Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Fairwell Harry, I made you cake…

Friday, July 15th, 2011

 “London. Implacable July weather. People everywhere. People swarming Trafalgar Square. People perched on the steps of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. People crowding the backstreets of the West End. Is this a Dickens novel? No, it’s the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2.” -   Time magazine

Me and Teen Ellie watched the live stream of the Harry Potter premier in tears. I am not really a Harry Potter fan, by this I mean I have never read any of the books, never stood in line endlessly to see one of the movies, and I have to admit (rather quietly) to not always completely understanding the story lines.  But I am far more than just a little fond of Harry Potter and his wizardy friends,  its a weird kind of feeling,  like the fondness you feel for your child’s oldest school friends. But before you cart me off to the funny farm, let me explain why…

 The first movie came out an astonishing eleven years ago and it has been the magical (pardon the pun)  backdrop to teen Ellie’s childhood ever since. Like cultural osmosis, its part of the fabric of her young life.  Her best friend at six was so obsessed with Harry,  that she slept with his picture underneath her pillow, and wrote “Mrs Harriot Potter” on all her books.

When the first Harry Potter computer game came out me and my friend,  spent 3 days solid trying to complete it. Baby Jack had his very own Harry dressing gown that looked like a hogwarts magic coat, which he wore  for his first primary school book day, he made a very cute, very blonde Harry.  Ellie had the Harry Potter jelly sweet maker, the Harry potter chocolate (it had fizzy popping candy in the center, which Ellie was SURE was actual magic ;) ) , the harry potter bed sheets and the movies of course…we watched the movies to death.

  So I am ever so slightly in love with every one of  JK Rowling’s expertly crafted characters.  I also love the fact that the movies are just so, well,  British!

 I love all the scenes of sweeping London, the beautiful old buildings and grimy little cafés,  the glimpses into English suburbia and the beauty and sometimes barrenness of the countryside.

I love that  Harry and Co always  look like they haven’t seen the sun for more than three days a year (like most of us from Oct through to June!) either and  they all have “normal” clothes and none Hollywood  hair.  Something which I think is sadly missing from most other films and TV shows targeted at young people ( god I sound old, but its true) .

 As well as this, practically every good British actor from the past ten years has appeared in someway, filling it with a warm feeling of home and (dare I say it) it makes me a bit proud to be British.

So…  this is my sweet fair well to Harry, and my first baby’s childhood.

 Teen Ellie turns sixteen this October and dreams of being at Hogwarts and defeating  Mr no Nose (Lord Voldemort) will soon fade to nothing. Well maybe not nothing, maybe there will be a small space forever Harry, forever six and full of magic and wonder.   Maybe thats why Harry is so popular the world over,  maybe he gives us all a tiny excuse to believe in a little bit of magic! X

( Harry’s last stand is out this weekend, I’m off to see it on the big screen with Ellie, and a box of tissues! ) X


And just to properly celebrate the occasion I made cupcakes, magical  rainbow ones of course !

Rainbow cupcakes!


2 eggs

40z 0f  self raising flour

4oz of butter

4oz of sugar

A teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of good vanilla essence

4 different colours of food colouring. I used red, blue, green and yellow.

Firstly cream the butter and sugar ( I do everything in a food mixer, but you can do it by hand too) . Then add the two eggs, and then the flour and baking powder, finally add the vanilla. If this mixture looks to think I add a little water or milk ( 1-2 tablespoons).

Separate the cake bater equally into four bowls. Add the food colouring to each bowl, a little at a time and mix. I found the red and the green quite strong, but the blue and yellow much weaker. 

Then line a muffin tin with six muffin cases. Spoon a little of the first colour into each case (use all the mixture) I used yellow first,  spread evenly.  Next, spoon in another colour ( I used green) gently over the top of the first. spread to the edges.

Continue this process until all the colors and mixture is used. Then take a wooden cocktail stick or something similar and swirl each cupcake very lightly.

Then put them in the oven for approx 25 mins, until they are lovely and golden.

Thats it ice them however you like, I made up a batch of butter cream icing, instructions are on the back of the icing packet. I added a teaspoon of vanilla at the end.

Thats it, easy and really, really fun! Milly had a great time helping me.

I will just add, I know there are some scary health opinions about food colouring, there is lots of info online about it,  and I will let you guys make you own mind up about that.   But personally I feel as long as your not making these everyday, you wont get cancer or ADHD or grow another head  .. but that of course,  is just my personal opinion kids! … other opinions may vary   XXXX

Its all Greek to me!

Monday, February 28th, 2011


This week I have been thinking alot about holidays…. we probably won’t be going on one this year as Big J is way too busy with his new shop (tiny sob). So I have been going through old pictures trying to absorb some much needed  sunlight, whilst looking out of the window at the rain tumbling down the panes… oh rainy february!

I have been lucky enough to go to lots of places but  Kefalonia in  Greece is by far my most favorite place in the whole world! I honestly think if there is such a place as heaven, it HAS to look a bit like this ( the tiny speck underwater to your left is  is big J, snorkeling. Such an action man! I never made it off the beach)…..  

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed here too…

My favorite description of love comes from this movie :

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”
-St. Augustine

 WOW, now thats beautiful genius!


Sigh…anyway…..Carrying on the Greek theme, I also made a great tray bake this week, based on a Greek chicken Recipe from my new cooking hero Anjam, from her book , Eat right for your body type. I did change the recipe slightly for my taste and what I had in my cupboards but it is largely the same.  Its a great book, (no-body paid me to say this, its just a great book) I hope I am going to start feeling “peepy” (is that even a word I wonder?…) and slender…just like this….That way, at least if we do by chance get to go away, I’ll be ready… fingers crossed!…this body again? and a holiday in heaven? hmm well… I girl can dream can’t she?

The recipe bit…..

Greek Chicken Tray Bake

(easy, healthy and yummy!)

500g of small potatoes, scrubbed but skins on and cut into 4′s

1 large red onion, cut into large wedges

12 asparagus spears

6 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 a lemon cut into 3 wedges

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Salt and lots of ground pepper

4 chicken thigh (boneless and skinless)

2 large chicken breasts (skinless)

sprig of fresh Thyme

1 heaped teaspoon of dried oregano

12 small olives (stone in..they taste better, stone out are easier to eat, choice is yours )

150 ml of chicken stock

a few knobs of butter

1 big cup of frozen peas

A big handful of fresh parsley

Pre-heat the oven at 180oc (350of) gas mark 4.

Toss together the vegetables, garlic, 2 lemon wedges, oil and a little seasoning (remembering the olives and stock have more) and chicken.

Place in a baking dish and tuck in the thyme.Bake for 30 mins basting the chicken occasionally in the pan juices, and tossing the vegetables a little.

Add the olives, the stock, peas and a few knobs of butter. And cook for around 15 mins more. Stir in the parsley and serve.

( note- this makes great leftovers too, I had it for lunch the following day with lots of rocket leaves and goats cheese crumbled on top…delicious!  )  

Come back soon, we’re baking! …. Xxxxx


Julie & Julia

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

My mum rang this weekend and told me I must watch this movie….”she’s just like you” she said. “She writes about food, and is a bit ditsy“…I obviously thanked her warmly for her kind endorsement of my personality and went off to sky plus it.

And I am really glad that I did, I am totally in love with this film!  In case you don’t know, its about this daydreaming office worker who decides to make one of Julia childs recipes (her being a retro American cooking icon) from her book on french cooking everyday for a whole year…and blog about it.

The blog becomes a total smash hit,  a book and film ensues. This movie is about both Julia childs life and how she came to write her first book (it took 8 years!!!) and in parallel how Julie, comes to write the blog inspired by her.

Yes, i loved this film because I am also a food fanatic, and total cooking nut. But its more than that, I loved it for the same reason I loved Chocolat with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp (no…not hot men!) . They both have a magical quality that beguiles you immediately. Both express a truth about food that all foodies and cooks know. Food and cooking is magic, and its a comforting predictability in a totally uncertain world. No matter how shockingly crap the day, you can be sure that if you add sugar and butter  to eggs, sift in some flour and give it a stir you will have a cake. Its as simple and pure as that!

So with this film as inspiration I decided to make one of Julia Childs most popular recipes..the boeuf bourguignon …only problem being I have no red wine and am  having such a crap day that the idea of venturing to the super market is completely out. But I have the beef and I have the will (inspired by Julie & Julia ) to make something beautiful. After some cupboard and tinternet searching this is what I made up.  Honestly, I think it may have been touched by the hand of god …its THAT good! (okay…this is possibly an exaggeration, maybe…but only slightly; ). Sometimes magic happens when the wind is in the right direction and your heart is in the right place.

Cheers  Julie and Julia!!! xxx

Greek beef with capers and olives -

Serves 4-6

  • 1 (3 to 4-pound) boneless chuck steak ( or pot roast piece, if you have never tried it,  its like a cross between stewing steak and roast beef .Cheap but really scrummy)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled, and cut
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of all spice
  • 1 good pinch of dried chili flakes (depending on taste, I like things hot-ish)
  • 1 big teaspoon of salt and 1/2 of pepper, again this is to taste (just keeping trying it)
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 handful of button mushrooms, whole
  • 400ml approx of beef stock
  • about 8 sun dried tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • A handful of green olives
  • A smaller handful of  drained capers
  • 1 punnet of fresh plum toms
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic (about  8 cloves minced)
  • a handful of fresh coriander

Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a large heavy based pan over medium-high heat, add the oil. Season the chuck roast with salt and pepper. Sear until nicely browned on all sides, about 2 minutes. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, chili flakes,oregano, cumin, all spice, tomatoes (fresh, tinned and sun-dried) puree and beef stock. Cover with a lid and cook  in the oven until the meat is fork tender, about 2 hours. Keep checking that its not drying out and moving the joint occasionally so all sides get equally tender, adding  more stock if necessary. Remove from oven, fold in the green olives and capers. Slice the beef and serve with the yummy stew, and some yummy lemony couscous, rice or spuds. I promise you’ll love it!