Month: October 2018

Flower Arrangements With The Dalai Lama…

Well, not quite.

The paint rollers were out again.  This time to do the bedroom.  As I mentioned when M was away I did the feature wall, which is really nice, but it has changed the dynamic of the room, so much so that I wanted to do the rest of the room.  Not only to clean it up but to go with the flow and change the room completely.  We decided to go with a colour called Egyptian Cotton.  It is a very subtle colour and has a tinge of wheat in it.  Again, this has changed the room.  

One of the problems with doing work on the house is that I have to repair the floors too.  The house was built in 1890, and most of it has not really been changed, especially the floorboards.  As I am not going to pay out for new flooring, I have just repaired what needs to be done, and then seal it so that there are no gaps or gusts of wind coming up through it before the new carpet was fitted.  I did have the house insulated a few years back, but there is quite a cavity below the floor to the ceilings below, and wouldn’t you know, quite an air flow through it.  A lot less since the cavity insulation, but all the same, it is cold air that I wanted rid of.

Once done, we needed to buy new drapes.  Sounds easy, but we have two windows in the room, one really large, the other only a few feet wide, but getting drapes to match really did feel impossible.  We have looked over the 15 years living here, and apart from very plain ones we never managed to get a matching pair.  We have vertical blinds throughout too, but a room is not complete without drapes.  We did manage to get really nice ones in the end from a department store.  However, we got carried away and bought new poles for both windows, then decided to get new drapes and poles for the hall windows, both upstairs and down.

Although not to everyone’s liking, we have many Tribal Masks from all around the world.  Some are really scary, others amusing but all originals and they have always been a focal in the bedroom along with quite a few African paintings, again all originals.  Sitting in the lounge writing this, and I look around to see 6 more African artefacts, so maybe it is more of an obsession with us.  Our main hall has African masks in it along with other paintings and artefacts.  But we have toned it down in the bedroom, and only have 8 in there now, and moved 11 to the hallway.  The paintings we did not rehang as I thought less is better in the bedroom, and I like the clean edges to everything.

I mounted the TV and sound system on the wall too.  I felt that it made the room feel smaller by sitting on the double chest of draws.  When you came into the room that was the first thing you saw, this bloody great big TV, but now it is on the wall it is as though it is not even there.  Also watching TV in bed is very relaxing now. I also have led backlighting on it, so a soft warm glow emits from the back when the TV is on.  I put a couple of dove grey floating shelves in the alcove on my side of the bed, may as well use the space for my books LOL.

So, now it is finished, it is a very relaxing place to be, warm and very inviting too.  

West facing
Harper relaxing in her bed
Some of my masks
Masks
50" TV looks so small now.
That’s Entertainment!
My corner
My Teddy is called Fred and he is 52 years old now.

Baking with Chairman Mao

I love to bake. I mean bake anything. There is just something so satisfying about the whole process.  I did make sourdough bread last weekend, but to be honest, it was a bit crap, however, that will not put me off, and I will keep going until I get it right.  The instructions for the proving overnight in the fridge was good, but the dough collapsed when I was putting it onto the baking sheet.  The other loaf stuck to the banneton as I had used flour rather than rice flour, so that was crap too.  The other thing I had problems with was the heat in the oven. The instructions said for 500f which is mega hot, and as I was cooking it on a stone dish it just seemed to sear and the crust was tough, so tough it could be in the marines.  It was supposed to bake for 20 minutes at 500f then 30 minutes at 450f, again, mega hot.  I have never cooked any bread at this temperature so it would happen that it was cooked on the outside and slightly doughy on the inside.  Not a bad crumb though.  It also didn’t taste like sourdough does, so I think that was the fault of the leaven as it had not bubbled and matured enough.  So now I know or think I know what went wrong I will try again.  I may do a variation too so that I know I can control rather than using the heat of the sun.

First go at Sourdough Bread

As mentioned, I love to bake, so here are some photos of my other bakes, successful bakes too LOL

Strawberry Shortcake with Strawberry Coulis
Strawberry Tarts (Pate Sablee) with Chantilly Cream and Passion Fruit
Brioche
Irish Wheaten Bread (Soda)

Here There Be Giants…

Thursday saw the arrival of The Giants in our city (Liverpool) along with over 1.3 million visitors to see them.  Liverpool is quite a wonderland, and we have many odd and wonderful things to see here.  This is the third time The Giants have visited, alas, it will be the last.  The city was littered with the giant’s possessions, including likes of clothes drying, a dropped butter knife that sliced through a bus and a dropped fork that went through a car.  Today (Sunday) they left to go back to their home, never to return again here or any other place.  Here are just a few photos from the last few days.

Food Porn…

Today I decided to make Pumpkin & Bacon Soup, and what a triumph, so here it is for you all to enjoy.

Ingredients

Olive Oil
50g Butter
1 Onion – diced fine
150g Dry-cured bacon chopped – I used oak smoked dry cured
Small pumpkin, you will need about 800g of flesh, peeled and de-seeded.
1-litre chicken stock
100ml double cream
3 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
Maple syrup

Instructions

In a large pan heat about a tablespoon of oil with half the butter, add the onion a good pinch of salt and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add about 60g of the bacon and cook for 5 mins more.  Increase the heat, add the stock and pumpkin and season.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, cover with a lid and leave for about 40 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.  Depending on how big the chunks are, changes this time.  Add the cream and again, bring to the boil then remove from the heat.
Whilst the soup is cooking toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan, not too hot, and beware as they can pop and jump about.  They need to be coloured browns but don’t over toast.
Depending on what equipment you have depends on how you do this, but I used a stick blender in the pan to turn the chunky soup into a smooth silky soup.  You could put it in a liquidiser, but do it in batches as the hot soup will expand whilst in the blender and no one looks good with hot soup all over them and the kitchen.
Next, return the blended soup to the pan.  Melt the rest of the butter in another pan and cook the rest of the bacon for about 5 minutes, remove and pat dry of the butter and fats.  Re-heat the soup if needed.

Put the cooked bacon in the bottom of the soup dishes and pour the soup over.  Scatter with the toasted seeds and drizzle maple syrup over the soup, not too much as you done want a sugary soup.  Add seasoning to taste.

I toasted sourdough bread and cut it into strips to serve with the soup.  It added another layer of texture to it and is delicious.

Enjoy.

A Poem From My Past…

I wrote this many years ago about my experience of being an unwanted child.  Not by my mother, but by my father.  Needless to say, I have not seen him for well over half my life.

My Dad & I

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
The words spoken by a grown man to his eight-year-old son.
A callous off the cuff remark?
No, it was a cruel and calculated remark.
His son could see in his eyes that he meant it.
Head down feeling ashamed of being a boy.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
Years of cruelty followed.
A backhander here, a punch there.
The boy’s sister was the father’s favourite.
Sweets for her, but nothing for him.
Don’t tell your mother or you’ll get a slap.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
The remark embeds itself in his head.
He watches other Dads love their son.
Fatherly love was something he never knew.
Fatherly love was absent, missing, gone.
Fatherly love was wanted, envied, but always denied.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
Get to your room, get out of my sight.
His room became his sanctuary from cruel words.
He worked hard at school and passed all exams.
A report card came home at the end of each term.
No praise did his father give him, that was for the girls.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
It was time to go as the divorce papers arrived.
Many years later, he met him again.
He told him this is my son, but it wasn’t this child.
A half-brother he never knew he had.
Realisation dawned and his head dropped again.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
A lie and a truth in the same sentence.
A letter years later confirming rejection.
A hate builds up, but he realises it’s wasted.
His father missed out on so much, he knew.
I know how this ends, as I am that son.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
I see him in the street, he knows not who I am.
The old man looks back but no recollection.
I smile to myself, I am the better man.
My want for my father has been and gone.
I’m strong through loss, I have coped with the pain.

‘I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
The time will come when you’re deep in the ground.
I may come around and speak to you then.
Tell you of cruelty made to your first son.
You’ll not answer back, and I will not hide.
I don’t want you, Dad, though I needed you before.

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