I read amazing food blogs and remember my Mum’s dedication to cooking home-cooked food from scratch.
I feel overwhelmed by the expectations I put on myself to prepare every meal from the bare bones up. I feel overwhelmed by the other people who seem able to do that.
I wouldn’t want one of you reading my blog and feeling guilty about your own cooking, so I decided to share tonight’s supper with you!
Meal deal of ready-prepared vegetables, stir-in sauce and straight-to-wok noodles.
A (reduced – of course! 😉 ) pack of beef strips.
Just as healthy and additive-free as it would have been if I’d done all the work.
I’m so grateful to my Mum and my Grandma for passing onto me a love for cooking and for teaching me the skills to cook mostly whatever I set my mind too – or at least where to go to find out how to do it! 😛
I don’t plan on loosing that.
What I do plan on losing is my self-imposed expectation that anything which is not prepared from the most scratched scratch that I can find, every single meal, is a sin! And definitely before we have kids! 😉
Oh, and my hubby still thought it was delicious, so what’s the problem?!
I hope you’re not too shocked at this little peek into the other side of my cooking life!! 😉
My husband has got a job!! 😀
After the hard work of the PhD, graduation, countless application forms, interviews and rejections, so many prayers and hopes from us, our family and friends …
And today L got offered an associate research fellow post at an institution where he really wants to work!!
He “stood out” from the other candidates and has received the best recognition for all his hard work and enthusiasm – the job!
I’ve only just stopped dancing around the room and jumping up and down from excitement!! 😛
I am such a proud, proud wife!!! 😀
Last week I was – surprise, surprise! – in the reduced section of the supermarket!
I was on the lookout to for something special to cook for L that date night, as he’s pretty stressed about an interview on Thursday.
They had loads of reduced beef joints and I spied this one:
I’d heard somewhere that brisket could taste amazing and as it was a couple of pounds cheaper than the other cuts, that sealed the bargain for me! 😉
After searching the internet and my cookery books for recipe suggestions, I took a few ideas from each of the recipes that sounded the best – and the easiest! – and combined them to make my own Brisket Concoction!
I started with onions and carrots …
… and chopped them up with a good number of garlic cloves. This was about 2pm in the afternoon.
Now I should have browned the beef, put to one side, browned the vegetables, then combined. However, I had to get to an appointment and was running late (hardly ever happens … 😉 ) so I loaded the whole lot into my one and only prized LeCruset casserole dish, in one go, and browned the beef and the veggies, together with some chopped bacon – smelled good!
Next came the magic ingredient of ale, along with (cubed) beef stock, butter, brown sugar, tomato puree, plenty of herbs and an ingredient that I spent ten minutes popping round the corner to get:
I don’t know if it’s available in America, but I wouldn’t cook a stew, pie or beef joint without it – I even put it in my salad sometimes for an added zing! 😛
I let this bubble away and mix for a few minutes, before covering tightly with foil and shoving in the 160 C oven.
Then I dashed out the door and hoped the oven wouldn’t blow up while I was gone …
When I returned over two hours later I was grateful to find the apartment block still standing and the beef still simmering happily away in the oven – phew! 😉
I think it was somewhere close to 6:30pm that I hauled this weighty dish out of the oven, when I removed the beef and covered with foil to keep warm and rest.
Boys and girls, please don’t try this at home …
At this point I intended to turn on the ring under the casserole dish full of sauce … after 7 or so minutes of not understanding why the sauce wasn’t starting to bubble, and why there was a sizzling sound, but no see-able action … I realized I’d turned on the wrong ring and was actually frying the bottom of the beef to a near crisp …
Personally I’ll try and skip that step next time! 😉
Eventually I got the vegetables and sauce that the beef was cooked in bubbling away and thickened with some cornstarch.
I was absolutely thrilled to discover that my beef turned out exactly as all the recipes said it would – it wasn’t so much as carving as pulling melting bits off with a fork! Wow!!
I served the brisket with a generous helping of sauce, new potatoes and fresh vegetables.
I have to say, that sauce was delicious!! My best gravy yet! 🙂
Oh yeah, and I got another three meals out of the rest of the beef so, I’m happy!! 😉
This weekend people have been celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee all over England!
There have been massive celebrations and events over the last four days and we were given an extra bank holiday today, in addition to the normal June holiday yesterday.
I love the Queen and admire her very much and I have loved seeing the way communities have come together to celebrate our nations’ Queen 60th year of reigning as our monarch!
There have been concerts, parades, street parties, picnics, village lunches, commemorative services and gun salutes galore!
For my celebrations, I chose a wonderfully English Tea Party!
When organising things like this, I tend to leap in with a ‘all or nothing’ attitude. I get obsessed with the details, think about little tweaks and improvements even when I’m meant to be concentrating on something else, research the shops and web every couple of days, plan, plan and re-plan.
I started thinking about the tea party in March. The invitations were in the post by the middle of April.
Sadly, this didn’t stop me from becoming overcome by life and convincing myself I had two weeks preparation left … when I actually had just one … 😛
However, with the help of the wonderful man who is my husband, and the un-ending assistance of my dear friend K, who was staying that weekend, we made it to this point:
I went for a high tea theme of savouries as well as cakes.
I just had to have the traditional cucumber sandwiches and threw in a childhood favourite of Marmite and cress – yum! I was rather pleased with the mini quiches, which is something I’ve wanted to have a go at for a long time.
This wonderful cake stand – complete with coloured dots! – was a wedding present from my friend A and her husband. Doesn’t it look splendid all loaded up with sweet treats?! I was quite pleases with the sponge fancies I made – I decorated them with card-making decorations! 😉
A made this scrummy chocolate cupcakes, which embraced the English Jubilee theme hook, line and sinker! Aren’t the decorations so cool?! I had a Big Ben!! 😀
One of my closest friends, R, baked scones and brought the essential clotted cream and jam to go with them. They were absolutely scrummy and the party would not have been complete without them!
I loved planning and setting up the details of napkins, tea cups and saucers, napkins, flowers, little decorations …
I snagged a beautiful vintage-style table-cloth from Ebay for a bargain price and dissected a wedding candle wreath to add some rose-like elegance to the setting.
All three of my sisters came, so plus my friends K, R, a and myself, we were a comfortable seven round our games-chest-come-coffee-table.
My final little thing was a favour bag, containing each girl’s favourite kind of chocolate – or as near to that as I could come! 😀
I’m so glad I threw my Jubilee Tea Party and hope that everyone who came had lots of fun!!
What did you English readers do to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee?!!