Spring Simplicity

Happy Easter, everyone!  Hope you had a nice day yesterday and, if you’re in our part of the world, that you are still enjoying your time off today!

We’ve been keeping it light and simple the last few days and wow, it’s been great.  Just the kind of thing we (I) needed!

Because I work in a solicitor’s office, I also got a few extra days off while the courts are closed, so we decided to rent a car for the week and just enjoy doing the things we rarely get to do sans wheels. We haven’t gone anywhere too far away, and that’s actually OK – why waste good money on a hotel and eating out when you can’t predict the whims of a 2 year-old? Instead, we’ve stuck close to home and have just been soaking up the simple pleasures.  We’ve gone to the beach a couple times, done a good bit of shopping (including Smyths Toy Store for Evey!), and, my favourite, a visit to Newbridge House and Farm.

Newbridge Farm Peacock

Evelyn is of the age where she’s learned the names of all the animals and can even remember long bits of songs and poems, so I was delighted to get her “up  close and personal” with real birds and beasts.  Newbridge was so cool – a huge Georgian mansion (which we’ll have to go back and see), an historic working farm, beautiful grounds and even an Adventure Playground.  We saw a truly extensive variety of chickens, pigs, sheep, geese, ducks, turkeys, game birds, cows, goats, horses, donkeys and, as above, peacocks!  I  have been to farms and petting zoos before, but never in my life have I been in such close contact with turkeys before – they are such impressive creatures!  I think I even liked them a bit better than the showier peacocks. 🙂

Nice turkey…

Now we’re planning another little day trip tomorrow and then the car goes back on Wednesday at lunchtime.  It’s been great to have a few adventures, though, and so sweet to hear Evelyn getting up each day and asking, “Sand castles? Swings? Toys? Chickens?” I’m only trying NOT to think of what it will be like in a few days when things get back to normal… even our doggie,  Georgie has been loving the extra days out!

I think the nicest part of these last few days has actually been the laid-back approach we’ve taken.  We resisted the temptation to plan up every second of these days with activity so we get the full “value” of the car, which went hand-in-hand with staying pretty local.  We’ve taken small trips out of town, come home for naps, maybe popped out to the shops or the beach, then home for bed.  The weather has been mixed as well, so I have to say as much as I’ve embraced the freedom of having a vehicle, I’ve also loved the moments spent on the couch by the fire with Frank.

It’s been a unique Easter Week… and a lovely one.  Sticking with the “easy” path, our meals and treats have followed suit and have been surprisingly delicious.  Unlike Christmas where I pull out all the stops, I’ve taken a few short cuts this week and I’m not ashamed to say so!

Strawberry Rice Krispie Treat Nests and Orange Chocolate Mousse Tartlets

Yum, I am eating one of those naughty Rice Krispie Treats as we speak… sometimes you just can’t beat a classic.  And the tartlets? Made from pre-made pastry and a jar of Pot Au Chocolate Orange from Marks & Spencer.  Easy Peasy.  My favourite meal of the week, though, was one that Frank and I designed together – Wilted Lettuce & Rocket Salad with Chorizo, Pine Nuts, Caramelized Shallots, Bleu Cheese and Egg.  I’m fondly calling it “The Kelly Salad.”  Ta-da!

The Kelly Salad

Recipe – The Kelly Salad
Serves 2

Two handfuls fresh Rocket (Arugula), one handful other, crispy lettuce (we used Little Gem)
100 grams chorizo, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
2 – 3 small-to-medium shallots, quartered
50 grams Bleu Cheese, crumbled
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced
small handful pine nuts, toasted
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Pinch Sugar
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Put your lettuces in a bowl and set aside close to hand.  Heat a good glug of olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add the chorizo.  Cook a few minutes until some of the chorizo’s fat has melted into the oil, but don’t make the sausage too crispy.  Put the chorizo aside on some paper towels to drain and then toss in the shallots.  Fry these up just until soft and then you can drop them right into the salad – but save most of the oil in the pan!  Now put a glug of vinegar into the pan, stir a bit to remove the crispy bits, and put in a pinch of sugar.  Stir until it’s dissolved, cooking over a low heat to reduce slightly.   While the dressing is coming together, you can add the chorizo and pine nuts to the salad and onions along with a bit more olive oil.  Pour the hot dressing on top and give it all a toss.  Portion into large shallow bowls and top with the crumbled blue cheese and the egg slices.  Add a fresh grind of salt and pepper and you’re good to go!

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