Monday 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Welcome Ghosts and Ghoulies to All Hallow's Eve, or Halloween as it is commonly called! It was not all that big over in the UK when I first moved over here, but it is gaining in popularity all the time. Some people even decorate for it now.

I used to love it when we would visit America around this time of year and see all the decorating and trouble people would go to. Gardens would be festooned with goblins and ghosts and spider webs and such. It was a really big deal.

I loved going Trick or Treating as a child. Great thought would go into my costume each year, which would first be worn at school in the afternoon for our annual school Halloween Party and then again that night for trick or treating (that is if halloween happened to fall on a school day)! We would be to excited and could hardly wait to go out that night. It was all my mother could do to get us to eat our suppers, but the rule was . . . no trick or treating until we had!

I can remember feeling very anxious as other children started to go about knocking on the doors, whilst we were still eating out dinner . . . I was always afraid that the candy would run out before we would have a chance to go out and about! It was inevitable each year that some people would be out of candy by the time we got there, but we always got plenty nonetheless. It was not unsual for us to call on a hundred houses and our bags would be filled to overflowing by the end of the evening.

Some people went way out in decorating their homes. Scary music would be playing and the hallway would be lit with eery spooky lighting. The homeowners would be dressed like scary monsters and it could take quite a lot of courage to approach those doors. Sometimes people would even dress up like pumpkin people and sit in lawnchairs in the garden and when you walked up the path they would move suddenly and scare the living Dickens out of you!!

The air resounded with the sounds of children's voices shouting out Trick or Treat, and the smell of burning pumpkins . . . whilst beneath our feet the sound of scuttling dry autumn leaves as they danced across the pavement gave speed to our steps. It was a magical special evening that I remember always with great fondness. It is a lot warmer here on Halloween night than I remember it ever being as a child. Sometimes we even had snow, although not very often. It was always cold and frosty at the very least, which only added to the atmosphere.

I used to love taking my own children around Trick or Treating. I don't recall anyone ever going with me when I was a child, but then memory can be selective can't it. It was a different age back then . . . nobody seemed to be as afraid of child abduction or poisoning. We heard the odd story of razor blades or pins being put into apples, but I don't remember ever getting anything untoward. We didn't like getting apples really . . . or those toffee bats called beebee bats, or Halloween kisses . . .we wanted packets of crisps or candy bars! We got those too, but not near as many as the other candies. Funny . . . today I would love a beebee bat or a Halloween kiss, if only for nostalgia's sake!

We have never really had trick or treaters at our door over here. When we were down South, I always made up a bag of treats for the little fellow next door and decorated our doorway. The last year we were there our boss had her daughter's in laws staying with them from Germany and they had a lot of children and so they came down and trick or treated at our place, but that's all we have ever had. Each year I buy some candy just in case and poor Todd ends up having to eat it all himself. He doesn't mind.

One of my favourite parts of Halloween used to be dumping out my bag at the end of the evening and going through it all with our mum, just to make sure there was nothing bad in it. There never was. It felt like a pirates gold to me . . . all the candies and coloured wrappers. We didn't get candy all that often when I was growing up . . . cept at Halloween, Christmas, Easter and then Birthday parties. There was no corner store when we lived in Manitoba to go and spend our money at, although once we moved to Nova Scotia there was and candy became a more frequent treat then. We never minded though . . . the scarcity of candy only made the booty from Halloween Night all the more precious in our minds!

Anyways, wherever you are and whatever you may be doing tonight I want to wish each of you a very goulish and spookily Happy Halloween!

Over here the term "Pudding" refers to any kind of dessert which comes after a meal. It can be anything from cake to pie and everything in between. Back home it referred to a custardy milky dessert and we always loved it when I was growing up, although more often than not it came out of a box. Homemade pudding is so much better though and this is one of my favourite recipes. I think I love Butterscotch Pudding best of all!

*Butterscotch Pudding*Link
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

If you were to ask people which flavour of pudding is their most favourite they would probably say chocolate, but my personal favourite is the delicious, sweet and slightly salty flavour of butterscotch. Some people like their pudding ice cold, but I like mine slightly warm. Now that my friends is comfort food, pure and simple . . .

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 TBS cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1 large egg
1 TBS white sugar
2 TBS butter
1 tsp pure vanilla

Combine the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy saucepan. Gradually stir in the milk. (any lumps should smooth out as the mixture cooks so don't worry about them)

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Beat the egg with the tablespoon of white sugar until light. Gradually stir part of the hot cornstarch mixture into the egg to temper it. Stir this mixture into the cooked mixture and then return the saucepan to the heat and cook for one to two minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and blend in the butter, stirring until it is melted and completely mixed in. Stir in the vanilla. Cool, covered, to help prevent a skin from forming. (Personally I like the skin . . . it's almost my favourite part). Serve warm or cold, with or without some whipped cream on top.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today, some delicious Baked Hotdogs!

It wouldn't be Halloween without it! Enjoy!

Sunday 30 October 2011

Marie's Sunday Six

Have you all gotten turned on to Pinterest yet? I think I am quite addicted. I could spend hours on it each day, so I have to limit myself. You create virtual bulletin boards for yourself and you can pin pictures of whatever you want to them. It's a way of collecting things without them taking up any space in your house. I have about, oh gosh!!!! I have 53 boards on there! (I didn't know!) Oh well, that is me . . . I always take everything I do to the nth degree! Anyways, my boards are all filled with pictures of things I enjoy and that I find beautiful or that make me smile. I thought it would be fun to show some of them here this morning so you can see what kind of things I find fascinating. I'll show you my six favourite ones and perhaps they will make you smile like they do me!

One of my boards is called Amazing Cutness. On it you will find pictures that I have found, well . . . amazingly cute! There are babies and kittens . . . puppies and hamsters . . . squirrels and guinea pigs . . . there are even a few hedgehogs, bunnies and the sweetest baby giraff you will ever see! Looking at these pictures always makes me smile and I am always finding new cuteness to add to the mix!

Another one of my favourite boards is entitled It's All Country. I love anything country style. You know what I mean . . . chickens and roosters, red barns, fields of wheat . . . rustic kitchens and outhouses, cowboy boots and egg baskets. That is what you will find on that board. Everything that makes this little country gal's heart go twang! That makes me smile.

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

Then there is my All Things Barbie board. I have been in love with Barbie since I saved my allowance up and bought myself my first one back in the early 1960's. She was one with a black bubble do and I had enough money to buy her and a couple of outfits for her to wear. My mother made me some more and then through the years I collected even more of them. My sister had the one with the blonde ponytail. We used to spend hours playing Barbie and at one time I was even President of the local Barbie Fan Club. (I got to be President because I started it . . . not fair I know, but I was only 8!) Anyways on my Barbie board I get to collect all the Barbies that I could ever want and beautiful outfits too. There are movie star Barbies and Foreign Barbies and antique Barbies. It makes me smile big time.

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

Another favourite board of mine is entitled Here's My Heart. You guessed it! It's filled with hearts of all kinds! There's felt hearts and flower hearts, window hearts, glass hearts, paper hearts, finger hearts, knitted hearts, cookie hearts and well, just every kind of heart you can imagine! All pretty, all inspiring and all smile creating! I just love them!

Another one of my favourites is called Eye Candy for Mama. You guessed it . . . it's filled with male hunka hunka burnin loves! It's all in good fun. These are pictures of male persons that I find attractive. As you will see Rufus Sewell figures big in it. I can't get enough of him. But there is probably a bit of eye candy there to suit every taste imaginable!!!

Then there is my Whimsies board, which is filled with things that I couldn't quite fit anywhere else, but that caught my eye and looked like things I might like to try to make one day, or whatever . . . little whimsies that I found pretty, or cute, or just interesting. I stick it all on that board and hopefully one day when I decided I want to make something I will be able to find something on there!

I have all sorts of boards . . . with buttons . . . or toadstools . . . polka dots . . . or gingham . . . or quotes and sayings . . . clocks . . . They are all things that I enjoy looking at and collecting. Todd does not mind me collecting things this way because it doesn't cost him any money. It is a big time waster though . . . not sure I needed another one of those . . . but oh well!! It's too late now, I am well and truly hooked!! (I have a HUGE scrumminess board too! But then again . . . you probably took that for granted!)

I hope you all remembered to put your clocks back last night! (I wish they would just leave the time alone, but then again, what do I know!) I also hope you all have a very blessed and wonderful Sabbath!

I've never been very good at making yeast breads from scratch. I am so glad that someone invented the breadmaker. It's the only way we get decent homemade bread around here. My ex husband used to make fabulous homemade bread. He used to make our kitchen table dance across the kitchen floor. The kitchen was always a mess when he was done, but we would have some pretty delicious loaves of bread as a result and so it didn't matter too much. I think the secret to a good loaf of bread or rolls is in the kneading of the dough . . . I just don't have enough oomph when it comes to that. These little batter rolls don't need any oomph. They come out perfect every time. You just drop the batter into some muffin cups and away you go. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy and they taste pretty darned good too!

*Easy Peasy White Batter Rolls*
Makes 18
Printable Recipe

These truly are a no fail recipe. They always turn out light and fluffy for me. If you have bad luck with baking bread as I do, you really must give these a try. They turn up trumps every time. Baking these will help you to restore faith in your culinary abilities and boy oh boy, they sure go well with a big pot of homemade baked beans!

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco, Fluffo, White Flora or Trex)
1 large egg

Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast, give it a stir and then let it sit for a few minutes or until it starts to work. Stir it again to totally dissolve.

Add half of the flour, the sugar, salt, softened shortening and the egg. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until completely smooth. Stir in the remaining two cups of flour by hand with a wooden spoon.

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and set aside in a warm place to rise, until doubled in size, about 3o minutes.

Grease 18 large muffin cups with shortening. Stir the batter down and then spoon it into the greased muffin cups, filling them 1/2 full.Link

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place once again, until the batter reaches the top of the muffin cups. This should take 20 to 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 205*C/425*F. Place the muffin pans in the oven and bake the rolls until done, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold. They are delicious either way!

Baking in The English Kitchen today, some delicious Jam Drops. Oh so scrummy!

Saturday 29 October 2011

Poetry Saturday . . . Life's Lessons . . .

I learn, as the years roll onward
And leave the past behind,
That much I had counted sorrow
But proves that God is kind;
That many a flower I had longed for
had hidden a thorn of pain,
And many a rugged bypath
Led to fields of ripened grain.

The clouds that cover the sunshine
They can not banish the sun;
And the earth shines out the brighter
When the weary rain is done.
We must stand in the deepest shadow
To see the clearest light;
And often through wrong's own darkness
Comes the very strength of light.

The sweetest rest is at even,
After a wearisome day,
When the heavy burden of labor
Has borne from our hearts away;
And those who have never known sorrow
Can not know the infinite peace
That falls on the troubled spirit
When it sees at last release.

We must live through the dreary winter
If we would value the spring;
And the woods must be cold and silent
Before the robins sing.
The flowers must be buried in darkness
Before they can bud and bloom,
And the sweetest, warmest sunshine
Comes after the storm and the gloom.
~author unknown

Oh I do love this poem. It comes from a book that Lura sent me for my birthday this year, entitled Best Loved Poems of the LDS People. It is filled to overflowing with inspiration and I am sure would be of great joy and comfort to any people, not just the LDS! Of course it means even more to me because it came from Lura.

I have long held a fascination with angels and over the years collected several books of angel stories . . . stories of people who have had visitations from these heavenly beings or experiences where they have felt the help and support of an angelic presence. I think angels come in many shapes and sizes and appearances. I just love these statues here this morning. I could look at angel statues forever. I used to make little angel bears and would love to start making them again . . . but for one fact. I used to use real feather wings, small enough to be worn by the bears, but I cannot find them over here. Mayhap I will have a chance to go to Canada again soon and pick some up there. They were really cute little bears. They only stood about 7 inches tall and were so lovely with their feather wings.

When I first got this recipe it was scribbled on the back of an envelope in my grandmother's un-educated scrawl in pencil that was beginning to fade quickly. I have many fond memories of helping her to bake these as a very little girl and of eating them when they were done. Oven temperatures were not given, nor were directions . . . just a list of ingredients. All it said in the recipe was to use enough flour to give a stiff dough. I had to work out all those details by myself. Here is my interpretation of our "family" cookie. Simple and plain, wholesome and good. My mother always bakes a tin of these when I go home to visit too. Somehow no matter how many times I make them they never taste as good as the memory of theirs . . . funny how that goes!

*Grammy Woodworth's Molasses Cookies*
Makes approximately 4 dozen
Printable Recipe

Handed down through four generations of women in my family, this is the cookie that would have always held place of pride in the larder. Wonderfully fragrant when they were baking, a couple of these and a tall glass of cold milk were a special treat for us children after school on a cold winter's day.

1 cup sugar
1 cup mild molasses
1 cup of hot melted vegetable shortening
(my grandmother used rendered bacon fat)
2 medium eggs
3 heaping teaspoons of ground ginger
1 tsp salt
4 teaspoons of baking soda, stirred into 1/2 cup of hot water
enough flour to make a stiff dough (approximately 4 - 5 cups)

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/375*F. Lightly grease several baking sheets and set aside.

Put the sugar and the molasses into a large bowl. Pour the hot fat over them and mix it all together very well. Allow it to cool until it is just warm to the touch and then beat in the eggs. Mix in the ginger and the salt, along with the water and soda. Stir in the flour a little at a time until it is all incorporated. No amount of flour was given in the original recipe but I find that it ranges anywheres between 4 and 5 cups. This seems to depend on the weather and humidity. Some days 4 cups is enough and others I need more. You need a dough that is pliable without being sticky.

Dust the counter with some flour and roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a floured 3 1/2 inch fluted cookie cutter. Place onto the greased baking sheets, leaving 2 inches of space in between each. Gather the scraps and re-roll until all the dough is used up.

Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until dry to the touch and lightly browned on the bottom. Don't overbake. They should be nice and soft to the bite. Delicious!

Baking in The English Kitchen today, some delicious Glazed Donut Muffins!

Friday 28 October 2011

Friday Thoughts . . .

First of all I have to apologize for my late appearance this morning. I quite overslept, which is not like me at all. I was very late getting to sleep last night and so I just didn't wake up when I normally do!

Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.
~Washington Irving

I have to say upfront that I am overwhelmed and so very grateful for all the love, concern and prayers that I have felt from each of you over the past 24 hours. You are all so very caring and so very thoughtful and I just feel so loved and carried by each of you. It's quite, quite wonderful and I stayed awake long into the night last night pondering all of your thoughts and prayers. I have felt comforted, and carried and oh-so-very loved . . . and that is a very special and wonderful thing.

Life is a paradise for those who love many things with a passion.
~Leo Buscaglia

I have to say that my life is a paradise . . . for I have filled it with wonderment and awe . . . with family and good friends . . . with things that bring me peace and joy . . . both the simple and the spectacular.

I had a lovely e-mail from a beautiful friend yesterday and having printed it out I read it well into the night last night, over and over again . . . having gone through a very similar experience several years ago, she had felt impressed to share it with me . . . so much so that she had awakened in the wee hours of the morning to send her words to me . . .

She spoke of the 23rd Psalm and revelation that had been given her concerning it during her own experience . . . never before have these words meant so much to me. I can remember memorizing this Psalm when I was twelve years old, in order to earn my Religion and Life Badge in Girl Guides. I have always thought it was beautiful . . . but it was not until last night that the words had such deep meaning for me. As I read them, and her words . . . the tears coursed down my cheeks . . . and I felt as if the Lord was speaking just to me . . . through her at just the time I needed to hear His voice . . .

And then I read these words . . . words that I had already underlined in red in my scriptures who knows how long ago . . .

"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.
D&C 6:36

Words underlined in the past through inspiration . . . ready for a future that He knew was coming . . . more inspiration and promises from my Lord and Saviour, who knows and loves me even more than I had ever imagined.

You all have been his hands and voice working in my life over these past few days and I truly stand all amazed at the wonder and awe of it all. You have strengthened me and uplifted me in untold ways and I am truly grateful . . .

I can move forward now with strength and courage and I am ready to face whichever lions that may or may not be waiting for me in the den. That does not mean that I am not afraid, or that I am not trembling in my boots . . . but it does mean that I have added strength and means to face whatever . . .whenever.

I was inspired yesterday afternoon in my thoughts to paint this little picture . . it just came out.

I wasn't even sure if I liked it at first . . . but today in a new day's light it has found meaning for me. All things have a purpose . . .

Sorry, no food today . . . just my words.

Thursday 27 October 2011

First you cry . . .

Well, it was not the greatest news at the Doctors yesterday morning. First I was half an hour waiting to get in for my appointment as the Doctor was runnning very late. I was feeling very nervous for some reason, probably because I have felt for a while that something was wrong . . . when I was finally called Todd went in with me.

The report said that I had a bulky uterus, with the endometrial interface focally thickened towards the fundus, measuring 5.6 mm, with a trace of fluid within the cavity. My ovaries were normal in size, but the left one holds calcific foci and a shadow and the right there are two punctate echobright foci, which sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, the end result being I have been given an urgent referral to the Gynological Department of the Countess Hospital, so now it is a waiting game to see what comes next.

At first you are a bit stunned when you read all this, because bad stuff happens to other people and you have been leading such a charmed life that it can't be happening to you, right? And then you cry. Because you realize that this bad stuff isn't happening to anyone else. It's happening to you. And so you go home, trying to put a brave face on things, but your lower lip begins to quiver just a bit and the tears start to leak out and then you can't hold it back and you cry . . . because you are the most afraid that you have ever been. Monsters under the bed are nothing compared to this.

I had a Grandmother who was taken away from us far too soon because of Uterine Cancer and a much beloved Aunt with Lung Cancer . . . the same, too soon. My mother survived Breast Cancer, thankfully. It has always been a fear niggling at the back of my mind. One that I keep largely subdued for the most part, but yesterday it reared it's ugly head and stared me right in the face.

I did the worst thing anyone could possibly do. I got on the computer and started searching google to see what I could find out and the news was not very promising at all . . . curse you google. That big "C" word kept popping up all over the place. Todd had to go into town and so I tried to keep very busy all afternoon. I baked and cooked and planned for my RS Activity tonight . . . I got our supper ready, and then I went to the shops.

I decided a pity party was in order. Todd had meetings last night and so I would be on my own. I bought myself some chocolate custard. I love chocolate custard. I used to buy baby food chocolate custard just for me. So I bought a tub of chocolate custard, just for me. I bought a box those expensive Borders Cookies . . . the ones that are all full of butter and goodies. You get a dozen for about £3. I got the Blackforest ones . . . again chocolate and filled with chocolate chunks and dried sour cherries. I got myself a big bag of Doritos and a jar of salsa, and a bottle of 7-Up. (I did get Diet 7-Up)

So last night . . . after Todd left . . . I sat and ate 4 cookies, (They were good. I might have one for breakfast.) looked at the tub of chocolate custard and decided it could wait for another day, had a few doritos and a dollop of salsa. I said a huge prayer, and then I put on my big girl panties. You know the ones. They are the ones that say you can meet anything head on and win. Pity Party over.

It might never happen. That is my mind set now. It might never happen. And if it does . . . well, I'll deal with it then. I'm still scared, but . . . optimistically scared, if that makes any sense! Any prayers and happy thoughts would be much appreciated. I hope that I don't have to wait too long for the hospital appointment.

*Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup*
Serves 8
Printable Recipe

This is a lovely soup for these cooler autumnal days that we have been having recently. Roasting the carrots with some maple syrup really helps to bring out their natural sweetness, while the ginger and garlic provide a wonderfully spicy undertone. It truly is delicious!

1 kilogram of carrots
2 cooking onions, peeled and each one cut into eighths
1 1/2 inch length of gingerroot, peeled and cut into matchstick size pieces
4 fat cloves of garlic, peeled
3 TBS mild flavoured olive oil
4 TBS Grade B Maple Syrup
2 1/2 pints chicken stock (can use vegetable stock if you wish)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To serve:
creme fraiche
chive sprigs

Pre-heat the oven to 220*C/425*F. Peel the carrots and cut them into sticks, roughly the size of your baby finger. Place them into a large roasting tray along with the onions, whole garlic cloves, and gingerroot. Drizzle the oil and maple syrup over all, and toss gently with your hands to coat them well. Roast the vegetables in the heated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, giving them the occasional stir, until they are very tender and slightly browned here and there.

Cool slightly, then add half the chicken stock to the pan. Stir and scrape as much of the brown bits from the bottom as possible and then tip the whole mixture into a large soup pot. Take your stick blender and puree the mixture until it is smooth. (alternately put it into your liquidizer and puree it) Add the remaining stock. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be. Heat well and then serve in hot bowls with a dollop of creme fraiche on top and a few chive sprigs for garnish. Enjoy with some crusty hot bread.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today, a delicious Two Ingredient Pumpkin Cake with a Cider Glaze.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Bees, anger and other things . . .

Pleasant words
are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. ~Proverbs 16:24

A few days ago a Tractor Trailer Truck transporting 25 million honey bees over turned on a major thoroughfare outside of St George Utah, snarling up traffic for miles and miles . . . and unleashing it's swarming, stinging payload into the immediate area. One can only imagine the chaos involved. I know what it is like on a motorway over here when there is an accident. It can create a tailback on the motor way for a great many miles, but when 24 milllion honey bees are also involved . . . well, the thought just boggles my mind. What a scary and dangerous situation that must have been for everyone concerned! I do hope that they have been able to round up all those bees!

Over here a great harbinger of spring is the bumble Bee and our garden is always filled with them in the spring and summer . . . and with their cousin, the honey bee, although thankfully not 25 million and thankfully not all at once! I am totally fascinated with the life of bees. In the darkness of the hive and in the light of day, these industrious little souls go about their work with a steadfast devotion that is hard to comprehend! Each has a job to do and they do it well, which is a lesson and example we could all take something from!

There is something else though, about the honeybee, which can also teach us an important lesson. Did you know that when a honeybee stings someone, the sting is always fatal to the bee???

How very much like us that is . . . when we respond angrily and hurtfully to those who have wronged us. Our natural instinct is to want to hurt them back. We may want to sting them with anygry words and hurtful actions. The truth is that in doing so . . . we often do much more damage to ourselves than we manage to inflict upon them . . . and like the honeybee, bring death to any friendship or relationship which may be involved.

Would it not be better to take a few breaths and ask ourselves what would the Saviour do??? And then . . . when the answer comes, do just that.

Be you all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brothers, be pitiful, be courteous;
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing . . . but contrariwise blessing; knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:8-9

I believe we will be blessed for doing so. That is the promise after all!

We had our new washing machine delivered yesterday and Todd hooked it up and we gave it a go. What a mistake! Obviously there was a very good reason that it was marked down as much as it was. Even sitting on it, Todd could not keep it from jumping across the kitchen when it was doing it's final spin. We were both trying to hold it down and it still managed to gouge two holes in the floor . . . we have never seen anything like it. It was quite frightening. Needless to say, not quite normal and so we went back to the shop and told them we want them to come and pick it up. It is not the washing machine for us, no matter how cheap it may be. Something essential is obviously missing. Seriously, it was terrifying!! So much for dent and scratch! They will be picking it up tomorrow and then perhaps we can look for something that doesn't sound like a jet taking off, or carry us about the room!

I did another little painting yesterday afternoon.

How often have we wanted to give someone we care about the moon and the stars, well . . . now you can! I was not sure if I really liked it that much when I was done, but I am kind of warming to it now.

I am off to the Doctor this morning. Wish me luck. I hope that the news is good news, and nothing to be concerned about. I have my fingers crossed!

Here's a delicious salad that makes a great side dish to most anything. If you don't want to go to the bother or expense of cooking artichoked from start . . . then do feel free to substitute a good quality tinned or jarred artichokes. Just drain them really well and pat dry. Frozen would also be good, Just cook and then pat dry. I just adore artichokes. Can you believe I had never tasted one before I moved over here??? I know! How strange is that!!

*Charlotte Potato and Artichoke Salad*
Serves 6 to 8
Printable Recipe

This is a delicious lemon and oil dressed potato salad with a bit of a mediterranean flavour to it.

2 3/4 pounds of charlotte potatoes (Or any waxy
salad potato variety)
1 lemon halved
4 large artichokes
1 2/3 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
6 whole peppercorns
6 coriander seeds
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
3 green spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally
2 handfuls of cherry plum tomatoes, halved
15 black brine cured black olives, such as kalamata or Nicois, pitted and chopped
6 fresh basil leaves, finely sliced into chiffonade
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 TBS Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 20 minutes or so. Drain well. Cool and then peel as soon as you can handle them. Cut into halves.

Halfway fill a large bowl with cold water. Squeeze in the juice from half of the lemon. Cut the second lemon half in half. Cut off the stem from 1 artichoke and rub the exposed area with the cut side of a lemon piece. Starting from the base of the artichoke, bend each leaf backward and snap off where the leaf breaks naturally. Continue to do this until the light green leaves are exposed. Using a small sharp knife, cut off all the dark green areas. This is the artichoke heart. Cut the heart into quarters. Rub all cut surfaces with the lemon. Cut out the choke and pink inner leaves from each section and discard. Place the artichoke heart sections in the water with the lemon juice. Cut off top two inches of artichoke. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Combine the 1 2/3 cup of the water, olive oil, wine, peppercorns, coriander and thyme in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain the artichokes and add to the saucepan. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and cool. Cut into slices

Mix the potatoes, artichoke slices, red onion slices, spring onion, tomatoes, olives and basil in a large bowl, tossing gently to blend well.

Whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Pour over the salad and mix gently together. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today a delicious Pumpkin and Chard Gratin!