Tuesday 29 December 2009

Hot stuff, a Treasury appearance and a little shopping.

We popped into Manchester this morning to brave the shops.  I wanted some jeans and shoes and ended up with jeans and a nice long, sloppy aubergine coloured Merino wool cardigan from Gap.  Not exactly thrilling stuff, but I'll be able to chuck out some similar but dead items of clothing.  The shoes are altogether more of a nightmare, I have fairly big feet which are a strange shape so for me shoe shopping is a dreary experience with shops full of things which I love which either don't exist in my size or they never have it in stock.  I have the worst shoe wardrobe of anyone I know. 

Then we met some chums for lunch, our first plan of Yo Sushi in Selfridges didn't happen as the queue was epic and they'd never have got us four seats together, so we regrouped in Tampopo.  Peter and I had to queue for a while there, but it wasn't too bad and finally we had a very tasty lunch from their excellent value Express Menu which is £6.95 and is actually quite a substantial amount of food.

Pad Krapow Chicken breast quick-fried with red chillies, fresh Asian basil & red pepper.
Served with steamed jasmine rice.

Very tasty and seriously hot!  Washed down with copious quantities of green tea.

Yasai Gyoza Three griddled dumplings of water chestnut, bamboo shoot & carrot, with a soy dip.
A bit of a non event really, but nice enough.

Also, here's another Treasury - many thanks for including my Path Through Moss Print.

Peter Pan
by Masaoms (Inspired by this song)

Monday 28 December 2009

Chinese Feast.

Tea Anyone

I love this Treasury from Fffflowers who's based just up the road from me in Wirral, there are some great items here;  I'm particularly fond of the clothes brush, it's such a lovely old fashioned piece.

We've had another epic meal today, which, thank goodness, I wasn't cooking.  There were 30 of us, all Peter's family plus my parents, for a massive Chinese feast at Glamorous a huge Hong Kong style restaurant in Manchester, all neon, fiber optics and gold.  They have dim sum trolleys circulating and a seemingly never ending range of little steamed and fried morsels.  We were there for hours and finished up with a little light shopping the Wing Yip supermarket below (choi sum, pandan leaves, jasmine tea, chillies for the freezer and sweet chilli sauce).  Then all back to ours for tea and my Christmas day chocolate and chestnut terrine which has almost gone now.  Now we're in front of the telly and I have a stiff g&t in my hand.

Sunday 27 December 2009

Treasury Appearance!

Here's a very pretty calming Treasury after the rush of the Xmas season.  All for a good cause too!  The Etsy Project Embrace Team is a Universal Coalition of Artists whose main purpose is to create awareness and support for people who have been diagnosed with Cancer, whatever kind it may be.  If you want to find out more about them, just click the link below for plenty of info on their good works.

Thank you for including my card in your lovely selection!


This was lunch on Xmas Day...

Christmas lunch was totally untraditional this year, I've never cooked a turkey (my mother always does on one of the holiday days, in fact, this year today is turkey day).  I cooked the beef and the pudding on Xmas Eve and had the ingredients for the nibbles all ready to go on Xmas day and just sort of made them up at the appropriate time.

Here's what we ate to start with nibbles to go with out fizz:
Prawns in my special made up marinade (coriander, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, red chilli, sugar), smoked salmon with horseradish creme fraiche on blinis, smoked salmon pate also on blinis, Dolcelate and Blackstick's Blue on chickory leaves.


For our main - shin of beef casserole with herby mustard dumplings, sprouts with bacon, cabbage and cavolo nero and squashed new potatoes.

Pudding - Chocolate and chestnut terrine - seriously rich and rather nice!

Monday 21 December 2009

White Xmas?

I came across this on my way to the post office the other day!

Sunday 20 December 2009

Snowed in and Two Treasuries

Well, not really snowed in, just not really wanting to go out at the moment.  I shall have to eventually as we've people coming for supper and although I have the rather too large shoulder of lamb which I shall slow roast for about six hours, I don't have the lashings of herbs for my cous cous or my green beans to cook with fresh tomato and garlic.  We were going to meet Adam in town, but we've not heard from him, so I suspect he's staying in nice and warm too.....the localish Indian shops will have all I need so I can keep on putting off the visit to a proper supermarket to do the 'big shop'.

After an unreasonably long time Treasury free, here are two which coincidentally feature prints from my Have a Seat series.

I'd like to stay right here in front of the fire drinking mead....


Thanks to both curators for including my pictures!

Friday 18 December 2009

Lunch at The Knustford Wine Bar

The Knutsford Wine Bar is one of those local, small town restaurants which seems to have been there forever but never seems to change, which in this case is a good thing. I've been eating there on and off for fifteen years, less in recent times, but it's always been a good bet for a good meal and nice atmosphere. The building was a Century Chapel in the 14th and then a Parish Church, and is full of atmosphere with a lovely big open fire. The ambient temperature is always a bit odd in there as you can get the most awful drafts if you sit just on the edge of the balcony on the ground floor or you can be baked by the fire, but in my experience, if you take a range of clothing. We were sitting sort of behind the door, sort of near the fire and sort of in the vicious updraft area near the end of the balcony, so it was hot/cold/hot/cold.....

Anyway, we were to meet four friends who we don't see nearly enough of for a catch up on the last six months' goings one and they chose the venue.

Our oven and hob had packed up on the Tuesday before and I was very fed up of eating out and eating cold bought stuff from the supermarkets, so I was really looking forward to some good hot food and plenty of crisp green veg.

Here's what I had.

King Prawn Cocktail with crayfish, avocado, sweet peppers and lemon £7.95

This certainly looked the part with the two nicely sized prawns which tasted of pretty much nothing and had the texture of defrosted seafood, you know, that sort of soft slightly spongy mouth feel. The avocado guacamole thing was tasty if messy and the sweet peppers were okay, if nothing special. There was tons of chilled and crisp iceberg lettuce but all the dressing had dribbled down to the bottom of the glass so there was a vague essence of Marie-rose sauce throughout, but a puddle of it below. With some careful salad tossing, I was able to distribute it a bit better. Marie-rose sauce really should be thick and have a bit of cling. Some nice soft but crusty French bread to dip would have been good. But despite my complaints (here, not there), I did enjoy it.

Gressingham duck breast with braised lentils, creamed haricot beans, baby onions and orange gremolata - £15.50

This was much more successful. I did ask for the duck to be pink and it wasn't but it was very tender and tasty, so I restrained myself from sending it back. I was too hungry to fuss. The creamed beans were delicious and really creamy, I'm assuming that there was cream added to them and it made a nice change from potato. I always love Puy style lentils and these were good, rich and meaty and the carrots and onions were nice but not particularly exciting. A very nice Sunday lunch main course.

Chocolate Fondue (perfect for sharing!) - chocolate chip cookies, warm sugared doughnuts, honeycomb, fruit skewers and chocolate brownie and warm chocolate dipping sauce - £9.75

This was Peter's idea......It sort of worked, the chocolate was nice, but far too shallow in it's pot to really dip into, there were no spoons for extra greedy spooning, the honeycomb was so sticky as to be almost inedible, the brownies were yummy, the chocolate chip cookies were shortbread and the fruit skewers were feeble - orange and grape - who wants to dip orange and grape into chocolate? Where were the lovely big strawberries and pineapple? So a sort of fun pudding, but we'd have been better off with some cheese I suspect.

 I've moaned about the food a bit, but there weren't any major horrors, just my normal low level complaints. I didn't get my crisp green veg, just some rather over steamed broccoli as a side dish. Despite this, we had a very enjoyable time with our friends and I'm sure we'll be back again.

Saturday 12 December 2009

A Splendid Afternoon's Noshing!

Yummy food from Back's Deli in Manchester

We had Peter's Xmas works do yesterday. For the first time we decided to have it catered at home because in the past we've been to various nice restaurants and had their set meal things which is usually okay, but it does cost at about £25 each plus the wine, you end up on a long table so you can't talk to everyone and you have the noise of a restaurant full of other people and the hassle of attracting the staffs' attention. So if we were going to pay for the event we wanted it to be a bit more relaxed and a few weeks ago we'd been to a friend's birthday do and they had great food so I found out who the caterer was and we were set to go.

The food was cooked by Back's Deli in Manchester and it was excellent, they have a very extensive menu of very tempting things, but I wanted to keep it simple and ordered for the main, Moroccan Spiced Lamb with Apricots, served with CousCous with Garlic Green Bean Salad, and for nibbles they marinaded some stone in green olives in some Moroccan(ish) flavours. All of the food was delicious, especially the green beans which were seriously garlicky. All of the hot food arrived in chafing dishes, the cold things I decanted into my own bowls, all the crockery and cutlery was provided even small plates for the pudding which I didn't buy from them, which I thought was very nice. Everybody ate their fill and then all the empties and dirties were taken away as if by magic at the end of the afternoon. Perfect!

We'll be eating the leftover lamb for ages....which isn't such a bad thing. I think it will make a fantastic spicy pasta sauce.

The hob man came yesterday as well, just before the food arrived, and now we have half a working hob which is an awful lot better than the no working hob we've had for almost two weeks. There's a little bit of rewiring to be done next week and then hopefully the whole thing will work. Fingers crossed...

Friday 4 December 2009

Cooking, but not cooking

On Tuesday I had a super busy day with a shoot in Oldham which meant me rising from my bed at a very unpleasant and dark 6am. The car was thick with ice and the sky was black all the way to our initial meeting at the Sainsbury's cafe at 8am where I had a surprisingly tasty and welcomingly warm bowl of porridge. Then it was out in the cold to shoot (in a photographic sense) a gang of architects, designers and other clever folk outside the Art Gallery and then a few more locations which took us up to a still chilly 3pm. On the way home I was mentally planning a delicious tomato and onion based seafood pasta dish - nice and quick, nice and satisfying, and after recovering from the day's exertions, the cooking began. Then it stopped very quickly as all the electricity went out and we were plunged into darkness and silence. After some detective work, it turned out that our oven and hob or the oven or the hob had died a death and taken all of our electricity with it. That was Tuesday, today is Friday and we have no means to cook and we have a friend coming for supper. The obvious thing, I appreciate is to go out for supper, but after the abandoned seafood pasta we popped to the excellent Persia Grill, the next day we had a splendid and surprisingly un-greedy take away from the excellent Great Khatmandu and last nights disappointing first time visit to Green Tea (Chinese), I really didn't want to eat out again. So after much consideration I took myself off to a brand new and literally very shiny Waitrose to carefully choose my ingredients for my no cook supper.

To start:
Salmon and smoked salmon terrine served with rocket and brown toast - yes I know that I could have made this very easily myself, but it was reduced and I could't resist!)

Spicy couscous (only a kettle needed) with lots of coriander and mint.
Coronation flavoured cold roast chicken (I say flavoured because there will be more chicken than sauce), using a cold roasted organic chicken to be shredded and mixed with pots of Waitrose coronation chicken as I couldn't cook onions and garlic to go in my own, I plan to loosen it a bit with yoghourt and tart up the zing a bit with some mango chutney and extra spices.
Delicious little green French olives.

Gu chocolate mouses - any excuse for a Gu.

I think it sounds yummy - I hope it will be enough.

(Edited to add)

Yes, it was enough, there's loads left. The chicken and cous cous were delicious and we were all very happy!

This is the first picture on the blog from my new camera which I really haven't used yet - I must get back in to the habit of photographing my food like I used to. The restaurants we've been to recently have had such appalling lighting that the photos have been utterly unusable.

The weekend will remain a hot food free zone. We're out with chums for lunch on Sunday at the Knutsford Wine Bar where we haven't been for a million years since we were very friendly with the former owners and I used to work for them for five minutes.

I miss my porridge and boiled eggs for breakfast!

The engineer is coming on Tuesday or hopefully on Monday and will poke the hob and no doubt tell us that it's not mendable and we'll have to spend a small fortune on a new one. Apparently the oven is okay as the first engineer came on Thursday and poke and prodded it and plugged it into things and proclaimed it good.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Mini Picture is here!!

Mini Picture has arrived in Knutsford!

Mini Pictures are 12cm square white PVC resin blocks which are 25mm (1") thick, they are scratch and water resistant and printed with Eco Solvent inks which will not fade in UV light.

Best of all, every single one has one of my photographs on it - there are pretty images, urban, themed, multiple and every combination you can think of.

At the moment they are for sale at the Canvas Lounge Gallery in Knutsford, Cheshire for just £9 for a single block - surely an ideal gift for the festive season! The shop is up and running, so if you are in the area, or know someone who is, why not pop in and have a look?

Hopefully I'll be adding the blocks to my Etsy shop soon.

Have a Seat

I photographed this beauty when I was out working with mum in deepest flattest Lincolnshire, we'd just visited a charming man in a filthy recycling depot and on the way out through the thick mud on the endless bumpy drive I spotted this poor abandoned seat - I like to imagine that some of the staff there would take a seat, have a breather and watch the landscape and that it isn't destined for the skip too soon.....

Wednesday 2 December 2009

I've made a new Blurb Book!

I was suddenly and unexpectedly inspired this afternoon to make a new book on Blurb.

The title of my new opus is 'Abandoned Christmas Trees', I've quite a nice little collection which I shot mainly at the start of 2009 with a couple as recently as August so I've worked on them a little and I can proudly present my new book:

It's 56 pages long, with an image wrap hard cover and on Blurb's special Premium Paper, I've just ordered my own copy with Express Delivery using a 50% off promotion so I'll definitely have it by the 24th.

I think it looks great and if you click on the image above, you'll go straight to my Blurb Bookstore where you can view a full preview and (hopefully) treat yourself to an alternative Christmas book.