Friday, 31 December 2010

Having a go

Sometimes its our state of mind that holds us back from doing things or having a go at doing something, basically because we are afraid of failure. This may be having a go at an intricate piece of embroidery or trying a new experience like doing a parachute drop.  We are all different and we all have our own lives to live, so what pleases one may not necessarily please another.  Thank goodness for the little differences as it would be completely boring if we were all the same.

However, in some circumstances methods of teaching employed in the past have had the emphasis on being correct and much fuss made if you got things wrong.  In many cases making you feel inadequate and small with the effect that because you have made yourself look such a pratt by getting things wrong that you just want to curl up in the nearest deepest darkest hole because you are so embarrassed.  Painful and public humiliation.  It doesn't help if you are painfully shy as it makes the experience even more excruciating, or by hearing your peers making unnecessary hurtful comments as a result (because they think they are being clever- never quite remembering that it could easily happen to them).   It is made out to be a bad thing making mistakes - the emphasis is nearly always on winning and being a success.  However logically, we have to make mistakes (usually large ones in my case) to properly learn your way around things, to check out the full parameters and to find your way around things.   Also what has to be taken into account is that each of us learns very differently to another.

So next time you make a right pratt of yourself, put a positive emphasis on things, it will make you feel better about yourself and about trying new experiences.  You need the ying and the yang to balance things out and its the same with learning getting things right boosts your confidence but making mistakes is a strong learning curve, and  you will be all the better for making them.  So don't let mistakes hold you back from having a go - because this only leads you limiting yourself and your experiences.  Each time you have a go you are practicing and as the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The Put Down 2011

The Put Down 2011 - Pattypan's "Pantry"

Well here are the headings as and when I get to make an item, like last year I will add the item in as it has been made, although I have put a few things in that I intend to do in the next few weeks or so.

Bottled Fruits/Tomatos etc
  1. Bottled Clementines {2 large jars}
  2. Bottled Forced Rhubarb [6 jars]
  3. Bottled Apples
  4. Bottled Blueberries [5  jars]
  5. Bottled Blackberries (5  jars)
  6. Bottled Pears
  7. Bottled Fruit Salad.
  8. Bottled Red Fruit Salad.
  9. Bottled Hedgepick Fruits Pie Filling
  10. Bottled Black Cherries in Kirsch [1 large jar]
  11. Bottled Pasta Sauce [4 Small and 1 large] we keep eating it
  12. Bottled Pineapple
  13. Bottled Tomatoes
  14. Bottled Cherry Tomatoes
  15. Bottled Blackberry and Apple pie filling [ 2 large jars]
  16. Bottled Strawberries
  17. Bottled Raspberries
  18. Bottled Pears in Red Wine
  19. Bottled Pears in Cider
  20. Bottled Figs
  21. Bottled Quince
  22. Bottled Plums
  23. Bottled Apricots
  24. Bottle Blackberry and Apples in syrup [2 large bottles]

  1. Pickled Shallots .
  2. Pickled Onions .
  3. Pickled Cucumber .
  4. Pickled Red Cabbage
  5. Pickled Mixed Vegetables
  6. Pickled Peppers
  7. Sweet Pickled Orange Rings .
  8. Pickled Beetroot
  9. Pickled Gherkins
  10. Pickled Eggs
  11. Pickled Quails Eggs

    1. Mango Chutney 6 x 1lb jars
    2. Hot Hedgerow Chutney
    3. Roast Beetroot Chutney
    4. Apple and Beetroot Relish
    5. Peach and Ginger Chutney 
    6. Pineapple Coriander and Lime Relish 
    7. Pear and Ginger Chutney [5 jars] very delish too


    1. Strawberry Jam (5 x 1lb jars)
    2. Greengage Jam (so far 8 x 1lb jars)
    3. Apricot Jam.
    4. Blackberry and Apple jam.
    5. Chilli Jam [4 Jars.
    6. Elderberry and Apple Jam [7 jars]


      1. Victoria Plum and Apple Mincemeat [7 3/4 jars]
      2. Apricot and Amaretto Mincemeat
      3. Apple and Whisky Mincemeat
      1. Cranberry and Apple Jelly.
      2. Crab Apple Jelly.
      3. Orange Jelly
      4. Orange and Apple Jelly.
      5. Sea Buckthorn Jelly [12 jars] 
      6. Elderberry and Apple Jelly plain
      7. Elderberry and Apple Jelly spiced

          1. Blood Orange Conserve

          1. Seville Orange Curd
          2. Lemon Curd
          3. Lime Curd
          4. Grapefruit Curd
          5. Elderflower and Lemon Curd 
          6. Clementine Curd


            1. Red Plum Cheese
            2. Crab Apple Cheese
            3. Apple Cheese
            1. Seville Orange Marmalade.
            2. Lemon Marmalade
            3. Ginger Marmalade
            4. Orange Marmalade
            1. Ginger Cordial
            2. Lemon and Ginger Cordial
            3. Orange Cordial
            4. Elderberry Cordial/Syrup 2 large bottles and 1/4 bottle 
            5. Mint Syrup/Cordial (2 bottles)

              1. Seville Orange Sauce.
              2. Mushroom Duxelle
              3. Barbecue Sauce
              4. Chinese Plum Sauce
              5. Pontack Sauce (2 bottles)
              6. Sweet Chilli Sauce
              7. Apple Sauce
              8. Mint Sauce (keeping version)
              9. Haw Sin Ketchup (2 bottles) 
              10. Honeyed Pecans (1 large jar)
              11. Honeyed Almonds(1 large jar)
              12. Honeyed Hazlenuts(1 large jar)
              1. Ginger Wine 
              2. Vin D'Orange 
              3. Bramble Wine [2 gallons on the go]
              4. Lemon Wine
              5. Orange Wine
              6. Elderberry Wine
              7. Mixed Hedgerow Wine
              8. Apple Wine

              1. Seville Orange Gin
              2. Seville Orange Liqueur
              1. Lager
              2. Bitter
              3. Stout
              1. Cider.
              2. Perry
              1. 1 litre of Basil Oil
              1. Blackberry Vinegar.
              2. Strawberry Vinegar
              3. Elderberry Vinegar
              4. Bramble Vinegar
              5. Mint Vinegar
              6. Elderflower Vinegar
              7. Tarragon Vinegar 
              8. Horseradish Vinegar

              1. Dried Rubbed Sage
              2. Dried Rosemary
              3. Dried Orange Peel
              4. Dried Thyme
              Soup Stock

              Pastes/Soup Stocks/Marinades
              1. Soup Stock Paste.
              2. Basil pesto (in the freezer)
              3. Horseradish (in the freezer)
              Candied and Crystallised Fruit/ando/or in Syrup

              1. Ginger in Syrup
              2. Ginger Slices
              3. Ginger Chunks

              Tuesday, 28 December 2010

              Ideas for the Put Down 2011

              I still have unfinished business from before Christmas in the pickling and preserving sections and as I have the ingredients and don't wish to waste them,  primarily pickling onions and shallots and also crab apples and ordinary apples. and a couple of pumpkins for pumpkin marmalade and also a chutney.  In the circumstances, the Putdown is being started earlier than before.  Needs must and all that.  I make no apology for this .but taking into account the rise to come in VAT in the New Year and also taking into account available funds and any providence that may come my way. I wish to make the most of everything that  happens serendipitiously. 

              There are still many areas of preserving that I want to get my head around - I just wish my pantry was bigger so that I could better organise it so that I can find things without a major hunt.  I am particularly interested in crystallising fruits in pieces (sugar coated) and in syrups in order that I can create an interesting sweetmeat platter in readiness for next year's Christmas.  Equally I am also very interested in different forms of preservation of meat.  I have done pates before, but now feel that I want to go on and experiment with Salamis  and sausages and having a go at my own home cured bacon and smoking foods.  Will have to see what we can do about this.May be they can go down on a long wish list for the New Year.

              I am very conscious that Cranberries have been in season and are likely to be reduced now that the main Christmas event is over and I have a few in any event as I always make my own fresh Cranberry sauce with Grand Marnier to go with the turkey.  I always make a scuttle full and then pop into containers in the fridge, same with home made bread sauce and then it is used in sandwiches or meat platters.

              I have several recipes that I would like to have a bash at if I can obtain  further supplies of the cranberries at a reasonable price and I have some crab apples to use up in any event. Nice Red ones.  I am principally thinking about making some cranberry and apple jelly - we use a lot of this throughout the year.  I also want to make some more crab apple jelly.  Its lovely spread on crumpets or croissants but equally makes a very good alternative "apple sauce" to serve with roast pork.  I also use it in gravies too.

              Citrus fruits have also been plentiful and I also intend to take advantage of these as well, whether it be bottled, in marmalade, in jellies - I have some from the Christmas celebrations that I do not want to waste at all whether it be turned into curds, marmalades, jellies, or sweetmeats.  It will either get put down for use next Christmas or for use in baking in between.  

              I also discovered a few bags of dried fruit that are getting near their sell by dates so I may well utilise them in some form of dried chutney or soak them in brandy for fruit cake or in tea for a fruit tea loaf.

              Just a few ideas to start with - am back at work tomorrow so will primarily have to try and do of an evening to start with.

              I will post the list of what I manage to accomplish as soon as I get into gear and start producing.  The Pantry was all sorted out before Christmas and I now have to start clearing the freezers down and no doubt I will find a lot of fruit in there which can be turned into something useful in due course, in order to be replenished in the coming year. To this end I want to try and get the garden sorted but I also intend to pay a few visits to the Grow Your Own Farms.


              Hi everyone, I hope everyone has had a very good Christmas, enjoyed their food and with being with family, and friends and generally had a good time.  Above some of my Christmas decorations.  I just wish could do something with the obsolete gas fire - its not connected, but living in rented, our hands are somewhat tied.

              Things were a tad hectic here before the event with me not having done my shopping or got my Chrimbo decorations up (despite having a week off just before).  All I can say is the best laid plans of mice and men etc - probably a post on not how to do things would possibly be more appropriate - but it isn't going to happen next year.  I was trying to avoid the pre-Christmas stress and all the charging around associated with doing things last minute - but circumstances were against me.  To add insult to injury I had told OH to get Pork Pie, Sausagemeat etc from our usual supplier and he dilly dallied.  Then at the last minute decided to go and could not get his Pork Pie he got stressy but  - there was nothing could do about it (It has been a tradition for the past 23 years that he has Pork Pie for his breakfast on Christmas Day - something his parents started).

              However up the tree did go and the front room decorated all on Christmas Eve together with the present shopping etc.  Needless to say I was slightly shattered come Christmas Day - but there was only just me, the OH, Missy, Tyson and Squeak.  We had a late Christmas Lunch - but thoroughly enjoyed it, although the Sausage meat, and bacon were not from our usual supplier.   The Turkey was delicious - and very moist and was served with roast parsnip, roast sweet potato and roast potatoes, cauliflower, peas, carrots and brussels.  I had cooked one of my Christmas puddings but we could not manage it as we were both full.

              Boxing day started early for me as I wanted to get completely sorted as my mum came for lunch.   She had spent Christmas Day and Christmas Day evening at my brother's home.

              We had a lovely time and I served Roast Beef, with Roast Potatoes, Parsnips and Sweet Potato with cauliflower, broccoli, spring cabbage, peas and carrots together with Yorkshire Pud (it grew like topsy and was massive overspilled the pan and rose very high).  I served the home made Elderflower Fizz and mum loved it.  It was very refreshing.  We also had home made Christmas pudding together with Rum sauce and that was really delicious.  I was worried as I had changed my normal recipe, but I think I am going to stick with the changes for next Christmas as well.
              We had a very pleasant time and I think my mum enjoyed herself; I just wish I could do more than I can for her at present; I try and do what I can.

              Today we have had a very quiet day just not doing very much and we have had cold meats home cooked ham and Turkey and cheese served with home made peach and ginger chutney, pickled onions, picalilli, home cured gherkins and it was lovely.  (I must just mention here that I don't eat gherkins or picalilli so don't really know what they should taste like, but OH seemed to think that they were very delish, so I am well chuffed).  We then had a bowl of mandarin jelly with mandarin oranges in, served on individual meringues and fresh cream.  It was very refreshing and also a light meal especially after the two big meals of the past few days.
              The animals seem to have been content, Tyson has stayed in for the best part in the warm and he Missy and Squeak seem to have been getting on extremely well - Tyson has been showing his softer side even going so far as letting out his inner kitten the other night playing tag with everyone.

              I hope you have all had a brilliant time.  Just take care wherever you are and be safe.


              Sunday, 19 December 2010

              And the Winner Is

               Sorry for being late with the draw - life sort of got in the way.

              Here are all the entrants name into the draw and I have got the OH to make the actual draw.

              AND THE WINNER IS:-

              Congratulations hope this little gem which is coming your way soon gives you lots of ideas and pleasure

              Please email me with your address

              Many thanks and well done



              2010.12.19 My Day

              Sorry its been a while since I last posted  - life in general has sort of got in the way.

              We had some snow the other day but one sniff and you would have missed it.  Its been dreadful  from what I have seen every where else.  Please take care and keep safe  and warm wherever you are.

              The other day we were given a two hen pheasants a lovely surprise and very welcome .  Have had them outside the back door on one of the plant hangers in this cold weather which has kep them safe from predators and also kept them nice and chilled.  Reminds me very much of my childhood when my uncle had been shooting for pheasant.  Oh I do miss the countryside and the way of life.  We have had these for lunch today, freshly plucked and drawn and then straight into the cooker.  I roasted them after barding them with bacon.  I then served them with mashed creamed potato and green beans, and broccoli, cauliflower carrot and peas, together with a home made sloe gin gravy. (I bottled my sloe gin the other day and I am quite chuffed with it.  Needless to say I shall be making a lot more of this berries permitting in the future .  I have the macerated berries to put into chocolate so that we can eat them as a sweatmeat after lunch.) 

              Dinner was extremly scrummy and delicious and very warming in this oh so cold weather.  I also opened a bottle of elderflower champagne that I had made earlier on in the year.  This was my first batch.  It looked flat in the bottle, but it most certainly wasn't.  I am extremely chuffed with this and am going to have this on Christmas day with my roast turkey. (Its very muscat/lemony and very refreshing - I chilled it by standing it outside the back door as it is most certainly cold enough)  Needless to say I shall be making a lot more elderflower champagne next year blossom permitting.  It was very pleasurable enjoying something I had actually made from earlier in the year that actually works.  But even if it goes wrong you learn by the experience and learn not how to do something.  The trick is not to get despondent but to persevere.

              This week has been one for new things as I also opened a bottle of my home made passata sauce.  I had this served simply with plain pasta and loads of grated cheese and it was extremely filling and tasty.   Would also be very good used in casseroles and as a base for a tomato soup.

              Other delights from the put down are still to be awaited and enjoyed hopefully in due course.   I stacked the majority of this the other evening on my corner dresser and there are lots of things to use in baking and for puddings. Lots of jams and bottled fruits But it is firing me up to set too and do a lot more than I have achieved this year.  I have all sorts of ideas for Seville Oranges and Forced Rhubarb  as well as for a stock pile of home made house wines and other goodies, including sauces and cordials.  I love preparing the seasonal ingredients for use throughout the year and especially round Christmas when as a result you end up having a choice of all these lovingly prepared ingredients for use in your home cooking which gives you far more choice.  Only problem is I need a much bigger pantry!

              I am not in the Christmas mood this year It seems to have come too quick  and I seem to have run out of time a precious commodity at the best of times and despite all my previous planning (in retrospect its been a good thing that I did this) things have slightly gone pear shaped in the last few weeks or so, but we have to make the most of what we have rather than that which we haven't got.  Sometimes no matter what our dreams we are dragged screaming and shouting into the present and have to deal with what is rather than what we aspire too.  

              A lot of my Christmas decorating plans have gone awry.  Its more that I cannot get at the bulk of my decorations, not because I don't have them or that I can get much in the house as it is.  Hopefully in the coming years things will change and I will then be able to have everything how I really would like it.  Hence I have been concentrating on the food side more than anything and at least we will eat well and it will be more of an old fashioned Christmas without too much hype or glitz and we won't be paying through the nose well into next year for it. 

              I have made three Christmas puddings, a Christmas cake and lots of other goodies.  I have only bought the ingredients but have made a lot of things myself or am in the process of doing so in an effort to keep costs down but still enjoy good quality food with no nasties in it.

              I read several blogs and enjoy reading about other people what they are doing what they are making or whether they are making renovations to their home or having a fire place put in, like my friend Leanne at Somerset Seasons Dorset Days  .  Leanne has just lit her first fire in her new hearth just in time for Yule and I am so happy for her as she has achieved what she wanted to do with help and assistance and plenty of trial and effort.  Its lovely from my perspective to see people achieving what they want to and seeing it through to fruition.  We only see a peep slot of each other's lives, and yet in some instances its as if we have been connected for ever.  And a proper fire in winter, something to keep you warm, soothe your soul and to dream by - I am so happy for Leanne but ooh so envious! - One day!

              I am a great beleiver that people come into each others lives for a reason and a season, some stay and some go but all leave an indelible mark on who we are and on our hearts.  The Internet is just another way of doing this and gives a different meaning to community.

              So wherever you are in the next few days be kind to yourself - despite all the hard work hope you enjoy the season and the celebrations.  Hopefully I will get in another post by the end of the week.

              With a glass of Elderflower Fizz./Champagne in my hand - bottoms up till I catch you all again.



              Wednesday, 15 December 2010

              A little Adult Christmas humour!

               I received this from a friend and just had to laugh - reminded me of cooking in the kitchen for Christmas but with a glass or two of wine in hand. Hic - I have slightly censored it though.

              Subject: How to make a Christmas cake
              Brilliant innovation in seasonal  baking!!!
              Please read / follow destructions closely.

              A Christmas Cake

              * 2 cups flour                   * 1 stick butter         * 1 cup of water
              * 1 tsp baking soda          * 1 cup of sugar       * 1 tsp salt
              * 1 cup of brown sugar     * Lemon juice           * 4 large eggs
              * Nuts                              * 1 bottle Brandy      * 2 cups of dried fruit

              Sample the brandy to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the brandy again. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. 

              Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's best to make sure the brandy is still OK. Try another cup... Just in case.  Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

              Pick the flipping fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the brandy to check for tonsisticity.  Next, sift two cups of salt or something. Check the brandy. 
              Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or some fink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.  Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window.  Finish the brandy and wipe counter with the cat.

              Bingle Jells!


              Monday, 6 December 2010

              Hello Everyone

              Hello everyone and sorry I have been absent for so  long but have been away for a week staying with OH's sister in Birmingham.  We travelled up in our ever faithful van on Saturday week and had problems with the van on the way up.  In fact it was quite an eventful journey.  OH used the Sat Nav and it took us well out of our way and we were later arriving than we anticipated.  The van nearly shuddered to a halt on the motorway section and we struggled to get to his sister's in one piece.  We had gone up to the German Market, which we went to on the Sunday afternoon/evening and had a brilliant time.  Anything that revolves around good food and good company nearly always gets my vote.  Needless to say if sis invites us up will be going again.  We have had a lovely time and a good rest, eaten lots of different foods, paid visits to different food establishments and generally had a good time.  Needless to say the cats were pleased to have us back last night although they have been well cared for whilst I have been away they get into a routine with feeding and with fuss.  Squeak has not moved far from me since we came home.  At the moment she is pretending to snooze as she is sat next to me on the settee.

              The weather has been bitter and very cold and there has been plenty of the white stuff.  This in part delayed our return home until yesterday on safety issues rather than anything else.  Also we had to get the van looked at and repaired, but hopefully now that has been settled.  To make matters worse when we got home yesterday the key to the van broke and we have had to fork out about £80 to get a replacement key today.

              Anyway, where was I - oh yes I have the book draw to do, but please forgive me if I do that tomorrow night.  So tune in then to find out who has been the lucky recipient. I am a bit at sixes and sevens at the moment and  I am tired as have been doing housework and the washing from our holidays and was the first day back at work today.  Bit of a shock to the system.  I am on holiday again from the end of the week this time at home to primarily get ready for Christmas, get the house bottomed out the decorations up and anything else that needs doing.

              I have just popped outside to pop some bits into the recycling and it is bitter there is a very white frost on the dustbin lids and neighbouring roofs and the roads look very slippery.  So please take care wherever you are.

              Catch you all tomorrow.

              Take care wherever you are



              Saturday, 27 November 2010

              First Snow this Winter

              Morning everyone, we like many others have had the first of the winters snow, 

              It was terribly cold last night - and we had the heating on, so it was nice and warm.  I went out to a friends for the evening, literally over the road at about 7.30 did not roll in until midnight, but had a lovely time with her. There was no snow then.  We think it must have snowed somewhere between then and about 2.00 p.m. as I had not long been in bed when I had to get up again.  I poked my nose through the window then and there was quite a thick covering of snow, without a footprint on it.  By 7.00 p.m. it was covered both sides of the street on the pavements with loads of footprints impregnated into the snow. There is still a light scattering but it appears to be melting, which if it freezes like it did last night will be nasty on the roads and underfoot.

              It looks as though its the start of another cold winter.

              Keep safe and warm wherevever you may be



              Tuesday, 23 November 2010

              Brghh its bloomin cold

              Its freezin here this evening, it was cold last night but eeh by gum its even colder.  In fact weather forecast wasn't discounting snow, overnight, but will have to wait and see.  I said in the summer that I thought this year was going to be another hard winter too many berries in the bushes, and it reminded me of the winter just after my brother was born when we had a dreadfully bad winter.  I hope not, but I have been hurting a lot so far and we are not even into winter proper as it were yet.  I think the thermals are going to have to come out of the closet.  Missy's under the blanket again and the heating is on.  We will just have to wait and see what happens.

              Take care wherever you are



              Monday, 22 November 2010

              Pickled Eggs

              I have to prepare a load of eggs for pickling.  This is something that I tend to make year in year out.  I am not keen on them but OH loves them.  With a little time, patience and attention you can quite easily make a success of them.


              3/4 pint of vinegar I use white spirit vinegar or wine vinegar
              1/2 teaspoon of salt
              1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
              1 teaspoon of allspice berries
              1/2 oz fresh root ginger peeled and cut into matchsticks
              12 small eggs
              sprigs of fresh herbs eg thyme parsley tarragon (optional)


              Choose either malt, distilled, red or white wine vinegar to give different flavours and colour effects.  Use a wide neck jar -  this is important as it makes it easier to get the eggs into as well as out of the jar.

              Pour the vinegar into a saucepan.  Add the salt, peppercorns, allspice and ginger and bring to the boil.  Simmer for two minutes and then leave to cool.

              Meanwhile hard boil the eggs for at least 10 minutes then place them immediately into a bowl of cold water until cool.  Do this as quickly as possible otherwise this will leave a black ring around the egg yolk and spoil the look of the preserve, although not the taste.  When cold carefully peel the shell from the egg. I normally take a small strip off all the way round the cicumference of the egg shell i.e. in the middle of the egg and once all the way round this should enable you to slip the relevant halves off the egg without sticking to the egg white and leaving lumps missing.

              Place the eggs into prepared sterilised jars leaving enough space for the vinegar to completely cover all the eggs.  Pieces of egg not in contact with the vinegar will remain white and therefore give a mottled appearance.

              Pour in the cold spiced vinegar to cover all of the eggs.  The spices may be added to the jar for a spicier taste or they may be strained off.  Sprigs of fresh herb may also be added to the jar to give a herb flavour and an attractive appearance.  Seal with air tight vinegar proof covers.

              Makes about 2lb i.e. 12 pickled eggs.

              Sunday, 21 November 2010

              Best of Friends

              Cats and Dogs can be friends.  With kindness and patience. Its a cold winter night outside and a full moon to boot, but just  look at these two sleeping beauties.  

              We have the odd moment where the Jack Russell in her rears its head (Missy), but those moments are few and far between. And occasionally Squeak taps Missy with her paw, when she has had to suffer yet another round of ear washing, but those moments are few and far between. These two really are the best of friends.  Missy has to have her blankie though, she is normally cuddled underneath it keeping warm, head included.

              It just goes to show how trusting these two really are of each other and I am glad.

              Tis Stir Up Sunday today

              Its stir up Sunday today, traditionally the last Sunday before advent when  the Christmas Pudding and Christmas Cake are made in order to allow it to mature its full flavour from all the wonderful ingredients that go into this wonderful mix.

              Its a time also for the family to take a turn in stirring the pudding from East to West in rememberance of the three wise men and also to make a silent wish for the coming year.  A tradition that goes way back (or at least it does in my family).  My Nan used to always put in a
              sixpence into the pudding mix. The lucky recipient was meant to have wealth etc in the following year.

              So time to get the scales out and start measuring those ingredients and do a little bit of elbow work.

              We are very lucky to have such a tradition as the Christmas Pudding. 

              Next Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent

              Useful Craft Sites and Blogs

              This year more than ever it is more important that you perhaps have a go at making bits and bobs for Christmas yourself, whether this be decorations, presents, home made cards or other projects.  In my research for myself I have come across the following sites that may well be of use to you all, whether for this Christmas or next.  Go on check them out there are some nice ideas out there.





     - this particular site I use a lot as it offers free download patterns in a full spectrum of mediums.  You can download these in pdf format and the patterns are changed regularly so its one to keep your eye on.

              These are just for tasters will post some more when I have  a few more minutes

              Take care everyone and happy crafting



              Friday, 19 November 2010

              General Update

              Hello everyone, sorry haven't been around too much was off work all last week with an extremely bad cold.  I do try and keep clear of them, but some kind soul bought it into the office.  Because I have a wonky auto immune system, if I get a cold or infection I tend to get it double whammy and find it hard to shift.  Needless to say I spent most of last week in bed fast asleep (when you sleep you heal and my middle name is doormouse).

              Have been back at work this week and I am keeping my fingers crossed but I am hoping that am near enough at the end of it ( I don't make a good patient at the best of times) and as I keep saying to colleagues if they chop me in half and remove the bottom half should be okay.
              Its been very cold this week even the cats haven't stayed out very long and have quickly come in and snuggled up in their usual spots and I can't say that I blame them.On a cold winters night its nice to get cosy and the animals give so much unconditional love and are good at keeping you calm.

              However, other areas of the country have had far worse weather than us, but at least we are not flooded like those in Cornwall.  My thoughts go out to all those affected.  I hope you are all soon dry and warm again.

              Today has been foggy  -  a real pea souper, foggy fowl and cold.  I am glad I am in the house - I am lucky.

              I have had a blanket on the go for some 9 months plus which I don't seem to have got to the end of.  So out came the weapons of choice (the knitting needles) and I have been knitting like the clappers all week.  The throw/blanket is knitted in squares, of different lilacs and purple shades.  The coloured squares are worked and I am now working through the plain white ones I have a minimum of 10 to do (might do some more will see how it goes) and I am working no 5. square. Knitting is not really my forte. I am a plain basic knitter and I seem to be neat, but it doesn't grow as much as crotchet does.  So knitting for me is very much a discipline.  I thought that if I got this one done for Christmas or just after I would be able to start knitting some throws in green and white and red and white for Christmas throws for next year.  Its handy to have something that you can make piecemeal as it makes use of any available time where you can do a few rows, and not feel as if you are not using any time available productively.  The bonus is you actually end up with something very individual for the home or if making clothes,and individual item of clothing.  Hopefully soon I will then be able to show you photos of the finished throw.  I aim to get this out of the way so that I can then go on to one of my crotchet throws/bedspreads and get them out of the way too.  So I have a lot of work to do.  I easily get distracted or bored with what I am making.  So now its clear up time, before I start anything else. Then I can get them safely put up in readiness to be used.    

              I want to start making some clippie/proddy rugs out of  old jeans.  Have started cutting the pieces, but actually working it is sometime off.  I have never done this before so it will be a strong learning curve when I actually start the working of.  My Nan always used to make at least a couple of clippie/proddie rugs in any one year.,  There was always one in front of the Rayburn.  I want to make some for the dining room/kitchen.  I also have my eye on making some out of recycled clothes in shades of white, purples and lilacs for the bedroom.  Will have to see how we get on.  I am primarily thinking of making something relatively cheaply that is individual.  Thought that these would go well with the blanket/throw am knitting at the moment.  Will have to start resourcing various bits and bobs from the charity shops.  Just ideas at the moment, but I hope to bring them alive shortly.

              Catch up with everyone again shortly.
              Take care wherever you may be

              Pattypan (aka Tricia)

              Words for the Day

              Stop Thinking and Start Acting

              (Too much thinking can lead
              to inactivity and at least whilst
              you practice things 
              You are actually doing something)

              Friday, 12 November 2010

              How Exciting

              Thank you to Rose of Second Hand Rose for  nominating me for this award.  Please have a look at Rose's blog.  It is quite lovely and  Rose has found lots of lovely "finds".

              Rose's blog can be found at

              I believe I have to pass this on to 15 blogs I have discovered and enjoy here goes!  It was seriously quite difficult as all the blogs I have come across are all very interesting and appealing and very diverse.

              Here are my nominations














              Please check them out

              Am off to let them know


              Words for the Day

               Just a thought and a saying for today

              Today's Paupers may be tomorrow's millionaires

              In other words just because a person is not useful or of any consequence today does not mean that they will be  in the same position tomorrow.Everyone you come across should be treated and accorded the same respect as we would expect for ourselves and not be rubbished for no particular reason.

              Sometimes I have come across this type of prejudice and I find it so unfair and dishonest.

              Sunday, 7 November 2010


              This is a recipe that my family have been using for years.  I believe it is originally a Scottish Recipe as my grandparents used to regularly holiday there, but it is one that has come through the generations.  Unusually it includes conflour, a lot of the recipes I have seen use ground rice It can be moulded and will make one large or about 8 small shortbreads, but we tend to use a small square or round cake tray press it down and then prick all over with a fork.  It is light, extremely moorish and quite simply delish.

               We always have shortbread at Christmas.  It is one of those things we just automatically make.  Christmas just is not Christmas without shortbread.


              6oz plain flour
              2oz cornflour
              2oz caster sugar
              4oz butter preferably unsalted but comes up quite well with salted
              sugar to decorate


              1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/160 degrees C.325 degrees F.
              2. Lightly flour a mould and line a baking sheet with baking parchment, or grease a baking tin
              3. Sift cornflour and sugar into a mixing bowl
              4. cut the butter into pieces and rub into the flour mixture until dough like.
              5. If using a mould place some dough into the mould and press to fit.  Invert the mould onto the baking sheet and tap firmly to release the dough shape.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.  Or press dough into baking tin and shape to tin with your fingers smoothing the top and then pricking with a fork all over.
              6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until shortbread is pale golden in colour.
              7. sprinkle the top f the shortbread with a little sugar and cool on baking sheet or in tin.
              8. Wrap in cellophane or pack in a box tied with ribbon.
              9. If made for a general house bake store in a air tight container or cake tin.
              This is easily made and very delicious.  A tin of shortbread is on sale for about £8 at our local Co-op it was on offer earlier for £4, but why buy when you can make home made which tastes far better everytime.  The only thing that is missing is the pretty tin,but you can always recycle sweet or biscuit tins from previous years. Lets face it, it is relatively cheap to make, and could quite easily be packaged in cellophane bags and given away as a gift to a friend who doesn't bake for Christmas. Something that is home made has something of the maker in there bundled up with a whole load of love.

              November/Christmas Give Away

              I have managed to obtain two copies of the same book in different guises and as it is a Christmas book called "Christmas Ornaments", I thought I would put this give away up now  for a period of two weeks after which I will then draw out the winner on  the 29th November 2010.

              If you wish to enter this "Christmas give away" then please leave a comment below and I will put your name into the draw.  That way whoever wins the draw will have the opportunity to have a go at making some of the decorations before Christmas this year (that's my hope anyway).

              Its a lovely book and covers a range of different mediums, i.e. wirework (there is a lovely wirework angel carrying a shiny star) shiny paper cut out stars, twiggy stars, salt dough, fire cones, edible tree decorations, fruit and spice ornaments, button garlands, pomanders, embroidery paper mache, ribbon and sequin ornaments.  Some of the decorations and techniques might inspire you  to create your own decorations as a "spin off" and also to add your own particular charm to your christmas decorations

              Saturday, 6 November 2010

              2010.11.06 My Day

              Did not start well as I am absolutely stuffed wtih cold again.  It was made more miserable by the fact that I had to cancel my mum coming to lunch tomorrow, as her resistance is even lower than mine, so its best to steer clear rather than make her really poorly.  So her visit has been put off until next weekend.

              I paid my usual visit to the veg shop, not really getting very much, but I needed veg for tea and also for tomorrow. Bought a cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, sweet potato (a purple one which haven't had before), some garlic, oranges, mandarins, 4 kg of pickling onions, 4.5 kg shallots, some parsnips and some dates.

              I had wanted to get on with making some chutneys today as well as doing some baking, but have just not been up to it and so have been pottering around researching articles and writing them from the sofa in the warmth. Its been nice to be in the house and not having to do very much.  Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow.

              I cooked tea tonight rib eye steak with mashed potatoes, fried leeks, chopped cabbage, onion gravy  and could not eat very  much.  Don't really feel like doing much at all feel very grotty. Have been dosing on lemsip and also drinking lots of hot ribena, in an effort to keep myself feeling more comfortable, but feel really yuk at the moment.  There is a lot of this going around at work and with air conditioning as well it just does not help matters.

              I was called over by my friend this afternoon the one who I gave a cookery demonstration to on how to make meringues.  She had bought herself all sorts of bits for doing some more cooking and had also saved two of the meringues for my OH and I to try.  They weren't too bad at all.

              Its been cold today and is a really cold evening; supposed to be a frost and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we got one.

              The fireworks are going off in the street, its upsetting the animals they do not like it all.  Missy keeps barking back and growling at the loud bangs, and the cats have gone through to the back of the house. Hopefully it will stop soon.

              Hope you are all okay wherever you are.

              Take care



              Encouraging Home Cooking

              Last evening I popped round to see my friend E, and play catch up with her after my recent holiday in Scotland.  We had a lot to catch up on as E had kindly looked after the cats whilst we have been away. She is a lovely bubbly Scottish lady, who has recently come out of a long term abusive relationship and has gone on to find someone who she is truly happy with.  It would appear however that her husband kept her down, so much so she suffers from a lack of self-confidence.  Its not that she can't cook, but she has been rubbished so much that it has affected her confidence.  E is also vegetarian. 

              E is currently going through something of a renaissance and is finding her weaknesses and her strengths.  It is a joy to see.  During the week she had had a go at making home made pizza and had enjoyed it, and it hadn't cost her much and her new partner had enjoyed it as well.  We discussed other toppings that she could utilise and  she was surprised at some of my suggestions but During the course of the evening whilst we were nattering E asked if I knew how to make Meringues  - I said yes.  

              E said that she had never made them before and did not really know where to start.  There  then commenced an impromptu cooking lesson whereby how I showed E how to make Meringues and she cooked them. She had little by way of cooking equipment but we got by.  Fortunately she had an electric hand mixer and although not a proper mixing bowl had a large casserole dish so we made do.  We used the whites from 2 eggs, and 4oz of sugar.  First I whipped up the egg whites until they were extremely stiff and I turned the bowl upside down and the mixture did not drip but held itself intact.  I then started to slowly add this sugar, this has the effect of making the mixture going shiny and glistening and glossy.  Eve didn't have a piping bag and nozzle, so I utilised a dessertspoon and made oval shapes on the greased baking tin with the mixture. The meringues were then left in  the oven on the lowest setting possible on a gas cooker and cooked for about 2 hours and then left overnight in the oven to dry out.  This simple lesson seems to have inspired her to cook even more.  She has been out today and bought a couple of mixing bowls, a pastry brush, pastry cutters that are dual use and contain both plain and fluted, a couple of mixing jugs a couple of ramekin dishes and various other ingredients.  I left her with instructions how to finish off the cooking and told her that when learning to cook you have to watch what you are doing until you learn your way round the recipe.  

              Giving some help to a good friend has made me realise how lucky I am in terms of friendship, but also so lucky that I have been fortunate enough to have been taught so many things, some of which I take for granted. Very humbling in view of how much pleasure it has given to my friend.  I will be seeing her again next week - wonder what we will have to cook then?

              Pattypans Pickled Onions and Pickled Shallots

              I have 4kg of pickling onions to prepare and 4.5 kg of Shallots to prepare over the next few days in readiness for Christmas.  I am late preparing these this year, but should be just enough time.  I spice my own vinegar and then add bay leaves and a home dried chilli to each jar together with some black peppercorns and they are extremely scrummy.  Its all rather organic and  therapeutic.  Sometimes I sweeten them sometimes I don't but they go down very nicely with a lump of cheese and/or a ploughmans.

              What all those tears you gasp.  Now I have found a way round this.  I prepare my pickling onions/shallots by putting them into a bucket and then pouring boiling water on until the onions are submerged. I then let them go cold (leave a couple of hours until cold) and then start peeling.  Mimimises the crying from the onions and is the best way I have found for peeling them in bulk.  I am extremely sensitive to onions at the best of times.  Think of me later on when I am sat on my grandma's kitchen stool (a low wooden stool that she used to sit on to do kitchen chores well battered and well loved with me carrying on a family tradition) wading my way through the onions and leaving the onion skins in the bucket and putting the skinned onions into a glass bowl in readiness for being brined overnight.  Satisfying chores that mark the passing of time and of the different seasons.

              The onions are then piled into large bowls or buckets if you like and then sprinkled liberally with salt. This helps to take out any excess moisture.  I then wash them well until salt free and drain. Once drained I then pack into sterilised jars, placing the onions in as tightly as I can and using the handle of a wooden spoon to manouvre the onions into as tight a pack as possible.  I then add the home dried chilli, two bay leaves (I have a bay tree in the back garden) and a few black peppercorns per jar. I then add the cold vinegar either sweetened with sugar to taste when the vinegar is warmed through or just cold spiced filling as far as I can.  I keep the onions submerged with a ball of greaseproof paper popped into the gap between the top of the jar and lid and this works very effectively.

              I prepare the spiced vinegar earlier on in the season  to allow it time to mature but you can if you want to prepare it there and then but you must take into account that the vinegar is best warmed to help release the full flavour of the spices.  Warmed vinegar makes pickled onions go soft which is not what I want for this preserve.  So it is best use the vinegar stone cold that way you should get nice crisp pickled onions.  I shall cover spiced vinegar in a separate post.

              Because I use home dried chillis they can be a bit poky and in all fairness not a lot of people cope well with chilli.  So if the flavour is just as you like it and you don't want the pickle to get any hotter, just remove the chilli, saves the tears.

              Another thing that I tend to do when the Shallots are about is peel a load and put them into the freezer. Then when I am doing the Sunday roast  I just pop 3 or 4 (for the two of us  - more if more people) into the pan with the roast potaoes and parsnip and roast until caramelised. I have found that by doing this it also encourages the roast potatoes, parsnip etc to brown and caramelise.  Scrummy.  They can also be popped into stews and casseroles whole from frozen.

              Vegetarian Cheese and Onion Rolls

              I have been rustling through the pages of some old magazines in an attempt to sort out some further recipes for this year's Christmas repertoire. I had in mind a recipe for cheese and onion rolls as an alternative to sausage rolls.  I had first come across cheese and onion rolls in M & S (and they had used puff pastry), but they seemed to lack a little flavour for my liking being more than a little bland.  I like strong flavoursome cheese something like the Cornish Cruncher  - yet again from M & SI therefore intend to make the following for the freezer in the next week or so,but thought that I would share the recipe now in case any of you would also like to have a bash at making these.

              The recipe is from Good Food Magazine December 1999 and apparently makes 10 cheese and onion rolls


              6oz /175g self raising flour
              3oz/85g vegetarian suet
              6oz strong cheddar cheese grated
              1 medium onion finely chopped
              (You could also ring the changes by adding a touch of spring onion as well or gently fry leek until golden brown and tasty and well drained and then adding in place of)
              Cayenne pepper


              1.  Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 7/Fan oven 200 degreesC/220 degrees C
              2. Line a baking tray with non stick baking parchment.
              3. Sift the flour and a good pinch of salt into a bowl then mix in the suet and 5 to 6 tablespoons cold water to form a pliable dough.  Divide in half.
              4. On a floured surface roll out the dough into two strips 12 x 4 inch.  Dampen the edges with water.  Mix together the grated cheese and onion and season with salt and cayenne pepper.
              5. Divide the filling between the two strips towards one edge.  Roll up as you would a swiss roll and slice each into approximately 5 pieces.  Put on the baking tray spaced apart.  Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until gold and crispy.  They are delicious hot or cold.
              6. For the freezer make up until rolling into  swiss roll shape and cutting into 5 pieces, then pack and pop into the freezer.  Cook from frozen as above.

              Thursday, 4 November 2010

              Planning for Christmas 2010

              Well I have  started to buy the odd bits and bobs primarily for The Pantry in readiness for Christmas.  I am still researching recipes and writing them down so that I have a "Christmas Recipe Book" all in one place and am not floundering around looking here there and everywhere for that recipe I saw a few weeks ago.  So  I am at least in theory attempting to be organised.  I also have some craft projects that I need to get sorted for Christmas presents and also for the house.  I have this urge to do some needlework and some general craft work in readiness for decorating the house, as well as accumulating a collection of candles  - I absolutely adore candlelight. I also have to make a couple of outdoor jackets for Missy as she feels the cold.

              So far I haven't acquired very much, but a little bit here and there soon piles up and at the moment I am only picking up the bargains.  I intend to have a surge on baking ingredients like marzipan, ground almonds, mixed fruit, good quality chocolate, nuts dried fruits etc. etc. etc. so as to allow maximum choice of what I can bake myself.  Almonds I buy in big bags from my local Asian shop. Dried Apricots from M & S they are a little pricey but they are delicious. 

              At dinner today I wandered through Marks and Spencers the Food store section just browsing, seeing whats new - looking for ideas for doing things myself which turned out very fortunate as I came across an idea for putting up fruit compotes in the freezer, by utilising the soup/stock bags/pouches that either Lakeland or the Pound Shop do, so it wasn't completely fruitless - excuse the pun, and not only that I will get more for my money to boot from fresh ingredients.  They are charging £2.69 per sachet; they had rhubarb, and black cherry in store whilst I was in there. They are always handy for filling cakes tarts or pies or using in quick puddings.  I like to have a variety of foods to hand preserved  by different methods which gives more choice.  Would ideally like to have my own veggie plot and just go shopping in the garden. Hopefully next year will get into gear, once the shed has been procured to help with my storage problem.

              However I did pick up two bottles of Christmas Pudding Wine  from M & S which is a sweet muscat wine that goes very well with the Christmas pud and is a favourite as I have bought this before  It was on offer for £1.99  a bottle so I snaffled two bottles.

              I am going to make some sweet chilli dipping sauce but needed some to use before I get this made, so I grabbed a bottle whilst in there and sat on the shelf next to it was a mango and chilli dipping sauce so have bought some of that as well. If its nice I might attempt a version of my own.

              However whilst browsing I did note that M & S had the boudoir fingers and their version of amaretti for 99 pence a box and the use by dates were well into next year so will snaffle a couple of boxes of these towards the end of the week to put up for the Christmas box.  The Meringue cases are also reasonably priced and are always handy for a quick pudding.

              The local pound shop has offers on Toblerone, Maltesers, Ice Cream wafer filled sticks, After Eights and lots of other goodies.  I also get 1.5 kgs of sugar from here as it is only £1 a bag and I get through a lot of sugar with the preserves I make.

              The Coop also have different offers on.  They have the Thorntons large box of milk chocolate assortment on offer for £5 a box and the Elizabeth Shaw After Dinner mints for £1.60 a box.  They are also doing the caramel pouches large ones for £3.75

              I also intend to do as much basic preparatory work as possible doing a little, week by week.  The plan  is to make a couple of batches of sausage rolls, mince pies, coconut cheesecakes etc and store them in the freezer in order that the basics are covered which will give me more time to play and do other things. Make things like ice cream christmas pudding/individual puddings, as well as prepare the Christmas Cake and other long term keeping fruit cakes].  I will try and do something a week which will put less strain on the pocket

              So one week I might make  a couple  of  jars of pears bottled in cider, or a different variety of chutney, or a couple of pounds of sausage meat made into sausage rolls, and then frozen ready to be cooked straight from the freezer. I thought that if I maximised my time it would leave me more time to play and make things like home made rum truffles and Turkish Delight, Florentine biscuits etc nearer Christmas.  

              I would also like to buy a Salmon and make my own Gravlax.  I have never made this before and wonder if you can make the Gravlax from frozen fish.  I thought I had read somewhere that at one time it was preferable to freeze the fish to make sure that any bugs were well and truly deaded.  If I can do this it would probably mean that I could buy a salmon when it was on offer and make into Gravlax a week before Christmas.  Or can you make it, cure it with the fresh herbs and freeze it. If any of you have any experience of this, please do share.  I am very partial to salmon dealt with this way and so is my mum.  

              I also keep eyeing up Christmas Spiced Beef or "Bombed Beef" as it is also known.

              What tends to happen here is that I cook Christmas Dinner and do all the baking and preparation work and then after that and Boxing Day dinner (my mum usually comes on Boxing Day) everyone just helps themselves to cold cuts pickles, chutneys etc.

              Anyway, so far the preparations consist of/ I have acquired the following:-
              Two boxes of After Eight Mints, 
              2 boxes of Elizabeth Shaw After Dinner Mints 
              2boxes Thorntons Milk Chocolates (currently on offer at £5 a box at the Coop 
              2 tins Roses chocolates £11.99 for two tins at the CoOp 
              4 boxes chocolate brazils 
              4 boxes dried dates 
              2 boxes natural juice jelliies 
              2 boxes Cadbury Chocolate Fingers

              Baking Goods/Cake Decorating
              Chocolate vermicelli for decorating home made rum truffles 3 packs so far
              pink glitzy sugar coating for cakes
              4 boxes Tate & Lyle Fondant Icing Sugar

              Box Jacobs Cheese Crackers

              2 bottles of Christmas Pudding Wine
              Box of Crabbies Ginger Beer

              Apple and Mint Relish
              2 jars silverskin pickled onions
              Tartare Sauce


              Gooseberry Preserve
              Lemon n Lime Curd
              Apricot Preserve with Chestnut Liqueur
              Gold and Silver pens for writing cards and gift tags (were on offer 2 packs for £1 (6 pens in all 3 of gold and 3 of silver.
              Pack of Christmas cards
              Christmas wrapping paper

              Christmas Decorations/Including home made versions

              Christmas Snow Globe with Santa in his sleigh on a light base
              4 crackle glaze glass gold coloured candle holders
              2 boxes of pink and green candy canes for the Christmas tree. 
              Reindeer Table centre
              Small tree stockings
              2 tree owls
              1 Robin tree decoration

              Home Made Food Items for Christmas whether it be stored in the Pantry or the Freezer
              Including items already made and in the Put Down 20104
              Apricot and Amaretto Liqueur
              Glace Fruit Ice Cream Christmas Bombe

              Basic Meat Pack from the Butchers

              Ours has come from Willowbrook Farm for the princely sum of £50 we will receive the following:

              10lb fresh Turkey (may be a little more weight than this)
              2lb joint of meat (can be Pork, Beef or Lamb)
              2lb joint of gammon
              1lb Streaky Bacon
              1lb Smoky Bacon
              1lb Chipolatas
              1lb Sausagemeat

              (That's what other half can remember).  We have had this pack for the past couple of years from here.  Been more than very good. 

              And at least its a start.

              More to follow as and when



              last updated 06 December  2010

              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)