Gnocchi

I often have a few potatoes lying in the bottom of the fridge that are just beginning to sprout and not a lot else in the house, apart from a cauliflower, I’ve normally got a cauliflower, they keep for ages, an onion and the odd carrot.  And so the choice for supper was mashed spuds, carrots, cauliflower and gravy with something or other and to be honest its not the same cooking that type of meal, for one.  gnocchi 1

So I thought I would try my hand at a simple gnocchi. gnocchi 2

I peeled the spuds and weighed them and they came in at 270g and from other recipes on the internet I worked out that a reasonable ratio of flour to the weight of potato would be 60g and 1 small egg. gnocchi 3

I then mashed the potatoes. gnocchi 4gnocchi 5

and added the flour and egg and seasoned with salt and pepper. gnocchi 6

Brought it together and placed it on the board and rolled small amounts into snakes and cut them into 2.5 cm lengths, marking the tops with a fork until I had this. gnocchi 7

Two very decent sized portions of Gnocchi, which if your interested in such things came to 7 WW Pro Points per plateful.

At the same time I had been making a simple chicken soup/broth with some chicken thighs, cauliflower, carrots and onion and that was smelling lovely.  But then I had to go out, which was the reason I’d been making my supper for when I arrived home much later.

Later I just had to simmer my soup and gently drop my lovely Gnocchi into it, and wait the few minutes until they bobbed back to the surface which indicated they were ready. gnocchi 8

Blowing hard to cool the soup a little I then guzzled the soup greedily down.  Its not the prettiest of photographs, it wasn’t the prettiest of soups, but it was delicious and most welcome.

And the other half of the Gnocchi, the next day I bought some very fresh Haddock, one of my favourite of fishes, pan fried, made a simple tomato and olive sauce out of tinned tomotoes, a dash of vinegar, garlic, olives, salt and pepper, making the sauce in the same pan as the Haddock.   Poached the Gnocchi in water until they rose to the surface and placed them in the sauce and served. gnocchi 9

Again, not the prettiest, but it was tasty, very, very tasty.

Tate Britain.

I trotted off to see the two brand new exhibitions at Tate Britain and I wasn’t disappointed. Firstly I went to see the first exhibition in Britain of salted paper prints, which was interesting.  salt and silver 1

If I’d had my scientifically minded husband with me who did proper dark room developing as a child I might have gotten a little more out of it.  But as it was it was a pleasant experience and there were a few shots that I thought were very interesting, not least because of the basic nature of the cameras at the time.  Some of the lenses being used must have been lovely.  And then I popped into Sculpture Victorious, which was a charming exhibition with many Great Exhibition pieces, I was very glad I went to see that one.

I took a couple of shots as I was leaving. salt and silver 2

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And then started to walk back along the river.  I have this method which seems to work quite well for me.  I make careful notes (if only in my head) on how to get somewhere by tube and then after seeing what I have come to see I walk back, catching random buses in the general direction of where I want to go and it seems to work quite well, I see a lot more of London that way.  And its always a pleasant diversion to strike up a conversation with a Londoner on the bus whilst seeing the whites of their eyes as they are trying to work out whether you are a nut case and watching them trying to get away.  Eventually most settle down and relax into a normal pattern of conversation, but some you can see are very, very jumpy.  I just need a badge saying, ‘I’m not a Nutter, I’m just Chatty’.   Or, ‘Hi, I’m from Warwickshire, fancy a Chat?’.

And whilst walking along the Thames, I took a couple of photographs… salt and silver 5

salt and silver 4salt and silver 6

Stringed Instrument.

When I’m on the bus on the way to my nearest tube station I sometimes spot this stringed instrument dangling ever so high.  I don’t always spot it, its gone in a flash as the next lot of houses prevents you from looking back towards it, but the first time I saw it my heart soared.   It made me so happy to see something so random and I wondered what its story was.  Had it been put there on purpose?  Had it been thrown in a fit of pique and somehow caught forever there?  Was it to illustrate that there was a gifted musician in residence who might teach, if asked ever so nicely?  What could it be.   And I see it every so often and think I must find out.  Stringed Instrument. 1

So this week I went on a stringed instrument hunt.  And I walked right past it and had to double back when I knew I had gone too far.  And then there it was, dangling in the breeze for all to stare and wonder aloud, ‘what could it be?’

So with the aid of technology, I’ve been able to get a close up. Stringed Instrument. 3

And I think it is some sort of Heath Robinson affair, to make an aerial, or was that just what was available to add height to display the stringed instrument.  Who knows, but it makes me smile every time I see it.

And what is the other little blob. Stringed Instrument. 2

Well a woman’s head with ear phones of course.  What else.

Pyjama Bottoms.

pyjamas 1I seem to be a little fixated with a nice crisp cotton pyjama bottom.  My latest pair as I play with the pattern, there is still a little bit of work to do on the fit, but I am a very happy girl. pyjamas 2

And that problem of trying to work out which is the back, which is the front, when your ready to hit the sack and your brain has already fallen asleep and your starting to dream.  Resolved.

Whitehall.

After watching the Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square I headed down Whitehall in search of a bus.  Taking a quick photograph of Nelson and turning to find Big Ben looking magnificent,  whereupon I stumbled across The Household Cavalry Museum, Horse Guards Parade and what I believe to be The Cabinet Office – such wonderful stone carvings.  Another quick snap of Big Ben and the bus came to whisk me off to Oxford Circus in search of thread at John Lewis.

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Trafalgar Square, Chinese New Year.

I tootled off to Trafalgar Square to see the celebrations of the Chinese New Year 2015.  No one can decide whether its the year of the Ram, Sheep or Goat, personally being a knitter I’m favouring  the sheep, much more useful, although I’m not averse to a skein of mohair either.

The lion’s were amazing,  jumping from pillar to pillar, you forget that there are two chaps inside this costume and they are so high up, you can just about see the faces of the people at the bottom of the photographs.

These photographs are cropped severely, I chose a lightweight lens, knowing it would be so busy, I need to get there much earlier to get a closer view.  And my camera was playing up, although in manual, it was switching to a very low shutter speed, my little fingers were going ten to the dozen trying to keep up with what it was doing.  And being in the middle of Trafalgar Square there was no way I could find out what was going on, so I just did the best I could, I’ve later found out I had accidentally switched the bracketing on, so hopefully that problem is solved.

Anyway, Enjoy.

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Creative Photography.

I trundled off for another workshop at the Nikon training school in the centre of London yesterday, this time to learn Getting Creative with DSLR photography.  This next series of photographs explores the concept of seeing an object using close ups and depth of field.

I leave the ISO at 800, my camera can comfortably go up to 3200, maybe 6400 without any noticeable grain, I leave my white balance in auto, I have no idea what the sunshine is doing or what I am going to photograph as I leave the dungeon like teaching area and climb the stairs into a bright light.

And then I notice them, the stairs are amazing.  Everyone wanders off and I head back to the stairs, I really want to photograph them. Stairs 1

Firstly a set up shot.  So in my imaginings you all know what I am photographing, all photographs taken in raw, not edited.

Nikon D7100,  1/80 sec at f/6.3, ISO 800, 35mm f/1.8   I want a large depth of field here to see the stairs, in a perfect world I might have increased the f stop, the bottom stair is not quite clean enough. Stairs 2

Nikon D7100, 1/320 sec at f/1.8, ISO 800Stairs 3, 35mm f/1.8

Nikon D7100, 1/500 sec at f1.8, ISO 800, 35mm f/1.8Stairs 4

Nikon D7100, 1/400 sec at f/5.0, ISO 800, 35mm f/1.8 (I want crisp lines at the edge of the stairs so have given more depth to the picture).Stairs 5

Nikon D7100, 1/200 sec at f/1.8, ISO 800, 35mm f1.8Stairs 6

Nikon D7100, 1/320 sec at f1.8, ISO 800, 35mm f1.8

Not bad for a first attempt!

Pink Hyacinths.

Hyacinths 3 Hyacinths 2 Hyacinths 1I love spring bulbs, I adore them with a passion, from their first offerings in January when everything is gloomy and the first forced bunches of daffodils arrive in the shops to when my own tulips and daffs appear in the garden.  And I know when they are gone, they are gone and no amount of pining will bring them back until another winter has passed.

I especially adore hyacinths, pink hyacinths are my absolute favourite and mostly I never find that colour or if I do they are at a price, which just after the excesses of Christmas makes my purse feel a bit too pinched to allow myself the treat.  I found these at Marks and Spencers for £2.50 for the tub of three.  I whisked them home and have watched them bloom and have been admiring their waxy pretty pink flowers every morning whilst drinking my coffee.  And not only are they pretty, their scent wafts through the whole of the house. They really are heavenly.

Toile loves T.V.

Toile watching fishingIn between racing for balls and playing with my knitting, seeing if she can operate the sewing machine and relaxing whilst  she enjoys her daily groom, Toile loves watching a bit of television.  She especially likes wildlife, with either cats or monkeys, Countryfile when the cows come on, screeching birds are also a favourite and if a cat comes on that is purring she is most comical.  But she will also lay across my chest and settle in for my evening viewing of Emmerdale and whatever cookery or crafting programmes happen to be on.

Today I was channel hoping whilst having a coffee, Toile was in the mood to watch the T.V. so we let her watch a fishing programme for a while, she seemed to enjoy it.