Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sunday Spuds

Let me start by apologising to my British friends.  I know that making roast potatoes comes naturally to you Brits, but as a transplanted Yank they were news to me.  You see, in the States we are more 'mashed potatoes' with roast chicken than roast potatoes.  I soon learned that when it came to making the traditional 'Sunday Roast Dinner' serving mashed potatoes was NOT acceptable.

I mean, the look on Andy's face when I suggested mashed potatoes with our first Christmas turkey was one of utter disgust.  I needed to master the art of making roast potatoes and quickly, too!  Like many simple dishes, they are trickier to do well than one would think but I think I've got it cracked so here's my crash course on Sunday roast potatoes.

To start you need the right kind spud, one with a fluffy texture rather than a waxy flesh.  This usually means a white potato like Maris Piper. As for serving sizes, I prepare at least 2 medium potatoes per person. Nothing is worse than running out of roasties.  Peel the potatoes.  Cut the big ones in quarters and the smaller ones in half.  You want them to be relatively the same size.  

Place the chunks in a large sauce pan, pour over just enough water to cover them and bring them to a boil.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the edges of the potatoes begin to soften.  Pour the potatoes into a colander to thoroughly drain and leave them to steam while you crank the oven up to 200C/400F.  

Return the potatoes to the pan and cover with a lid.  Now, this bit is very important.  You must give the potatoes a few good shakes to rough up the edges.  This 'chuffing' is what makes the roasties crispy on the outside.  Now, on to the secret ingredient....

GOOSE FAT!  Yes, goose fat.  Now I know not everyone will have a pot of goose fat in their fridge so if you don't canola oil will work almost as well.  Place a few tablespoons of goose fat or canola oil into a large roasting tin.  Put the tin into the oven and let the fat get REALLY hot.

When the fat is shimmering hot, carefully place the potatoes into the roasting pan, turning them over to coat them completely with oil.  Pour in a few more drops of oil if you find you need it.  Place the tray back into the oven, cooking the potatoes for about 20 minutes before turning them over so they brown on all sides.  

Continue cooking and turning the potatoes until they are golden and crispy. They will take about an hour or so to roast properly.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper before serving.  

Any left over roasties make great pan fried potatoes so make extras if you can. Of course,  you probably won't have any leftovers.  For more roast potato recipes CLICK HERE to visit Jamie Oliver's roastie recipes.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Let The Colouring Commence

I got the books, got the pencils, got the time.... let the colouring commence.

This sort of looks like one of Granny's old dresses but I couldn't resist trying out as many different coloured pencils as possible.

Not too bad for my first attempt as colouring as an adult.  The shading needs work and the colour choices should be more restrained but BOY this is fun! 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Peony Progress Report

Do you remember the tiny bare root peony plant I bought from the supermarket for £2.50?  It's growing!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Faber-Castell Pencils

I went on a bit of a splurge and bought myself a whole rainbow of fine coloured pencils.  

They are a thing of beauty just lined up in their tin.

In a day or two, I might even work up the courage to use them.  

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Watercolour Artist and the Colouring Book

Some folks get a bit sniffy about the new adult colouring books.  'This isn't real art' they will say.  Well, here is a video by a REAL watercolour artist who loves painting in adult colouring books.  Watch, learn, and be inspired!

CLICK HERE to go to YouTube and the video. ENJOY!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

New Way to Tie a Scarf

The rain is pounding against the windowpanes.  The wind is howling in the trees.  Little birds are clinging on to the feeders for dear life, yes, it feels like February here.  Strangely enough, I love winter and all the things that make you feel cosy -like wearing a warm scarf... which brings me to the point of this post.  I just found this nifty illustration on a new way to tie a scarf. 

Remember to bundle up and stay toasty. 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Colouring In for Grown-Ups

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved art supplies.  I had a playroom full of dolls and cuddly toys but what I loved most was a gift my dad bought me when he was away on a business trip.  It was a huge tin box filled with 100 different squares of watercolour paints. 

I would spend hours drawing and then painting in my doodles with the paint from that wonderful tin.  To this day I can't resist a good paint brush or some beautiful coloured pencils.  

Fortunately for me, adult colouring books are now all the rage.  I no longer have to wait for a small child to visit before pulling out the crayons and coloured pencils.

Thanks to my husband, Andy, I have a three new beautiful colouring books to keep my inner child happy.   They are my birthday present, along with some really good quality coloured pencils. 

Some childhood pleasures are so good, you never outgrown them.  Which book should we colour in first?