Recipe: First stew of the year.

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This week has been surprisingly chilly, so this evening I wanted to cuddle up with a nice bowl of stew. It’s Sunday after a very busy week at work and a day trip to London yesterday so we had limited ingredients in the fridge, but it turned out delicious.  It’s based around a goulash but is not what you would call authentic so going to call it ‘paprika and chorizo stew.’

Apols for the dirty bowl; it's seconds. I couldn't pause long enough to take a picture while eating the first.

Apols for the dirty bowl; it’s seconds. I couldn’t pause long enough to take a picture while eating the first.

For this you will need: chorizo (I used approx six inches – fner fner) cut into small slices, one red pepper, two red onions, two cloves of garlic, one and a half sticks of celery, one large carrot, and I used a bag of new potatoes that were going off a bit. I also added: brown sugar, vegetable stock cubes, fennel, paprika and parsely, salt and pepper.

1. Chop the chorizo and fry on a low heat in a small puddle of oil until the oil increases and goes red.

2. Remove the chorizo and set aside for a while (try not to pick at the chorizo, very moreish.)

3. Turn up the heat in the pan and add the two sliced onions and the garlic. I sliced them long and thin. I added a teaspoon of soft brown sugar to speed up the process.

4. After about ten minutes I added the pepper and celery. I sprinkled in a pinch of dried fennel seeds and added a spoon ful of sweet paprika and a spoonful of spicy paprika (I’m sure whatever paprika you use will be fine) and a spoonful of dried parsley. I would have used fresh if I had it to hand but I didn’t.

5. I let that fry for a minute or two and then tipped in my sliced carrot and potato, seasoned with salt and pepper and then added a vegetable stock cube and about a pint of water.

6. Cook for approx 15 minutes, or until the carrots and potato are soft enough for you.

Then eat :D If I’d had some I would have loved to have serve this with sour cream and a lovely crusty roll. You could also have it with cheesy, sour cream or plain dumplings or as a side dish to belly pork and peas. 

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Gardening

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My friend has recently suggested that I try out a gardening blog. I’m not terribly sure what I should be blogging about really, my approach to gardening is mainly sticking things in the ground and hoping they grow! I do enjoy reading other people’s gardening blogs.

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This is my rose. It’s a super trooper variety, when I bought it it had three enormous coral/yellow/orange blooms and since I’ve grown it the blooms have tended to the pink part of the spectrum. Having said that, I have had a good crop. At the moment I have about six buds and once nice flower, and I’ve had four or five full flowers.

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My mum bought me these little flower bags that she promised would flourish into a beautiful fountain of flowers. I’m not sure where I went wrong but I obviously did go wrong somewhere. These labilia are bravely battling their way out though.

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This hollyhock has been a source of joy and wonder to us for the last month or so. Until this weekend, where it has abruptly flopped over! I am sending my girlfriend out for a stick for it tomorrow.

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She has also flowered in the last day or so. However, some beasty has already got there and nibbled her!

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Our hollyhock in straighter times.

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I’m really proud of our dahlia, I potted it straight from the tuber. It’s almost as big as my shop bought one, its almost ready to be re potted.

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We currently have four sunflowers on our little dwarf sunflower plant, they look so big compared to the height of the plant itself. Bethan’s friend just gave us a regular sized sunflower, exciting!

Cardiff International Poetry Competition ’14

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Yesterday I attended the results of the Cardiff International Poetry Competition at Waterstones in Cardiff. Rhian Edwards and Lemn Sissay explained how they whittled down 3000 entries into just eight, it was really interesting hearing how they each battled for their choices.

In particular I liked what Lemn said about how you can get to know a population through poetry, weirdly about 10 minutes before he said that I was talking with someone about how interesting it is to talk about poetry with my clients for that reason. It was also briliant to listen to Rhian Edwards talk about the competition too, she spoke about the emotions the winning poems elicited and it was just how I feel when I read something amazing. Both judges seemed very passionate about the competition, and when we heard some of the winners it was easy to see why.

It’s interesting that not only are all of the first three winners female but two of the three are also pretty unconventional in their form; Liane Strauss’ It has no punctuation and Isabel Rogers’ John’s Curious Machines seemed almost like a prose poem when read aloud. I won’t witter any more about the winning poems, they are all of a very high standard and can be read here.

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Hollyhock update: it’s huge.

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Rose update: this is the first rose I’ve grown from before it was a little bud!

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Sweet local street art from photographer Dan Green, it features giant stickers for the lesser known World Cup team, Roath Rec FC!

This weekend: Singing & Reading

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Yesterday I spent Saturday afternoon at a singing workshop with natural voice practitioner Pauline Down. I know Pauline as she has covered for my usual choir leader, and I’ve really enjoyed her music choice and teaching style.

The workshop was on Welsh folk songs, and we learnt

It was wonderful to spend a few hours with some lovely people and learn something new!

Today I’ve spent a really nice few hours reading in the garden, Poetry Wales and The Only Reason for Time by Fiona Moore.

Plasnewydd Community Gardens

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I always pass this little oasis of flowers and greenery on my home from work and today I was brave enough to pop in and have
a chat and a look around. It was gorgeous, will definitely visit again.

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Really enjoyed this poster.

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Plasnewydd Community Gardens

They gave me a lovely freshly cut bunch of lavender to take away

They gave me a lovely freshly cut bunch of lavender to take away

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Passed this on my way home too and it made me smile. Four for you, The Crofts. You go, The Crofts.