Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Pizza with Jane Austen

They say that its good for the brain if you vary your route on regular trips as the brain likes a fresh challenge and it certainly opens your eyes up to new sights and opportunities.

Walking through town recently I ventured down a tiny side-street and came across a Pizza restaurant tucked away right at the end.  It looked a lovely place to visit and I think we'll go back there to dine one day soon. 


But the blue plaque on the wall caught my eye and I took a closer look ...



Interesting to see that Jane Austen had stayed there in 1805.  She had only been visiting for 3 months but the occasion has been marked with a plaque, nonetheless!  Yes, I do believe I shall be returning soon to take tea (and pizza) with my Mr Darcy!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Popcorn

"It doesn't show signs of stopping, And I've bought some corn for popping, The lights are turned way down low, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"
Ok, I know its not Christmas anymore, and I know it wasn't really snowing that much yesterday, but this song kept going through my head yesterday as I made popcorn for the first time ever!  I was surprised how quick and easy it was to do and was impressed with the result.  Also pleased to have found a reasonably healthy snack to nibble for our at home "movie nights".


Chocolate Chip Popcorn

If I'm preaching to the converted, then I would love to know your suggestions for alternative flavours to my chocolate chip popcorn.  If you're new to this like me, then here's what I did:

(made in a small saucepan - makes 4 portions - or 2 large portions)


  • Add 2 tbsp oil (I used veg oil but will try it with butter next time) to a pan and begin heating on a med - high heat.
  • After about a minute, add enough popping corn/kernels to cover the base of the pan and pop the lid on
  • After the corn begins popping, turn the heat off if using an electric stove. (if using gas, leave on for another minute or so).
  • When the tempo of the popping has slowed down, take the pan off the heat and wait for it to stop popping entirely before transferring to a bowl.
  • Is now ready to add a flavouring of your choice - I added a couple of tsp of chocolate chips (but as its still warm, you need to allow more cooling off time so that the chocolate can "set")
  • For a completely healthy option, serve as it is
note: I used a pan with a transparent lid, so it was good to be able to watch what was going on - children will love this bit!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Super Soup

I know this post is a bit of an advert, but I have ulterior motives ...  this is about a limited edition "soup of the month", and if it proves to be popular, my hope is that they will keep producing it!

Anyway, my tastebuds have fallen in love with the New Covent Garden soup of the month - Country Root Vegetable Medley.  It is sweet and creamy because of the root vegetables (and the cream!) but the clever addition of ingredients such as celeriac, cauliflower and honey (in a gentle but not overpowering way) give it a really lovely, unique flavour.

new feb image

Particularly welcome now that the weather has turned cold again - a bowl of tasty soup is such a comfort.  It's on special half price offer at the Co-op at the moment for £1 - I am going back for more tomorrow and will be stocking up.  

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Wooltastic

Hooray, wool is making a come-back!



Sheep farmers have had a bit of a tough time in the past few years as the demand for cheap synthetic materials has increased and the prices paid for wool have decreased and been an insult to the farmer and to the sheep!

But wool is such a versatile material - when used for clothing it is warm, absorbent, soft, comfortable, holds its shape, is long lasting, recyclable,has fire-retardant properties and is fully biodegradable. It makes perfect sense to choose natural wool over synthetic.  The sheep doesn't have to give up its life to produce the wool - in fact its probably a huge relief to lose the winter coat once summer is one the way!

So it was encouraging to read recently that Britain's wool mills are enjoying a renaissaince with increasing demand for wool products in this country and for export abroad.

A great material to work with for fashion and crafts, wool is user friendly and some fantastic results can be achieved whether through spinning, weaving,  feltmaking or knitting.  Stitch 'n Bitch anyone?






Sunday, 17 February 2013

A Breath of Fresh Air

After the past few week-ends of wet and stormy weather and wanting to stay cosy and dry indoors, it felt good to wrap up warm and get out and about in the sunshine and fresh air this week-end.


The Street, Bramber
(looking down towards the castle ruins)

On Saturday we took a short drive to the Sussex village of Bramber where we had lunch and then a stroll.  Its usually worth taking a wander around the ruins of the old castle as there are some good views from there, but we thought it would still be a bit muddy and as we had our posh shoes on, we decided to give it a miss on this occasion!

* * *

On Sunday, we decided to blow the cobwebs off the bikes and head out along the seafront to Worthing.




We picked up a few groceries in town, enjoyed a coffee and breakfast roll and then headed back home again feeling revitalised by the exercise and the fresh sea air.


The pier, Worthing

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Comfort Food

I love roast veggies in the winter



Delicious roasted in olive oil and seasoning with some sprigs of fresh rosemary from the garden.  These were cut into smaller chunks as I was roasting them to make a soup, but equally as nice left as bigger pieces.  The smell is wonderful and particularly enhanced by the rosemary. Its comforting smell lingers in the house for ages, mmmmmm.............. 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Ginger

Happy Chinese New Year!


My Chinese inspired ginger jar


The Chinese have been using ginger for its culinary and medicinal benefits for many hundreds of years.  I, however, have been thinking about trying to grow ginger for a couple of years now but haven't managed to do it so far!  This is mainly because I've been a little bit baffled about where to begin and how to grow it.  However, that has now changed as yesterday in town, I came across a ginger rhizome ready to plant and I'm now ready to give it a go.

It does seem to be quite fussy though - loves a sheltered spot, filtered sunlight, warm weather, humidity and rich moist soil which should never dry out (that last bit should be easy, living in England!).  Should be planted February or March but need to avoid frost, so I may wait until next month.

I like the idea that above ground it produces pink and white flower buds which bloom into yellow flowers and then it stays as a perennial reed-like plant with annual leafy stems reaching about 3 feet tall, so it's no shrinking violet!  Meanwhile, underground the roots are steadily growing to produce the useable part of the plant.

Fresh ginger tastes different to dry ginger and is a common ingredient in Eastern cooking.  It can also be used in drinks - both alcoholic and non-alcoholic (I've found ginger and lemon tea to be very comforting as a "cold remedy" in the winter months).  Ginger is often used to help nausea and aid digestion.  It has the potential to do a whole lot more but, like all herbs, ginger should be taken and handled with care.  

To learn more about ginger, I recommend this link from Discovery Health: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/herbal-remedies/ginger-herbal-remedies1.htm

It seems to be such a multi-tasking plant, I can't wait to start growing it


* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Pray for what you wish and work for what you need"

After I wrote the Chinese New Year / Ginger post above, I decided to have a bit of a tidy up and this included emptying out an old handbag.  Right at the bottom, amongst the scrunched up till receipts, old peppermint, pen top and solitary coin, I found a tiny piece of paper with some writing on it.  It was the message from a fortune cookie I was given last summer and I found it hidden in the bottom corner of a bag today of all days - synchronicity or what?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Veg Box Fridays



Since the beginning of this year we've stopped buying our fruit and veg from the supermarket and have it delivered (free of charge) weekly by our local fruit and veg man.  

Its great because with this service, the customer chooses what goes into their order and absolutely nothing goes to waste.  Prices, on the whole, seem to be cheaper than the supermarket, the produce is always fresh and tasty, the packaging is easy to recycle (paper and cardboard) and we're helping to support a local business.

Today its a bit of a cold, damp day so I'll be making some roasted vegetable soup, but later in the week there'll be veggie chow mein (in honour of the Chinese New Year), stuffed peppers, pizza, mediterranean stuffed avocadoes and honey and banana pancakes (in honour of Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras - although I don't need an excuse to eat pancakes!)




Mr P seemed to be particularly delighted with the delivery box last week - we can't decide if it was because he like the size and shape of it or because he liked the smell of coriander (which had originally been stored in the box)


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Giraffe Leg

Now that they are a little older, the catapultoes are reluctant to go out and play when the weather is really cold (and who can blame them) so they stay indoors but get bored.  

This week they were given a new toy which we have named "the giraffe leg".  They've never really been that excited by the usual cat toys, preferring to climb trees and bat things around they have found for themselves (such as fir cones or twigs).  However, with the giraffe leg things are very different as they absolutely adore it.  They do have 2 very different approaches to it though.

Sweet Pea finds it comforting as she prefers to hug, cuddle, sniff and lick it 



Whereas Poppy (aka Mr P) is just a blur as he takes the more aggressive approach


Monday, 4 February 2013

Creative Style



I now have a lovely selection of vintage buttons recently given to me by my mother.  I'm looking at ways of reinventing them such as this brooch made from a vintage wooden button and recycled fabrics - recently added to my Folksy shop:  http://folksy.com/shops/Cocopopia


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Vintage Haven

Tucked away in Shoreham town is a little haven that visitors often miss but it is well worth a visit



The welcoming sign at the start of the alleyway alerts passers by to the vintage emporium, but there's a lot more to be found within.  At the entrance to the passageway there is a unique little shop selling crystals and oracle cards on one side and opposite there's a cosy cafe and tea room which also has a lovely courtyard seating area outside.  

Wander down the alley and you'll also come across some relaxation therapy rooms, a photographic gallery, organic fruit and veg shop and a new area selling candles, incense and gifts.  

At the end of the little lane you arrive at the flea market and vintage emporium.  A great place to visit as you never know what you're going to find.  Its a co-operative run by several sellers, each with their own interests, so there's always lots of variety and its great for browsing.




Friday, 1 February 2013

Introducing the Catapultoes


Mr P and Sweet Pea 2 months after they arrived

Our two cats ("the catapultoes") are now four and a half years old.  Brother and sister, they are rescue cats and came to live with us when they were almost 12 months old, so not quite fully grown.  They'd been found wandering around a housing estate when they were 7 weeks old and spent the next 8 months of their lives in a cat rescue centre.  

They were difficult to re-home because they were so terrified of people.  They just hid themselves away from potential "rescuers", preferring to sit hidden away at the back of their pen, just gazing outside and longing to be out there.  

When we visited the cattery, there were over a 100 cats seeking homes at the time but we were drawn to these 2 extremely timid and vulnerable looking kitties.  It took a lot of time and patience and they have grown from feral kittens into beautiful, affectionate adult cats full of character.  We are so glad we chose to bring them home (or did they choose us?)