Monday, July 30, 2012

Pulled Pork

One of my sister's (and her husbands) absolutely favourite things that she tried during her year in Canada was a Pulled Pork Sandwich! I have to say I can't blame her as you can't go wrong with the combination of succulent slowly cooked pork shredded into pieces then mixed with a delicious tangy barbecue sauce. Add it to a roll then top with some crunchy coleslaw and you have the most amazing meal!

Since she loves it so much I had to include it in our Harry Potter Grand Feast for her Hen Party which was a feast made up of some of her favourite dishes along with some slightly more whimsical HP inspired dishes (which will follow over the next few weeks!). For the party I made individual small rolls rather than the full ones pictured here as there was so much other food, it seemed right to keep things bite-sized!

The inspiration for this recipe came from Verses from my Kitchen which in turn came from Trish Magwood's book “My Mother's Kitchen”. I changed a few things to better suit our tastes and toned down the spice a little for Wee One (feel free to up it if you prefer more of a kick) and I love how it tastes. I also cook mine in the oven since I don't have a slow cooker but you could easily cook it in a slow cooker if you have one. Either way you will end up with the juiciest most succulent pork that is impossible not to pick away at as you are getting everything together!! The recipe for the sauce makes more than you will need but since I like a lot of sauce I tend to just serve some extra on the side for those that want it. Final note: for a crowd double the recipe for the pork but keep the sauce the same – you just won't have any extra!

Lauren this one is for you and Billy – now you can start using some of your beautiful new wedding gifts and enjoy some Pulled Pork back in Scotland!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Black Forest Cupcakes

As soon as I saw the cherry cupcake wrappers in the shop I knew they were just perfect for some Black Forest Cupcakes and what better time to make them as a treat for not only my own Birthday but also for my Mother-in-law whose Birthday is just 2 days after mine! Hubby was away so with a full bag of cherries in the fridge it was the perfect time to make them. I used my basic chocolate cupcake recipe which I filled with some cherry jam and topped with some whipped cream, some dark chocolate and of course a fresh cherry. The perfect bite-sized Birthday cake even if I do say so myself! And for an extra special treat rather than using whipping cream try using a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream instead! Decadent and delicious!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Random Recipes # 18 - Something a little different

Sagging Bookshelves # 1 & 2
{unfortunately with the bed being in the way you can't see that there is another row underneath}

Having been absent from the last couple of Random Recipe Challenges I couldn't resist taking part in this one since this month the lovely Dom of Belleau Kitchen (and host of Random Recipes) challenged us to something quite different. Rather than cooking randomly from one of our books, the challenge was instead to photograph and share where we keep our books. Now I know most people have been posting theirs with lovely “normal” sized shelves located in different rooms throughout their homes but for me that's not quite the case......(and no I don't have any in my bathroom!!)

You see any guest walking into our house for the first time would quite rightly be forgiven for thinking they had taken a wrong turn when walking into the guest room. For this is not your usual guest room – instead it looks like as if by magic and in the blink of an eye you have some been transported to a different place altogether. Most accurately it looks like you have walked into a small but cozy book shop! The sight of all of the books is perhaps a little overwhelming but once I let everyone know they are actually all cookbooks the reaction turns to complete disbelief!

The walls on two sides are lined with bookshelves which are crammed beyond belief with hundreds and hundreds of cookbooks (631 at last count – give or take!) and if it wasn't for the bed taking up the rest of the room it really would not resemble a guest room at all. I can't imagine Martha Stewart putting her guests up in such accommodation!!!

Bookshelves 3 & 4
To me however it is my favourite room in the house (which is saying something considering I've put it before my kitchen!!). It is warm and cozy and at times when I get a spare moment I can think of nothing better to help me to relax than to come through and lie on the bed and read a cookbook or two – even more so if I have a glass of wine with me!

I've tried to organise them as best as I can and being the ridiculously over-the-top person I am when it comes to things like that they seem to be fairly organised....Celebrity chefs start the collection off then on to restaurant cookbooks; reference and technique books; home cooking and cookbooks published by magazines; desserts, chocolate and drinks then ending that one side of the wall is baking (phew!).

Next wall is all regional including Indian; Asian; Middle Eastern; Mexican; French; Spanish; Portugese; Greek; Italian (lots of Italian!) and British! The last two shelves on the smallest bookcase are specialty books including Meat; Soup; Fish and Vegetarian!!! The books on the very top shelves are there as I had run out of room on the other shelves so are a bit of a mixture! Wow – that's a lot of categories and I guess a lot of books!

The majority of the books were inherited but still I can't stop myself from buying new books throughout the year. In fact that last remaining space on the top of the smallest shelf which is meant for guests to put their bits and pieces on(!) is now home to the books that are the latest additions to my collection which I managed to cram into my suitcase after this last recent trip home to Scotland! Some are brand new, others are ones I bought last time I was back but didn't have room for. I still have about 50 or so books sitting in my bedroom shelves in Scotland so whenever I'm home I always try and bring a few back.....but then I can also never resist buying some new ones as well!! You would think I would learn especially since I actually don't have any space left for them but I'll always find somewhere and so I will always continue to buy more books!

So there you have it – my cookbook room filled with plenty of books to help you sleep at night (or alternatively just make you incredibly hungry right before you go to sleep!) I do have a small shelf of books in the living room next to the kitchen (open plan Canadian style house so the living room literally is right next to the kitchen!) which is where I try and put the books I'm using/ reviewing and basically just wanting some inspiration from! I say small shelf but it still holds 35 books which I am aware is probably what most people would have for their entire collection, but there you have it! Worst of all is that I still have close to the same amount of books packed away in boxes in storage....for those I need a bigger house! And don't even get me started on my magazine collection which just might happen to fill the bottom of the wardrobe in the spare room!!! Sorry guests!! 
The bookshelf in the living room.
{Maybe this challenge should have been called "Where's Nigella" since everyone seems to have her tucked away somewhere!}

Friday, July 20, 2012

Harry Potter Hen Weekend - The Final Adventure!

The Harry Potter Crew after a little magic!
{Can you work out who everyone is?!}
So the treasure hunt was completed, the clues had all been found and now everyone was relaxing in the local pub with a well deserved drink....but with a new member to the group – Harry Potter (well... sort of!) so what next? Well while the girls ordered some more drinks the “maids” (aka myself, Jude & Hayley!) went back to the house to begin the rest of “Operation HP”. Unbeknown to the rest of the group our beautiful house was about to be transformed into Harry Potter land complete with Platform 9 ¾, Diagon Alley, Honey Dukes Sweet Shop and of course Hogwarts! Once the decorations and props were in place work continued on the next main part of the day – The Grand Feast! The feast was a mixture of some of Lauren's favourite dishes to eat along with a few whimsical Harry Potter inspired dishes. On the menu for the Grand Feast was........

Dates wrapped in Bacon with Maple Syrup
Pork Crackling Straws (bought from M&S)
Vine-ripened cherry tomatoes

Butterbeer Jelly
Popping Candy Grass Hopper Pie
Golden Snitch Topiary
Dragon Eggs (left over from the Treasure Hunt)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Harry Potter Hen Weekend - Part 2

Drumlanrig Castle
So the morning of the big day of the hen party finally arrived and in true British style it was pouring rain. Determined not to be deflated by the weather we wrapped up and made sure everyone had an umbrella! After a quick bite to eat for breakfast the announcement was made that we were going to Drumlanrig Castle for a tour of the property and then off we went in convoy for the 25 minute drive. As soon as we arrived and drove up the drive to the castle the splendour and beauty immediately hit you – despite the rain! It was going to be a good day!

Running ahead, Jude (bridesmaid number 1!) and I went to meet our tour guide who knew exactly what we were planning and the 3 of us took off on a quick run around to plant the clues and treasures! Hayley (bridesmaid number 2!) stayed at the car park waiting for everyone and discretely handed out little cards to each guest and a stamp on their wrist – all without Lauren seeing!
Great British Summer!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Harry Potter Hen Weekend - Part 1

The beautiful Bride to |be arriving at the house!

When you think about a hen party or stagette you can't help but picture a flurry of girls in bright pink with obligatory veils, tiaras and L Plates on the bride to be and a few other things that over the years have become popular stagette attire. What you most likely wouldn't imagine would be a Harry Potter themed Hen Party yet that is exactly what we did for my sisters Hen Party Weekend! Now I can't be held entirely responsible as it was actually her other two bridesmaids that came up with the idea of perhaps dressing up as Harry Potter (HP) characters, I simply took the idea and ran a little with it....OK so perhaps I ran a lot with it.... to the point of a full blown marathon at high speed! I admit I went a little O.T.T but it was worth every minute!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

M.I.A {Aka 5 Flights; 2 Hen Parties and 1 Fantastic Wedding in the last 5 weeks....And now I'm back!!}

I can't believe that it's been over 7 weeks since my last blog post! To be honest I do have a good excuse for being M.I.A but still, where has the time gone? It didn't help that just after my last post my computer crashed and despite being able to back-up quickly before everything crashed completely, something went wrong and the back-up didn't back-up! (Grrrr!) Needless to say with everything else I had to get organised for my upcoming trip home I decided just to give up and give myself a break from blogging. I certainly didn't intend for it to be quite such a break but with everything that had to be done leading up to the wedding and the fact that the internet connection where my parents live is terrible, access to my little laptop was pretty much non-existent! So that's part of the story about my whereabouts! The rest of the story is all about the lead up to my sisters wedding (which was the most fantastic day ever!) which included amongst the usual last minute wedding prep not one but 2 fantastic hen parties!

So where to start?! Well it's hard to believe it but 5 weeks ago Wee One and I made our way back to the UK for the wedding and of course a trip home to see everyone. After a quick break in the journey to spend a night with my brother and sister-in-law, we continued up to Scotland to my parents house where we stayed for the majority of the month. Arriving Monday afternoon and first on the agenda was to finalise all the organisation of Hen Party number 1 which was a weekend away in a remote little village with 20 girls! Everything was pretty much kept Top Secret to prevent the bride-to-be from finding anything out and it worked – it was all a complete surprise and thankfully one that she loved! Needless to say the few days leading up to it were a flurry of shopping, cooking and last minute planning along with a quick trip to Edinburgh to go to a dress fitting for her! There was definitely no time for jet lag to get in the way. Thankfully though everything worked out and although a little late and frazzled due to getting slightly lost(!) on the way to the house it all went according to plan and we had the most fantastic weekend where I think most of us went home with sore muscles from laughing so much!

In the three weeks that followed between the Hen Weekend and the Big Day so much happened! Lots of wedding preparation, visits with family and friends, a second Hen Party Lunch, make-up trials, lunches(I was 'on holiday' after all!!) family meals prior to the wedding, and not forgetting making and decorating 142 cupcakes with Mum for the wedding! I guess it's no wonder it went by so quickly because just like that it was the morning of the wedding. The cake was assembled, the flowers arranged, the marquee ready and church organised – everything was good to go. The day was perfect – a remarkably chilled out morning getting ready with even time for a glass of Prosecco with our lunch and before we knew it they were saying their vows in front of us all and had finally become husband and wife! The reception that followed was perfect....the rain held out long enough for us to get photos outside with some Prosecco and canapes and then once inside we heard 3 great speeches before devouring a fantastic meal where the star of the show was a roast hog – amazing! There was much laughter and dancing as the evening continued into the small hours and all in all it really was a fabulous day.

Now just like that we are back and it is all over with. I can't be too sad though as it was a wonderful (although extremely busy!) month filled with so much laughter and fun and time with family and friends. Now it's time to chill out with our family and friends in Canada and enjoy this beautiful weather which we definitely didn't see in Scotland(!) which means I'm feeling ready to be inspired and start cooking and blogging again.....besides I still have the Hen Weekend to share with you all ; )


My beautiful sister (and best friend) and her new husband! Congratulations again - love you so much. Cheers! xxx
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