Saturday, 30 April 2011

2011.04.30 My Day

Its been a lovely bright and breezy day here in Peterborough and a busy one to boot.  First port of call was the butchers.  We use Willowbrook Farm at Helpston for the best part as they support the rarer breeds and the meat although not cheap is so full proper meat full of flavour.  They have "specials" on a regular basis and we went for one of their offers today.  

For those of you interested they have a web site

This is the pack we have gone for this time round.
The Willow Brook Farm Eat For A Week  -  Premium Pack
1.5lb Mince Beef
1lb Pork Sausage
1lb Diced Beef
4 x Rib Eye/Rump Steak (they are larger than the palm of my hand and the best steak for eating - forget fillet these are wonderful)
1 x 2lb joint of Beef/Lamb/Pork (we chose lamb)
4 x Chicken Portions
1 x Home-made Meat Pie - steak and onion (standard size but we paid extra for the larger one)
8 Rashers of Back Bacon (their bacon especially smoked is smashing)
Only £39.99   

They also have further offers inside on the chalk boards which are well worth a look. and are shortly to start a delivery service.  We have also spent a little more money on other bits and bobs, such as sausagemeat for home made sausage rolls, cheese, haslet, Asparagus, eggs etc.etc. So there is quite a choice for meals over the coming weeks.

We have had chicken kebabs mid-day for lunch bought already made up and they were thoroughly delish served with chilli sauce and they were extremely tasty (I usually do these myself ) but for the sake of quickness.

Since then however I have stripped the  pantry fridge out (I have a fridge in the pantry and one in the kitchen) and given it a good clean out using the steam cleaner and it did this brilliantly.  I shall not hesitate in using it again for the fridge.  I have also packed some of the meat like the rib eye steaks, chicken portions, etc. into the large deep freezer, packaged into portions for ease of use.

I have also been pottering in the garden this afternoon, although I did not get any more seeds sown.  Will hopefully get some more done tomorrow.

This evening we having had home made sticky ribs for tea (like we had the other week.)  I promised pictures and yet again the battery is flat on the camera, so if we have these again I will make sure that some photos are posted. They were scrummy.  These are a particular favourite.  This time round though we used some of my home-made chinese plum sauce too in the mix together with my homemade ketchup. We play around with what we have in the house if we haven't got the exact ingredients to hand and use something similar.  It creates some interesting combinations, but that is partly what cooking is about.

I have a ham hock to cook up later for sarnies during the week, which will also I am hoping produce a lovely light stock that can be frozen down  for gravies and soup. Tomorrow for a change we are not having a roast, but are going to have some Chicken Kiev's.  Not sure what to put with them yet, but hopefully am popping into Lidl's tomorrow morning so may pick up some salad amongst some other bits and bobs I need.

I am also hoping to take Missy for a long walk; I have missed my long walks of late  and I want to poke around the hedgerows to see what I can find.  Particularly looking for nettles as have some recipes I want to try out.  Last year I didn't get to make my nettle wine in the end, so this year I am hoping to get at least a couple of gallons made.  This is really a lovely light sweet wine.  I also want to have a go at making some nettle pasta and also nettle pesto.  Will have to see what I can find. 

Catch you all later



Plant Wish List

Rosemary Bushes
Lavender Bushes
2 Standard Rosemary plants
2 Standard Lavender Bushes
2 Standard Margeurites
Yellow Raspberry Canes
Autumn Bliss Rasberry Canes
Plum tree
Pear tree
Apple trees
Peach tree
Apricot tree
Lemon Verbena
David Austen Roses - climbers and bushes
Lily of the Valley
Grape Vines red and white
Virginia Creeper
Japonica bushes

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Sap is Rising

The sap is rising I always feel it this time of year, I want to get out and about doing things, being places and meeting up with friends.  There is no longer any time constraints on my time of an evening, I often work later at this time of year because it is oh so much lighter whereas in the winter months I tend to hibernate, still doing stuff but staying closeted in the house in the warm.  If I had a fire it would be next to the fire, listening to the hissing and crackling as the fire finds its way through the wood or fir cones. I love a proper fire.

There's nothing nicer at this time of year than to get your hands stuck into the black soil, getting it all stuck under your nails in the name of growing food for the table.  It helps me reconnect, makes me realise what I am missing on a day to day basis (am stuck in an office most days) but certainly helps me realise what season it is and grounds and calms me, soothes the inner me and helps provide bits and bobs to supplement the shopping basket.  Its what we all should be doing really getting back to brass tacks, and growing a bit to help cut down on food miles and take advantage of a precious bit of soil to grow something in.

I have also started a compost heap,and in time that will be used to feed the soil and grow more plants, but it is something started now that that will reap dividends in the future.  So I am sowing different types of seeds too, preparing a strong footing for that yet to come.

We went to fetch more compost this morning as I only had a little left over from last year, three sacks so far.  (Hopefully I will be self-sufficient by next year) Fetched it from a local small garden centre, and whilst there I had a really good mosey round.  First outing to a garden centre so far this year,  but they had a lot of fruit trees, and plants as well as the usual tomatoes, lettuce and pre-planted seeds to save time for those in a hurry.  But they had a peach and an apricot, some plums and some apples.    I do so love trees, especially fruit trees like apples plums pears, although I would like some nut trees too.  I just wish I had a bigger garden so that I could buy some and have a little more variety.  Hopefully I will be going back at the end of the week to have another look and possibly buy a couple of plants.

I have been busy planting seeds most of the afternoon [Please see seed/plant log for further details],  The day has been pleasant but the wind is up a tad and I will soon have to put a top on of some description as it is getting chillier.  The plants  and seeds are wrapped up warm in their houses.

There is something so satisfying of having my fingers in the soil.  I am like an overgrown kid who has never got out of the habit of making mud pies.   But I still get covered in it, and if I end up accidentally wiping my face with my hand or pushing my hair back I end up a bit more soiled than anticipated. I am very lucky that I was taught to grow things and encouraged and given my own bit of garden from a very early age.  I think all children should be shown how to cultivate plants.  You never know when you are going to need to do something like that.  I gave my step-daughter the bug for growing things too. 

The best thing is if you have friends who grow things because you can end up playing swopsies which is a cheap way of acquiring plants.  I always end up setting a few more than I anticipated.

Well that's it for today in the garden, everything is watered up I now have to get myself into gear for going back to work tomorrow.

Take care wherever you are



Seed/Plant Log 2011

This is just by way of an aide memoire as a record of the seeds I have sown so far this year. and plants planted.  I also thought it could play double duty as when I come to replace the seeds I will have a ready made list of the ones I have used.  Sheer laziness on my part really, but it all goes towards the collective record at the end of the day and the plotting planning and organisation.

I like growing things from seed - probably it is the nurture factor that flows strong in me, but I like my little seedlings to get as much care as I can lavish on them.  I am the same with people too.

It hasn't been helped by the fact that I have been to a garden centre today and seen all sorts of lovely plants and bits and bobs, which unfortunately my pocket will not run too at present.  But one day. I am particularly fond of lavender, but in the garden centre they were selling round planters with lavender in for £20.  Think will look for some seed and see if I can get some going for next year.

Anyway here is the list so far

20 sets red rooster
10 sets Charlotte
 3 Tayberry Plants
 6 Gooseberry Bushes
20 Florence Strawberry Plants
2 Horseradish
16   Asparagus
1 Mint Chocolate Mint
4 Red Champagne Rhubarb crowns
1 Further Rhubarb plant

Tutti Frutti Mixed Nasturtiums
Pot Marigold
Canterbury Bells
Sweet Peas Old Spice
Parsley Moss Curled
Garlic Chives
Basil Sweet Genovese
Italian Plain leafed parsley
Clary Sage
Lemon Balm
Lemon Grass
Lemon Basil
Winter Savory
Summer Savory

Cabbage Golden Acre
Italian Calabrese
Marrow F1 Tiger Cross
Baby Bear Pumpkin
Gherkin - Cornichon de Paris
Courgette All Green Bush
Tomato Italia
Tomato Golden Sunrise
Yellow Courgette Parador F1 hybrid
Sunburst Pattypan Squash
Scarlet Emperor Runner Bean
Salad Bowl green lettuce
Cucumber F1 Aramon
Cape Gooseberries

And I am not finished yet - I can but try.  Will update again soon.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

2011.04.24 My Day

Well its been a lovely day today; I didn't get up very early being extremely stiff after having to lie very still during the MRI scan it was very nice to sprawl.  

During the day we have done some more work to the computer/craft room having taken a full set of full size filing cabinets upstairs in which to store some of my bits and bobs as well as general household filing.

After that I have done some more work on the border in the garden then had to rest up again as my back was playing up.  So I came in for a while and got lost in the magic of the film Mary Poppins.  The first and only time I had seen it was as a small child.  Its nice to lose oneself in fantasy now and then. It helps the everyday more bearable.

I then watered up the plants and borders and then came in and put tea on. We had Roast Lamb studded with garlic and fresh Rosemary - it was absolutely delcious, and is extremely easy to achieve.  See full recipe for further details.

But here are some pictures of the finished results

The Meat
 The Roasties
 The Plated up meal

 It was absolutely scrummy.  And to wash it down had a home made shandy from Black Sheep Ale with lemonade.

Hope you all had a good day too.

Take care




Roast Lamb Studded with Garlic and Rosemary

This is a very tasty way of cooking a joint of lamb, it gives the meat a whole new depth of flavour and is one of my favourite ways of cooking lamb as I love garlic and rosemary.

It sounds complicated - it isn't.  

  1. You basically take your joint of lamb (for studding with the garlic and Rosemary I tend to use a leg of lamb).  You take a couple of cloves of garlic, peel them and if the clove is a thick in depth cut into a couple or three slices and then slice in half again.   
  2. Using a sharp knife stick this firmly into the thick of the meat  following the grain/length of the meat and then wriggle it about until the cut is deep enough for the garlic stick/wedge to be inserted into the meat so it sits flush with the surface of the meat - continue through the joint like this. [see photo]

   3.   Pick fresh Rosemary if you can and put a couple of leaves of Rosemary into the slit 
         with the garlic (you can use dried but I think personally the fresh is far superior).   
         Pop into a roasting tin.   

   4.   Rub the top of the joint with some olive oil and massage in well you don't need much  
         just enough to make sure it does not burn. 

   5.   Put a drop of water into the bottom of the pan, this will form your stock for your gravy.

   6.   Put a lid of foil to cover and keep the meat nice and tender and stop the garlic and 
         rosemary burning - this is important as if the garlic burns it will ruin the joint.

    7.  Cook on gas mark 4.  Check halfway through and turn the meat pan around.  When 
         the meat is done it will go a lovely goldeny brown colour.  If the top of the meat is  
         not the colour you require you can leave it out of the foil for a little while and cook until 
         you are happy with it.  It usually takes me 2 1/2 to 3 hours cooking this way

Use the stock in the bottom of the tin to form the basis of your gravy.  Removing or skimming any excess fat off.

Serve with a selection of vegetables and gravy but most of all enjoy!

The Meat Safe

I am hanging my nose over one of these:

What is it you say - an old fashioned meat safe -  (a more upmarket one than my nan had hers was wood this ones made of metalwhere) literally your meat used to be stored  in a meat safe like this but more normally a wooden version in a cold larder.  They didn't have deep freezes in those days.  Block ice used to be delivered once a week - no mod cons like we have today.  But meat safes served their purpose.  I remember my Aunty using one on a regular basis as did my grandmother.  The fine mesh on the front was to keep away flies.  In fact my Nan still had her red and white meat safe in the pantry when she passed. Remember in those days there was no central heating and what heating most houses was, was either provided by a large range cooker if you were lucky enough or a coal fire.

I quite fancy one to use as a store of a kind within a larger larder or pantry[ - note to oneself must acquire the larger pantry first]. Absolute necessity as it would not squeeze into my current pantry.   I have a small soft cheese Fromagerie, but as we love cheese and don't really like storing it in the fridge this would be ideal for the harder variety of cheeses.

On a browse around the Internet I found this article with a how to tutorial on how to build your own.  Might we worth keeping for future use.

My Nan always kept the milk chilled in a big panchion with a brick or bricks in the bottom on which to stand the bottles and keep them immersed in cold water.  Made it last a lot longer. The other thing she used to do as the cream was always on the top of the milk was to tip the cream off into a separate pot in the fridge and then whip it up to serve with fruit and cream.  Saved forking out for a separate pot of cream.  We very rarely get milk like that today apart from on Jersey cream as the cream is mixed in with the rest of the milk. 

There are lots of things that were used in common practice in those days, which are now no longer used and have been replaced by a newer piece of machinery as in the case of the washing machine which replaced a hot water copper water soaking butt, or butts dolly peg, scrubbing board and mangle.  I think we are very lucky, but some things still have a part to play, especially in these cash strapped times.

One day!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

2011.04.23 My Day Part 2

After leaving the workshop this afternoon I came home and had something to eat.  It has been a beautiful day hot and sunny its lovely we have some really good weather at long last.  I have been a bit anxious and nervous about the MRI scan bearing in mind OH's experience at Addenbrookes quite a few years ago.  I arrived in good time at the New City Hospital.  OH dropped me off and left me to it.  The new hospital is impressive and clean, with a myriad of little corridors off a central corridor, but I soon found my to the Diagnostic Imaging Department.  I did get a tad worried though when I saw the sign for the Nuclear Department!  I went in about 6.05 p.m. and didn't get out until 7.30 p.m.  I was the last patient of the day.  I had to stay still which I did not find very easy but witht he help of a cushion they made me comfortable and slid me into the machine.  It is a tight fit, and it does get warm inside, but I was given a hand button and they do speak to you on a speaker system and check regularly that everything is okay.  They also give you earplugs which are an essential as even with them you can still hear a heck of a clunk from the machine.  I used a meditation technique and also a visualisation technique to control my feelings, I was starting to get a little anxious at the length of time I was in the scanner, but managed to keep myself calm.  

Needless to say I was very glad when it was time to get out, but my hips and legs had stiffened up in the process and it took me a little while to get going again.  The scan wasn't as bad as I thought it would be apart from being set in the one position, but then they scanned my hips, pelvis and back. But its a job well done I just have to wait for the results now.  I rang OH and he came and fetched me.  I then had a large cup of strong sweet tea and for the rest of the evening have watched a little TV, prepared a couple of emails and a couple of posts and just chilled on my own downstairs.

I have also played catch up with my mum by telephone.  I had trouble getting through to her on the phone, but it would appear that she had been speaking to one of her younger brother's who lives in Lincoln.  At the time they were having torrential rain and a massive thunder and lightning storm.  They are only about an hour or so away.  I wonder if we will get it?  We need the rain.

I Reassured Mum that I was okay.  Mum is going to my brother and his family tomorrow for dinner and spending the day with them.  I am hoping to get into the garden to do some more tidying up tomorrow and at some point I have a leg of lamb to cook for dinner [will probably stud it with garlic and rosemary - one of my favourite ways of cooking lamb].  Have a lot to do in any event.

Take care and have a lovely Easter.
Will play catch up soon.



2011.04.23 My Day Part 1

Today has been a lovely day - I have been on a workshop with my friend and mentor Jacqueline Lesley  re Angelic Connections in Mediumship.  The workshop has been very good and I have met some old friends and made some new friends too.  I have always believed that there is an Angel or Angels watching over us .  Angels are spirits who have never walked the earth, who are always with us and will help us out when we are having difficult times, if we ask for assistance, quietly in our minds eye.  There is no need to make a song a dance about it, just quietly pray and request what you are aiming for.  Angels are always there, are non judgmental, loving and give us the support that sometimes through no fault of our own only they can fulfil.

There are also Earth Angels, people who are pure of heart and will help anyone and everyone who crosses their path.  The workshop consisted of a few deep meditations and then an opportunity to practice mediumship with the assistance of our Guardian Angels.  It was a very good workshop which I thoroughly enjoyed.  During the course of the workshop I was introduced to this short piece of work, which I found inspiring I hope you do too. Unfortunately I don't know who wrote it - I wish I did so that I could give them the appropriate recognition as it is a lovely piece of work.  I hope you gain something from it soon.

An Angel Prayer for You

You have a angel whose wishes consist of such wonderful things for you!  May you have a day whose moments unfold with peace, with promise, with doors that open on new beginnings, and with windows that look out on a world filled with dreams waiting to come true.

May today not only be a day of duty done and life's battles won; may it be a time of joy, of laughter, of memories made and faith renewed.  May it be a time when feelings of closeness are sweetly conveyed, when truths are spoken, when smiles appear, and when you just know, warm within your heart, that your angel is always near.

May today be a sweet success.  Not in the form of furnishings and wealth, but in the much more dear and valuable ways: good friends, good feelings, good health.  May you and the loved ones in the circle of your life always know the treasure of togetherness.

May a gentle gladness remind you that there is never too little time to strive or too little strength to climb.  May your joys be everlasting and your beliefs stay steady and deep and true.

And as each day comes full circle, and the quiet times of reflection bring an evening of serenity, may a distance dream find you, and lovingly remind you that you have an angel who will always keep a close watch over you.

I hope you get as much out of these words as I have.

Its been a lovely mediatitive day and reading the above has helped calm me down as I have the MRI Scan later on and will have to leave shortly.

Catch you all later



Meet Tiddles

Well since I saw him last Tuesday Pickles has turned into Tiddles and I hope you will agree he is just absolutely gorgeous.  Serious kitten envy here, but that is where it will have to stay at the moment.  

 With his Mum

 Hugging my wrist

 Time for bed.

He is just adorable don't you think.   Ahh

Friday, 22 April 2011

Well I have spent the most delightful afternoon pottering on and off in the garden.  Have been weeding the herb border, sorting the pots out, watering up, planting Scarlet Emperor runner beans and sorting out the mini greenhouses.  The mustard and cress has sprouted, no sign of anything else yet but I am pleased to say that my three Tayberry bushes have sprouted new and extra leaves.  The roses are taking a little more encouragement but I am extremely hopeful.  I have planted up 18 Florence Strawberry plants - I have another 18 or so to do plus 8 Elvira early variety and 4 Rhubarb and 2 Horseradish plants.  The Sweet Woodruff is starting to flower in the herb border and I have found all sorts of rubbish underneath, but it is now tidy and all the rubbish bagged ready for the dustbin (that that cannot be recycled).  I have a composter at the bottom of the garden and a big bag of green waste to go into it, so that I create my own rich compost and hopefully next year won't have to buy any compost in.  Well that's the idea anyway.  Also using up green waste in this way helps keep the waste out of the dustbins.

Have had a scrat tea tonight egg and chips with sweet chilli sauce on the chips that were left.  Very tasty.  Am of to my friend's this evening.  Am taking the camera in order that I can take some photos of her little kitten.  By all accounts he has been keeping her on her toes.  But that's what kittens are for.  I do have kitten envy as he is a little cracker, but then I am a sucker for cats, anyway.

I am out tomorrow as am doing a workshop which I hope will relax me prior to me going for my MRI scan tomorrow evening. I have been told that the machine doesn't have much room for manouvreability and am a tad nervous, but am hoping to use some meditative techniques to help keep me calm.

I am a tad nervous as OH had a bad back and had to go for an MRI scan - had to go to Addenbrookes to get it done.  They put him into a tourquoise tunic I was told would be about 30 minutes - less than 5 minutes later he was back - as soon as the nurse had fed him in he had fed himself out - he is claustraphobic  - he never did have it done.  Me  - as far as I know am not claustraphobic, and I need this done as my hips and back have been absolute murder - I just can't get comfy.  Fingers crossed it will go alright.

Hope you all have a lovely Easter no matter what you may be doing.,

Take care



Afternoon All

Just popped in for a quick cup of tea - boy is it hot and lovely out there. Best of all though I am not at work until Tuesday so freedom of a sort.  I have been busy potting up some strawberry runners and will shortly be sowing some more seeds into my mini greenhouses.  A little later I am going on a rubbish search to remove as many offending items as I can, probably when the heat dies down as being fair I only have to blink and the sun has nabbed me and I don't want to be ill.  At the moment I could just do of being by the sea and paddling and searching for pretty shells on the beach.  Alas just a dream at the moment, but you never know just what's round the corner.  I have my scan tomorrow evening at the hospital - am not looking forward to that as from what I understand I have to keep completely still they are taking detailed views of my spine and my hips which should take about half an hour each from the information I have been given, so no doubt will seize up and will take some getting going after that.  But needs doing a necessary evil.

Right upwards and onwards have to make the most of this fantastic weather.

Catch up later



Monday, 18 April 2011

A Purrfect Evening

I was minding my own business quietly starting to sort some seeds out in readiness for planting up when Rat-a-tat, tat the front door went and there was Eve my friend asking for a helping hand or so I thought.  So I pottled over, as you do, and she handed me a small animal carrying case.  When I peered inside there looking up at me was the most delightful little bundle.   Eve has only just gone and acquired a kitten, a beautiful tabby kitten - she thought a little boy, but wasn't sure; handed him to me when we got into her home and said here you check, you are used to cats.  A quick peek quickly corroborated that he was indeed a little boy. That was it, he hid behind my long skirt, scaled my legs, bit my finger and then fell asleep on me.  He was gorgeous, and needless to say I have had a severe case of kitten envy.  Apparently he was one of 6 kittens, the last born of the litter, but so loving - well he fell asleep on my lap in the end.  But I seem to have a soporophic effect with cats and kittens.  When I got home, Squeak landed on my lap had a good sniff and hasn't moved far since.  She has been hogging my lap and imposing squatters rights I think.    No doubt I will see the kitten who I think is going to be called, well at the moment anyway, Pickles later on when I see Eve.  Kittens and Cats melt my heart at the best of things.  But its nice to have a cuddle and a little play; I settled him down, got him eating and drinking, all it will take now is a little time and patience and he will be more than okay.  I left Eve with instructions as to what to do, she has never had a kitten before.  But Pickles was absolutely gorgeous.  My heart melted.Needless to say the seeds will have to wait until another night for sorting.

Hope you have all had a lovely day and evening.

Catch you all soon



Sunday, 17 April 2011

Evening All

The sun has gone down gone to bed for another day - dusk is fast on its way out and the temperature has dropped after a lovely warm day and I have started to shiver.  But today has been glorious I have relaxed and spent quality time with my mum.  It has been smashing.

Mum loved the lilac, I was concerned whether she would have it in the house or not as there is a superstition about taking blossom into the house, but she had no problem with this at all.  She felt that the superstition related more to white lilac rather than the lilac lilac. During the course of the day it started to perfume the house and smelt lovely.  Mum also told me that the day I was born my father bought her a very large bunch of lilac, to the hospital where she had me; and then a few days later they went for a walk in the grounds of the house/hospital and picked a very large bunch of lily of the valley.  My birth month flower.  My mum was named June Rose, as she was born in June and just after she was born my grandfather bought my Nan a large bunch of red roses - hence the name June Rose.  So there seems to be a flower theme developing here.

We had a lovely lunch, roast pork, home made stuffing, apple sauce, yorkshire puddings, carrots broccoli cauliflower and mashed potato - yummy it was too.  It was like old times and mum certainly has not lost the knack with cooking and it was lovely to have a meal cooked for me, rather than me doing the cooking.  As mum had cooked lunch we banned her from the kitchen for a sit down and did the washing up between us. We then sat in the conservatory for a couple of hours ,chatting, reminisicing, looking at old family photographs enjoying each other's company.  Missy was impeccably behaved ; she loves going to my mum's as she can wander round the garden quite freely.  We stopped for a bit of tea before leaving shortly after 6 p.m. and were back home for about 6.45 p.m.  It really has been a lovely day.

Since being home I have been pottering about, I fetched the air dried clothes in and they smell lovely and clean.  The washing machine has been put on again, this time the boil wash and also an undie wash to do later on.  Items are soaking in a prewash for a few hours so that can do a straightforward wash.  

I have also sowed some Italian plum tomatoes and some french bean seeds.  Will do a few more tomorrow evening when I come home from workI have some more tomato seeds to set, broad beans, cucumber, aubergine, green courgettes pumpkin and marrows to set. I also need to do a bit more tidying in the herb border.

Hope you day has been as good as mine.  

Take care



Morning Peeps

What a beautiful morning it is here today the sun is shining, the birds have been singing since well early, but best of all its a different day - a blank page on which to write a different script - and best of all I had a good nights sleep.  I get cranky when I am tired.  Many apols.

The washings out  (don't like putting it out on a Sunday but I am taking advantage of the free drying) and I have been pottering in the herb border again; there's a gentle breeze at the moment its pleasant and quiet for in town.  I am enjoying the peace and quiet and just being breathing.  Relishing the peacefulness that restores the inner me and brings calm to stormy waters. Reelaxing..... Ah.  Would rather it was in the countryside as it is so much quieter than the town, but hey one day.  At least I am going to my mum's back to the village that I grew up in which although much bigger is still intrinsically very much a village.  Its strange really but we get out of town just before entering one of the bigger villages and I feel as though I am casting something aside, and something releases me. 

I have decided that I am going to ask the Doctor if he will let me learn to drive this year; it would help me get out and about under my own steam without having to rely on others and allow me the freedom to choose spontaneously rather than having to plan things in advance and as I want to live in a village  one day (more preferably a hamlet) there may well not be a bus service or transport available, so practicality on many different counts dictates that this is sensible, however it is dependent upon my Doctor.  It would be lovely to have my independence.  Will have to wait and see pipe dreams at the moment.

The Lilac is out, in full bloom and looking lovely.  My mum loves lilac and so I am going to pick a big bunch for her - it smells so delicious. Apparently my grandmother used to love Lilac too.  Something so simple, a  bloom that links the generations.

Will have to get on  - have a lovely day wherever you are and I will play catchup again soon.



Saturday, 16 April 2011

2011.04.16 My Day

Sorry about that seem to have the gremlins in the works tonight - post blogged itself before I had even finished typing it!  Ohhps-a-daisy - very sorry.

Anyway, Today has been a leisurely day as I didn't sleep too well last night - couldn't get comfortable at all, as a consequence I wasn't up very early as I crashed out when I was supposed to be getting up.  Never mind these things are sent to try us.  Have sort of concentrated on housewifely duties for the best part of the day. Deep Joy.  A necessary evil and had to get a wriggle on. There was a massive pile of washing which I had hoped to get out on the line to line dry as there is nothing nicer than the clean smell of fresh laundry, but it looks as though will have to finish it off tomorrow.  Hopefully tonight I will get a better night's sleep.  But at least the washing was started and I did get some out on the line to dry.

I have also been pottering in the garden, its been very peaceful and I enjoyed the peace and quiteI also got some of my fruit bushes potted up into pots until the spot is ready in the garden for them   I have potted up three tayberries,  together with three scented rambling roses (a pink, yellow and purple).  I have also sown some mustard and cress for salads or egg and cress sandwiches and also sown some yellow courgettes together with some pattypan squash.  I have also started sorting the herb border out as it had got badly overgrown with weeds including cleavers or goosegrass.  

I also watered up the two hydgrangea pots, the box tub, the bay tree standards, and the borders and gave all the plants including the strawberry tubs and hangers a good watering with a feed of nettle tonic to perk everything up.  Well it has been a cold winter!  They need their vitamins too!  The lemon balm, mint, feverfew, sage, Rosemary have all made it through but I have lost the Tarragon, Thymes  the Angelica (which has always set itself).  I do have a Chocolate Mint which was a pressie from my friend Alison, which is shooting well. and is lovely.  However am on the look out for several lemon verbena as the smell is just divine and makes a lovely pot pourri, but the flavour is very good too "lemony" for those of you who have not tried it yet. I love fresh herbs to go and pick and put with whatever I am cooking, the freshness and the lift they give to good simple food is delicious.

I need to get some more seeds set over the next few days, but I haven't got much compost left and will have to get some more before I can get the bulk of the seeds up and running.  I have just realised that I am further behind than I thought, mostly due to the weather being as cold as it has been. I feel the cold quite badly.  But now the lighter nights are here, I may well go into the garden straight from work to chill and do a little work to try and play catch up.  I certainly need to get some salad stuff set and sorted as well as pea shoots.  Ideally I would like lots of everything so that I can preserve a lot of it for the winter months. But we will have to wait and see what happens.

We popped to the freezer shop Farm Fresh earlier on this afternoon and I managed to get a French version of cream cheese (like Philadelphia) for about 39pence a tub.  It really is delicius and I am quite partial to this type of cheese on French stick just plain,but you can put all sorts of other goodies with it.  I really need to get the freezer sorted - doesn't look as if its going to be this weekend though, will probably be Easter weekend although I hope to do quite a bit in the garden then weather permitting.  I want to go and stock up the freezer again with lots of goodies.

I have another sack of spuds, but not the Picasso potatoes that we had before and which were a good all rounder.  This time round they are Cara.  But I didn't buy much else apart from some fruit as we are out to dinner tomorrow, courtesy of my lovely mum.  So am looking forward to that and to spending some quality time with my mum which is precious.

It looks as though its going to be another busy week this week.  I have a workshop to attend next Saturday which I am very much looking forward to.  At 6.00 p.m. next Saturday however I have to attend at the new Peterborough City hospital to have an MRI scan done.  My health has been a problem of late mainly osteoarthritis, scleroderma, Raynauds syndrome  a combination of things - soft connective tissue disorder and it has given me difficulties in walking upstairs, pain  and stiffness in my hips and lower back - don't seem to be without it at all just the degree that changes.  I have already been told I have degenerative changes in my hips from Xrays that I had taken prior to my last visit to the Consultant. But as the problems are getting worse and I am in a lot of  pain and discomfort in my back as well they have decided to do a scan before deciding what to do for the best.  I have a high pain threshold anyway, but a lot of the time it is way too much.  [Consultant told me she suspects may have a trapped nerve or nerves so want to find out what is causing it].  I have been given medication to help me get a comfortable nights sleep - as I get stiff and set and have to get up in the middle of the night, which seems to be helping; however it makes me a tad sleepy in the mornings.  So will just have to wait and see, but I hope they sort things soon.  I am 52 in May - its very frustrating dottering around like an old woman as I am not  at all old and still have a lot of living to do.  I intend to grow old disgracefully like my darling father did. Sorry for the moan  - I will get there eventually - I don't like to be beaten at anything. Not a good patient.  I always test the boundaries.  Well its not as if they give you an instruction book of what to do, how to do it and when to do it!  Rant over!  Things can only get better!

Hopefully I will be up early in the morning to get some more washing done and hung out and some more seeds set before we tottle over to see my mum.

Catch you all soon.  Take care wherever you are



Road Testing Homemade Chocolate Spread

I have been bought a new cookery book by OH  called the Super Jam Cookbook by Fraser Doherty (the Book People have it on offer at the moment £5).  ISBN No 978-0-09-193864-2 and it is a lovely little book with lots of recipes of how to use the jams and preserves at the back.  A good one for the home baker.  

I only received it last night and I have been dipping into it. There are recipes for Jams, Marmalades, Jellies, Curds, Chutneys, Special Spreads,  and Jammy Treats (cakes and buns in which to use your home made preserves) and plenty of preserve recipes which include recipes for Ginger Marmalade, summer fruit jam, peach and vanilla jam, pistachio butter, Marshmallow Fluff, Banana and Rum Curd,Coconut and Pineapple Curd, Dulche de Leche, Peanut Butter, Chilli Jam to name but a few.  

I am always  keen to see how other people come up with recipes for Jams and Preserves and how they use them and this book uses good nice and simple principles with some exotic flavourings for that something a little bit different. Some of the recipes also use fruit juice (white grape juice) instead of masses of amounts of sugar, but all the recipes give amounts for if you want to use sugar as well.  The recipes look fab and mouthwatering.

I am at low ebb again at the moment with a lot of pain and I tend to use chocolate spread (shop bought variety) as a pick me up and food for my soul for when I am having the blues or I am not firing on all pistons as I am at the moment.  (Excuse the analogy I am a Engineer/Fitters daughter after all). However, I don't think this is a recipe for a slim waistline!

I just had to try this recipe; it has been talking to me overnight,  so I just had to give it a go - even though I didn't have any hazlenuts so I have used Almonds and it is yummy.  So naughty but oh so yummy and I think it would be good spread in a chocolate cake too.  Apparently it keeps for two weeks in the fridge although to make it last longer if you add two tablespons of peanut oil or olive oil. this should extend its shelf life.   You could also potentially add a bar of chocolate instead of cocoa powder or add cream to make it even richer -  or vary the chocolate to suit your tastes.  I think white chocolate and almond would also be fab.  Sorry when it comes to food I have a meandering mind and like to consider all possibilities.  A good one for the Christmas pressie hamper to give to friends at Christmas and one that is quite quickly made.

It makes about 6 to 8 small jars.

500g hazlenuts or alternative nuts of your choice
50g butter
250g sugar
100g unsweetened cocoa powder or a bar of chocolate

 Put the hazlenuts or nuts into a food processor and blend thoroughly until smooth.

Add the butter and the sugar to the processsor along with the cocoa and blend until it is as silky smooth as you like.  If using bar chocoloate I would melt this first and then add to the processor.

Pop it all into warm sterilised jars and keep them in the fridge, since it has butter in it. and after all your effort of making it we don't want the butter to go rancid.  Enjoy within two weeks of making and try and keep the kids and big kids away from it - it is delicious.  Also you get so many more jars for your money and you know what has gone into it.  Easily made if you keep in the ingredients in the time it would have taken you to go to the shop. 

A good recipe for those with youngsters in the house, but as with everything else, use in moderation.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Lots to do little time to do it

Busy days again in the Pattypan household.  The Cherry tree in the garden is laden with cherry blossom again which speaks of a possible heavy crop of cherries. That is if I get to them before the Pigeons do.  So I need to start shifting things out of the freezer to make space and as I have a load of cherries yet to use up it looks as though I could well be scrabbling around for interesting uses for them.  I could well end up using some in jam, and wines as well as puddings, but there is an ulterior reason as I also need to get the freezer defrosted and cleaned out ready for filling up again.  The never ending seasonal chores and their familiarity in carrying them out add to a sense of fragile security  to the storecupboard with at least a promise of  meals to come.  Needless to say nothing will go to waste.    The wild plums that we gathered so many of last year also have a lot of blossom and I want to make use of anything that comes my way whether that be a freebie from natures larder or a bargain buy from the veggie shop.  Time in many respects to bring the belt in another notch or so.

I wondered round Marks and Spencers food section at dinner time - they had lots of lovely things - things that I cannot afford to buy at the moment but with a bit of planning and time I can make them myself.  In fact I intend to get myself better organised and have a baking day every so often as well as plan a meals schedule for during the week. That is something that I am not used to doing, but organised we are going to be eventually. The baking day would include making goodies for the freezer too i.e. main meals that can be readily frozen down but I need that freezer sorting fast.  For example I am getting ready for another sack of potatoes and the few I have left  rather than wasting them I will cook and mash and then freeze the mash down ready for use during the week.  Alternatively  I will use to top a cottage pie, or Shepherd's pie with lots of grated cheese on the top frozen down in metal freezer trays. (I get mine from the £ shop).  This means you eat well during the middle of the week too and have tea done fairly quickly when time is of the essence.  Cornish/Pasties, vegetable pasties, cheese and onion pasties are also good to makeThey are equally good as part of a meal or as a snack for when you are on the run so really will do double duty.

Will catch up soon

Take care until then


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)