Friday, 29 June 2012

Cookery challenge- Baked Strawberry Alaska

This month I have joined the Cookery club hosted by Lucent Imagery this months challenge was :-
A dish featuring at least one item of in-season fresh produce

As it is June there was only one ingredient at the top of my list, particularly as it growing in the garden,
yes its Strawberries. 

The next decision was what to make - something I hadn't made before and after some thought I came up with Strawberry Baked Alaska with strawberry crisps with strawberry jus.

To make the strawberry crisps cut the strawberries into 1/4 inch slices and place on greaseproof paper and cook in a very low oven until they dry out.

I then covered 4 ramekin dishes with cling film and placed strawberry slices at the bottom , covered with ice-cream and put more slices on top. These then went  into the deep freeze.

To make the strawberry jus slice the strawberries thinly and put over a bain marie (glass or metal bowl over simmering water) with the sugar and simmer for 45 minutes.( I used 200g of strawberries and 20g of sugar.) Put the mixture through a sieve, I 'm afraid I cheated and only sieved half of the mixture as it tasted so good!

The next stage was to make the Italian Meringue using 120g of caster sugar, 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons of water. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and dissolve stirring once or twice. When the liquid is clear bring to the boil and boil for 3 minutes.

In the meantime seperate the eggs, whisk them to soft peaks and add the hot sugar mixture slowly while still whisking. Whisk the mixture on high for 10 minutes.

Take the icecream out of the freezer place on a disk of cake and quickly cover with the meringue, place back in freezer until ready to cook.

Cook in a high oven 200c or Gas Mark 7 for 3-5 minutes until lightly brown.

Take out and serve immediately with the strawberry crisps and jus.


I enjoyed the challenge as I this is the first time I have made a baked alaska, strawberry crisps and jus, or a meringue done the Italian way. One of our favourite strawberry dishes is Eton Mess, but we all thought this was a nice change and I will defintely make it again. Although next time I will pipe the meringue to make it look more professional.

Thanks again for Lucent imaginery for organising the cookery club if you are interested in joining in next month she will make you very welcome . The other blooggers taking part are From Rivers edge
Bakery Bookery and Anything squirrel squirrel.

Welcome to my new followers Annemarie and Petra and Lene thanks for joining me.
Sarah x

Monday, 25 June 2012

Homes in the Highlands and Skye

This photo above has to be my favourite picture of the week, what a view, and what a cottage I would love to have looked inside! It looks idyllic but it was probably a hard life in centuries gone by. 

We visited Colbust Croft Museum to see how the crofters would have lived in the 1800's. The entrance fee of £1.50 was left in a metal box with no attendant in sight, and you were free to wander around the croft. The croft had two main rooms, one room was used to house the animals. There were no windows just a chimney for the smoke from the peat fire in the centre of the floor. It was smoky and we all came out reeking of the peat smoke, although I didn't find the smell unpleasant.

The stones on the roof were there to stop the thatch blowing off the roof, we saw a few crofts with this feature in Skye.

Can you imagine how dirty everything must have become with the smoke of the fire.

Maybe a castle would be more your choice? This was Eilean Donan castle, which was restored in 1911, the restoration took 20 years. It felt very cosy and homely, which is quite unusual for a castle. Unfortunately you weren't allowed to take photos of the inside.

Of course my preference would be for one overlooking the sea , how about this one?

Or one of these?

The view below was from our bed and breakfast accommodation in Skye, which was fantastic. I just wanted to sit there and take it all in!

The view constantly changed as the sun set.......

 However it was a bit different the following morning! 

 Finally this cottage with a fantastic display of lupins,it was situated on the banks of Loch Ness  - I think maybe it's too close to the monster for me!

We saw some many beautiful displays of lupins during our travels. I haven't seen so many growing wild since living in Germany as a child. Our American companions thought that they were very similar to the Texas Bluebonnets.

Welcome to my new followers Devon and Flori it's wonderful to have your company.

Sarah x

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Choosing a holiday

How do you choose where to go on holiday? We used to rent a holiday cottage or caravan in England or aboard and have had some wonderful times with the children.


In recent years our children have gone on holiday with their partners and our holidays have changed without them, and we have choosen to go on more organised holidays. We like exploring and getting to learn about a country rather than lying on a beach and soaking up the sun.

There are always so many countries and places to visit that it is always difficult to decide where to go. We like to plan it well in advance, so that we have time to look forward to it.

Up in the Alps in Switzerland near Interlaken


Last year we went to Croatia and on a free day we went on a days trip on an old fishing boat around some of the islands. The twenty or so passengers were all nationalities - German, Irish, English, Italian, Chinese and Cypriots and we had a wonderful day out together.

When we returned off holiday we went on the internet to see if we could find any holidays that catered for small numbers and a holiday visiting the Highlands in Scotland came up at the top of the list. We visited Edinburgh for my 40th birthday 9 years ago and walked past a amazing poster in a shop window showing the Highlands and immediately agreed to return one day to do this.

So this is where we have just been on holiday, and the views were even more amazing than I remember from that poster......

We travelled over 700 miles in 5 days visiting the North West part of the Highlands and also stayed on the Isle of Skye for 2 nights. The scenery was breathtaking, particularly when the sun shone! It felt so remote and the area so vast and unpopulated. The air was fresh and it was just so peaceful.

We have been to Wales and Ireland previously, but this landscape was for me even more beautiful than what I have seen in other places. We travelled with an award winning local Scottish company Rabbies and would never have been able to visit so many magnificent places in 5 days without them. There were 12 others in our party, who came from all around the world - India, Poland, New Zealand, Taiwan, and America. It added to our experience to share our holiday with such a nice group of people. Neil, our tour guide and driver was excellent and shared with us many amazing stories and Scottish music.

The pictures of the mountains look almost unreal, don't they? We are still sorting through our pictures so this won't be the last you see of Scotland on here! We had a mixture of rain and sunshine on our holiday but the sun kept shining when it really mattered.  Have you got any holidays planned soon I would love to here what you are doing too. In the meantime the only mountains I will be seeing are mountains of washing and ironing!

Sarah x

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The garden in June

I love roses and the roses in our garden are at their best in June. As a child my Dad would always pick the first bud for my Mum on her birthday on the 4th June, now buds start to appear on the roses in May. 

Constance Spry - a climber including the aphids!

I came across this quote the other day from Abraham Lincoln
"We can complain the rose bush have thorns, or we can rejoice that thorn bushes have roses."
I like looking at things positively and I will have to remember this next time my finger gets pricked by a thorn!

Golden celebration (a David  Austin rose), my parents were given this to celebrate their golden anniversary in 2007 - I inherited it and it is still blooming well.

Nevada, this flowers all summer if you dead head it. At the moment it is dripping with flower heads..
Louise Odier, another David Austin rose, scented and repeat flowering
Oriental poppies are another of my favourites, they don't flower for long, but I welcome them in the garden for the short time that they appear. If you cut them back they might to flower again but I have never succeeded. We also have the pink one too - Patty's plum (shown on my photo scavenger post for May)
Oriental poppy "Perrys White"

Foxgloves and daisies

The wildlife pond water is quite green, but we have frogs, tadpoles, newts and water boatmen making it their home. In the foreground is Geranium Macrorrhizum another versatile plant.
We have quite a large number of  herbaceous geraniums, the slugs and snails don't eat them and they provide good ground cover and come in lots of different colours. They also look good under the roses.

Geranium magnificum, the veins stand out so well

The vegetable garden- I'm afraid I haven't mentioned this very much so far, my husband does most of the work in this area, but it provides us with a good harvest during the season.

A view back down the garden, we just need less rain now so we can get out and enjoy it! The other morning I came down to breakfast to see that the lawn was covered in slugs! I counted 365 as I picked them up, which took a while!

Sorry this post is longer than I intended. I get a bit carried away with plants!

I'm off on on holiday to Scotland so no posts for a week.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Life on the beach

Walking along the beach there are always treasures to find .....

A yellow horned poppy -isn't it amazing what grows in these inhospitable conditions.

I love the slate blue colour on the leaves of this sea cabbage, the flowers are fragrant too.  I didn't have my rucksack or "Food for free" book with me, and I didn't pick any as thought it was going to seed. 

This fishing boat was following us as we walked along the beach.

The land and the sea are immense along this stretch of the Chesil beach .

How about a beach hut? The one of the left was on the market for £300,000 in 2010! I would love to see inside.

There were lots of fishermen along the beach - favourite catches along this stretch are mackerel, plaice and dab.

The road leads down to the sea, the shadow of the clouds was giving the sea a dark blue line of colour on the horizon. I wish I was an artist and could capture it in paint.

New East of India Life's a Beach Picture Sign Beach Hut No1

Have a great weekend!

Sarah x

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Weekend of celebrations!

What a wonderful weekend of celebrations, I hope everyone had a great time despite the weather not being at it's best!  However it wasn't bad conditions for running. Our son was running in his first half marathon in Plymouth at the weekend and we went to see him in action.

He had injured some ligaments in his ankle some time ago, and then hurt his knee recently so he hadn't been able to put in as much training as he wished, but he managed to run the 13 miles (21km) in 1 hour 55 minutes and was a great way to end his 4 years study at Plymouth university.

 We managed to have a jubliee picnic to celebrate both events!

On Monday evening there were fireworks in Weymouth to commemorate the Jubliee.

 A beacon was lit above the fort unfortunately as it was in a fire basket the fire and picture weren't very good. 

From our vantage point you could also see two more beacons in the distance, part of the 4,200 which were lit throughout the world.

Welcome to my new followers Petra and Happy Homebird thank you for following me.



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