Thursday, 21 January 2010

Blogging for B

I'm a little Bit Behind starting this week as far as the Blogging is concerned although I have been doing things for B particularly food wise.
Read I'm still reading The Time Travellers Wife that I started for "A" but as soon as I finish that I have the new Maeve Binchy Book "The Return Journey" ready to read which Sally bought me for Christmas. Also I bought Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island" for Russ so that's another one that I can hopefully fit into these two weeks
Food I always start my day with Banana on toast and I thought Bangers & Mash would be a good place to start for our dinner so we had this on Monday.

Listen Our favourite radio show on Radio 2 is Bob Harris on a Saturday night so that's a great place to start. I grew up listening to the Beatles so I will definitely try to fit some of their music in. There's also the Bangles, Belinda Carlisle ( although I might save her for the letter C)and another absolute favourite Eric Bibb

A is for Animal & Artist at work

Artist at work
Originally uploaded by oakwoodlott

I've had trouble with posting photos over the last few days so am rather behind with my (B)logging. These photos were taken in conjunction with Shutter Sisters theme of the week to fit in with the first letters of the A-Z - year - A

Monday, 18 January 2010 This is a new computer game I was recommended by a friend for the letter A. It has become (A)ddictive which is probably why they called it (A)ddix. it certainly gives the brain a good workout. Mental (a)rithmetic was never my strong point at school so this helps to brush up on my skill level!!!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

(A)nother favourite meal - (A)frican Sweet Potato Stew

I've managed to cook another "A" meal. Another favourite of ours and another vegetarian meal.It's very tasty. This one is from Good Housekeeping's "New Cooking" Recipe Book
and serves 4-6 people

African Sweet Potato and Spinach Stew

4tbsp groundnut oil (or an equivalent)
1 onion peeled & chopped
2 garlic cloves peeled & crushed
2tsp grated root ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp mild or medium curry paste
350g/12oz sweet potato cubed
300ml/1/2pt passata (or tin of chopped tomatoes)
300ml/1/2pt vegetable stock
225g/8oz mushrooms
225g/8oz spinach leaves
4tbsp peanut butter
2tbsp coriander

1) Heat 3tbsp oil in large saucepan, add onion,garlic, ginger & cayenne. Fry gently for 10mins. Add curry paste, cook stirring for 1 min.
2) Add sweet potatoes, stir to coat with onion mixture, fry for 3-4 mins. Add passata & stock. Bring to boil, cover, simmer for 15-20mins.
3) Meanwhile heat remaining oil in pan, add mushrooms, stir-fry for 4-5 mins until golden & beginning to release their juices.
4) Add mushrooms & spinach to potato mixture, cook for further 5 mins
5) Add peanut butter & stir to dissolve. Add coriander, season with salt & pepper& heat through
6) Serve with extra coriander scattered over top & yoghurt or soured cream if required/liked ( I don't usually bother but do serve with a naan bread)

Albums for letter A

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I haven't really got to grips sorting out much music to listen to this fortnight. I checked our Cd's and only found Alphabet Zoo by Ralph McTell. It was always a favourite with my two when they were little and as you can see we also had the album. Since the original TV programme Ralph McTell has composed more songs and now the Alphabet Zoo is complete. Daniel loves it!! The great thing about it is that the songs are catchy and better than most children's tapes and CD's available so that us adults don't mind listening to it as well.
I was surprised we had more LP's than I thought for "A" but our record deck isn't set up at the moment otherwise I would have liked to listen to the Gary Newman album- don't know that one at all - must have been Russ that bought that one.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A is for Angle

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Thursday, 7 January 2010


Decided it was time to have an "A" meal tonight and remembered a recipe with (A)ubergine and (A)pricots that we hadn't had for quite a while.I found it in "Good Housekeeping September 2003"

Moroccan Ragout
1tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1tbsp harissa paste
2 medium courgettes roughly chopped
2 red peppers, deseeded & sliced
1 small aubergine diced
400g can chopped tomatoes
410g chick peas, drained & rinsed
125g(4oz) ready-to-ear dried apricots, roughly chopped
3tbsp roughly chopped basil leaves & a few sprigs as garnish

For the Couscous
300ml (1/2pt) couscous
300ml (1/2pt) hot vegetable stock
2tbsp freshly chopped coriander

1) heat oil in a large pan, add onion & garlic & cook over a medium heat for 10min till soft. Stir in harissa paste & cook for a further 2 min
2) Add courgettes,peppers & aubergine to the pan & cook for 5min. Stir in the tomatoes,rinse the can with 200ml(7fl.oz) water & add to pan. Season well if you think it needs it.
3) cover pan with a lid & bring to boil. Reduce heat & simmer 25min.until the vegetables are nearly tender. Add the chickpeas & apricots & heat through for 5-10min. Stir in Basil leaves& serve.
4) Meanwhile prepare the couscous. Pour into a large bowl. Add the hot stock & leave to soak for 15min. Add coriander, fluff up with a fork & season if necessary

I thought I had checked that I had everything I needed & chopped the onion etc & started the cooking. While the onion & garlic were softening I got the aubergine & courgette from the freezer. Great - insufficient courgettes. I never think of myself as someone who can easily (A)dapt a recipe but tonight I had to ( this was only the start lol!) No red peppers but plenty of frozen yellow pepper, decided cucumber would be ok as a substitute for courgette to make up the short fall.Then I found out we had no Apricots. Nightmare!! Much scratching of head & eventually remembered I had a sachet of mixed fruit in the freezer (for making smoothies )It was pineapple, mango & papaya.

I'm glad to say that the finished meal was still very tasty but I would really recommend the original dish rather than my cobbled together (a)lternative However I have learnt something today from my potential disaster and I think that is what this challenge is all about!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Ambitions for A

Things to be achieved or attempted in the next two weeks -

Read - I have lots of unread books lying around so this gives me the incentive to actually pick them up and get on with them. For this letter I'm hoping to at least read The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I also have a Jeffrey Archer - The Eleventh Commandment & Anne Franks Diary.

Listen to - Surprisingly I've found out that we have very few cd's of artists with a name beginning with A so I shall have to go on a search of Utube & MySpace although I could use it as a good excuse to watch Mama Mia again :-)

Film - I've just got free tickets from Sky to go and see "Up in the Air" - does this count, it's the latest George Clooney film? We don't go to the cinema all that often but perhaps this might give us the impetus. I'm in two minds about "Avator" not sure if I want to see it or not.

Photograph - I was going to start a 365 challenge this year but forgot on Friday but I think I will have a go but start from the 2nd January instead & combine it with the A-Z challenge along the way.

I think that will do for a start - I'll add bits & pieces as the days go by!


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courtesy of iKari

Thought it might be an idea to put a calendar at the beginning of each month setting out the relevant letter for the start of each fortnight so I know where I am. Have moved the start day to a Saturday for convenience.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The Beginning

The idea is to use the Alphabet throughout the year in fortnightly chunks as inspiration to try new ideas or long forgotten ones. To visit new places, try new foods or wherever your imagination takes you (within reason & the co-operation of family etc)

As of the 1st January 2010 we start with the letter A