Friday, 21 November 2014

Back from Holiday - Casablanca

I've downloaded the pictures, but the date thingy in my camera is set to 2008, the shots have come out all jumbled, I shall try to sort them out and post some of them.

Nearly all the washing has now been done, and there is a big lot of ironing to do!

We are back from our second cruise.  This time we traveled on the Oceana down to Casablanca, then back up stopping at Agadir, Cadiz, Lisbon and La Coruna.  The ship was super and we had so much to do.  On ship days we started our adventure into water colour painting.  Carol Hill was our tutor.

We had six lessons in all, all for the princely fee of £20 to cover the contents of a bag with paints, paper, brushes etc.  Apparently on cruises with several sea days there is usually a painting class, though we did not know that beforehand.  We learnt to mix colours, do wet on wet, wet on dry, etc

It was all good fun, and I think the last time I picked up paintbrushes and paint was when I was about 14 years old, and fell out with the old painting teacher at Rose Hill Loretto Convent.  She had known my aunt who was an artist, and kept referring to her!

Another great activity we got into was ballroom dancing.  We had double lessons on the sea day afternoons with an hour in between, then social dancing every evening.  Our teachers were Roger and Ann Sherfield, they patiently and very good humorously got us through our paces, but with the social dancing starting at 10 pm every evening, there were a few we did not attend.  Also David was only going for the foxtrot, the waltz and the rumba.  We  bought both their DVDs and last night played one of them.  It was really clear to follow and I think we now have the social foxtrot well under our belt.

On board entertainment was choc a bloc with must sees.  We saw two films:  Belle, and Philomena, went to see the onboard entertainment team several times, and String Idols, Laura Broad, Neil Georgeson, John Martin and others.  There were many others, but it is also just nice to sit and relax, read and knit, and watch the great skies.

The food was fantastic, and we realised you really could eat at just about any time!  During one of our evening meals when we were sharing a table, I was impressed to learn that P & O really do go that extra mile for people with special dietary needs.  The head of the restaurant came to visit one of our  fellow dinner to discuss the meals for the following day.  She was a coeliac and explained that they have a seperate kitchen but dishes are as close as possible to what else if on offer.  And they are available throughout the various ship restaurants and eating places.

In Casablanca we booked the tour which included a visit to the Hassan II Mosque.  Its really huge and very impressive.  With low lights inside but with light coming in from the seaward side, there were a few photographic opportunities.

 The impressive tower of the Casablanca Hassan II Mosque

Washing facilities in the basement of the Mosque
Crowd control barriers
View from inside the mosque towards the sea
 Stone detail

 Outside fountain

Wonderful wall light
Marble floor detail

As a counterpoint our guide took us to the Catholic Notres Dames de Lourdes.  A plain white building on the outside does not prepare one for the impressive glass windows, which run along the two long sides of the building.  When I got up close I realised that the glass was different from traditional stained glass windows.

With its cuts and chips the light  dances through as you walk past, the type of glass is called dalle de verre.

I took some great close ups and have found some very festive ones which I shall post over Christmas.

Afterwards we visited Casablanca City Hall, I think this was the name of the time I must take a note book.  This place impressed me from the time we parked up at the side, I started taking snaps of the doors...

The detail of the cut plasterwork is amazing

 We just a walk through of this building viewing the inner courtyards, and enjoying the details.

Outside there were numerous young kittens..mum was in the shrubbery nearby.

 We spied the equivalent of the man with a van, and also this motorcyle piled high with goods.

At the souk we saw various trades,

as well as the olive section

We did not get anything...we had large denomination euros but were warned to be careful about change.  We had hoped to get to a hole in the wall or a bank to take out some local currency, but we did not see any where we went.  I think the best bet would have to have taken euro coins or smaller denomination notes , and just asked for x worth of this and that.

And now for a few window grill details

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Biscuit Salami by the Hairy Bikers ....when you are let down by a recipe

Mr S has started to do a little more in the kitchen.  This time he wanted to make a treat to take with us when we went down to Basingstoke at the weekend.

As usual he did not want any 'contribution' from me, but as he started to make his salami, he knew something was not quite right.  Had I read the recipe before I would immediately have questioned the ratio of ingredients, and most probably have looked up some similar recipes to check...

The Biscuit Salami just would not set, and even frozen, is not quite right either.  I have looked and looked for errata for this, and even phone Orion Books the publishers.  The switch board only helped in so far as suggesting that I send in a letter, so I asked for an email address and have sent that in.  
Should I get a reply, I'll post it here.

I've used many recipes in this book, and all have gone well until this one. 
The recipe for Biscuit Salami from the Hairy Bikers' Big Book of Baking just does work.  Mr S is very good at following recipes, but when I looked at this one,  I could see that it just would not work.  There is far too much liquid, and not sufficient butter to act as a firming agent, and the salami does not work even when put in the freezer!

This recipe should definitely be altered if there is a reprint or used elsewhere.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Garden at the start of November

This morning, with a low light some plants just glowed.

Yes a waterlily opening in November

and then this evening the first flower on Faucaria Tigrina, which has many more 'teeth'

than the Faucaria Bosscheana which has been flowering for several weeks, it is very similar but is much smoother.  Each flower opens at about 3 pm GMT and closes again a couple of hours later, and does this for several days before it finally withers down.

In the end I was not afraid to.....

Wednesday I wondered whether I would, Thursday I still did not know, then I went to Waitrose to pick up some little fun packs of sweets, and then I found the little something which stirred me into action.

With some little cutters, and some spooky plates, I baked on Friday.  Iced and got my goodies ready.

I used two of Mary Berry's Biscuit dough Recipes:  the animal biscuit and gingerbread man one.  The ginger breads spread too much, so used the cutter on the cooked biscuits a second time.

The animal cookie biscuit recipe was just perfect.  Normally I am not an iced biscuit sort of person, but made ghosts with currant eyes, bats with cherry eyes,  and scratched a smile in the pumpkins.  I was rather delighted that the children were really excited by the biscuits, and some little boy even said,  'Wow, you baked some specially for us!'  It became the norm for me to say if you have a cookie you also ought to have some sweeties too.  The white ghosts were the favourites and several plates full went.

D scoured the shops for a pumpkin but arrived home empty handed, but he still made a good display in the front window with fairy lights, flashing red lights etc.  We stopped for tea and cookies

What was surprising was that despite it being so warm, we had less than half the callers compared to last year.  I took to going down the road to my older neighbours to give them some biscuits.  I had made extra undecorated ones.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Courgette Chutney

So good, I needed to make it twice this season.  For two reasons:  firstly we have already run out of it, and secondly I wanted to check my recipe, and write down the exact method.  Again this is an original recipe, which really hits the spot to liven up dinners, cold cuts, and is fantastic in cheese sandwiches.  The full recipe and technique will be on my other blog: Mrs Mace Preserves.