Tuesday, 25 July 2017

I have gone and done it - All things Preserving

Invested in a pressure canner that is.  I have invested in a Presto 23qt dial gauge air vented pressure canner.  It came down to price really and although I like the look of the American Canner realistically I cannot afford one at the moment.  It may be at a later date things will change but at least I am going to have a canner to put up some of the things I want to safely.  I have been collecting all sorts of recipes on Pinterest for canning and preserving and I have a Ball Book of Canning which I bought from Lakeland plus a couple of other books I have acquired along the way.  I have purchased it through ebay and with shipping charges and import duty it works out at about £135.  So not too bad in the greater scheme of things.  I have been messing around far too long where this is concerned and I need to get going.  So I am very much looking forward to playing with this too.  I am quite excited.  Sad I am.

Today I have also bought one of the new preserving jars which are meant for fermenting items like kimchi or sauerkraut or the like.  Not sure at the moment what I am going to do with it but no doubt I will find something.

Here is a link to the items on Lakeland.

and here

Here are some recipe links as well:

I have also bought a couple of bottles in which to store my home made Raspberry vinegar.  I may buy a few more of these in due course in which to store other home made flavoured vinegars.  

I know a lot of you like preserving and some of you are new to it and others have never done anything at all but are keen to learn.  With preserving its all about having the recipes in the first place.  To start with and certainly in my case I have collected recipes and some I have not thought much off but ended up going back to during the course of time and with more experience.  So  keep your recipes.

A lot of the larger companies who provide preserving equipment online also have recipe sites as well.

Starting with Lakeland here is a link to their preserving recipes:

And there are a lot of lovely recipes there.  Two pages of very different recipes as well as some real basics.

Then there is the Kilner Jar Company.  Again a very interesting website which a recipe section.  Just make sure you save the recipes as every so often they update and change the recipes.  So print it off whilst you have the chance

Then there is the Jam Jar Shop

And the recipe site.  Their instructions for making home made mustard are particularly good and easy to follow as are the other recipes.  Butterscotch sauce.  Yum.

The Preserve Shop - has a recipe for Sloe Gin but from what I could see that was it.  It does have some lovely cookery books though most of which I have.  If interested in meat and fish curing the book Cured is a must have.

Wares of Knutsford

They also have a blog and a free newsletter.  You can download this for free and back issues.  You have to go through the process as if you were placing an order but there is no charge and then they provide confirmation and you just click on the links.   I must say everything I have purchased from them so far has been top class and reasonable on price,

There are others but I will deal with them another day

Sorry this is a bit top heavy but there is quite a lot of links etc. I have come across over the years and this is not all. There are more to go.

The above companies also provide a lot of other preserving equipment.  There sure is a different variety between them.

Right had better get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



Things in the Fridge and Cleaning the Fridges

What I use the Fridges to store

I have two full length fridges partly due to the fresh food I have for preserving the other one is everyday things like cheese, cold meats, fresh veggies etc.  They sit in the dining room as there is no room in the kitchen and yet there was no way that we could have an all American style version as there is no plumbing and no capacity to have one here. So I opted for the storage on the grounds that one day should I ever win the lottery then these could go in the utility room to the dream house.  Well they might not be working by then but that's what made me opt for them.  Practicality and storage for those kinds of preserves that are a little bit volatile like oil based preserves like peppers and mushrooms in oil and goats cheese or labneh or feta cubes and chilli and herb.  As I have said before once you start preserving it becomes addictive.

I always start off with good intentions with the fridge with everything nicely sorted and you can find it easily to squeezing in bits and bobs where I can.  However generally you can usually find things easily enough.  It is great for the veggies as well.

I tend to have a meat shelf, a cheese shelf and cooked meats shelf and sauces and things like that as well as keeping the fruit and veggies in for the preserving.  

I have bought Olive Oil today; not the virgin type as I only ever use that for dressing food.  I may well get some more tomorrow as I have in mind to make a selection of herb oils from the herbs in the garden; however they will store in the fridge as oil is and can be very volatile.  It can go off very quickly so it is best to make in small amounts.  I have heard a lot about fresh herbs causing a problem with the oil and possibly botulism.  However this article here may explain that a little more and offer a way of preparing home made oils safely.  However home made oils are really only for short term storage.

Cleaning the Fridges

With it being scrub out kitchen time the fridges get cleaned thoroughly when I am going through.  Yesterday I managed to get one of the fridges sorted the other one is destined to be dealt with tonight.  I use lemon juice and hot water to clean the fridge.  It has glass shelves so they always get a  good nice hot wash and then I dry down with paper towels as it brings the glass up smear free.  I also keep a cut lemon in the fridge to keep it nice smelling.  The outside of the fridge is cleaned with Dettol wipes and then polished up.  I also use the Dettol wipes on the door handles through the house as well. So lots of hot water, some elbow grease and lemon is how I clean the fridges out.  They do come up quite well.

I have the second fridge to deal with tonight after my tea which is sea bream.  We have not had this before so will see if I like.

Right upwards and onwards.

Catch you soon.



How do I use it now that I have made it.

Everyone that I know loves Elderflower Cordial.  It is something that I make year in year out.  However lots of people just drink it when it can be used to flavour other dishes like a fruit salad, used as a sauce on vanilla ice cream, to make a sorbet, make a version of Elderflower Turkish Delight etc. 

A lot of people will not attempt to preserve things because they don't really know how to use the finished product.  Really there are not many wrong ways to use a preserve and sometimes it is a question of experimentation and finding what works for you.  Like Mint sauce or Mint jelly; my OH eats this with absolutely anything.  We are brought up with a rule book of what goes with what but sometimes rules were meant to be broken and its a  matter of finding out what goes with what.

The recipe comes from a series of books by Dick and James Strawbridge entitled "Made at Home Preserves".  I have given the ISBN number previously.

During the autumn months there are usually a lot of pears about and elderflower cordial with poached pears and syllabub makes a lovely light pudding which has hints of summer about it which for me is what a preserve is about because you are saving preserves from different seasons of the year.


Serves 4

For the Poached Pears:

4 Conference or other firm pears
8 fl oz/250ml elderflower cordial
8 fl oz/250ml water
Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
4 mint sprigs to decorate

For the Syllabub

8 fl oz/250ml Double Cream
3 tablespoons of elderflower liqueur (you can substitute the cordial if you want to)


Peel the pears leaving their stalks on and position them into a saucepan cover with the cordial.  They should fit quite closely/tightly in the pan.  Cover with the cordial and lemon juice.  Pop on a lid and simmer for approximately 10 to 12 minutes until the pears go soft.  Turning them a couple of times during the cooking so that they are cooked evenly but be careful not to dent or damage them.

When the pears are cooked transfer them to a plate and keep them in a warm place.  Boil the liquor and reduce it to a thin syrup

To make the Syllabub:

Whip the cream into soft peaks and fold in the elderflower liqueur/cordial.  Put into a small bowl and drizzle a little of the pear syrup on the top of the syllabub.

To serve: 

place each pear on a plate glazed with a little of the syrup top with a mint sprig and serve with a spoonful of the syllabub.



Something for the Pantry Shelf - Elderberry and Blackberry Cordial

With the Blackberries and the Elderberries soon being in full swing I have been looking around for different recipes to try rather than the same familiar ones that I use year in year out. Cordials can be used for a drink with water or fizzy water or as a Kir type drink with the addition of some fizzy wine or a champagne (I am thinking Christmas here or any family celebration) and if you make a series of different fruit flavoured cordials you are giving yourself an awful lot of choice for now and over the winter months.  Cordials can also be used as additions to a fruit salad or indeed poured over ice cream as a sauce or through yogurt or cream to create a ripple and then frozen in a mould, cut into slices and you have a ripple ice cream in its purest sense.

I have come across this recipe which will make use of whatever wild harvest of elderberries and blackberries and give a vitamin c boost especially if you have a cold.  I have not made this recipe before but it will be made once the wild harvest is in full swing locally but I have found from past experience that elderberries can be a little tart for modern tastes although I think with the addition of the blackberries this will give a richer and sweeter cordial.  Elderberry jelly is a good one to add to stews and gravies and I also use it in combination with other ingredients like home made Chinese Stir Fry sauce to make a sauce for racks of baby ribs.  Yummy.

This recipe as do a lot of my cordial recipes use citric acid.  I buy this from my local Asian shop in bulk when they have it in - it soon goes off the shelf again. and often I do not see it for a few weeks usually when I need it so I do tend to stockpile on this. Citric acid is also good at stopping fruits like pears and peaches oxidising and spoiling not good when you are trying to prepare a preserve like peach or pears in syrup as you want the fruit to look the best that it can in the jar as if it looks good you want to eat it.  However I also hot water bath my cordials to make their shelf life a lot longer.  I use a baby bottle steriliser for this purpose as it is ideal for processing smaller bottles (I use the Hex sauce bottles)

and I buy them in bulk from C Wynne Jones they sell a lot of goods and here is the main link

for you to have a look around their site.  They sell many other things besides including beekeeping equipment.  Bear in mind that there is postage to go on top of this as well.  Please note that I do not have any links with this company apart from purchasing said bottles and this is done freely of my own will.

Right back to the recipe:

When making this recipe please wear appropriate apron as the elderberry and the blackberry juice stains rather badly. So proceed carefully.

Makes about 1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints)


8oz/250g Elderberries
8oz/250g Blackberries
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon of citric acid (optional)


Place the berries into a pan with 5 fl oz of water/150ml and set over a low heat for 5 or so minutes which allows the juice to run from the berries.  Cool and then mash with a potato masher or with the back of a spoon.  Strain through a jelly bag or a sieve lined with muslin.  Measure the juice and pop back into the pan adding an equal amount of sugar to the juice i.e. if 8 floz of juice then add 8 oz of sugar.  Add the lemon juice and cinnamon stick and bring to a rolling boil, boiling for two minutes.  Skim off any scum.  Pour into warm sterilised bottles and seal.  At this point I place my bottles into the baby steriliser bring to the boil and then process for about 15 to 20 minutes then switch off and allow the bottles to cool in the steriliser if at all possible.  Otherwise fish them out with appropriate equipment let the steriliser cool a little before going on to the next batch of cordials or sauces. 

Use liberally and enjoy.

Now that's another one for the pantry shelf.

Catch you soon. 

Pattypan x

Monday, 24 July 2017

Time to start putting stuff away seriously

This cold wet weather just reinforces to me how much food we should be squirrelling away on our pantry shelves or cupboard or store whatever is available to you at this point in time.  It also makes me keen to get the last remaining expensive piece of equipment for my preserving cupboard and that is a canner.  My thinking is that if I can spend time putting useful items of food up on the pantry shelf like soups, canned meat and fish etc. It will save me more time during the week with cooking but also not losing that home cooked element.  Preparing my own convenience foods as it were.

I am slowly attending to pasta sauce each week buying vine tomatoes until and when my own crop of tomatoes are ready so that is well in hand.  I also want to put some tomatoes up in brine as well as make Salsa as well as Tomato juice to use in Bloody Mary's and tomato ketchup but I do need the canner for that.   However to go with the Bloody Mary's I need chilli vodka.

So far I have had four cucumbers off my little cucumber plant.  However I always pickle cucumber so my four small cucumbers may get turned into a pot of pickle.

We are slowly very slowly slipping imperceptibly into the autumn months.  The blackberries and elderberries are starting to show and soon the Victoria plums will be ready - I have already seen greengages in the supermarkets so the plum season is nearly upon us.

Thoughts of plum jelly, plum chutney, Hoisin sauce, Chinese stir fry sauce plum jam and its variants with other fruits, plum Vodka, plum cordial, plum wine are all good hearty preserves to keep on the pantry shelf.  There is also of course the option of bottling the fruits in syrup to pop into a pie or crumble.  I still remember my Nan's plum pie where the whole plums used to stand proud of the pastry so you would see the outline of the plum through the pastry and it would look all nobbly. 

It also brings to mind the rhyme, little Jack Horner sat in his corner eating his Christmas pie he put in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said what a good boy am I.

So the plum like the apple is a pretty versatile fruit.  If you do a couple of bottles of plums in syrup then they can be transformed into the old fashioned sugar plums just before Christmas by drying in the oven and coated with lots of sugar.  I assume that you would be able to do this with a dehydrator also.  I think I have posted a recipe on how to do these further back on the blog.

My grandparents had plum trees the majority of which were Victoria plums.  The other variety they had was a jet black plum with lovely golden flesh which my Grandfather referred to as Black Diamond. There was also one solitary golden gage tree which never produced fruit in all the time Nan had it but the year in which she passed it produced a magnificent harvest.

I also want to get some fruits set in spirit and in particular I am thinking of  apricots/peaches in amaretto or an apricot/peach and amaretto jam.  I made some of this the other year and it was nice but I think I put too much amaretto in so please do not be tempted to put in more than is necessary.  Plain Apricot jam/conserve is also delightful with croissants in a morning but I always make it as I use it sieved on my Christmas cake to hold the marzipan down and then there is Apricot chutney one made with fresh and other with dried.  I also want to have a go at drying my own Apricots.

I have pears to put down in syrup but also to make chocolate and pear jam.  I have posted the recipe previously for this.  The Co-op round the corner from where I live have changed their cooking chocolate from a very decent quality to one that is passable but I wanted a good bitter chocolate for this recipe and I managed to get this yesterday when I went to Mr Ts.  I also aim to make some pear and ginger.

I also need to make my annual batch of piccalilli otherwise OH will never forgive me.

In the next few weeks I hope to take advantage of the blackberry and elderberry crops and put up elderberry jelly, bramble jelly, pontack sauce, elderberry wine and to try a blackberry and elderberry cordial and of course for colds there is always Elderberry Rob.

I am also hoping to dry some of my own fruits for using in my Christmas cakes later on in the year.  Red and Green grapes are readily available at the moment and I also fancy having a go at making my own grape wine using the foot pounding method.  It will create a laugh if nothing else.

I also have some apples to turn into apple sauce, bottled apples, apple chutney and hopefully some apple juice and cider and maybe some perry as well.

I am also hoping to locate sloes for sloe gin, wild bullace plums and damsons. I have a recipe for wild plum sweetmeats which essentially is a paste like membrillo.  I also want to make some wild blackberry gin as well.

So there is a lot to do over the coming weeks/months.

Is there anything that you are going to put up, are you a beginner are you going to dip your toe in the water or are you an experienced preserver.  Would be lovely to hear what you are going to squirrel away for future use during the winter months.  Years ago it was really necessary to do this as you only survived the winter months if you had a good store of things in your pantry and kept the wolf from the door.  These days I think preserving still has its place as it gives you so many more options of things to make and new tastes to experience.

Would love to hear from you.

Catch you soon.


I already know where there are some crab apples.  Crab apple jelly is a staple in this household as we use it with Roast pork and other cold meats.  I make it plain and spiced.

The rosehips are starting to form and I have my eye on them also.  They are still green at the moment but I have recipes for a vinegar, rosehip syrup,  a marmalade, a rosehip wine recipe, to dry them whole for using in wine and also to deseed them to make my own vitamin c powder for adding to milk shakes, and granola to make sure that I keep the colds as much at bay as I can during the winter months.

Later on of course I will prepare a few bottles of raisins in rum and yellow sultanas in brandy as well as nuts in honey for use on ice creams, and with soft cheeses like a goats cheese or brie

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sunday Sunday or should that be Cherry Ripe

We woke to rain - in fact I think it rained for the best part of the night, but we needed that rain for all the plants to survive.  The plus side was I did not have to water up.  But it did go cold and I ended up putting a jumper on.

I then decided that I needed to go to Mr T's they have a wonderful selection of veggies and fruits at reasonable prices as well,  OH has been buying cherries in a kg box every so often at a very reasonable price £4 for a kg tray.  So I have come home with a load of them to make into cherry pie filling.   The ones I got the other week I turned into cherries in syrup.  So it looks as if a little later I am going to be sat on my stool radio on pitting cherries; but it will be worth it in the long run when we are able to have cherry pie out of season. So if you want cherries these are really lush and cheap at the price.  Everywhere else I have been seeing cherries of a lesser quality for £5.99 per kg.

I also bought a box for eating and a mixed box of apricots, peaches and nectarines for £2 a box - same size as the cherries.

I have also had another good mooch around Mr Ts and there is quite a lot there that I am interested in - there is equally a lot which I am not into.  My real interest is in bare ingredients and doing it myself.  

We bought a small piece of Irish beef for Sunday dinner but there was not a lot to choose from on the joint front. I think we have more choice by going to a proper butchers.  That is cooking at the moment and we have roast parsnips, roast potatoes, swede mash and mixed greens to go with it.

I have also been mooching through some of my recipe books  looking for different recipes and I have found some that are new to me and which I am going to have a bash at.

And then down to work.  Clearing some rubbish in readiness to take it down to the dump and then taking it down there.  We still have another trip tomorrow and I do not think it will be the last trip.  Have been having a bit of a clear out.

The sun was out for the best part of the afternoon and we walked Missy.  The blackberries are now starting to colour up and there are a lot to come.  The elderberries some of the bushes are really black but there is not enough to give a good harvest.  Will have to see what they are like next week and whether there is enough to take then.  The tree that we found last week which we thought was a plum is and is starting to colour up.  We have also found its twin.  So we are keeping an eye on them.  They actually look like Victoria Plum trees.

Its now gone overcast and threatening rain again but I am inside and I have a lot to keep me occupied.  Off to get on with things.

Catch you later.



Saturday, 22 July 2017

Saturday Evening Round up

Last night we had gentle rain and it was wet when I got up this morning.

I had a bit of a lay in this morning and rested my foot some more and it is a lot comfier than it was.

The day then started with bathing the dog.  She gets a yeast infection in her skin which flares up every so often so we have to regularly bathe her with a specific product which costs £30 from the vets.  It does last a while but in the summer she tends to be worse so we end up bathing her more. (I suppose the nearest to it in human terms is psoriasis - which gets worse with the heat).   She is usually quite good when it comes to a bath as long as OH is not around if he is there she misbehaves but when he is not she is as good as gold.  However I always get a good shake from her as she shares the love around and drenches me in the process. Lovely that she is.

We have had brunch instead of breakfast (it was gone 12 before I even decided); egg and bacon with fresh bread and butter and fresh pressed orange juice.  Simple but it went down very nicely.  I have being doing battle royal with the kitchen and it is not going well.  Its monthly scrub out time.  I clean every week but with me working full time I do the good scrub out as well just to make sure everything is really clean.  I  have also done a couple of simple things with  things for the Putdown.  You will have to wait and see..

I also went to the veg shop and bought some large lemon/limes (they could be either they are multi-coloured).  I have some more Strawberries and some peaches and more rhubarb and apples. and pears  I have plans for these as well.  I have some more chillies and tomatoes as you can never have too much pasta sauce or dried chillis.  Time for the roasted pasta sauce I think.   I have onions, basil, leeks and tomatoes in.  Just need to roast it all in the oven with some fresh herbs and then when it is cooked I pop it into the food processor and whizz it up. It is then decanted into sterilised jars some lemon juice popped into each jar and then hot water bath processed.  I have been making this for the past 9 years or so. This is not a smooth sauce like a ketchup or a passata and is nothing like bought pasta sauce as that has a lot of other flavours and sugar added.  I use this for lasagne and as a pasta sauce and often pep the flavours up when I come to use the sauce so please bear this in mind. However we do like it there are no nasties in there and its all good food.

I also have raspberries, blueberries and strawberries that I picked up quite cheaply.  They may go into a jumbleberry jam.

So not too bad a day although I always think by the time you get into a weekend its time to get ready to go back to work.  It would be nice one day if I did not have to and was able to do a lot of the things that I like doing when I want.

It started raining here again about 3:55pm - we need it or the gardens do.  We had a heck of a thunder storm during the week.  It was lightning all the previous evening and then in the early hours there was quite a lot of thunder clapping.  Guess who slept through it.  

I am ummhing and ahhing about a sewing machine at the moment.  I have seen a Janome which has a hundred or so stitches.  A really good solid basic machine which from what I have seen looks relatively easy to use. 

I have also been hanging my nose over an embroidery machine. I haven't got a lot to spend either so I am thinking go for the good all rounder and then when I can afford it and I get back into using the sewing machine again maybe then go for an embroidery one.  I have been thinking about making  my own clothes again as well as using for patchwork and other associated projects.  I love making things and I like to play.  Am still in the process of deciding.  Ideally I would like an all singing all dancing but as I don't really know what their capacity is and what I can do with them I am very much erring on the side of caution at the  moment. (besides the fact I cannot afford that sort of money at the moment)  anyone have any ideas or information as to where I can find out more.  It is a considered purchase and yet again I really want to get it right.  I have in the past bought things and then outgrown them pretty quickly which mistake I am hoping not to repeat here or have ended up buying something that I really did not want as it was the only one affordable at that particular time.  I would rather save up and get what I am really after but equally I need to know the potential of the machine.

Janome DKS100 Sewing Machine

I am also hanging my nose over a pressure canner.  Yet again don't really know which one to go for.  The Presto or the All American.  The Presto seems to be more prolific and more parts seem to be available but the All American looks sturdier.  Not sure.  Don't want to make a mistake it is a lot of money.  It is about the only piece of preserving equipment I have not got so do want to get it right.  Yet again a considered purchase.  That when bought would be most of the major pieces of equipment to hand which would give me so much more choice.  I am particularly interested in canning soups and meat as well as a lot of other things as well.  Will most definitely need a bigger pantry then.  Any ideas or anyone have any input to give.  Be pleased to hear.

The Presto

Product Details

Or The All American

Product Details
However I did drop lucky this morning at the Charity Shop a set of three extremely large cooking pans the type that you get in an Indian Kitchen when they are preparing for a party.  They are very big.  As I am considering having  a go at beer brewing in the future thought that these might be helpful in this regard and for other things as well.

I also managed to find a glass butter dish for £1; so I bought it as a spare just in case I need it in the future.  I had a right song and a dance finding the last one.  I also bought a Green Dawn Pitcher type jug and bowl.  Thought that they would be ideal for puddings i.e. a custard jug and a cold pudding dish.

Also whilst I was mooching about the Internet it looks as though a new book is going to be released on the preserving front by Kilner on 10 August 2017.

Apparently it has over 100 recipes in.  Might be worth having a look at.

Right things to do  - better get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



Soap, Scents and Shells

Something to lift the mood when days are a little monotonous and your mood is down.

I think basically I am an old fashioned type of girl.  I like traditional scents like, rose, lily of the valley, lavender etc.  For many years I have not used soap on my face choosing to use just nice hot water and a good mosituriser.  Recently however this has changed as I was in Holland and Barrett and they had an offer on some prettily packaged soap.  I bought it home not expecting much of it and it is one of the loveliest soaps I have come across.  It is beautifully scented and the scent lasts even after constant use.  Very much a ladies soap but very lovely.  I have also found it recently in different scents in Clintons card shop

I first came across some nice soap as a teenager when away on holiday and the company who produced it were called Crabtree and Evelyn.  I bought two bars of soap one was called Tudor Rose and the other Damask Rose and oh they were lovely.  In fact I did not use the soaps but kept them in my undie drawer and for many years they scented my undies.  I think they may still be there somewhere not too sure.  Its what ladies used to do then.  Quite often as well little gifts were made out of a nice soap and some pins and coloured raffia to make a little ornament/useful clothes scenter for the drawers.  In my time I have made these but gave most of them away as pressies.  Lordy I am showing my age.

I have also recently found some lovely soaps at TK Maxx as well.

These are the soaps that I am talking about:

I personally love these soaps to bits.  I can only speak as a I find.

However I have found that when I am down colour can help lift my mood and lovely scents do as well.  Just something we can do for ourselves when the days are appearing grey and a little down.  I wish you could smell their lovely scents.

I have a basket in the bathroom where I keep all my lovely pieces of soap and bubble bath etc.   I suppose its more a ladies pamper basket as there is always something to find in there as I tend to buy little bits and pieces when I see them and then add to the basket.  It is as short as it is long as soon as I have used one another one has gone in to replace it.

I also keep a jar of shells in the bathroom all different colours, all sun washed but very natural.  They are kept in a large square glass vase and every so often I run the shells through my hands and they remind me of hot long days on the beach in a very British Summer and its then that I yearn to be down on the coast again.  Happy days wandering around rock pools and of course picking up pretty shells and pebbles.

Its funny how simple things can bring the most pleasure.

Catch you soon.



Friday, 21 July 2017

Thank God Its Friday

Its been a turbulent week here at work and at home.  The car went in for a service the other day and was not ready by the time I left work.  My foot had been aching most of the day and because OH was not around and it was late when I found out he could not pick me up rather than calling a taxi I walked home and I think I did a little too much.  The following morning my foot was complaining dreadfully and was swollen and I was hopping about just a little bit.  Yesterday was a bit easier but I fell asleep on the sofa and did not wake up until gone 11 I had crashed out.  The only good thing about this was that I had rested my foot and today it has been a lot lot better.  So am getting there.  I didn't get my lunch until late today as too much work on the system but went later in any event as I needed some fresh air.  It was good to get out.

I am therefore looking forward to being home for the weekend.

It started with a walk, taking Missy for her constitutional down near the river; and there we came across a butterfly sunning itself in all its glory.  Lovely sight to see.

I am lucky I did not chase it off with my shadow.  When you see lovely natural  things like this makes you realise just how good life is.

I spotted elderberries starting to come out tonight and I mean black berries.  The brambles are starting to fruit and I nicked one and a week on and they are starting to ripen and they don't taste too bad.  So may have to go out on a recce over the weekend.

I had hoped OH would go fishing so that I could get on with some craft work done.  Its ages since I have had the opportunity to do any.  Never mind hopefully soon.  I am one of these people who don't mind my own company and often quite happy being so.  Although we all need to be around people at times.

Right let the weekend begin.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Where has this evening gone

I haven't managed to get much done this evening.  I had some financial matters to take care of and instead of taking a short time it has taken over 2 1/2 hours to sort out.  I haven't even got into the garden this evening.  So have not had any chill out time.  Things have been frustrating at work as well.  Oh well tomorrow is another day. Its just the depth that varies.

I nipped to the shop at dinner time as I needed some comfortable shoes to wear to work that looked reasonably smart.  I have ended up with two pairs of mule type shoes  which I think will be ideal in the long run.  They even have a little bit of a heel.  I just needed something that was not enclosed yet would still give support to my feet.

I think there is going to be a storm.  Every so often I can see sheet lightning in the distance so even if we do not get it per se it is certainly circling.  

Don't like storms.  Too much electricity in the air.

Right short and sweet tonight have to get the animals fed and then off for an early night.

Catch you soon.



Pickled Beetroot a good First Pickle

It occurred to me after posting the other day that I had  been speaking about what I had been up to but had not really passed on any recipe that I use and which I have found to be successful.  I also suggested that if you were going to start your preserving journey it may well be best to start with something like pickled onions or pickled beetroot and then work your way up.

Here is the recipe I use for home made pickled beetroot.  If you don't grow your own fresh beetroot has been readily available (well it has round here) to buy and then process.  Homemade beetroot to my mind is a lot tastier.

The thing with beetroot is not to damage the tap root (the bit that comes out of the bottom) and not to trim too much down on the leaf end say to about an inch otherwise the beetroot will bleed and lose all its colour which is not what we want.  It will bleed anyway (but not as much as without the top or the root) so extreme care must be taken when handling the same.  Once cooked the tap root will rub off as will the top but I suggest that you wear a pinny or coverup and also marigolds or disposal gloves to save your hands and everything else being badly stained.  

Well here's the recipe:

The beetroot can be cubed or sliced or if you grow your own tiny baby beets can be used.

1kg/2lb uncooked beetroot
5ml/1tsp sea salt
1.15 litres/2 pints white wine vinegar (I have in the past used brown malt vinegar) but the spirit vinegar gives a classier look to it).

1.  Wash the beetroot taking care not to damage their skins, root or tops.

2.    Put the beetroot into a large heavy based saucepan (I use the bottom of my pressure cooker as it is both and have in the past pressure cooked the beetroot).  Cover with the water add some salt and simmer covered for about   1/1/2 to two hours or until the beetroots are tender.  Leave the beetroots in the pan they were cooked in to cool.

3.  When the beetroot is cool I peel them in the sink and then slice, dice or use the baby beetroot and decant into previously sterilised jars (just because you are using vinegar you still need the same sterilising standards as for any other preserve).  Do not forget to wrap and dispose of the spent skins and roots into the dustbin and make sure you clear any spills as you don't want purple this and purple that for the next few days.

4.  Put the vinegar into a pan and bring to the boil.  Pour the boiling vinegar over the beetroot to cover it by 1.25cm/ 1/2 an inch.  Gently tap the jars to remove any air pockets or insert a knife into the jar which does the same moving it around the jar.  Remove once you are satisfied there are no air bubbles.

5.  Seal the jars and label.  Keep in a cool dark place for about three weeks before using to allow the flavours to develop.

Makes about 3 x 300ml/10 fl oz jars).

Serve with salads, or a cheeseboard or meat board with other pickles.

That's it, you have made your first pickle.  Feeling proud of yourself.  You should be.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 17 July 2017

Ache or What

After yesterdays mammoth gardening session I have found bits of my body I never knew existed.  My hands are particularly sore with all the tugging and pulling out of brambles and weeds.  All day I was out there.

Needless to say there has been a lot of ouch moments today everytime I have moved which has been quite a lot but there we are these things are sent to try us.

You can just see a glimpse of the jungle and the old fridge that is to be taken away.  Yesterday you could not get down this side of the shed.  The tomatoes are hiding behind the shed and at least they seem to be recovering.

This is it tidied and the herb troughs in place.   There is thyme, Greek Basil, Genovese Basil, a standard Rosemary one of two The planters to the top left of the picture will not be  staying here they will be going further down the garden in due course.

Since getting home this evening, we had planned to go to the tip and get rid of the rubbish but OH had managed to do this before picking me up so after some tea I have been able to get out into the garden again for another pulling up session and sorting out of rubbish.  I aim to do some each night so that I am getting rid of the weeds and  getting the new plants sorted.  I am pleased to say that my tomato plants have recovered and I have four cucumbers.  Three of them only littlies and this one which is still little in the greater scheme of things but I think it is a small version cucumber in any event.  Do not know the variety unfortunately but reminds me of Petitia.  It has little prickles on the outside skin.  Its not the prettiest looking specimen but it is a cucumber and I have grown it.

My frog is okay he leaped up the garden as I was Watering up.  I have given everything a good drench again.

It looks as though I may have found the hosepipe two long lengths of it.  Just need to get the fittings sorted and a couple of attachments to help with the watering up and that should save the effort with the watering can.  At least if I have the hose and I need to use the watering can for feeding etc. the watering can, can be filled up outside rather than at the kitchen sink.

The garden had got weedy and overgrown again but I have managed to clear quite a bit more tonight.  Its the brambles that cause the most problem.  I was wearing a pair of marigolds with a pair of leather working gloves (welding gloves) and I was still getting caught by the prickles  Fortunately I had a long pair of loppers so cut the brambles into smaller bits.  When I dig the garden I shall remove the offending roots from the brambles and other weeds.

OH has officially given me carte blanche to do what I will with what was in his shed.  That's easy then to the dump it is to go.  I can see that with the amounts of pots that are in good condition that I will be having a marathon cleaning up session later in the week once I have got more clearing done.  That's the sort of job that can be done anytime but the clearing and weeding does take some time.  I am determined to get it as clear as I can or at least the recreational area as I want to get  the gazebo up and the barbecue and pizza oven in use.  Hopefully I will get some slabs down too and then I am hoping to create a small veg patch at the end.  The greenhouse needs some serious work but once I have the main section cleared I will then be able to tackle that.  I am determined that my greenhouse is going to be back in use for next year.

Right had better get a wriggle on I have work in the morning and I need to get one or two things ready before collapsing in bed.

Catch you soon.

Pattypan xx

Sunday, 16 July 2017

In the garden continued

Its been a hard old slog and I have only got a little way.  However slowly and surely I am getting there.  Its been raining on and off and I have not bothered to come in.  I moved my mums potting tray as it was on the garden floor and emptied it because it was full of water.  Then was quite upset as I had made a frog homeless.  He has disappeared into the mass of tomato plants so will have to pop some more water down for him(which I have since done and provided a stepping/hopping stone for him to get into the pond.  I have been very lucky over the years and we have nearly always had a frog in the garden even though I have no pond and it is good to give them some kind of an environment especially  when they are so good at keeping the bugs away. 

I have managed to weed out all down the edge of the shed - its not possible to put any plants in down there as the strip is too narrow and it also has the slab cement on the edge, so I  have put some tubs down there with my shop bought herbs in them.  I have found that the nice deep planters are ideal for these herbs keeping them upright although I have not planted them into the soil they are on some gravel which means they are able to absorb the heat and the water.  Seems to be working anyway and they look very healthy.

I am aiming to clear the path down the side of the shed so that I can relocate the three growing houses.  Two of them I had anyway and the third came from my mums.  Two are the same one different but to pull them all together and tie them in I have decided to paint them.  Will pop into Wilkos during the week and see if they have anything suitable.  They need to go further down the existing path which is cluttered up at the moment just for the time being - until their permanent position is sorted and cleared.  I need to be able to access them because I have all sorts of gardening paraphernalia in there which I use regularly so it has to be easily accessible.

I need to add soil to my tomato plant pots as well to sort them out a bit and also tidy up the cucumber plant. I have a cucumber plus three smaller ones.

I have just stopped  to get a drink and also to get Sunday dinner on we have a choice of roast chicken or roast pork., together with home made stuffing with sausage meat added, roasties. roast onion, mixed vegetable medley, carrots and mashed potato and oh lots and lots of gravy.  Whatever is not used today will do for tomorrow.  it will not go to waste and the stuffing goes perfectly with both of them.

Dinner was delish and just what the Doctor ordered.  We had the roast pork.  It had been reduced at the Co=Op and I got it for £4.  There is still plenty left for tomorrow if we want it or he can have it for sarnies to take to work.

I have since been back out into the garden and have been attacking the self-set brambles cutting them back little by little and getting pricked in the process despite wearing some leather gloves and a pair of marigolds on the inside.  Don't do creepie crawlies in the gloves so better safe than sorry. 

Have got on better than I thought I would but it looks as though its going to be a week of gardening when I get in from work to try and get the garden back into some sort of order and also to get plants potted up etc.  If I can get the garden squared during the week I will get the paint and paint the shed next weekend and should then be able to get my table into the little nook so that I can eat my breakfast in peace and quiet.  Its hard work but it will be worth it in the end.

OH is going to have to help me though as the contents of his collapsed shed are on the side and some of the things need keeping so I need his assistance with that.  The rest can go to the tip later in the week.  I am determined to have as good a clear out as I can in the garden.  I still have lots of things planned and there is still an awful lot to do.

The tomatoes look a little better than they did first thing which is the main thing I may well have just got to them in time but they are going to need some sorting out during the course of the week.

Right had better get a wriggle on; have to get ready for work tomorrow.  With all the bending and pulling, cutting etc. my back and my legs feel as if they do not belong to me.

Catch you soon.



I have asked the Question so now here is my answer

If I gave you some potatoes, onion, cheese, eggs milk and some herbs.  What would you make with it and why?

Baked potatoes with cheese and onion filling;
Herb omelette
Fried eggs
Mashed potatoes
Scrambled eggs
Cheese, potato, fried onion and herb Frittata
Potato Quiche
Fat chips and cheese and onion dipping sauce

All these can feed the belly and feed the soul very cheaply.

This all started off at the veg shop yesterday I was enquiring how business was.  They said things had been very quiet and it would appear that people are going to the supermarkets even though a lot of the time (not always) you get more for your money at the veg shop than you would in the supermarket.  I tend to agree.  I am lucky that I have them on the doorstep and that I am able to do the amount of preserving I have because of their reasonable prices.  I not only preserve but I do a lot of cooking during the week as well.  Sometimes it is simple things for tea another night a full dinner with all the vegs.  We eat well often simply but it is always tasty.

I know one or two of you have a warehouse or similar where you are able to go to.   A lot of you grow your own which I aspire to.  One day.

I turned round and said well people are not concentrating on the basics, like potatoes, eggs, vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, onions, celery.  From which you can have veggies with every meal, you can from any leftovers of veggies and mashed potato make bubble n squeak, soups.  And  fruits like apples, plums etc.  If they did they could live quite cheaply and also have tasty food to boot.  Straightaway from the apples you can  have apple sauce from them, stewed apple and ice cream for pudding, apple pie,  Tarte Tatin, Apple charlotte,apple sponge, plums you can do similar.  And a pudding is a cheap way of filling the tummy when there is not much money around for meat. 

The same as a bowl of soup.  Can be made cheaply out of a chicken carcass out of which bird you have probably had a good couple of meals, made stock that will go into countless meals,  the soup and the scraps can be used in sandwiches, turned into Coronation chicken or given to the cats as a treat.  Equally the vegetable peelings, and toppings can be used to make a vegetable stock as long as everything was scrubbed before hand.

The veg shop owners are struggling  - I know there are people who are not using them relying on the supermarkets instead who haven't got much income in, have a couple of kids. have horrendous bills to pay and are juggling and struggling.  I have been there and with prices going up chances are more of us are going to struggle.  The best thing about this veg shop is that they use the little local farmstead producer as well as the big auctions.  Cabbages and cauliflowers, carrots and the majority of the potatoes in big large sacks are grown in good deep dark peat fen soil.  One of the best growing mediums in the country.  What could be better for you than crops grown in these conditions.  That's the other Reason I use them apart from being a lot cheaper the food is also fresh and tasty and I know where its come from.

I think part of the problem is that a lot (not all) of younger people do not appear to know what to do with basic foodstuffs and keeping the bellies filled.  People with low incomes should be using shops like this because they offer so much more for your money which when you have a family is all the more important because you have to keep them fed.  You ladies have all passed the test and everyone came up with something different, not that I ever doubted you wouldn't.

Thank you for feeding back and do you have any ideas on how to get cooking back to the younger generation they seem to class it as too much like hard work instead of an adventure and a journey.

Catch you soon and thanks for responding.

Kind regards.



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)