Friday, 28 June 2013

Homemade Beef Lasagne

I find that it is always better to make the lasagne the day before and heat throughly the next day as this allows the sauce to soak into the lasagne sheets.

Bolognese sauce
500g mince beef
1 onion, chopped
250g mushrooms, sliced
Clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp basil (or mixed herbs)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
300ml beef stock (1 beef OXO cube desolved in boiling water)
1tbsp of tomato purée
1/2 carrots, chopped into small pieces (optional)
1 green/red pepper, cut into cubes (optional)
200-250g lasagne sheets
300ml creme fraise (reduced fat)
150-200g grated cheese

  1. Fry the onion with the herbs and garlic until soft.
  2. Add the mushrooms until soft.
  3. Add the beef and fry until browned.
  4. Add the peppers, carrots, tinned tomatoes, stock and tomato purée and mix together well.
  5. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until reduced.
  6. Once the bolognese sauce is cooked, you can start layering the bolognese, creme fraise and lasagne in a Pyrex dish.
  7. Start with a layer of lasagne sheets, then a few spoonfuls of creme fraise spread over the lasagne, followed by a centimetre thick layer of bolognese sauce. Keep layering in this order until you fill the dish or run out of bolognese sauce. (see photos below)
  8. Always finish with a layer of lasagne and top with grated cheese.
  9. Leave overnight or for a few hours for the juices to soak into the lasagne and then cook at Gas Mark 3 or 160C for approximately 45 minutes, until the cheese has nicely browned and the sauce is bubbling away.

Serve with garlic bread and/or salad.

Layer the fillings - lasagne sheet, creme fraise
& bolognese sauce
Making the lasagne

Top with cheese
Beef lasagne

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Old adventures... in Malawi

This week on "Old Adventures", we are going to visit...


Lake Malawi

I went to Malawi in summer 2007 for a few months to get some experience working in an eye hospital, whilst I was studying to become an Optometrist.

It was an amazing place and it has a special place in my heart.

I only visited Lake Malawi for a few days as I was working in the Eye Hospital in Blantyre in the south of the country mostly. One weekend I took some time out to visit friends who lived on the lakeside. It is such a beautiful calm place where the locals live off the land and the fish from the lake.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Wedding Cross Stitch

A lovely Cross Stitch which I designed myself for some great friends who got wed recently.

Wedding Cross Stitch

Saturday, 22 June 2013

My thoughts for this week...

Well, I have doing some deep thinking, doesn't happen often so I thought I would share something of my thoughts. You may agree with them but at the same time you may not which is fine, but I would be interested to hear your thoughts...

I have been doing a short course to learn about the differences in cultures between the East and West of the world, to enable us better to befriend our neighbours from other countries to make our city a friendly place to live.

In the West our culture is focussed on:

  • individualism, 
  • often not community or family focussed, 
  • time and efficiency orientated, 
  • equality between sexes, 
  • secular and sacred divide, 
  • having companions through work or the activities we do, 
  • fragmented families, 
  • the expectation of the state to care for our elderly and infirm.

Whereas in the East the culture is:

  • much more heavily focussed around family and wider extended families, 
  • communities working and coming together to achieve something, 
  • care for one another especially within the extended family,
  • relationship and hospitality orientated,
  • religion centred, 
  • more segregated roles in society.

Having discussed these differences in cultures with some friends who're also on the course, it got me thinking about how our society works and how it has become what it is today, as only a few generations ago our society's values were probably more like the East's are today. We did not institutionalise our elderly or infirm, we cared for them within the extended family, women were expected to care for the elderly alongside the children, so how did our values change on these things?

Well, in the 1940s just after the end of World War II the Welfare System was created, it was a system set up to support those who were unable to work due to ill health, learning difficulties, disabilities etc without the fear of having to enter the dreaded "WORKHOUSE". It was especially important for the government to set up a system in which to support those who were now unable to work due to disabilities sustained through the war.  It was a revolutionary system alongside the start of the National Health Service (NHS) which went on to provide free health care to all. It offered support to those who really needed it, to reduce poverty and improve education and health in our country. Those who lived throughout the transition into a Welfare State and the NHS must have seen a truly transitional community, and even now working in the NHS I see elderly patients who are just so grateful that we have a free healthcare system in which they can be treated for they remember the fear of their parents when a family member became ill or unemployed.

Unfortunately for those of us who're younger and have always lived within the system, it is what we have always known and we expect to get as much as we can for "FREE" (after all we do pay into the system!) and this is what has changed and altered some of the values and cultures within our society.

  • We expect the best service that can be offered.
  • We expect the government to pay up when our relatives become elderly or we are unable to work for whatever reason so why should we have to help them?
  • We no longer need to save money just in case we fall ill and cannot work as we will receive a benefits such as sick pay. 
  • We no longer have to care for our elderly relatives as they can go into a nursing home which the state will pay some of the costs of.
  • We no longer have to worry about losing our jobs as there will be money we can rely on.
  • There are a few who rely on the Welfare State for their income and have become apathetic about the need to work.
  • We also know we can get a basic state pension when we reach retirement age, so we do not need to work until the day we cannot.

Do we take our Welfare System and National Health Service for granted, should we be more appreciative of what we can have for "FREE"?

We have lost many of our previous responsibilities where we had to care for elderly relatives, bring them into our homes, share our finances with them when they were in need, take more care of our finances so we had something to fall on if we fell onto hard times. Would you consider bailing your brother and his family out if he was made redundant or would you expect the state to pick up the bill? Would you have cared more for your family if the only other option was the dreaded workhouse? 

Has having a state welfare system affected our "family" lives and created generations who expect to get as much as they can by paying as little as possible and not have to take responsibility for their extended families? We have become so focussed on SELF and what "I" can achieve, not having time to offer to others because we are so time and efficiency focussed.

Don't get me wrong I love the welfare system and the National Health Service and also hate paying my taxes but really I want to get you thinking about the background behind the beginnings of the Welfare State and NHS. Why it was created, for the good of our communities but also what a shift has happened in our communities and extended families since the beginnings of the Welfare State. I realise there are also many other changes which have occurred in society which have altered the way communities work.

In my great, great grandfather's diary, it lists the accounts of the financial support he had to offer his own father in his old age up to his death. Would we expect to do this today? (The story of my great, great grandfather - Edward Davidson can be found on Ruth's Ancestors blog - The Davidson Family Chapter 8 and 13 onwards especially Fig 8.15.)

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Friday, 21 June 2013

Slow roasted pork belly

Pork Belly with Roasted Vegetables
Serves 4

2kg boneless pork belly
1kg potatoes
3-4 carrots, thick slices
1 onion, sliced
2 Garlic cloves


  1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6 or 200C.
  2. Score the skin at intervals of 2cm with a sharp knife.
  3. Lay meat skin down and season with salt, pepper, 1 chopped garlic clove and sage.
  4. Roll up the meat and tie with string.
  5. Place the rolled up meat onto a wire rack and holding over the sink pour boiling water over it.
  6. Pat dry and coat skin in oil and salt.
  7. Place the meat on the wire rack over a roast tin and put in the oven for 45 minutes.
  8. After 45 minutes the skin should be lovely and crispy so turn down the heat to Gas Mark 3 or 160C and cook for an hour.
  9. Whilst it is cooking cut up the potatoes, carrots, onion and after an hour throw the vegetables with the other garlic clove into bottom of the roasting tin, coating in the fat from the pork.
  10. Leave for another hour until vegetables cooked through.
  11. Leave meat to rest for 15 minutes before slicing down previously scored lines.
  12. Serve with roasted vegetables and any other steamed fresh vegetables you prefer.

Pork Belly

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Old New Zealand

If you were following my blog this time last year we (my husband and I) were travelling around New Zealand in a campervan. It was an fantastic trip of a lifetime.

So, a year ago today this is where we were... Lake Hauroko

Lake Hauroko

A lovely, remote lake with not a soul to be seen probably for a number of miles. It was eeriely quiet, making the place somewhat spooky!

To read more about our New Zealand travels click the links below:

Monday, 17 June 2013


I have a great friend who is just starting out with her own business, selling very creative, handmade products.

She has spent some time in Thailand and came back with a passion to help the third world through her creativity and has started LucyChrista. Her Etsy - About page tells you all about her and the business.

This is one of the beautiful products which adorns her blog...

LucyChrista Heart

Friday, 14 June 2013

Banana & Kiwi Smoothie

Banana & Kiwi Smoothie

1 banana,
2 kiwis,
3 tbsps of lemon yoghurt (or another flavour or natural yoghurt),
1 tsp of honey
Milk (Optional)


  1. Slice the banana.
  2. Chop kiwis into approximately cm squares.
  3. Place all the ingredients (except milk) into a liquidiser or blender.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Add a splash or two milk to mixture to make a little thinner as required.
  6. Blend again until all mixed together.

Enjoy your very healthy and delicious drink!!!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Old adventures... in Brazil

This is the start of a new theme of blog posts about my "Old adventures".

I have travelled a lot in the past and want to share with you a photo some Wednesday's of my old adventures.

The inspiration for these blog posts has come from a good friend, Helen. Helen was one of my beautiful bridesmaids and she also blogs regularly. She has regular posts called Wednesday Remembering where she posts photos of her past travels.

I am going to start this post with a very special place in my heart...Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil!

Brazilian flag hammock - Scott, Alison, Jennie & me! (Oh and Anderson's head popping out the side)

I went to Brazil from October 2004 until April 2005 with the charity BMS World Mission on their Action Team gap year program. I was in a team with 3 others, Scott, Alison and Jennie. We had an amazing time and great adventures together.

The painting of the Brazilian flag is on a hammock which we bought whilst we were out there.

A lot of people sleep in hammocks in Brazil and they're great to chill out in whilst reading a good book.

You will probably see many more photos of our time in Fortaleza throughout this series of blog posts.

Monday, 10 June 2013

More creative cookies...

After our very successful Farmyard Cookies a few weeks ago, we were inspired to create some more for a friends daughter and these were our creations...

House cookie

Pretty flower

Moo...cow cookie

Various - face, flower & sheep cookies

Friday, 7 June 2013

Homemade Ruth's Ratatouille



1 aubergine, chopped into cm cubes
1 courgette, sliced
1 pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
200g mushrooms, chopped roughly
2 tins of tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 tbsps of dried basil (or fresh if available)
2 tbsps of oil

Chopping an aubergine


  1. Heat the oil gently in a pan until hot.
  2. Add onion, garlic, basil & mushrooms and fry until starting to soften.
  3. Add the aubergine, courgette & pepper and fry until soft.
  4. Add the tomatoes and simmer in the pan for 5-10 minutes.

Serve with pasta topped with grated cheese (and sausages for all you meat eaters!)

Frying all the vegetables
Homemade Ratatouille with pasta & sausages,
topped with grated cheese

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

New Mills nr the Peak District

On Saturday, Luke and I took my mum out for a small adventure as it was a beautiful sunny day. We ended up doing a short walk along the river Goyt.

We followed the path which took us along a high walkway above the river...

View from the walkway over the River Goyt nr New Mills

...this was looking back at the walkway, it was quite scary looking down whilst walking on the walkway!

The walkway over the River Goyt nr New Mills

Next we came across some ruins of a mill and a large viaduct...

Viaduct & mill ruins over River Goyt

...but looking onwards further there was a more interesting double via/aquaduct.

The via/aquaduct over the River Goyt

Looking back it appeared as if the large viaduct was built on a smaller arched bridge below.

Viaduct on a bridge over the River Goyt

Walking further, there were some beautiful reflections of the trees in the river...

Reflections in the water

...and an old wooden gate...

Rickerty wooden gate

...and llamas awaiting for our arrival. They were not the most well presented animals as they were continually scratching their bottoms with their legs, but I got a quick snapshot when they were looking more civalised!


Monday, 3 June 2013

Stained Glass

On our honeymoon, we visited the Isles of Scilly and whilst we were there we had the opportunity to take part in a workshops in an art studio. It was great fun! My husband made us a beautiful stained glass boat light catcher, which hangs on our living room window. He cut all the glass and soldered it all together, and it looks fab...

Stained glass boat

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