A Photo an Hour: 24th September 2016

Saturday was another photo an hour day with Jane and Louisa, and unlike August’s incredibly boring day, it turned out to be quite a busy one.

8.30 a.m. Has a photo an hour ever started so early? Tea is definitely needed this morning!

9.30 a.m. Cross stitching while waiting to see whether Jan is going to get up so we can go through with our plans for the morning…

10.30 a.m. Ready to leave at the exact time we had said we would! (Jan was in the shower at this point, despite being the one to suggest the time). Photo taken free-hand without being able to see what I was doing! The first few attempts mostly contained the mess in the background and very little hair slide😉

11.30 a.m. Queuing for a crepe at the Spalenberg brunch (all the shops in one area had little food and drink items so people could put a “brunch” together for themselves)

12.30 p.m. We gave up on the brunch after Jan almost got guilted into buying a shirt and bought something from a baker’s instead. This is an apple, cinnamon and hazelnut “snail”

1.30 p.m. Hanging out at the park for a while until it’s time to meet some people from Jan’s choir for a tour.

2.30 p.m. Having a tour of an organ. We got to go inside and see all the pipes, etc. and how it’s tuned.

3.30 p.m. On the way back into town to go to a museum

4.30 p.m. There was a special exhibition at the Pharmazie Historisches Museum (Pharamcy Museum) for Erasmus year that we had been meaning to go and see and Saturday was the last day. The above picture is part of the ordinary exhibition.

5.30 p.m. Enjoying the early evening sun down by the river… hanging out with the ducks.

6.30 p.m Time for some food! Yes, I know that’s beer. Food was ordered but hadn’t yet arrived.

7.30 p.m. Off to the cinema! We watched a series of short films focussing on disability as part of a film festival.

No photos for 8.30 and 9.30 since I was in the cinema!

10.30 p.m. A quick beer before heading home.

11.30 p.m. Home! These are my keys in the bowl where they live.

After that I went to bed. No more photos would have been possible anyway… the symmetry must be maintained😉

How was your Saturday?

Friday letters

Once again Friday has come around incredibly quickly… it only seems like a few days since I was last writing these letters! And this time next week it will be the last Friday in September! Time is really flying… the dreaded “C” word will be here before we know it… I really need to start figuring out what gifts to buy for the people in my life! (Apart from Jan. I have his gift already. Shh… don’t tell him that!)

For now, though, let’s just have some Friday letters.

Mailbox

Dear autumn. You are officially here now… even in astronomical terms, so nobody can argue any more (even though it’s warmed up again here after a cold and rainy start to the week). Apparently here astronomical autumn started at 4:21pm yesterday…. I had no idea it came down to the minute!

Dear pumpkins. Why can’t you be available for me to eat all year round?! Now I have to gorge myself on you for the next few months while I still can!

Dear authors. Could you please stop releasing amazing sounding books on a regular basis? My to-read list  keeps getting longer and longer… and that’s just with the books that are already available!

Dear crows. You are very cool birds, but I’d prefer it if you didn’t make an awful racket outside my window early in the morning! (Hopefully this will stop now it’s no longer light at 5 am…)

That’s all for today. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! I’m off work next week – not going anywhere, but trying to use up some holiday – so this weekend is the start of what will hopefully be a nice long stretch of relaxation.

Rainbow mystery bag from Hearts by Emma

A while ago I read a review of an Etsy shop on The Lilac Llinet. She had purchased a panda mystery bag from Hearts by Emma and it was just adorable! I mean, panda themed stationery! What’s not to love?

I immediately made my way over there and decided to treat myself to a rainbow mystery bag, and it arrived in my mail box the other day.

The goodies were wrapped in gorgeous flower petal paper – I should probably have taken a photo of it pre-unwrapping for this post, but honestly I’d forgotten I even placed the order so I tore right in to try and figure out what on Earth I had just received!

Inside the paper, I found this (at which point I remembered what I had bought and why!):

rainbow-bag

I could see a cute rainbow/shooting star paper clip inside the pencil case, but not much else.

rainbow-goodies

Once the paper bag was out, it became apparent that there were pencils in there. And a pen.

stationery

That’s all the items from the little paper bag.

rainbow-stationery

And there’s everything all together.

The day I received my order was grey and rainy, so this rainbow goodie bag added a much-needed splash of colour to my morning. And those pens are AMAZING! Seriously… I don’t want to write with anything else now! I will definitely be purchasing from Hearts by Emma again.

I bought this mystery bag because I wanted to, and I wrote this post because I know I have readers who appreciate pretty stationery just as much as I do. This review is not sponsored in any way! (As if anyone would ever pay little me for writing a review…)

GBBO Bake Along: meatball toad-in-the-hole

toad-veg-gravyIf I was taking part in the actual Great British Bake Off, I would probably be disqualified for this contribution. Not following the rules at all, but meh… whatever. This week in bake off bake along, it’s batter week. My choices were supposed to be to make a batch of perfectly even Yorkshire puddings with a savoury filling, lace pancakes or churros. I don’t have any means of deep-fat frying, so initially I turned my attention to pancakes. Mine would have been filled with mince though instead of being lacy and intricate. Then I started thinking about Yorkshire puddings… from where my mind wandered to the fact that it’s been ages since we last had toad-in-the-hole. It’s basically a giant filled Yorkshire pudding, so it totally counts, right? We didn’t actually have any sausages, though… but we did have mince. Which lead me to the idea of experimenting with meatballs instead of sausages. And so meatball toad-in-the-hole was born.

I’ve had my toad-in-the-hole recipe for so long that I don’t even know who it belonged to originally, so apologies if I stole it from you! It’s pretty generic though so probably not really subject to copyright…

Ingredients

For the batter:
115g/4oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
300ml/œ pint of milk

For the meatballs:
350g mince
1 clove garlic
Herbs (I used dried parsley and fresh rosemary)
Chilli flakes
Cayenne pepper
Salt & black pepper, to taste

You will also need some oil or fat for frying the meatballs and for the oven-proof dish. I used olive oil for the former and sunflower oil for the latter.

Start by making the batter.

  1. Sift the flour, salt and pepper into a large bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack in the eggs. Use a wooden spoon to gradually beat the eggs into the flour then beat in the milk a little at a time until the batter is the consistency of double cream.
  3. Strain and push the dough through a sieve to remove any remaining lumps then cover and leave to stand for around 30 minutes.

While the batter is standing, pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6, then make the meatballs.

mince

  1. Start by placing your mince, herbs, garlic and seasoning in a bowls, as shown above. I used mixed pork and beef mince (the standard here), but you can choose your favourite. Mash all the ingredients together really well – you want garlic and herbs to be in all the meatballs!
  2. Using your hands, form the meatballs into roughly evenly sized balls. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can in the process (yes, part of the liquid will be blood. Sorry!). As you can see below, I got 12 out of mine.
    meatballs1
  3. Fry the balls lightly in oil for a few minutes. You don’t need to fully cook them through at this point (they will be in the oven for a while), but brown the edges enough to stop them falling apart. Or you could make proper meatballs with egg and breadcrumbs to hold them together. Meanwhile, put some fat or oil into an oven-proof dish and place it in the oven to heat for 5 minutes.
    meatballs2
  4. Remove the dish from the oven, place the meatballs into the hot dish, pour in the batter and then immediately return the dish to the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes until well-risen and golden brown. Whatever you do, do not open the oven before 35 minutes is up, otherwise your batter will deflate like a punctured bouncy castle, and there’s nothing sadder than that!
  5. Serve with vegetables of your choice (in our case aubergine fried in the leftover oil from the meatballs, but you may want to go with something healthier!) and, of course, gravy. For more people you could also add mashed or roast potatoes or more veg. This served 2 of us, but with added potatoes it will stretch to 4-6 people.

toad-hole

Jan asked me, since the meatballs were clearly not toad, what exactly is in the hole. Since they are round(ish), I thought maybe frog spawn.  What do you think… will frog spawn in the hole catch on?

See more batter week contributions here.

Delémont, Switzerland

After a very few hot days, July 31st promised to be a lot cooler, so Jan and I decided to go hiking… just in time for me to sneak it in for July’s contribution to take 12 trips😉. Jan suggested heading bit further afield than we had on previous hikes and mentioned DelĂ©mont, so I looked for a hike that started there and found one that took roughly 2 hours and went up the hill beside the town. We were supposed to come past the Chapelle du Vorbourg and the ruins of Vorbourg castle, but the route description wasn’t very good and somehow we missed them. Oh well.

dscn9123

 

As you can see from the photo above, it was chucking it down when we arrived in DelĂ©mont. It was also thundering, but we decided to continue with our hike anyway and see how things went. After all, skin is waterproof…

It wasn’t long before we saw the Jura coat of arms in the side of the mountain… just in case we hadn’t realised which canton we were in😉

dscn9126

The first part of the hike took us around the outskirts of town, past housing estates along paved roads. By the time we reached the part where we were to enter the woods, the thunder had stopped and the rain had died down, so we decided it would be safe enough to enter the trees…

Having difficulty following the instructions I had printed, we decided that the place where we were must have been where it wanted us to start heading up through the trees. In hindsight, we were wrong since we never did come across any chapel! We did, however, eventually find a break in the trees from where we could look down on the town.

Just up the hill from there was a proper viewing platform, so I had shoved my way into the gap between the trees for nothing!

With all the rain, the snails were out in full force. We had to be careful not to tread on the ones that were hanging out in the middle of the path!

How pretty is that shell though?

After admiring the view, we headed back down the mountain and towards the old town. Pretty much as soon as we were away from the woods the sun came out!

The whole old town was full of flag bunting. I’m not sure whether it’s always there or they had hung it up specially because the next day was the national holiday. I only recognised two of the coats of arms – the one for Jura and the one for DelĂ©mont town. You can see both of those on the first picture below. The others are presumably from the other towns that belong to DelĂ©mont district?

The old town of Delémont is small but very pretty and we had a nice wander round in the sunshine.

Too soon it was time to head back to the train station – we were meeting people to watch the fireworks and wanted to shower first. We grabbed some tasty food from the station cafĂ© and a beer from the little Coop supermarket at the station and ate and drank those while waiting for the train.

This is a nice little hike for a day that you don’t have time for a longer one (just make sure not to miss the chapel and castle like we did!) and DelĂ©mont old town is worth a look at, although it’s so small that I wouldn’t make that the entire itinerary for your day trip!

Monday Escapes has been revived with new hosts, so I’m linking up with Travel Loving Family, Extraordinary Chaos, Tin Box Traveller and Mini Travellers for that. And of course I’ve already mentioned that this was my July trip for #Take12Trips, which was originally the brainchild of Clare at Need Another Holiday.Travel Loving Family

GBBO bake along: chocolate chip hedgehogs

After missing biscuit week thanks to work and a visitor, I decided to jump back into the linkup for bread week. I wanted to go Swiss for this bake and make hedgehog rolls like the one here, except add chocolate chips to mine to comply with the rules (and also because chocolate!). I couldn’t actually find a recipe for Igeli though, so I settled for this one for Schokobrötchen. I felt like I was cheating a bit since this recipe doesn’t involve any yeast… is it still bread without yeast? It literally has bread roll in the name though (the German means “chocolate bread roll).

My original plan for this post was to translate the recipe for you then show you how I made hedgehogs instead of bread rolls. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out quiiite as planned and I’m at least partly blaming the recipe for not telling me what consistency the dough was supposed to have… mine ended up really sticky so I had to add extra flour just to be able to form it into anything. Even the balls that the original recipe called for wouldn’t have been possible. And also what kind of oven has a 175°C setting? Mine certainly doesn’t and neither have any of the other ones I’ve used in my life!

dscn9923

I decided to use two different methods for the spines so that I would hopefully end up with at least some rolls that looked something like hedgehogs.,For some of the rolls, I cut the dough using scissors to try and make spines like the ones in the picture linked above. My dough was obviously far too soft though because my spines had already melted back into the rest before the rolls even made it into the oven. For the rest I used almonds… sliced almonds would have worked best, but I only had whole peeled almonds so I tried to cut them to size. It only kind of worked.

Apparently I had made me rolls too flat, so my hedgehogs ended up looking like they’d been squished in a nasty traffic accident… possibly involving a truck? And, as expected, the non-almond spines didn’t work at all, leaving me with demented mouse rolls instead of hedgehogs.

dscn9927
I swear the one at the top right is giving me the evils…

At least the almond ones looked vaguely like they were supposed to…

I am so far far from being a star baker! But despite looking a bit dodgy, my hedgehogs tasted delicious! Next time, I I think I will try and find a better Schokobrötchen recipe, though.

I am adding this to the link up even though every single other entry looks totally professional and absolutely delicious! After all, somebody has to be the failure of the week! (If this was the real show, I’d be the one being voted off…)

This would be a fun bake to do with kids (provided you find a better recipe than the one I used). If you go with the almond spines method, the kids could place them and turn the plain buns into cute little hedgehogs.

And now I have seven more chocolate chip hedgehogs to eat and nobody to help me! (Jan is away at yet another choir weekend)

Friday letters

I meant to post more this week – and also actually respond to my comments – but then work got busy and I was tired. Blah, excuses. Anyway, I thought I would at least pop in briefly to write some Friday letters.

Mail box

Dear weather. So I see you decided to give up on summer right before the weekend. How kind of you! (Me, sarcastic? Nevah!)

Dear whatever bit my little toe in the night. My toe? Seriously? Now wearing shoes makes it itchy and swell up. And I can’t exactly walk around in sandals right now (see previous letter). I guess leaving the hose is not in my immediate future…

Dear godson. I hope you had a wonderful 4th(!!) birthday. Sorry your gift was late!

Dear sister. Congratulations on your engagement! We will celebrate when I see you next.

Dear weekend. You’re almost here! I can’t wait to catch up on some sleep after getting next to none last weekend!

That’s all for now. The church bells just told me it’s 1 p.m. and therefore time to get back to work… 4 hours to go!