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Saturday, 30 June 2018

Life is good - Feeling very Grateful

….. I am so grateful at the moment.  We have lovely weather - the stress factor of work is not present and I am very much pleasing myself although the past four weeks have been more of a holiday than doing anything, being a lady that lunches predominantly.  I am going to have to settle down soon and get strict I have a ton and a half of jobs to do and wouldn't you know it they are all time consuming and I am starting to feel a tad guilty about not doing anything.

As I am typing this I have a glass of pink gin, lemonade, sliced strawberries and lots of ice on the go.  It is very pleasant.  However, it will be the only one for this evening but I am enjoying it nonetheless.  We have retired to the house as it is still far too hot outside.  The garden is all watered up though.  

I think I am going to have to rearrange my day and get up earlier whilst this heat wave is on in order to get some jobs done.  We have the big fan on and I have decided that tomorrow nice and early or as early as we can on a Sunday pay a visit to our local Screwfix Direct depot as they have an offer on for a very powerful fan at £29.99. (this is my own opinion yet again and is not due to any form of enticement or advertising).  I just think that this particular fan  is a useful bit of kit.  This one is an industrial one and cools the room very nicely.

Here is the link for the details in case you are interested although please note this is for our Werrington, Peterborough store although I think the link is for their main website.



I intend to buy two, one for the dining room and one for the front lounge.  That way I can make sure that the animals are kept cool as well.    We have a couple of old decrepit ones so they can be recycled elsewhere. This one is pretty pokey and will keep the cats in particular comfy which is what I am bothered about in the longer term.  My family of animals needs to be comfy too.

I have not really done much on the craft front apart from a few rows here and there on my new blanket. I have managed to find a very pretty apple green although not quite the right shade actually blends in with all the other colours I have used as well.  It was bought for another project but I tried it against the random wool and it blends.  I had forgotten to take the random wool with me when picking out further colours - not that I always need it as I seem to be one of those lucky people that who is receptive to and who can carry a colour from memory although there has been the odd mistake along the way.  I will just have to buy more of this wool for the other project, but at least this way my blankets are going to meld with the colours used although being different dynamics and stitches used.  It is growing a little at a time though which I am pleased about.  It is also very lightweight but very warm which I am also pleased about.  That is one of the other reasons I am making rugs/throws/blankets for my home.  Warmth.  It is for me essential especially during the winter months.  I will do a little bit of an update once I have been able to work a little more.  Basically I just cast on the length in chain stitch with the first colour, then work in double crochet. I have been working four rows to form a band on the blanket.

I am a little confused with the seasons at the moment.  We are just about to go into July.  Yet it feels later on.  Perhaps this heat wave is exacerbating matters.

I am just waiting for my tea to be cooked on the griddle. We are having the fresh Queen Scallops (a big treat).  Served very simply the Queenies also have the orange coral on and we just griddle them and serve with brown bread and butter.  You do not need many of them as they are very rich in flavour.

We first developed a flavour for them down in Cornwall.  When we are there we go down to Port Isaac (Port Wenn in the Doc Martin series).  We used to visit the Fish Cellars at Port Isaac, everything straight fresh from the boat,  in an effort really to educate the children about food. We tried anything and everything cooking it back at wherever we were staying as at that time having two children in the household it was a rare treat to be able to go out and have a meal at a restaurant.  Far cheaper to prepare at home though.  Whenever we go down to Cornwall we still pay a visit to the fish cellars.  However it has been a few years since we last visited.

There are still brown shrimps and a dressed crab for tomorrow's snack and we have Monkfish for tea tomorrow night instead of a roast with some of my homegrown salad leaves and some cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette dressing.  Nice and simple is how I like my food and fish, I am very fussy about fish the same as I am about meat.  I love fresh fish because of the flavour; you get the full tasty flavour.  Freezing it does something to it and the flavour goes.  So a little blitz out every so often on everything fish is very worth it from my perspective.  It is supposed to be good for my medical conditions too.

Finding a good Fishmonger can make all the difference to your experience of cooking and eating fish and until you have had it fresh from catching yourself (we do this off Mevagissey Harbour when down their mainly Mackerel but very delicious) or getting it direct from the boats or the fish cellars.  You really have not lived.  It is a totally different foodie experience.

Right am off to potter well to sit and chill.

Have a lovely evening.

Catch you soon.

Pattypan

xxx

P.S. Those Queenies were superb.  Yum.  Lucky me.

PP

x

A little jaunt

It turned nippy here last night and went really cold.  It went that chilly and the wind got a bit blustery that I ended up having to put a cardigan on.  After breakfast at Ferraris our local café  this morning (this is becoming a regular jaunt on a Saturday morning when OH is home) we then went out for the day leaving Missy indoors in the cool.

OH and I decided yesterday that we were going to go to Spalding today to the Springfield Retail Centre.  A couple of weeks ago I bought the OH some new shoes some Sketchers to be precise.  Lovely shoes, but this particular pair had a fault the stitching came undone.  We therefore took them back this morning and got them replaced and also got him some new trainers as well.

From thereon in we headed for Lynn (King's Lynn) on the premise of going to the Fish Shop (wet fish shop) that he used to get all our fish from a few years ago.  We went not knowing if the shop was still there, but we also had the option of going onto Cromer if it had not of been.

Whilst on the way there a car overtook us and then the passenger kept making rude gestures through the window.  OH was starting to get a little het up but then realised that the individual concerned was indeed his son!  What are the chances of that happening 40 miles from home! We only saw them last night. Second time this has happened.  After a brief telephone call with them it transpired that they were on the way to Wells next the Sea for the day and what a lovely day to be there.  I would have liked to have gone to the coast, perhaps another weekend and then we can take Missy with us so that she can have a run on one of the more quieter beaches.  I must say that it has been relatively cool travelling in the van despite the fierce son.

Traffic was heavy and as we had not been the way we went for some 10 to 15 years there had been massive changes.  Many of the villages going from Spalding through to Lynn are now joined up and much of the open farm land has gone.  I must say I was a bit irritated with this as it was local planning gone mightily wrong.  No rhyme or reason to it.

Anyway when we got to Kings Lynn we found the Fish shop called Donaldsons and came back with loads of goodies. So fish it is for tea tonight.  We have treated ourselves to some Scallops and also some Monk Fish.  We were also provided a freezer packet with some ice blocks in to bring the fish home in.  It was still frozen by the time we unpacked the shell fish i.e. brown shrimps for me and winkles for OH.  Very tasty they were too.

So its been lovely to be out and about for a change, but I really want to be down on the South West Coast, for a paddle and wandering round rockpools. One of my favourite places is Cornwall.

Now we are busy chilling in the cool - we have the fans on in the house at the  moment and it is very refreshing.

Just chillin.

Catch you shortly.

Pattypan

x




Friday, 29 June 2018

Bit disappointed

We have been out for a meal this evening and ended up at a Mexican Restaurant called Chiquitos.  I was a bit dubious about it being Mexican in the first place, as a couple of things I have tried before have not been to my taste.   Should listen to my instinct.  Although the food was freshly cooked and we were in nice surroundings for four of us it cost £100 and to tell you the truth its just not my style of food.  A good £22 was on drinks a Woo Woo, two Lime, Mint, ice and salt Moquitos, OH had a Becks.  The men both had steaks, I had a Jambalaya (not strictly Mexican)daughter in law had some what was called street food.

Although we have enjoyed the youngsters company I don't think OH and I will be making a return visit in the near future.  I would rather go to my favourite pub The Fitzwilliam Arms (also known as the Green Man) pay a little more there and enjoy my food - and we would not spend as much.

Well we have been but I don't think a return visit is happening anytime soon.

Catch you soon.

Pattypan



Fridge Drink Dispensers


This is not an advert for a particular company just my thoughts on their very good service and very good products. I have used them several times.  Their prices have always been competitive. This is purely a recommendation from myself and totally independent of the company concerned.  I first came across this company via Ebay.

Unfortunately the drinks dispensers I bought the other day are not right for the fridge so it is to Pantry use they will be going.

However, I have found a solution.  Every so often I go trawling round ebay and buy a few more bottling/canning jars and one of the most regular firms I use is a company called Silver Mushroom.


I have been taken most recently with the new larger mouthed Kilner jars and have picked up a few here and there and have just submitted an order for 12 more.



Whilst lurking I discovered just what I was after on the drinks dispenser front and to make matters even better they are on offer should be around £23 each but on offer for about £14.95 at the moment. Here is the link https://www.silvermushroom.com/product/kilner-3l-fridge-dispenser/




They do have limited stock on these at the moment.  However with all this hot weather we are having this will be ideal for me as I love cold drinks especially chilled or with ice.  This way round I should be able to make up a batch of home made Lemon Barley and also a bottle of chilled water as well as home made lemonade, chill it down and then just able to help ourselves as and when until the next batch needs making.

Right upwards and onwards.

I have a bit of a mess to sort out in the kitchen.  Bumble has caught the lever taps and flooded the kitchen out.  I knew there was a reason I called him Bumble.

Right off to mop up catch you later.

Pattypan

x

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Inspiration

….. comes in many forms and guises and most unexpectedly.  Thus it happened to me whilst in Asda having a nose around at some tops, checking out their bargain rail and I fell in love with a handbag made of denim.  Price £10.  I took a photo and then thought - why not.  After closer inspection it was made up of embroidered pieces, sequins, seed beads and beadwork.  Aha I thought I can do this.  I have boxes of beads, hand embroidery threads and also my soluble fusing and my embroidery machine as well as my sewing machine.  I also have pieces of denim from the scrap bag.  I only took one photo of this but it is supposed to be butterflies in a flower garden.  There was also a matching wallet.  It was only a zip top bag but I had thought that maybe it could be a fold-over version.  Creative juices are starting to run.  I think in the next few weeks and possibly when OH goes fishing that I will be getting out the embroidery machine and starting to play.  Its about time I dipped my toe in the water.




Whilst I was browsing in M & S Home Store I was looking at the bedding, and the beds.  I need new  bedding at some point as well as a new mattress and quite unexpectedly I was quite taken with this.  This is a combination of a printed fabric enhanced with embroidery.




The link to the bedding is here:



So I am hoping to sometime next week actually start playing with the embroidery machine as well as my new all rounder.  I have a lot of resources available and now its a matter of downing tools.  If it is not next week it will be the next as OH is planning on going fishing!

Catch you all soon.

Pattypan

x

Oregano, Vintage Kilner Jars and a Pestle and Mortar









I ended up buying these the other day from B & Q two types of Oregano in one pot a plain and a variegated but they smell divine and will be very handy to dry and put up for use in my cooking both fresh for now and also dried for the winter months.  Yummy.


I have also been to the Charity shop this morning and come across three Vintage Kilner jars which were quickly snaffled up and added to the stash.  So they will be put into use pretty quickly.


I broke my previous pestle and mortar which I was quite aggrieved about but this morning I have found its replacement for £3.  The exact bowl I had initially cost me £18 so I think that was a bit of a bargain.


I have already been and had breakfast at my friend's café this morning and I am shortly off to meet another friend for a good old natter and catch up.  The heat though is preventing me to some extent for getting on although I need to be in the sun on Doctors orders I don't really tolerate it that much.  Never mind a little and often.


Right must dash.


Catch up later.




Pattypan


x

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Wednesday catch up

I unexpectedly went to a friends yesterday and spent the afternoon and early evening with her and another friend and it was really lovely.  Lots of laughter, chatting and the wine was flowing.  This morning I was a little hung over!  Lets say that I am very much ready for my bed tonight.  I met another friend for lunch today and we had a chicken tikka salad for our dinner.  Which was rather tasty and a good catch up.



After meeting my friend for lunch I nipped into Wilkinsons and picked up some more glasses whisky sized and tumbler sized and a couple of water infuser bottles to add fruit too for the fridge.  I also bought two fruit juice jugs both glass, 



It has been viciously hot today and I have had the fans on for the cats and the dog with plenty of water for them as well.  We have to take Missy in the van to where we walk her down by the river.  We have a doggy bottle with a  foldable bit on it which means she can have a drink.  We keep it in the van and we purchased it from the local pet store for £1.  In this weather we offer her a drink as she tends to run around everywhere and then pants to try and cool down. This evening we did the same but she has also had a bath to help cool her down a little in warm water. She is now sprawled out quite happy thank you very much.   My thing is we can get a drink as and when but I decided that we would carry a bottle of water in the van but sometimes that gets too hot.  So tonight when OH went to get petrol we bought a bottle of cold water as well and she lapped that up pretty quickly after her walk.  She goes wherever we can take her so we cater for her as well.



We have had a kebab each for tea and very tasty it was too.  It has gone down very nicely and I feel a bit more with it.  

The garden is watered up and I shall water it again first thing tomorrow.  I am hoping to do some potting up first thing.  I have some more strawberries and a few tayberry berries as well.  Next year I think will do better on the fruit.  I am slowly deciding what I do and do not want and each year I am adding a few bits more.

Right upwards and onwards still things to do.

Catch you soon.

Pattypan

x

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Monday evening catch up

Sorry this should have been posted last night, but I got de-railed just ever so slightly, so apologies for the delay in posting and then I overslept first thing this morning.


It has been a glorious day today.  As per my earlier post it was a super start to the day, full of nature, full of peace and I was able to breathe.  What a difference this not working lark is having on me I hope a positive one as I do want to get my health a little more robust before we go into winter again.  Last winter was not a good one for me, and so I am trying to get out into the sun as much as I can to soak up the vitamin D as per my Doctor's instructions.


First off this morning, I was having a bit of aggravation from my middle finger on my left hand.  The joint appeared to be swollen (my hands often are) but it was hurting quite badly and there was a pricking sensation every time I moved my hand.  I could not see anything in there and ended up putting my hand under my magnifying light wherein I found a very fine splinter, which I removed with a sterilised needle.  Probably a good job I found it in the long run. Needless to say a drop of Dettol has gone on the injury spot as well.  I seem to have a habit of picking up splinters.  Ouch.


It took me a good couple of hours to deal with the second batch of Gooseberries I ended up with 6+ bags which are now ensconced in the freezer.  I needed a breather after dealing with them so I disappeared to the veg shop.  Did not buy any fruit and veg today but came back with six pinks, three different colours, a pale pink, medium pink and a very dark pink. Which are waiting to go into the garden.  


I then went off to Hobby Craft and came back with more wool for my blanket; I could not quite see the colour of green I wanted I am after an apple green but an in between colour but so far have not been able to source any that I think is the right colour for my new blanket.  I saw some lovely wool there. One I fell in love with it is Hayfield Spirit - this one is Mystery and it is absolutely gorgeous.  




Sirdar Hayfield Sundown  - I really like this one.



Sirdar Hayfield Zest.


I love all three of these.  There are other colourways as well but these three I am particularly taken with.  I think it is cheaper on line.  These beautiful wools are giving me a real itch to get the knitting needles out again.  I have a real thing about variegated random wools at the moment.

It is available online from here:



I also bought some wreaths, heart ones, different sizes for use in Christmas Decorations later on in the year and some for the dining room once it is redecorated.  

The smaller ones were between £2.00 to £2.50.  I bought two of these.

  


The larger one was £8.  



They were on offer and as they tend to put the price up before Christmas on everything I decided to get stocked up so that they were done and dusted with.  I mentioned that C word! Oohps.  

I love basketware and have several nice objects made out of willow, including bread baskets, fruit baskets, food hoods, shopping baskets of all different shapes and sizes.  I seem never to quite have enough of them.  The other day I bought a big round basket which will be ideal for using as a central bread basket on the dining table it is quite a larger one so I think it may be useful elsewhere as well.


Today however I came upon this wicker tray which I also think will be very useful on one of the side dressers.





I have in any event for some long while used a large Willow shopping basket for keeping my crochet projects in whilst I am working them.








I also bought some hand quilting cotton as well in Rose, Cream and Sage Green.  Three of my favourite colours.  I shall add more to the stash as I go along. The price of cotton across the board seems to have gone up extensively.  I like doing hand-quilting when I get the chance.  £15 for three reels of Quilting cotton!!

I was really looking for some Tapisserie Wool for my Needlepoint.  I like to see the colours and then blend them in with whatever I am doing but my local Hobbycraft does not appear to do them.  Nor does John Lewis so I am a bit stumped locally.  I will have to look on line but I really prefer to see the colours.  I predominantly use Anchor.  I like the Paterna yarns and occasionally use the Appletons and DMC.  But being able to look at the colours would be preferred.  I sometimes change colours on a chart to go with different things but I think you get a better visualisation if you can actually look at the colours.  Never mind.

I also bought 4 packs of Fat Quarters, two in pinks and two in turquoises to go with some other Fat Quarters I already have in my stash. They were £7 apiece and reduced to £12 for two packs.






They also had lots of bits and bobs on the paper crafting front already for that C Word.  Quite a nice selection.  Will have another look another time.

Whilst in Asda I also picked up these drink dispenser bottles.  I had thought that they would be useful for the fridge for storing home made Lemonade and Barley Water in but I am going to have to have a play to see if they will actually fit.  No problems if they don't as I can always make use of them on the preserving front probably for storing vinegar in.  These were £3 apiece (in the sale I think).




Well it looks a lovely day again.  Think it is too hot to do any gardening.  I had anticipated getting up earlier whilst it was cool to do something but I may have to wait until later on in any event as it is too hot for me now.  However I am sure I can find something to do in the house.

Hope you all have a lovely day.

Hopefully catch you later on.

Pattypan


Gooseberries or Goosegogs

As a little girl one of the memories I have is of my mum bottling lots of fruit from my Nan and Pop's garden during the summer months.  Mum used to bottle the goosegogs in Kilner jars for puddings during the winter months and to add something to the Pantry to help keep the cold of winter at bay and to help fight off any winter colds or infections. In those days we would eat a lot more than now, often starting with a soup, then a main meal and often a pudding,  All to help keep us warm and keep us well. I was always mesmerised when she began a bottling session and once all the fruit had been processed and stored mum placing the jars on the top shelf so that little hands could go no where near.  Such a long time ago now; but it is something that she and my Nan did year in year out marking the seasons by the different fruits that were available, eating seasonally in the summer months with a plethora of fruit and vegetables but always ensuring that there was food in hand and plenty of it.  Please remember that this was in the days before supermarkets and the main source of food supply used to be the markets and to compound that my Nan and Pop used to live in a tiny village where there were no shops; so if they had not been keen and adept at putting up food for the winter months food pickings would have been sparse.

Being in the right place at the right time the other day I ended up with a scuttle load of gooseberries for preserving in different ways.  Some for the freezer for use in pies, tarts and fools, some for Gooseberry jam and some for Elderflower and Gooseberry jam.  All courtesy of my local veg shop.  Apparently people have asked for them and so they have got some in at long last.




Gooseberries are OHs favourites along with Rhubarb so I always ensure that there are a few in the freezer or in the preserves store to rustle up a pie, crumble, fool etc.  It is me that is fond of the Gooseberry jam.  The beauty of Gooseberries for making jam is that it is just pure fruit and sugar as the Gooseberry is naturally very high in pectin the natural ingredient in the fruit that allows for a good set without adding anything else.



So I sat the other night on my Nan's stool with the radio on and carefully topped and tailed them all quite a fiddly job but one I ensure is always done and now they just need to be turned into jam (those left in the fridge that is) the others are already ensconced in the freezer.




I think Rhubarb and Gooseberries are something that we grew up with.  As children I do not think that we were overly fond of the cooked fruit preferring it raw, I certainly had the privilege of scrumping from my Nan's garden but at a certain age both OH and I started craving the occasional crumble, fool or pie so both the Gooseberry and the Rhubarb re-entered our day to day living.


They are well worth putting up for use out of season even if for only a little taste of summer on a cold damp English winter day.


Gooseberry Gin


https://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/gooseberry-gin-recipe


I have made Gooseberry Gin before a couple of times.  I quite like it topped up with lemonade,  But this recipe also offers something to do with the left over berries i.e. Gooseberry and Gin Jam.  Now that is something worth thinking about.


Gooseberry and Elderflower jam

Here is a recipe that utilises Elderflower cordial as well.  However you can also use fresh elderflower heads.




I have jam to make and also Gooseberry curd hopefully later on when and if it gets a bit cooler.  Gooseberry jam is one of my favourites along with Strawberry and Rhubarb jam.

Catch you soon.

Pattypan

x


Monday, 25 June 2018

First Strawberries



I was watering up tonight and I unexpectedly found these hiding behind some of the trailing Strawberries which had formed but are not yet ripe. I  just had to show you this, the first of my Strawberries from my hanging baskets:  they were delicious.  There is always something very satisfying about growing your own.  It was like the lettuce the other night.  It was delicious.  Only baby steps so far, but I am determined to get there again.  I have a whole load of cherry tomatoes which have formed now have just got to wait for them to ripen.  They will not last long either.  But I have to be patient and wait!

Catch you soon.

Pattypan

Good Morning, Good Morning

I have been up and about since about 6:00am up and about before OH who came wandering in bleary eyed a bit confused as I was actually up and around.  Not something that normally happens but whilst I am at home, I want to try and get myself sorted out a bit and I really do love being up first thing usually on my own appreciating what is going on in nature around me.  When we go down to Cornwall at the place that we usually stay I usually after a few days get rested and sorted out and go and sit on the verandah of the Cottage and just sit and be there with a mug of coffee in my hand, enjoying the sun just sitting peaceably, listening to the bird song and just simply being and breathing.  It is a place so full of nature and reminds me of my Nan's Bungalow and the peace and quiet we used to enjoy there.  I am a person that needs to come too gradually in any event.  I could just do with being down in Cornwall at the moment but that is not going to happen yet unless the universe intervenes.  Ah never mind.  One day as my dear Dad used to say.

And what a gorgeous morning it is.  Already things have been happening like walking the dog, watching the rabbits and the squirrels feeding, a swan having a wash and brush up on the river, and birdsong, beautiful bird song.  It is also temperate which at this time of the morning smacks of a warm day to come.  It is magical.  Nature at her best. Season is on the turn again though the blackberries in the wild are starting to form their fruits.  So enjoy the sun whilst we have it and gather in the stores whilst you can for the pantry shelf.  I intend to start the canning/bottling whilst I am off work and get a nice little stock of things in like Apple sauce, apple slices, Tomato Sauce (pasta), Tomato Salsa, Pineapple jam, Lemoncello, Rhubarb Gin, Bottled plums, etc.  I am hoping to take advantage of the reduced items at the veggie shop.


I have already started one of my chores for the day.  I bought Gooseberries last week (a post still to come) but I bought further ones over the weekend and so I have started processing the second batch which are to go into the freezer.  OH likes a Gooseberry Crumble during the winter months.  It is not the only thing that needs doing, but I will see how I get on with the Gooseberries first as to what I do next.  I have some lovely Lemons that would be good for a Lemon Curd, some chillies to dry (for my pickled onions).  I also intend to start spicing the vinegar as well.

I had made myself a cup of coffee first thing which I was enjoying until Bumble decided to jump up where he was not supposed to and demolished it.  Fortunately the mug was intact, but as he cannot keep his nose out of anything and he only just has to look at stuff before it ends up in a heap or somehow falls over, that is why we called him Bumble.  So I am now off to make another one.

Upwards and Onwards.

Catch you soon.

Pattypan

x

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Hot Hot Day

Its been a lovely hot day and I have had a lovely afternoon out lunching with the girls that I used to work with.  It has been a complete and utter hoot.  We have been outside in the Beer Garden  - we had our meal out there as well and it is been lovely and relaxing and I have really enjoyed myself and I think that they did too. We are all going to get together in the not too distant future as well. It has been lovely.

Back home I organised home made milk shakes for OH and I  and then have had a peaceful evening watching TV and this weeks offering of Poldark.  I have always loved this series and remember watching it the first time round.  Both of them very different - I think that although I liked the first version my favourite is the current.  I still have not read the books but they are on my list of to do's.

I hope you have all had a lovely week too.

Catch you all later.

Pattypan

x

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Saturday night tea

We were both hungry for tea this evening but could not really  make up our minds as to exactly what we wanted.  I had suggested several things but OH could not really fancy them so in the end I took unilateral action.  I went and bought a chicken, roasted it and served it with proper baked potatoes, served with butter and with the option of adding dips or coleslaw to the potato both of which are favourites of mine.  I had mooted whether or not it should be sweet potato but thought that I might have that for dinner one day during the week.  Fortunately this week I do not have so many dinner dates so that is a real possibility for me.  I love baked sweet potato or sweet potato anything at the best of times.  I also like my food simply served as often that is the way that you get the best flavour out of your food.  The chicken I only ever use butter on in any event and maybe a little touch of herb, some lemon and an onion to keep it nice and moist.  I did not have a pudding but we have had a very large home made Strawberry milk shake each.  All of that has gone down very nicely.  

The other reason for cooking something this evening was also because I am out to lunch with my old team tomorrow first time have met up since left so will not be cooking my usual Sunday joint.  Therefore have to have something in situ for OH tomorrow and so I thought a chicken salad might go down well with him using some of the salad leaves out of the garden and other salad bits which are in the fridge.  Easily compiled and at least he is going to eat whilst I am out socialising……

Sorry its short and sweet have things to do as usual.

Catch you all shortly.

Pattypan

x

My Lasagna





Kathy, You asked how I made my Lasagna and for the recipe.  Well I really do not follow any particular recipe for Lasagna and it is a very much for me making the individual items like the cheese, sauce, tomato and mince (Ragu) base, and fresh pasta if you are making or either the prebought Lasagna Sheets, and then grating loads of tasty cheese.  

Not strictly the way the Italians do it but it does work for me.  In all honesty I prefer preparing everything from scratch but sometimes for whatever reason that is not possible so I use whatever I can (whether pre-bought items i.e. little cheats) but it still ends up a very tasty dish whichever way you deal with it. 

As I tend with a lot of my recipes to do things by memory and experience i.e. gauging how much ingredient to use rather than measuring it out and also just doing things I have had to think about the process I use when making Lasagna, but I am not infallible so if you have any queries lease ask and I will do my best to answer

Ingredients

For the Cheese Sauce

Butter
Plain Flour
Milk
Cheddar Cheese

For the Tomato and Mince Sauce Base (Ragu)


Either:

A jar of Tomato and Onion sauce; or
A couple of Tins of Italian Plum Tomatoes.
Fried Onion
(Optional Fried Leek, Sweet Pepper or a little fresh Chilli)
Crushed Garlic
Mixed Italian Herbs
Ground White Pepper

The White or Cheese Sauce

To start with I usually start off making the white sauce but mine is always a cheese sauce based on the simple Roux method of making sauce i.e. melt a good chunk of butter in a saucepan, add about 4 to 5 ozs of flour and then with a balloon whisk blend the butter and the flour together until it goes thick and paste like.  I always do this on a reasonably low heat keeping that balloon whisk working at all times.  I add milk as required - sorry I don't measure just do things by eye but only adding a little milk at a time (this is important as the sauce does not need to be flooded but the milk needs to be incorporated a little at a time into the flour and butter paste, but keeping that whisk going all times as this is what keeps the sauce lump free until it is to the desired consistency. 

Don't worry if the sauce goes too thin - my remedy to this is to melt a little more butter in a separate pan with some more flour and then to the paste then add a little of the sauce from the other pan and blend it until smooth and the paste is all worked in and then add the contents back to the original pan.

I then add a good teaspoon of made up mustard - the addition of mustard helps bring the flavour of the cheese out more.

As I have said one of my favourite cheeses is the Cornish Smuggler from M & S.  I tend to buy it when it is on offer and stock-pile it in the fridge.  It packs a lot of punch and a lot of flavour. 

I then grate about a block of the Cornish Smuggler Cheddar cheese and add it a bit at a time to the sauce on a low heat until it is just melted.  I taste all the time until it is how I want it.  Tasting is an important part of the process.  There should be a load of cheese left over which will be used in the layering up process.  I then pop it to one side whilst I deal with the tomato sauce.

The Tomato Sauce Base and Mince

This varies as to the time available to me.  The other day for instance I fried off until golden brown and translucent one medium sized onion, one finely sliced leek, crushed some garlic in.  I then in the other side of the pan (I use a large fry pan when doing this) start to gently fry the mince meat off (One pack is more than enough for two and makes one Lasagna that could potentially feed four people.  Two packs potentially 6 to 8 people with hearty appetites) until it is coloured.  When this is done I then add a jar of onion and tomato passata (or the tomato base as made below) , a good sprinkling of white pepper, (I use a lot of white pepper) and some mixed dried Italian herbs (includes Oregano, marjoram, thyme) and some fresh Basil. I then left this to bubble.  After tasting if it needs adjusting this is when I then start playing but often it does not need anything extra.  When to my taste I then switch this off and leave on top of the cooker.

[Another time when I do not have tomato base to hand I will set too with a couple of cans of whole Italian plum tomatoes, fried onion (and leek), crushed garlic and herbs  and white pepper.  I sometimes also add sweet pepper or a little chilli also. I then whisk up in the food processor and then cook through.  Sometimes I also fry a little bacon or lardons if I have them and fry these off before adding the onion and the other ingredients.  So it is very much changeable as to what I am doing with it.  Making it this way I usually end up with tomato base left over which I store in the fridge or make another Lasagna up and put it in the freezer uncooked].

The Layering Up

Once the basics are prepared I then start layering the dish up.  I use a square or oblong serving dish.  I layer the minced meat and tomato mix in the bottom of the serving dish, then the Lasagna sheets either home made or bought, then a layer of cheese sauce, then a layer of grated cheese and then start the layering again. I packed the dish tight but really for the dish size I used three layers is enough.  Once the dish is full I then finally top with a thick layer of grated cheddar cheese, pop it on the baking tray and then cook in the oven Gas mark 4 to 5 until a nice crisp golden cheesy crust is achieved. It may overflow the pan as it cooks that is why I put a baking sheet under the serving dish to catch any overflow.  I then let it settle after coming out of the oven for about 10 minutes or so using a knife and cut it into blocks, and serve on a plate with the addition of some fresh salad or you could use seasonal cooked vegetables and/or some garlic bread.



This is an absolute favourite here.  You can turn it into a vegetable Lasagna if the meat version is not to your liking.  Just blanch some seasonal vegetables or roast some seasonal vegetables and replace the meat layer with your veggies. Layering with sauce and grated cheese in the same way.

I hope this helps.

Catch you soon.

Pattypan

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