Friday, 27 November 2009

Funny Sign Friday (on Friday - YAY!!)

As winter approaches and the days and nights get colder, my mind is turning back to the deliciously hot and very relaxing holiday we had, what now seems very long ago. So, with that thought uppermost, I've dug through the summer snaps to find a Funny Sign for this Friday that takes me back to a happy place - Crete. Now, by way of preamble, I don't believe in being too harsh on foreigners for their funny signs - especially as, in this case, we're dealing with what is, for them, a foreign language and a foreign script. So long as the meaning is clear, I'm happy - I know what "ceramicks" are and whilst I didn't buy any of those, I did buy a lovely bag in a nearby shop. What I am confused about, though is the merchandise offered first in the list on this sign. What are sea kinds? Answers on a postcard please - I'll give you the address as soon as I've saved up enough to return to that wonderful island.

This first picture is to give the sign a bit of architectural context - it was at roof level in a row of shops. And here is the zoomed-in version...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Spinach and Cheese Flan

Before I begin this, I will acknowledge that, yes, I know the in-vogue thing to say these days is quiche, rather than flan. But I grew up calling them flans and somehow that name makes this dish seem more homely. filled with memories (despite never having spinach in a flan as a child) and less abstract than calling it a quiche.

A couple of weeks ago I saw some lovely-looking spinach when I went shopping and bought it, planning to come up with something creative with it at some point. And what I came up with is probably my best vegetarian dish yet (I am not a vegetarian so tend to focus most of my creative energies in the savoury realm on meat-based dishes). Whilst I worked out the recipe the first time, I didn’t take any pictures. So we’re having it again tonight, and this time, I’ve taken some pictures (well, let’s be honest about this, pictures are really the best thing about recipes – well they are in my world!). This is a bit of a ‘somesomeandsome’ recipe – I can’t give you exact quantities for some of the ingredients, but just feel your way and hopefully it will turn out yummy. All the cup measurements below refer to a 250 ml cup/mug. Here’s what you’ll need:

For the pastry:

3 cups self-raising flour

Pinch salt

1/2 cup toasted mixed seeds

3/4 cup margarine or butter

1/2 cup boiling water

For the filling:

5 eggs


1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup milk

c. 200g spinach

Hard cheese (I find mature/strong cheddar worked well)

What to do:

1. Sift the three cups of flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt.IMG_50072. Whizz the half a cup of seeds in a food processor until they are fine crumbs, then add the seeds to the flour.Seeds 3. Melt the three-quarter cup of margarine/butter and add to the flour/seed mixture, with half a cup of boiling water and mix until combined.FlanDough 4. Roll out dough and line flan pan (I think this one was about 10 inches in diameter).IMG_5013Hmmm…I really should have tidied up around the pan before taking this picture…

5. Prick dough all over with a fork and bake for about 10 minutes on gas mark 5 or 6 (you’re aiming to get it just about to turn golden-brown – don’t cook it completely, otherwise it’ll burn later).IMG_5014 Tonight obviously does not represent my finest photo-taking moments – look at that hand so beautifully in focus when the pastry should have been the star of this image.

6. Whilst the dough bakes wash the spinach and pop it into the microwave in a covered bowl for one minute on high power.IMG_5022

7. Whilst the dough bakes whisk together 5 eggs, a sprinkling of black pepper and one quarter cup of cream mixed with a quarter cup of milk.IMG_5015IMG_5016 IMG_5017
This photo is a great example of the ‘some, some and some’ approach to cooking/baking. That is supposed to be a quarter cup of cream with a quarter cup of milk, which should equal one half, not the just-under five-eighths that I see here. I take the view that so long as you keep the differences minimal, it should still be good – or at least edible. I’ll devote another post to the philosophy of some, some and some one day… For now just keep adding all those lovely ingredients.IMG_5018 IMG_5019


8. When the pastry has just begun to turn golden-brown remove it from the oven, but don’t turn the oven off.

*Pretend there is a picture of the beautifully cooked pastry here – I appear to have forgotten to take the shot.

9. Take a handful of spinach and squeeze it gently to get rid of some of the moisture.IMG_502310. Spread the spinach over the pastry base and repeat the squeezing and spreading process until all the spinach is on the base. IMG_5024 11. Grate some cheese over the spinach - aim to cover the whole area. To be honest, I have no idea how much cheese there is here - it’s probably more than my heart would like, but seems like a very good amount to my tastebuds.IMG_5025 12. Finally pour the egg and cream mixture over the cheese and spinach.IMG_5026

13. Bake at gas mark 5/6 until golden-brown and cooked.IMG_502714. The last thing left to do, apart from turn off the oven, is to eat this yummy concoction, perhaps with some salad…IMG_5031IMG_5036

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Funny Sign Friday (on Saturday)

Well, I’m beginning to think that I should really call this “Funny Sign Day” rather than “Funny Sign Friday” because the only thing that is regular about this series of posts is that it is not posted on Fridays. I must confess that I am also getting ever so slightly worried that I might soon run out of signs…but that’s a problem for another day.

Today’s sign was found beside a weir on a little river in Exmoor in the south west of England. For those who don’t know that would be beside shallow freshwater in an inland area of a country not widely known for its dangerous sea beasts. In all honesty, I suspect that in this case the (freezing) water temperature may be a better deterrent to aspiring swimmers than the vague and highly unlikely possibility of being mauled by killer sharks that this sign might suggest…


Monday, 2 November 2009

How are your relationships?

The last few weeks have been good in some ways, but emotionally tiring in others. My aunt has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has had a mastectomy, and is currently waiting for a date to have a number of lymph nodes removed. A friend’s father, aged 53 and apparently healthy, died suddenly of a heart attack. Another friend, aged 25, has been diagnosed with cervical cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. Another friend, also 25, died suddenly last week; the cause of death currently unknown, but is probably related to an illness she picked up a few days before she passed away. Why am I telling you all this? It’s not to depress you, but to share a couple of thoughts about relationships that all these and many other events have made me come back to a number of times lately.

1. How are your relationships with people around you? Be right with other people, be at peace with them and appreciate them. Live with them in all that they’re going through. Tell someone precious to you that you love them. The Bible says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:14-18; RSV).

2. How is your relationship with God? “What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39; RSV). If this doesn’t mean anything to you, or you feel it once did, but you’ve grown tired and weary, I would encourage you to get a Bible and read it daily, get involved in a church, go to an alpha course (see, DO SOMETHING – it’s too important to put off for another day.

Funny Sign Friday (on Monday)

Having been duly (and rightly) and rightly reprimanded for not keeping up with weekly Funny Sign Friday posts (I fell far too soon – didn’t even make a month of weekly posts!), I present to you a somewhat delayed, but very much finally-here Funny Sign “Friday” photo. This is another sign from the Coast to Coast walk that I mentioned in my last Funny Sign Friday post ( I find this sign poetic and beautiful, and some days, just all too true…image Let’s hope this doesn’t ring true for your weather today…