Saturday, 29 January 2011

Things to achieve during 2011

I have a lot to do this year and whether I achieve everything will probably be down to luck more than practicality as the list is so ginormous  and a tad ambitious - so some stuff may well need to spill into next year, but we can but try.  I have already spoken about the Crotchet big items that I need to complete, namely several blankets and throws.  I will post some photographs of the said WIP as soon as I have found the camera.  So I have my work cut out just with these to start with.

The back bedrooms and my Craft Stuff
I need to get to grips with lots of things. In the past few months I have been decluttering my two back bedrooms which were originally well sorted with stuff being stored, but some of the boxes the bits were stored in have collapsed and spilled their contents. I therefore had to go through everything box by box and roughly organise items of a similar ilk together or if not near each other so that they could be easily found.  So I have put a lot of effort into dealing with this and in some part I feel well chuffed with myself, but this is only the start of things  I still have a long way to go.  As a plus point there is now room in both rooms and I can find things a lot easier.  Its as though both rooms have heaved a huge sigh of relief as the energy in these rooms is now totally different.  In fairness, a lot of it is my craft stuff, a proportion my books etc.  and I have found all my cookie cutters and fancy cake tins. Hopefully a lot of the craft stuff  will be cleared by me clearing outstanding projects and using up my stash of wools, crotchet threads, fabric fabric and more fabric, needlepoint wools, canvas. etc.  

Primarily I have loads of clean jeans which are going to be turned into clippie rugs; which are taking up a lot of space  The worst part about this is all the cutting out.  I also have rug wool and canvas to use up, embroidery threads, cross stitch kits, needlepoint projects and kits., brand new and unopened, with work to be done in the future.  Then there are the projects that I have already started  .Then there is al the cardmaking stuff the glass painting stuff. etc etc etc. I will get there in the end. 
House and Home
Then there is the furniture I want to recycle in a different style that I have picked up from charity shops along the way.   I have a large plain wooden wardrobe that is currently stashed with fabric - I don' like it as it is and it is in line to be given a makeover as is a smaller chest cuboard.  I thought I would give chicken wire doors and fabric lined interior and shelves and then painted cream. But that isn't the most important thing that needs doing and can wait its turn, then there is the octagonal table, two straw seated chairs, cane chair and rocking chair to sort as well as My Nan's kitchen stool which needs a new sponge and fabric covered top as well as re-staining as it has got a bit battered over the years. Its just a stool but it was always in my Nan's kitchen and she used it to put her stockings on in a morning in front of the Rayburn or used to sit on it to prepare veg and fruit etc for the freezer or for chutneys and jams.
However, at least the house is decluttered a bit to what it was but I still need to keep working at it. (We don't have a garage or a shed where we can store things at present). I am hoping to have a serious play with the sewing machine soon its been a while and I feel it and I need to get re-acquainted and use up some of the fabric stash before I get lured into buying any more fabric.

The Landlord is having a new boiler installed in the property we rent from him on Monday, so once he has been in the kitchen will need re-painting as the boiler is being re-located to an outside wall of the kitchen.  Its currently cited in the old chimney stack in the kitchen - so if he removes the boiler which I hope he does I may be able to turn that into a shelf unit for kitchen equipment which would be handy.

I also need OH to get on and put me a curtain track up against the outdoor back door as it blows a hooley through there.  I will need to buy some fabric to make an inner curtain just on a net curtain wire, but I have located a thick velvet curtain that I acquired from a charity shop which will go with the kitchen and keep it warm and draught free.  I also need to make an inner lining curtain for the front door yet again on a net wire (our front door opens straight into our front room).

Then when the Gas Man has been I can get the dining room back into some form of normality.  I have a large chest freezer in the dining room an upright freezer two pine 6 foot welsh dressers a corner welsh dresser 8 chairs and a very large dining table  and a chest of drawers with a dresser top over it and it is the walk through room.  Hopefully when we manage to save up for a new garden shed I will be able to relocate the chest freezers in there.  Then we can redecorate that room.  I do need to put up a new blind in here though.

The Pantry and related stores including Freezer and Wine Rack

My Main motivation in life is to do with food.  I just love it, but I also want to ensure that my family is fed  - no matter what. Therefore I do where I can try and take advantage of whatever comes my way.  I need to put down whatever I can into the Pantry by way of Jams, Chutneys, bottled fruit etc and also in the Freezer.  Will take advantage of what I can and get it stored down pennies permitting or Wild free larder permitting.    This is an ongoing project and never ending which is money intensive to start with when buying bottles and jars but then after that comes down to recycling and a minimal charge for replacing lids and time intensive.
Today I have obtained my Seville Oranges so will add that to the Put Down for 2011.  Then there is the wine and beer making.  Am starting a new batch of ginger beer today and also starting some ginger wine, which will hopefully be ready in time for next Christmas.

Garden and Greenhouse

Thats by the by, I really do need to get to grips with the garden this year as want to grow as much as I can. I am hoping for a few warmer days soon so that I can start with a vengence Shocked Have been eyeing up the fruit bushes at Wilkinsons. Would seriously love my own chooks and bees but that isn't going to happen here as problem neighbours who can't stand insects and certainly wouldn't like to be woken by chickens clucking. Proper spoiilsports.  So as soon as I can get out and get it sorted I will do.  There is also the greenhouse to declutter.
Leisure Activities

I learnt how to fly fish last year up in Scotland and so I intend to go every so often and hopefully catch some fish and pop them in the freezer as I love trout - OH doesn't mind fishing for them but is not keen on the taste of the fish.  I am a fan however, especially if they are served with toasted almonds.

Will just have to see what the year brings and deal with it as it arrives season by season and putting down as much as I can in my pantry store along the way.

But simplifying and enjoying what I have and what abundance comes my way is chief priority. 
We will see what we will see.


2011.01.29 My Day

Afternoon all by gum its blooming cold here. I was at my friends last night did not escape until 12.30 a.m. Shocked Shocked  [ I had spent the evening trying to show her how to use Tables in Word.  She has just taken over a job on a local housing associations panel and they have dumped the job of secretary on her as well.  She isn't a trained secretary so have been trying to show her some short cuts to make her life easier a little bit trial and error but I think we got there in the end with her.  I had her using the tables and making her own up as well.]  When I came out there was a thick white haw frost and it was absolutely perishing. 

Needless to say this morning I had a bit of a lay in.    When I did get up my morning started off in a dignified fashion for me, eating fresh croissants with home made strawberry jam from last year's put down and a nice brew to go with. Luvverly.  Just got breakfast out of the way and then my friend came flying over (the one I went to see last night) she had an MRI scan this morning and is claustraphobic so had been panicking about the whole process but had used a relaxation technique I use whenever I am worked up about something i.e. visualise a place that is special to you, or an event and take yourself back to it in your minds eye and lose yourself) apparently it worked and she didn't have a panic attack which I was pleased about and it had generally gone well.

Boy it is nippy here even though have heating on. OOhps that may be because the heatings switched itself off I wondered why I was colder than usual Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Thats better have gone and pushed the button - heat has been restored. But its still very cold cats are all in.

Have been to the veg shop and stocked up.  First visit this year due to an absence of pennies so I needed to stock up on some real basic stuff.  Bought carrots, swede, sweet potatoes, parsnips, cauliflower, broccoli, red onions, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, squash, leeks, clementines, bananas, Seville Oranges, and some spring onions for making some champ.

Bought my Seville Oranges so there were will be a marmalade session started tonight I suspect and concluded tomorrow. I also came away with loads of tomatoes - might make fresh tomato soup. There were also some clementines so there may well be some clementine marmalade as well although it could yet get turned into home made clementine curd which I absoluteley adore. I am going to have a go at some Seville Orange curd as well.  I also have a liqueur type recipe that I want to try using the Seville Oranges.  I also intend to use the peel as well from the clementines.

The Landlord has also decided that we need a new boiler (we have been here about 25 years and the boiler was in before we arrived) so the chap who is doing that is coming on Monday - however I have yet to clear some more of my stuff out of the way in the back bedroom so that he can sort the pipework out etc.. So that will need doing at some point later - am just chilling listening to some music at the moment. Not often chance I get to do that as OH is normally hogging the television and the music system is in the same room.  Music is for me balm for the soul.

Hope everyone is okay and those not so well hope you are loads better soon [hugs]

Catch you later

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Stock up and Make the Marmalade Then Make These

Marmalade Muffins

Seville Orange Season is upon us so stockpile your marmalade but make extra so that you can make these lovelies every so often. (Or use a jar of your older stock that is lurking on the pantry shelf.  Ring the changes by using lemon, lime, grapefruit.  Its also a good way of using up an older jar or two of marmalade that has been left on the shelf.  They can also be frozen but there is nothing nicer to wake up to the fresh smell of baked muffins.

Ingredients (Makes 12)

150g plain flour
150g wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
a large pinch of sea salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
280ml of milk
2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed orange juice
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil or melted butter
150g Seville Orange marmalade preferably thick cut but thats down to personal preference
a 12 hole deep muffin tim well greased


Sift the dry ingredients into a large baking bowl and mix together thoroughly.  Make a well or hollow in the centre of the ingredients, add the egg, milk, orange juice and oil or melted butter.  Stir in the sticky marmalade breaking up any "clumps" then add to the bowl.  Mix quickly to form a coarse slightly streaky batter; don't overmix then spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin, filling each hole about two thirds full.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees C/425 degrees F or Gas Mark 7 for approximately 20 minutes until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Let cool in the tin for 1 minute then turn out onto a wire cooling rack. Eat warm immediately or use within 24 hours.  When thoroughly cold the muffins can be frozen for approximately one month

(Sorry no photos camera has gone missing)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Cooking Evening

Unusually for a weekday evening after cooking our evening meal which simply consisted of steak and ale pie, mashed potato with butter and lots of home made gravy - comfort food I decided to do a little bit of baking for the tins.  Haven't done too much and have been backwards and forwards watching the TV as well but have managed to make 18 chocolate chip cookies, and two batches of sweet scones.  OH is here during the day and often requires something to snack on so I think that they will soon go.  I have some dough in the breadmaker to make some dinner rolls for packups etc as well, so hopefully that will not take too long. (I have yet to shape and bung in the oven).  Just fancied a spell in the kitchen for a change and I have got all the washing up done as well.

Need to do this more often will no doubt have a baking splurge at the weekend.

Well here it goes the buzzers beeping.

Catch up later 


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Malt Bread

I love Malt Loaf, as a snack in between meals served with butter and a slice or two of cheese, followed by an Apple. Its also handy to keep in the tins in case an unexpected guest arrives and you want to serve a little bit of something to eat.  I am therefore on a quest to find a recipe that is quick,simple and tasty and fulfils the moorishness aspect and most of all it makes good eating.  I think this recipe is one that fulfills this criteria.  It might be worth making a couple at a time,  one to eat , and one in the tin, making them every week so that you have a staple supply. (Well it soon disappears in this household)


6oz wholemeal flour
6oz self-raising flour
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda.
Pinch of Salt
1/2 to 3/4 pint of milk
3 large tablespoons malt extract
3oz dark muscovado sugar
4oz mixed dried fruit


Preheat the oven to 170degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas Mark 3.

Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda, and salt into a large bowl.

Warm the milk, malt extract and sugar together, add to the flour and mix all together.  Stir in the dried fruit and spoon into a greased 2lb loaf tin. Bake for 1 1/4 hours.

Turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.  Wrap in foil and leave for at least two days before eating.

Monday, 24 January 2011


No I am not speaking about Unidentified Flying Objects but more like Un-finished objects which have been lurking in my cupboards,drawers and select carrier bags taking up precious space.

I Have been sorting out the two back bedrooms and all the junk - it has taken sometime to get it where it is (have been doing a bit at the weekends for the past couple of months or so) - its still chocca but at least now its an organised mess. I get bored very easily and lose the thread and end up starting something new, so I have made a promise to myself that this year I will try and address all those UFO's. In fact I have been quite gob-smacked at what I actually do have on the go I want to try and finish them before I potentially start anything else. I tend to do things like this and then have a session of getting things completed, but I need the space and it would also be nice to have some more items finished and to frame, pop up or whatever. However I fear I have quite a cache of crotchet items to complete first although I think it is going to take a while to get some of them done.

1 Purple double bed blanket. (cannot get to the wool at the moment)
1 Lilac and white heavy cotton king size bedspread
1 Green Pink and Cream heavy cotton king size bedspread
1 Rainbow strip king size blanket (I refer to this as my Rainbow blanket predominantly worked out of scraps of double knitting, in lilacs, whites, purples, greens etc. about one third worked
1 yellow and green single bed bedspread
1 sage green and cream lap blanket
1 knitted lilac and white throw (all squares knitted currently stitching up). 

As small throw made up of very tiny squares multicoloured

Well that's the crotchet admitted to Now I have to pop off and make a schedule of the other bits and bobs which includes a reproduction sampler that I started when I was 21 years old - I will be 52 this year Shocked Shocked So I think that one is definitely on the list its a rather spectacular one based on an original American Sampler..

Do you have any UFO's that you want to get finished.????

I want to get these out the way so that I can start those other projects that are just calling to me. I am a devil with wool, fabric, threads, and especially beads and beadwork Embarassed Embarassed  I am a very tactile person and I love the feel and texture of everything and it is always a revelation that each person could be handed the same materials and yet come out with something completely different. That's what creativity is all about.  However, that is just the crotchet

There is quite a bit of cross stitch, needlepoint, beadwork etc. and embroidery to complete without the knitting and the sewing.

I try and have a small project on the go during the week so that I can get something done fairly quickly or I just have the crotchet on the go which can be picked up and put down.  Then there is the clippie rug made out of old recycled jeans and the patchwork.  I have a mariners compass cushion cover which I started at a workshop and which I have yet to complete, but at least now I have found the sewing machine.



Sunday, 23 January 2011

Storecupboard Chutney

This recipe is from Jams and Chutneys preserving the harvest by Thane Prince, and is a good standby to make for the pantry - especially if like me you have some dried fruit to use up as its sell by date is fast approaching.


1 1/1b in weight of mixed dried fruit.
(I have figs, dates, sultanas, raisins, cranberries and currants to use up)
[Dates, apricots, figs, raisins, peaches can all be used]  the dried fruit helps to reduce the cooking time as it helps the chutney thicken quicker

3lb cooking apples 
(I have some crabs to use - they are nice and tart so will use some of those - save me buying in any cooking apples)  
[You can also use pears, plums and mangoes]

2 large onions chopped

6 plump garlic cloves chopped

2 inch piece of fresh root ginger grated

1-2 dried red chillies crushed

1 1/1lb light muscovado sugar

1 tbsp of salt 

1 litre cider or distilled malt vinegar

If I haven't quite got what the recipe says I try and use what ingredients I have to hand, however I make a note of what I have used so that I can make the same again if I need to.

Takes up to 1 hour to make and makes approximately 2 1/4 lb


Cut the larger dried fruit into even sized pieces about 1/2 an inch in size.

Put th dried fruitm apples,, onions, garlic, ginger, chillies, sugar and salt into a heavy based preserving pan.  Add the vinegard and stir so that all the ingredients aer well combined.

Bring the mixture to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes stirring occasionally until the mixture has reached the desired consistency.

Pot into hot sterlisize jars, cover with vinegar proof seals and label.

Store in a cool dark place.

Will keep for up to a year.

Enjoy with cheese in sarnies or on a plate with sliced meats i.e a ploughmans platter, add a touch to a casserole or to gravy for some extra flavour.  Its up to you what you pair it with.  Just enjoy

Country Vegetable Soup

Full of goodness and no nasties this soup on its own makes sure you meet your 5 a day in veggies alone.  Its a recipe I make on a regular basis.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion roughly chopped
3 celery sticks finely sliced
2 oz mushrooms finely sliced
2 rashers of streaky bacon
3 carrots peeled and finely diced
3 parsnips peeled and finely sliced
2 turnips peeled and finely diced
2 medium leeks roughly chopped
2 tablespoon of plain flour
1/4 pint of milk
1 1/2 pints of vegetable stock (I have been known to use ham or chicken stock too)
8oz tomatoes skinned and roughly chopped
salt and black pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
pinch of thyme and oregano
parsley to garnish


Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and fry the onion, celery, mushrooms and bacon over a moderate heat until they are softened but not browned.  Add the carrots parsnips turnips and leeks frying them lightly then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour.  Stir in the milk a little at a time.

Return the pan to the heat add the hot stock and bring to the boil stirring.  Add the tomatoes stir and bring the soup to a simmer over a low heat.  Season to taste with salt, pepper lemon juice thyme and oregano then cover the pan and simmer until the vegetables are well cooked - about 40 minutes.  Serve hot, garnished with a swirl of yoghurt or cream topped off with some fresh parsley.

Yummmy and good for you - serve with thick hunks of bread or soda bread.  Fills you up a treat.

Missy's Cup of Tea

Missy is our Jack Russell who is just over a year old.  Very fussy hates it if you leave her behind and goes nuts when you do come back in.  Makes peculiar noises to attract your attention, especially if she thinks she is being ignored, and then she climbs her way up on to your shoulder for a cuddle.  She really is a big baby, but so much fun.

However, life is not worth living if you make a cup of tea and don't give her one.  You have to share and tip some into her own bowl, otherwise, she climbs up, licks your ears, your eyes and generally makes a nuisance of herself until she gets a cuppa.  But hey she is fun.  She seems to enjoy being with us just as much as we enjoy having her around apart from when she is doing her Sterling Moss Routine chasing round the house and using any available person's lap as a trampet.  Ouch and a couple of other choice phrases come to mind at times like this.

We are very lucky to have her - it was serendipity that we did.  She is so much fun .

Butter wouldn't melt eh!

A rare quiet moment with her pops

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Ice Cream Sauces

These make nice sauces to pop onto home made ice-cream and are quite easily made.  They have been made with dried fruits that I needed to use up in any event, but they can also be used as a base for home made ice creams.

These are some combinations that I have used so far:

Crystallised ginger in ginger wine: basically if the ginger is starting to go hard pop it into a preserving jar chopped into small chunks and fill to the top.  Then pop in as much ginger wine  (I use Stones Green Ginger Wine or if I have it home made Ginger Wine). Leave it to steep. You can use this in fruit cakes too or in apple dumplings, a teaspoon mixed with some home made mincemeat and brown sugar and popped into the cavity left by the core being removed.

Golden Sultanas in Brandy/Grand Marnier or Amaretto: Basically the same process. You could also add the zest of an orange or Mandarin.

Rum N Raisin:  This is particularly yummy especially if used as a base for Rum n Raisin ice cream.

Dried Fig, Honey and Brandy:  The same process except I pop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of runny honey into the mix.

Go on have a play and get the most out of your dried fruit.  These are just some ideas for starters.  There are more ideas to come.

Using up Dried Fruit

After sorting the pantry out just before Christmas I have quite a bit of dried fruit that has its sell by date fast looming and rather than waste this precious resource I have decided to start early by making some dried fruit chutneys as well as Mincemeat, which with the addition of other ingredients will turn these fruits into something different and filling for the pantry shelf as well as delicious for the family table. Its also a way of using up little amounts of things too especially when making a mincemeat in a large crock as you can perpetually add ingredients as long as you give them a good mix inbetween.  Its a bit hubble bubble in its creation but by golly its one of the best ways of making mincemeat I have come across. Mincemeat made in this fashion contains no suet and it  is very juicy and moist. The rest is Alchemy.  Not only that I will have most of my mincemeat and other goodies if made now on hand for use throughout the year and also in readiness for the Christmas celebrations or putting into a Christmas hamper (I use the word lightly) for friends and relatives.

There are all sorts of goodies that you can make from this oh so precious resource ranging from items that take a lot of long cooking to items that are quite simply steeped in a liquid of some description or other, but they all taste good.  Its usually an alcoholic liquid  of some description in this household.  But dried fruit helps the housewife create something special during those lean months to add to the larder/pantry shelf.  The only real expensive bit is the time element, the nurturing, the creative bit.  They are simple ingredients but they can liven up even the most simplest of dishes. Just because it is the winter months doesn't mean that you cannot be creating something to add to the plate.  If you have ingredients lurking in the cupboard or the pantry that needs using up you may find a use in the following posts and recipes.  I have listed them separately in an effort to be user friendly.  

Hope they prove to be of some use to you.

Barm Brack (Tea Bread)

This is a waste not want not recipe in that it unusually uses up any left over tea -


3/4 pint cold black tea
4 to 7 oz brown sugar
12 oz dried fruit
10 oz self raising flour
1 egg


Collect up the dregs of your tea pot through the day and then put the fruit and the sugar to soak in the tea overnight.  In the morning add the flour and egg, mix together then bake in a moderate oven for approximately 1 hour 45 minutes.  As the recipe contains no fat, to serve spread with butter and serve with a cup of tea.

Its worth doubling up on this recipe to make approximately three loaves. One for in use, one for the tin and one for the freezer.

Now a slight detour on the tea bag theme

On the point of using up tea, my Uncle's second wife always seems to have had a knack of growing the most beautiful Fuschia's pelargoniums window boxes and had a courtyard of various different hanging planters of one description or another.  They used to run a bed a breakfast in the middle of nowhere in Lincolnshire and the areas where the guests could go were most beautifully displayed.  We thought that she must be paying pounds and pounds in special food for these lovely plants, but in essence all she was doing was putting the steeped tea bags into a container full of water and letting them steep further then every so many days or so was feeding them with the tea water;  they certainly seemed to thrive on this and also it was more than getting the best from the tea - its a method that I and my Mum have used ever since.  So come hanging basket season you know how to feed them.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Creamy Squash or Pumpkin Soup

I love soup, its a meal in itself and on bitterly cold days like today it warms the cockles of your soul.  Proper comfort food, and the colour is so cheery.  However, soup is very filling and cheap to make.  Its also a good way of making use of leftover bits and bobs in the fridge.  My Nan used to do lovely soup based on mixtures of this sort, and it makes cheap economical eating.  Getting fed up of eating one particular type of soup, eat what you can and then freeze the rest for another day then you really are maximising your ingredients and time and you can always rustle something up in a hurry when you are on the run

You can use pumpkin and/or squash for this recipe and can be served with Soda bread  (see separa,te recipe) which will soak up the yumminess of this soup.  If its a little thick for your taste add some more stock to thin it down until you are happy with its consistency.  Some people don't like thin watery soups, other's don't like them thick.  How you serve it is down to your own personal preference and it does not cost the earth to make.  It should serve about four people - too much for you why don't you freeze some down until another day that way you are getting the maximum amount of return for your money and time investment.  The Recipe comes from the Eat In Magazine October 2010 edition.


 2 tablespoons of olive oil
700g butternut squash peeled deseeded and cut into chunks
150g potatoes peeled and chopped
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 shallots (or 1 small onion if you don't have shallots) peeled and chopped 
700 ml vegetable stock (I have used chicken or ham stock before now)
1 garlic clove peeled and chopped
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Natural yogurt and fresh thyme to finish


Heat the oil in a large pan add the prepared squash potatot carrotts shallots(or onion). Cook and stir for about 5 minutes until starting to soften but not brown.

Add your stock of choice and the garlic bring to the boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.

Blend the soup until smooth with a hand blender or in a liquidiser, or food processor or even a mouli.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and nutmeg and reheat until hot.  Serve garnished with a swirl of natural yoghurt, fresh time and a grinding of black pepper.

Alternatively this would be the perfect accompaniment to take in a flask if going on a good brisk walk, just to take the chill off things when you stop for a breather.



 In this cold weather you need something to warm you up, and this Minestrone is often made with the fresh vegetables of Spring but equally can be made in the winter months too.


1 carrot sliced
4 leeks sliced
1/4 cabbage thinly sliced
1 stick celery sliced
1 onion sliced
2oz butter
2 pint stock
bouquet garni
1oz peas
1oz french beans
4oz tomatoes
1oz spaghetti
1 teaspoon of tomato puree
1 clove of garlic crushed
parsley chopped


Prepare the vegetable, toss carrot, leek, cabbage, celery and onion with melted butter in a saucepan.  Do not brown.

Add the stock, seasoning and bouquet garni, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the other vegetables, spaghetti and tomato puree cook for a further 10 minutes

Mix the crushed garlic and chopped parsley together, add to soup just before serving

Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Freeze that you cannot eat for another day. 

Good solid warming comfort soup



Monday, 10 January 2011

Lemon Curd Brulee

I love puddings every so often OH not that bothered so he says but soon eats them if I produce them.

This is a nice quick recipe and one that is easily prepared from a jar of lemon curd.  If it is homemade lemon curd so much the better (but why not ring the changes by making lemon and lime, grapefruit, lime, raspberry,strawberry curds etc etc etc).  Its nice to have a simple recipe to make from a simple home made preserve.


568 ml carton iof double cream
200g/8oz jar lemon curd
4-5 tablespoons of icing sugar

  1. In a large bowl whisk the cream with either an electric or hand whisk until the cream just holds its shape.  Stir in the lemon curd and then split the mixture between 6 ramekins and smooth down the tops.  Chill for at least an hour or overnight if you prefer.
  2. Preheat the grill.  Sift a thin layer of icing sugar over each ramekin.  Grill the mixture in the ramekins for 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively use a Chefs blow torch until the sugar has caramelised.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Late Christmas Pressy

Today we received a late Christmas present from my step-daughter a portrait of Missy.  Ruth has worked this drawing of Missy from a photograph and it is entirely worked in pencil.  She was really good as a youngster, but she really has come on in leaps and bounds. She does have A level Art.  Seems to be a gift on her father's side of the family. Her paternal grandmother, Father, Aunt and brother are all very good at art.  I have asked her if she will do me some pencil drawings of the cats as well.

Both my OH and I are extremely pleased with our pressy and it now has pride of place in the front room.  We think she has captured our mischievous pet extremely well.

Ruth is going to start taking commissions.  She works from photos and her work is done from the heart.  If anyone is interested please let me know and I will put you in touch with her.

Here's the photo

Now here are a couple of shots of the pencil drawing

2011.01.09 My Day

I had a lay in yesterday and this morning as I have not been feeling too good again.  This really cold weather is getting into my bones again and I am having trouble walking and getting comfortable in bed. The bulk of the pain is emanating from my lower back into the tops of my thighs and the only way to describe it is that my bones hurt.  All I can do is rest and try and keep warm when I have one of these sessions. I have though tried to get on.  I started tidying the back bedroom out yesterday that is going to take sometime as we don't go in there very often and some of the boxes have collapsed and the contents spilled out.  So its time consuming more than anything, but I intend to get really stuck in during the course of the week so if you don't hear anything from me please do not panic.

Pennies are tight again so I am trying to use up what I have in the house with just adding the odd item here and there. I am luckier than most as I have lots of things to hand - more than some, but sometimes you just can't take a fancy to anything.  That's when I really go simple and back to old favourites.  During the week I cooked a gammon and gave it a coating of white sugar, clementine juice, and honey and it has been delicious.  We had it hot with onion sauce and a few carrots and mashed potato.  For the rest of the time we have been having it cold - yesterday with home made chips and chutney and bread and butter and fried egg.  Simple filling fare that goes a long way.  There is still plenty left enough for sandwiches, for eating with pickles and chutneys.

Today we have had tasty mushroom pot - the balance is going to my step-daughter to try  there are enough mushrooms left to add to something else.  May make some mushroom soup.

This evening instead of a roast we have had cannelloni stuffed with Ragu and interleaved with Spinach covered in cheese sauce and it was extremely tasty.  I have plenty of pasta in the house which I am trying to use up, but another time will make the cannelloni myself.  Extremely simple but oh so tasty.

All hot and bubbling straight from the oven.

All ready for eating

Am pleased to see that Larkrise to Candleford is back on the television.  Decent Sunday night viewing again.  OH upstairs watching Wild at Heart which he likes on television upstairs.

I think this week is going to be simple homely food including a couple of batches of soup, creamed pumpkin, and Minestrone, Soda bread, (ideal for dunking into soup)  Malt Loaf, home made meatballs with home made tomato passata, ordinary bread and some buns.  Oh and carrying on tidying the back bedrooms and getting them sorted. I have a lot to do, but need to keep well fed  as it keeps us warm.  Think it will be porridge tomorrow for breakfast  and tomorrow nights tea looks like it will be the rest of the Cannelloni.  Might even make some puddings this week like chocolate bread and butter pudding, Eves pudding,  or saucy Lemon pudding to follow. I'm getting hungry and my mouth is watering  just thinking about things, all with things I already have in.  Scrummy.

Take care and I hope your week is a good one.



Take care till the

Mushroom Pot

We have just had Mushroom Pot for a quick snack lunch and it was delicious and quite filling, an ideal filler to carry us through to tea later on.  With fresh french bread stick it was yummy.  An ideal way to use up the last of the Stilton from Christmas.  We were first introduced to this over New Year by Chrissy and Nick, Geoffs sister and partner a couple of fellow foodies.


Pack of button mushrooms
1 to 2  cloves garlic depending on how strong you like it
stock cube
6oz Stilton cheese 

In a medium sized saucepan add one chopped medium onion to some butter and gently cook until the onion is translucent.  Finely slice two thirds of a pack of mushrooms and add to the pan to gently cook yet again soft but not coloured.  Add milk to about half way up a medium sized saucepan, then add the garlic and cook stirring all the time until the mixture reduces down a little and starts to thicken.  Then add the stock cube (we used a chicken one) and carry on cooking a little more.   Then add the Stilton and stir until well blended.  Add seasoning and serve,.

We served in a couple of bowls (one each) and broke the bread off and dunked it in, finishing the rest off with a spoon.  This recipe roughly serves 4 and there are two servings left which is going into the fridge for later on in the week.

Scrummy and stuffed. 

Here's a photo of it packaged up ready for the freezer.  However it will not make it as far as this as step daughter wants to try.  Well that's one way of getting the recipes around.  I have no doubt that she will love it.

Collecting Recipes

We all have recipes that we use on a regular basis or family recipes that have been passed down from time immemorial. In common practice these little gems (well in our family at least and I suspect in many others too) have been written down on slips of paper, which are quite easy to loose. 

A few years ago I bought the Lark Rise to Candleford Cookery book set (If you get the chance to acquire this - don't miss up it is a very useful little set) and own recipe book which I have been filling in with those little gems ever since.  Sadly this is now getting full, and mindful that I still wanted to carry on doing this, I have obtained a pretty hard back book with good quality plain paper inside and I have been  writing in the recipes ever since.  It is not perfect in that the recipes are a little higgledy piggledy  and in my scrawly handwriting, but at least they are somewhere safe and with just a little time looking through will be easily accessible and a record of what recipe took my fancy when, a little like a time traveller going back in time metaphorically speaking, and also a reference library  to keep in the family for a future date.


 I love ginger cake and especially Parkin.  I was one of the lucky ones and was taught how to make this at school in what were then called Domestic Cookery lessons.  Sadly the schools don't provide these lessons like they used to which is a great shame,.  There are hot spots where the teachers have pushed and actively encouraged this type of lesson, but we had lessons 4 hours worth week in week out until we chose our options for CSE/Olevels.  But even then I chose cookery so I still had this time-tabled.  I think having teachers passionate about their subjects makes all the difference. And not only that, all of us can do something, but we usually fall into two camps, with very occasionally a third.  Those who are practical and those who are academic. The third camp is those who can do both brilliantly, but then we all bring something to the table, figuratively speaking.

Anyway here's the recipe, and unusually it has rolled oats in the recipe.  Its more of what I call a batter style cake recipe, but it still very good, but then I think home cooking is and what makes it so wonderful is that each of us can have a go at a recipe and each of us will produce something along the same lines, but just slightly ever so different.


1lb flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1llb Rolled oats
8oz butter
8 fl oz dark treacle
8 fl oz golden syrup
4 tablespoon of clear honey
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
12 fl oz milk


Sift the flourm soda, salt and ginger into a mixing bowl.  Stir in the rolled oats, put the butter, treacle syrup honey and sugar into a saucepan heating gently stirring to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter.  Remove from the heat and add to the flour mixture with the milk, mix well.

Pour the batter into two greased 10 inch square cake tins. Bake in a moderate oven at 180 degrees C/350 degrees F or Gas Mark 4) for 45 to 50 minutes until the cakes are firm to the touch.

Cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.  Store the parkins in an airtight tin for one week for an even better flavour.

Makes two x 10 inch cakes.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Foodie - Just a bit

One of my passions (if not the overriding passion is food).   I love trying new things and when I have the pennies often try pickles or jams that are different and if I like them, I either look around for a similar recipe,and sometimes if I have the time I experiment and try to recreate the preserve myself sometimes it is a success sometimes its abysmal, but you need the failures to appreciate the successes.  

I also love cookery books and last September bought a book called Gifts from the Kitchen by Annie Rigg.  It cost me £15 from Waitrose and it took me weeks at 50 pence a week to save up for.  I was therefore not very impressed when I found the book for £5 in a cheapie book store in town and then latterly found it on The Book People for the same price.  Some you win some you loose.  However it is a lovely book and has lots of interesting ideas for home made foodie gifts.  It has lots of interesting recipes which are split up into seasons i.e. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Celebrations.  Recipes include Turkish Delight, Nougat, Marshmallows, lollipops, Madeleines, Candied Citrus Peel, Vin d'oranges, Rhubarb and Vanilla Vodka, Summer Berry Vodka etc etc.  Some lovely recipes to play with in due course.  My fingers are itching, but will be a while before I get to play as need to save up for some of the specialist ingredients.  

The ISBN No for this book is 9 781856 269384 and would be an ideal buy in readiness for next Christmas especially if you intend to make your own pressies to give.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Stinking Bishop

On our visit in November to Geoff's sister Chrissy and her partner Nick, who lives up in Birmingham we went to a very big specialist food outlet called Becketts.  This was foodie heaven and we had a real good browse around. They had well hung meat, home made breads, pickles, jams and other preserves and a massive cheese counter.  Whilst browsing we happened upon a cheese which my partner had been trying to obtain for some time.  Stinking Bishop.  Needless to say we just couldn't pass it by, so we took one home to try.  It was absolutely delicious, expensive yes, but wonderfully flavoured and to our minds extremely moorish.

 To quote:

"What's it taste like? Contrary to popular belief there is no pear such as the 'Stinking Bishop'. The variety used in the perry (pear-based cider) in which this famous cheese is washed is actually called 'Moorcroft'. The truth is is that the perry itself is eponymous with a malodourous and drunken member of a local family from yesteryear called Bishop who is said to have created the cider. This is a phemenonal cheese with a superb name and one of our favourites. It has a soft texture and a strong taste, which isnt quite as pungent as the name would suggest but extremely tasty. Similar to an Epoisses but not quite as strong and a bit sturdier."

 We were thus very pleasantly surprised to be treated to this wonderful bounty at Geoff's sister's as part of the New Year Celebrations.  We all love cheese at the best of times and I think when you share with fellow foodies you enoy it much more.

No doubt it will not be the last time we try this superb cheese.  If you haven't tried it yet then its well worth searching out, although I believe it is only sold through Artisan cheeseshops.  But it is available here

And if you are ever in the Birmingham area look out for Becketts its well worth going to have a look at - we had some of the hung rib of beef on New Year's day and it was wonderful. They have their own website:

2010.01.03 My Day

I had a bit of a lay in this morning, after a lovely few days away but was still well up before the OH, just me and the cats, and Missy seeing to their relevant breakfasts and that if they wanted out to be let out.  Then the screaming at the back door or barking because they want in again.  Its official sometimes animals are far more demanding than children. 
I then spent a pleasurable few hours researching some items for the blog this year, some new ideas and well at least new things to me and lots of recipes to have a go at.  I love road testing recipes - seeing whether or not they are to my liking and then once I get used to them putting my own twist on things.

My friend's partner then came over as she had had a bad night and she has since been admitted to hospital.  As her partner had a stroke a while back and as I was cooking anyway I plated up a hot meal for him for when he came back to make sure that he was looked after.  I am just hoping that my friend is okay.  Fingers crossed and toes plaited.  Its very worrying when things like this happen.

We had a roast beef dinner with roast potatoes, roast parsnip, roast sweet potato with rosemary, peas, broccoli,carrots mashed potato and yorkshire pudding.  It was very tasty.  Not long after my friend's partner came back - hospital are keeping her in overnight but they could not find anything wrong although her leg and ankle are badly swollen as is her stomach and abdomen and it is painful to the touch.  So will have to wait and see what happens, but at least now he has had his tea.

I then spent another couple of hours just browsing and surfing the Internet - didn't feel up to much today, but I have quite a few things to do now am back home.  Tomorrow evening it is the Christmas Decorations that have to be taken down. and repacked away.  At least I got them up but next year is going to be very different.  

Wednesday evening I am out  for the evening.  

Thursday evening could be the night that I have a go at Pam Corbin's Apple and Pear Cheese which is on the River Cottage website.  I have been meaning to have a go at this one for a while and I have the pears and the apples so this looks promising as a starting point.

I didn't manage to get myself a pocket diary last year and I was lost without it.  This time I have one, but I still need to get myself a large page a day diary to organise my time a lot better than I have been.  I have a lot to do this year - some of it heavy duty sorting to free up more space and get some of the items that I have part started completed as well.  There are also a couple of new projects that I would also like to start primarily a sampler "To every season there is a rhyme and reason under heaven" and I must admit that I am itching to get this started, and probably work a little bit every night so that it builds up slowly and I don't get bored and lose interest in it.  

I am back to work tomorrow in any event (I worked two days last week in between Christmas and New Year).  But I have enjoyed my break and despite all the phrenetic activity to start with in getting things done I have managed to relax a little.  But next year is going to be totally different.  Too little time so much to do.

Take care everyone



Monday, 3 January 2011


Its a New Year and a fresh page in the book of life, so time to start to get into a fresh routine and in to the habit of eating breakfast (that is if you don't already).  I do 

This is the one meal of the day you should really not miss - it literally is the meal to break the fast. Also after not eating for so many hours our blood sugar dips,  and we are in effect not firing on all pistons - and believe it or not that is when most car accidents happen - early in the morning. With me, it has been when I have historically been prone to epileptic attacks and that is why I am careful about always eating first thing in a morning.  Eating breakfast when you are on medication also gives a lining to your stomach so that the medication can work properly so it eases itself into your system gently.

What do you and your family eat for breakfast just cereal or something more exotic like a fresh fruit salad with Croissants and preserves to follow or a slice of melon with ginger, or a handful of raspberries just sprinkled over regular cereal. When I used to grow raspberries in the garden there was noithing nicer than walking down the garden first thing and picking a handful of berries and then popping them straight on to my cereal.  It tasted really good too.

Blueberry Muffins or any other flavoured muffin served with yoghurt are very filling, Or Muesli with yoghurt sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds on top. Or a couple of slices of home made bread, toasted and buttered then with home made jam or honey on top. 

In this cold weather I have been having a bowl of porridge  before going to work, makes me feel full so don't want to pick in between meals and also warms me up.  When the weather gets warmer I make my own .home made muesli  or granola.  Very tasty.  It doesn't matter what we eat as long as we enjoy it and as long as we eat and we break the fast. Too many people skip this - our "boilers" need to be regularly stoked up and fed otherwise our systems go into overdrive. Little and often is the best policy, breakfast is good for you don't skip it.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Belated Happy New Year

Hello everyone and a very belated Happy New Year. Sorry for my absence but I have been away at my sister in law's home celebrating the New Year.  And, we have had an extremely lovely time seeing in the New Year and the yet unwritten page together.  We have also been fed fantastically as usual.  Many thanks Chrissy and Nick for your hospitality its been wonderful.  Hope to see you both again very soon.

I hope, that everyone who pops by has had a wonderful Christmas and New Year - there are always lots of good bits - just trying things in between and seeing the cup as half full rather than empty!

Here's hoping that your journey is a good and interesting one.




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)