Monday, 25 February 2013

Salmon Pies

Here's my recipe for salmon pies. It's quite an easy meal that looks pretty impressive for guests. It'll take approximately 45 minutes, including cooking time.

1 Salmon Fillet per person (I prefer smoked but whatever your preference)
Block Feta Cheese, chopped
2-3 tbs Pesto
2-3 tbs Pine Nuts
Puff Pasty (ct. strictly store-bought!)


Step 1
Chop the spinach into small strips and fry until paste-like. Use a fine sieve to get rid of any excess water (ct. use frozen spinach - I would say it actually works better, although you must sieve it or else it'll be too soggy). Add feta and pesto and cook until cheese has melted and combined. Toast pine nuts.

Step 2
Roll pastry out to fit fillet, plus app. 1 inch either side.

Step 3
Spread spinach mixture on pastry. (tip - it's actually better if you've done the spinach mixture in advance and let cool before spreading to stop the pastry getting soggy).

Step 4
Sprinkle pine nuts (miss step if small children are eating).

Step 5
Add salmon and fold over, as below:

Step 6
Cut slits on top, brush with egg/milk and put in oven for 25-30 minutes, 200C.

Step 7

Saturday, 23 February 2013

5 Things I Now Know

#1. Your 'normal' will change.
10 months ago, my 'normal' was being sick at all times of day, every day. Now my 'normal' is not getting more than 2 hours sleep at a time. These things that seemed like they would be the worst thing in the world were all survivable, when I made them into a normal part of my life.

#2. There is no better feeling than when your child (finally) falls asleep.

#3. Breastfeeding is the most difficult, painful thing I have done in my life (including labour). It is also the thing I am most proud of.

#4. Stretching your love to accommodate your husband and new baby is the easiest thing. Stretching your time is not (and the baby will always win).

#5. I really like not being around my son, be it for a few minutes or a whole night. But I always feel something is missing and I'm only complete when he's back in my arms (even if I am then arranging the next babysitter).

Friday, 22 February 2013

Organising your House Series - Kitchen: Tip #1. Be Brutal!

The book 'one year to an organised life' basically gives you month to clean and organise one room in your house. January was the kitchen: it's now towards the end of February and I haven't finished, but I have made good progress. One cupboard to go!

Here is my first tip for organising your kitchen. Some will be from me and some are adapted from the book. I'll try to never give you more than 5 tips for each room (no-one reads further than that anyway!).

#1. Be brutal!
This one is hard, I'll grant you. Give yourself a 6-month rule. If you haven't used it in 6 months, I'm sorry but you're not going to. Chuck it or give it to charity. If it's stuff you only use at Christmas, it doesn't need to be taking up valuable kitchen space. Put it in the loft next to your Christmas decorations. Go through your tupperware, anything without a lid/base can go. Any kitchen impliment that you don't know what it does? Get rid of it. That mystical time when you use your breadmaker every morning and squeeze your own orange juice is - I'm afraid to say - never going to happen. If you desperately want to keep it, try to find shelving in a cupboard or your garage and put them all together (or there's always the loft, where unwanted things go to die...).

Say it with me: "I shall not become a hoarder... I shall not become a hoarder". Or, (if it works better for you): "I shall not become my mother... I shall not become my mother...". Trust me, it'll work!

There are so many worth-while charities out there - all those 'I'll get around to it' items can be helping people now!

For more Organising your House Series, see:
Organising your House Series - Kitchen: Tip # 2. Categorise to Organise
Organising your House Series - Kitchen: Tip # 3. Pantry Time
Organising your House Series - Linen Cupboard

Organising with Young Children

As you'll see from the following posts, organising my house is going to be a long process. As we only moved in here 4 months ago you wouldn't think it should be, but boxes weren't unpacked, things were shoved in cupboards and alas, you have my house.

So I'm going to start with this, especially to parents of young children.The most important thing is to focus not on what you HAVEN'T done, but what you HAVE. You haven't put that load of washing on? I bet you did some dishes. You haven't done some dishes? I bet your child has been fed. So your child was fed on crisps an hour after lunch time. Are they still alive? Give yourself a pat on the back. The best thing my husband said to me when he went back to work was that if he gets home and baby is alive, that's my job done for the day. Some days are like that, so the next day you do better. And don't beat yourself for what has gone before.

I often find that my house is all or nothing. I like everything to be very tidy with everything in it's place, but if it gets bad (like when I'm working or it's the weekend), I find it hard to start again. Remember the little and often rule. It takes less than 5 minutes to put a load of washing on. Make that your only task for the day outside of childcare; you'll feel great that you've accomplished what you set out to do.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Does a Messy Home = Happy Kids?

I wanted to share this blog with you, it's one I really enjoy following. Alison (the blog's author) has very kindly given me permission to share this particular post in it's entirety


5 Myths Debunked Series–Myth #1: A Messy House = Happy Kids

Happy Kids!

“The house is a mess, but the kids love it!”

“The kids love how unorganized our lives are. They feel they have more freedom to explore and be creative.”

“Toys on the floor, peanut butter on the curtains, cracker crumbs all over the house and smiling dirty faces is what happiness is about at my house!”

Have you ever heard a mother say these things?

Millions of people across the globe have told themselves a lie for so long, that it inevitably becomes truth.

Why not sit down and ask your kids when they are laughing and playing, “Is this messy house what makes you happy?”

Chances are, you won’t ask that question. Why? Because it is a ludicrous question.

If your kids are laughing, playing and smiling in a dirty house, that doesn’t mean the dirty house is responsible for the happiness!
“One day as my friend’s mom was taking me home from a play practice, my friend leaned over and whispered, ‘I want to see what your house looks like. Invite me in.’ Immediately I had to come up with some lame excuse so I would not be embarrassed at how unkempt our family’s home was.” accounts one mom of a childhood memory.
An unclean home has many negative effects on children, such as: sickness from unhygienic conditions, stress from others seeing the mess, no freedom in inviting someone over last minute, unable to locate important items and learned untidiness from their parents. Do you want this happening to your kids?
“When I spend extra time making my house shine, do you know who notices first? It’s not my husband, it’s my kids. I am often greeted with a, ‘Wow mom! The house looks great!’ after a longer clean-up evening routine. The smile and happiness in their eyes speaks a million words of thanks and appreciation. Don’t tell me kids love messy homes!” relates one mom.
Recently, according to the New York Times, Working Mother Research Institute surveyed 3,781 women about many issues facing the home. The cleanliness of the home was a hot topic among these women. Approximately 55% of mothers that worked outside the home felt guilty about the uncleanliness of their home and 44% of stay-at-home moms felt guilty about the untidiness of their home. If a dirty home = happy kids, then why do moms fell guilty about it? Hmmm…perhaps this whole messy home = happy kids is just a front so moms won’t feel so guilty about the conditions their kids are living in?

If this post has inspired you to clean up your act, then start with these small steps today!
  • Turn off the t.v., internet and cell phone.
  • Grab a trash bag and start throwing trash and broken things away.
  • Wash all dishes, dry and put away.
  • Start a load of laundry and continue until all clothes are washed, folded and put away. Remember, laundry is not done until it is put away! This is a quick clean-up , so no ironing is neccessary.
  • Make all beds.
  • Put all toys away.
  • Sweep and mop all hard floors. Vacuum all carpeted areas.
  • Clean kitchen counters and sink.
  • Give all bathrooms a good wipe down and toilets a good scrub.
Now, that you did a basic clean-up of your house, wait for the reaction of your family. Happiness is guaranteed and no one will be groaning for the return of a messy house!
Enjoy having a happy, CLEAN home and happy kids!

Thanks again Alison!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Natural Cleaning: my first mistakes

So I've been doing the natural cleaning bit for a few weeks now, and already I've learnt some valuable lessons (well, valuable for me. Maybe others would have known these things already!).

Mistake #1
Do not mix directions! I was making the orange oil (pictured in my last post). A friend had told me about it and so I looked it up, and it said to stew the orange peels for several hours. So, off I went, set it all up and then took baby for a feed and nap. I came back downstairs and my whole house was filled with smoke, and the peels were burnt to a crisp.
So, clarification. If you're going to stew things, DON'T DO IT IN OIL! Do it in water. See, other housewives do silly things too (I hope!).

Mistakes #2
When natural cleaning recipes call for VINEGAR, they mean WHITE VINEGAR, not malt vinegar. Add the strong smell of a chip shop over everything to the smell of burning orange peels. Lovely.

NB: Add a forgiving husband to this to get some good laughs!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Natural cleaning

I'm entering a new venture in my housewife career - natural cleaning products. This is not a save-the-planet endeavour (although we are keen recyclers - more later!). I've been cleaning with shop-bought products, the ones which have a big 'irritant' warning on the back. I've been cleaning where my son eats. and have noticed my skin and taste being affected by it (never mind an 8-month old).

So, here goes. Equal parts vinegar and water into a spray bottle, and lemons to clean the oven top and sink. I'm boiling orange peels in olive oil (the reason for which is a bit confusing to me, will clarify later!) and will tackle the baking soda soon, just as soon as I work out if it's the same as bicarb of soda.

Will keep you updated!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The microwaveable burger

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to one of my ultimate pet hates: the microwaveable burger. Whenever I'm out for dinner my husband takes the opportunity to revert to his student days. Call me a food snob if you will, but when you can cook an entire meal in just over a minute I think it's fair to say there's not a huge amount of nutritional value. Past the age of 19 that is!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Deep frying

Today I used my new deep fryer for the first time. I'm by no means a health-freak, but I usually draw the line at deep frying. If for no other reason than it makes the whole house smell of oil! However I was making haggis fritters and you really do need to deep fry them, so away I went. As it was my first time I have no tips to share, apart from the food just out of the fryer is extremely hot (I'm quite sure you already knew that - I apparently didn't!). It takes longer than I would have thought, and doesn't burn as easily as in a pot. The result? Yummy, greasy, Scottish food!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Gammon Roast

I've re-discovered my slow cooker. When we first first married I would use it occassionally (on the few days we didn't eat cheese toasties or noodles!). I'm trying to use it more now, especially as it means that I can prepare things in the morning when baby is still in bed or eating breakfast. I've started doing full roasts in there and it turns out beautiful and moist. I did it for Christmas day - easiest thing I ended up cooking!

With a gammon roast I like to score it and then rub it with some syrup, honey and brown sugar (and a couple of chili flakes if desired), and then put cloves in the crosses. I have to be honest with you - the cloves are just to make it look good! If you don't like the taste of cloves being too strong be sure to take them off half-way through (my mistake!).

Isn't that the most beautiful uncooked piece of meat?!