Tag Archives: domestic

Week 8 – easy all-in-one turkey roast

Having picked up a rolled 1.5kg piece of turkey breast at a bargain price the other week, I went in search of a suitable recipe for how to roast it – it needed to be something not too awfully complicated and that wouldn’t mean spending the entire afternoon in the kitchen. After quite some searching around and drawing a blank, M found this recipe (in German) and we decided to follow it. I haven’t found a direct equivalent in English so am going to write up my version of it here, including some modifications to the original. It was amazingly tasty, and the best thing about it was that you had the meat, vegetables and a magically generated gravy all in one roasting tin…

Stuffed rolled turkey joint with vegetables

Ingredients

2-3 cloves of garlic, cut into slivers
75g fresh spinach (we actually used a bag of baby-leaf salad, containing spinach, chard and rocket)
a medium-sized onion, finely chopped
125g mozzarella, diced (I might try feta next time)
1.3-1.5kg rolled turkey joint (the original recipe suggested the piece should be about 3cm thick)
6 slices Parma ham (or equivalent variety)
2tbsp olive oil
750ml chicken stock
200ml dry white wine
1kg root vegetables, cut into largish bite-sized chunks (I used potatoes, carrots, celeriac)
250g shallots, peeled (halved or quartered if larger ones)
several peeled, whole cloves of garlic (optional)
fresh thyme
 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 175°C or equivalent. Roll out the turkey on a chopping board. Make small incisions in it and push the garlic slivers into these. Then lay the ham slices over the turkey, followed by the spinach leaves (removing any thick stalks beforehand), chopped onion and mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper, and you could also sprinkle over some thyme. Then roll up the turkey as tightly as you can and tie it up securely with kitchen string. Place in the centre of a generously sized roasting tin (any stuffing that fell out during the rolling process can be placed under the joint) and brush with olive oil  – you might not need the whole 2tbsp if the turkey still has skin on it. Mix the chicken stock and wine in a jug and ladle some of this over the meat before putting it into the oven for 45 minutes. You will probably need to ladle over some more of the liquid once or twice during this time so that the bottom of the pan doesn’t dry out and burn.

2. When the 45 minutes have elapsed, add the vegetables to the tin, along with some fresh thyme and the rest of the reserved liquid. Give the veg a good stir in the juices, then return the pan to the oven for another 45 minutes.

3. Leave the meat to rest briefly when it is done, then cut into thick slices and serve with the vegetables and gravy.

turkey

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Week 6 – the coffee machine I forgot

photo(4)I’ve been very tardy about writing this post as I just couldn’t think of anything creative or home-improvementy that had happened in my life during the week concerned. Which was a slightly depressing thought in itself…

But hah! At some point I remembered that this coffee machine arrived bright and early one morning while I was in the shower (typical!) – it’s virtually new but was surplus to the requirements of the people who bought it, and generously they asked if it might find a new home here.

I was sceptical at first as I’m not a big coffee drinker, and M is devoted to his “holy ritual” (as it appears to an onlooker) of grinding the beans and going through the whole (messy) rigmarole with his espresso pot. It’s no great secret that I find the coffee it produces too strong and bitter – and yes, lots of different beans have been tried, but no, I will not adulterate my coffee with milk or sugar – and I’d ended up more or less giving up drinking any as a result. On top of that, we were both rather doubtful that the capsule technology this new machine uses could be a match for actual coffee beans.

The long and the short of it, though, is that it’s been a welcome addition to the household. I’ve started drinking coffee in the mornings again, and the volume, strength and flavour of the cupful it produces suits me just fine – I enjoy drinking it. And even M has taken to using it of an evening for the odd espresso after dinner – it’s less labour-intensive and quicker than the empty-grind-fill-wait routine with his “proper” coffee pot.

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Week 5 – duvet day

20130202-155035.jpgTo start with an apology, this is a fairly rubbish picture and the lighting was pretty dodgy, but I wanted to offer a brief glimpse of the new bedclothes I ordered this week from Amazon, having looked for ages and not been able to find any I liked anywhere local. No doubt many will recoil at the bright colours, but hey, people should know my taste by now…

The pictures on the wall were all cut out of calendars of medieval and pre-Raphaelite art, and they’ve been hanging there for as long as I can remember. They’re beginning to look a bit dog-eared in places by now, but I’m pretty loth to replace them until and unless I can find something I like as much.

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Week 4 – chucking-out time

20130127-155858.jpgNow that feels better – I cleared out this pile from my clothes drawers and cupboards recently and did a general audit of the things left inside. These rejects have in the meantime been bagged up and removed from the flat via the bin, recycling, charity, and one or two specific things to friends. And I’m left with three sackfuls of space for other, more useful things – yay!

Recently I’ve been relying on a small selection of clothes – regularly exchanged and washed, might I add! – and it’s partly because I’d either forgotten what else I had or it was buried at the bottom of a full drawer or cupboard. I’ve now rediscovered some “fresh” things but have taken a critical look at the rest. There are only so many odd old bits of clothes that you can reasonably keep for cleaning / painting / in case of weight loss or weight gain / in the hope that you might actually like them some day…

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“Aha!” and “D’oh!” in the kitchen

This is my trusty cooker – it must be well over fifteen years old by now, but it’s still going strong (touch wood…). And it’s looking better today than at any time since I moved in with it. The reason? I found out from M yesterday that you can take off the twiddly knobs to clean them and the front panel. In fact, he prised them off with a kitchen knife and put them to soak in soapy water overnight. A quick wipe and towel-dry this morning and they were ready to put back on – good as new!

To think that all those years I’d tried to give them the occasional scrub in situ with an old toothbrush, a task I hated and always avoided for as long as possible as it never removed all the grot and tended to spread it around a fair bit, too… I now feel a mixture of embarrassment and delight at having discovered this “new” labour-saving feature.

I’ll never claim to be a domestic goddess, but please, please tell me I’m not the only person to have been so ignorant for such a long time of a basic mechanism of a household appliance!

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New workspace

Apologies for the overly HDR-ed picture, but… tadaaaa! I’ve been muttering for some time about converting an area of the landing into an extra workspace, and now it’s done (well, apart from a bit more accessorizing, that is).

I’ve had the sofa there for some time and really, really didn’t want to have to move it significantly or – heaven forbid – get rid of it from that corner, as it’s a wonderful place to read in full daylight. But the way it was arranged meant I was always sat opposite a blank white wall when I was there, and that wasn’t all that inspiring. Now that I’ve rearranged its constituent elements, including the main cushions to lean against, I can stretch out at either end and either look out of the window or have daylight coming from behind, which is fantastic if I’m working on correcting a load of things by hand, or simply reading. I’m convinced it’s the best window in the flat for light, as it’s more or less north-facing and you only get the feeling of a few direct rays shining in at sunrise – the rest of the time it’s very “easy” light, plus the area seems to stay cooler than the southern side of the flat in summer (hence my original office space downstairs not being such a great place to work when it’s hot).

The desk is very simple indeed, but I was very much guided and restricted by what would fit in the space: there is a cupboard door just off the right hand side of the picture which certainly meant the desk couldn’t be too long. However, I definitely wanted as much surface area as possible, as I’m often simultaneously using my laptop as well as several piles of papers and/or a couple of open books for a lot of the things I do. It also definitely had to be real wood rather than some plastic or MDF monstrosity, and it was essential that it provided some storage for stationery and a few craft supplies. In fact, this desk has four drawers down the left hand side, which is great as the slope of the ceiling means you can’t sit at that end anyway.

I only ordered the desk last Wednesday evening, so I was amazed when it arrived on Friday morning as the estimated delivery date wasn’t until at least the 29th, and I hadn’t got around to tracking it online. What a bonus, I thought, and set about putting it together late Friday afternoon. This was a bit of a challenge given that although the box contained (as it turned out) all the necessary pieces of wood, runners for the drawers and pull-out keyboard surface, plus a heavy bag of bits of dowelling, screws and other metal fasteners I wouldn’t know the name of, it had NO INSTRUCTIONS!! In the end, though, the only thing I didn’t realize before tackling it is was that the fronts of the drawers needed to have their dowelling pegs glued in. This became apparent only when pulling one of them open resulted in the front coming off in my hands, but at least I was able to put my hands on the wood glue within a matter of minutes and this minor setback was fairly quickly forgotten (except for the glue I got in my hair, but never mind – true craftsmanship leaves its mark ;-)).

I didn’t want a vast desk chair because, although it might be comfortable, it would again take up too much space. I have a lovely old dressing table stool that belonged to my grandmother which I want to restore – it’s just a question of redoing the webbing that supports the removable cushion, so an easy DIY task. For the moment, though, I have discovered that it was possible to unscrew the back from a funny old red chair on wheels I had, and that’s turned out to be the perfect height and pretty comfortable, too.  It fits tidily under the desk when not in use. Maybe I’ll find a different place in the flat for Grandma’s dressing table stool at a later date.

So far I’ve got as far as putting up a couple of pictures to get away from that blank wall feeling – Paul Klee’s Revolution des Viaductes, and a modern photo-on-canvas picture of some glass bottles in just the same shades I have elsewhere in this alcove – lots of orange, green, blue, pink. Other than that, I’ll probably bring up a plant from downstairs and maybe a simple ornament or two, but the plan is to keep it simple and uncluttered (famous last words, I know…).

And it’s here that I sit typing this blog post. The window is wide open and I can smell the herbs outside on the roof terrace. I was going to say that there is barely a sound to be heard as the window looks out onto the rooftops above an enclosed courtyard that is not a thoroughfare. However, the cathedral (located 200m from here) has just started up its Whitsun evensong bells. Hey ho! But I wouldn’t be without them for the world…

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