Sunday, 25 April 2021

A little light supper: Leek, Mushroom and Lemon Risotto [V]

 


I always thought risotto was beyond my capabilities with all that adding a ladleful at a time business but I have found that I quite enjoy making it these days,  especially if I just want something that isn't too complicated and something that can be made relatively quickly.  Its usually one of those go to meals that if I know we've got a busy day, I get all the ingredients ready in advance and when I'm ready I can cook relatively quickly. By quickly I mean it's one of those meals I can make whilst enjoying a glass of wine, cooks perks of course and usually by the time I have consumed the wine the risotto is ready and yes there is usually a second glass to go with it.    It is also one of those meals that lends itself to be eaten al fresco if the weather allows and when we can finally have friends and family over again its one that doesn't keep you away from your guests for too long.  

Serves 4          

8oz trimmed leeks

8oz mushrooms

2 ribs of celery chopped

1 cup of frozen pees

2 tbsp of olive oil

3 garlic cloves crushed

6 tbsp of butter

1 large onion diced

2 cups of Arborio rice

1.5 litres of vegetable stock

Grated zest and juice of one lemon

2/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup of freshly chopped chives and parsley

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

 

1.       Slice the leeks lengthwise and roughly chop. Wipe the mushrooms to remove any soil and roughly chop.

2.       Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the garlic for 1 minute. Add the leeks, mushrooms and celery and plenty of seasoning and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until softened.  Add the frozen peas and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3.       Add 2 tbsp of the butter and cook the onion over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.

4.       Stir in the rice and cook for 1 minute. Add a ladleful of stock to the pan and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed.

5.       Stir in more liquid as each ladleful is absorbed; this should take 20-25 minutes. The risotto will turn thick and creamy; the rice should be tender but not sticky.

6.       Just before serving stir in the leeks, mushrooms, celery and remaining butter, grated lemon zest and juice, half the parmesan cheese and the herbs.

7.       Adjust the seasoning and serve, sprinkled with the remaining parmesan and herbs. Serve with lemon wedges.


Now the big kids have all but flown there is invariably leftovers and this risotto lends itself to freezing or if you have access to a microwave at your place of work you could take it and  heat it up for your lunch.

Enjoy


Mx

Sunday, 4 April 2021

March Reads

 Good morning all on this rather nippy  but sunny Easter Sunday morning.  The sun has got their hat on but by bunkum its cold outside this morning with even a touch of frost, so I thought I pop in here and tell you about my March reads instead.


As our little crafting group can't meet up at the moment due to COVID 19 restrictions we thought it might be nice to include a book club as part of our little gang as we can take our time reading the selected book and then have a zoom meeting to discuss and of course there may be a little glass of something and some chocolate involved in these meet ups, but that's ok isn't it?



So last month we reviewed our first book which was Kate Mosse 'The Burning Chambers' which was released in 2019 and a hefty 608 pages, this is Book 1 of a trilogy of books following the love story of Minou and Piet and their lives during war torn France. The second in the trilogy 'The City of Tears' was released in February 2021 with  slightly less pages at 455 was the first recommendation for the group to read, but many of us felt that we would need to read the first book first in order to get the feel of the characters and how they all fell into place within the story and I think we all agreed having now read The City of Tears that this was the right decision to take.  

The City of Tears is based some 10 years from where we left Minou and Piet, they are now married and have two children of their own.  The Wars of Religion continue across France and those who once were your friends and neighbours have now become your enemies.  A wedding is to take place between the Catholic crown and the Huguenot King in a bid to bring balance and peace to France. Minou, Piet and their family receive an invitation to the wedding and although Minou has her reservations about attending it is decided they should go,  but what they cannot know is that their oldest enemy Vidal will also be there. Within days of the marriage and on the eve of the feast of St. Bartholomew Minou's family will be scattered to the four winds when violence breaks out within the city and unbeknown to Minou  one of her beloved children will be lost after sneaking out of the house alone,  disappeared without a trace.  Minou and Piet search for their child but when a bloodstained bonnet is found they fear the worse and make the hardest decision of their lives, to leave France to find refuge in Amsterdam. In the City of Tears we find the family fighting to stay together whist they continue to try and find out what happened to their missing child. Minou and Piet torture themselves everyday not knowing if they are alive or dead. If alive where have they been all this time and who has been looking after them and if dead the one things neither can contemplate, what happened to them and where is their last resting place.


I am not a huge fan of Kate Mosse novels the period of history she likes to write about, especially French history is not a period of history I know anything about and therefore I wouldn't know if it was factually accurate or not.   I have read a couple of her other novels in the past, they have all been beautifully written with a good command of language and the text tends to flow through the storyline very well.  I thought the City of Tears a better storyline than The Burning Chambers but for me personally I am glad that I decided to read the first in the series to get the background of all the characters and to a certain extent you could easily loose elements of the characters and their stories if you haven't read the first.   

I would recommend this series of books and I will definitely read the third when it is released. 




Now for my second book of March, which isn't a novel at all but worthy of a mention none the less.  I was given a copy of 'The Boy, the mole, the Fox and the Horse' as a birthday present and I have to say it is a book I have absolutely fallen in love with.  I had seen posters in various places of Charlie Mackesy's work before especially during lockdown as he has produced quite a few for the NHS over the past twelve months.  He released his book in October 2019 so I don't know why I hadn't discovered it before.





It is 128 pages of beautiful illustrations and text that no matter what sort of a day you are having you will find something within those pages to lift your spirits and enable you to face whatever is ahead.

I love this book so much that it has become my go to gift for family and friends this year and each recipient so far has fallen in love with it as much as I have and one friend has also introduced it to her 94 year old dad who each day lets the book fall open on a page and keeps the words with him all day. I think that's lovely that a father and daughter have something to share in this way. 

Now those who know me well know that I also get through one Christmas and immediately start planning on gifts for the next.  Well I can tell you for those who haven't received a copy for their birthday they will be receiving one for Christmas this year and yes I know we are only just into April but I don't think it's ever too early to start thinking about these things.  I am very much thinking for the girls of the family that a book hamper with a copy of Charlie's book and some treats for a cold winters evening is definitely something worth considering. 



I am going to leave you all with this last helping from Charlie's book its definitely something I think we could all admit to struggling to ask for at times.


Enjoy your Sunday one & all

Mx



Sunday, 28 March 2021

Reading time and a little bit of comfort

 



Good morning from a wet and rather windy Leicestershire.  The clocks have gone forward so Spring has now officially sprung, although if you looked out of  my window this morning you wouldn't think so.


Like a lot of us my projects and photographs this one has ended up on more than one social media site and a lady from one of the cross stitching groups I belong to recently asked me how I put together my cross stitch reading pillow as she would like to make something similar for her son.  I know I have shown you all this Newton's Law cross stich before but I didn't write a post on making the pillow.


Now as you all know I am very much a novice and I am learning as I go along and tell myself only I know where the imperfections are.  Anyhow rather than trying to add details to a facebook post I thought I would write it here and then anyone can find it should they wish to and I can put a link in the post for the lady who asked me to follow.  


So here goes.  Firstly it doesn't have to be  a particular type of cross stitch that is used. You can use any cross stitch big or small as long as you can make it fit to your cushion.  You can also use any type of cross stich fabric whether it is aida or evenweave. With this cross stitch I used the 14 ct. Aida that was supplied with the kit. What I always recommend if you are using a cross stich to make a pillow is that once you have completed it and have washed and pressed it that you add an iron on interfacing to the back of your work.  This will hold your stitches in place and protects your cross stitch.  I have written about this and you can find the details under  my hints and tips section here  



Although you don't need to line the whole cushion I do recommend that you line the cross stitch area as this is going to form the pocket of you reading pillow and is going to get the most use with books or a kindle being placed inside on numerous occasions and again this will protect your cross stich. 

In this instance I made an envelope cushion so the next steps are really about making sure you have your all your pieces and then the construction of the cushion.


If you are making an envelope cushion once you have measured out your cushion you should have:




1. The front pocket of you cushion in this case your cross stitch.  Now this cross stitch wasn't quite big enough to fit across the cushion so I decided to put a border around it and again this will  give it a big of extra protection but I did this before adding the lining as you will want the lining to cover the whole of the inside of the pocket. 

2/You will have your front piece which is in this case is the floral material.

3. Your two back pieces to make your envelope remembering that the bottom piece will be longer than the top so that you get our envelope.


From the picture above you can see I have sewn the bottom of the piece of the back and the bottom of your pocket to the front piece and the sewn the top of the front and back pieces together.  Now you can add a bit of the contrast fabric along the top of the bottom back piece as a trimming  to finish it off but you don't have to. This fabric had quite raw edge that frayed so it needed something covering the edge to prevent it from doing it.


So you should now be able to see how your cushion is going to come together you just have to make sure your pocket is placed correctly or if like me on a previous project I found the pocket was inside out when I turned it all through.  As you can see by doing it this way that my pocket is the right way around. 



And as a second check I will pin everything together so I can make sure I am happy with the overall look before turning inside out  re-pinning and sewing together.





Hopefully at the end of all your efforts you should end up with a reading pillow that looks like this.  


This particular reading pillow was a birthday present for a friend and colleagues birthday and the squeals were very loud when she opened it and it now sits in pride of place in her cottage along side her blanket I had made for her a couple of years before. 





You don't have to make an envelope style cushion its really whatever you prefer.  At the time when I made this one I wasn't that confident in putting in a zip I always had a fear that I would break the needle. I have since now conquered that fear too and quite happily add zips to my cushions.



These two were Christmas presents for my partner and son in law this year. The fabric I bought off Amazon as a fat quarter and I cut the fabric so that I could make a pocket and top piece and I added a bit of ribbon as a trimming to finish off the pocket.  Now what you can't see is that the top piece of the fabric is joined to a plain piece to make the inside of the pocket so that once the pocket is placed it looks like one continuous piece of fabric.  Its 100% cotton but I still lined the inside of the pocket due to the wear and tear its going to get with all the books that will be put inside it.  



I think they make great gifts and even though we are only just coming into spring time I don't think it is ever too early to be thinking a head about  birthday or Christmas presents.  Dare I say I am working on a few things already for this year. 


Hope some of you will find this helpful 


Mx


NB:  I tend to use an 18" cushion for my reading cushions. 



Thursday, 4 March 2021

January/February Reads

 



Good afternoon to you all.  I realised last night as I turned the last page of my latest read that I have been sharing with you the books I have been reading since the start of the New Year.  With the house move etc towards the end of last year I lost my reading mojo a bit as life was just so crazy.  Anyway now things have settled back down and we are into the New Year I downloaded a book by one of my favourite authors Amanda Prowse only this time it was in collaboration with her son Josiah Hartley.  


Amanda is not just a writer she regularly appears on radio and is a panelist on the Jeremy Vine Show, she is such a lovely lady but you do have to beware that if you have an unusual name like mine then you could potentially end up in one of her books.  Not me personally but the use of my name.  All that aside its very true that none of us knows what is going on behind closed doors do we and someone can appear the life and soul of the party for the most part and this I think has been very true of Amanda. 


Little did any of us know at the time that Amanda's son Josh had been suffering with depression to the point that he didn't believe his presence on this here earth was worth while and contemplated finding away out.  As someone who has lost a member of my own family to suicide I could totally understand how this made Amanda and her family feel.  The Boy Between is their account of how they dealt with what life threw at them and how they have now come out of the other side of those dark days.  It is an interesting read seeing both their prospective on those times.  Josh is very open about how his depression encased him and how he didn't always feel that his family and friends got it. And for Amanda well as a mum you always want everything to be rosy in your garden don't you and when its not we do that mum thing of trying to fix everything when in reality there are times in all our lives not just those of our children when there just isn't a big enough tube of superglue to hold everything together.  

I would certainly recommend this book especially if you know of someone who is currently in the same situation as a family or in supporting a friend who may be going through this. 


My next read was The Burning Chambers.  I belong to a local crafting group and we used to meet up every couple of weeks but obviously with COVID we have not been able to do so since last summer. After Christmas we decided it might be nice to add into the mix a book club to our endeavor's so names of books were thrown into the mix and the recommended book was a Kate Mosse novel The City of Tears which was due out mid February. Then I discovered it is the second in a trilogy and if course my OCD brain said I should read the first in the trilogy first. I didn't intend for the whole group to do this but none the less they all decided we should start with the first book which we did, some are still reading it where as others have already got to the end but no matter we will all wait until we are done to start the second one.   Kate Mosse isn't normally one of my go to authors but sometimes it's good to take yourself out of your comfort zone isn't it.  Her books are so well written and she has a way with language that others do not. The books are set in the sixteenth century and French history, not something I know a whole lot about.   Essentially within all the conspiracies, betrayals and the adventures of war the underlying story is that of a love story between a young catholic girl, with a secret to her past and a young Huguenot convert and through all the advertises of life their love remains.  There is obviously a lot more to it than that as the book was just under 600 pages split into three parts and essentially a very good read.   To my surprise I did enjoy this book and I am looking forward to reading the sequel but I definitely made the right decision in reading this one first as it gives you a lot of background to the characters, of which their is a list at the front of the book to help keep track of them all, and of their story which may leave you at a disadvantage if you were to go straight to the second book.  It has also been one of Kindles 99p deals which is always appealing in itself. 


Lastly was another of my favourite authors Dani Atkins. She is not the most prolific of writers but when she releases a book I always know its going to be a good one and will cause me to have many late nights as I loose myself within the pages or in this case into my kindle and in doing so I loose all track of time and then glance at the clock to see that I have read way too long and have to be up at 5am the next morning for work.  Her latest offering again has been on the kindle deals at 99p.  A Sky Full of Stars is the story of a young couple and their son. They are a very close knit family and Connor is the centre of their world.  Lisa goes off to work one morning and is involved in a fatal accident leaving her family bereft. Alex is trying to deal with his own grief whilst trying to comfort his young son and finds it hard to keep on top of things.  The one positive from Lisa's death is people she was able to help as a result and the bond that is formed with one particular recipient of that help.  Each chapter alternates between Alex and Molly and tells their stories around those people that Lisa helped and how their lives have changed for the better since.  It is a beautifully written book and I would highly recommend it but with a definite mascara warning attached.  And of course chocolate always helps. 


So there we are those are my offerings for January and February and I will let you know how I get on with the sequel to The Burning Chambers next month if I have managed to finish it as I think it may be another 500 page novel from Ms Mosse.  


Take care & stay safe that light is surely coming around the corner at the end of that tunnel. 

Mx

Monday, 22 February 2021

A weekend project

I cross stitched these beautiful carousel horses two or three years ago but never got around to taking them to the framers. This weekend I was looking for a project and decided that they would look lovely as cushions. Posh cushions obviously that no one will be able to touch or sit against.  I have a spare double sofa bed in my craft room/office and now I can see them every time I work from home or every time I'm in my craft room.   They fit perfectly into a size 18 cushion and the matching material compliments them perfectly. 
They are part of the Fantasy Horse collection produced by Cross My Heart Incorporated. The booklet is possibly out of print now as my copy is twenty or thirty years old but I have seen copies for sale on eBay and Etsy for reasonable money. There are some truly beautiful charts contained within this book and I would certainly love to stitch the  Pegasus and Unicorn. 

It just goes to show that cross stitching is one hobby and collecting charts and kits is an entirely different hobby altogether. I quite often joke with D that I'm not sure I have enough years left to live in order to stitch all the charts in my collection. But then I never admit to him just how many there are and of course all the while I have breath in my body it won't stop me collecting more. 



Mx
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