw a post about how Facebook and social media can be linked with avoidance. Brene' Brown suggests that when we are struggling it is easier to post on Facebook or twitter and to feel uplifted by immediate comment or encouragement. It can also help us to avoid the problem or thing we find difficult to face, as the gratification of feeling supported or in company reduces our unwanted feeling. I immediately saw a connection, about how easy it is for me to sit on the computer and to feel part of a wider network of like minded people and friends, and how much more preferable this is to facing difficult things such as de-cluttering, sorting out paperwork or other mundane tasks.

And yet by not switching on the computer I discovered I felt more satisfied by what I achieved and I had far more to show for my day.  So I will embrace this and try to make it a regular habit. To do what I need to do and THEN switch on the computer! 

Some of you will know that I am working through The Artists Way*.  Interestingly I started Chapter 4 today and I am encouraged to deprive myself of books and other distractions for one week. It doesn't surprise me that this comes up now to remind me of a lesson learned. So I will include tv and the likes of Facebook since these also occupy lots of my time and take me away from other things I could be doing. And I don't just mean chores, I mean being creative and having fun too. Because on days when I come home from work and then make the most of my evening by going out or doing something interesting (rather than just watching tv or sitting on the computer) my time stretches and a day can feel like a weekend.

And so while I will find it difficult to restrict these things for a week I will embrace this idea with relish. Because I know I have lots of other things I can enjoy and look forward to, and that these are a distraction. I have lots of ideas for blog posts, photos (more than I care to think about) waiting to be organised into files, and lots of projects in progress.  I am hoping to catch up with some of these and to continue other things I have started because I have learnt that facing things we sometimes avoid isn't always as bad once we get going! 

 *The Artists Way is a book written by Julia Cameron. More information here.

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