A (Working) Week’s Worth of Tasty Sandwiches (Part 2)

Well, I’m still being a control freak over Barn’s lunch (not that he’s complaining), so here’s a second week’s worth of sandwich ideas for you:

cheese salad pittaWholemeal pitta bread, split and spread with chive Philadelphia cream cheese, filled with grated Red Leicester cheese and a crisp peppery salad of rocket leaves, shredded radish, diced sweet red peppers and chopped spring onion.

roast pork on cheese & chutney bread
Thickly sliced cheese & chutney bread (yup, that’s right, the cheese & chutney are baked into the bread!) with slices of roast pork on a bed of baby spinach leaves, topped off with a dollop of chunky apple sauce.

Malted grain and rye flatbread with pastrami
Malted grain and rye flatbread, spread with mustard mayo then folded and filled with red lettuce leaves (they come in a mixed bag – who knows what they’re actually called?!), pastrami and slices of Jarlsberg cheese.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…you can’t have pastrami without pickles…and I agree wholeheartedly.  If this had been for me the helping of sliced pickles would have been so generous as to result in major spillage and much sandwich messiness.  However, Barn isn’t as keen on pickles as I am (he doesn’t dislike them, just would never eat them from the jar as a snack, the way I do) so I chopped some up into really small pieces and mixed it in with the mustard mayo – this satisfied us both 😀

Tiger roll with hummus, feta, red pepper & olives
Crusty rolls, slightly hollowed and shaped to form ‘bowls’; spread inside with hummus then filled with mixed salad leaves, feta cheese, sliced olives and diced red peppers.

Seeded batch loaf with shredded roast chicken, stuffing and apple sauce
Multi-seeded sliced loaf filled with shredded roast chicken and sage & onion stuffing, on a bed of baby spinach leaves, topped off with a dollop of Bramley apple sauce.

Now I wonder…based on the last two weeks…would you want me making your lunch sandwiches or do you think I’m unnecessarily keeping Barn from his plain cheese? 😉



A (Working) Week’s Worth of Sandwiches

Barn is currently benefiting from my temporarily unemployed status as, with more free time available, I’ve come over all house-wifely.

Don’t worry, past experience says it’s not sustainable.

However, for now, one of the areas to which my Stepford attention has been drawn is Barn’s lunch.  He takes sandwiches to work (when he remembers to), and without fail what he makes is sliced cheddar cheese in between slices of pre-cut white bread.


just cheese

Now I’m the last person in the world who would object to cheese, but c’mon now…this is not the way to do lunch.

This is why the Radically Overhauling Lunch League (current membership : 1) needed to be initiated.

The agreed rules of conduct are as follows:

  • it has to be sandwiches as the nature of Barn’s work means truly eating on the go – no chance to sit with boxed salads, plates or cutlery
  • eggs are not welcomed by colleagues due to the farty smell they emit, both before and after consumption
  • no tinned fish of any kind, or smoked salmon (whaaat?!)
  • no lamb (again, whaaat?!) 

I can safely say the project has so far been something of a success; Barn’s lunches are now, apparently, a major topic of conversation between colleagues in the car each morning.  Methinks they need more going on in their lives 😉

Without further ado, let the lunches commence…

roast beef with horseradish mayo

Wholemeal ‘Thins’ with wafer thin slices of roast topside of beef, de-seeded and chopped tomatoes, peppery rocket and watercress leaves and a generous helping of horseradish mayonnaise.

ham & swiss cheese (jarlsberg) with mustard mayo

Seeded rolls spread with wholegrain mustard mayonnaise then filled with thickly carved roast ham and Jarlsberg cheese.

roast chicken salad

Wholemeal rolls filled with roast chicken chunks, crisp sweetcorn kernels, finely sliced spring onions, de-seeded, chopped tomatoes, and a generous helping of chives, all bound together in creamy mayonnaise.

roast chicken and bacon

Multi-seed rolls filled with slices of roast chicken, crispy bacon and Jarlsberg cheese, on a bed of fresh lettuce and sliced tomatoes, finished with a swipe of English mustard.

triple cheese and rocket

Multi-seed rolls with triple cheese filling (grated red Leicester and grated mature white Cheddar mixed together with chive Philadelphia cream cheese) on a bed of crisp, peppery rocket.

So that concludes a week’s worth of tasty sandwiches – do any of them appeal to you?



Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you – I hope that 2016 brings many good things to your life.  May you shake the cobwebs of 2015 from your feet and stride forward with confidence into the untrodden pastures of promise that wait to be discovered in the coming months.  May you not burden yourself on this first new day with resolutions that are likely doomed to failure, but may you succeed with any fully intentioned pledges you make.

Yep, that is my diary

To be honest with you, I’m a little ambivalent about the whole New Year thing.  On the one hand, I love the ‘clean sheet-ness’ of it, and the potential that this could be the year that…I don’t know…I become a superhero or something.

Superhero hair
Actual hair, not a wig.

On the other hand, it can be slightly disheartening to realise that yet another year has now gone by and…  Well, certainly not a superhero yet (although I did get superhero hair this year).

On the third hand (if you’re counting the hands and you don’t have a friend assisting you at this point, you’re an alien.  Or possibly half of a bee).  Aaanyway, there is quite a lot of pressure surrounding New Year and I don’t find it pleasant.

New Year’s Resolutions are one such pressure area.  I’m sure for some people it’s a great way to kick start change in lifestyle or habit, but it really doesn’t work for me.  In a similar way that Valentine’s doesn’t really work for me.  I just don’t like being told that on this particular day I must express a certain feeling or do a certain thing, in the publicly perceived acceptable manner.  You might call it contrary, I call it individual.

Plus, of course, there’s the fact that in my sphere somewhere around 99.5% of New Year’s Resolutions are broken before February ends.  With such low odds, people are almost waiting for you to slip up; stating a resolution is tantamount to saying, “This is what I plan to fail at first in this lovely new year.”

So I actively avoid making resolutions.  Any decisions I make to change lifestyle or habits are merely ‘plans’.

Champagne Cocktail and Candles

I also find there’s quite an expectation that you do something for NYE.  I dislike being asked in the lead up what my plans will be as there’s a sense that one is somehow letting the team down when there are no envy inducing plans involving yachts and/or casinos.  Or at the very least a party down the local pub.

Over the years Barn, Petit Man and I have individually and collectively experienced a great number of ‘fun things to do on NYE’ (restaurants, nightclubs, house parties, Edinburgh, and all that jazz) but either never did, or have ceased to, find them all that much fun.

So this year Petit Man and Mme. E came round and we brought in the new year at home, with champagne cocktails, candles and board games.  I can’t think of anything else I’d rather have done.

to stand and stare

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies (Leisure)

This is one of my primary plans for this coming year – to take more time away from shoulds and oughts and people who sap me, and devote more to wants and wishes and people who value me.

How about you?  What did you do this NYE?  Do you make resolutions?  Is 2016 going to be fabulous for your heart and soul?

I hope so.




Oh Christmas, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

It’s the 1st of December, which means only one thing – we can start opening our advent calendars!  Hooray, hooray, hooray!

I’ve been very excited about advent this year. Like, really, really excited…the fit to burst kind.  You see, earlier in the year I decided to save up and surprise Big Sis with the Selfridges beauty Advent calendar.

Big Sis's Calendar

To say I was thrilled that I managed to get one, despite them being limited availability and selling faster than the proverbial hot cakes, would be something of an understatement.

That has been exciting enough in itself, but then I’ve also put together personalised calendars for…

DIY Advent No. 1: Baby socks filled with gifts pegged on a string washing line - pre-printed numbers cut from an 'in the January sales' bargain price calendar and glued to ordinary laundry pegs
DIY Advent No. 1: Socks on a Line – Pre-printed numbers cut from an ‘in the January sales’ bargain price calendar and glued to ordinary laundry pegs. Baby socks were filled with gifts then pegged onto the string washing line.


DIY Advent No. 2: More 'bought in the January sales' bargains - this time little self assembly gift boxes which have been filled with little gifts and hung from a white tree branch. This is an artificial one with a stand which I already had, but you could spray paint an actual branch and wedge it in a pot.
DIY Advent No. 2: More ‘bought in the January sales’ bargains – this time little self assembly gift boxes which have been filled with small gifts and hung from a white tree branch. This is an artificial one branch with a stand which I already had, but you could spray paint an actual branch and wedge it in a pot.


This is Petit Man's childhood Advent calendar, now hanging on the fireplace of his first own home :-) Some left over pieces of green satin and cream damask pattern fabric were sewn into little pouches and numbers written on the fronts using a gold pen. They were then filled with gifts and tied onto a gold cord using contrasting ribbons.
DIY Advent No. 3: This is Petit Man’s childhood Advent calendar, now hanging on the fireplace of his first own home 🙂
Some left over pieces of green satin and cream damask pattern fabric were sewn into little pouches and numbers written on the fronts using a gold pen. They were then filled with gifts and tied onto a gold cord using contrasting ribbons.

…and a joint one for Petit Man and Mme. E (he’s green, she’s cream, and they both get something on the 24th).

So you see, since January I’ve been building not only calendars, but also a huge level of gleeful anticipation about handing them over 🙂

Gorgeous advent calendar containing handmade scented wax melts - from Busy Bee Candles
Gorgeous advent calendar containing handmade scented wax melts – from Busy Bee Candles

Then, when I went yesterday to deliver the goodies to Mum and Big Sis, they surprised me with an advent calendar of my own.  This tipped me over the edge of reasonable adult behaviour, such that I could barely sleep last night through sheer excited anticipation.

Owl burner

My calendar has a little scented wax melt for each day, and came with this pretty ceramic owl burner.  Today’s scent is called ‘Crazy’, which to me smells of pine and pepper – which is surprisingly nice.  A certain someone commented on the appropriateness of it for me.  I think that sort of remark’s just not necessary.

Mum, Big Sis and Barn loved their first gifts and sent pictures, which made my day extra fun too.  Petit Man will doubtless call me tomorrow morning about today’s gift, because he’s hopelessly disorganised like that 😉

1970s advent calendar

As Big Sis and I observed, advent calendars have come a long way since the days when we took turns to open little paper doors to find, if you were lucky, a picture of the Star of Bethlehem (if you were unlucky it was a drawing of a tree bauble).

Come to think of it, I think I’d actually still rather like one of those.  And now I wouldn’t resent it being Big Sis and Bro’s turn to open a door.  Probably.

Oh, and by the way, in case you hadn’t guessed it yet, I REALLY LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!  May the joys of the festive season be upon you too because more Christmas themed post are inevitably going to follow.  Only 24 sleeps to go… 😉


Beano Bangers and Mash

Day 9 of the Cupboard Challenge and I was running out of steam, so Barn stepped in and took up culinary responsibility.

Barn's cooking abilities & the moon phasesNow, leaving Barn in sole charge of the kitchen can be an…erm…interesting experience.  He firmly believes, and frequently declares, that he can’t cook.  He can.  Sometimes.  Depending upon the lunar cycle, or his Circadian rhythm, or some other such uncontrollable thing.

The point is, nothing is certain.  His offerings can range from restaurant quality, beautifully presented platters of taste sensation, through to scorched, unidentifiable mounds of rubble and goo.

Picture from: Antiques Atlas
Picture from:Antiques Atlas

With the greatest love in my heart, I have to confess that when Barn offers to cook, alone, inside my head a little carny guy starts his patter …

C’mon over and play the kitchen game…you could win big!  Fair food or foul? You decide little lady…wanna take your chance? Roll the plates?

Sometimes, you just don’t fancy taking the chance, and so cooking companionably together is a preferable option.  Other times you’re just too tired and hungry to care…anything on a plate would be great.  And there are times when you just know he’s going to make something fabulous.

Barn's ability to make mashed potato & the moon phasesOn this occasion, Barn offered to cook and stated that ‘mashed potato and something’ was on the menu.  I knew, when carny man started up his blarney, that the dishes were stacked in my favour – one thing that can be said for certain about Barn’s cooking is that he always makes the best ever mashed potatoes. I don’t know what he does that’s different to what I do, but mine are not amazing and his are.  Maybe one day he’ll let us all in on his secret.

Anyway, I gambled, leaving an unsupervised Barn in the kitchen while I went off for a soak in scented bubbles.

Bangers and mashMy faith paid off – Barn came up trumps, producing a cartoon style dinner of bangers and mash, making me grin and giving me one of those “Wow, I love my husband!” moments 😀

Best eaten fresh from the bath, wrapped in clean fluffy things and surrounded by a contented glow.

Steak ‘n’ salad

The last few days have been utter madness.

Firstly, someone drove into the back of the car Barn was travelling to work in.  Fortunately no-one was seriously injured, and for that I am truly grateful.

However, Barn and one of his colleagues sustained some damage to neck, shoulder and back.  Barn has been a little vexed and cranky about this; not because of the discomfort per se, more because it’s impeding his usual gym routine – challenging times for this born again fitness enthusiast (and his long suffering wife 😉 )

Additionally, things have been particularly  demanding at the day job – it’s one of our busy periods, so long and late shifts are currently fairly standard. On top of that it seems that anything that could go wrong, has been going wrong, particularly anything computerised; we barely get one thing sorted when another implodes. Pile on top of that a couple of ‘problem’ employees, impending deadlines for important paperwork, and a sudden procedural change that requires my whole team to be retrained.  A tad stressful.

Crazy EmpressNow, just for good measure, let’s add in the Crazy Empress, who has suddenly decided to spend 90% of her waking time sitting at closed doors crying to be let in/out.  It’s not that she wants to actually be somewhere…she just wants to be on the other side of any closed door.  As soon as you let her through, she wants to come back again.  So essentially, all internal house doors must be open, or she will cry.  That’s such fun!

MoochFinally, we have Mooch who, never wanting to be left out of anything, has decided to cry every time the cat does.  Not for anything, just because the cat’s doing it.  It’s like having a pair of toddlers in the house.

Perhaps then, you will understand why on Day 5 of the Cupboard Challenge, I was seeking the easiest of easy food?  Comfort food with a vitamin punch was needed, sought and found in the form of steak, baked potato, salad and blue cheese dressing.

And some music to go with it…

I’m absolutely positive you don’t need me to tell you how to cook a steak, so I’m not going to.

Steak, baked potato and saladI used up a lovely little piece of fillet steak that had been loitering in a corner of the freezer just waiting for me to want it;  Barn had half a chicken but I forgot to photograph that.  I’m sure you can imagine what half a roast chicken looks like.

Salad stuffI’m pretty sure you can bake a potato and make a salad too.  This is what went into my salad.

Blue cheese dressingI made a blue cheese dressing by mashing some Danish Blue together with mayonnaise; in the absence of soured cream I loosened it with a little balsamic dressing.  The consistency was more like a dip and visually it was a bit like cement, but my word, it tasted divine!

Steak, salad and baked potatoAnd there you have it – a simple, comforting, nutritious dinner to fortify the flagging Renegades.

I hope you’re all having a smoother week than we are?

If not, hang in there, the weekend’s coming! 🙂


The food week that was – 02/03/15

I’m sure you know the story of King Alfred the Great – the guy who allegedly let the cakes burn because he was preoccupied with thoughts about his beleaguered kingdom?  Well, I bet you’ve never heard the story of Barn, the guy who let the pies burn because he was preoccupied with thoughts about his kingdom?

Alfred had fair justification for his absent minded approach to baked goods; the fellow’s very life was in danger and he was on the run – sleeping in ditches and begging for food – whilst also trying to save his lands from actual marauding Vikings.  There was every reason for culinary timing to be low on his list of priorities.  For Barn?  Not so much.

He was sitting comfortably, on a sofa in his living room, tasked with nothing more than listening out for the oven timer then informing me of said occurrence.  The only kingdom he had any concerns about was the virtual one in Kingdom of Camelot (oh yeh, I’ll name it and shame ya! 😘 ), and the only ‘life’ in danger was that of a pixelated soldier.  Apparently he didn’t hear or smell a thing as the oven alarm shrieked for its fully allowed time slot, and our dinner gave itself to the funeral pyre, clutching its last vestiges of flavour, mourning its uncelebrated heyday.

Naturally he was referred to as Burning Barn for the rest of the evening.  No opportunity, no matter how small or tenuous, was passed over when it came to teasing and tormenting him.  Petit Man is a great ‘bouncing’ partner for this particular form of verbal entertainment (Mum and Medieval are also superb co-jousters, but sadly they weren’t around for this one); we amused ourselves mightily, stumbling upon forcing references to Barn the Great Pie Torturer from every TV advert, programme and innocuous conversation :twisted:.

Chicken chorizo pot piesMonday: So…what we had Monday was potentially-awesome-but-kinda-burned chicken and chorizo pot pies, served with hideously burned roast cauliflower and some steamed veg.

The chicken was poached in cider, then the cider stock reduced and used with cream to make a sauce for the chicken, fried chorizo and leeks.  A happy little layer survived the torrid oven affair and was sufficiently good to put the recipe on the ‘definitely try it again’ list.

Fridge bottom soupTuesday: Fridge bottom soup.  Sounds vile doesn’t it?  I know I should call it ‘leek and courgette’, or ‘cream of veg’ or somesuch, but it was what it says…soup made with stuff that needed using up from the drawer at the bottom of the fridge.

Sautéed soffrito (finely diced onion, carrot and celery in the ratio 2:1:1 – an excellent starting point for many sauces, stews etc. – make huge batches with a food processor and keep portions in the freezer); chopped leeks and courgettes added & browned.  Two crushed garlic cloves, fresh thyme and parsley, dried oregano chucked in and swished around for a while.  Chicken stock added (enough to cover veg plus a bit more) and simmered for about 15 minutes.  Blitzed in the food processor, added soured cream, a little double cream, and chives.  Reheated, adjusted seasoning, added an extra swirl of cream and more fresh herbs to finish.  Served with warm g/f cheesy puffs made with extra mature cheddar and English mustard.  It tasted insanely good.

Chicken pear and stilton saladWednesday dinner: Warm salad of grilled chicken breast and sweet ripe pears, with creamy blue Stilton and crunchy caramelised walnuts; served with baked tomatoes on a bed of crisp, fresh watercress and baby spinach leaves, dressed with wholegrain mustard and balsamic vinaigrette.

Barn made the leftovers into a sandwich for his lunch at work the next day.  I believe he was hoping for a reaction something akin to one of these:

What he got was this:

K: What’ve you got there?

Barn: Olive ciabatta, with watercress, pears and…

K: Pears?!

Barn: Yeh, and blue cheese…

K: Mouldy cheese?!

Barn:  …and chicken.

Pause, while each chews their chosen lunch and K contemplates Barn’s sandwich

K, dubiously: Well, I suppose the chicken would be ok.

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Deck the cake

Holly wreath cakeA simple but effective marzipan holly wreath on top of a royal iced, brandy soaked, fruit cake.

I don’t normally bother baking a fruit cake for us as Barn and Petit Man always say they don’t like it.  This year I was asked to make one for a friend of Mum’s so I made this for her and also a mini version for me, as a pre-Christmas treat .  It was delicious.

Sadly, I didn’t get to taste enough of its deliciousness…turns out Barn and Petit Man do like fruit cake after all…when I bake it 🙂