Thursday, 30 June 2011

Smash Bang Whallop

I was busy last evening.  To start with we had a simple supper - I wanted something tasty and light for tea as I really could not fancy much to eat.  I decided on a toasted goat's cheese salad, done on French crisp baguette and served with mixed salad leaves with a drizzle of olive oil.

I have this whizzy thing gadget with various bits and bobs that I had used perhaps once or twice but out it came last night.  I decided that I was going to have a go at making a fresh herb dressing for the salad leaves, so into the blender goblet went some snipped fresh herbs, chives, rosemary, mint, and some fresh thyme from my herb garden a dollop of olive oil and some cider vinegar salt black pepper and a clove of garlic.  It was lovely and went well with the Goats cheese salad.  OH said was too tart for him and that he wanted it sweetening but I was more than happy with it.  In the end he had a Thai dressing (bought not home made) but it has given me ideas for messing about in the future.  With whizzing everything up it went a pale gungy green.  The remnants are in the fridge to use up with another salad later in the week.

That made me think that the whizzy thing may more than pay for itself and that I really should have a short term preserves section in my fridge for using within the week rather than a longer storage life on the shelves.

However I digress, I was intent after tea on using up some Mangoes that I had.  I had decided on a Mango Chutney (not like the chutneys you get in Asian restaurants but more an English take on a Mango Chutney).  After stirring and whiling away the evening until the chutney had thickened I got it all safely bottled up on the work top  -was very pleased with myself as I had seven jars for my efforts.  I then tripped over my feet put my hands out to steady myself and ended up smashing two jars on the kitchen floor.  Not a happy bunny as sticky hot chutney and glass all over the kitchen floor.  Talk about a few choice words.

After mopping everything up and getting rid of the glass and sticky chutney I carried on tidying the kitchen up, opened a top cupboard up to put some more items away and out of the cupboard fell my cornflour box and splattered everywhere that I had just cleaned  up.  Talk about Happy Days are here again - NOT!

After tidying yet again I then retired to bed - enough was enough for one evening, but at least I have 5 jars of  chutney for the Putdown.  It tastes good too.


Monday, 27 June 2011

Apple and Rasberry Preserve

This makes about 3lb of jam and fresh or frozen rasperries can be used.  It is quite economical with the raspberries too.

1 1/4 lbs of cooking apples (prepared weight i.e. meaning already peeled and cored)
12 oz Raspberries (defrosted if frozen)
2lb preserving sugar or granulated sugar
a knob of butter

Place the prepared apples and the Raspberries into a preserving pan with 6 tablespoons of water and cook gently stirring occasionally for about 20 to 25 minutes until really soft.  When this is achieved pulp the fruit down with a potato masher or a wooden spoon.

Remove the pan from the heat then add the sugar stirring until completely dissolved then add a knob of butter to stop foaming/scum.  Bring to the boil and then boil rapidly for about 10 minutes.  Test for a set and when setting point is reached  remove the pan from the heat and remove any scum with a slotted spoon.

Pour into sterilised warm jars cover, seal and label.

Pat yourself on the back for having made some "home made raspberry and apple jam" this is one of the more versatile of jams.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

2011.06.26 My Day

Well its been a restful weekend apart from me deciding that it was about time the house was re-organised.  Well I have made a start, but its still all in a terrible muddle so it will be a work in progress until I get completely sorted.  Am having to do a bit at a time but we will get there eventually.  I have things to do and its all part of the pre-planning.

Yesterday I watched Rachel Allen's Home Cooking programmed on BBC1 where she cooked a chicken dish with a family wanting to expand their cooking repertoire.  It looked scrummy so I decided to have a go at it for tea today.  See further down for full details.

Its been a scorcher here today - far too hot the animals have been inside (I have had the windows open throughout the house) in an effort to get some fresh air in.  I have to be careful in the sun in any event, but the humidity has been intense.  I was hoping to get my washing out in the fresh air to dry but I seem to have lost my peg box so that has put paid to that for the time being until I can get some more.

One of the storage problems I have relates to my bottles and jars - OH would bin them if he had his way but its not up to him thank goodness.  I also have some beer making, cider making and wine making in mind so this afternoon I have been scrubbing bottles and jars like nobody's business.  I have collected a load of beer bottles over a period of about a year and today was their birthday. They were soked in boiling water as they have this plastic film label on the bottles which are difficult to remove otherwise.  Soaking them in the boiling water helps to get your finger under the edge to peel them off.  I then use a green scourer and washing up liquid to remove all the gunk (sticky stuff) off the bottles.  Its time consuming but a job worth doing well needs time spent on it.  Besides once all these labels are removed thats it the bottles can be used time and time again, and only need to be sterilised.  So have made a start on them I have done 10 today but have another 50 or so to do; so have decided because it is time consuming to do a few each day until I have got them all finished.

I also had some out of date jars of pickled cabbage so have emptied them washed the jars and stored the jars as I will need these in the next few weeks as I have lots planned.  I hold onto my jars where I can.  Even if I give preserves away I always ask for the jars back.

Anyway back to the recipe from Rachel Allen's Home Cooking programme.  I googled this and found the recipe on

My camera still is not working so no pictures from me I am afraid but there is a picture on the link.
Well I followed the recipe and we have had it for our tea tonight.  Its more of a cobbler (I havn't had one of these before).  I am not keen on suet dumplings, but these "scones/dumplings" were delicious.  In fact the whole dish was delicious.

I had never dissected a chicken completely before, but I have done now and it was more straightforward than I feared it would be.  In fact I was quite chuffed with myself now I have got over that hurdle.  If you watch the repeat of the programme for yesterday it shows you how to do it.
I also added a leek to the ingredients.  I did not have buttermilk so I used a mixture of milk and plain yogurt mixed together to make the "scones".  These were the only alterations I made to the recipe.

I would definitely make this again, however I would add more liquid so that there is more gravy.  This recipe is going into my repertoire, and in fact after printing the recipe off I have laminated it for further use.  OH was quite taken with it as well

Have a lot to do still I do not know where this weekend has got to.  Have some yogurt to make yet.

Hope you have a lovely evening wherever you may be.  Catch you all later.


Catch you all later.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Morello Cherry Jam

 Cherries are in season and quite readily available at the shops at the moment and I thought I would share this recipe with you its really delicious.  Makes approximately 2 1/2 lb of jam.  Unfortunately I have lost all my cherries this year to the dratted pigeons so I will have to use some out of the freezer or buy some more.  I have made this before and it is delish.  I hope you like it just as much as I do.

2lb Morello cherries stoned
 (keep a few of the cherry kernels)
2tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2lb preserving or granulated sugar
a knob of butter
2tablespoon of Kirsch (optional)

Put the cherries, kernels (crack cherry stones with a nutcracker to remove the hard outer shell it is the soft almond flavour kernel that needs to be added here not the hard bit) and lemon juice into a pan with 6 tablespoons of water and cook very gently for about 30  minutes until really soft.  Stir every so often to prevent sticking.

Remove the pan from the heat add the sugar  pop back on the heat and stir until  the sugar is dissolved then add the knob of butter - this helps dissipate the scum which tends to appear with this jam, and so make a better looking preserve. 

Bring the jam to the boil and boil rapidly for about 25 minutes keep stirring frequently.  Test for a set and as soon as setting point is reached remove the pan from the heat and remove any scum with a slotted spoon.  Leave to stand for about 15 minutes to prevent the fruit from floating on the top then stir in the Kirsch if adding.  Pour into clean warm sterilised jars cover and seal label when cold.

This preserve tastes very "almondy" when made but it is lovely on fresh croissants or thick cut toast spread with butter.  Would also make a lovely filling for a swiss roll.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


On a serious note, I have recently found out that another good friend is now suffering from Breast Cancer.  I am not sure what to do for the best to help and support her - all I can do is be there if she needs me - this is a horrible disease that strikes right at the heart of that persons own individuality, often leaving physical as well as emotional scars.  But each one of us can help by paying a visit to this site

on a daily basis.  Please would you take the time and effort, once a day, to help raise funds for more mammagrams to take place so that this horrible disease can be stopped at the earliest possible time.  A simple click a day - the simplest of actions that can mean so much to so many.

Thank you from my heart


Sunday, 19 June 2011

2011.06.19 My Day

A quiet day in preparation for returning to the hurly burley of work tomorrow.

First of all we popped over to see my mum; it was her birthday on Wednesday whilst we were away on holiday and although I had sent her a card which had arrived in time- it wasn't the same as seeing her on her special day, but from all accounts she had a lovely day with my uncle and aunt coming over and spending the day with her as well as my brother and his family popping in to see her after work.  I had a basket of flowers made up for her at our Veg shop and we spent a good hour or more with her before coming away and then taking Missy out for a long walk - well not exactly a walk she runs at full pelt when let off her lead leaving us dawdling behind.

I then pottered around on the computer for a little while made something to eat and then started getting tea ready. We had roast chicken stuffed with home made herb butter and garlic and then slipped between the skin and the breast.  Served with spring cabbage, new potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and peas,  home made yorkshire puddings with lashings of gravy and followed by fresh English strawberries and cream for pudding -I must say it was very tasty.

Since then have been over to see my friend who babysat Squeak for me whilst on holiday. She had asked me to pop over for half an hour and when I got there asked me if I would sort her hair out and re-colour it.  Whilst I had been away she had had her hair cut and the girl (not her normal hairdresser) had made a right mess of it and it is far shorter than she is used to having, but the colour has come out well although initially I thought they had put the wrong colour in the box as it looked as thought it was going to be bright red.  Heart attack and plenty of water later all is well and she is now a medium blonde and it looks lovely on her.  She was chuffed,  So good deed for the day over.

When I returned there was an anxious Jack Russell waiting for me on the windowsill in the front room.  Apparently she had come down as soon as I left the house and had waited patiently for me until I returned.  She hates any of us going out and got all excited when I returned.  Squeak is currently sitting by me on the settee - she hasn't let me out of her sight since I came back off holiday.

Now just have to sort the kitchen out and get my clothes ready in readiness for returning to work tomorrow.  Have a lot to do this week as I intend to attack the dining room and get that sorted out as much as I can as well as carry on with my crotchet blanket - I am determined this is going to be finished this year; I have so much to do and I want to get as much completed as I can.

I hope all of you have had a good day wherever you may be.

Catch up soon

Take care



Saturday, 18 June 2011

2011.06.18 My Day

Its been a busy day as I have had the washing machine on getting all the clothes we wore on holiday cleaned and then dried in readiness for ironing later on.  Want to have all this done before I go back to work on Monday. Do not want a heaving ironing pile leering at me.Quite off-putting and intimidating.  I hate ironing, but I always make sure I do it properly - it is a discipline for me doing something I don't particularly like doing, its the standing that gets me but I cannot sit down to iron.

I also checked on my plants in my mini greenhouses and fed and watered them.  Have some sorting out to do tomorrow and also some more seeds to sow - but that is for tomorrow, something to absorb myself in.  But I have a horseradish root that has grown leaves so am well chuffed and the three tayberries and the gooseberries are also doing well.

Today I got back into the old routine - I wasn't intending to but I ended up buying lots of fresh fruit from the veg shop.  I bought two punnets of English Strawberries, some yellow pepper and courgettes, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, onions, mangoes, and more mangoes cherry tomatoes and raspberries.  The courgettes will get used in a chutney and the pepper prepared and then frozen for the freezer.  The cherry tomatoes are going to be bottled in brine for use in the winter months - I love cherry tomatoes - I also intend to freeze a load as well as I serve them with a big fry up.  The raspberries are going to be made into the first of this year's raspberry jam - I love raspberry jam its especially lovely in a home made swiss roll or victoria sandwich cake or on hotly buttered toast.  The mangoes are going to be turned into mango and chilli jam and mango chutney respectively and mango and chilli dipping sauce.  OH has become quite partial to curries and poppadoms and dips/chutneys/raitas.

The cherry tree is also heavily laden and I am hoping that we get the cherries rather than the birds - will put OH on the alert against the birds this week, so if successful I think I am going to be busy here too.  Then of course there are the elderflowers to use so am going to be busy busy busy.

Squeak has also taken a fancy to my blanket and has also parked herself on it whilst working some more rows this evening.  She has hardly let me out of her sight since I came home.  She was looked after by my friend whilst I was away so she was safe and cared for, but she is very much my cat and even OH doesn't see her very often when I am at work as she only tends to put in an appearance when I come home of an evening.  Its nice to be popular.

We have roast chicken tomorrow evening - not quite sure what I am going to do with it at this stage, but there are a lot of herbs in the border.

Am going to get on with a little more crotcheting so will catch up soon.

Take care



The Wanderer Returns

Hi everyone

Sorry have been missing for a while - life sort of got in the way  and then there were all the preparations to put in hand before we went away up to Geoff's sister and her partner's holiday home near Dumfries where I have thoroughly chilled out.  We have been in good company, where when there were no words to speak the silence was still companiable and not at all uncomfortable.

I have found myself in beautiful  quiet countryside, no computer, television or mobile phone in sight.  We have all been wrapped up in our own little bubbles and I have found retreat in the stillness and the beauty of the countryside although as we all know the countryside has a quietness all of its own. Walking up hills, (getting out of puff after all we live in Fenland where there are no hills as such just little bumps) through gladed dense forests where light somehow penetrates and life subsists.  Walking amiably with three dogs in tow and just following where our feet took us through woods up hills, by hidden woodland pools, deer tracks foxgloves and a myriad of other wildflowers nestling in the hedgerows and being surrounded on occasions by the dreaded midges.  I feel calm and restored and rejuvenated - that holiday was so sorely needed by me and my inner self, ready to face what may come in the next few weeks, and months and years and the unwritten blank page, still to be written.  The wheel is moving on ever forwards taking us all with it - even if we fight things.

The weather has been mixed for the first part it wasn't too bad but in the latter days it rained and rained, but even the rain has a soothing repetitive sound when drumming overnight on the holiday home roof.  The skies have been very light hardly getting dark at all  - all this gone midnight - and there are mainly clear skies where you can see the stars and feel that if you reach up with your hand you would be able to pick the stars out of the sky and cradle them in your hand - metaphorically speaking of course.  All sorts of wildlife including owls could be heard by night.  The site where we were had hardly anyone on it

OH and his sister and her partner have been fishing - my back was uncomfortable so I just watched, and read and was just there.  My face has been belted by the sun and I am now sporting a peeling nose as it got so hot on one of the days the others fished - I hadn't really realised just how hot it was and being fair I burn too easily.  Fortunately I had some Aloe Vera with me which took the sting out of my face.  In one of the places at The Drum lake there is a shed complete with three swallow nests inside - one complete with four babies - mum and dad came and went as we sat in the shed out of the wind feeding their brood  irrespective of the fact that there were humans where they shouldn't be but parenting came first and the chicks were fed and nurtured despite us - nature is a wonderful thing.

I took my camera with me but unfortunately it is a tad poorly at the moment - something wrong with the screen.  Will have to see if we can get it sorted in due course.  I love having the use of the camera at my fingertips and so hate it when I do not have the use of it.

Another day we went to the sea - we let the dogs run on the near empty beach and they had fun.  To make life even more interesting we believe that there had been a rough night at sea the night before as there were loads of extremely large jelly fish on the tideline - large blobs of jelly  - have never seen them that large before.

It has been a wonderful break, and as we trundled home we came across all sorts of travellers embarking on their summer holidays heading south, caravans in tow and I felt a little sad that my holiday was over but wished them joy that theirs was just beginning.

Missy has had a whale of a time as she gets on well with Alfie and Lottie - Chris' two Cavalier King Charles spaniels.  She has been very quiet today - missing her partners in crime and she has been sticking close to me most of the day as a result until the next time. 

Whilst I have been away I have managed to do about 10 inches further to my rainbow blanket  which I am pleased about even when some of the time a little Jack Russel has firmly snuggled herself up into it despite me wanting to be on the bit she had just sat on.  I can see I am going to have to make her another snuggle blanket  - she is not having my rainbow blanket.  I am well over half way with this now so I am going to bring this to the forefront and concentrate on this in the evenings when I get home from work.  I would love to get this finished this year if at all possible.

Its been a good holiday - thank you Chrissy and Nick - its been great.  Hopefully will see you soon.

Catch up again shortly.  Till 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)