Saturday, 31 December 2011


LoveA very good friend of mine posted this on Facebook.  I subscribe to this sentiment absolutely. This is what I wish for everyone in the New Year 

Pattypan  x

2011 Round Up

Another year of my life seems to have passed in a flurry a lot of things have happened, many of them not the way that I wanted them to at all, but they have happened all the same.  They have taken me in a slightly different direction and stretched my wings, made me a very much stronger person.  Although inside at times I have been shouting and kicking out all the way.  This year has made me more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses a year for getting to know myself that bit better.  At the end of the day  though each of us has  to deal with things as they arise, one at a time until sorted to the best of our own ability.  People have come and gone, new people have come in to my orbit and life goes on  - no matter what.  A year where a lot of underground spade work has gone in, making firm foundations for what is yet to come.  Not an easy year, for anyone a very steep learning curve in many respects a challenge, something to work at.  But despite these challenges and difficulties it has made me at least appreciate what I do have all the more and where I can to help other people help themselves.  Like teaching my friend to feed herself on a low budget and still make things like her own Christmas cake and Christmas pudding, both of which were a huge success.

From having too much choice, my choices are now much more straight cut - and have to be based on what is needed first rather than what I would like.  One has to be sensible at the end of the day.  It comes down to practical choices.

There have been sad and funny moments too all are part of this rich tapestry of life, but from mid-night tonight it is time to say good bye to this past year and to say hello to the new.  A crisp clean page, ready to be written. 

Here's wishing you everything you would wish for yourselves and your loved ones.  May this new year bring in more kindness, more tolerance and less waste.  Thank you for all your support during the past year.

May 2012 be a wonderful year

Take care


Friday, 30 December 2011

Richard Corrigan on Hunger

I have just watched this programme on TV on an investigation into food poverty in this country. It has been quite revealing as it is far more widespread than we think  even with people who hold full time jobs but who are on a low wage and it is very much a case of there but for the grace of god go I.  In other words that could be me or you - just the wrong turn of the dice and the card tower comes tumbling down.  Food prices are also going up and this is all part and parcel of the waste cycle or the supermarkets insisting on a specific sized shaped apple s, parsnips etc.  Come on get real, different foods are meant to be different in size etc not meant to conform.  Food is meant to be eaten not sat on the dresser and admired! What struck me most is that the supermarkets and the public in general are wasting so much food. Its like Hugh's fish fight -  chucking back food into the sea because they have their quota and wasting a commodity because it doesn't fit.  The Government took their time to respond to the programme makers and then it really did not take any kind of responsibility  Why is so much being wasted why not use it to feed those on the streets the soup kitchens or families on the breadline.  Why isn't common sense coming into play here if something is being thrown away and is still good and would be of benefit - why destroy it why not use it for the greater good.  Our resources will only last so long its time to stop the rot and stop the waste happening.  During the war years you were fined if you were found to be wasting food.  Like with Hugh's Fish Fight register your complaints to the supermarkets and the government.  There is no excuse for waste of food of any kind and if the public vote with their feet perhaps something might get done.

If you get the opportunity to watch this programme then please do it is a bit of an eye opener .I saw this on Current TV this evening.

Here is the link to the internet where you should be able to access the programme:

Makes you think - could be me


Quote for the Day



Restlessness and what to do next

I have two deep freezers a large 13 cft chest freezer and a large upright, which houses the stuff I use on a regular basis and they are well due an overhaul.  Besides after all the hard work up to Christmas and then the ahh period where I flopped afterwards, I am now starting to feel a tad guilty because of my inactivity!  This afternoon I have been browsing some of my numerous cookery books and its no good I have to get busy busy busy there is so much to do so much to try and different methods of preserving food to explore.

Over the coming weeks, I have made my mind up that the  the large chest freezer is going to be investigated and some goodies made.  I have lost track of what is quite in there, I know that there are lots of cherries, apples, gooseberries, strawberries etc and I have some smoked salmon in there so that will make some nice Sunday breakfasts with scrambled egg.  A new year is fast approaching and there will be new produce to come and I want to have room in there to store some extras for making a batch of this and that later on in the year.  I am primarily thinking here Seville Oranges.  I intend to make a good scuttle full of this marmalade to last the year, but I also want some extras just in case I run out.  I am shall we say erring on the side of caution and in any event  I tend to make a little bit more each year no matter what.   I quite frequently pop prepared fruit into the freezer if I haven't got much time to process stuff and then drag it out when I have.  That way you don't waste anything and if perchance you leave some fruit in there for longer than you should have there is always the option of having a go at making your own home-made wine!  There is usually a solution somewhere along the line, its just that sometimes its not always apparent on first lookings.

The beauty of having a deep freeze/freezers is that you can have to hand most things you need to hand and if you keep it pretty well stocked it can save you money if you buy when there are offers on and store things down so that in times when things are not so plentiful you can in effect live out of the freezer,  together with a well stocked pantry.   I must say that I do tend to freeze most of the items myself from fresh rather than necessarily buying frozen although they do have their place.  I don't go shopping very often.  Most weeks although not every week I get fresh veg and about once a month we go to the butcher to stock up on special offers.  The first time that we went shopping was on the Thursday before Christmas, and then I wasn't just stocking up for Christmas but buying things that would last for the month as well.  We only spent about £100 and that included some cider and ginger beer.  I don't use just one supermarket either I shop around and choose what I buy very carefully especially since the price of things has hiked up so much.  I would rather buy basic ingredients such as bread flour, yeast, eggs, potatoes, bacon, onions, milk, cheese, plain flour, sr flour, fruit, coconut, rice, pasta etc and then make things from the basics as I have found that buying things already made runs away with what money is available.  Making it yourself often does give you a lot extra for the money, but if there is too much rather than waste it  - either freeze it down if you can or do swapsies with another member of the family - take it in turns make the money go further - share the love of cooking.

For instance we do not like margarine spreads but prefer  proper butter on our bread.  Butter really has hiked up in price recently but I have found that buying my butter from Waitrose recently has worked out cheaper.  A 500g block for £2.19  (which works out at £1.09 per 250g) where for a 250g block we have recently been paying about £1.70 just recently, although there have been offers on buy two x 250g blocks for £3.  The butter does at this time of year  does go solid  as my kitchen gets so cold, but 20 secs in the microwave soon softens it up ready for use.

Right am off to do some more browsing and there are some recipes I want to commit to my recipe book which involves handwriting.  Hope you are all keeping well.

Take care and catch up soon



Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Things to do

I hope you all had a merry Christmas with your loved ones.  We have had a quiet Christmas here at Pattypans pad, but I still have an awful lot to do.  OH and I decided not to buy each other a present; but to spend the money available to us on food - that was our Christmas present to each other.  

I am due back to work tomorrow after a very few extremely busy but enjoyable days over Christmas. I have billing to do tomorrow.  I am back for two days and then off on Friday and Monday going back to work on the 3 January.  Today has been the first time available to me to do as I pleased and I have had a very lazy day where sometimes I have found myself dribbling on the setee having "nodded off" and then woken up with a crick in the neck. I have also been planning and plotting, watching River Cottage repeats and nosing through my recipe books as well as my diary making an aide memoire and check list as well as plotting pertinent items to make at specific times such as the Christmas cake and Christmas puddings and home made Mincemeat, cider, beer, stout and lager.

I had had all sorts of plans to do this and that in readiness for Christmas, but unfortunately time  and the lack of funds at a pertinent time got the better of me and I had to ditch the plans and go with the flow.  But then by making mistakes is how we learn.  However this coming year will be different I am very determined about that.  I intend to set up if and when I have a few pounds spare an account purely for taking advantage of preserving foods when they are in season whether that entails a walk through the hedgerows or a trip to a fruit farm and also for buying kilner jars, jam jars and cordial/sauce bottles.  At the minute I intend to do a lot more bottling than I have in previous years.  Unusually, this year I also did not prepare a few things which have become household staples which also do double duty as a small Christmas present to  a friend.  I do not intend to repeat the mistake of not making these in the future I am particularly speaking about making crab apple jelly and apple chutney which everyone seems to love. One thing I would say is that when the fruit is in season if you do not have time to process it into jam or chutneys freeze it down and then make it when you have more time rather than miss out completely.

I am particularly keen to have a go at curing bacon and making my own sausages for which I will require meat and sausage casings - hence the idea of the preserving fund so that I can eventually have a play, but I want to do some more research on this first before dipping in the proverbial toe.

I intend also to have the sewing machine out on Friday.  I bought the first batch of fleece material to make an inner curtain for the front door to keep draughts out and to make the house more cozy.  It has taken me a while to save up as I needed 2 1/2 metres of fabric per door - it cost me £13 for just one door.  I also intend to buy more fabric in the next few weeks or so to do the same for the back door.  It should not take me long to do but now the dining room table is clear (yes you heard right)  I am going to make the most of it.  

I also need to make some ironing board covers, and some throws for the front room sofas - I have been collecting furnishing fabrics in set colours, like golds and reds and intend to do some patchwork style throws out of them.  I have a lot of fabric upstairs begging to be used so I need to get a wriggle on and get cracking. The only thing I will need to buy is the backing fabric and the wadding/batting.  I may have to pay a visit to Dunhelm to see if they have anything suitable like an appropriately coloured cotton sheet.  I also need to get back to the rest of the UFO's and the blankets and throws and get the items completed.  I have been very unsettled of late and not able to settle.

I had also hoped for a crafting day with my friend during the period I was off work - which for one reason or another did not happen.  So we are going to start early and have crafting days through the year to make bits and bobs in readiness for next Christmas

I have mentioned that I have taught my friend how to cook in recent months.  She made her first ever Christmas cake and Christmas pudding under my guidance.  I am pleased to say that the cake turned out very well indeed.  It was a recipe I had never made before, but which has turned out to be delicious and is a cake I will make myself in the future, not necessarily as a Christmas cake but it was delicious. Unusually you put chunks of marzipan into the mix. I also helped her make a "round" Christmas pudding which smells absolutely gorgeous although she has not road tested this yet.  I am used to making Christmas puddings but this was the first time that I had made a "round one".

Will catch up later

Hope everyone is keeping well and that you have enjoyed the holidays

Take care 



Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas everybody

Is it only a few hours ago I actually stuffed the Turkey.  Since then we have gone on to have a delicious lunch and now I am feeling slightly overstuffed myself .  Eyes bigger than belly syndrome.

Just to wish you all a merry christmas wherever you may be family, (those no longer with us)  friends, long standing friends  and those friends who we have lost touch with for one reason or another (but who are not forgotten) and to everyone who reads my blog.  I hope your celebration is a good one.

Catch you all later



Sunday, 18 December 2011

Home Made Eclairs

As part of my cooking repertoire I have a very deep based Eclair Pan which makes 8 Eclairs, which I sourced from Lakeland.  I have had it a while and as OH is very partial to these little delicacies I have decided I am going to make him some for part of the Christmas baking.  This is the recipe on the back of the cardboard sleeve which I am going to have a go at.  I

Ingredients for the Choux Pastry

125ml of water
50g of butter
60g of plain flour
2 eggs beaten

For the icing

50g of dark chocolate or chocolate of your choice
1 tsp of butter
2 tablespoons of water
85g of icing sugar

For the filling

300ml double cream
3 drops vanilla extract
2 tso caster sugar
Optional fruit like oranges, strawberries, raspberries

To make

Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the butter.  Place the pan over a medium heat and once the butter has melted turn up the heat abd bring to the boilt.  Add the flour and take the pan off the heat.

Stir briskly until the flour has blended with the liquid and the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and makes a soft ball.  Do not over beat as this will result in a heavy pastry.  Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 200 degrees C

Leave the mixture to cool slightly and when it is warm to the touch start to beat in the eggs a tablespoon at a time. Beat well between each addition.  For the best results use an electric mixer.  When you have added both the eggs the pastry should take on a glossy sheen and have a soft dropping consistency.

Spoon the paste into the eclair pan cups or place in a piping bag with a plain nozzle and then pipe into the tin.  Just before baking sprinkle the pan with a few drops of cold water as this will help the mixture rise well.

Bake the eclairs for about 20  minutes before turning down the gheat to 190 degrees C/Gas mark 5 for another 10 minutes.  The eclairs should be golden brown and well risen. Remove from the oven and pierce each eclair with a trussing needle or a knife to ensure that the steam escapes and does not make the eclair go soggy.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

To decorate

Whip the cream with the vanilla and the sugar.

Slice pastries in half with a serrated knife and scoop out the doughy innards of both halves of the eclair with fingers or a small teaspoon.

Put 2 to 3 tablespoons of the filling in the bottom half of each pastry and loosely replace the top half or lid.

Tip the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and add the butter and water,  Place over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until melted.  Only a low heat as if the water boils it could splash into the chocoloate and make it go very hard.  Add the sieved icing sugar a little at a time.  Then with a palette knife smooth the icing over the top of each eclair and leave on one side until set.


Peppermint Creams

This recipe is from the Mrs Beeton's Christmas book and I have used it time and time again.


400g/14oz of sieved icing sugar
2 egg whites
2 x 5ml/2 teaspoons of good quality peppermint essence (I use the one Lakeland sell)
Icing sugar for dusting

To make sift the icing sugar into a bowl and work in the egg whites and the peppermint essence.  Mix well to a moderately firm paste.  Knead the "dough" until nice and smooth and then roll out on a board dusted with icing sugar to help stop the "dough" from sticking.  Roll out to about 5mm/1/4 of an inch thick.  Cut into small rounds or fancy shapes and put onto greaseproof paper. I have been known to use a lid which has been washed thoroughly for a small disk shape, but before cutting out have dusted with icing sugar.  Leave to dry for about 12 hours making sure that each sweet is turned during that period.  Pack into an air tight container lined with waxed paper.  You can decorate the sweets further by adding green colouring to the initial mix or by dipping either the whole sweet or part of the sweet in chocolate.

Makes approximately 48 sweets if you can leave the "dough" alone otherwise far less!




German Spice Squares

I am very partial to spices and to me that is what Christmas is about on a culinary front the mix of heady aromatic spices all blended together in all sorts of different foods, whether it be the Christmas Cake, the Christmas pudding or home made mincemeat to me there is always room for more, including this recipe and also my home made Rock Buns where I use both nutmeg and Mace.


12 oz flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
3 large eggs
4 oz soft brown sugar
6 fl oz clear honey


Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, spices and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl.
Beat together the eggs and sugar.  Warm the honey and add with the eggs and sugar.  Warm the honey and add with the eggs abd sugar to the flour mixture.  Mix well together until the bastter is smooth.  Pour into a greased 12 inch square baking tray.  Smooth the top.

Bake in a moderate oven 180 degrees C/350 degrees F or Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into squares.

Makes  approximately 36 squares

Chilli and Garlic Tortilla Chips

I like Tortilla chips but I find the price of them in the shop a little exorbitant, so me being me went searching for a recipe and I have come up with this one, made of ingredients that in most households are to hand.

Make some home made Guacamole and cream cheese, and use the chips to tuck in or liberally sprinkle chopped chilli, cheese and grated cheese warm in the oven until the cheese has melted and devour.


125g/4oz medium or coarse yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup/90g all purpose plain flower
Pinch of salt
1 green chilli pepper finely chopped
1 clove garlic peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon of olive oil
6 tablespoons of milk

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas Mark 4.

Mix the cornmeal with the flour, salt, chilli and garlic.  Then add the oil and then the milk stirring together until you have a fairly soft dough.  Knead the dough on a floured wooden board for a few minutes.

Break off into small pieces about the size of a walnut in its shell.  Roll each of these out into a thin circle (you can cut each circle into quarters if liked)  Arrange the chips on a greased baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes.  As they come out of the oven brush each with a little more oil.  Store in an air-tight tin/container.


Saturday, 17 December 2011


I am sat for a few minutes just sitting in the silence, and resting my weary bones.  I still have lots to do and at the moment am chasing my tail so these few minutes of peace are reward enough.  I have a red candle burning and am sat in the dark, sending good wishes and absent healing to those in need during my quiet time, watching and focusing on the flickering flame of the candle.  Its at times like these that I really could do with an open fire to warm my bones and to enter dreamland via a flickering fire as I was want to do as a child.

My Squeak is keeping me company.  Demetri is not far away sprawled in the floor not far from the candle. Both cats are never far from my side as I sit and contemplate and allow my mind  the luxury to wander where it will. I love the peacefulness of candlelight and the softness and gentleness the light throws on everything creating strange dramatic shapes out of otherwise ordinary objects.  A time to let the imagination escape

All is not totally quiet  though as the wind sounds as though it is getting up a tad.  The fence is down in the garden from earlier on in the week.

After my few moments respite I will start again on the chores I still have to do. Its going to be another late morning by the looks of things, but jobs need doing as I am well behind.

I am so glad I stopped to cook earlier on fish and mushy peas and chips with home made rice pud.  Very filling and very warming as it is bitterly cold here at the moment,.  When I do eventually make it upstairs to Bedfordshire I shall go armed with my hottie bottie. I have found that keeping myself warm means that I am not  so stiff in the mornings.

Catch you all soon



Toffee Vodka

This is made very quickly and easily.

1 standard bottle of vodka I use a cheaper vodka for this)
1 bag of toffees (I used a bag of Werthers)

1 litre or litre plus preserving jar sterilised

This is quick to make and very simple to do and very moorish to drink it doesn't last long either.

Sterlise your preserving jar and then to the sterilised jar add the toffee then add the Vodka, seal and leave on the kitchen windowsill or in a dark cupboard.  You must shake this twice a day until the toffee has melted and it goes a coffee colour it will have a froth on top this is all quite natural.  Once the toffee has melted decant into a sterlised bottle and then serve in small glasses like a liqueur or add a little lemonade as a mixer.  Whichever way you serve it it will not last long.

Happy Christmas

You can do this with other sweets as well like bubble gum or aniseed balls or cinder toffee



Sweet making for Christmas

Part of the fun for Christmas for me is to actually get to play after all the hard cleaning work has been done.  I don't like things being untidy or messy and so I do the big clean to make sure that everything is tickety boo and then I can enjoy everything. My dream is to have the home I really want my forever home.  Somewhere I can get everything sorted and have the kitchen and pantry I dream of or if it doesn't quite fulfil the criteria make it so.  A place where everything is organised  and I can just get on with things rather than the organised chaos of my current home but until that day comes we have to deal with what we have and live in the present and make the best of what we have.  After all what has happened in our past shapes us as a person, we have to live in the present but that helps shape our future as without these experiences we do not become what we need to be.

On and off for the past 10 years or so I have always made some kind of home made sweets.  Sweet making can be daunting if you have never done it before but is a matter of playing until you get things right.  Somewhere to play quietly and concentrate and be on your own.  I have a sugar thermometer which makes things easier, but we can all make sweets of one kind or another with the most basic of equipment and they make a nice little gift to give to a friend especially when pennies are tight.

Also Christmas is about children - we should let them do simple things like making peppermint creams or rum balls - letting them help increases their confidence but also makes them feel part of the bigger picture.  They too are helping in their own small way.  You can create your own customs and good times with the littlies, the bigger littlies, the biggies and the bigger biggies and even the child within.  ITS GOOD TO PLAY JUST GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION down tools if necessary to incorporate these simple pleasures or you end up missing out and there just is no place for regrets after the event.  The housework can wait the littlies time is precious time that can never be replaced.

Home made sweets also produce more in quantity and if you maike a couple of different types of sweets you can mix them up a bit in a gift box or bag.  Little presents like this also teach your child to share and give.

Lets start with peppermint creams - very simple and easy to make - ideal for the littlies as there is no cooking involved and even better for the big littlies as they are quick and simple to make.  It's just the drying time you have to take into account.  Remember when you are under pressure it is nice to have several quick things to do as they all help pad out the bits and bobs you do have for a relatively small investment of time.   Sometimes its nice to take pleasure in simple things, which often get overlooked.

Going to join me make peppermint creams - the recipe will follow in a separate post.




Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Kitchen

The kitchen  really needs a bit of a tidy up especially in view of he fact that we are having family over during the Christmas period.  It really needs painting out again.  Will probably have to happen after  Christmas now as otherwise I could be setting myself up to fail.   I haven't had a lot of money to play with just to tidy up things, but I have bought a pair of curtains from the Charity shop to cover the window and to keep out any draughts.  I have some curtain track that I want OH to put up, for him to lower the  existing blind so that we can keep the kitchen warm. I have also made a sink skirt out of some gingham I had to tidy up the fact that the sink unit  doors do not match the pine units we had put in a few years ago.  At the end of the day  Its about making the best of what I  already have with an odd few affordable second hand or new items just to tidy things up and make it look clean.  I hae already washed all the waills and skirting down.  I also want OH to put up a curtain track over the door so that I can put a thick door curtain that I have up to keep out any draughts and that should tidy things up for now.  The bathroom had a make over and was painted out white a few months ago.  The plaster in this house is not terribly good at the best of times.  I also intend to make a door cushion to keep out draughts too.  It would seem that I am going to have a hot date with the sewing machine which I am really looking forward too.

And then there is the brass I have to clean.  Iam nearly out of brass cleaner so if any of you have any alternative recipes I wouild be very happy to receive them.

Have to get on as although the lounge is getting tidy the carpet is to be cleaned later on when we have no traffic through it.  Once the lounge is finished its up the stairs and into my bedroom to finish tidying up there.I also intend to get in the kitchen at some point.

Catch up later



Friday, 9 December 2011

Just a Quickie

Sorry I haven't been around a lot this week things have been a tad hectic with me being out most evenings this week so far.  I have been out this evening also and am out to the works Departmental Christmas dinner tomorrow evening at a local hostelry with the ladies I work with so I think it will be sometime Saturday before I am able to post.  I am on holiday for the week from tomorrow night in any event but I have serious amounts of things to do.

I have had my physio class today and I only have one more session to go to before I am referred back to the Physiotherapist for a review in January.  It has really helped me lots with Pilates based exercises which are strengthening my core muscles.  I am also back to see the Consultant in the Rheumatology Clinic for a review in January. But so far so good - you have to be positive and I am very grateful for the assistance I have been given so far.

I also have a couple of invites for next week  on the Tuesday- a Yule Celebration/party at the home of one of the members of our Group.  Am quite looking forward to that.  All I know is that there will be a bonfire and we can dress up if we want to!  Later on in the week I have been invited to attend as a guest at a friend's circle and on the Friday next week we have the Psychic & Spiratual Fellowship's Christmas party.  I also have a lot of other things to do at home as per usual including some craft work and sewing.  I am going to be busy, busy, busy.  Well it keeps me out of trouble - or gets me into it one of the two.  Just the depth that varies.

I also think I am going to have my knitting needles out  to knit a little something as a very good friend is about to have her first baby and from seeing her yesterday I don't think she is going to be very long.  Its lovely to welcome a new little one into the fold as they bring so much joy and laughter.

Have had a very nice if late tea tonight, steak pie, mushy peas, broccoli, carrots, onion gravy and mashed potatoes.  OH who has had a bit of a downer today soon cheered up after I had fed him and has cheered up quite substantially.

Would also like to warmly welcome some more new followers.  Get yourself comfy, with that mug of tea or coffee sit down and have a good mosey around.  Look forward to your comments - I love to receive feedback as it makes my mere ramblings seem worthwhile.

Well am off to Bedfordshire with my hotty bottie all filled up and ready to tuck under the covers.

Nighty night everyone and catch you all soon.



Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Attention For Ceridwen

Ceridwen would you please email me on re your earlier message to me.  I might be able to assist you.

Many thanks


Liebster Award

 I have been given a surprise award by Anne of Silver Sewer

Thank you very much

Liebster" is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. What a gift to be awarded with such kindness!

Now on to the details. The Liebster is a way to show a little Blog Love to bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.

The rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have fun!

I have now to choose 5 blogs to nominate for this award.  They are after deep consideration

Number 1

Rowan at Circle of the Year Blogspot
I love the accounts of Rowan's travels in this country and abroad.  Each time I read an article it makes me feel as though I am there in person with her; plus I have learned a lot about places in this country that I have and haven't been to.  Rowan writes with sincerity and from the heart and I thoroughly enjoy my travels from my armchair with her.

Number 2

Kay and Sime Smith known as "The Smiths"
I love catching up with these two honest hardworking couple and their efforts to simplify their lives without leaving an imprint on this world of ours. I love the fact that they are not scared to be themselves or that they conform to what other people think they should be doing.  They are delightfully "alternative" and passionate about everything they are involved with.  They have home educated their children as well as running their own business and have been good role models in daring to be different and meeting their own ethical requirements rather than follow like sheep along a well trodden path.  There are always other choices and I like their honesty, sincerity  and most definitely their love for each other and their humour.

Number 3

Kitty (also known as The Chicken Lady)

Has recently started her own blog  about her allotment and I am very interested in her adventures in growing things and what to do with the produce.  Mainly because I am very interested in growing veg etc myself - I have grown the odd thing but am by no means an expert. I love the charming way in which she is experimenting and learning as she is going along but sharing it with us too.

Number 4

Kim at Oakmoon

I love Kim's blog primarily to see her latest creations as she is an extremely talented artist, who keeps stretching herself with different subjects and different mediums.   Kim does have an Etsy shop that is well worth a peek.  But overall it is a gentle blog full of love and experimentation  fantasy and imagination often through difficult circumstances but she is honest and loyal and it has been lovely to see her work evolve and become an extension of her inner self; as well as her portrayal of her animals and the little peek she allows us of her personal life.

Number 5

Rose of Secondhand Rose

I love reading Rose's blog.  I love reading about her finds in the local charity shops or antique centres. Rose is extremely knowledgeable about lots of items and finds a use in her own home or in her daughter's home for many an object or trinket.  Rose gives and shares from the heart  and is extremly fair, loving and compassionate. I have loved  reading this year about her work with the Tiggywinkles (hedgehogs) and about rescuing under weight ones taking them for the relevant help and then when up to weight taking them back into her garden or locality.

All these blogs give something special, and well worth a visit,  but most of all they are full of love and pure intent.

Please collect your award, you all deserve it but most of all enjoy it.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Pantry''s Done

The Pantry is finished at long last and re-stocked so I can find what I am looking for and I still have to go Christmas shopping to stock up on a few things yet.

I am still locating the occasional item and managing to squeeze them in where I can.  I have two other cupboards that I also use for food storage under the stairs - which was sorted out the other day this is my main bottle store as well and also the fireplace cupboard stores some items too.

Well at least its clean and tidy for now.

It's bitterly cold here tonight and I am still suffering with my cold.  I am back to work tomorrow for the week and then off for a further week.

Take care




It's cold here in Peterborough today  - very cold.  I will put the heating on in a bit but at the moment I am moving about so I have a  thick jumper on and the tumble drier is also doing double duty getting the quilt I have just washed dry and then it will be aired.  I am currently nursing a hot mug of tea.  I did get up earlier but didn't feel too clever and got myself a mug of hot ribena and a couple of paracetamol and went back under the covers for a little while.  I am now up and ready to get on with things everything is slowly going back into the Pantry nearly finished.  Phew.  But when that is finished it's on to a few more things in the kitchen cooking wise.  We are having  later on a roast chicken with all the trimmings i.e. bread sauce, stuffing and probably some Yorkshire Puds as well with Mash, Roasts and veg.  I also want to get my last batch of ginger beer on and also some apple pop.    Must remember to get the fresh yeast out of the Freezer.  Will see how we go.  Then its finish the bedroom off by making the bed with fresh linen and quilts I like to be able to snuggle. I still have loads to do but at least I have made a big start.

Catch up later on - at least I am nearly out of the Pantry.



Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Trouble with tidying the Pantry that in order to sort it all out you have to unpack it first in order to re-pack everything tidily and so that you can find what you are actually looking for.  My current pantry is nothing more than a walk in cupboard - more a dry goods pantry than a nice cold old fashioned pantry like my Nan had and here's me wanting a much larger pantry than I already have!  I would like a nice older larger style pantry as there are still a few more areas of preserving (including meat preservation) that I want to try out and I am mindful of right temperatures being maintained etc. for the safe preservation of the same.  I am particularly interested in having a go at copa, salamis and ham and bacon preservation.  But you have to work with what you have in the near and now and hopefully in the not too distant future I will be able to start experimenting.

Well the Fridge Pantry has been completely emptied; I switched it off and have completey cleaned it and have started to add a few more items back in there. Not many things as the fridge still has to be dragged out for me to wash the walls and the floor and the shelving etc.  So still a way off but we are getting there very slowly but it will be a good job done when I get to the end of it not least because I will be able to find what I am looking for.

Because of the pantry tidying I have done a very quick tea this evening - which is one of my mum's thrifty specials and ideal for a Saturday evening tea in the winter although saying that we do eat it throughout the year.  The best part about this is that is a one pan meal.  Quite simply it is about 1lb of nice sausages  - must have plenty of flavour (we are partial to lincolnshire sausages with plenty of flavouring); these are fried/grilled until golden brown and then once evenly coloured tip a tin of plum tomatoes in with the sausages, add plenty of white pepper and cook through until warmed all the way through.  You can serve this on toast or accompanied by a couple of slices of bread and butter with which to mop up the juices. Very tasty, and warming.

I have also had to have a couple of glasses of home made cassis  that was really warming and full of flavour - and an orange.   A bit of a vitamin C hit.  I have a sore throat coming on and my nose keeps running so I am trying to head this off at the pass.  I suspect I will have to make a scuttle full of French Onion Soup tomorrow and I may well have a hot toddy before going up to bed, which is sometime off yet due to the state of play in the Pantry.

I did not go to the Veg shop today, will stock up next week  as I will be able to play more - I am back at work this week coming and at the end of the week I am then off for another week when hopefully I will get all the Christmas decorations sorted, and some home made sweets and last minute sorting out in readiness for the Christmas celebrations.

Well I am off to finish off the Pantry

Catch you all later



Well I am in the Pantry

... and it is not a pretty sight.

Me on my knees, bum up in the air armed with the steam cleaner setting about cleaning the innards of the pantry fridge making it spotless in readiness for the celebrations to come so that I can store all my fresh stuff safely.  Once that is done - the fridge will be dragged out so that I can set about the pantry shelves and the tin store behind as we seem to have had a bit of a tumble on the stacking but that will not take much sorting out.  Once that is done its into the lounge - so I am very slowly getting there.

Will catch up soon - that is if the pantry lets me escape -  talk about the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe  - my alter world starts with the pantry door!

Catch up soon



Thursday, 1 December 2011

Operation Tidy Up

Operation tidy up is on couse - I have nearly recovered the dining room and am looking forward to eating my Christmas lunch in there this year. I have a wooden German Nativity Candle centrepiece that I want as the centrepiece on there.  The jam store has been sorted out and  all the Christmas goodies so far stashed (trhis is where I keep them out of the way).  I have been doing  a lot of sorting out as I have been going along as well getting rid of tat or those bits I no longer need.  My friend has been a beneficiary of some saucepans I no longer had a need for. I also have a couple of jobs for OH to put up a curtain track in the dining room (it has just had a blind) think it will make it warmer and also a curtain track above the back door so that I can hang a very heavy curtain I have,.

Yesterday I managed to pickle a load of beetroot and I have quite a bit of stuff to do later on - I have some figs in vanilla syrup to do..  Friday I am giving my friend another cooking lesson, this time home made soups, Quiche, quick walnut toffees, some more pickled eggs (she has eaten the last lot).

I have the physio at lunch today and then back for some tidying up for a couple of hours.  I am then out to meet a friend who celebrates her 50th birthday tomorrow so we are going out for a meal and a good chat.  Tomorrow we are taking my mum to Downtown at Grantham, to return some curtains and we are also going for a good wander round Stamford - its market day and when I was at college there the market always used to be a good one.  They also have a farmers market there.  We have been told about a chees shop that sells stinking bishop cheese so we are going to investigate.  Will probably go back on the Friday prior to Christmas week as well.  I love the hustle and bustle aat this time of year especially in a smaller town.  So later today and tomorrow I am definitely playing.  It is then back to the grind for the rest of the weekend before going back to work for a week and then I really get to play.

Catch up soon



Monday, 28 November 2011

I've been busy

Well although I am on holiday this week, it has officially been designated operation Christmas mop up in readiness for the Christmas celebrations in a few weeks time. I have therefore been pottling away and getting stuck in.   I have been washing and ironing washing and ironing and at long last I am pleased to report that mission impossible has now been accomplished and the washing and the ironing is now completed.  Phew.  Now just have to persuade the wardrobes that they really do want to accept further donations into the darkest depths of the closet or two or three....  One major job done, quite a few more to go.  Tomorrow we have operation toilet and bathroom.  Out will come the steam cleaner again; hopefully should not take me more than a couple of hours.   Well in theory anyway. Then that will be the bathroom and the kitchen completely done.  Then we have the pantry, yet again that should not take too long either.    Once they are accomplished I have the dining room to bottom out and then the lounge.  So I have a lot to do before I go back to work next Monday for a week.  I am back at work a week and then off again, but that is to get the last minute shopping done, cooking done and decorations.  So I have my work cut out.  Will have to get a wriggle on.

Catch you later



Saturday, 26 November 2011

2011.11.26 My Day

I have this week off and I have an awful lot to do.  Today  my first day off and I haven't really done very much, haven't had a lot of energy today so have rested.  

The weather has been very cold here and the wind is more than breezy and is howling a little.   Today I Have done a bit of shopping and managed to get one or two more items for the Christmas box such as some Paynes Chocolate Brazils and some salted peanuts.  I paid a visit to the veg shop and have come back with some oranges, clementines, lemons a leek, some root ginger,  some beetroot and two large cauliflowers.  Not much but things I needed.  The cauliflowers were 60 pence each and they are massive. Fen grown locally and on speaking to the veg shop owners they did not think that there would be any fresh cauliflowers like this around come Christmas.  I therefore bought two cauliflowers to make some cauliflower cheese for the freezer.  If they have anymore in the week I might well nab a couple more and freeze the florets down.  The Oranges I am going to make a Ginger fruit relish and with the clementines I am going to make Orange Water Ice.  The beetroot is to be boiled and then pickled.  The lemons are going to make some more lemon curd (we go through a lot of it and it is particularly nice mixed with home made plain yogurt and then served up as a pud.  I also want to get some more soup made for the freezer as it is handy to have during the week.

I am on baby sitting duties for Tiddles my friend's cat.  Have been over a couple of times already and fed and watered him.  Will go again in the morning to check on him.  He was pleased to see me.  I taught his mum how to make a Christmas pudding last night have done a round one - its her first Christmas pud.  Have used my recipe  - a variation on a Delia recipe where I add in a few other ingredients as well such as apple, carrot and Cider.

Have a pile of ironing to get on with so must dash

Catch you soon



Souper Mix

I made this recipe for the first time just after receiving the Preserves book by Pam Corbin  from River Cottage not long after it was first published.  It has been a fixture on my pantry shelf ever since and very useful in the kitchen for making gravies, adding to sauces  it gives a really good base. I am not a fan of stock cubes in a mug of hot water but this was very palatable indeed as a quick warm me up instead of a tea or a coffee.   All you do is put a couple of teaspoons or more into a mug and top up with boiling water. I always make double the quantity of the recipe and it never seems to last that long or perhaps its me uses too much of it; but I like this to hand in my batterie de cuisine so to speak as you can do so much with it.  After all cooking is about adding layers of flavour to whatever dish you cook or make

Here's a link here to the recipe

Its well worth making some as it has so much flavour and the flavour changes as to what vegetables you use and it is very easily made.



Tuesday, 22 November 2011

What a Busy Week - So far

It seems to have been all go at home and at work this week seems to be zipping along like nobody's business.

This morning did not start well; we both slept heavily and OH turned the alarm off and went back to sleep - me I didn't hear it I was still deep in slumber; and then it was all rush and tear in order to get to work on time.  I am not good if hurried in a morning I like to come too gracefully and gradually!

I have been given a load of plums from someone's freezer today so have some plum jam to do.  I also have a batch of stock paste to make think will do that this evening - have lots to do just not have the energy to do it.

We have pizza and garlic ciabatta with pate for tea - wanted something lighter than last nigh.  We had Cornish pasties,mashed potato and  onion gravy which was scrummy and warming and proper comfort food especially after a dark damp day.

It has been a very foggy past couple of days resulting in teeming rain last night.  Its been grey and cold today but thankfully some of the mist had gone which made travelling a little easier although it is still damp and cold.  Oh for a log fire.  One day I am determined I will have one, one day - hopefully sooner rather than later.  I have the things like the coal scuttle, the companion set, horse brasses etc etc so I have all the accoutrements to show it off - just need the actual fire!

Will have to get a wriggle on - am not in tomorrow night am off out and about again and hospital again on Thursday dinner, up town on Friday dinner and then on holiday for a week but a working one. 

Front garden needs tidying up now OH has attacked the Cotoneaster Bush/Tree we seem to have a much bigger garden where weeds have sprouted so I will get stuck in and get that sorted so it looks neat and tidy.

House needs tidying and bottoming out kitchen is done now have to complete the following:

  • Bottom out the pantry and re-arrange and restock the same
  • Bottom out the Dining room, the Jam Store and sort out the Freezers.
  • Finish off the Bedroom.
  • Bottom out the Computer Room
  • Back Bedroom.
  • Carpets to be washed
  • Front Room to be bottomed out
  • Brass and Copper to be cleaned and polished
  • Bathroom to be swabbed out.
  • Ironing heap to disappear
I really intend to get stuck in and get as much done as I possibly can in this coming week in order that I get time to cook and play properly on the second week that I am off i,e, with the decorating and crafts too.

I also need to retrieve some of my items from storage too notably my square pine coffee table to put in the front room and stand my Christmas tree on but that won't happen until everything is tickety boo.

Well upwards and onwards

Catch up soon



Saturday, 19 November 2011

Deep Clean

Sorry I have been absent, been cleaning all day a real deep clean of the kitchen which I do inbetween regular cleaning at least every couple of months or so.  This is when I zip into cleaning anything and everything in sight with the steam cleaner.  This is all part and parcel of my preparations for Christmas.  With it being an old house and one that is rented, the owners have when they have had work done, had cheap tradesmen in who don't finish of the work properly and there are lumps and bumps or things are not straight. In between the cleaning I have also been sorting out cupboards I have found some more things I had forgotten I had like the Raclette, the popcorn maker, the candy floss machine, the chocolate fountain and the health grill!  Well no doubt I will press them into use over the festive season or in the next few weeks or so at the very least.  I have had much of my equipment for many years and I look after it as best as I can. 

I still have the cooker to clean down in the kitchen, but OH had a disaster with that during the week, he caught the glass oven door and it shattered. He was very sheepish when he picked me up and explained.  But there we are accidents happen. It still has jagged bits of glass in it so I am going to have to be extremely careful when cleaning it.  I have been on the Cannon website and located a replacement but it is going to have to wait until I get paid as it is about £75!

I really love it when everything is lovely and clean again and sparkling makes me feel almost virtuous.

Tomorrow it will be finish off the kitchen and progress to the pantry to sort out everything in there and from there to the dining room. Its going to be a very busy week.

Its been very cold here tonight and Demetri is becoming very much a home bird these days.  I whistle all my cats in and you can hear him clunking over the neighbours fences and calling to me to wait so that he can get in.  He is so funny and affectionate.

Well am shattered its time for bed as I have an early start tomorrow to continue with the deep clean.  I want the house to be tickety booh for Christmas.  However I do have one job that I have to do and I am not looking forward to it.  Cleaning the brass and copper I do manage to get in a mess with it.

Anyway off to Bedfordshire

Catch you soon



Monday, 14 November 2011

Brown Bag Cookie Moulds/Shortbread pan

I fear the next few weeks are going to be frantic with one thing and another.  Fortunately I have 10 days holiday in December to look forward to, but I intend to do as much as I can in the weeks to come.  I have in mind a lot of sewing projects which I cannot tell about yet (as some are Christmas presents but will show photos later on) and also a lot of cooking projects also.  I also intend to give the kitchen a lick of paint - revamp the kitchen blind and also sew a skirt for the sink.  This has only been decided to day when I found a lot of material I had forgotten I had which is truly fortuitous.  (Just need to get the paint organised).  Together with a couple of further UFO's which I had totally forgotten about as well as some more kits and sewing bits and bobs.  There is also the ironing board cover which will get done this week probably Wednesday night as it will be my first night in this week as am out on Monday for a short while and out on Tuesday evening also.  Thursday am at the physio at lunch time doing my back class.  In the evening I will be ironing Friday night am out at my friends so things are going to be a tad hectic to say the least!  But hey it makes the time go faster.  I also have some one a day things to do this week too.

I have rescued my box of cookie cutters and also my brown bag shortbread dish and cookie moulds which I bought a few years ago and forgot about.  They were in the box I emptied.  I would love to be able to have more as there are all sorts of designs available. For those of you interested here is the website for the designs.  For the shortbread pans and for the cookie moulds and

I don't know whether you can get them very easily over here (mine were bought over 10 years ago) and I am looking forward to having a play.  There is also the shortbread pan as well.

I am looking forward to playing.

Catch up soon



Sunday, 13 November 2011

Unpacking a Box

Yesterday I started to unpack one of my boxes as the box was far too big and the plan was to pack the contents into two smaller boxes.  I had forgotten what was in the box and it was exciting rediscovering bits and bobs that were well wrapped. I was initially going to pack the contents into two separate boxes, but like most best laid plans of mice and men things changed and I am keeping the contents  out for use over Christmas.

First out were some cut glass sherry schooners

Second two thernal pots brand new never used (told you all i was a squirrel) and I have decided to keep these out for use over Christmas for probably some really nice coffee. They are a pale blue which actually goes with a small blue flower in one of my dinner services, but that aside I think they will come in very useful in keeping things nice and warm over the seasonal festivities.

A square brown bag cookie dish and brown bag cookie moulds (several) see separate post

8 dishes think you  call them gratin dishes like the ones above

10 Ramekins -  these are always useful for making chocolate mousse or any other individual pud

12 corn on the cob holders (we are rather partial to corn this way)

2 baking sheets

A breafast trio for marmalade jam and honey and a large porcelain fish pate/mousse dish

My old brown glass vinegar bottle

A pretty striped batter bowl

3 miniature matching picture frames

2 Art Nouveau picture individual tea trays

4 egg cups

6 tablemats
6 coasters
2 standing mats

6 China mugs

Catch you soon



New to me Bookshelf

As part of the bedroom tidying I have managed to get OH to put up a small bookshelf that I picked up second hand for about £5 from my local charity shop.  It has a couple of kittens on the top playing with a ball or ball of string which rather appealed at the time of me buying it. [Those of you who know me well will know of my love for cats and dogs and at one time, when I started this blog I had five.  Three passed last year and one this year and I still have Squeak together with Demetri who is very slowly making himself at home. ]  I have also managed to acquire through one means or another several books that are on the to read pile but which have no home, so having it put up sort of kills two birds with one stone.

The cat picture below which is a favourite was also a charity shop find - the same shop, but about a couple of years ago.

And the top shelf provides a home for some of my teddy bears.  My oldest one is as old as me and was put into my cot just after I was born by my Gran.  Its one of the things I would save if there was ever a fire that and the photograph album.  God forbid.

Needless to say the bedroom will not be quite finished today.  Although I have managed to rehome all my shoes in the closet wardrobe.  I still have a lot of items to rehome and find a space for elsewhere

However OH is cooking tea this evening - He is using the Rotisserie to cook a chicken with roasted mixed vegetables underneath with plenty of garlic - I wish you could smell the aroma it looks promising.  OH had wanted chips with it - but as he only had chips last night I said not.  Plus its healthier this way on.

Catch up later


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Catch Up

Its been a funny old week dismal grey raining - the rain we need but this time of year it does get me down.  I hated being confined to quarters as a child by the rain, but as an adult you have different responsibilities.  OH suffers from bipolar disorder and also SAD he has been very down in the dumps this week and I have found myself gently chivvying him along and ensuring he is okay in between doing everything else.

I had a rare lay in this morning  - I was shattered and hugged my bed a lot later than I usually due as I was flat out for the count after an extremely busy week.  When I did get up we walked Missy.  OH walks her every day but I only get to play at the weekends.  Its been warm here after the past few days which have been very cold.  It was damp, the golden beautiful foliage of the trees, on some trees is coming off with a vengence whilst on others they are still well covered.  The leaves become slippy when damp and I nearly went skiing a couple of times.  Everything is closing down for the winter months.  We were privileged to yet again see the Woodpecker in full flight darting amongst the trees and across the playing fields; it lives in a bunch of silver birch trees.  No doubt we will walk Missy again in the morning and I aim to get some more teasels for my Christmas decorations tomorrow.

When I came back I went to the veg shop - limited funds this week so having to prioritise what I need first until I get paid again.  I needed a tray of eggs, picked up some reduced tomatoes and eating apples, a cabbage, swede,parsnips, leeks.  I picked up celeriac and fennel yesterday from the main market in town.  Then I popped and got the milk for the week and three bags of sugar as unusually for me I am fast running out.

I then came back and started on the bedroom again; last weekend OH fitted out what was my old airing cupboard (but the the fitting of a new gas boiler in the back bedroom earlier in the year has become redundant and it has been turned into a walk in wardrobe.  Just recently a friend had given me some very high quality hardly worn clothes and I desperately needed hanging space for everything. That problem is now solved and I intend to get some plastic drawers (sold in sets in Wilkinsons) to put to the side of the walk in wardrobe for want of  a better phrase to store my curling tongs, hairdryer etc -  the bits that you need to use but which rather get in the way if not stored properly.  I am still doing the bedroom but hopefully that will be well sorted by tomorrow evening and everything will have a home an organised place to be kept.  I have the carpet to wash in the bedroom tomorrow after finding a home for the bits I unpacked to use over Christmas; one of the bedside rugs has already been washed and I have the other to do tomorrow.

Half way through the afternoon I popped over the road to my friend's to hang her curtains for her, had a cup of tea and then came away after giving her a couple of jumpers that I no longer had a need for as they were too small.  She was well pleased with them.

We had a simple supper of egg and chips - simple good homely food that went down well with a couple of slices of bread and butter   quickly followed by a couple of mugs of hot tea as I wanted to get on with the bedroom again.

This evening I have sorted OH's wardrobe out so it is tidy.  He still has to go through it to sort out some of those items he does not want any more but I think that will be something for another day.  I have also found why I had a coathanger shortage  - he has been storing them in his wardrobe - I thought it funny I couldn't find any and went and bought some more the other day.  I now have stacks again.  On the cards for tomorrow is my main wardrobe.  Then there are the "dressing tables" to sort.  Once it is done though it will be a job well done as I will then be able to get the rest of the ironing put straight away after airing.  However before I can accomplish this I have to make myself a new ironing board cover!  So I have lots to do as usual.

Well have to get on still things to do before I can get to bed.

Catch up tomorrow sometime

Take care wherever you are 



What to do with Pumpkin

Other than use it to make a Cinderella Coach! Or to Carve Pumpkin for All Saints Night or Halloween.

I became rather fond of pumpkin on my trip to Australia many years ago, where I got to taste lots of new flavours and came home loving them and wanting them on my own seasonal food menu as a result and Pumpkin or Squash has featured ever since.  I am particularly fond of roast pumpkin or squash which is delicious served with the Sunday roast.  I always freeze some down as a treat for the colder months, but I also do other things with pumpkin. It is one of those vegetables that is seriously good for you, warming, filling and nutritious.

Whilst the pumpkins are in the shops and I intend to nab a couple this weekend as they are one of my favourite vegetables and I have a couple of recipes that I really must make.  Pumpkin Chutney and Pumpkin Marmalade as well as pumpkin soup and pasta.
I absolutely adore pumpkin roasted, in fact I am very fond of squash as well, as they are a good slow release food for your system that help you sustain energy levels. Looking for something different a few years ago, I found a recipe for Pumpkin marmalade. I wasn't sure whether to make it at first, but then decided to make a few jars to test it out. I was a little concerned because then and in my experience, marmalade wasn't made with anything other than oranges, limes and grapefruit I tend to test out new recipes, test drive them and then if I like them, they get put into my favourite recipe book and made year in year out - as long as supplies are available. I particularly like this preserve on toast for breakfast. It is relatively simple to make. The recipe will follow in a later post.

My friend Eve (as a way of thanking me for all my personal cooking tuition and various other bits and bobs) had some very good fortune last week in that she won a small sum at bingo.  Knowing that I would not accept money or a present from her - she colluded with the Veg shop owners, set me up and left a sum of money behind the counter to pay for my weekly fresh veg. with the instruction that they were not to take the word No from me.  This was a lovely surprise and came just when needed when funds were low.  As part of that little surprise I came home with three large pumpkins originally priced at £3 apiece.  I came home with all three at £1 a shout. i.e. £3 rather than the £9 they were priced at.  So I felt doubly blessed.

What on earth do I want those for I can hear you say.  Primarily for making Pumpkin marmalade, which is delicious on toast for brekkie in the morning, but also some for soup and also some for stuffed pasta.  I particularly like Pumpkin, but also use Butternut Squash in a similar fashion also.  I have some serious cooking to do and lots of other things besides I think I am going to be busy over the weekend.

What are your favourite veggies and how do you prepare them would love to know

Catch up soon



Thursday, 10 November 2011

All I want for Christmas is...

My two front teeth,  goes the song.  Only about 8 weeks to go and a lot to do in between times.

What type of Christmas would you like?  In reality what I would really like is a simpler Christmas with lots less razamatazz.  Now the party poopers amongst us might say the stores are far too early in putting the Christmas bits and bobs on display - in one sense they are but in another, its something we can also take advantage of especially when there isn't much money about as there is a distinct lack of for a lot more of us this year.  Last year was tough, but money isn't going as far as it did last year.

When my mum was a girl it was a rarity to get a Christmas present; their Christmas present usually consisted of a stocking filled with sweets, and nuts and fruit and a brand new penny.  Mum recounts a story that one particular Christmas her Uncle Tom bought her a miniature china tea service.  It was very unusual to receive an actual present like this (Mum was one of ten and they lived in a two up two down).  She was so enthralled with it that she took it upstairs out of the way and on the way up the stairs, tripped fell down the stairs and broke the little china set - she was heartbroken it was bad enough to break it but to lose it on the same day as she received it  was ten times worse.

Rewind 70+ years - today's children want designer gadgets and it is all want, want want or has been up until this year but  I am hoping that this year parents will not give in to their off-spring as easily out of necessity more than anything else and only afford what they can.  Children need to be able to experience situations  that happen to family groups and see their parents' own reaction to such events as they learn so much from how their parents react.  To face a problem where there is not much money about helps teach the value of money by experience and to working out problems and finding a way round them.  If Children have no experience to learn from how are they going to be able to react to any situation that may come their way.  It is those sort of lessons that are special lessons they need careful handling - and of course I would not want a child to go without, but you have to be realistic times are hard.  Our children will still do well compared to our forebears, but I am hoping that common sense will prevail and that the emphaisis is on celebrating the season more simply remembering the real reason for Christmas i.e. the celebration of the birth of a special child to a special family and celebrating your own family and relatives and friends in the process.  To me its about making the most of what you actually have rather than what you haven't got.  It helps you live within the day and brings creativity to the fore as when people cannot afford to buy things they look for alternative ways of achieving something by either having a go at making something themselves, or buying something second hand.  Anything that is done with love and pure intent is worth more in the long run as it comes from the heart - is the best kind of love unconditional - now that cannot be bought or bottled  thank goodness, but we can teach our children where that comes from and how to achieve it.

I wish you love, warmth affection and good food  and special times with your family and loved ones - anything else is a bonus

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Something nice happened to me today

The firm that I work for introduced last year long service awards for long-standing members of staff.  Today we celebrated one of the Lawyers having worked for the firm for 40 years; another member of staff in the Accounts Department 25 years and three other lady colleagues 15 years.  I wasn't going to go to the awards as I had arrangements at lunch to meet with friends, but the firm celebrated in style and I was eventually persuaded by one of my colleagues to just go for a little while so I did.  It turned out that I also received an award for 15 years service withe firm and I was given a pretty bouquet of flowers and a bottle of Champagne (which I have popped up out of the way for Christmas Dinner - am a bit partial to Bucks Fizz at Christmas).  So it was a lovely surprise - who says nice things don't happen.  They certainly did for me today.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Just a quick hello

Hi everyone am okay  - its just one of those periods where life has got in the way and I really don't have much time for blogging as am very busy at work and equally busy in the house when I get in and by the time I get to sit down I am very tired and just clear off to bed. (its these darker winter nights making me want to hibernate. I haven't even had time to play catch up on what everyone else has been up to either - and am getting serious withdrawal symptoms.  I am hoping to get back in the swing of things in the next week or so (if not before).  Please hang in there hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly.  Am currently working my way through a very large ironing pile and seem to be running out of coathangers! (this is just one of many long jobs I have on my to do list which I am determined to get shot off.

Take care and look after yourselves wherever you are


xA qi

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Sorry haven't been out to play

Sorry haven't been around to play but life has intervened once again and I am here there and everywhere.  When you work full time, time is of the essence to try and get things accomplished within a very short time span and its a case of get things done or be on the computer.  I am also off out on a social shortly and hopefully will be able to tell you more later on about what I have been up to it has been a very interesting week so far.

So promise will play catch up later on

Catch you all later



Monday, 17 October 2011

2011.10 15/16 My Weekend

Well its been a busy one yesterday was spent mainly washing and getting everything dried on the line as much as I could anyway.  I now have a lot of ironing to do, but will do this a bit at a time during the week.  I had a visit to the veg shop but didn't buy much just a few basics, and a couple of bargains.  I managed to get a porcelain mould from the Charity shop which I will either use for a jelly or for a cheese - jury is out at the moment as to what I do with it.

Tomorrow evening I have some clementine water ice and also some clementine curd to prepare - I managed to get some clementines at a good price. Some of the peels will be dried the rest put into the vinegar cleaning jar.  My small ice cream bowl has therefore been put in the freezer in readiness.  I also bought carrots, coriander a large parsnip, shallots, pickling onions and some lemons, mangoes and eggs, cabbage, cauliflower and Yorkshire Celery.

To start with today we have walked Missy a good mile or more. Not where we normally go but a place that we used to go to quite a bit as kiddies.  It has changed quite a bit but we walked a good mile or so and let Missy run freely.  She never stands still and is always on the go.  Today I have been to see my mum for a little while.  She is going to be having some building works done soon, and we have made a start on sorting the garage out and get rid of some of the rubbish. There is a lot to do.  However we have found a few things that were not known about but I will tell more about them after next weekend.  We have come back with loads of bits and bobs including a home made apple pie.  For tea tonight we have had roast chicken, roast potatoes, roast parsnip, bread sauce, home made stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots, peas, cauliflower and cabbage with lashings of home made vegetable gravy.  We were too stuffed to have the apple pie so that will come in handy for tomorrow night with some home made custard.  The cats have each had some chicken for their supper as well as Missy.  They are all flopped around the house fast asleep at the moment.  My hair is all washed and I am jim jammed up ready to go up the wooden stairs to Bedfordshire.  I put a blanket on the bed last night as it was a tad chilly and I like to be cosy.

Catch you all shortly take care wherever you are and be safe, happy and content



Saturday, 15 October 2011

One Thing a Day - Preparing Walnuts

I was given some of these the other day  - the skins are black and I have to strip them off and get rid of as much as the membrane as I can and then leave them, to dry.  Well that is what the book says - and being Walnuts I am afraid I will have to go in armed and wearing the dreaded Marigolds as they have an unfortunate habit of staining everything that they come into contact with.

According to the book you get off as much membrane as possible I think I am going to need a small brush for this, (since originally typing this I have stripped the walnuts of their skins and scrubbed them up individually with a small nail brush especially sacrificed for the situation.  I love wet walnuts in any event and like to dip them in a little salt.  They really are scrummy and a treat.  Traditionally the nuts were stored in the earth or in salt to stop them drying out.  I have decided to store them in some rock salt I have.  Equally they can be stored in hessian or string bags in a cool dark and airy place like a traditional pantry.  I would think in total I have just under a kg.  I hope they store well in the salt as I quite fancy a waldorf salad come Christmas

These Walnuts are destined to be used  and put up for Christmas.  I have recipes to make some Praline and some Candied Walnuts which I have never tried before.  Lovely to go with ice cream and also as a special Christmas nibbles snack.  I just love nuts and its nice to have something to eat that it is good for you.

Catch you soon



Meet the Moggies

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