Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Spiced Vinegar Reprise

I have written about this before what a bore she is repeating herself but I cannot really emphasise how important it is to prepare your vinegars for your pickles well in advance around about now actually.  

Why you say so that you get a lovely spicy base vinegar for your pickled onions, pickled shallots, chutney.  Raspberry vinegar for other special preserves Mint vinegar for home made mint sauce.  Tarragon vinegar for use in sauces.

This is the  link to the previous posts that I prepared  covering this with links to recipes.

And still I haven't managed to make my own vinegar but it is very much on the list of to dos.

I buy my vinegar in canisters from the cash and carry.  It is plain and unspiced though often just referred to as malt vinegar (brown) or white malt (or spirit vinegar for the clear).  I also tend to buy white wine vinegar from M & S or Waitrose as I use a lot of that too and Cider vinegar.  You can spice any of these vinegars.

Sarsons pickling vinegar in the jars is usually spiced.  In the bottles it is plain.

If there is any vinegar left out of the pickled onion/shallots I decant it into a fresh bottle and use it on home made chips or in a sweet and sour.  There is no point in wasting it.  You have paid out good money for it so its best to use it.  I do the same with any flavoured vinegars which are left over from making spiced oranges and use it as a salad dressing.

Many Asian shops sell a pickling mix and this is what I use as a base although I add in mace, home dried bay leaves. cloves and dried root ginger and  home dried chillies and tie into a muslin bag.  However you can use a clean cotton dish cloth if you have no muslin.  I tend to keep muslin in as I use it a lot for straining things both on the jelly front and on the home made cheese front and wine making.  You do not need much or you can start from scratch and make your own base up.  Lets just say it lasts a few years and is quite pokey.  But then again I quite like spicy shallots and pickled onions.  I have already put in my order for both shallots and picklers at the shop.  its best to be prepared.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 26 June 2017

Monday Night Tea

I was not in the mood for leftovers from Sunday dinner yesterday and so set too when I got in and cooked home made chunky chips, mushy peas and cod fillet served with bread and butter.  It has gone down well.  With it still being muggy I am still off my food in fact I am still not sleeping as well as I normally do because it is too muggy.  Cannot win too cold or too hot but tonight for a change I did eat all my tea.

I have since watered up my pot gardens all my tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers wild strawberries and strawberries as well as globe artichokes.  They seem to be doing relatively well considering. And then there are all my herbs.  I did not realise it but the long term weather forecast is threatening rain tomorrow I only found out when speaking with my neighbour over the fence as I had finished watering up he came out to have his evening sit down so by then it was too late to do anything.  We desperately need the rain but I don't really want my plants to be drowned.

After coming in there was a hell of a hullaballoo going on between two cats. When I looked out of the back window there was my gentle giant Demetri firmly escorting a male intruder off the premises.  I did not think he had it in him and was quite proud and surprised as although there was a lot of caterwauling going on from the other cat Demetri never touched him but go the cat did.  He wasn't having strangers on what he considers his patch.  Now when I had Tyson it was a regular occurrence as he was truly king of the block and really did used to square the cat population up.  But my quiet gentleman Demetri and he very much is a gentleman he lets Squeak sprawl all over him to keep her warm), I would never have thought he had it in him.

I don't leave the cats out overnight I have lost too many beautiful friends that way so there is a curfew.  With it being warmer at night Demetri in particular has not been as easy to get in so I have changed tactics/  I now go and sit in the garden for a little bit and he usually comes to me if he does not then I whistle him and he soon comes. all my cats come to the whistle).  He then crawls up onto my lap as he wants one to one time with his mum.  Once that is done with I scoop him up and bring him in.  He seems to be more responsive to being in that way.

I have a lot of sorting to do this week as OH is fishing at the weekend and I really want to get started on one of my sewing machine projects but if I don't get to it this week I hopefully will next week.  I have a lot of vintage bits and bobs that I want to re-vamp into something else including cushion covers and also a vintage style bedspread as well as a denim patchwork picnic rug (I have a stack of old jeans to hand to do this as well as enough to finish off my clippie rug in the winter months.  I saw the idea for the patchwork picnic rug in one of the patchwork monthly magazines (at the time of writing this I cannot remember which one).  I also want to get the recycled shirt patchwork quilt on the go and for that I definitely do need OH out of the way as I need a session of cutting and need to concentrate without interruption its quieter and safer this way.  If he is out of the way he does not stress at what a mess I am making (in his eyes).

I as usual also have lots of other things that I want to get to but it is a case of working through and prioritising what is needed first rather than what I really want to be doing.

Anyway had better get on have to get ready for work tomorrow and get to bed reasonably early (part of my new routine) during the week.

Catch you soon keep safe until then.

Pattypan xx

Sunday evening catch up

I cooked Sunday dinner last night the first time in weeks.  We had a piece of brisket which I slowly cooked over onion and a little water under a foil tent.  I then upped the heat after I had drained off the gravy and then popped in the fat for the roast tatties and browned off the meat at the same time.  It was very tender and tasty.  Served with peas, new potatoes, carrots, broccoli and spring cabbage it went down very nicely.

And of course had to have my weekly fix of Poldark.  I enjoyed it the first time round and am really enjoying this version.  Best of all though is seeing all the beautiful scenery that Cornwall has to offer.  Just wish could be down there at the moment.  I love the beaches and going rock-pooling and collecting shells and of course having a paddle and curling ones toes into the wet or dry sand.

I then set too and got all the gooseberries topped and tailed and into freezer bags.  They are now safely tucked up in the freezer.  Will try and get some more as I am quite partial to gooseberry jam on toast or just as bread and jam.  I wish my pantry and my garden was a lot bigger.  But we have to make the best of what we have.

I always remember gooseberries in large Kilner jars on the pantry shelf of both my mum's pantry and my Nans.  There was always at least 20 jars  of gooseberries alone weighing down the shelves.  Nan always used to make gooseberry pie and my mum used to make crumble.  I don't mind crumble but I wasn't so keen on the pie.  I think it was all the bumpy gooseberries under the pastry top that put me off. I have never bottled gooseberries but I might well give it a try as it would free up a little space in the freezer for something else.  My Nan always grew lots of gooseberries and mum used to get a few from her and also from the market.  Might have to fit in a visit to a fruit farm in the next few weeks or so.

However I do intend to put some peaches in syrup up and some pears.  I also have plums to turn into plum jelly, apple and plum jam and plum jam.  The plums were reduced and a little too ripe for bottling so jam it is.  I also want to get some Chinese Plum sauce underway in the next few weeks as well.  One of the things I do with plum or orange jelly is to use it as a base for a home made Chinese you do not need much but it does give it a bit more flavour.  It sort of embraces the idea/ethos of Chinese cooking i.e. using what you have to make something tasty to eat.  I tend to do one once a week as a way of using up all the bits and bobs of fresh veggies left over in the fridge.  In the winter months it all goes into stocks or soups.

I have this Friday off work - I have a new barbecue arriving and also a pizza oven/smoker.  Pizza is a favourite here but its getting far too expensive to buy.  Much cheaper to make one's own.   I always have plenty of flour in and I keep pepper and courgette in the freezer, there is always cooked meat i.e. ham and chorizo and tinned pineapple and anchovies and tomato paste.

My gazebo has arrived but I still have not got it up - hopefully that will happen in the next week or two.

Well my tomato plants are coming on great guns and I have some small cucumbers forming as well.  I need to get some more planters this week as I have some more plants that I want to get underway.  Hopefully soon I will be able to get stuck in more and get the greenhouse sorted out as well so that it is up and running for the new year and the garden cleared down the bottom to get the fruit garden going properly.

Going along the salad shelves yesterday at Waitrose has determined me even more to grow a bigger range of things next year.  I saw lots of lovely cherry tomatoes red and yellow I am determined I will have more of these next year as I only have three cherry tomato plants.

I have some fresh reduced tomatoes to turn into home made pasta sauce tonight.  We shall have a quick tea  probably the remnants of Sunday dinner but whatever we decide on will be quick as I have an awful lot to do as usual.

So as usual lots to do and so little time to do it.

Hope you all have a good day.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 25 June 2017

Do your remember when

A good day out was going out with mum and dad for a drive and taking a picnic with you.  Quite frequently in our case the primus stove used to come too and the frying pan and sometimes we would have a hot meal but there was always a welcome cuppa.  Taking the primus meant we did not have to spend pounds and pounds on drinks or anything else. We got out into the fresh air and enjoyed things cheaply.  An old blanket would come as well and we used to sprawl on that whilst eating our tea. The modern equivalent of a primus is a single gaz stove.  The primus used to run off paraffin.

Quite frequently we would be taken out to collect things.  My mother made wine so frequently we would be on a foraging expedition to collect nettles, blackberries for making wine as well as jam and for the freezer.  Then there were the crab apples and the rosehips.

Another time we would go to the beach and collect samphire and go cockling armed with buckets and a couple of rakes retrieve the cockles and then leave them to soak and remove the grit.

Another time we would go to the woods for a good walk and there was always a picnic plenty of walking and fresh air.  There was also plenty of laughter and pleasure in doing something from the norm.  We did not need to be entertained we entertained ourselves.  Sometimes we would find mushrooms and they used to come home to be used in a fry up the following day.

We used to go to a woods called Wakerley woods near Kings Cliffe.  I have been many times since with my step children as well.  Its a lovely place to be to get the kids out into the fresh air and simply be.

But whatever we did, we did it together as a family and enjoyed what came our way pretty cheaply.  Nine times out of ten it gave us something for either the table or the wine cellar through working together and group effort and just being with our nearest and dearest but most of all it got us out into the fresh air and getting plenty of exercise without realising it.

My father and grandfather were both great walkers and we were walked in all weathers from being quite small.  Even now when I want to think I go on a walk. 

Today for instance I needed to go to a local supermarket just to get a couple of things (I also managed to get a few gooseberries to pop into the freezer for OH as he is quite partial to gooseberry crumble) and so I walked and put a few things straight in my head as I did so.  OH did not know I had been and gone but it stretched my legs and I got the bits that I required.  

Later we walked Missy and narrowly missed a light shower and so I stretched my legs again.  It has been threatening rain all day but not quite materialised.  We desperately need it water levels are low as we have not had a very wet winter compared to normal and I know that the farmers have been irrigating already around this way.  We need the rain for water to drink and to feed the crops and provide our food.  Without the rain it will force up food prices again.  So we need to keep an eye on things generally and put a bit up if an when we can.

Catch you soon.



Internet Problems

Yet again.  Have not been able to get online for the past couple of days.  However we have since found out what the problem was and hopefully it has been fixed. I had a bookshelf fall of the wall during the week and it had managed to break the socket box so the modum was not connected.  This morning I have got to the bottom of the problems and we have been out and bought new socket boxes (one needed replacing in another room as well) so hopefully we are now back to normal.

Weather cannot make its mind up this morning seems muggy sun is out one minute and then its grey the next and it keeps threatening rain.  We need the rain I just wish it would get on with it.  It might save me some watering up later on.

Just got one thing sorted and it would appear that my mobile now will not work.


Here we go again.

Catch you later.



Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Simple Supper

OH has gone off bread its official.  So in an attempt to give him a nourishing healthy supper this evening I put the small oven on - not really the weather for it but its been a couple of days since I cooked properly and I have found from previous experience that if he does not eat regularly and healthily it has an affect on his mood.  As he is bipolar in any event the more we do to keep him on an even keel the better.

So we have had mirrepoix of mixed vegetables, carrot, courgette, red onion, yellow pepper, green pepper, garlic,celery and fresh thyme with some nice chipolatas cooking on top of the vegetables.  (so we have had our five a day today) everything has been cooked gently and has not been cooked on too high a heat.  I mixed in a little light cooking oil into the veggies but the idea here has not been to colour the veg but to cook it so that it still retains some crunch and some flavour.  I had meant to put some garlic cloves in but forgot and then I cooked some rooster potato wedges. It was tasty and very filling (the sausages were cooked on top of the mirrepoix in until brown.

For pudding we have had some mixed seasonal fruits strawberries, blueberry and raspberries just put on a low heat and just allowing the fruit to break but not overdone and then combined with some natural yogurt and broken meringue (I always save broken meringue and use it for Eton mess or the like).  That has also gone down a treat.

Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos but it all went down very well.

Tomorrow evening we have home made lamb kebabs for tea and melon and ginger for pudding.

On the hospital front I have had a letter of report from my recent visit to the Rheumatology clinic.  Apparently a lot of the pain I am having is to do with my osteo arthritis and low vitamin D.  I need a top up again and I have to get in touch with the Doctors as they want me on a vitamin D course for a fortnight to top everything up and then want it repeating every six months.  The nasty conditions that I have i.e. the Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleroderma, Raynauds Syndrome Schrogens Syndrome and Lupus antibodies apparently I have managed to keep the antibodies down compared to when I was first diagnosed when they were well off the beam.  The medication I am on Hydroxychloroquine sulfate (basically quinine which they use a lot for treating malaria seems to work well with these kind of conditions as it works on the underlying immune system which triggers most of these conditions. They don't know why it works but it does).   I have to take two 200ng tablets twice a day and paracetamol for any pain.  So I class myself as extremely lucky in the greater scheme of things as the Scleroderma in its worst format can and does cause major organ failure.  So I am very grateful for small mercies.  I do not however have to go back to Rheumatology for a year!  Yes a result!

However today has been difficult; humidity has been high and my hips have not been moving as smoothly as they should have been and as a result I have been very stiff.  Hopefully things will settle again shortly.

Last evening I made the Tarragon vinegar but I have also made some Peach Vodka, Candy cane vodka (I found more candy canes that needed using up) and Rhubarb Vodka.  At this rate you lot are going to think I have alcoholic tendencies.

I have also added more fruits to the Rhumptopf.

I also intend to make peach jam, bottled peaches in syrup and peach chutney. The peach vodka was two punnets of satellite peaches chopped up without peeling and then decanted into a large Kilner jar (just remove the stone) and then you just add the vodka.  I will see how sweet it is at the end of the macerating period and then make a sugar syrup if it needs a little sweetning but I do not want to overdose it. Last night I went to Waitrose and came back with two Strawberry hanging baskets and some basil (normal) and the smaller leafed greek basil (I think this really packs a punch though) and some more chives.

I have the watering up to do now.

Catch you later.



White Chocolate sorbet with rhubarb compote

Ooh this is good and ooh so simple


250g good quality white chocolate chopped
140g tube of liquid glucose
700g new season forced rhubarb or young sticks if later in the season trimmed and chopped
50g golden caster sugar
3 tablespoon of grenadine (or water plus 1 tsp vanilla extract)


You start by making the sorbet

  1. melt the chocolate and the glucose together in a bowl (this can be done in the microwave on medium for 5 to 6 minutes.  Pour in 250ml warm water and whisk until the mixture is nice and smooth.  Allow to cool and then pour into ice cream machine (follow instructions for machine) or  if you do not have such an item into a freezer container.  Place into the freezer on fast freezer if possible for about 5 hours removing after two hours and again after three hours.  In between beat vigorously to break the ice crystals down.
  2. For the compote.  Place the rhubarb the sugar and the grenadine in a saucepan.  Bring very slowly to the boil and then cook uncovered for about 4 minutes or until the rhubarb is just tender.  Remove from the heat cover and cool until lukewarm,  Serve the compote warm with a small scoop of the sorbet.
This is just the simplest recipe making the most of very simple ingredients.


Tarragon Vinegar Reprise

I have just started this year's batch of Tarragon vinegar.  Its something I make every year and is such a useful and tasty addition to the pantry shelf - its also a useful filler for a home made Christmas hamper or for your Pantry Shelf.

Even if you do not grow your own Tarragon you can purchase it from the herb section of a store such as Waitrose a couple of bunches is enough to do a litre jar and you will get four or five or more little bottles (such as the ones that Lakeland have on sale at the moment) maybe a few more it really depends on the size of the bottle.  You do not however need much to really help lift a dish.

Items like this you end up paying an arm and a leg for so it pays to make your own.

I have just finished watering up for the evening and as well as managing to keep the plants alive by giving them a good soaking each night.  It is taking a little effort but as I have gone to the effort of buying and growing them I do want some kind of return for my time investment and my monetary investment although really its the culinary advantage I am most looking at.  Even though it is hot and sticky in the house outside it is nice and fresh and it has been good to be outside in the fresh air.

Right need to do some ironing for tomorrow.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 19 June 2017

Rhubarb Vodka and Strawberry and Rhubarb Vodka

I managed to get some lovely pink rhubarb yesterday.  On this occasion not for a crumble or two although if they have some next week they could be joining the contents of the freezer.  This time it was for some more flavoured vodka although may do some gin as well.

Rhubarb Vodka and Rhubarb and Strawberry Vodka,

I am hoping that there will be enough rhubarb to make some cordial as well.



and a lady after my own heart who uses instinct for quantities

and of course there is also Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam.

I like collecting the recipes and then getting to play every so often. Contemplating rhubarb and ginger as well.

Of course mine will be hot water bathed once prepared to take out the air and make it keep longer.  Using the baby bottle steriliser is ideal for this small bottles about five or six can be processed in one go and it takes up little time and is a lot cleaner than bottling on the cooker top and cooler.

Catch you soon.



So another week

in my life begins.  Back in the groove the old worn routine that I have been following week by week year by year. The routine is new and different at work one that I am slowly getting used to but at home a well trodden path in order to get to do what I need to do.

Clothes pressed for the day, and packup sorted.  Cheese and tomato buns with a little salt sprinkled on the tomato should do us both nicely and keep the hungry wolf at bay and a donut/satellite peach each as a treat.  I am aiming to stop nipping to the shop for things to eat and get into the routine of preparing pack ups again.  I need to watch the pennies a bit having bought a gazebo (still to be put up), a pizza oven/come smoker and a new barbecue for the garden. I had seen some garden furniture at a good price but when I went to get it they did not have any.  So may have to look further afield.

Despite a very hot night too hot too uncomfy and a second night where Demetri has refused to come in this morning is lovely not too hot but definitely warming up.  At the back of the house is a bit of a haven for the birds and occasionally we get foxes into the garden attracted by the neighbours chickens.  We get magpies, ringed doves, pigeons etc. However we get a lot of the smaller birds sparrows, a resident blackbird and robins darting here and there in next doors bird feeders but also coming into our garden and grubbing up cheerful little souls.

We have already had an accident this morning.  We left a plate out when we should not have with some food on it namely the remains of the Sea Bass and some onion rings.  Missy has helped herself and knocked a drink all over the floor in the process so more mopping up to do.  She is now flat out looking as though butter would not melt.

Its bad enough the kitchen sink is leaking all over the shop and I think we are going to have to get a new sink and unit as it looks as though it has been leaking for a little while.  Ah well its just the depth as usual.  Another problem to overcome but its how you deal with things at the end of the day that really matters and that you overcome something.  Another one in the list of personal challenges.

I have baby tomatoes and baby cucumbers. The sweet peppers are coming on well as are the Globe Artichokes.  I need some more compost to plant up the planters want to get some mixed lettuce in one and some strawberries including wild ones in others. We did a bit of sorting out with side shoots and a good watering up of the garden last night as I do most nights with the watering can. Still cannot find the hosepipe I know its there somewhere.  Would make my life a lot easier at the moment if I could locate it. I am enjoying the gardening and want to do more in due course but a lot of hard work has to happen before then.  I might start doing it for an hour or so at night on a little and often basis.

We have two ballerina apple trees bought as a reminder of OHs aunty in the garden.  They have never really amounted to much and I thought both had died.  Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to find one has an awful lot of apples on I am looking forward to harvesting some later on.  I would love a property where I could plant an orchard.  I grew up with orchards at my Nan and Pop's home.  Would love to have my own little bit of land for the living from.  A house can be created and crafted from nothing but the land and the call of the land that is something else.

We have herbed chicken and salad for tonight's tea something nice and light and some new potatoes so that should fill a gap.  I have a piece of pork I might cook later for pack up and a meal or two.  I actually like Porchetta in the summer months cold with home made chips or baked potato and salad.  Does anyone have a nice traditional recipe.

Right better get a wriggle on.  I have to get dressed and have some breakfast then wend my way to work.

Catch you soon have a lovely day.



Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sea Bass

To tell you the truth yours truly was not looking forward to the Sea Bass we bought from Mr Ts yesterday.  No matter how I thought about it in my mind the sound of it just did not tickle my pickle!

We were not quite sure what to do with it or what to put with it but like a lot of home produced meals we decided to go simple.  It was grilled with lemon gently and then served with sweet potato chips and fried onion rings.

And what a revelation I absolutely loved it.  I had never before had the Sea Bass the only thing I really knew about it was that restaurants charge and arm and a leg for it.  However in reality two whole fish were no more than £6 for the two and there was more than enough on the one fish together with the accompaniments.  It was absolutely delicious.

I love fish anyway; I love smoked haddock, cod, haddock, kippers, scampi, prawns, trout rainbow and brown, mussels, cockles, whole prawns, brown shrimps, herring roe, mackeral etc. etc.  It is also exceptionally good for you.  So to say I was pleasantly surprised by the sweetness of the Sea Bass is an understatement. 

The first time we had proper mackeral was in my teens.  We had gone in a camper van to Wales but this time stayed on the Gower Peninsula which is a beautiful unspoilt part of the country especially around Manorbier.  Whilst on the camp site we were approached by two entrepreneurial young lads looking to profit out of a little fishing.  As a result we ended up with a couple of large mackeral for tea.  Mum was not sure what to do with them but in the end chose to flour and pan fry them.  Needless to say I will always remember the first time I had mackeral. 

We used to love our camping holidays and buying and eating local food.  We have over the years gone on to fish for mackeral ourselves in the Harbour at Mevagissey and various other places on the coast.  You cannot beat fresh fish.

Needless to say I shall be having Sea Bass again its absolutely delicious.

Weatherwise is has been a hot one again today and as  my post said yesterday.

It is too darn hot!  We have stayed in for the best part today with the fans on trying to keep ourselves and the animals cool.

As it has been a relatively dry winter in the greater swing of things the next thing will be hosepipe bans.  Although finding my brand new hosepipe might be a bit of a novelty.  We are not sure where it is at the moment it cannot be found and I very much need it for watering up all my tomatoes and strawberries.

Hopefully it will materialise in due course.

However talking of water issues we seem to have a problem with the kitchen sink.  It seems to have been emptying itself behind the kitchen units and under the flooring instead of down the drain pipe.  I have a dehumidifier I may well have to drag that out to get the kitchen under control again.  It will be something daft it always is.

Right better get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 17 June 2017

Its too Darn Hot

For the best part of the day we have kept to the shade of the house although we ventured out to Mr Ts this afternoon and got caught up in a tailback for over 3/4 of an hour.  Thank goodness we had left Missy at home in the shade and for air conditioning.

I hadn't been to Mr Ts for several years and with OH getting the mussels there previously I wanted to check out what they did and did not have.  I must say it has come on quite a bit since I last went and I think we shall be going back every so often.   The fish counter is certainly a decent one and this time we have come away with some sea bass.  We have had burgers for tea tonight in buns with salad and large slices of a beefsteak tomato which was lovely.  We did not get all the way round the store but no doubt we will another time.

I have also got some fresh cherries to top up the two Rumptopfs and hopefully to do some home made cherry brandy with.   I also have some rhubarb to make some rhubarb vodka and some rhubarb cordial.  I also plan on making some strawberry and raspberry coulis for serving on ice cream.

So lots to do as usual.  I also want to make some peach wine but we shall have to see on that front.

Anyone who is on holiday this week looks set to have good weather.  When its like this I love being down on the coast and in particular Cornwall and the lovely beaches.  Deep sigh would love to be down there.

I have also watered up again and drenched all the plants.  I have tiny cucumbers coming and lots of flowers and growth on my tomatoes.  The peppers are shooting up as are the globe artichokes.  So have a little bit of something on the go.  Will be more next year.  I have some planters to pot up with some strawberry plants.  I still need to get more pots but will get them all eventually.  At least this way the fruit plants are going to be nice and sturdy by the time they are transplanted into the main fruiting garden (that is once it is sorted).

We have a gazebo to get up yet as well.  Might be done in the cool of tomorrow evening (that is if it does cool down).

Right am off to sit in the garden and to watch the bats flying display.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 15 June 2017

Thursday night catch up

Its been one of those weeks it did not start very well as I got up as usual at 6:00am on Monday morning and before OH had left the house I ended up having another small fit and then sleeping for the rest of the day.  This time round I have been very lucky no bitten tongue and was only out for a short period of time.  But its happened and its back to brass tacks and the drawing board for my routine of looking after myself it needs to be reviewed and tweaked!  We shall get there eventually.  Needless to say Missy never left me after I had had the fit (I fell face first on the settee) and she did not think much to it when I left her to go to work tomorrow.

Out of curiosity would any of you know what to do if someone had a fit in your vicinity.  Let me know/  A fit is more frightening for someone looking on than for the person having the fit.  I just feel incredibly sleepy can't get my words out and make a funny noise and then just collapse.  In effect I am fast asleep.  Basically a fit is a short circuit of ones electrical system.  In fact when I just had the lesser of the epilepsy conditions once known as petit mal we used to call it switching off because I was gone for seconds and not aware of what had gone on.  Sometimes I get what is called the aura and on such occasions before passing out I get the smell of burning cordite or rice cakes.  I as a consequence cannot bear the smell.  Epilepsy is life threatening that is why I asked if you would know what to do if someone had one near you.  Epilepsy is not selective it just happens and anyone can develop it either at a very young stage or later on in life.

When someone has an attack near you don't try and hold them down.  Make sure they cannot hurt themselves and once they calm down a little try and put them in the recovery position.  If you try and do it whilst they are thrashing around they will fight you tooth and nail as even though they are unconscious they are aware if someone is trying to hold them down.  Also don't put your fingers anywhere near the mouth I have a very strong bite and would snap your fingers off unintentionally and the more you hold them down the more they will fight you. As long as they are safe and cannot choke on their tongue they should be okay.  They will be confused and not quite with it on coming round and have a splitting headache and hurt all over as when you go into a fit the body goes into a spasm and literally shakes every muscle in the body.  If I bite my tongue as well that takes ages to recover.  Talking calmly and smoothly to the person reassuring them that they are alright can also calm them down and reassure them.  Most people who have an attack get upset afterwards as it is literally back to the drawing board with them.

Tuesday I had the hospital for my foot.  It is healing well although there has been some movement due to natural settling of the foot to the plate and there may be a need to remove it.  According to the Xray the foot is healing well and is starting to develop new bone and reattaching to the main part of the foot.  So they are going to keep me on the books for the next six months just in case I have any further problems.

I then had the rest of the day off and went back to work yesterday gradually easing myself back into the routine of things.

Its been a busy day today and will be again tomorrow but then at least we have the weekend for me to recollect myself and hopefully get a little more sorted out. 

This evening I have watered up the plants in the garden they are all doing very well having put on a lot of growth since I got them  Hopefully will be able to get round to some serious gardening this weekend.

Right better get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.




Its going to be a busy weekend the elderflowers are out round here.  That means

Elderflower cordial
Elderflower champagne
Elderflower Liqueuer
Elderflower Curd (new to me)
Elderflower Turkish Delight
Gooseberry and Elderflower jam
Elderflower fritters
Dried Elderflowers
Elderflower Sorbet
Elderflower Ice cream

Do you think that will keep me out of mischief

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Pinterest and Home Infused Alcohol/Drinks

Do you use Pinterest?  I must confess I do tend to lurk on there quite a lot researching different recipes and different ideas people come up with.  Often their posts are inspiration for me and my own version of things.  However it frequently introduces me to some lovely people and some lovely blogs.

Being as I have been concentrating on items of a liquid nature quite a bit just recently I had a browse round to see what I could find on Pinterest and there is quite a lot.  I include some links below for you just in case you are interested especially for the elderflowers which are out and about just now.

Orange and  Elderflower Vodka
and Lemon and Elderflower Gin

home made Ameretto :

Just a little food for thought and there are more there besides.

I have made some Toffee Vodka as well with 1 litre of vodka and two bags of Thorntons Special Toffee.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 10 June 2017

Saturday Musings

Yesterday I bought some lovely Strawberries from M & S and one lot have been used in some Vodka and already the colour is starting to seep into the Vodka.  So that's another jar of flavoured vodka on the go.  The other Strawberries will be for tea this evening after we have had another lot of Mussels for tea served simply with crusty bread and butter. Yum.

This morning I ran out of milk and went to the shop first thing and while out called at the Charity shop.  Nothing much for me this week although I did get a couple of bottles to be used for elderflower fizz/apple pop/ginger beer.  £1 each and when you are charged over £3 a bottle for me its cheaper to either get the bottles of fizz from M & S and then recycle the bottles often for less than £3 a bottle or keep my eye out at the Charity shops.  You can get the little seals from Kilner to replace the seals on the bottles.

At the moment I am enjoying a few cherries that OH got from Mr T's yesterday when he went for the mussels.  He says that they were only £2 a bag and they taste absolutely delicious they are full of flavour so I am hoping he will take me to see if I can get some more for squirrelling away in the pantry.  I am thinking brandied cherries, Black Forest style cherries in Kirsch, some to go into the Rumptopf, some to be dried in the dehydrator for use in dried fruit mixes come the winter months.  The one thing you do need when processing lots of cherries is a good cherry stoner and a bit of time to process them.  I sit on my Nan's old kitchen stool, radio on or just in the quiet processing them and end up with purple stained hands.   I always have a bowl for the pits and a bowl for the cherries and a bowl for the processed cherries so I tend to have a bit of a routine in place.

For a Morello Cherry Jam recipe

I also managed to get some more Strawberries this time from the Co-op and a bit cheaper than M & S which are going into the Rumptopf and also to make the first batch of crushed Strawberry jam.  Haven't tried them yet so do not know about the flavour.  I have a suspicion that M & Ss will be superior but will have to wait and see.

 I do so enjoy this time of year when you get a plethora of fresh fruits and so much choice.  A great delight after the lack of colour during the winter months.

There are also lots of ways of using the fruit fresh and also in puddings etc.

I might make some lemon barley or home made lemonade later and store it in the fridge ready for getting a nice cold drink over the next few days and not much sugar in.  There is also the option below which is very refreshing.

Oh and I nearly forgot this is the recipe I have used for the Lemoncello.  Home made of course.  I have two litres put up. These are the lemons that I actually used.  They were massive and the peel on them was lovely.

the flesh etc went into making lemon chutney and lemon curd.  They were nice fat lemons which peeled ever so finely with the aid of a sharp potato peeler.  made the room smell lovely as I was peeling them.


And in the Vodka steeping

I also intend to make some summer berry vodka

I have also been to the veggie shop and come back with a couple of pineapples not sure whether having these fresh or turned into pineapple jam.  But the tops of the pineapples I am going to try and grow.  No use wasting anything.

I have also bought some cooking apples to process into apple sauce either for having warm with cold ice cream or as apple sauce for roast pork or putting in mini pies or a large apple pie with both puree and apple slices.  Gives a bit more texture.  There are always lots of way you can use apple.

Some tomatoes to make home made salsa.

Some nectarines to make nectarine chutney the recipe is the same for peach chutney.  Or they may get turned into nectarine slices in syrup.  Not sure which yet.

Some Italian red sweet peppers at 50p per bag which are going to get chopped and put into the freezer.  I like sweet pepper.
I have also made some more Raspberry vinegar with some more reduced raspberries.
I also notice that peaches are out and about. Might make some peach preserves and also some peach and raspberry jam.  You have to make the most that comes your way and if it means a little hard work to do it I just get on with it.

I have also purchased Apricots which are going into syrup and be bottled and also some pears I think they are going to get the same treatment.  So it looks as though I am going to have to drag Big Bertha out of the shed sometime tomorrow to hot water bath the bottles.  The beauty of this is that it is independent and I can leave it on in the shed as it has a timer and a thermostat and bulk processes a lot of jars and saves time.

So back into the fray of preserving.  I couldn't be happier when I am doing things like this. 

We have had mussels again for tea done in a little water and garlic and dressed with butter and served with chunks of French bread stick washed down with a glass of cider.

Went down very nicely it did.

Catch you later.



Rumptopfs Getting ready for Preserving

I started writing this post the second week in May, and now we are into June the time when the Strawberry season starts and time to get the Rumptopfs on the go as well as some mini ones for use for the pantry shelf or for packaging into hampers for Christmas pressies.  To me although other countries grow Strawberries the taste of proper English Strawberries is unbeatable. I preserve them in whatever way I can even popping them into the freezer.  Good for making smoothies, ice cream and popping into pancakes.  I love all the naughty things when it comes to food.

With this in mind I have decided to bring the Rumptopfs out but out of the way of the cats.  They broke two that I had last year by getting where they shouldn't and one quick flip of their backsides and the Rumptopfs were no more.  To say I was not pleased is an understatement as one of them was an original Rumptopf that my brother had bought me back from Germany as he was based there for about 10 years or so. However I have replaced them and I intend to get a couple of more as well. 

[I don't only use the Rumptopf pots for Rumptopf but also use it for making home made mincemeat by the traditional fermentation method first introduced to me by my Internet friend Bovey Belle.  Tis a really good recipe and has a bit of this and a bit of that in it.  You add bits when you have them So it works along similar lines to a Rumptopf as you add the fruit, sugar and rum in layers as well.   Mincemeat is a good way of using up older dried fruit without wasting it.]

Anyway I digress back to the Rumptopf if you make them then come Christmas you have a really naughty alcoholic fruit salad but you can also drain the syrup off (the alcoholic syrup) and use it as a liqeuer.  However the trick is you do not leave any of the fruit exposed of its spirit. Ideally you use a small saucer to weight it down but I also use a greaseproof style cartouche to keep the fruit submerged. In effect its a good idea to eat the fruit up first and serve this with ice cream or cream very simply and then decant the liquid afterwards and use it as a homemade liqueur/  It is quite punchy and so perhaps not one for the kidlets.  I remember the first time I served it to my parents they had never had it before and were quite taken with it.  It was served after Christmas tea/supper as a finale in little glass bowls so that you could see the glorious rich colour.

If you have never made Rumptopf before it is well worth it.  Shop around though and get the best price you can on the Rum  (and on the fruit)as you will end up using more than you anticipated.

I don't only use Rumptopf stone crocks for this I also have some supersized glass jars that on occasion have been used with sealable lids.  However one thing I was taught to do if using glass was to cover the outside of the jar with brown paper to preserve the colour of the fruit.  Even with other dark coloured preserves you should do this to preserve the colour and in turn eatability of the preserve.  We eat with our eyes first and therefore you want it to look as good as possible. 

The only thing you have to remember with this kind of preserve is that the outlay is a little pricier than that you do have compared to say other preserves because of the spirit and the prices of it these days.  However I have never seen proper Rumptopf  for sale and if it is then it is likely to be pricy.  When you consider that M & amp; S sell in the run up to Christmas preserved fruits like peaches in brandy and that these small jars are nearly £10 a pot they are getting quite a return on this but if you do it yourself you will get more by way of pots of fruits than just the one jar.

There is an English version of this called "Hodgkin" and also a French version but using Brandy often referred to as Folie au Fall Fruits or Batchelors Brandy and uses  white fruits rather than the red fruits including small apples, grapes, peaches and pears.

I will post recipes for these so that you can take your pick but as I am about to start my Rumptopfs for this year so will take photos so that you can see how it is done or not done as the case may be.

Catch you later.



Catch you later

Friday, 9 June 2017

Making the Most of what you have

At the moment things are good for me on a financial footing (not brilliant but better than they have been for sometime)  and I have been buying one or two things that I have had my eye on after a long time without. In that respect I am very lucky at the moment but equally I know the tide can turn just like that. With a quick snap of the fingers.  I

t did a few years back when OH lost his job and was out of work for 4 1/2 years. That's when the way I keep the pantry came to the fore and saved us a lot of money and gave us meals not necessarily what we fancied but decent honest filling meals all the same.  That was a time of financial tightness but also of making the best of what we actually had.  We had a roof over our heads, food in our tummies and heat.  The only three things that really matter when you are up against it.  We did not get any help from benefits or anything like that because we were not married even though the rent was in his sole name.  As a result I rely on my own abilities to get through and believe you some of the things I have had to learn I was not very good at to start with, but practice and doing helps make you learn and get better.  You have to be sensible even when you don't feel like being sensible and want to kick up your heels

At that time and since I made meals go further by having two three vegetables at most on our plates (Sunday dinners are always different) and padding the meals out with Yorkshire puddings, stuffing, roast onion, roast potato, roast pumpkin and squash (I freeze this for use out of season) and lashings of gravy.

I always keep leftovers and turn potatoes and veggies into bubble and squeak which go very well with cold chicken and/or game birds. If I was not going to use them straight away I used to freeze this in patties and just get some out to go with a meal. 

I saved the trimmings from Chickens and made stock from the carcass after we had had about three meals out of the chicken. Gravies are used as a base for soups and often the leftover veggies are turned into Sunday Dinner soup.  Something my Nan used to do on a regular basis.  On a cold winter day there is nothing warmer  than a bowl of  steaming warming soup and chunk of bread and/or a stew.  Proper soul food that's cheap, tasty and it fills you up. 

I freeze the chicken carcass if I am not in a position to use it straight away and I always make sure that the carcass is picked.  You can make coronation chicken for sandwich spread from the left overs or use it in a salad or make chicken soup or cream of chicken soup.  Sometimes the cats get it though as a treat.  They don't get many but if there is chicken or meat scraps going spare then they do get this from time to time.

I keep things like dried peas in the pantry and turn them into home made pea and ham soup often utilising the trimmings left over from a cooked ham hock or gammon joint as well as using the stock from the gammon or ham as base for the soup.  Waste not want not. 

Equally those dried peas with the aid of some bicarbonate of soda can be turned into home made mushy peas with a little bit of preparation the night before.  Come spring and summer months you can always plant these dried peas in a planter/trough and end up with pea shoot salad for use in salads.  Home grown and quite fresh.  You can also set your own salad planters as well and then when you want salad you literally pick it from your own garden without wasting any and the bonus for doing this is that you get the salad at its freshest.

I don't buy eggs from the supermarket.  I buy a tray of eggs from the Greengrocers.  I use them for meals, baking, for custards as well as for breakfasts, with smoked fish poached on their own.  When you have a family a tray goes very quickly.  Even with two of us we use quite a few.

In the winter months I buy a sack of spuds.  Its cheaper than buying the bags from the supermarket.  I get the large sack from the Greengrocer and one of the men delivers it home for me.  In the summer months when you cannot get the bigger sacks I have been able to get the mini sacks from either the Asian shop or the Polish shop.

I made my own bread and buns for pack up.  There are recipes for Foccacia, and home made Tiger buns on the blog.  The buns went for the kiddies and OHs pack up and were made fresh every day.  I also made a loaf every couple of days.  This is still a cheaper option.  I am afraid I am a big fan of rustic type breads especially with a bowl of soup, but I am fond of the home made Tiger buns and the Foccacia.

I made my own yogurt and my own flavourings stewing fresh fruit and also using jams.  You get quite a lot of yogurt if you make it yourself and it is a lot cheaper than buying individual pots.

Brown bread can be turned into brown bread ice cream.  White bread into bread pudding, bread and butter pudding.  I have covered bread use before.  We spend so much on it why the heck should we waste it.

One thing we have always had a lot of is veggies of many different kinds.  I freeze my own for use during the working week and I always have fresh veggies in.  I buy mine from an old fashioned greengrocer shop that is plain and basic and does not cost the earth and I know their suppliers a lot of the time are local farmers who grow in the deep rich soil of the fens.  They also sell off things like cherry tomatoes when they are getting to their best before date  and tomatoes in bowls at £1 a bowl often there is about 1kg of produce in those bowls so they are a good bargain and you can do all sorts tomato passata, tomato chutney tomato and basil soup, tomato paste, dried tomatoes, roast tomato pasta sauce,  dried tomatoes in oil, tomato powder.  Equally you can use them fresh with a breakfast, in salads like onion and tomato salad which is chilled and dressed with vinegar and is lovely in sarnies, on their own.  There is always so much you can do.  They also sell off apricots, apples, beetroots anything that is getting towards its date but is still perfectly edible.  We have meat not as much as we used to have but

However equally I know that the things I have purchased will help me in the long run and also help me either on a recreational basis i.e. the Gazebo will give me shade and help me enjoy the summer months outside.  (The Doctors have advised that as I have a vitamin D deficiency that I should get out into the sunshine as much as possible). however I burn very easily and that is why I need some shade.  This in turn will enable me to do my craftwork outside instead of being cooped up in the house all the time.  My little stockpile of kits, fabric, embroidery threads etc. will give me something to do for the future and keep me occupied without having to spend an enormous amount and let the creativity within me out.  So that for me is and was how to make the best of what I actually have.  I have always plotted and planned things along the way stockpiling stuff until I am in a position to actually set to and do something with it.  This in turn enables me to take advantage of bargains, make things and introduce preloved items into my home to make a very individual home - not the same as other peoples but most of all save money. 

I never bought cake I always made it.  In fact if you search back through the blog there is a bulk Victoria sponge type recipe for making lots of fairy cakes or cupcakes or sponges.  Ideal for Sunday afternoon tea and also the pack ups during the week.   Tray bake recipes are ideal for packups.

So there is always something that you can do to eat well and save money in the long run.  A lot of the time all you need is the bare ingredients.

Doing for your family brings a lot of satisfaction or it did/does for me and it is making the most of what you have available food wise but it also stretches and improves your own skill set.  That truly is making the most of what you have.

Catch you soon.



Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)