Sunday, 30 August 2009

Chit Chat and Soap Box

On Saturday on one of my trips to the veg shop I ended up having an interesting discussion with the owners. They were saying how difficult it was getting sourcing the produce they required to sell in the shop. Eatch time they went to their main supplier things were getting less and less. Earlier in the season they also indicated that they were having difficulty getting the variety of the produce they wanted particularly with regard to fruit. They told me that a lot of the exotics are imported and that because of the recession the suppliers were not getting what they wanted money wise from this country so were basically taking the produce to those who would in effect pay top dollar. Never mind that they had always received constant trade from this country. They are only a small independent shop - the produce they do have has always been very good and they waste very little and are quick enough to realise when they can still get something back on produce that is starting to date like apples, tomatoes etc. they are sold off for 50 pence a bag.

I then suggested why don't they approach the smallholder/growers direct out where they come from and she said that there was a particular problem here - the community I live in is a very mixed community and if it is not a certain variety they just will not buy. They even had to stop selling peated potatoes and carrots - which keeps the produce fresher longer because it wasn't washed!

Interestingly enough I haven't seen any blackcurrants this year - I am usually able to get them from the market but this year I have seen none at all. I am just urwondering whether it was a bad year for blackcurrants. I usually make home made Cassis for medicinal purposes of course. It is extremely good if you sustain a very bad cold and very soothing to a sore throat. Better than a sweaty sock tied round your neck to make the lurgey go away.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

2009.08.29 My Day

Well have had a very busy day so far. Went to my local veg shop and ended up buying all sorts of goodies to process.

I bought:

Corn on the cob [Frozen in the freezer]
Oranges [For Orange Wine. Orange Curd, saving the peel and home made mixed peel]
Lemons [Lemon Curd, Lemon Squash, Save the peel, Salted Preserved Lemons]
Grapefruit [Grapefruit Curd, Mixed Peel]
Cherries [Cherries in syrup (bottled) Cherry Brandy]
Victoria Plums [Plum Jelly, Chutney]
Black Plums [Plum Sauce]
Pears [Bottled in syrup, Spiced Pears]
Mini Pears (whole in syrup)
Tangerines [Curd, pomanders for Christmas]
Cooking Apples Chutney
Red Cabbage [Frozen in the freezer for use with pheasant and game)
Leeks [Frozen}
Raspberries [Raspberry Vinegar]
Strawberries [Strawberry Jam, part of summer compote for freezer for use at Christmas]
Blueberries [part of summer compote for freezer]
Peaches [Part of summer compote for freezer and and also 5 Spiced Peaches and Spiced Peaches]
Tomatoes [Chutney, Roasted with garlic and herbs for frozen passata]
Garlic to use as and when
Squash [Frezer]
Sweet Potato [Freezer]
Spring Onions in Colcannon for the freezer
Carrotts [Frozen]

I have processed the corn on the cob for the freezer. Some of the cobs were really large and I have split these in two. The smaller ones I have cut into three - to serve with things like rack of ribs where you only want a small portion. they are easy enough to prepare and just need blanching for a few minutes before draining and then packaging for the freezer. I want to get as many nice goodies as I can in the freezer for good eating during the winter months and at £1 for 3 cobs I didn't think that was too bad a price.

Then I have prepared red cabbage for the freezer as well I love its bright colour.


Then the leeks I have cut these on the slant at an angle and you can mix them into home made stir fries or to use as a base for a sauce or gravy or to serve as a veg. I always portion these as I do any items in 2 portion bags (if I have more people over just take out as many extra bags as required).

I sort of made the most of it today as the people who own it are going on holiday for a fortnight and the shop will not be open in their absence.

I have started off the Raspberry Vinegar. This will be lovely over a goats cheese salad

First of all you crush the berries in a bowl with the back of a spoon. Then you add white wine vinegar. I then decant into a jar with a lid and leave for several days.

Isn't the colour vibrant.

I was given these carrots as a freebie by the shop. To all intents and purposes they looked gone off, but it was only the outer skin which was just dark I have scraped this off and have ended up with lots of flavoursome carrots for the freezer.

And I still have loads more to do including:-

These lovely black plums


These Victoria Plums

Still have lots to do and this is despite me making two trips to the hospital for the day. One of my uncles and Aunts was visiting yesterday and it was lovely to see them again.

Well upwards and onwards have to process all of this and then there are other jobs like the washing and ironing besides.

Cant stop must fly have no end to do still and I am determined the pantry is going to be packed to the gunnels.

Catch you all soon.

Beautiful Morning

Its lovely here this morning the sun is shining it is mild and warm and best of all I don't have to go to work. I love mornings like this so calm so beautiful everything going at its own pace sometimes hurried sometimes slow. But at times like this I want to be in the countryside every morning, breathing in the fresh clear air waking up to the sound of birdsong coming to gracefully and simply being. I was woken by a young cockerel crowing this morning, someone who owns their own house is keeping chickens further down the street; he is becoming a regular alarm clock for me and I find myself missing him if I don't hear him. Not everyone appreciates natures alarm clock though but reminds me of when I used to stay at my Nan's and "the alarm clock" used to go off regular as clockwork (her cockerel). Well have things to do places to go am popping down to the hospital later on but have a load of things want to catch up on. OH half is away fishing so tomorrow morning might indulge in some classical music first thing "Peer Gynt's Morning" seems to be quite appropriate.

Be back all with you soon - and wherever you are have a lovely day

Friday, 28 August 2009


We saw the Consultant yesterday evening and he was very positive very upbeat was confident that they could control the situation with mum and to that end he was involving the surgical team and they were going to put a camera down to find out what was going on. My brother and I left reasonably happy and were able to give mum some idea of what was going to happen. Overnight apparently she has been really poorly and they havenot been able to stop her throwing up. The Consultants have spoken again and have decided that they were going straight in with an exloratory operation and as they put it would have a good look around whilst they were there. The operation was scheduled for as soon as possible although they were awaiting information from Addenbrookes before they could take her down to theatre as they had to check with the specialists there about her medication particularly her anti rejection therapy. (mum had a liver transplant about 19 years ago and is one of the longest surviving patients).

Mum has subsequently had her operation all has gone well and they have found out what was causing the problem. It turns out that part of her bowel had stopped working, the little intestine was also twisted and mum had formed another hernia. The bowel was also poking through the hernia breach and strangulating. They have now got this all sorted out and reinforced the hernia with meshing (mum has had this before). When we went into see her tonight, her colour was much better and despite undergoing quite a lengthy operation she seemed bright and was with it. I came away early so that she could rest. Hopefully from now on in she will continue to improve.

Thank you for your kind words and support it is much appreciated.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Home Made Vermouth

I have been nosing through my books again and I have come across this recipe which I intend to try (once I have enough wine saved up to use) - Its a real excuse for drinking red wine - well I think it is.

The Recipe comes from the Organic Cafe Cookbook by Carol Charlton ISBN No 0-7153-0940-4.

Peel 2 oranges (2 per bottle of wine) so that the peel comes away in one lovely looping piece. Hang up to dry for at least 2 weeks. Collect the bottle ends of red wine and put into a lidded preserving jar topping up each time you have some remnants of red wine. Once you have enough wine together to make a couple of bottles of wine place the dried orange peel in a wine bottle with brown sugar to taste and pour in the wine. Cork and leave to stand for a minimum of 2 weeks until the wine has soaked up the taste of the orange peel and the sugar has replaced the taste of vinegar. Serve and enjoy

Update on my Mum

My brother and I have been to see the specialst today - a very nice man inspired us both with confidence. They suspect that Mum may have a blockage of some sort and are dragging in the surgical team to check her out. She has had various operations over the years so there may be some scar tissue which can cause adhesions and lesions. Mum has also lost 7 inches in height through Osteoporosis; so when they Xray her they are not necessarily getting a clear picture as everything is compressed down and the part they need to examine they cannot get at without putting a camera down. They (the medics think it is highly treatable and that they will be able to keep her stable through the use of drips etc (she had a bad night throwing up again last night and today) and apparently her potasium levels are very low which is why she feels weak and fatigued. At least they seem to be doing something.

I am going to get some tea shortly and then it will be back up to to the hospital.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Home made Limoncello


8 Unwaxed lemons
1 litre vodka
250g/oz white sugar


Begin by carefully taking the peel off the lemons very thinly do not use any of the white pith as ths is bitter and ruins the flavour.Alternatively use a grater to take off the lemon skin.

Combine with the vodka in a kilner type jar with a lid and leave to stand and infuse for about a month the posh name is to macerate.

Once the flavour has imparted into the vodka add the sugar, stirring or shaking daily until it has completely dissolved.

Strain I use coffee paper filters to take away any sediment, and or peel if in strips, decant into screw top bottles and store in the freezer. Always serve this well chilled.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Hedgerow Gin

The choice of fruit is up to you basically any hedgerow fruits can be used in this recipe. Use just a single fruit or a mixture of fruits, Wild Damsons, sloes,, elderberries,rosehips, blackberries,blueberries in fact any of the edible fruits that you find in the hedgerows. What you make now will not be ready for a year so it might be worth doing a couple of batches at a time. However if you want to eat the alcoholic fruit afterwards probably best not to put too many rosehips or haws in.


500g fruit of your choice either one blend or a mixture (but remember to keep notes on your recipe so if you find a combination that you particularly like you will be able to repeat it)

500ml of gin

500g sugar

1 litre clean dry wide necked jar with a screw top lid

Pack the fruit sugar and gin into the jar. Cover with cling film and then seal with the screwtop lid (stops any nasties getting in). Label the jar (very important as otherwise you will end up having a blind tasting - which can be interesting - I know I have done it) Pop in a cupboard with an even temperature and forget about it for a year.

When you are ready to try it pour off the spirit off the fruit (I pass this through a coffee paper filter) decant. This will leave you with alcoholic fruit. This can be served in small portions as a dessert with some cream, but if you don't fancy it discard it.

The longer the liqueur is kept the better the flavour, but if you can't wait for a year try it after about three months.

Serve in a glass with some amaretti or cantucci.

Sorry I have been missing

However there is a genuine reason. My mum was admitted to hospital overnight last Saturday night and has been hospitalised ever since. I am therefore backwards and forwards to the hospital at the moment when I get home in the evenings. Have been very worried as seemed to get poorlier and poorlier, but today although not out of the woods her eyes were brighter and she seemed more alert than she has been although she is still not eating properly. This is what my brother and I are really concerned about and we have asked to see her Consultant to try and find out what is going on with her.

So please bear with me I will back with you all very shortly

Take care my friends.

Please don't forget about my give away please even if you have no story enter your name and will draw all names out of the hat.


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The Night Sky

Its getting darker earlier or I seemed to have noticed it more particularly this week. Gently as the sky gets blacker - it seems to have a reflective sometimes luminous quality sometimes green sometimes purple sometime ochre. I love to be on the coast at this time of year to watch the last glimmers of light as the sun goes to be bed on our continent only to wake up on another, and to have that last drink in a local pub before retiring for the night. But it is the stillness of the night that talks to me - I wish I had time to sit to soak it in properly. I love the stillness, just to sit, listen and simply be; to hear the calls of the wildlife, to feel the breeze on my cheek and the salt on my lips and when down near the sea to hear the roll and lap lap lapping sound of the waves as they come in to the beach. The light that is left is impressing an autumnal quality to it already - a little earlier than usual - even nature seems to be ahead of itself with the blackberries out with an early crop already. In the countryside I feel free as though I physically shed a skin like a chameoleon and its as though I can truly breathe - whereas in the city I often feel suffocated

The council seem to have cut back on having the street lamps on full blast, the ones down our street just have a low orangey glow to them and the street appears unlit. The sky looking out over the town also seems to have lost its luminous glare which is a good thing. The darkness is more like that of a country village - but it seems strange - after years of glare the night sky is now more natural. In a country village you quickly be come accustomed to the darkness to find your way about.

I can feel the shift in the seasons there is a silence to their movement from one part of year to another and a sadness - its like saying goodbye for a while to a very dear friend, not knowing if you will see them again, not knowing whether your paths will cross again or whether it is goodbye for good. We have to trust in something we cannot see and something we cannot touch but we know it is there.

Its a time for reflection to put things straight and in perspective and to plan as one as much can plan these days. Sometimes this is painful as we havc to learn to let go - even when we don't want to, but if we truly love the people in our lives, sometimes we have to let go in order that they grow - if you let them go willingly they will often return by free choice somewhere down the line - its the when we don't know.

I think winter will be long this year - there is a dampness to the season already - even though it is muggy and hot tonight - my bones ache apart from the hot spot periods summer has not really been the summer we normally enjoy. I don't tolerate heat or cold too well and I never seem to strike a happy medium. Oh well we have to be grateful for small mercies, things could be a lot worse. Give us to strength to deal with those issues that can be dealt with and the grace to let go of those that we cannot control or deal with. Otherwise you give power to your fears.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Blackberry Brandy

I have all the ingredients in and I plan a little play. The blackberries are in the freezer, the brandy in the cupboard and the sugar in the pantry . Mr Grumpy Guts keeps reminding me that I have chores to do and all I wanna do is PLAY. Think I will be doing this much later on - care to join me,

1 kg blackberries
115g granulated sugar
75cl bottle brandy

Lighty crush the blackberries with a wooden spoon before putting into a wide necked bottle and adding the brandy. Leave to steep and macerate for about three months then strain through a jelly bag or you can use coffee machine paper filters which help filter out any sediment and which can then be disposed of. Decant into sterilised bottles and seal - put in the alcohol rack in your pantry/store. Bring out as home-made liquer to your guests at Christmas. Don't want to share - keep it in the corner and have a treat now and then.

The Language of Flowers

Ever wondered what secret message the choice of flowers will give to the recipient well here is a list I came upon by chance and which I thought I would share with you. The Victorians were great ones for sending a "secret message"

  1. Acacia - secret love.
  2. Almond blossom - hope.
  3. Amarylis - pride splendid beauty
  4. Anemone - forsaken.
  5. Apple blossom - preference.
  6. Bell flower, white, gratitude.
  7. Bluebell - constancy
  8. Broom - humility.
  9. Camelia, red - unpretending excellence.
  10. Camelia, white - perfected excellence.
  11. Carnation, red - alas for my poor heart.
  12. Carnation, striped - refusal.
  13. Chammole - patience
  14. Chrystanthemum, red - I love
  15. Clematis - mental beauty, purity
  16. Columbine - folly
  17. Daisy - innocence
  18. Elderflower - compassion, consolation
  19. Everlasting flower - unfading memory
  20. Forget me not - fidelity, true love
  21. Hawthorn blossom - hope
  22. Heartsease - remembrance
  23. Hibiscus - delicate beauty
  24. Honeysuckle - devotion.
  25. Hyacinth - unobtrusive loveliness
  26. Hyacinth, blue - constancy
  27. Jasmine, white - amiability
  28. Jasmine, yellow, happiness, grace and elegance
  29. Jonquil, I desire a return of affection
  30. lavender - silence
  31. Lilac, purple, first emotions of love
  32. Lilace, white - youthful innocence
  33. Lily, purity
  34. Lily of the Valley - purity, return of happiness
  35. Magnolia - grief
  36. Marigold - joy
  37. Michelmas Daisy - farewell
  38. Mignonette - your qualities are supreme
  39. Nasturtium - patriotism
  40. Orange blossom - purity and loveliness
  41. Pansies, love and thought
  42. Peony, bashfulness
  43. Pinks, love
  44. Poppy red, consolation
  45. Primrose - early youth
  46. Rose, love
  47. Rose, musk - capricious beauty
  48. Rosebud - pure and lovely
  49. Rosemary - remebrance
  50. Snowdrop - hope
  51. Stock - lasting beauty
  52. Tulip - love
  53. Violet - modesty
  54. Wallflower - fidelity in adversity
  55. Zinnia - thoughts of absent friends

Monday, 17 August 2009

Home Made Yoghurt 1

Home made Yoghurt is very easy to make and you produce in quantity for a relatively cheap price compared to what you may pay in a supermarket. Plus what you are making is natural yoghurt which means you choose how you use it. Yoghurt is good for you it helps to keep the right bacteria in your gut so that your system digests your food properly. It is especially good for people who have ongoing stomach conditions suc as Diverticulitis and IBS. Helps to soothe the gut and make sure that the right bacteria is being encouraged, as in some conditions this is the main reason for so much discomfort. A regular dose every day does the system good. It certainly helps me with my immune system problems.

It can also be used in a multitude of ways;you can use it in main meals, as a dessert with the addition of a fruit puree, you can freeze with the additon of a fruit sauce to make home made ice lollies for the children - plus you have the added knowledge of what has gone into it. Plus if you buy a set of small jam jars from Lakeland you can do individual pots for the family for pack ups. The beauty of using these is that they can easily be sterilised and the screw caps available can be as well which means you can re-use time after time And if if you have some strawberries or raspberries apples or bananas going over you can use them up by making them into a puree to put in the bottom of the jars and then topped off with the yoghurt - much cheaper than buying from the supermarket.

You can also cook with it - the addition of some slaked cornflour helps stop the yoghurt splitting if you wish to cook with it.

I have made yoghurt on and off for years - it started when my mum bought a yoghurt machine and it was part of me earning pocket money to make the same for the rest of the family. Mum's little machine was an electric 6 pot maker (Plastic pots with reusable polythene lids). I bought a similar machine after I was married. I then read about the no-electric version of utilising a vaccuum flask. I then found the Easiyo yoghurt kit and I use this vacuum flask for doing the yoghurt as above - I very rarely buy the Easiyo sachets as they have got extremely expensive although the flvours are wonderful and the mixes do produce a very creamy yoghurt and it produces about a litre (I use more milk with the Easiyo than stated above and fill the plastic jar to the neck with the warmed milk. You then pour a kettle full of boiling water into the vaccum flask after you have put the polythene pot into the flask on what is known as the baffle. The water is usually filled to the shoulders of the jar, the top lid is put on and then you literally leave it overnight somewhere out of a draft. Open up the next morning wonderful home made yoghurt that just needs chilling.

The only things that you must remember to do by making yoghurt this way is that every time you make a batch of yoghurt you must remember to take at least two teaspoons of the natural yoghurt from the batch to be used as your starter for the next batch. Every third batch buy a new small pot - this keeps the active ingredients at their best - problems can occur if this is not done regularly i.e. the yoghurt being thin and not setting properly.

If you buy yoghurt in pots more often or not it is flavoured and you are restricted to how you use it. You can use yoghurt in smoothies, in cooking as the base of a sauce. You can make home made cheese from it.


1 pint/600 ml standard pasteurised milk
2 heaped teaspoons bought natural yoghurt preferably with the word "live" on it
1 heaped tablespoon of dried milk powder


Heat the milk to boiling, then cool in a bowl of cold water until temperature drops down to 112 degrees F/60 degrees C - hot bath temperature. Put the yoghurt in a bowl with the milk and then whisk in the dried milk which helps to stablise the yoghurt.

Cover and put in either an airing cupboard for 12 hours or in a wide mouth vaccuum flask for 6 hours or use a yoghurt making kit

This is the Easiyo kit - you can often get offers on in places like Lakeland for these kits and they have also in the psat been featured on QVC.

The polythene flask and lid

Inside the flask

The Baffle

The Baffle fits inside the flask and is used for balancing the plastic internal jar with its lid. Boiling water is then added up to the shoulders of the jar, the lid is then placed on and left overnight.

The beauty of using this set is that it is very easily cleanable - I use baby sterilsing tablets to clean out the internal jar and also the outer equipment. Best of all it uses no electricity just a kettle of boiling water.


I popped into Lakeland today as you do - they have an offer on for the basic Easiyo making kit - it is normally around £13 - On offer on sale at the moment for just over £6 - that is a cheap enough investment for something that is going to do long term service in the kitchen. Just thought I'd mention it.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

2009.08.16 My Day

Well I managed to get the kitchen finished today all nicely scrubbed and everything in its place.

Have had a busy day. Made some sultana scones which is the same recipe that I posted for sweet scones but with a handful of golden sultanas thrown in as well or any mixed fruit or alternative fruit of your choice you could use a preparatory mixed fruit, or raisins or ordinary sultanas, cranberries, dried apricot. Very easy to do and quick. I was always taught by my mum that if you had the cooker on you packed it to the gunnels and used it to do a bit of baking as well and get the most out of having the cooker on in full swing. That's why Mum always traditionally bakes on a Sunday morning when she is cooking the Sunday joint.

We had roast rib of beef for dinner this evening cooked with garlic roasted in its skins and then mashed into the juices from the meat, veggie water added, seasoning, redcurrant jelly, marigold gravy mix and some cornflower. I like meat cooked with garlic.

Wasn't a big joint and was cooked slowly but it had a lot of flavour

And of course if there is Roast Beef for lunch then there has to be Yorkshire Pudding - boy did it rise today.

Dinner was very tasty and I managed to get two tubs of roast beef with onion gravy for the freezer - so if I am not around for whatever reason the OH should be able to get something tasty to eat.

Then I made a nectarine crumble

Then I stewed some plums to put into the freezer. I did not flavour them, flavourings such as cinnamon can be added once the fruit is added/made into its final recipe.

So all in all have had a very productive time in the kitchen today - cleaning and cooking wise.

Hope to be able to play a little tomorrow evening when I get home from work as well.

Apricot Cordial

I have never made this before so cannot vouch for what it is like but nothing ventured nothing gained. Just read the recipe and thought it might be something nice and different to have available for the Christmas put down or for when I have friends for dinner. I like to have something different available, and after all its about making use of those ingredients you have to hand.

I can usually locate all the ingredients in the house somewhere.


250g dried apricots coarsley chopped
500 ml/2 1/4 cups dry white wine
Scant 150g/ 1/2 cup clear honey
150ml/2/3 cup of brandy


Steep the Apricots in the wine in a non-rective bowl for 12 hours. Pour the contents of the bowl into a saucepan then bring slowly to simmering point; stir in the honey until dissolved. Remove from the heat cover and leave in a cool place - but not the fridge. Leave for three days sitring occasionally. Strain add the brandy and bottle as normal. Store for at least two or three months before drinking.

Makes about 1.6 litres/7 cups

Don't waste the apricots use in home made vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

2009.08.15 My Day

Well it has been quite a pleasant day today. Started off with going to the butchers at Helpston Willowbrook farm where purchased a rib of beef for tomorrow's dinner, some boar sausages, smoked bacon, 3 venison steaks, two packs gloucester old spot pigs liver, some Onion Relish, a wedge of Lincolnshire poacher cheese. And then we went for breakfast in their new coffee shop cum restauarant (called the Granary) and came to peacefully and civilly. Had a bacon bap and cups of tea and OH had the full English breakfast.

We then came back home where I was dropped off at the veg shop where I bought cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, leeks, sweetcorn, 6 cobs cherry tomatoes, celery, plums purple and red, apricots, oranges apples, melon, lemons which are now in the second fridge for processing. I was also given some over-ripe nectarines.

Not bad for about £15 all in.

However, OH was intending to go fishing - but he hasn't as he has an upset tum. maybe next week he will go again its been a while since he has been.

I have been tidying the kitchen again - still not quite there but will be hopefully soon - have been finding proper homes for everything which is easier said than done

Here are my new shelves, they are still not quite sorted but will show further photos when it is finished.

Have a lot of things to do over the next week or so including making or preparing the following:

Make Dried Apricot wine

Dry for Bouquet Garni faggots

Leek casing
celery sticks
carrot strips
carrot leaves

I have all these loaded into the dehydrator

And some apples as well

Then combine these ingredients with fresh herbs including bay leaves tied into little bundles

Make Mint Cordial

Make Plum Crumbles for the freezer

Make Orange and Tarragon jelly

Make Lemon Curd

Make Blackberry Brandy

Start a new batch of ginger beer

Have been playing with some crotcheting. What started out as an experimental make up bag has been converted into a flannel as I hadn't got quite enough stitches on the needle. All experiemental of course but I thought it would be finer work than knitting into a flannel.

Here's what I have done so far

Oh well better get on.

Catch you all later

Friday, 14 August 2009

Date Slices

Mum used to make these when I was very little - I loved dates and figs then and these are very moorish

1/2 lb stoned dates
4 oz self raising flower
6 oz caster sugar
1 pint water - dash of vanilla essence
4oz porridge oats
4 oz butter

Boil the dates with the water, cool and add vanilla. Mix the flour, oats and sugar together and rub in the fat. Press half the mixture into a tin 7 inches by 11 inches (sorry I don't do metric) cover with the dates and top with remaining mixture. Cook at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes. Mark into slices whilst hot. Leave in tin to cool. Decant from tin - I store these in tins.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Plastic Pots and Plastic bottles

I hate wasting things - especially if I can get a second use out of something that has already been used.

Plastic pots - margarine tubs or butter tubs as long as they are sturdy enough I wash dry and then re-cycle as storage for apple sauce and fruit purees in the freezer. Also good for putting sauces in; home made ice cream and for putting excess food in for one portion meals rather than wasting anything. The sauces can be used in a variety of ways too, not just as sauces, but as spreads and also to incorporate within a cake. I also use the fruit puree on muesli breakfast cereal with some natural yoghurt and toasted sesame seeds. Very scrummy. You can also use the puree to make muffins or apple sauce cake. So there is a lot you can do with a variety of things. Margarine or butter tubs I use for putting in left over food that will make a meal for one and freezing or doing small amounts of ice cream for use in the week

I re-use pop bottles as well. I cut the top part of the bottle off about two inches down from the top, take the top part off take off the lid invert top part of a bottle and you have an emergency funnel.

I also chop off the bottom part of the bottle use that for growing seeds in and use the top part complete with lid as a mini cloche for upcoming plants - helps protect them by keeping warm and also keeping the nasties away until the plants are big enough to fend for themselves.

I also chop the bottle into pieces about 2 inch deep and form as many rings as I can from the bottle. These rings are then used when I plant out seedlings to protect them from slugs etc. I also use the funnel part complete with lid as a slug trap with some beer in - helps get rid of the pesky predators.

We have a water machine at work and every so often I liberate a selection of these used water cups and bring them back home for transplanting seedlings into - I try and make the best use of whatever I have around me. The less money you spend on unnecessary things or things that can be made use of the more pennies you have to spend on much more important things. After all being thrifty is making your money go as far as you can make it go.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Sorbets Made with Syrups or Cordials

Ever needed a pudding in a hurry and don't think you have anything to use and relatively cheaply as well. Home made cordials or even bought cordials can be used as a light and refreshing dessert which doesnt take forever but it helps if you do a bit of pre-planning i.e. make the day before you require it.

So you don't make your own syrups/cordials! Well you can use shop bought ones as well like Belvoir Elderflower cordial as an example.

Basically the quantities are half cordial to half water with the addition of beaten egg white if so desired. (So say you were using half a pint of water then you would use half a pint of cordial/syrup. There is no need for any additional sugar either) Put mixture in the freezer trays in the fridge, when mixture starts to freeze take out and beat mixture to remove crystals. Re-freeze. Do this once more and you should have a light and delicious sorbet.

If you have an ice-cream machine/sorbet maker just put your mixture in and let the machine work its magic - all you have to do is switch it on.


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Sweet Smelling Gifts Part 2

Well here are some of the flowers that I have dried whole for use in pot pourri. I have dried cornflowers and whole rose heads and I must say I am quite pleased with the results for a first effort with whole flower heads - never attempted this before. I currently have bay leaves and other leafy material drying and I thought that to make the pot pourri look aesthetically pleasing from the top the whole flowers would finish off the pot pourri. All experimental of course but am getting there very slowly.

Will post the recipe(s) for pot pourri separately.

Monday, 10 August 2009

My Weekend

Well its been a hectic weekend again - and have had major move-its and cleaning in the dining room. Well erhm it wasn't quite planned honestly. Ever started something and wished you hadn't. In an earlier post I referred to trying to persuade OH about purchasing a pine dresser top to put some shelving on the wall in the dining room to hold my ingredients jars etc. Well after much debate (some of it heated) I eventually got my own way and to say I am very chuffed is an understatement. The dresser top is in excellent condition and only cost £20 - is solid pine and according to the shop I got it from - he thought it was Ducal! OH then disagreed with where I wanted to put it and we eventually came to a compromise. He had also suggested that we move the freezer from where it was in the corner and put my CD Chest underneath to give the impression of a full dresser and I must say it does not look too bad at all. Whilst the furniture was out I spring cleaned behind every piece. Photos to follow of the finished result - and with my storage jars and all my Rumptopfs and Crocks that I have collected to date all from Charity shops on the top shelf and my storage jars underneath does not look half bad. Also intend to put some mug hooks on to hang my mugs. So I am well chuffed. I need to get cracking now with those clippie rugs made of old denim jeans - a job for the long winter evenings

Ideally the big chest freezer and the upright freezer don't need to be in the dining room. I spoke to OH yesterday and indicated that once we have a little spare cash to hand will try and purchase a very large shed - not just for him but for the both of us - he needs somewhere to make his fishing rigs etc. I need somewhere for the freezers and also my wine and beermaking equipment and preserving storage and I propose that the freezers go in there thus freeing up much needed space in the dining room. Well thats the plan at the moment. I would also like a bicycle so that I can go foraging when OH not aboutfor various bits and pieces - a bicycle with a big whicker basket on the front now that would be just dandy and having a bigger shed would mean would be able to store it safely. Once that is done I can set too getting the garden laid out and in place ready for next year's growing season - I have only done a little bit this year but it has more than whetted my appetite.

The older I get the more I am moving away from the idea of a purely fitted kitchen that costs the absolute earth. In this dream house that is somewhere ont he horizon for the kitchen I quite like the idea of finding freestanding pieces of character and either painting them or stripping and restoring if needed to and also collecting various items to achieve the effect I would like. I am afraid I am not in to modern - some pieces I like but more often or not I prefer a traditional look. I have had new in the past, but I think it pays to be patient and acquire this or that a little at a time - it doesn't have to be new as long as it is in good condition or has plenty of potential. I have never been to a reclaimation yard but am quite interested in buying slabs of slate and or marble at some point to be used as shelving work surfaces because they are nice and cool for making pastry on and also for storing preserves. In the traditional pantry there was always a cold shelf. Buying a bit at a time and utilising what is to hand will also work out much cheaper in the long run. I am still working on bits and bobs as well inbetween everything else and really when I get sorted a bit more am going to have a sewing play day every week to try and get lots of goodies made for Christmas presents. I am experimenting at the moment with some crotchet work in white cotton four ply the intention is to make a little make up bag and a flannel in the crotchet work (although am not sure at the moment how this will turn out) and I thought I would have a go at making some soap and/or bath bombs together with some shoe stuffers, lavender bags and padded coathangers for Chrimbo presents, just ideas at the moment, still at the playing stage,but smaller items that can be achieved quite quickly

Talking of winter evenings - it got very dark here tonight - a lot earlier than usual and there is definitely a bit of an autumn twang in the air; the blackberry bushes that I pass on the way to work are also getting blacker, but they are too near the road to pick more's the pity.

Happy birthday to my friend Anneope from Silver Sewer and also my friends Linda and Dave - hope you all have lovely days.

Am tired now and still have a bit to do plus the round up of the cats before they start howling to come in.

Catch you all soon.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Lovely Blog Award

Thank you so much Elizabeth - it is much appreciated I understand that the brief is to pass it on to 5 blogs that you thoroughly admire

I nominate:

Rowan is a very spiratual lady I wish I had her peace and energy. Rowan strikes me as a very calming and soothing energy and who is very passionate and puts her heart and soul into whatever she does. I love reading about her little forays to places of interest around the country and about the herb courses that she has undertaken with Christina Stapely. I also love her photographs and the enthusiastic way she speaks about her subject

Jennie aka Bovey Belle http://codlinsand
Jennie is absolutely wonderful and an absolute fount of knowledge I love reading her nature notes and also about her archaelogical forays around the country; very passionate she loves her animals and horses is a wonderful cook and like me loves the old recipes and ways of doing things. Her husband restores old furniture and builds new - I was particularly taken with the blanket chest that he has made recently absolutely artisan and masterful skilled work. My Uncle Jim was a Master Cabinet Maker so I learnt to appreciate hand crafted items from a very early age. I think Jennie is my kindred spirit and although we have never met as yet I think if we ever did we would never stop talking. Keep up the good work Jennie xx

Leanne at Somerset Seasons Dorset days Leanne is pure spirit and all heart a truly spiratual person who sees the good in everything and likes to make things and loves to cook and absolutely adores her animals. There is not a bad bone in Leanne she always sees the good in others. I love her photographs and her stories.

Dannette aka and the tales of her two beautiful daughters(twins) and how she and her family strive to give their family a better standard of living harnessing their strengths to grow their own food and doing this as a family. Dannette is living my dream to have the land to work a much simpler and gentler way of life which teaches its own lessons and bears its own gift. Dannettes journey with her preserving and putting things up for feeding the family by whatever method. Well done lass you are doing brilliantly even though I know at times it is not easy.

And last but not least my good friend Anne from Silver Sewer. http://silversewer.blogspot

Anne is another excellent cook and beautiful needlewoman to boot. Her patchwork is absolutely fantastic as are her other needlework projects. Anne and her husband Edwin also have an allotment which they work together. I am extremely fond of Anne who has a heart of gold a real good sort.

Thank you ladies you are very special

How Do you Blog

Because my time is limited I tend to have a lot of posts that I have prepared in the pipeline stored on my Dashboard like ladies in waiting already to step onto the stage. I then just post and add bits as I think about them and often just copy and paste into a post or posts for that particular day - it saves me time especially during the week when I am working and especially when I have photographs to download.

Being as a I am a novice blogger, this has been the way that I have come up with to process as much as I can with very little time. Do any of you have tips as to what you do to be more time effective.

Look forward to hearing from you

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Got some wallpaper lurking in the cupboard from that big decoration job. Don't know what to do with it. I use mine for lining the shelves to the fireside cupboard in the dining room. But you can also use to cover note books to put your own spin on and jazz it up a bit. I have also lined the shelving under the stairs with wallpaper to store my bottles of preserves there. I chose a bright green wallpaper and painted the cupboard out in white to make it look lovely and clean.

I have a small linen chest up in the back bedroom which I use as a sewing cupboard. I quite fancy painting it a turquoise/sea green and then lining it on the inside with paper to make it look good so it is both decorative and practical. That is one of the jobs on the list.

You can also use to line the insides of old freestanding cupboards; give them a paint job on the outside and then give them a complimentary lining on the inside. sliding wardrobe doors, can also be covered. Makes nice lining for chests of drawers too. If you rub some essential oil overthe lining for the drawer with a ball of cotton woool and refresh every so often will make you our linings scented from something you had in the house. It is useful for lining larder shelves as well and as and when they become dirty just replace by re-lining the shelf. Then edge the shelf with some cheap white or cream lace and "pretty" your shelves up. You can even use pretty wrapping paper for decoupage or for re-wrapping presents. I always recycle pretty paper.

Today we have a real choice of what wallpapers we choose for our homes whether they be bright and abstract, flowery or something a little more traditional.

Have children in the house who love to do messy artwork or loads of drawing. Buy a roll of lining paper (much cheaper to buy this way) and just roll off as much as you want then cut or leave it whole and roll from the other end in a continuous sheet.

I remember at Junior School we used to make Christmas calendars and coasters from left over wallpaper and give them as presents to family and friends.

What do you do with your old toothbrush

Silly question, but you can get a second life out of your toothbrush after its done cleaning your teeth. I store any I have to replace in an old jam jar under the sink - so that when I need one for a particularly fiddly job (my fingers are not as dexterous as they were as a result of the arthritis) and I find them really useful for applying leverage and pressure on a particularly fiddly items to clean.

I recycle mine for use in cleaning nooks and crannies and places where I cannot get my fingers in like cleaning in the groove around the base of taps; and cleaning grouting and the seal around the bath. I also use them for removing any debris on the fridge and cooker seals. I also use them for getting into delicate pieces of jewellery. I use the brushes both dry and wet. Sometimes I dip the brush in dry salt and then use lemon juice as it helps eradicate lime scale from dripping taps. So next time you have to replace the toothbrush recyle it don't bung it

To Celebrate my 4000th Plus Visitors

To celebrate my 4000th + visitors to my little blog and to thank you for your support I am having my first give away. I am offering The Victorian Book of Ribbons and Roses by Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell. Its a lovely little book and has several ideas for making things for your home like rose bud pomanders, rose sachets, a rosebud heart just a few ideas for starters, it also gives other projects based on the Victorian era. Little things that help make your home yours. But then it is the little things that matter most. This book will I am sure appeal to the novice crafter and the skilled crafter alike.

All you have to do is email me with your name and address and a short anecdote about a memory, item or event that is very special to you. I am afraid I am terribly sentimental and it is to me the stories that mean the most even though they are often hidden. I will then make a draw out of a hat at the beginning of September, and with your permission relate some of your "anecdotes" to the rest of the followers. Your ideas and your memories, customs and way of doing things may well give birth to new ideas and traditions for the rest of us to implement. It is good to cascade ideas and traditions it helps enrich our lives. Please don't be shy the more the merrier. I look forward to reading your anecdotes.

Monday, 3 August 2009

To clean China/Pottery Mugs

If you are a regular tea drinker as I am, you will notice that your mugs and cups over a period of time need deep cleaning. I was taught many years ago by a friend called Jean who was a cleaner at the place I worked at the time, that the best way to clean your china cups/mugs or pottery mugs is to put a teaspoon full of biological soap powder into the bottom of the cup/mug pour on boiling water and leave overnight. Next morning wash as normal and the cups should come up lovely and clean. This method of cleaning the mugs, works every time for me. But it also preserves the integrity of the glaze. I believe that a lot of people used to pour bleach into mugs/cups with boiling water. The only draw back with this is that it eats into the glaze of the piece eventually.


I have been reading a lot of late about Vinegar , how to make it, its uses in cooking and its uses in cleaning and I have had my nose in a book that I didn't realise I had got. What Vinegar you say - I said that too until I tried it. I had always been bothered that if I used Vinegar for cleaning it would make the house smell horribly vinegary. Far from it, it is excellent with boiling water and washing soda for cleaning the house. It makes the house so much cleaner.

Sorry if I am waxing lyrical about Vinegar, but you are speaking to the recently converted - bit of a bore aren't I. However, having five cats in the household; wanting to be more greener and kinder with my methods of cleaning i.e. leaving minimum carbon footprint etc; I have very sensitive skin and have psoriasis quite badly at times; and also being mean - not having many pennies has made me more watchful and trying to use things that I do have in the house - I always have different vinegars in being a bit of a pickling and preserving fanatic.

I am quite interested in having a go at producing my own vinegar. I have seen special pots to buy to do this, but at the moment I cannot afford £60 for the privilege. Does anyone know of a cheaper source where I can obtain such a pot - she asks hopefully - pretty please.

I have been adding two tablespoons of white vinegar to a kettle full of boiling water in a bucket; I have then added to the hot water 2 tablespoons of washing soda, a squirt of washingup liquid and then cold water until can cope with the temperature comfortably and I have used this for cleaning the kitchen floor and also washing the walls and paintwork down.

I have the cooker to clean tomorrow night and have found the following recipe which I am going to have a go at.

To remove grease and grime and cooking spills from inside your oven:

Make a paste of (225ml) 1 cup of white distilled vinegar and (30g) 1/4 cup of powdered laundry detergent. Heat the oven for five minutes at 180 degrees then turn off. Spread the paste round the oven applying it more heavily to very greasy areas. Leave paste on for an hour then use a plastic spatulato gently scrape the dirt away.

Wipe clean with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.

I shall let you know how I get on.

I understand also that if you choose to use a chemical remover for cleaning the oven neutralise any chemical odours the first time you put the oven on afterwards, by wiping the inside with white vinegar onto the cloth as the final rinsing agent.

Having the vinegar cleaners means that one general thing will actually clean loads of things, rather than buying a cleaner for this and for that.

I've been tagged!

Anne from Silver Sewer has tagged me - the first time I have been tagged - thank you Anne. I am not quite sure if I have it right. but I believe I have to tell you about 7 things about me that you may not know. Here goes:

I learnt how to belly dance and used to go regularly to classes until something else I do collided with the dates. But it is good exercise and I would thoroughly recommend it. It is a very sensuous dance and a very creative form of dance, but unfortunately gets a bad press at times by innuendo.

I am a Reiki II qualified - I help people help themselves and stay positive.

I have been a full time step-mum in my time - not an easy job at the best of times and I worked full time through the process as a legal secretary for 8 1/2 years purely doing Social Services child care work.

I am an empath - I tune into people, feel their hurt, feel their pain go through whatever it is with them. I also feel their excitement and their joy I don't just see black and white - I see the grey areas too.

I am quite shy until people get to know me.

I have a wicked sense of humour!

All my friends are shall we say "slightly warped" all individuals in their own right and who are not afraid to be themselves.

Well I have thought - and it has been a difficult choice but I now have to tag 7 people. They are

Kadeea of http://www.consumingthe/

Alleybea of

Elizabeth of

Lottie of

Kim aka Yarrow of

Dannette of

Nita of

Catch Up

Hello everyone, sorry haven't been on line to update for a day or two but I went to a very good party on Saturday night and I didn't get to bed until 4.45 a.m. We had a lovely time and it was wonderful playing catch up with everyone. We had strawberries and champagne,smoked salmon, pate and french bread, cooked chicken prawns, prawns and more prawns, cheesecake, black forest gateau, .... there was no end to eat and the beauty of it all was that it was like a pick n mix everyone took something. We even managed to get through three bottles of port between 3 of us! And we never stopped talking. I was up at 8.30 a.m. with a mug of tea in my hand, enjoying the peaceful early morning. My friend's garden backs onto the river - she has a very large four bedroom spacious house. And as soon as you walk through the door its as if the house hugs you - the energy there is so wonderful. I sat under a rose porch just sat on my own quietly coming too and enjoying the peace and quiet of a beautiful garden. Although I didn't get tipsy I was tired yesterday, but just got on with housewifely things and trying to get things sorted. Things are coming together very slowly, but then getting rid of 20 years worth of rubbish is quite a task. We are to have a new boiler in the kitchen and it has to cited on an outside wall, so have had to clear the tumble drier out of the very small kitchen which has lightened up the kitchen no end. Also scrubbed the walls down.

Today have bought new nets for the front room windows which have needed for a couple of months as the cat had made holes in the previous ones. Went to Dunhelm and have bought some Victorian style lace panels and they look good. I am extremely chuffed with them really tidied the windows up.

My Dining Room has two 6 foot pine welsh dressers a corner pine dresser, a chest of drawers which houses my CD collection, a large farmhouse pine table, 8 chairs, an upright deep freeze and a chest freezer. I use my dressers to store jars of regular household ingredients and some of my peserves but am still frustrated with space. There is a large area that would house a shelf unit of some sort above the chest freezer. The other day I spotted a dresser top which matches my dressers exactly so I think I have managed to talk OH in going to get it for me tomorrow. Put it this way it was there tonight so I am working on OH as this would tidy up things quite a lot.

My dream is to one day have a very large family kitchen like Kirstie had in her home programme, but with recyled individual pieces in as well. I believe that the kitchen is the heart and the hub of a home. I already have some little bits and bobs put up, and ideally I would like two big pine fiddle back chairs for the kitchen I haven't yet got. I am not short of ideas and I know what I like, but I don't believe in paying through the nose for things.

When we fitted pine kitchen units to our small kitchen we did not replace the sink unit doors. Now cannot get the doors, so I thought I would get some green gingham fabric and make a curtain to cover up the kitchen sink and also do a curtain or window dressing to go with a blind for the kitchen. Something small but it should finish the kitchen off and tidy it up a bit.n OH is at some point going to paint it out plain white - we had a bright yellow before which was a severe reaction to grey walls for so long, but we did the bathroom out in white and I was well chuffed with it and am going for simplicity more than anything else.

Well must get on have no end to do in the next day or so and am out again on Wednesday for our monthly meeting.

I am looking forward to the full moon as well now that I have a new camera to play with.

Love to you and yours please take care whatever you do wherever you are.


Saturday, 1 August 2009

2009.08.01 My Day

Happy Lammas or Lugnasadh. Its August where is the year going to.

Walking to work in the morning I pass blackberry bushes and they are already full of fruit and ripe for picking. It has also felt a little autumnish or back endish the past couple of days or so - whether that's due to the rain or not, but I think that we may be having an early autumn this year if the fruits are anything to go by, so keep your eyes peeled. There are also plenty of Rowan berries about. Haven't been to check on elderberries and sloes yet but will do so in the next few weeks or so.

I had a bit of a sort out last weekend and during the latter part of this week and managed to accumulate three large bags of bits and bobs which I no longer had a use for so I took that to the Charity Shop first thing.I also sent a couple of books I no longer had a use for.

I have Been busy scrubbing the kitchen out today and only half way through it. Am washing the walls down as well as in the throes of prepping them for a fresh coat of paint to freshen things up a bit. Have been using vinegar and washing soda in boiling water and it is working wonderfully removing any small patches of grease and really freshening everything up. I have been pleasantly surprised how well it works. Will have to continue tomorrow as am now going to get ready to go to a party later on. I and some friends are getting together with another friend who has been ill and I have been invited to stay overnight. We are all taking differnt things with us to eat and then we have a mix up and dive in - it makes for quite interesting entertaining but means that our hostess doesn't have to spend hours and hours in the kitchen on our behalf and she can enjoy the shennanigens too.
It will be lovely to meet up as we haven't seen each other for quite a while and no doubt there will be lots of chatter, laughter food and wine.

I will have to carry on in the morning with the kitchen when I get back. Got the bathroom done completely out last week - now its the kitchen's turn.

It has been a funny old day bright one minute then spitting with rain on and off all day long.

Mum is doing well which is the main thing - although she has indicated that she is missing me warts and all. Thank you for your kind wishes for Mum - she is doing a lot better than I thought she would. 75 years old not bad at all. I want her for a few more years to come yet.

Well hopefully will post more fully tomorrow - I am still on the loaned computer my other one isn't ready yet, so that is causing one or two problems, but there we go.

I am taking my camera with me as my friend has a visiting fox who hides up in her garden so am hoping that he will put in an appearance at some point. Thankfully no chickens where she lives on the river, but the odd duck or two. Its beyond me that such a beautiful creature can be so cruel and kill just for the sake of killing. They do themselves no favours.

Well catch up with 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)