Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Family Tree

Was putting together some pics for my mom in preparation for a family reunion this coming weekend and couldn't resist sharing these happy looking snaps . . .




Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday night and the gentle art of domesticity

Just was flicking around on Ravelry and discovered this gorgeous pattern for February Lady Sweater. How lovely. There is simply not enough time for my ever expanding queue of projects!

I love Saturday nights. Even a weather whiner like me is willing to admit that (yet more) August rain is not entirely depressing when you're warm inside with good food and good company. After being out on the town last night it's nice to take it easy. Tempted by the glossy photo in the cookbook, I made this Bill Granger recipe which was delicate, tasty and yes, fragrant . . .

Fragrant Chicken and Spinach Curry
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp tumeric
pinch cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
750g boneless chicken thighs, cubed (I used 4 chicken breasts, cubed instead)
400g tin chopped tomatoes (I added an extra tin to make it go a bit farther)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
90g baby english spinach, finely chopped
large handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5-6 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the spices, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add the chicken and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is browned.

Stir in the tomatoes and salt and bring to simmering point. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the sugar, lime juice and spinach and stir until the spinach has just wilted. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with coriander and serve with steamed rice.

Lovely.

At the risk of sounding like a Delia wannabe, in terms of speedy cooking I can heartily recommend ginger, garlic and chili's in a jar (as recommended by my savvy sister-in-law R.) Is that a boring thing to devote blog space to? Don't answer that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I like the way you work it

Well, Stu's recent foray into the world of Photoshop inspired me to give lil' ol' Always Paddle some snazzy new duds - ain't she purdy? Thanks to the wild and wonderful templates available free from - brace yourself- Suck my Lolly and the very user friendly Picnik haut couture blogging is easy as pie.

Things are just ticking along in my world. Back to work after hols is never (ever) fun, but thanks to a lovely evening out last night at the swishy Cloth Ear with the Curry Club to celebrate Anon's big 3-0, I think we might just make it through the week. (And before you comment, yes, Tuesday night is a very respectable night for cocktails thank you very much.)

Right this very minute (in addition to bloggin' that is) I am making dinner for the in-laws (expected momentarily) while listening to BBC 6 Music - it's the bomb.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Anymore relaxed and I'd be in a coma . . .




The bottom picture is from my favourite time of the day on our holiday - after spending literally all day (nearly every day!) under our beach umbrella reading, napping and reading some more (how good is that?) we lingered on the beach into the evenings to watch the blazing sun set and take in the happy vibe as families came down for a dip.

So yes, we had an incredibly relaxing and wonderful time - more by luck than planning, truth be told, our apartment turned out to be perfectly located in Juan les Pins, only a minute's walk from the beach, train station, grocery store and cafes. The coastline, while humming with Parisians en vacance, is stunning and the warm water of the Med actually is turquoise. We did some sightseeing to Nice (very cool) and Monaco (kindof weird) by train but the plus 30 temps meant that for us sun-starved folk la plage was our favourite destination.

Hightlights were many - morning coffees in the sunshine, visiting fabulous food markets in Antibe and Nice, using my mad French skills to save the life of a pigeon (there's a story there, oh and it's a goodie!) and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our mid-afternoon granitas on the beach.

Stu and I burned through paperbacks like they were going out of style and I can proudly boast that I read five books during the week! I absolutely loved these three -

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant has been on my list for a long time and I am glad I finally went for it. The book tells the story of Dinah, Jacob's only daughter, who gets only a passing reference in the Bible. I got into the story immediately and loved hearing the story of Jacob's clan (including the tale of Joseph) from another perspective and to learn more of the role of women in that time.

Next I read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahari as recommended by the illustrious Down with Digital. DwD has flawless taste in pretty much everything, so I knew this would be good - the emotive andengaging story follows Gogol, the son of parents that immigrated from India to America in the 1970's. Great characters and I can't wait to move on to Lahari's short story collection.

I was on a serious roll as far as good reading went because I then started Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. Totally wonderful redemptive story of through the eyes of children set in the American mid-west in the 1960s. I loved Reuben the narrator's voice and his younger sister Swede (great name) made me think of To Kill a Mockingbird's Scout.

Well, that's probably enough book reviewing for me for one night! If I were responsible I would go put my wet beach towels in the washing machine and shake the sand out of my suitcase . . .

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Away with the fairies

Having had quite enough of real life, what with its unending drizzling rain and the whole having to go to work five of seven days thing (excessive if you ask me!) we're taking a very welcome hiatus for a week in the sun.

I might be back.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Brangelina and other stories

This blog entry will not be long because I have the honourable intention of getting to bed early tonight . . . Unfortunately I keep getting distracted with other pressing and important tasks like reading a Vanity Fair article about Angelina Jolie (who I generally find really very annoying) which is how I spent the last 15 minutes . . . Speaking of, I had a peak at the much sought after family pics while grocery shopping yesterday, and let's just say imho while all six(!) of the children are lovely looking I'm not entirely convinced that the snaps are worth the rumored $11 million!

Anyway, Hello magazine tells me that the new Jolie-Pitt twins were born in Nice and what do you know, that's where we're off to tomorrow night!! (How's that for a tangential link huh?) Only one more day of work to go before the week off which, if you ask me at this moment, is one day too many . . .

On a completely random side note, if you're a fan of a good homemade curry, try this completely scrummy Chicken Tikka Masala recipe which I enjoyed all the more because it was made with TLC by the Stu the other night. While the recipe's not exactly French (okay, not at all), the chef John Burton Race has a cookbook called French Leave so there you go.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Dubliners


We're smiling in these mug shots because we're at the wonderful Wagamama. Our late lunch was a great ending to a lovely day out in Dublin with Stu's parents, Derek and Lesley. Never one to sniff at a bargain, I had booked us some killer cheap train tickets on the Enterprise (the promo's on until the end of August!)

On the sightseeing front, we have often thought of going on the tour of Kilmainham Jail and were really glad that we made the effort this trip - Visiting friends and family be warned, I will now be adding this to my list of recommendations as it's very good for modern Irish history. We also managed to cram in breakfast at Avoca (I know we're predictable but really, why mess with a good thing?), a bit of shopping on buzzy Grafton Street (a sundress for me and crime fiction for Stu in readiness for our fast approaching hols) and even time for some mid-afternoon refreshments at the lovely Cafe en Seine.

All in all the big day out was only marred ever so slightly by having to share our very crowded train home with many - shall we say - 'enthusiastic' football fans, not to mention their requisite air horns and tins of Harp. Charming.