Monday, 28 February 2011

Its Oh So Quiet Shush Shush Its Oh So Quiet

Look at these two sleeping beauties its alright for some.  Or perhaps it should be entitled Oh I do love my Dad"

Oohps she's moved just a bit


Ever on the look out for something different for breakfast I have had a go at making some Granola for me to eat in the morning before dashing off to work and as as segment of the breakfast menu.  For starters half a grapefruit or an orange, a bowl of this granola finished with a slice/slices of toast with home made marmalade or jam and a cup of tea or coffee,. Absolutely delicious.

The beauty of this type of recipe is that the ingredients can be changed to similar or alternative fruits/seeds and dried fruits especially if you are not keen on a particular ingredient.  It just adds your own twist to something that is easily made and tailored for your own use. Not only that you can make as little or as much as you want, to meet your family's needs or just individual needs.  The next question is how do you store this.  [I had an old sweetie jar that I used to keep the Granola in,but unfortunately the jar got broken just before Christmas.  So I am now on the hunt to replace this and also probably add a couple of more as well as I also buy corn kernels in quantity for making home made popcorn].

Not only that if you present it nicely in a jar or pretty bag it can be given as part of a foodie gift or as part of a Christmas hamper. I tend to keep a lot of basic ingredients in for breakdmaking and baking and readily have these ingredients to hand.  So if you did forget to buy someone's favourite cereal and the shops are shut this could easily be made from your cooking/baking stash to breach the void.  But its so tasty you will want to make this on  a regular basis.  I am glad I tried this - and I  have been alternating it with making a batch of home made muesli too.


350g clear honey
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
200g dried apricots
250g dried dates Medjool dates are the scrummiest
100g dessicated coconut
100g sunflower seeds
50g toasterd sesame seeds (helps release the oil and gives the lovliest nutty flavour)
100g pumpkin seeds
400g rolled oats
100g pecans
100g whole almonds
100g dried apple pieces (Mine is home dried apple)
100g golden sultanas
100g cranberries/blueberries or other dried fruits)


Prepare the oven by preheating it to 180 degress C/350 degrees F/Gas Mark 4.

Roughly chop the almonds and pecnas and tip them into a large mixing bowl.  Add the oats all the different seeds and the dessicated coconut and roughly chop dates and apricots and rest of dried fruits add to the bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.

Heat the sunflower oil and honey in a small pan until the honey is very runny but not boiling Pour over the oaty mixture in the bowl and coat evenly.

Cover a large roasting tin with a sheet of baking parchment add the granola and cook in the preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Stir the mixture regularly to ensure that the mixture browns evenly. Once it is golden and starting to crisp remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before decanting into a large storage jar.

Serve with a fruit compote with  natural yogurt sprinkled on the yogurt.  Or

Serve as you would normal cereal with nice cold milk.  You could also put some fresh chopped or sliced fruit in or some blueberries.


Quote for the Day

No Decision is Wrong at the Time of Making it.

It's just circumstances that change

Pictures of the Big Fella

Tyson my elderly Ginger Tom was in quite a clingy mood yesterday hogging the house.  These are just a few of the photos he graciously allowed me to take.  He is a big cat but very feisty.

He is a lovely old boy tends to snuggle down where he is not supposed to - no bag is sacred.

Quote for the Day

The best and most beautiful things in the World

Cannot be seen or even touched

Helen Keller

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Swiss Roll

At one time I used to make a lot of these, they are fairly quick to make and I always use my Kenwood with the balloon whisk to really froth the mixture up.  Its a quick make the only fiddly bit being the actual rolling but once you get used to doing this it is quite easy to do.  The fiddly bit is getting your head around things and getting the knack of doing the rolling.  This mixture can be used to make a jam or cream filled swiss roll or turned into an exotic black forest or strawberry roulade.  I have also used this mixture to make my own flan sponges for use with jelly fruit and fresh cream.  Its quite simple to make.

The original recipe was taken from Cakes, Patries and Bread by Jennie Reekie (a St Michael Cookery book)

Chocolate Swiss Roll with peppermint cream 

Cooking time 7 to 10 minutes

Oven temperature 200 degrees C/400 degrees F or Gas Mark 6


2 large eggs
2oz caster sugar
2oz self raising flour less 1 tablespoon of flour if making a chocolate version and adding 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder if making a plain version add 1 extra tablespoon of flour.
Caster sugar for dredging

For the filling

2oz butter
3oz icing sugar sieved
few drops of peppermint essence or vanilla essence or whatever flavouring you want


Grease a 7 inch by 11 inch swiss roll tin and line the base and sides with greaseproof or baking parchment and grease.  In a grease free bowl  Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are light and fluffy and the whisk leaves a trail in the mixture when it is lifted out.  Sieve in the flour and the cocoa if using or extra flour if making a plain version folding in the mixture so as not to knock the air out of the mixture I use a spatula for doing this.  Turn into the tin and level off.

Bake in a moderately hot oven for 7 to 10 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.  Turn out onto a piece of greaseproof or baking parchment dredged with caster sugar.  Trim off the edges and quickly roll up the swiss roll keeping it wrapped in greaseproof paper and allow to cool.

Cream the butter and icing sugar together then beat in the flavouring.  Unroll the cake removing the greaseproof paper spread with the cream filliung then re-roll.  Dredge the outside of the roll with caster sugar before serving.



Quote for the Day

Having No Money isn't being Poor.

Being Poor is something quite different!

Irish Soda Bread - Recipe 2

Here's a second recipe that I have found for Soda bread which is white flour and not a combination like the other one.

700g/1 1/2 lb plain flour
1 x 5ml spoon/1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 x 5ml spoon/1 teaspoon salt
1 x 5ml spoon/1 teaspoon cream of tartar (if using fresh milk)
250ml/8 fl oz buttermilk or soured cream or fresh milk or a mixture of plain yogurt and milk
flour for dusting
fat for greasing


Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add enough buttermilk, soured cream or fresh milk or a mixture of plain yogurt and milk to make a fairly slack dough putting it in all at once rather than a tablespoon at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon lightly and quickly.

With floured hands put the mixture on a floured surface flattening the dough with your hand into a rough circle about 3 cm/1 1/4 inch thick. Turn onto a greased baking sheet, score a cross in the top of the bread with a floured knife (this stops the dough sticking to the knife) and scoring the cross helps the loaf cook evenly.

Set the oven to 190 degrees c/375 to 400 degrees F gas mark 5 to 6. Cook the bread for about 40 minutes. Pierce the centre with as skewer to test for readiness it should come out clean if cooked. Take out of oven then wrap in a clean tea towel to keep it soft until required. Makes one 1 1/2lb loaf. Goes well with soups and salads with butter.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

2011.02.26 My Day

I didn't surface very early this morning.  I had another bad night where I just could not get comfortable in bed, and my sleep was disturbed yet again, I would just get comfy and then have to move.  I seem to have to sleep on my back these days and then I get stiff and have to turn again; if I turn on my side it is so sore I have to move more or less straight away; its like permanent toothache in my bones,   Then when I do wake up its just pure stiffness and I have difficulty in putting socks or tights on and moving around generally and there is pain.  And when I walk I sometimes  feel I am falling off my joints, and that my back is going to slip and permanently knock out.

Anyway things have to move on I rose late, but it was a beautiful bright day outside although a tad cold.  Spring is really starting to come in and even spring flowers are available in the shops, Tulips and cheery Daffodils just the sight of them cheers the soul.

We visited  my step-son to take his dried washing back to him.  He is getting on quite well in his new flat and starting to acquire bits and bobs,  Its quite funny to see him getting all houseproud especially after the nightmare of him keeping tidy as he was growing up, but then I secretly guessed that he would go this way and it is nice to see at long last.

Needless to say I paid my regular visit to the Veg shop -  I was a bit late in going and most of the bargains had been taken.  But came back with a new sack of potatoes  (a variety called Picasso which are meant to be a good all rounder  - they certainly pass muster on chips) a cauliflower, cabbage,  1kg sweet potatoes, 1 kg parsnips, 1kg carrots, 1kg pears,1kg bananas, 2kg plums and a tray of eggs.  Not much for this week I had to do the best with the pennies that I had.  I spent £16 on these including the sack of potatoes at £6 so I don't think I did too badly bearing in mind that I didn't have much to start with.  I also have vegetables frozen down in the freezer.  However I do need to get hold of some spinach for freezing down and also making pasta and curly Kale.  Most people turn their noses up at curly Kale as it was traditionally used as fodder for cattle.  However it is extremely delicious and very good for you.

I need to top up on some fish,  and will need to sort this out bit by bit.

As I was short on meat I went and stocked up. For roughly £30 I bought two packs of fine minced beef £5 (one pack for cottage pie the other for lasagne), two shoulder joints of lamb, £3.43 and £4.65 respectively to be roasted (ideal for just the two of us) a large piece of beef £9.90 (tomorrow's dinner) and a Chicken for £4 for another roast dinner - should get about three meals out of this including the stock).  That should last for at least the next few weeks or so.  We don't eat meat with every meal.  However, would like to get some cheaper cuts, beef skirt, (for making pasties;.liver for liver casserole, sausages for various meals including toad in the hole, sausage meat for stuffings, bacon for breakfasts and for use in quiches and some more chicken breasts for home made kievs and some chicken pieces for stir fries, satay and Indian style meals.  We shall have to wait and see how the pennies pan out but I am hopeful I will manage to squirrel away some more goodies in the next few weeks.  After all you have to eat.

I had some carrots left over from last week so rather than waste them I have turned them into coriander and carrot soup and used this recipe :

It is very tasty and I have frozen some of this for use later on in the week.

We had home made chips, eggs and corned beef for tea tonight and it was very tasty.

I intend to make some French Onion Soup and Leek and Potato Soup tomorrow as well.  Its handy to have the soup ready made during the week and just warm through.

 I also intend to make some Soda Bread tomorrow so that we can have this with some of the soup to warm us through tomorrow lunch (we have Sunday dinner in the evening).

I also need to make an ordinary loaf as we are getting low on bread. Might make a couple of loaves instead of one.  

Have a lot to do in the food line tomorrow.

So will play catch up later.

Hope everything is tickety boo with you wherever you may be.



Friday, 25 February 2011

Brown Paper, String, Cardboard, Cards Etc Etc

I think in many ways I am a tad old fashioned with some things.  For instance I always save good wrapping paper or little present bags, and always save little pretty paper bags, and decent pieces of string and ribbon.  Recycling as we call it now I grew up with out of necessity, having to be frugal and making things stretch that much further, were par for the course, and wastefulness was frowned upon (during the second world war you could be prosecuted for waste).  Our families had to go without during the second world war and for many years after the war things were tight. Today we are quite spoilt in comparison.

My Nan was the one, she had a small kitchen table with extension flaps either side and two small stools that went underneath, and two drawers built into the table.  When we sat at the kitchen table things were snug, and we used to hit our knees on the undersides of the drawers, but that's where the paper bags, string, greaseproof that could be re-used again,  and brown paper were stored.  And when polythene bags first came out - they were washed and hung out to dry pegged onto  the line and then re-used again.  You never quite knew what was going to come out of that drawer next, nearly always something would be found that would fit the bill  but most of all thrift prevailed throughout.

I go slightly further though; I tend to recycle anything that can be reused often in a different guise again.  I always save the card from cereal boxes, primarily for my patchwork project that I have on the go, but it can be used in so many things.  In the past I have had a go at making a little fabric covered box from scratch, cutting the sides etc from nice strong card and covering with the fabric of my choice.  I save stamps where I can and send them to a charity which in turns sells them and raises funds for the charity.  I also save old Christmas cards and birthday cards and use the images for home made Christmas cards with a little bit of decoupage work a bit of this and a bit of that plus some glitter and you have a home made creation to pass on as part of a pressie to a relative or a friend.

I also where I can recycle jars, and bottles by finding new seals so that the jars can be used again and again.  There is a company that sells a well known pasta sauce comes in a large square type mason jar.  I have found that the seals and rings for the new  kilner jars fit these perfectly and the Liefheit seals fit the old style Kilner jars too.  So go on have a play find out what fits what for yourself.

I have also started cutting the bits for a clippie or proddie rug - its slow cutting at the moment, but I hope to have enough to start working the rug soon.  I am using old hardwearing cotton blue jeans.

I am also making a king sized crotchet blanket/bedspread started initially with trying to use up odd balls of double knitting wool that I had quite a quantity of.  I just bought cream wool to break the colours up I am about one third through the blanket - what has been done so far is quite warm and colourful.
All in an effort to Waste Not Want Not.
What do you get up to in an effort to recycle valuable materials?
Take care

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Soda Bread

I love good home cooking its full of flavour and using simple recipes means that you can create memorable dishes with the simplest of ingredients.  One of the habits you do have to get out of though is that there is no need to nip to the supermarket or shop to get  items that you have run out of.  Half the battle is finding a compromise or using what you actually have to hand and a touch of experimentation, or finding a recipe that will suit your purposes;. that's half the battle finding recipes that work for you. When you need a bit of bread in a hurry why not try this recipe which is quick and simple to get you out of the mire and is an ideal accompaniment to a home made soup.


1lb 6 oz wholemeal flour
10oz strong white flour
2oz oatmeal
2 teaspoons salt
2 taspoons bicarbonate of soda
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 pints milk and water mixed, or all semi-skimmed or skimmed milk


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

Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and add enough liquid to make a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface, shape into a large round and score into 4 with a sharp knife.  Place on a greased baking sheet  and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.  It is done if it sounds hollow when tapped.

Variation (according to the recipe) but which I have not yet tried:

Add a handful of dried fruit, dried bilberries or cranberries on their own or combined with nuts, sesame or poppy seeds.The combination choice is entirely up to you.

I have made some carrot and coriander soup and some leek and potato soup (made in batches and then frozen down) for a quick tea during the week or a starter; the bread goes well with simple meals like this; just good honest simple food.  The best way to serve "simples".

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

On my Travels - Weck Jars

Today was a sort of higgledy piggledy day - and first day back at work.  I normally meet a friend for lunch on a Monday but she had some training to do so our lunch has been put off until tomorrow.  As a result I was able to assist one of the Lawyers with an urgent piece of work and didn't go for my lunch until about 1.50 p.m, and got back to the office before 2.50 p.m.

Anyway on one of my wanders (I always leave the office for a breath of fresh air and for a good walk) I popped into Lakeland to pick up their brochures.  Whilst in store however I espied some new bottling jars in Lakeland, the German Weck bottles (the round heavy bottomed jars that are used for bottling fruits in for Christmas fare).  They had quite a selection of shapes and sizes at quite reasonable prices including bottles for bottling cordials and fruit juices in and some little jars that would be ideal for doing fruit cheeses in.  These jars are fixed by a rubber seal and metal tags on either side of the jar.  They also had some jars that would be ideal for preparing pates in etc.  Quite a good choice. The only other place I have found these jars were at Vigo

I subsequently went on the Lakeland site but they do not have them listed yet so when I get a minute further on the week I will do further reconnaisance.  I quite liked the look of the jars although I have never used them

Vigo are the people who produce the fruit presses, and various other equipment ideal if you have your own apple orchards smallholding etc they do quite a range of equipment.

I told you all I had a jar fetish - perhaps now you will believe me.

Family are coming to tea tomorrow night so might well pop in later on.

Take care



P.S. These are the jars I am talking about I found the pictures on Google

Monday, 21 February 2011

Trapped in the Kitchen

I am still trapped in the kitchen trying to get everything ship shape and Bristol fashion before the family descend tomorrow evening.  If the Prison Warder lets me out for good behaviour will try and blog a little later.  Steam cleaner is working like a dream its the reorganising the kitchen that is causing a headache.

Catch you later (hopefully)



2011.02.20 My Day

We didn't have a proper Sunday lunch today - we normally always have a roast of some description even if we have to have what are classed as frugal meals/scratch meals during the week.  As OH was doing the kitchen there seemed no point so decided to do something on the spur of the moment.  Its not often that we have Scampi these days as it is too expensive, but I managed to find a packet in the freezer and did some home made chips and bread and butter served with tartare sauce and it was yummy.  My chip pan however needed cleaning out.

Well as I said in my earlier post started playing with the steam cleaner and I am very chuffed so chuffed I decided to tackle the chip pan with it  after tea and it has come up very well indeed.  All it needs now is the new oil to go in and it will be back in action again.  OH loves home made chips -  I usually limit this to once a week but he is going to be getting an extra portion of chips this week as the family are coming to play again on Tuesday evening.  Thought would cook a chicken and then it is up to them as to how they would like this served.  Thought that I would give them the option of chicken and chips or chicken wraps with chilli sauce and salad.  I already have the wraps in.  *****Mental note to myself must find a recipe for making home made wraps as they are expensive to buy ready made and if can make them myself am assuming that it would be a lot cheaper*****. I am afraid I am getting to be a bit of a skin flint.

The worktop and the cupboard doors have been sterilised with the steam cleaner and I have my other appliances that I use on a regular basis out on top including my bread machine, Kenwood Mixer and my Moulinex food processor and four slice toaster.  There is now plenty of room to do chopping etc.  Popping these appliances ready for use on the worktop has freed up a cupboard that I can now use for storing other bits and bobs in.

Now I have the bread maker in situ I intend to start making my own bread again on a regular basis.  Intend to have a session bagging up basic mix ingredients to save measuring up during the week it will also mean OH will be able to put on a loaf of bread without having to follow a recipe when it runs out, being as he is the main bread eater in the family.  Thought it would make sense to do things this way and then store the bread mixes in the pantry in a basket with a relevent identity tag on.
I also want to start doing a regular baking slot sometime in the week as well.  I used to make a lot of swiss rolls and flan cases at one time.  They are lovely filled with fresh fruit and cream and with cherries and kirsch makes a nice home made blackforest gateau especially if decorated with chocolate cream and chocolate leaves.  They also freeze very well.  Emergency dinner pudding or fill with home made ice cream. Scrummy.  I use the same recipe for the flan case as for the swiss rolls and they make a lovely baked Alaska.  Am back to work tomorrow so it will no doubt be sometime tomorrow evening before I will post again.  Had nice few restful days although have been incredibly stiff and in pain again.  Just have to take each day as it comes.

It is lovely to see new faces joining in and commenting.
Take care wherever you are

Catch you all tomorrow

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Busy Sunday

Spring is in  the air, plants are starting to stir in the garden despite the greyness of the past few days and I have ventured out to survey the mess that the plumber has left,.  Why is it they disrespect borders and just sling things anywhere.  Doh. . I am anxious to get a lot done, I can feel a change in the air  although I haven't had the energy for doing much.  My plans for cooking have gone seriously to pot as OH decided today was the day when he was going to sort the cavity where my boiler recently was from a recess with cracked tiles, plasterwork, remnants of metal pipes and chimney, basically fromm a sows purse into something useable if not a silk purse.  Basically we had decided to relocate the microwave and my small rotisserie oven in there out of the way and off the work top so that I can usefully have some work top to play with.  My boxes (just some of them) of my regular herbs and spices are stored at the bottom so that they are easily accessible.  My kitchen is only a small galley kitchen so space is at a premium as is storage which is minimal.  I am therefore hoping that soon I will be able to afford a shed to use and store my extensive store of bottles jars, freezers etc so it frees up more space in the house.

Needless to say in moving the Microwave and the Rotisserie Oven I am having to do a good clean, which has led to me to a slight diversion.  You see I have been given a hand held steamer for use in my cleaning without the need for grotty chemicals.  I thought today a good time to give it a try and I am impressed.  I think this little bit of kit is going to get some frequent use.  It has brought the worktops and the tiles up brilliantly.  I have just stopped off for a little break but intend to carry on again shortly.  I think once the worktop is completed and the cupboard doors that the cooker is going to get a going over too.  I can see the potential of a larger steam cleaner being very useful too.

Doing this has also freed up valuable worktop space and also means that I can put some of my regularly used appliances out like my toaster and bread machine. 

Still a lot to do will try and catch up later.  Perhaps I will get to my cooking during the week.


So although this has caused extra work for me it is all in a good cause

2011.02.19 My Day - Second part

Well tea was lovely OH excelled himself.  I have then spent most of the evening reading and doing some sorting out, latterly watching the Tudors on the TV.  A peaceful evening, but I have had the fidgets wanting to do something but not really knowing what to do; the truth is I just cannot settle at the moment am at sixes and sevens.  Want to do things but not having the energy to do so. Its very frustrating. 

Tonight for a change we have had some supper as we had tea earlier than usual.  Just cheese and crackers but served them with my home made pickled shallots - boy they were tasty if I do say so myself.  Normally I use the big Sarsons Vinegar jars for pickled shallots but I couldn't find my spare jars and didn't have an opportunity to buy any extra ones, so they were all done in smaller jars than usual with my home dried chillis, bay leaves and peppercorns and a little sugar.  I prefer Shallots but they cost more.  I have done pickled onions as well, but at the rate we are going they will not last for long.  Just means will have to do more later on this year.

Its bitterly cold again, but at least we are snug in the house - I am very lucky.

Time to retire in a while I think as I have a busy day tomorrow planned.

Take care and catch you all later on



Saturday, 19 February 2011

2011.02.19 My Day - Today so far

Its been horrible and wet here today - grey, grey, grey n damp. I was hoping for a better day as I need tidy the back garden up a bit the plumber has left a bit of a mess.   So far its been a kinda lazy day apart from a little bit of pottering about tidying up bits and bobs and getting my fresh aired ironing into the wardrobes and onto the racks (well that is what have managed to achieve so far need to find those coathangers).  I always air my clothes - old habits die hard.

The washing machine is whirring around as is the dishwasher. Its a busy comforting sound although sometimes the washing machine goes into overdrive and re-arranges itself as the load has become uneven.  I  have some cooking planned for later on or failing that tomorrow - have quite a few things that need to be done.  In between all this am researching and sorting recipes for me to try.  I might as well do all the cooking in one fair swoop to make the most of the oven and making sure I get the maximum amount of value for having it on. I have some tomatoes to make passata with and I also want to get the chutney done, maybe some flapjacks, have some carrots that need using up so perhaps some carrot and coriander soup, granola for my breakfast cereal, another batch of muesli to make, and some marmalade and jellies.  Also want to do a dessert jelly and will probably make a flan with some mandarin oranges.  I also need to process some of the clementines that I have bought. They come in nice little wooden crates which I hope to use in the pantry for storing some of the root veg or alternatively in the greenhouse.

We had hoped to be able to take Missy for a good walk today but sadly the weather has put paid to that, bless her think she is going a little stir crazy for freedom and a real good run.  We will have to see what tomorrow brings. A good walk does her good and us too.  Besides I want to get out and about into the hedgerows to see what I can find.

We have Cottage Pie for tea later on courtesy of the OH with a nice cheesy crust so that should warm us up comfort food for a grotty day.

Will pop back later I have a Jack Russell desperate for a cup of tea! Keeps licking me to death think perhaps I had better take the hint I think she is thirsty.

Catch you all later.



Lyle Lovett

Smile, though your heart is aching.
Smile, even though it's breaking.
Though there are clouds in the sky,
You get by...

If you smile through your fears and sorrows.
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through.

If you just light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever, ever so near.

That's the time you must keep on trying.
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find life is worthwhile
If you'll just smile, come on and smile.

If you just smile.

I think this particular song says it all but a smile is the most wonderful gift you can give to someone.  It can show happiness and contentment and for a moment draws you out of yourself and makes you feel a part of something no matter for how little a time. It is also a proud mask to hide behind so as not to foist your problems on others it hides your privacy it is your Public Relations System your first port of call.  Besides most people react to a smile, whereas if someone is crying buckets they are more likely to shy away as they don't know how to deal with this scenario and its asking them to give more than they are prepared to give.

 It is a sad reality that on a daily basis some people have so little contact with others - whatever the reason is - they have no kin, they are painfully shy, don't want to be a trouble to others just a few reasons and not exhaustive. But a smile cuts across all barriers no matter what language is spoken is non aggressive and speaks of approachability and friendliness and quite simply costs nothing to give.  A smile can win you friends and in the words of the song why cry when you can smile.

Your smile to the person who is on their own is worth a million dollars and makes them feel that things are perhaps not as bad as they thought they were.

Now I don't want you all to go around flashing smiles like a Belisha Beacon non stop, but a welcoming smile here and there never hurt anyone and may well make someone's day.

Friday, 18 February 2011

2011.02.18 My Day

Cor its bitter here at the moment talk about brass monkeys fortunately have topped up on the gas and electric so hopefully that will see us through for another week.

I haven't been at work these past few days three days holiday carried over from last year  to use up. So I have started attacking the ironing mountain, but have had to stop as I cannot find my coathangers!  Trust me - and haven't got any free ones left in the bedroom.  They are buried in the back bedroom somewhere will have to try and dig them out tomorrow and then carry on with the ironing at some point tomorrow.  We need to retrieve the computer and computer desk in any event to relocate it back into the small bedroom which is to be our computer room/study/craft room and get that all organised and sorted so that I can use the main computer  too.

Have had quite a pleasant tea tonight, chicken and home made curry served with naan bread.  I nipped over to the local paper shop which is run by an Asian family who I have known for several years  - this is where I get the majority of my spices from, but I have found that they seem to have different bits and bobs in from time to time which are quite cheap.  This evening I came back with a bag of Naan breads in x 3 and twice the size of the normal ones that places like the Coop sell for only £1.39.  They are nice and large and tasty and are made by the Original Clay Oven company.  I also came back with some tortillas for wraps and also some chapattis  at £1.39 per pack and two pots of natural yoghurt at 59 pence a pot.  This will come in useful for puddings, dips and maybe making some home made ice lollies with fruit in.   They were also selling small wooden crates of clementines with their leaves in from Valencia, so I nobbled one as you do at £3.  They are so delicious and refreshing after the home made curry.  I might get another tray tomorrow  - see how I feel and sit and prepare them ready for bottling to put in the Putdown 2011.  Will see how things go.  If not tomorrow may nab one in the week.  I do love my food and fresh fruit.

The Naan bread, chapattis and wraps will come in handy for a meal or snack during the week and will soon get used up - especially if the family arrive en masse again on Tuesday evening as they have threatened to do  (I must look into making these for myself)  Might do chicken wraps with chilli sauce and lettuce leaves  (i.e. a roast chicken done in the rotisserie, then allowed to go cool and chopped into chunks with salad and chilli sauce) followed by, home bottled pears and meringues with cream for pudding when the kids come for family night on Tuesday, it will be quick and simple with the minimum amount of washing up with me being back at work.

We are also trying to get the house back to some kind of order, but certain things need to happen before that can be completely achieved.  

In the kitchen where the boiler used to be in the old fireplace I have been left with a messy recess in the wall.  Have asked OH to see if he could tidy this up and relocate my microwave and Rotisserie/small oven there so I have some work top space and a place to resite my bread machine.  I then intend to put a small curtain to cover them when they are not in use.  The whole kitchen is due to be re-decorated anyway, so that should tidy up in there.

Catch you all soon.



Yesterdays events

The best laid plans of mice and men  - I didn't get round to my chutney yesterday as my help was required by my friend.  Maybe I will get chance over the weekend  - I do hope so.   So I went over.  The first set of Minutes I had helped her with had been approved as being a good attempt for a first set of Minutes.  So was rather chuffed; she had a few additions to put in but this was easily remedied and then sent off to her boss for him to formalise.  This is a voluntary job that she is doing for them and she doesn't get paid - only her expenses every quarter for attending meetings, paper, ink cartridges etc.  So I was quite chuffed in a roundabout way.


My friend wanted me to dye her hair for her.  Big gulp - I've only ever messed with my own hair and have never dyed my own hair. So off I toddled complete with my lemon clockwork egg timer so make sure that I didn't overcure her.    I worked my way through the instructions sporting turquoise latex gloves and got her hair well drenched in the slightly stinky product and managed to get it washed out.   I thought she was going to set her hair as well - but no I got handed the hairdryer and brush and ended up sorting out her hair and drying it into shape as well.  Must admit the colour I had chosen for her last Saturday when we had been shopping looked quite good.  So it really was a baptism of fire for me as I was terrified I was going to make a major boo boo and her hair come out the wrong colour!  I needn't have worried.Its helped her out and made her feel good about herself and we have had a lot of laughs as well along the way too.

The slow cooker seems to have been a big success.  They had a lovely meal out of it after coming back from the car boots last Sunday.  She has since bought a recipe book dedicated to the slow cooker.  Having chosen one of the recipes  I also helped her prepare the meal for Friday evenings tea.  A sausage and onion casserole mix from scratch - she is mostly veggie so they were vegetarian sausages and I made a nice oniony gravy to go in to the pot too.  I made her taste in between each stage until it was to her liking.  She was going to serve with cheesy mashed potatoes and mixed veg.  I do hope it was tasty.

Its amazing how quickly an evening can go.

Catch you soon.



Earth Hour 2011

Please support this worthwhile cause.  You may be only one person, but joined with another and another voice you make a great contribution.
So on Saturday March 26th between 8.30 and 9.30 p.m. local time.   Please switch off your electrical appliances, light candles, talk to each other and reconnect.  Let Earth have her hour in an effort to raise enviromental issues with those who are supposed to speak for us.  Make them sit up and listen.

Re-Arranging the furniture

Metahphorically speaking that is, have been re-organising and doing housekeeping on some of the page lay out and updating  - not really touched it since I started the blog off, and being as there is a touch of Spring in the air,  thought would have a move around.  Am not sure if I have finished yet as I notice that they have added one or two new gadgets to the design page which I am going to have to investigate further, but have tried to make it a little bit more accessible.

Would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and reading my ramblings, it keeps me going and I enjoy reading your comments.  Its as much your blog as mine.

Once again, thank you



Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is quick to make especially during the week if you are working and time is at a premium and stir fry is quick and delicious and extremely tasty.  To ring the changes I often use what's left in the fridge or add sweet pepper and sweetcorn to the mix.  Its all very filling.

Serves 2 (or 1 starving person in my household) - so why not doubleup


4oz skinless boneless chicken breast
2 spring onions trimmed
1 carrot peeled
2oz button mushrooms
2 inch piece of cucumber
2 tablespoons of oil
2 tablespoons clear honey
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 a shredded iceberg lettuce or mixed lettuce leaves


Cube the chicken and cut onion and carrot into sticks quarter the mushrooms and
slice the cucumber

Heat oil and add the chicken and vegetables cook until chicken turns white and vegetables are tender

Stir in the hione vinegar soy sauce and lettuce cook for 1 minute serve with  rice or prawn crackers.


Thursday, 17 February 2011

A few of my favourite things

In the words of the immortal song My Favourite Things as performed by Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels;
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles;
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes;
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes;
Silver-white winters that melt into springs;
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

.And just a few of mine too in case you hadn't gathered and an excuse to resurrect an old favourite song in the process.

  • Animals
  •  Children 
  • Christmas 
  • Classical music 
  • Cooking - including preserving of all sorts 
  • Crafts - crotchet, knitting, dressmaking, bead work, patchwork, cross stitch embroidery, etc 
  • Fine glass and crystal 
  • Village life  
  • Flowers 
  • Folk music 
  • Food 
  • Gardening 
  • Growing things from seed 
  • Irish Music 
  • Music 
  • My own space 
  • Nice linen 
  • Open spaces 
  • Woods 
  • Pressed Victorian Glass 
  • Pretty China 
  • Reading 
  • Walks in the countryside

Miss Smiff's Chutney

I have been disposing of some old magazines to free up some space, but as I am an avid recipe collector I hold on to anything that I like the sound of  - in fact in the past I have been known to buy a book for just one recipe.  How decadent.  That was then and this is now - my frugal instincts have kicked into play and I squirrel away food and recipes wherever I can.  This recipe comes from a very old Good Food magazine - I liked the name that was the original attraction.  There is something satisfying about rolling "Miss Smiff" off the tongue. On inspecting the recipe further it would appear that it is very like one my Nan used to make on a regular basis and that was really good.  So a little later on I will be making this in the kitchen.  I have the apples in as per usual.  So some more goodies to go into the Putdown 2011. My squirrelling instincts are coming to the fore again!

Makes approximately 5lb chutney

3lb apples peeled cored and roughly chopped
1lb onions coarsley chopped
1/2pint malt vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2lb sultanas
1 1/2lb granulated sugar


Place all the ingredients except the sugar in  a large thick bottomed pan and cook together until soft

Add the sugar heat gently until it has completely dissolved then boil until the chutney reaches a thick consistency.

To test if chutney is thick enough for potting draw a wooden spoon through the mixture it should leave a large channel exposing the base of the pan.

Pour into clean warm sterilised jars and cover them immediately with vinegar proof lids.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Music for Manifesting

I have a lot of decisions to make over the next few days those decisions need fine tuning though and I like to pull things that I am thinking of metaphorically speaking to pieces to cover all eventualities before I actually commit.  Some of the decisions will be life-changing but still frightening because it is change.   Change is a complex thing we all fear it because it takes us out of our groove and stretches us to our full potential.  It also takes us out of stale situations that are no good for our soul and our inner psyche and takes us away from people who drain us and who are all too puffed up with their own self importance and what they can get out of you rather than being a genuine honest person in their own right.  So insincere.   It pokes our toes through the next door and into untravelled terrirotory - transition a learning curve. As the saying goes as one door closes another one always opens - As Alice found when she followed the white rabbit through the rabbit hole! 

I have therefore been listening to a lot of music in the past week or so not only to soothe me and to take me to a distant place where I can take stock, of all that is going on around me but also hopefully manifest some of my own dreams and ambitions which have laid dormant for far too long.  Some of the music I have been listening to is on the side bar if you want to join in with me and have a ponder.  I have rather an ecclectic choice of music when it comes down to it, some of it is old, some new, some classical some old favourites some completely new to me which I would not have considered but have found that it is very much to my taste and there are various lists which I will change from time to time.  Music is so personal it sort of gives you a gateway into another person's thoughts but it is such a universal unspoken language that reaches deep into the soul and reaches us all without us being totally aware.

Music has always been very important to me - I grew up in a family who played music, My Grandfather played the banjo - I have never heard anybody come close to how he played duelling banjos.  He made his banjo sing.  He used to keep us entertained as children by playing to us with us attempting to sing or by playing his squeezeboxes which I have upstairs.  Happy unfettered days.  My Uncle Basil played the drums, my much loved father played piano, violin, church organ and cathederal organ. My brother played violin.  My two nephews both play the flute.   So music has always been very important in our family.  I have always listened and enjoyed now I need it to lead me to my dreams.


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Do you use lard

Call me old fashioned but I still use lard in my cooking - it makes great  shortcrust  pastry used half and half with butter  or on its own and I also use it for doing the roast potatoes when I haven't got any pork dripping or goose fat to hand.  I also use it for frying eggs and lovely home made pancakes - you don't need much and a little goes a long long way.  Lets face it we can all aspire high and we are all encouraged to use certain ingredients. but we are not necessarily always able to afford the things we would like to like goose fat.  I make my pork dripping using lard see my post here:Home Made Pork Dripping 19.05.2009.  Hah you say Yuk it will furr up your arteries - not if its used sensibly.  Its like most things if we use more than we actually need it can cause problems hence everything in moderation.  I bet you have already had it and not known what your food was cooked in and proper beef dripping for home made chips - lovely.

What caused me to bring attention to this cheap alternative to oil is this article which I thought was very well written and am pleased to say that yes I still do.

Lets face it oil is going up nearly every time you go round to the shops.  I use the Co-op lard - my mum does too and she will only use that.  My mother bless her heart is slightly peculiar in that she is not keen on oils and fats generally she can always taste things cooked in oil and it always turns her up, but you can add extra flavour to lard by adding some fresh herb sprigs such as Rosemary or Thyme to well give your ingredients more flavour.  So if you want to save the pennies  reach for a pack of lard - it keeps well in the fridge and in the freezer.

And Butter  - yes I use Butter also as I don't like the low fat margarines. (think I take after my mum here)  I use the butter papers for lining the baking tray when I am making home made sage and onion stuffing.  

Its just the modern housewife has lost the knowledge of our forebears unless you are lucky like me my Nan and my Mum both used lard and used to render their own dripping too.



P.S. Specialities such as Lardy Bread and Dripping cake were made with lard its a cultural tradition in this country - ooh warm Lardy Bread I am salivating at the thought.

Monday, 14 February 2011

We have a Floor

Well bless his cotton socks OH has finished the bulk of the floor just the trimming round the edges.  Not bad considering he only started late yesterday afternoon.  On the plus side should make the roo easier to keep clean.  Now we have to sort decoration out and also plan how we are going to have it set out.  I need bookshelves and some drawers on wheels as well as a nother work table.  I am sure everything will work out and it will be nice to have an area where I can use my sewing machines and overlocker and be able to get on.  Its a computer room as well so hopefully will be able to get  everything sorted and organised properly.  I am one of these girls that has to have a home for everything otherwise I can never find what I am after although saying that if I have things out on a desk I usually know where everything is.

I will hopefully be able to provide photographs when I locate the camera; haven't seen it for a while quite disconcerting.  I prefer to post  photos if I can as it gives you a visual and a check point also a record of what you have done and how you have done it.
I like it when a plan starts coming together.

Catch you soon


Southern Style Spicy Chicken

I first came across this recipe on one of the Waitrose Cooking cards and have used it ever since

100g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Pack chicken, thighs or drumsticks
4 tablespoons plain seasoned flour
2 medium eggs beaten
3 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C gas mark 6.
  2. In a flat dish mix together the breadcrumbs, herbs, spices and seasoning.
  3. Coat the chicken portions in the seasoned flour then dip in the beaten egg, and coat thoroughly with the breadcrumb mixture and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Drizzle with the oil and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes turning once so that the chicken gets evenly cooked until the crumb is crisp and the chicken is cooked thoroughly and there is no pink meat and the juices run clear.
  5. Serve with Rosemary, Onion and Garlic Roast potatoes, a side salad and sweet chilli or tomato sauce to serve.
Lick ya lips this is delicious and tasty and ideal when the family pay a visit

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Soft Blueberry Cookies

I am very partial to blueberries and to a good blueberry muffin washed down with a glass of cold milk and I am in heaven.  I have a few blueberries in the fridge so was rather chuffed to find this recipe by chance for blueberry cookies in some of my clipped magazine articles.  Unfortunately I do not know which publication this came from.   This is the type of recipe where I will certainly make double the quantity or make a couple of double-double batches in future so have some to eat and put the second batch of the dough to bring out in case of unexpected visitors.


75g unsalted butter softened plus extra for greasing
75g unrefined golden caster sugar
75g unrefined light muscovado sugar
1/2 teaspoon of proper vanilla extract
1 large egg lightly beaten
175g self-raising flour sifted
Grated zest of 1 small lemon
125g fresh blueberries

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C/Fan oven 160 degrees C or Gas Mark 4 and grease two large non stick baking sheets.
  2. Put the butter and the sugars into a large bowl and using an electric or hand whisk cream together the butter and sugar until it goes pale and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla essence with the egg gradually.
  3. In a small bowl mix the self raising flour with the lemon zest with a pinch of salt.  Add to the creamed mixture and mix to a dough.
  4. Place tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the greased baking sheet spaced evenly apart, shaping each dollop into a round then push some blueberries into each cookie.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden.  Remove from the oven let them set for a couple of minutes then remove and put onto a wire cooling rack to cool.  Store in an airtight container.
Verdict: absolutely scrummy
Apparently we should all eat more blueberries as they are good for us full of antioxidants useful in the fight of damaging free radicals  full of vitamins A C and E as well as calcium iron and phosphorous.  Benefits are supposed to range for strengthening the eyes, easing arthrititis to giving your immune system an all round boost.

There is Movement....

There is movement from the OH this time.  He has managed to locate all his tools and the laminate flooring and lets just say things are looking promising - it looks as though we are about to get a floor in the study/cum craft room at long last.  To quote OH he hasn't been able to get on because of a certain little lady who keeps getting in the way and wants to assist (Missy and to a lesser degree Squeak)!  He is now esconced up there with everything to hand , door hinges are also going back on the door (he has located them too) and it looks as if that will be back up by the end of the afternoon.  Things are looking promising.  It will be nice to have a dedicated craft area and space in which to work.  Trouble is now I suppose we will be fighting over it me thinks a rota will have to come into play!

So there is movement - so the timing must be right!

Catch you all soon



Saturday, 12 February 2011

Movement and The Wheel

For the past couple of days we have had a touch of spring in the air - I can feel it and sense it but today really has been lovely day and it perks you up and makes you feel more more joyful and grateful for the little things in life. An appreciation for the simple things  and just simply for being me. 

The Wheel of life is turning impercetably again - change is in the air.  However as one door closes another one always opens.  Change happens to take you from one situation that does not necessarily suit and causes all sorts of angst  to another that if not exactly right just might be a stepping stone to a much brighter future.  A new learning curve, another piece of the jigsaw or tool for your own personal experience.  There is no better teacher than the school of life. I am a beleiver in that whatever I need is out there its just the locating of that may take the time.  

This lovely spring weather is also  reminder that I need to get the garden sorted in readiness for growing crops in the current months.  I have bought two sets (2 bags of 5 sets) of Rooster potatoes to start chitting.  I aim to get some proper veggies out of the garden this year to supplement the household budget.  Well thats the plan now I have to put it into action.

I had a late night last night not getting to bed before midnight as I was at my friend's home trying to help her with her first set of Minutes that she had taken at a meeting.  I think we got there eventually, but I was tired and it has been a very tiring and wearing week.  However she seems grateful for the time I spend with her encouraging and teaching her how to do things.  My reward is that she is learning and is so full of enthusiasm for each day as a result.  Helping her wheel move forward in her life experience just for a little time effort and attention.  Just think what we could achieve if more of us helped each other rather than just helping ourselves.  Sometimes the most important thing you can give each other is your time and if you take the effort to teach something you learn your subject all over again and reinforce your own knowledge in the process. So really it is a win win situation.

As a consequence of the late night I ended up having a lay in  - I had a rough nights sleep wise as I cannot get comfy with my back and legs and to top all that I developed bad cramp attacks in both legs in the early morning with both legs locking and the only way I was able to ease the pain was by stretching both legs full out a couple of times..  It really is painful and the pain  in my lower torso day in day out does get me down.

Today I have spent mostly up town with my friend.  I have been encouraging her to do more cooking. We went up town ostensibly to look for a slow cooker for her to use on a regular basis so that she can have a nice hot meal ready when she comes home from sitting on Committee Meetings for a local housing association.   We found quite a decent sized one in the end in Wilkinsons for only £13 and hopefully she should get a lot of use out of it.  She only lives in a flat so doesn't have a great deal of room.

( She has recently come out of a long term abusive relationship - her husband putting her down at every opportunity and not encouraging her in her cooking attempts so she had given up in desperation believing she was no good at it.   Fortunately  and  subsequently she has gone on to find happiness with a lovely gentleman who in turn hasn't perhaps had the care and attention he should have had but together they are growing  forging a future and are content with each other.   It really is a lovely thing to see.

It really pains me for people who think they are something to actually "rubbish" other people and put them down - for whatever reason.  They have no right to do this  and it obviously shows something quite lacking in their personality i.e. a control or power thing or severe inadequacey and insecurity which they foist on others.  This is quite often the case with bullies, no matter how intelligent they are.  I am afraid that these people are only out for themselves.  Life has a habit of playing catch up at some point though and although it may be a long fight to get yourself up to the top, its how you do it and how you approach it, because if things go wrong and you end up going down - its a long long way down.  We build our own hell and similarly build our own heaven.

Needless to say my true friends do not fall into this category but tend to be like myself very easy going and nothing being too much trouble for them to do.  Sorry if I have been a bit deep in this post but unjustness and unfairness of any kind tends to get me riled especially with people who abuse their power and know better than to do so.

I am going to put my feet up now and rest as I have been hurting most of the day.  I am finding more and more that I am having trouble coping with stairs going up, but not so bad coming down.  Have lots to do but am not really up to doing it at the moment so will have to rest.

Will catch up soon hope you are all okay wherever you are.  Thank you for popping by 

Take Care




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)