‘Sun is shining, the weather is sweet…’

The sun has come out and it’s just got me wishing and dreaming of an outdoor life full of bright colours, comfy outdoor seating, BBQs and ice lollies.

Here are a few outdoor essentials I’m currently coveting:

hammock-accessories

Oh how I want to lounge, swing and snooze my hours away in one of these.  This rainbow coloured beauty is from www.handmadehammocks.co.uk, and I’m so in love with it.

rattan furniture set

Now at the moment in our garden we have a rather modest but functional picnic bench tucked away in a shady corner but as the sun shines and I day-dream some more I think I’d love a big old comfortable rattan set of furniture like this one from Tesco.com.  Clearly I’d need to win the lottery but a girl can dream can’t she?

lights

Twinkle, twinkle little multicoloured lights, I’m a fan of these chains of fairy lights for everywhere, I hate having to take down the Christmas lights and this year most of the lights I left around the house got to stay for all year round sparkles.  These bright and colourful globes are from Ikea here.  They have some great outdoor lighting options including stars and bird shapes (I know!) and the best thing about them is they are not only glamour for your garden but are solar powered so totally eco friendly and boring battery free!

oven

Now in dream land I am totally desiring one of these amazing wood fired ovens by The Stone Bake Oven Company, fancy that, a gluten free pizza in the oven, wood fired roast chicken on a Sunday, uhhhh my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  But in reality a BBQ would do and something like this one below would be just dandy….

bbq

This simple BBQ is all I really need and at the moment it’s reduced to £49.99 from £99.00 at Argos here.  But as I was looking for BBQ  I happened to stumble upon this genius idea…

.dsiposable eco bbq

This is the eco answer to the disposable BBQ, I have to admit to buying lots of these as we haven’t committed to a BBQ of our own yet but this would be fantastic to take camping or have at a party.  You can cook your burgers on it and/or use it as a camp fire.  It’s called the  Ecogrill from www.notonthehighstreet.com available here at a bargain of £10.

So that’s it my wish list so far this week, what have you been dreaming of as the sun has come out?

Barbecue Butter Beans

Beans, beans they make you…ok well let’s just say they are very good for you, in fact butter beans can help reduce your cholesterol and are generally full of fibre and good stuff to keep you healthy.  Personally, I just like the look of them, they are like giant baked beans and that is how they were described when a suddenly fusspot 3 year old told me she didn’t like butter beans, however when described as giant beans to help you grow big and tall (thank you Mr Green Giant) she was super keen and wolfed them all down.

Serves 2/3 or 4/5 as a smaller side

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin of butter beans
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped and softened
  • 1 chunky clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tin of tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 packet of smoked bacon lardons (200g) or use some good streaky bacon
  • 2 dessert spoonfuls of balsamic vinegar (cheap stuff)
  • 1 dessert spoonful of soft brown sugar
  • 1 dessert spoonful of Worcester sauce
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

Fry your lardons in a saucepan in a little oil until crispy and brown.  Add the softened onions and garlic and fry until starting to turn golden.  Add the tomatoes and all the other ingredients and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse your beans.  Add beans to sauce and cook on a low heat for a further 15 min.

I served mine with some grilled good quality gluten free sausages but they make a great side for all kinds of dishes.

BBQ Glazed Sausages, Spinach and Potato Salad and Home Pickled Onions

So for dinner tonight (ok I know it’s early but we were hungry!) we had the above and the below. 

For the potato salad:

Boil some new potatoes

Mix some mayo and creme fraiche (I used half fat) with plenty of salt and pepper.  Add in the cooled potatoes, some finely chopped spring onions and some shredded spinach.  Stir. Done.

For the sausages:

Mix up some BBQ sauce, basically combine ketchup, hoisin sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcester sauce and some agave syrup together.  Then roll your sausages in it then cook in the oven for about 15/20 min depending on sausage size.  You can go back to them and re glaze half way through cooking. 

I think this may be a bit of cheats pickle, I kinda browsed the t’internet for ideas and then went out on a limb, I’m not too knowledgeable about pickling so I think this kinda thing will only last about a week in a jar, but it’s lush, and suddenly you’ll be pulling out bits of cheese and cold meats just so you can have a yummy snacking partner for this piquant treat.

I basically had a go at microwave sterilising the jar first (an old jam jar) but I figured I couldn’t do the top (it’s metal) so just washed that in extremely hot water and decided we’d eat it fast and not worry too much. 

Then I half filled the jar with half red wine vinegar and half cider vinegar and a couple of spoonfuls of caster sugar.  I stirred this well and tasted to check, I like a sweet pickle you might want to adjust.  Then I sliced a smallish onion and packed it into the jar and poked it down so it was covered by the pickling liquor.  I left it for a little while then couldn’t resist and snacked on some with some cheese, then later we had it with this dinner and went extremely well and I’m sure there may be more pickle action later but you’ll just have to watch this space.  I think ideally this needs to stand for about 4 hours but do as you will…