Monday, 18 January 2016

Make, Bake, Sew, Grow

Two weeks into January and it's as if the Christmas holidays never happened. Nothing dramatic, but it's just a head-down, get on with it kind of month. John is working three late shifts a week throughout January and I'm feeling the impact at home, dealing with all the after school clubs, tea time, bed time etc on my own. I'm not feeling sorry for my self exactly, or particularly anxious, just really, really tired

Work is good. I like my job very much, to the point where I look forward to going, and I am very thankful for that. Home life muddles along quite happily - weekends over the next few months are filling up rapidly with plans to see friends near and far. We are talking to builders about knocking down walls and looking at kitchens, doing sums and making plans.

Now seems like a good time to revisit my Make Bake Sew Grow posts, my way of cherishing my home comforts when life gets very busy, as it inevitably does. 

{ Make }


I was given a gorgeous little mid-century coffee table, all clean lines and tapered legs, by a colleague. It was found in her garage and kindly passed our way. It's a little stained but fundamentally sound, and it's now in our garage, where I am sanding and varnishing it. 



Just try really hard to look at the table and nothing else in this photo please. Thank you. 



{ Bake }

So much kitchen activity lately! I bought a reduced panettone from Waitrose after Christmas. It was soft, gooey and buttery like brioche. Most of it was sliced and eaten with a cup of coffee or tea and the rest was baked with a creamy custard to make a panettone bread and butter pudding. No photos but trust me, it was good.

New cookery books have been perused, new recipes have been bookmarked. From Simply Nigella we made Sweet Potato Macaroni Cheese.


It's just a really good macaroni cheese made thicker and richer with the addition of mashed sweet potatoes which sounds wrong but is completely delicious. It was a huge hit with the kids too.



There was also Massaman Beef Curry. A bit of a faff initially, as it's supposed to be cooked the day before you eat it and left in the fridge so that the flavours develop, and that's asking an awful lot of organisation and pre-planning from us, let me tell you. Then you add potatoes and heat it again until they are cooked, then stir in loads of coriander. It's not a typical thick-sauced Indian style curry, as the coconut milk base is more Thai, but more of a spicy, fragrant stew which is warming and nourishing.



And there was marmalade cake.


This much-used recipe is from the first Kitchen Diaries book by Nigel Slater. I love to make it every January. 


{ Sew }


I have five things on the go at the moment but all attention is firmly focused on a baby blanket for a friend at school who is due to give birth in the next few weeks.


Simple, classic granny squares edged in white, with a colour combination that is hopefully aimed at either sex.



I am half way through and making good progress, while watching the completely gripping and superb Making a Murderer.

{ Grow }

The bulbs (daffodils, I think) I planted in October are up already, and much too soon. What's going to give me colour in the garden in March if they're up already?


Unimpeded by frost, my geraniums are, amazingly, still growing and flowering. 


But if this current cold snap continues - and I hope it does, I am relishing the cold, clear skies after so much rain - they will need to be covered. Which I'll probably forget to do and then they will die and I'll probably buy some more in the spring. Such is the circle of life in my back garden.

39 comments:

the linen cloud said...

I love these posts Gillian. That macaroni cheese looks delicious. I'd love some now. Bee xx

Louise said...

Sounds like life is good! I dream of having a job like that - I just feel a sense of dread going to my school everyday and it makes like miserable (I keep an eye out for a new job so hopefully one day!). I can't believe it's mid January all ready...Christmas seems so long ago. It'll soon be half term ;)

Julie said...

I'm with Bee on loving these posts - always full of such good things. I'm hoping the macaroni dish is online it looks so yummy. X

Natalie LittleJamPotLife said...

Lovely round up, x

Michelle makes and bakes said...

Really love your post. Great food very yummy!xx

Jan Doling said...

Your sweet potato macaroni cheese looks extremely tempting and tasty as does your marmalade cake. Christmas seems an age ago doesn't it. Glad you are enjoying your job. xx

Jennifer said...

Firstly, I loved Making a Murderer. I am so glad you can watch it over there too. I don't know if they did it, but they sure didn't get a fair trial. I would love to try a gooey pannetone, I've only ever had weird, dry ones. Gooey sounds better to me. I look forward to seeing your table, how cool that you're refinishing it yourself. It's going to be great.

Jo@awholeplotoflove said...

Sweet potato macaroni cheese sounds good & I'm trying really hard not to buy any cookbooks. It looks like I will have to now. I'm glad you're still enjoying your job x

Amy at love made my home said...

Isn't amazing how the geraniums are still flowering, mine are too! Your table looks fabulous, I think that it is probably Ercol judging by the shape of the legs and comparing them to mine - table legs that is, not mine own legs!!! It is beautiful whatever it is!! How lovely of your friend to give it to you. xx

galant said...

I remember having an oblong coffee table in the 1960s that we put in a corner on which we had our first rented b&w TV! Yes, our marriage pre-dates colour tellies! Later, when we bought a G-Plan teak 'unit' for the corner, which had a turntable for the new colour TV (an ITT television set) we cut the coffee table in half and it became two bedside tables, hinged against the bedroom wall, each with one of the legs supporting the flat surface. Even in the 1970s we weren't averse to doing a spot of upcycling! Enjoy your 'new' table. I wonder what colour you will paint it? Perhaps just the top and leave the legs au naturel?
Margaret P

VeggieMummy said...

I'm going to have to give the sweet potato macaroni cheese a try; it looks yummy! The table looks fabulous too, I can't wait to see it in situ. Have a lovely week. xx

Anonymous said...

Geraniums are wonderfully resilient plants :0) I do like that marmalade cake...it looks just scrumptious :0) mari

Lee said...

Great blog,fab pics.Love the recipes,lovely blanket for baby.

Bronwyn McConvey said...

That mac'n'cheese looks devine! I love anything with sweet potatoes! You've got a lovely start to that baby blanket. It looks like a spring garden - very uplifting during these cold January days! My laundry are resembles yours. I spent 2 hours cleaning and tidying it on the weekend and it is vastly improved - at least for a few days. Enjoy the rest of your week, Gillian!

Librarian said...

It's pre-breakfast hour for me as I am reading this, so your mention of all the lovely food made my mouth water!
The baby blanket is sweet, and I seriously doubt the little boy or girl will have a problem with any colour ;-)
Snow has arrived here, and it was nearly -10C last night, getting to -5 during the day (maybe a bit more in the sun). I'm not at all keen on the cold, but if it must be, then I rather endure it now than having winter drag out into March and April.

Jo said...

Love these posts Gillian. I had the Nigella book for Christmas too. Hooks down to finish the blanket eh? Jo x

Susan Smith said...

The meals and cake all looks so yummy. The weather everywhere is making gardens do strange things. The granny square rug looks lovely already and I'm sure will be well received. Take care.

KirstenLN said...

I really like these posts with a strong focus on the good things in life even in very busy times.
Loving your baby blanket - there's something very neat about the pattern and the colours!

Emm.A said...

The blanket looks lovely. I bet your friend will be very happy about it, once she has her baby! :)

Sarah said...

Gillian, you and I need a work bench in our garages for all our sanding, painting and uocycling. Don't tell me you kneel on the concrete garage floor like I do! Your food looks wonderful and I must look up the marmalade cake as I have the first NS kitchen diary and your crochet, as ever, is a dream.

SandyShoes Cornwall said...

Hello Gillian, I don't always comment as you have so many but I do love to read what you've been up to. Your baking always makes my mouth water and your skills with crafting are fab! Looking forward to more this year x

Jen Walshaw said...

Oh how exciting a new kitchen on the horizon. We are saving hard for a garage conversion which might me a bigger kitchen. I dare not show you my garage, there isn't an inch of floor space available!

The Creative Academic said...

Super post Gillian. Very exciting with the thoughts of a new kitchen. It's 2 years since we did ours and the pain was definitely worth it!! I have the Nigella book but have only looked at the pictures. I'd made a note to make the macaroni cheese but haven't gotten around to it yet! I should rectify this! I hope you're able to finish the blanket in plenty of time...a new small person is always exciting! xx

Leanne Paxton said...

Hey Gillian,
I noticed Making A Murderer, and will have a watch on your recommendation. I'd like a coffee table, but don't want to buy new. I made that mistake with a tv console. I hate it to the point of kicking it from time to time. I'm having a baking day tomorrow, and marmalade cake sounds good. Especially as I have a surplus.
Leanne xx

Samantha Roberts said...

Oh I have really loved reading your post Gillian, I like the busy-ness of your garage and am looking forward to seeing your coffee table finished. My garden is such a mess at the moment, I need some motivation to go tidy it but I suspect I won't until Spring arrives properly and the garden starts to come to life. Pretty baby blanket, take care, Sam xx

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

Love these posts Gillian :) xxx

Gillian said...

Your cooking and baking looks delicious. I love sweet potatoes - recently added some to a sausage casserole. I never thought of using panettone for a bread and butter pudding - I'm sure it was really tasty. And I love marmalade (the thicker cut the better) so a marmalade cake sounds heavenly. Gorgeous wee baby blanket.

Jacqueline Beavis said...

Enjoyed reading your post, you've made some mouth watering dishes and a lovely baby blanket. Who would have thought that so many of us would be watching geraniums flourish in January, it's unbelievable really.

Mel @ Coal Valley View said...

Happy (belated) New Year Gillian! So many lovely and yummy things at your place. Nigella nails the comfort food every time. I look forward to seeing your lovely looking coffee table in situ when you've finished...x

Marion Ogden said...

The baby blanket is growing quickly and looks lovely. I'm sure it will be well received and will keep new baby warm and cosy. The marmalade cake looks delicious. It must be sooo good with a cup of coffee or tea. I forgot to bring inside the daffs I've planted last year when we had snow last weekend. I hope they're ok and won't stop growing. Looking forward to seeing more of that vintage coffee table. Is it an Ercol? X

Wainwright and Wright.Co said...

Cute little baby blanket. And so glad to see you use Wilkin preserves - got to be the best, especially if you are Essex born and bred!
Caz xx

Sharon - creativity and family said...

The mac cheese looks, great, I've got a sweet potato so I just might try that one. x

mags said...

Lovely post. I'm so pleased you look forward to the job. It can be soul destroying otherwise. The macaroni sounds scrum my, I would definitely like to try that. Xx

Daisy Jones said...

Hello, almost at the nd of making a murderer and feeling, I need more details about his personal life before I judge?!
Sooo loving the look of that macaroni cheese and I too have the Nigella book. so it may be on the menu soon! thanks for the recommendation!
best D x

Mereknits said...

Looks like you are having a great time and keeping it all together those nights you are on your own. I am on my own with Little Buddy several nights a week and after work it is just exhausting. Wish I lived closer so I could help.
Hugs,
Meredith

Lilly's Mom said...

It's making me hungry just to read your blog! Those dishes you made look so delicious. And, your garden is beautiful for this winter season.

Lisa said...

I have a pot of geraniums on my windowsill and they are so sheltered in their little spot it seems they just go on and on not matter what the weather!
I remember making a macaroni cheese with butternut squash in, very sneaky getting those extra veg in.
Being happy in your work is such a wonderful thing to be able to say.
Lisa x

Katie said...

all looks lovely Gillian, I love massaman curry, although that does sound rather an involved process!! x

Penny said...

I make that marmalade cake from Nigel Slater's kitchen diary too, it's lovely. Your daffs ate well on, ,mine are showimg as green spears, bit still quite close to the ground at the moment. X