The Christmas Cactus (latin name Schlumbergera) is one of my favourite house plants as it brings a little colour into my home when there isn’t much around. I find that mine tends to flower a bit before Christmas in fact, which suits nicely as there are always plenty of decorations around during the festive season.In fact, in America they are often known as the Thanksgiving Cactus and the timing of the flowering may well be more suited to this name (if my plant is typical). Another name for them is the Crab Cactus because the ends of the stems look a bit like the claws of a crab.
This week I made a batch of homemade chutney. Some friends gave us some cooking apples from their tree and I’ve been using them for various things. I’d been putting off making the chutney, but then my Internet connection was playing up so I thought I’ll get on with preserving.
Making homemade chutney involves a lot of chopping: you need to get the ingredients cut up into small enough pieces. So make a virtue of the need to be engaged in a repetitive task: listen to a radio programme (easy to pick one you like now with the ability to pick one from the last week or so readily available); put on a favourite CD; listen to an audio book; or have a little company to talk to while you work.
I’ve been making homemade chutney for a couple of years now and have been experimenting with various recipes. This time I made Apple and Onion Chutney which uses up quite a large quantity of apples. The recipe came from this book called Jams and Chutneys, which was a Christmas present.
What do you like to do when you are chopping up your vegetables for chutney? Do you have a favourite recipe or a bible of preserving that you use?
The other week we decided to treat ourselves to a visit to Turners of Harborne. Turners is one of three restaurants in Birmingham that boast a Michelin star. We’ve visited Simpsons a number of times in the past, but had yet to try Turners Restaurant (our closest one) or Purnell’s.
We booked a 7.30 table for a Saturday night. Turners has a number of different nights with cheaper menus available on less popular nights to eat out, but Saturday night means they only serve the tasting menu. This was fine by us anyway as we wanted to taste a range of dishes to gain an introduction to Turners food. As you’d expect for a Michelin starred restaurant, the tasting menu comes at a premium with a price of £80 per head for 8 courses, although you might get some little extra culinary surprises along the way.
The door was opened for us as we approached and we were shown to our table immediately. As we were eating quite early, there was only one other table full, but by 9pm all the tables were full. With only 8-10 tables, Turners has an intimate atmosphere. The small premises size means you come into the main dining room from the door on the street. As you are met at the door and escorted in, the time the door is open is kept to a minimum. We sat close to the entrance and didn’t find it a problem.
Service was prompt, discrete and courteous throughout. The fact that everyone is having the tasting menu on Saturday night makes ordering food unnecessary, so the only decision to agonise over is the wine list. We had considered having the wines to go with the tasting menu, but in the end decided that we would prefer a more restrained night (not sure what came over us) and opted instead to order a single bottle of wine. Our pick for the night was a local wine from nearby Worcestershire from the Tiltridge Vineyard. We chose the Elgar Medium Dry (white wine). The sommelier told us that if we wished we could take a visit to the vineyard and I think we might just do that in the future. We’ve drunk English wine before, but I don’t think we’ve ever tasted wine of that quality before from this country. It was light and refreshing without being lightweight in flavour terms.
Our first taste of Turners came with the arrival of some miniature fish and chips (pictured above). They were exquisite. I loved the crispiness of the chips which reminded me of those French Fries crisps in size and shape, but not in taste as these were on a much higher level. On the teaspoons was a very refreshing mouthful of pure pea flavour with super sweet and fresh tasting peas and pea shoots.
Part two of my Turner’s Restaurant review will review the remainder of the tasting menu.
I’ve been toying with the idea of setting up a new blog for a while. 92three30 is a great place to write about family stuff, but I wanted to write some more ‘me’ posts. I thought about setting up a frugal living post, but realised that what I actually yearned for was a little bit of luxury.
This recession has been running for so long and it seems never ending. I wanted a place where I could forget about the doom and gloom of the economics of life and enjoy nice things, experiences and little treats. The little luxuries of life are afterall the things that make life worthwhile; that keep us going through the bad times; and make us feel good about life.
A Little Luxury For Me will focus on those little luxuries, those chinks of light, those little pieces of fun. Some of those luxuries will be free or very cheap indeed. Others will be more expensive, but with an emphasis on being worth it in some way.
Some of the experiences, treats and luxuries will be things I’ve treated myself to or someone has treated me to, and others will be goods and experiences I’ve been sent to review. I’ll make it clear how I came by whatever I’m writing about. Categories I’m planning to cover include food, drinks, pampering, fashion, leisure, sport, books, so A Little Luxury For Me will be wide in scope. Mostly I expect to do most of the writing myself, but I’m open to the idea of some guest posts.
I hope you’ll sign up to follow my blog either on email (on right hand side), via an RSS lead, by following on Facebook or Twitter.