Wednesday 28 February 2018

Is Chicken Soup really good for the Soul?

Hi there everyone

It is absolutely freezing here today. I have the heating on full pelt and am spending the day trying to keep warm. I thought it would be a good time to share this recipe which is a real Winter warmer. ...

Have you read that book ... Chicken Soup is good for the Soul? I must confess I haven't, but the phrase seems to stick in my mind for some reason.

It was a Monday morning a week or so ago and I seemed to have accumulated a, not so random, selection of pretty manky vegetables ... bendy celery, slimy leeks and a random parsnip left over from our roast dinner.

Trying to be a bit more mindful of waste I didn’t really want to chuck them out.

Whilst not looking as though they would have much use as a veg on the side of a dinner, they were exactly the right thing for my favourite chicken soup recipe.

It’s in an old Weight Watchers cook book and I remember serving it to someone once and telling them it was a Weight Watchers one and then them telling me, at a later date, that they’d been looking for it in the supermarket and couldn’t find it. High praise indeed.

Anyway, we are now more fans of Slimming World, (actually, maybe fans isn’t the word Martin would use), but it’s very easily adapted. Just don’t fry the veg in margarine, swap it for butter flavoured daylight.

I added an onion and soon turned the manky pile into a nice pan full of chopped bits and pieces and got them frying off.

The only drawback of this recipe is that I can’t make it in the soup maker. This is because once the veg has softened, you add the stock and then throw a chicken portion in to cook while the soup is bubbling away. It should be a full boned portion really, but I only had a boneless breast so used that instead.

Once it’s bubbled away for 30 minutes, you take out the chicken portion, shred it and put most of it back in ...
... before the messy task of blending takes place. I tend to do this in my big blender, rather than using my stick blender, so I always tend to end up slopping it all over the place ... no such problem with the soup maker.
After it’s blended you add it back to the pan and put the rest of the shredded chicken in with some freshly chopped parsley. I didn’t have any of that so just threw some dried in.

Oh, in the recipe you should also stir through some creme fraiche at the end, but I like to keep it ‘free’ so leave this out and it is no poorer for it. It still ends up luxuriously thick and creamy and the chicken flavour really does come through.

It’s one of the only soups I really like eating that doesn’t have to be accompanied by a slab of bread on the side, though if I’m being really naughty a chunk of fresh bread is always a bonus.

So, in about 40 minutes we went from this ...
... to this ...
So is it good for the soul? I think so, especially when it means you make something tasty and full of goodness out of stuff that would otherwise just hang around until it really was only fit for the bin.

I think it has to be my favourite soup so far 🍜🍜🍜

Monday 26 February 2018

Making me Smile ...

Hi there everyone

Well, it’s Monday and Martin is working this week, so I am back flying solo for the next seven days ... hopefully I will catch up on lots of boring householdy stuff ... I wouldn’t bet my life on it though, after all I am very easily distracted πŸ˜‰

I carried on jotting things down in my ‘gratitude journal’ last week and its so nice looking back at the end of the week and seeing just how much there is in just seven days to be grateful for.

So here goes with the things that made me smile last week ..

Getting my craft on ...
I love all kinds of crafting and since I finished work back in 2014 I have really enjoyed making all kinds of stuff.

It got to the point where I was making too much to be able to use all my makes as gifts for friends and family ... so in 2015 I set up my Hand Made at Number 27 Facebook page and started making things to sell, which was pretty scary and exciting all at the same time.

I’m not looking to make a fortune, just really hoping that I can sell enough bits and pieces to be able to cover the cost of my materials. It goes in fits and starts, there are times when it is really busy, mainly in the run up to Christmas, and then times when it is really quiet, sometimes totally by design, like last summer when we were having a lot of house and garden work done and I was really short on time for anything other than keeping straight.

Since Christmas, in my lethargic and lacklustre state, I’ve not really done much crafting but last week I really seem to have been struck down with the crafting bug.

I’ve been making a few different bits and pieces, some for actual customer orders and some for craft fairs that we are planning on attending through the summer.

Over the last week I have finished the 2nd of a crocheted sloth family that I have been asked to make, just two more to go ...
I have also had a play at appliquΓ©, something I have wanted to have a go at for a while. Inspired by something I saw on Tales from a Happy House, I ordered some pre-made bags, scoured Pinterest
for ideas and got cracking.

With the wonder of Bondaweb, which is absolutely brilliant stuff, I have decorated a batch of small bags which I am chuffed to bits with. Whilst I haven’t sold any as yet, I’ve had lots of comments on my Facebook page and they will be a fabulous bright and colourful addition to the craft stall in the Summer.
I have a few more ready for stitching ...
... and have also made a start on some larger ones ...I’ve also been busy with button art heart frames, one ordered as a christening present and the rest ready as craft stall stock. I just love turning a pile of bits and pieces like this ...
... into something really pretty like this ...
We also had a trip to Ikea this week and they sell fabric ... Who knew? And it is gorgeous, completely different to anything else I have in my stash. Anyway, I couldn’t resist this lovely lot and am hoping to be able to have a go at some matching tote bags, purses and make up bags, so I see a few busy weeks coming up.
As if that wasn’t enough I have a crochet blanket on the go, which I started last Summer. It’s for the garden, for snuggling under at the end of BBQ evenings. whether or not it will be ready for this summer I don’t know, there is still a long old way to go.

Food ... again ...
We are definitely not really doing that well on the Slimming World front at the moment, we both just love our food too much.

We are normally pretty good with our main meals, cooking from scratch, the SW way, but we are useless when we go out, which seems to happen fairly often ... neither of us feel like we’ve really been out unless we’ve stopped in a cafe for a treat.

We are rubbish for eating naughty stuff in between meals too, we seriously need to get back in the groove ...

Last week we had a fab roast dinner, which is always a treat and, if you disregard the Yorkies it was not too naughty.
We managed to use the leftover roast chicken for a new chicken mole recipe, which will definitely be added to the favourites list.

While we were at Ikea we couldn’t resist the meatballs, or the Daim cake ...
We also bought some Ryevita pizza bases, I know, random ...
Anyway, we’ve tried them and they were pretty good. We had them with duck, spring onion, cucumber and hoi sin sauce ...

We just need to work out if they are really any better for us than our normal pizza base recipe.

As if that wasn’t enough ... we were still at it on Sunday, with a lovely breakfast meet up with good friends at a place we haven’t tried before, the strawberry cabin, just up the road. It was just lovely. Toasty warm and cosy, chilled out, a real good catch up and breakfast went down very nicely too. Good byes were said with reminders of our next catch up for afternoon tea in a couple of weeks time ... we really are useless.

Hygge and getting Hyggley
So, I can hear some of you asking ... what on Earth is Hygge? Well ... it's a Danish thing and can be a difficult one to define but ...
As a complete aside, the image above is my first attempt at using, a site that allows you to select one of your own photos and combine with a quote. You can really play around with it and I have saved the site to my favourites already.

Now I can’t quite recall when I first started reading about Hygge but recently I’ve discovered another new blog "How to Hygge the British Way" and I’ve been trawling through the back posts finding more out about it.
The more I read the more it resonates with me as it really fits with the way that I like to live my life. Martin ... not so much, he thinks anything like this is just a bit of a fad.

When I’m at home I always want to feel safe, secure, chilled and snuggly and there are lots of touches around that really give me that feeling ... candles, soft fabrics, fairy lights, cushions and throws and cosy corners where I love to sit with a book or a magazine or my crochet and just generally enjoy ... well, just being ...
Oh, and cake fits in really well with a hygge lifestyle too.

Booking holidays
Whilst martin and I are now both lucky enough to have a life that we love enough not to need holidays for escape purposes, we do both love exploring this country we are lucky enough to call home.

If you have been following my blog for a while you will know that we love to get away for a cottage holiday, preferably in the middle of nowhere, either by the sea or in the depths of the countryside, as often as we can and we love exploring new places.

This year we have a week right at the top of the Lake District already planned and another week just South of Whitby, not far from the very lovely Robin Hoods Bay.

Well, we both love the North Cornwall coast and haven’t holidayed there since we last camped about 10 years ago.

We are both now a bit too creaky for camping and we have been looking for ages for a cottage that we like that is in a good spot.

This week we’ve finally managed to find one in Widemouth Bay, so we are really looking forward to getting back down to Bude, Crackington Haven, Boscastle, Tintagel, Port Isaac and Padstow. The last time we went was pre Blog so I am sure there will be plenty of posts to share. It will be a good excuse to take all of the same photos and visit the same places again.

I was going to try and keep my list of things that made me smile last week to four but I’m just going to drop this one here to finish off for this week ...

Brown paper packages tied up with string...

So that’s it for this week, I’m hoping this might become a regular feature on the blog, maybe not every week, but it is a good way of just capturing the everyday ordinary stuff that just happens day in day out.

I’ve got a fab chicken soup recipe for you for later this week and, following on from my Steephill Cove post at the weekend I am hoping to bring you the delights of Ventnor Botanical Gardens on Saturday. We also managed to get out into the garden for a couple of hours over the weekend, so there is still plenty to come.

It’s been lovely over the last couple of weeks finding out how many of you out there are following my ramblings, from as far away as the USA. Thank you so much for reading and for commenting, either on here or on my Facebook links, it really means a lot 😁😁😁


Saturday 24 February 2018

Beautiful Britain - Steephill Cove, Isle of Wight

Hi there everyone

I've had a few weeks break from my Isle of Wight posts but it was a real treat re-living the delights of our visit to Steephill Cove as I wrote this one.

Having exhausted the programmes on the Sky planner recently and waiting for something decent to watch we were surfing the programme guide and came across 'Penelope Keith's Coastal Villages'. What really caught our eye was the fact that one of the areas being explored was the Isle of Wight.

Having had a wonderful fortnight's holiday on the island last year we were quite excited to see where she would go.

Well, she was exploring the southern part of the island and, as soon as she said that some of the villages became harder to find, we knew where she would be going.

We discovered the delights of Steephill Cove after we'd paid a visit to Ventnor Botanical Gardens, which is worthy of a post of its own ... so you can expect to find out more over the coming weeks.

When exploring the Botanical Gardens we ended up going out onto the coastal path, hoping for a fabulous view of the coast. It was a glorious day and after a short wander we spotted a beautiful looking village tucked in under the cliff right alongside the coast.

We knew we really wanted to visit and, after we left the Botanical Gardens, we set out in search. We drove the road from the Botanical Gardens, right into Ventnor and couldn't see quite how we could get to the cove we'd spotted and we couldn't see any sign of it from the end of the prom in Ventnor looking back the other way.

We could only presume that it was tucked around the cliff, somewhere between where we were and where we'd been.

A quick look on the OS map soon cleared things up. It was Steephill Cove that we'd spotted and there was no access for vehicles.

We really wanted to see it up close, it had looked so lovely from the coastal path. There was only one thing for it ... we would have to walk. Now not being that fit, with plenty of creaking joints and exercise being a bit of a distant memory, this was quite a daunting thought.

There was only one way it could be and we headed out, thinking we'd just walk to the point that we could see and if we couldn't see the cove we would come back.
The views looking back at Ventnor were pretty decent, even from just leaving the car park.

I think now is a good time to apologise up front for the photo overload about to come, it was just so lovely, all of it, in both directions, and the weather was so good, I just couldn't stop taking pictures ... it was a good excuse for a breather!! I have tried to slim them down, but really wanted to do both the walk and the cove justice.

Quite early on we met some people coming back who told us it was definitely worth the walk and not that far ... well, the definition of 'not that far' is clearly open to interpretation.

We made it to the point and still couldn't see the cove, but it was a lovely day and the views were beautiful so we carried on.

We ended up going down plenty of wooden steps, definitely thinking about how they would feel on the return journey and starting to wonder if we'd put enough time on the car parking ticket.

Whilst there were still great views looking back to Ventnor, there was still no sign of the cove, but surely we'd come too far now to go back.
Finally ... we could just see the top of the lighthouse building that we'd seen earlier on and knew we didn't have that far to go.
Well, once we turned that final corner, it really did take our breath away, it was just beautiful, you could have been anywhere in the World.
And just in case we were in any doubt as to whether we were in the right spot ...
It is only a tiny place, but so, so pretty ...
We were heading for The Beach Shack, at the far end of the cove ...
... where we had to stop for a quick drink and just take in the views looking back across the cove. Seriously ... we could have been sat in a Greek taverna looking out at The Med, it was one of the loveliest places that either of us have come across.
Whilst I was more than happy with a piece of cake in The Beach Shack, being a serious lover of all things crab, there was no way Martin was leaving without trying one of the local delicacies, which Penelope Keith had also seem to be impressed with ...

As we had only given ourselves 2 hours on the car park, we couldn't hang around for too long and it was soon time to head back to Ventnor.
We were a bit daunted by the thought of the walk back, we knew that once we'd done the short walk along the sea front it was pretty much uphill all the way.
But we took it steady, with plenty of photo stops ...
... and lovely views to spur us on ...
We were pretty much at a snail's pace by the time we reached the steps ...
... and were in need of a definite pitstop before starting our climb ...
... and again, half way up ...
Once at the top of the steps the rest of the walk was a bit easier going ...

... and it wasn't too long before we were back where we started ...

... and just in time. We'd put two hours on the car park and we got back with just a few minutes to spare ...
Whilst for a lot of people this would probably be a fairly easy walk, for us, it was a bit tough ... but we wouldn't have missed it for the World.

Steephill Cove is literally one of the most beautiful places we have come across and the weather on our visit meant we got to see it at its glorious best.

Whilst it was tough, we were both quite proud of ourselves for having done it and it can't have been that bad, as we both said that if we came back, we would definitely do it again. Though we would definitely buy a longer parking ticket. Whilst two hours did allow us to get there and back, with a quick stop, we could easily have spent far longer just whiling away the afternoon.

Well done, if you've made it this far. I know there were lots of pictures, but, as I said at the beginning, it was just soooooooo lovely. If you get chance to go, then do, it's definitely worth the effort πŸ˜€