Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Book People Offer

 On offer with the Book People at the following link £6 from £16.99 which WH Smith were selling it at.  Good buy.

Have a good mosey if you follow the link as there are some lovely books at some very good prices.

Project for the week -Introduction

As funds are short and I cannot always afford to buy what I would like each week (although I don't do  too badly in order to get a variety of things within my pantry I have decided to focus on one item per week (if I get more made it will be a bonus) but if I aim at least for one item I should be able to work my way through the considerable list of items I have decided to try this year.  Some are long standing recipes others are brand new that I have never tried before - but that is the beauty of preparing preserves for your own pantry you vary it according to your own tastes and the bonus being that you come up with something that is not commercially over produced and you know what has gone into it.

My main aim believe it or not is to relax.  I lose myself in my own little world focusing on what I am doing, but its also  a time to dream especially if standing over a pan of bubbling chutney, gently stirring so that the contents do not stick as the liquid gradually reduces and the vinegar cooks into the preserve.  Its also a good way of making sure that you use everything you buy and don't waste anything - there are loads of recipes out there. But its also a way of making sure that you and yours stay fed in the cold winter months; when you haven't got much simple things mean a lot especially in the cold winter months.

Please forgive me if I seem a tad patronising - that is not my intention at all, but I also came to the conclusion that if I was having to think about ways around things then others might be in the same boat and that perhaps it would be good to share  the knowledge I have accumulated and the knowledge that you also have to share.  Everyone has something to bring to the table old timers and newbies alike.

There may perhaps be those of you out there who would also like to make bits and bobs for your "pantry" and that you would like  to have a go at what I am making  - please feel free to join me and put things on your pantry shelf.  Some things you will make and some things you will not make again -everyone's palette is different and the type of food we eat from family to family differs too.  Some of the things you may not think you will use, I was like this to start with but have found ways to use things up quite successfully as I have gone along.  Just remember that rules are meant to be broken and that just because we have always had mint sauce with lamb doesn't mean you can't have it with something else either.  Be brave and experiment.

I intend to start with something simple  vinegar is relatively easy to work with as a started and pickled cucumber (also known as bread and butter pickles) is relatively straightforward.  Homemade pickled cucumber is far superior to that which is bought in the shops and you have the advantage of being able to adjust the spicing, which is often too strong in commercial projects. This preserve can be made throughout the year, not just at a set time as Cucumbers are readily available in this country throughout the year. although they tend to be cheaper in the summer months.  Squirrelling away food like this just. needs a little time and patience.  Why make pickled cucumber- if you have this preserve in your cupboard you can use it to pep up sandwiches, accompany any fish dishes especially salmon, either tinned or fresh; with a winter salad it just helps kick start the mundane.  I use pickled cucumber in this way with the salads and also add pickled red cabbage too.  It brightens things up on the colour front too.

So if you want to have a go at a weekly project please join me and experiment.  [the first project post is to follow shortly]  but more than anything enjoy what you are doing and it will come out in your food.  Equally if you get stuck let me know and I will try and untaffle you.


Monday, 29 August 2011

2011.08.29 My Day

Evening everyone, its been a busy day here again.  Our lodger is staying another night i.e. the grandson, his granddad is keeping him entertained so that I can get on.

I have prepared about 8 pints of sugar syrup for bottling various fruits and I have dealt with pears in syrup, clementines in syrup, apple and blackberries in syrup, have dried some more sage, done some more research, written a couple of new posts to follow shorty, fed Charlie (the cat who I am babysitting - there was no food left so think he or another cat is eating it), fussed Demetri (another stray cat who has gone partly ferrel he used to live next door until his owners moved and he found his way back I am hoping to reunite him with his original owners shorty); he tends to come to me for a fuss and turns his nose up if I offer food - he hasn't much weight on him at all and I am concerned about him being out in bad weather especially if it is as cold as last year - he usually comes to me for a  bit of a fuss and gets very vocal if he doesn't get it).

As I say its been a busy day and it isn't over yet by a long chalk.  It is a tad chilly though, getting a real nip in the air and the nights are drawing in fast.

We have had a nice tea though, what was left of the roast rib of beef with bubble and squeak made from what was left of the fresh veggies yesterday, the rest of the Yorkshire puddings and the last of the gravy.  Very nice it was too.

We basically bunged all the veg together in the food processor and gave it a couple of blasts which resulted in a nice smooth paste.  We then put spoonfuls into a frying pan in which we had fried some pancetta and cooked on both sides, very simple and good eating those that were left over are going into the freezer so that they can be used up with fried breakfasts etc.  Very yummy.

Doesn't look much but it filled the spot nicely, used up what otherwise could have been wasted food and was very tasty. Grandson had Cheese on Toast - he doesn't know what he missed.

I have also as I have said processed the  whole Clementines in syrup and also the last of the blackberries out of the garden with some Apple.  I have two jars of each so am well chuffed.  Mind you they are the larger jars.

Here's the finished bottles

And I have all this peel left over.  Quite a bit of it is going to be dried, and the rest is going to be used in the citrus cleaning vinegar experiment I have been doing which I am well chuffed with.

Well have this load of peel now to process so am going to put the television on and get cracking.

Hope you have all had a lovely day wherever you are - here's thinking of you

Catch you all again soon

Thanks for Following - I don't say it enough but I do appreciate it. 



Sunday, 28 August 2011

Today's Sunday Dinner and Pattypan's Yorkshire Puddings

Well it's been busy and I have only just sat down.  Been on the go all day doing various things.  We have a lodger overnight - the grandson has arrived and been eating us out of house and home, and he keeps popping down to see if I am okay.  He is playing games on the upstairs computer with his Granddad.

We have had a rib of roast beef for tea with roast potatoes mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, yorkshire puddings and it was scrummy.  We have had a lot of chicken in the past few weeks and for once decided to have a change.

Here is the roast just after being put in the oven.  I chopped a couple of sticks of celery and carrot and also an onion and popped some water in the base to keep it moist as this is the base of the gravy stock the rib was then popped on top and a tin foil roof put on and cooked for the first hour in this way I then take the foil off and continue cooking.

Half way through cooking

The Roasties

Preparing the patty tins with a knob of lard or in this case beef dripping and putting into a hot oven to melt Gas Mark 6

I make Yorkshire pudding by using a cup or a mug usually the mug.  I fill the mug with plain flour, then with milk and latterly eggs a mugful of each.  This will make a deep roasting tin or oblong sandwich tin full of yorkshire pudding or just over 12 individual yorkshire puddings.
I then beat with a wire whisk and combine all the ingredients until they are beaten together and the texture looks like single cream.  After preheating the fat until it is really hot I then just before I add the batter add a couple of drops of malt vinegar whip it again and then ladle or tip straight into the very hot tin.  I then pop in the oven  and don't open the door for at least 20 minutes with the tray being in the top of the oven.  Make sure there is room for the puddings or pudding to rise.

Here are my puddings they rose beautifully

And here is the cooked roasted rib - looks delicious doesn't it

I can tell you it was delicious and made very good eating - there's enough for tomorrow too - so seconds

I am now going to sit and have five minutes

Hope your day has been good too



My journey into Preserving

I suppose really bottling and preserving of any sort is one of my passions alongside anything to do with food of any type.  I started preserving in my own right when I first got married at the tender age of 19 years (quite a few years ago!). If I remember rightly it started with a passion for home made pickled onions and apple chutney.

My journey into preserving was. in many respects a continuation of a process that had been going on year in year out since I was knee high to a gnat.  A task that marked the passing of time and of the different seasons.  There was a choice, to live well or live not so well and my grandparents  out of necessity working the land meant that the food they had was good and unadulterated and that they fed their family well (and others) during difficult times.

We used to mark the seasons by the different activities and indeed we used to look forward to them as it was a way of celebrating the seasons and a time when we worked as a family in tandem.  It was only when my nan had passed and the family home was sold (it was strange not going to do the big apple pick en masse)  that I realised just exactly what we had lost and I have been trying to regain it ever since or some modicum of it.  Sometimes you have to lose what you have to learn what really is important to you.

My mum used to bottle fruit for use during the winter months; I can remember the pantry top shelves being lined with bottles and bottles of fruit namely apples, gooseberries, rhubarb, blackberries, bramble and apple and strawberries, plums, damsons.  Even at a young age I had a fascination with the top shelves of the pantry - but  they were placed there secure from prying fingers and as a preventative of broken bottles - would have been sacrilege after all the work in preparing them - all that was needed was a cold pantry to store them in.  A cave in which to store goodies to keep the wolf from the door.  This is probably where I have got my squirrelling instinct from.  And there was always ginger beer in the pantry.

My grandparents had a smallholding which was surrounded by apple trees over an acre plus  (originally 6 acres but granddad sold off the rest for £30 a plot when I was a babe in arms)- there were also plums, and pears and a soft fruit garden as well as a gigantic vegetable garden and it was thanks to the land that my family lived. - lived very well.  It was out of necessity that my Nan bottled or preserved and my grandfather did the heavy work in the garden.  My grandparents had pigs and chickens as well as the geese and ducks and my Grandad kept bees. My Nan did even more preserving than my Mum and come the end of autumn her pantry was stocked from top to bottom with just squeezable room to get by.  A meat safe was firmly esconced at the end of the pantry  Then there was all the wine and the cider that she made with demijohns scattered on any available space throughout the house usually in the conservatory and the major apple store that not  only kept the whole family going through the winter but also neighbours.  Any excess eggs  after Nan had done the weekly bake were sold to "regulars". and went towards paying for the corn to feed the chickens although they were fed on veggie scraps as well boiled up and then mixed with bran to form a mash.  During the war years and after whilst my Dad was at home he used to go rabbiting for meat for the pot and any extra was always passed on to those in need who were not quite as resourceful in getting a rabbit.  It just used to be left on the door of the lucky recipient .  

My grandparents very rarely went shopping apart from the market once a week and clothes were made where needed - my Nan was always doing something there was always the sewing maching on the go, a clippy rug in progress and her knitting needles  with a jumper vest or cardigan or a pair of socks on the go.   In later years not being able to afford a new three piece suite she completely re-upholsteredI  her existing one (which was originally my mum and dads).and made lovely floral slip covers to "smarten it up".  Nan was the sort who could make a meal out of virtually nothing too.   They lived an "organic" life before organic became fashionable.  They just worked the land naturally with love and respect.

So against this background I suppose it was only natural that I followed on in their footsteps well trod.  I mastered the pickling, the jam making and making chutney, but I was terrified of the bottling - it seemed complicated but its not really once you get used to it.   There are still forms of preserving I have yet to tackle I am in particular thinking of a dryer and also a canner, but these will come in time - along with the bigger kitchen and the bigger pantry. Everything has its season and place and what goes around comes around.

Bearing in mind my own tentative steps and how unsure I was when I first started, I thought that there may well be more of you out there who wanted to do more but hadn't got a clue how to go about it.  I thought I might therefore do a few posts on how to make things by different basic methods to give you a few more things for your cupboards or your pantry.  It might also encourage you newbies to have a go and get into the swing of "putting things down" for your family.  Its a good habit to get into and one that every housewife in the country would have done as a matter of course many years ago.  Not sure whether you want to do some of the recipes or that you will like them go and buy a jar of something you have never tried before, decide whether you like it or not and if you do look round for a similar recipe and take it from there.  Each time you make something you will understand the recipe that bit more and will find quicker ways around things, however there are a few basic rules that should be adhered to at all times, these I will post up separately.

I hope that this assists, but also gives you a greater understanding and love of food in the long run.


Update on the Lemon Vinegar cleaner

At the beginning of the month. I experimented with making some Lemon Vinegar Cleaner  - as per this post here  and the link on how to make it courtesy of Just Like My Nan Made.  The first jar is ready to use and I must say I am very impressed with this.  I was worried that the house was going to smell of vinegar, but no such thing, just citrusy - and fresh.  I have used some to clean the cooker - it is an excellent degreaser and also some in boiling water to wash my dressers down and I am very pleased.  It also works well in the bathroom. So thank you Nelly Mary for sharing.  I am really well chuffed with this so much so it is going to feature regularly on my cleaning itinerary.  

There is nothing nicer than a clean fresh smelling home.  It  is pleasing that something so simple can really be so effective.  So much so it has inspired me to have a go at some other recipes I have come across, one for cleaning brass and copper which uses flour vinegar and salt, one that uses tomato Ketchup for the same purpose.

But I have also decided that I would quite like to have a go at making my own household soap.  I am hoping to have a go at this whilst I am off on holiday, and have been researching the process and some simple recipes.  I quite like the sound of a  lavender soap for starters. I have been gathering some items together for a little while now including utensils just for soapmaking.  I also intend to make a few knitted cotton flannels too for my own use.

I would liketo have a go at making some polish too, but haven't been able to locate any turpentine, only the turpentine replacement.   I have a lot of solid wood furniture which I regularly polish with the bought beeswax. Does anyone know where I could get hold of this please in the UK?

All out of white vinegar and waste peels.  One way to get your money's worth out of a lemon.  I leave it on my kitchen windowsill to cure!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

2011.08.27 My Day

Its been a busy one.  I was up early and pottering about, took a leisurely pace, had a couple of cups of tea, read some articles, waited for someone to call at the house before we departed to go on the monthly stock up.  No supermarket involved here.

First of all we took Missy for a quick run and also to see whether there were any more puffballs.  There wasn'tone in sight, but then again we have been picking early and we think that the weather may have been too dry for many to develop; now the weather is getting more autumny we may have more luck.  The season and the month are all out of kilter at the moment, Victoria plums are early, everything seems earlier than usual, makes me wonder whether we are going to have yet another very bad winter.  I hope not as the past two have been bad enough, but I am stocking up here and there as I can so that we have plenty to eat.  With the weather going all autumny on us I am starting to think of cooking more substantial meals like toad in the hole with mashed potato and lashings of onion gravy followed by a blackberry and apple pie with custard.

We then went on to the Butchers.  I love going shopping at the butchers, what I end up going for I usually end up with plus a bit more.  We have developed a good rapport with the staff  too which makes all the difference.  Have come away with a 1lb smoked back bacon, 1lb streaky bacon plain, 1lb chipolatas, 1lb gloucester old spot sausages, some thicker bits of streaky very like pancetta, well that's how I will be using it, will be delightful with roasted potatoes, onion, garlic,and perhaps some mushroom cooked in the oven.  I am starting to drool already, 5lb Mince for £11, in 1lb packs which gives us the freedom on how to ulitise it probably with cottage pie and lasagne. 5 rib eye steaks, for £17.50 (each steak bigger than my hand) some chicken done in garlic butter which is wonderful, half a very large haslet oh and a rib of beef for Sunday lunch - now that I am looking forward too. A tray of eggs, some horseradish sauce, cannot have a rib of beef without horseradish, and some black pudding, a hock bone for Missy[ which has since been cooked  for her to get stuck into]and two cornish style pasties which were absolutely scrummy and very tasty - well I thought so OH not too keen but it was very much traditional cooking and I loved them.  Oh and yes I bought three tubs of beef dripping too for general cooking.

On coming out of the Butchers, there is a walk to the side over the farm so we took Missy for a little way and found a Damson tree which is very much farm land.  We scrumped a couple of damsons each and oh they were lovely nice and dark with a lovely yellow flesh.    Would love to be able to locate a spot for damsons but at the moment these don't fall into my foraging list.  There wasn't many on the tree and with them being on the farm, which after all is a thriving business I did not like to enquire.  Will have to look out for some elsewhere, but I was also looking out for blackberries think we may be going blackberrying tomorrow as I have located another spot that is near some sloes. I would like some more for bottling and I have also promised that I would get my mum some too.

Having got the meat safely stowed into the freezer where applicable and keeping those bits out for general use like the bacon during the week I then popped over the to veggie shop and I have had another blitz.  I got a sack of potatoes, Wilja, they will have the Piccasso which we like at the end of September and no doubt we will be at least half way through the bag by then.  I think I need another net of onions which will probably get tomorrow as we are heavy going on onions they don't seem to last five minutes and with me preserving bits and bobs as I go along I soon get through them.

I bought £3 worth of pears which in weight are about 5 kg and they are the Fiorelle pears which I intend to .bottled in a sugar syrup.  Also £3 worth of clementines which are going to be bottled in the same way.  2 lots of Vine tomatoes for £2, tomato passata and also another Chilli jam recipe 4 bags of yellow and red peppers at 50 pence a bag, might pickle these, 2 red cabbage for pickled cabbage, 3 grapefruit for grapefruit curd, although in another couple of weeks when the veg shop people get back I may well put some down in syrup as I love grapefruit done this way for breakfast in the winter months and 1kg of Victoria Plums which at present are designated for some plum mincemeat.  I have plenty of apples left from last week and also know where there are load of crab apples.  I did not need to top up on the veg this week having some left over and bits in the freezer that need using up.  

The veg people are now on holiday for a fortnight; they have been feeding  a stray cat called Charlie who we think is profoundly deaf.  Like my Tyson used to do,  Charlie camps out in the veg shop and they have asked that I keep an eye on him and make sure that there is a meal down for him at night when I come home from work so I am babysitting Charlie whilst they are away.  So I came away with a load of cat food for him too!

I still need to stock up on bread flour, lard, butter and sugar, but that can be done in the next few days or so.

I have also noticed that my neighbour has lots of Japonica again so I will be asking for some of those too.

Needless to say I have lots to do again, but hey that's all part of the fun of things.

I am on holiday off work from the end of the week for seven working days not including the weekends so I intend to get as much done as I can during that period now that we are staying at home.  I would like to go to the coast for a day though and perhaps take my mum out, probably go down on the Norfolk coast and probably get a fresh crab or two will have to see how things pan out.

Hope everything has been tickety boo with you all and that you are all keeping well, working hard, happy and healthy [hugs to those of you who are in the wars]

Catch you soon



Check List of Foodie Things to Do

Its that time of year again when all the produce is coming in and you end up trying to get it all processed and saved as fast as you can.  The farmers are bringing in the grain large hay stacks are starting to rise in the fields and there are plenty of wild fruits in the hedgerow.  An abundance of things of which to take advantage of and get the pantry stock-piled a way of getting through until the next time of abundance and making sure you and yours are fed.  I have a lot to do as usual and hope to get the following done eventually some of which will be processed within hours some within days whereas others can wait until a little later.  The most pressing matters being those where I have the fresh fruits like the pears and the blackberries  and the plums and want to use them at their optimum freshness.   They are not in any specific order, just as they came to me.  Perhaps being a tad over ambitious as usual but there we go thats me a typical Taurean  - a bull in a china shop!

  1. Bottle Pears in syrup Done
  2. Bottle blackberries and apples in syrup - Done 2 large jars
  3. Bottle Whole Clementines in syrup.  - Done 2 large jars
  4. Candied Oranges
  5. Pickle Red Cabbage. Done
  6. Pickle, Pickle Onions 5kg Partially done
  7. Make Chilli Jam Done
  8. Make Chilli Dipping sauce
  9. Pickle some peppers Done
  10. Start Cider
  11. Start Lager
  12. Start Bitter
  13. Start Orange Wine
  14. Start Lemon Wine
  15. Start Ginger Beer.
  16. Start Apple Pop.
  17. Spiced Apple Curd
  18. Blackberry curd
  19. More Blackberry and apple jam
  20. Blackberry and apple chutney
  21. Blackberry relish
  22. Make Plum Mincemeat Done
  23. Make other Mincemeats
  24. Make Apple Chutney
  25. Make Ginger and Pear chutney [done]
  26. Make Grapefruit Curd.
  27. Rub the sage already dried  [done]
  28. Dry some more sage [done]
  29. Dry some thyme [done]
  30. Freeze some of the herbs out of the garden
  31. Make Passata
  32. Make some Elderberry Rob
  33. Make some Blackberry Rob
  34. Decant blackberry wine Done
  35. Make some elderberry wine
  36. Make some spiced elderberry jelly
  37. Elderberry vinegar
  38. Blackberry vinegar
  39. Elderberry and Bramble jelly
  40. Preserved Mint
  41. Mint Cordial
  42. Mint Jelly
  43. Herb Jellies
  44. Pick and dry rosehips
  45. Make rosehip syrup
  46. Make rosehip jelly
  47. Another batch of dried sage to rub and store done
  48. Make Christmas cake - September is the best month to do this as it allows the cake time to mature the same as it is good to make Mincemeat yet again allows the time to mature and make really yuymmy mincemeat
  49. Go for a walk and collect fir cones  - then give to a friend with a log fire or burner make the room smell lovely as the cones release their resinous smell - ooh lovely.  Wish I had a real fire - will do one day!
  50. Save the peels from the Clementines and the Grapefruit and do something useful with them like:
  • Dry the peel for use in casseroles  done
  • Make homemade candied peel
  • Make cleaning vinegar with the peels and white spirit vinegar done with great success

There's always something you can do, even if it is only one or two things. my lists tend to grow like Topsy, or get re-arranged - will keep updated where I can.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

2011.08.25 My Day

Its been a busy day at work and then me flying off to see the physiotherapist.  She is pleased with me and I have some more exercises to work on to try and get some more movement in my core muscles.  I have to carry on with the exercises I was given which includes the aptly named "Tom Jones" which are pelvic thrusts, (if you get my drift) Knee Hugs and slouch over correct which straightens the back out to its correct position. There are also two more exercises to add to the regime. These include double bum tucks, single bum tucks just one cheek at a time (you want to try this not as easy as it sounds) and also more pelvic floor muscle work, where I have to do  5 repetitions twice a day with a minimum hold of three breath cycles.  The aim of this exercise is not to be tough but to have an element of relaxation as this will make the muscles work much more efficiently.  This time the exercises are on my back though - I need to work on this one as this is where I am quite weak.  But Nicky has given thorough instructions and broken it down - she had me doing exercises at the clinic and has taught me the Pilates way of dealing with this particular exercise.  I am going to give it a real good shot.

I am back again in the middle of September for another upgrade and probably more exercises - I have a lot to do to build up my core muscles which are classed as weak at the moment.  I must say that the exercises that she gave me last time are very helpful with the pain and the soreness in my lower back and I think my posture is starting to improve.  So far things are looking good, but still have a lot of hard work ahead.  I am not afraid of hard work though or of looking on the positive side as the bum tucks will help define the muscles in my backside and tighten everything up - well that's the bonus - but the advantage will be tighter core muscles  - a win win situation - I like those.

We have had a very nice tea tonight, home made chips (that's twice in one week  - naughty) and scampi with bread and butter.  Scrummy it was too.  

I am doing some more tidying this evening whilst listening to the TV - I have got quite addicted to the Torchwood Miracle Day programme.  I like Dr Who too although as a Kid I used to hide behind the settee when the Daleks came on the scene - happy days.  Athough this evening I might watch this on catch up as there is a film on called the Duchess withe Keira Knightly in it that sounds quite good.

I have been informed that my (step-grandson)[grandson] is staying over this weekend that will keep his granddad occupied -  I have lots to do as usual - I intend to get to the sewing machine at some point over this bank holiday weekend.  At the end of the week from the 2nd September I am on holiday for 7 days (excluding the weekends) and I have a lot do during all the time I am off - I want to get "organised" in the house before the winter months beset us and get one or two things into place as well as trying to sort the garden out a little.  Well that's the plan whether it will be achieved or not is another matter but the intent is there will have to see how things go.  Usually something manages to get in the way.  There will no doubt be lots of preserving etc going on too.

It was cold last night I had the quilt well and truly pulled up around me, and snuggled down.  I like my comfort.  If it gets real cold the hotttie bottie will come out too. (It lives in the recess of the kitchen cupboard and is brought out seasonallly where it secludes itself like a dragon in a cave generating gentle warmth through the folds of the bedlinen.  Trouble is of a morning its freezing.  Think will have to organise some suitable covers!  Wish I could snaffle up a Rayburn or Aga for a kitchen to warm my clothes on and hurriedly get dressed like we did as kids.

The nights are starting to draw in and the air smell dampish of a morning a distinctive aroma that announces that autumn is very much upon us. It hardly seems possible as it is only August, late August yes but the year seems to be marching on quicker than usual.   People are still on their "summer holidays" - wish I was!

This morning was cold and damp and it took me longer to get kick started and the mojo going and the legs going but we got there as usual.

I have a busy day at work tomorrow as I have the monthly billing to do.

Right housework and the TV Calls.

Take care wherever you are and I hope all is well in your world. 

Catch you soon


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

2011.08.23 My Day

Its been a busy day today at work and at home and I am shattered.  Its been hectic since I got in, I cooked tea -we had the Hawaain Chicken  for which the recipe is here  and this is what it looks like

And it was very tasty.  All done within an hour of coming home, with the rice being done in the microwave.

I have spoken to my mum and she is keeping well

Have some tidying to do now (the washing up) and some more washing to do - never seems enough time during the week to really do the things I would like to do, thats why I end up going a bit mad at the weeken.

Will pop back if I can

Hope everyone is okay take care


Sunday, 21 August 2011

2011.08.21 My Day

I had a lay in today  - such wicked luxury and apparently I missed a thunder and lightning storm.  Needless to say this morning started off grey and I couldn't decide whether I was hot cold or indifferent.  So I popped my sweatshirt on as I felt a tad chilly and got outside and it was warm.  We went and walked the dog - I didn't get to forage OH was in a hurry, but I did have a good look around and I think I will be going one night in the week again (didn't get last week) as operation book case was on the cards and finding his toolkit which is dotted in different places around the house proved something of a problem, but it got done the book case has been fixed and I then spent some considerable time -restocking the books.  Phew we have a floor again.  Now just have to get the rest of the room sorted but at least all the books have been rearranged.  I thought I would show you some photos of what I have been talking about - these are only partial photos but it will give you some idea.

First of all the book shelves that fell down with all the books!  The top three shelves fell!

This is part of the freestanding pine bookcase which houses just cookery books - these are only a few of them the rest of them are upstairs at present.

That took me the best part of the afternoon - I have a load of classic books with vellum and gold bindings which were on the top shelp of the top picture but have had to given them a good dust down and they are now packed up for the time being out of the way.  God help me when it ever comes to moving I am going to have my work cut out (26 years of collecting to date), but nevertheless some lovely bits and bobs.    Mind you I do use my books and I get a lot of pleasure out of them.  I was always taught that if you have a book or books you always have a friend.  I am a very tactile person I could never give my books up!

I did give about 6 to 8 books away to the Charity shop though this week - I took them before I changed my mind - they were ones that I didn't think I would ever use so rather they get handed on to someone who will use them and raise funds for important causes in any event.  I am seriously missing going to car boots and the charity shops.  When I popped in to take the books in I had a good look around and they had some nice solid wooden furniture at quite cheap prices.  Just wish I had room to stockpile an item or two

I was going to do a roast but because of the chaos elsewhere decided to just roast the chicken and then made home made chips.  We had tea late.  I had also started my friend off on making her own pickled onions and so went over to show her how to finish those off.  Its pickled beetroot she will be having a go at next week and the week after pickled eggs.  Breaking things down into a project for the week helps her put something up and also is not too heavy on the purse for her, being as she is a retired pensioner.  I have also kidnapped her ladder and the Cotoneaster tree/bush in the front garden is going to get a seeing too tomorrow night as well as the privet hedge which needs a hair cut too  The bay tree in the back garden also needs doing so I think I am going to be busy this week.  OH can then drop off the rubbish at the tip.Once the front garden is all nice and tidy I can set about the windows.  Might ask my step-daughter's partner if he can do them for us as he has his own window cleaning business.

We were supposed to be going on holiday to OH's sister again at the beginning of September, but have had to cancel this due to financial restraints.  I am still having the time off work but its a case of having to be sensible and practical although I would have loved to have gone.  So am going to be home, but I have several things lined up to sort out so I am going to be busy.  I want to make sure that the doors are sorted out with thick curtains to stop any draughts for this coming winter and also want to reclaim the garden so that I can take advantage next year of growing things early on, and if we have another cold winter at least if I can get the garden dug it will do the soil good.

I have the bramble wine to pop into its demijohns tomorrow night ,so it looks as though I am going to be busy, busy busy.

Have to get my hair washed ready for work tomorrow

Well idle hands make the devils work!

Gets me into all sorts of trouble.

Take care wherever you may be [hugs to you all]



Chilli Jam

The first time I made this I was highly suspicious - I am not keen on anything too hot on the chilli front, not being too keen on chilli but this is a delight and really peps up a cheese sandwich and is also good with cold meats, and also a good cheeseboard.  Since I made it however it has been a regular recipe that I make every year.

Be careful when handling chillis they can burn other parts of your body if you just handle them and then wipe your eyes for instance.  Needless to say this one was learnt the hard way - so I would advise caution - I always wear a pair of disposable latex gloves to handle the chillis.


1lb red capsicum peppers
4oz red chillis I use the long thin red chillis
1 1/4 cups white vinegar
2lb sugar
1 cup light packed soft brown sugar


  1. Remove the seeds and membrane from the peppers and chilli. Cut the pepper into large flattish pieces and cook skin side up under a hot grill until the skin blackens and blisters.  Whilst still hot pop into a polythene bag and cool then remove the skin.
  2. Put the pepper and chilli in a food processor with 1/4 cup of the vinegar and process until finely chopped  - do this in batches.
  3. Pope the pepper and chilli mixture into a large pan and add the remaining vinegar bring to the boil then reduce and heat simmering for 8 minutes.  Remove from the heat add the sugars and stir fo r5 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved then return to the heat and boil for about 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened slightly.
  4. Spoon immediately into clean warm jars and seal.  Turn the jars upside down for 2 minutes then invert and leave to cool.  Label and date.  Leave for about 1 month to mature and allow the flavours to develop.  Store in a cool dark place for up to 12 months.  Refrigerate the jar after opening for up to six weeks (if it lasts that long)
Makes a lovelty addtion to the cheesebard or kvens uo a meat sandwichm goes well with hot meals and juyst peps up any meal generally.

I bought 8 red peppers for £2 yesterday and the rest of the ingreideints are in the pantry, so I have a double whammy of this to make.

This one is well worth the effort



Saturday, 20 August 2011

2011.08.20 My Day

The weather started off really sunny here today - a perfect washing day and I got a wriggle on and was up early to take advantage of this natural drying weather.  Sadly it has now come over cloudy and grey and the sun has done a disappearing act.  But at least I got some of my washing done. Hopefully will get it finished off tomorrow.

I have managed to do two roasting pans full of tomatoes in readiness for another batch of passata; trouble was I couldn't find my bottles - but hey alls well that ends well I have more than I thought I had and have been able to put my mother's old kilner jars into service again as some Liefeheit metal seals and rings that I had already fit perfectly which I am pleased about.  I have two jars that seem to have a larger seal so I am going to look into getting some seals and rings for these too.  I use a lot of the tomato sauce for pasta which we tend to have every week so every time I can bung up a couple of extra jars it always helps.  I have plans to do some fruit salad in syrup in the next few weeks or so too.

I am going to have to start getting a few empty bottles again and build up another stock for use, especially in the weeks to come.  Everyone seems to be taking advantage of preserving things this year I went into Lakeland to get some new jam jar lids - and they had about 4 packs on the rack and none in stock!  Its a good job I normally keep a few by but these were for my mate.

I am also going to do a couple of jars of cherries in syrup - got a couple of punnets from the greengrocers the real black ones - they are for the Christmas pack., will be lovely in a black forest style gateaux - I have some kirsch in the cupboard I might add a drop to the syrup  I have also done a couple of jars of blackberries in syrup and apple and blackberry pie filling and apple pie filling as well as some chilli jam and some mango jam.  I also have some lemon curd to make.  I need to get some peaches/nectarines in the next few weeks too looks like I will be hitting the market come pay day.  Hopefully I will go on a foraging trip tomorrow - I might make some pastry and do some apple and blackberry pasties for puddings/snacks to be stored uncooked in the freezer will see how we go.

I intend to do some soups in the coming weeks for the freezer so that we get lovely home made hot soup during the week in the winter months.  I could live on soup its a meal in itself with some lovely home made bread, 

I have also set about the books again just about got them all on the shelves and tidied up and crash bang whallop three of the shelves fell down, so back to the drawing board I think the top shelves are going to have to be stored upstairs as the plaster just is not holding the shelves.  Bummer.  Its always the same in this house - Aargh!

I have a bread loaf on the go and might have a go at doing some teacakes - will see how I feel.

Have to get on - lots of things to do as usual too little time to do it.  

By the way if you hadn't already gathered I do love my food.


N.B.  I have 4 small (about 1pint) kilner Jars and a large Kilner jar full of pasta sauce - that's roughly 5 weeks worth (the larger jar being the family version.  Not bad

Friday, 19 August 2011

A little Prayer - a little love

At the moment I have several friends  whose loved ones are ill or relatives who are not too clever at the moment.  If you get a spare few moments to yourself will you please . put up a prayer for them and others who need the comfort and strength of prayer at a difficult time.  Sometimes it is a transition from one situation to another - sometimes it is more difficult and sadder than that.  But the power of prayer can be a positive thing and it is an outpouring of pure love, setting a true intent but helping others along the way which is always a good thing as it is straight from the heart the best kind of medicine.

Thank you for sharing your love



Thursday, 18 August 2011

Good News

Well I had my appointment at the General Outpatients Department at the hospital this morning and all went well.  During the endoscopy they took a biopsy to check for a nasty bacteria and the results have come back clear.  It would seem that they caught me in time - there was a lot of inflammation in the oesphagus primarily caused by the hiatus hernia and too much acid production and the medication is working well.  My mother has a hiatus hernia and it would seem that I have followed suit and am on the same medication as her. I am going to be on this for life now, and the Consultant has told me that in about four months I may be able to reduce the medication to one 20 mg tablet per day rather than the twice I am currently on.   In that time frame So alls well that ends well - I have now been officially discharged re the tummy problem.  I am greatly relieved, now have to get the rest of the problems resolved in a similar way.  I am quietly very chuffed upwards and onwards.

Thank you for all your support - its meant a lot.



The Mending Pile

I have quite a bit of mending work to do as various outfits need a little touch up here and there.  I have a few cotton summer skirts of the ethnic variety that are really lovely to wear but the elastic always goes well saggy after a couple of washes.  There's nothing wrong with the material or skirt itself but when the skirts were made they were given the deep elastic which is stitched in and I have therefore got to manage to re-route some elastic to tighten the waistbands up.  It doesn't help that I have lost inches off my waist too.  I don't at present have the funds to replace them, so its make do and mend time. I have several skirts of this ilk to prepare - I have some elastic already but I think I may have to go and get some more as I don't think I am going to have enough to complete them all.  After all money is tight and you have to make the most of what you have at the present and besides another outfit is another outfit.

I also have a couple of pairs of trousers to mend where the zips have gone and in one instance re-stitch the back seam in a pair where the stitching had not been secured properly. I think the overlocker will be coming out for this as it gives such a fast secure job.  I also have a brand new pair of trousers that I bought cheaply but they were the wrong length so I have to take them up too.  I also promised Eve my friend that I would take a dress up for her she is only dinky and the dress made for a taller person is gorgeous, but its like an evening dress on her so I have measured her up and pinned the dress  - I think I will be in the craft room over the weekend with the machine out sorting this out for her.  I also have lots of sewing to do in the pipeline mostly for the house but I also want to get some bits and bobs prepared for Christmas presents this year it will be nice to get to grips with things early rather than be in a last minute panic. That has been one of the reasons for re-organising my books this week is that I have all the craft books together (the ones I have out) and all the cookery books so it should be easier to locate the things I know are there.  Well that's the plan anyway.

Looks like I am going to be busy

Catch you soon.



Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Nighty Night

Just a quick pop in just to make sure everyone is okay.  Its getting very back endish again more autumn than summer.  Its been chilly here this evening and I have popped one of my thick sweatshirts bought from the West Country as it has gone more than a tad chilly -  at this rate I will soon be back in my thermals.  What a mixed up weather year we have had this year so far.

I have the hospital again tomorrow - I don't know its all appointments at the minute.  Last Thursday I had the physiotherapist who has given me some exercises for my back and my feet.  Tomorrow I am back at the General Outpatients Clinic for the follow up on the Endoscopy and how the medication for the hiatus hernia is working - must say am a lot more comfortable these days.  Next Thursday I have the Physio again - it would appear I have to go every couple of weeks  to start with.  On the 21 September I have to go to Rehabiltiation Clinic to be measured for shoe inserts as I have gone flat footed with my back being out - it would appear I haven't been walking properly. In October I am back to the GP for his follow up and review and more bloods etc. January I am back to the Rheumatology Clinic.  At least I am getting sorted - even if I do have appointments all over the shop!  I am very lucky in the larger plan of things and I am doing as I am told as I don't wish to be incapacitated and unable to get around under my own steam.  Apparently I have been doing the right thing by having kept going even when I have been extremely uncomfortable and stiff  I am grateful for small blessings.

I am off to bed early as I am shattered and I am going to cuddle under the quilt to keep warm.

Keep healthy and safe wherever you may be.
Catch you soon



Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Green Thing

I was sent this, by a friend this evening, and although seeing the funny side it is rather thought provoking as it is true  - we didn't have the green thing back then, but we did other things instead. 

The Green Thing
In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she 
should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't 
good for the environment. 

The woman apologized to him and explained,
"We didn't have the green thing back in my day."
The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. 
Your generation did not care enough to save
our environment."

He was right -- our generation didn't have the green
thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer
bottles to the store.
The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and
sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over
and over.  So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.
We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in
every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store
and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time
we had to go two floors.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have
the throw-away kind.  We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy
gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really 
did dry the clothes. 
Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters,
not always brand-new clothing.
But that old lady is right;
we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house,
not a TV in every room.
And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief
(remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. 
In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't
have electric machines to do everything for us. 
When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail,
we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it,
not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. 
Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline
just to cut the lawn.
We used a push mower that ran on human power. 
We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health
club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using
a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. 
We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen,
and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing
away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their
bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a
24-hour taxi service. 
We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of
sockets to power a dozen appliances.
And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal
beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find
the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful
we old folks were just because we didn't have the
green thing back then?
Please forward this on to another selfish old person who
needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.
The Green Thing.

 I could add that, we only used to have one room where the light was on
and we used to sit together of an evening all in the same room.  Sometimes
just listening to the radio - other times reading a book or playing board games.
But then it was a different way of life back then, before The Green Thing!

Catch you soon - I am still playing with book mountain.



Monday, 15 August 2011

Quick Catch Up

Sorry just a quick pop in as have sat down after humping books around.  I have had the books in and out the bookshelves quite a lot recently and not managed to get them back where they should be - I have therefore been - restocking the shelves to try and get the best out of the limited room available.  They have just got to fit!  I love my books and use them regularly and as I have said am trying to restore law and order to them - then when I am in a hurry I may just well be able to find what I am looking for.    I may not be entirely successful as I have been trying to order them by subject but I only have a few larger shelves for the taller books to slip into so may have to do some re-ackifurbitation!  Whilst I am tapping away at the keyboard my faithful Squeak is laid like a dog at my feet (this is the cat) whereas Missy my canine friend is sat on the settee - don't go there I think the roles have got confused somewhere along the line.  Anyway more books to hump and get sorted.  Hopefully will get back a little later on.

Catch you soon



Sunday, 14 August 2011

2011.08.14 My day

Its been a good day, but as usual has gone far too quickly!

Following on from this morning I have been making chutney a Pineapple Coriander and Lime Relish and a Hot Hedgerow Chutney.  We went for the second time foraging down the riverbank and I picked over 1kg of blackberries which I have used in the chutney.  The next batch of blackberries will be for some more blackberry and apple jam, and I also want to make some bramble jelly,probably a couple of lots.  Then anymore will be frozen or bottled for puddings during the winter months.  

The Pineapple Relish

The Hot Hedgerow Chutney

I also picked some elderberries  so I may do some elderberry jelly - didn't get lots but enough to fiddle around with the berries are just starting to turn purple and hang their heads with their weight.  I am trying to make the best use of what is around.  OH has agreed to take me again during the week.  I love all this squirrelling away and putting things down to eat during the colder months.  So today I have been quite industrious, the sage, bottling the already dried, and hanging up fresh bunches to dry 3 bottles of the pineapple relish, 4 of the Hot Hedgerow Chutney (this also tastes scrummy by the way).

Since being home have cooked tea - we haven't had a roast this weekend.  OH got a bargain with rib eye steak at the butchers 5 8oz steaks for £17 and they cut like butter, needless to say it all went down extremely quickly and it tasted as good as it looks.

I have also been out into the garden and gathered the blackberries out of the garden too - not as many as last week the picking is slowing up but still enough to do something with.  I am sort of debating whether to make some Apple and Blackberry muffins or pancakes with blackberries and ice cream.

Whats left over of today's puffball

Elderberries prepared for use

The sage rubbed and bottled - will add to it once the rest is dried

A big bunch of fresh sage ready for drying

I have also took the elderberries off their stalks in preparation of doing something with them tomorrow

So its been a busy day but I am chuffed with what I got done.

Hope your day has been a good one too

Catch you all soon



Pineapple Coriander and Lime Relish

I have been playing in the kitchen today - and have made a batch of Pineapple, Coriander and Lime Relish.  And so far from the little tastes I have had its going to be a winner.  The only thing I would say that is if you are not keen on chilli only use part of the amount in the recipe.  The recipe is taken from Ghillie James' Jam Jelly and Relish ISBN 9787-1-85626-909-4 originally £16.99 but I located mine for a fiver.   I  really like the recipes from this book and the suggested uses too.  Brilliant.

The author indicates that this is a relish that will complement both fish and chicken dishes.

Makes about 1 litre - keeps for about 6 months (might be worth making a double batch)

1 large pineapple peeled and cut into medium sized chunks
2 red onions peeled and chopped
5cm piece of fresh root ginger peeled and finely chopped
2 long red chillis deseeded and chopped
2 large garlic cloves peeled and sliced
1 small bunch fresh coriander stems and leaves chopped but kept separate
225g granulated sugar
225 ml white wine vinegar
juice of three limes
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce


Put all the ingredients except the coriander leaves into a large pan and gently bring to the boil.
Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated and the rest
looks syrupy.
Stir in the coriander leaves then immediately transfer to warm sterilised jars and seal.

It made 3 standard jars - the only thing I would say is that when bottling transfer the solids and pack each jar with these first and then go back and add the syrup between the jars.  From the immediate taste I really like this relish already but am going to keep a few weeks before use as I usually do and I will probably make some more of this in between times.

NB Ooops!  I got so carried away with making this relish that I forgot to add the coriander - I have since found it sat on the side waiting to be included  - don't worry though it tastes good without it.  Naughty Pattypan!  Needless to say it will go into the next batch. I will definitely be making some more of this one.

|Have more things to play with

Catch you later



Sunday morning potterings

Its quiet just me, Squeak and Missy plottering around.  OH still upstairs asleep.  I am enjoying the silence of the house whilst I sip my first hot drink of the day.  I am tired but today is not a day for lying in - I have lots to do and so little time to do it.  I sit planning what I need to do during the course of the day due to my absence yesterday.  Some foraging is on the cards too.

The washing machine is loaded and whirring round and round so there will be a steady stream of washing going out onto the line throughout the day.  The sun is out the weather is good must make the most of it getting the washing dry without having to turn on the tumble drier and so use precious electric.

I have further preserves to make but I have started off with a gentle job.  I put a big bunch of fresh sage up to dry a couple of weeks ago.  This morning in the stillness and the quietness of the house was the perfect time to sit and gently rub the dried leaves into a bowl, the gentle rythmic procedure of rubbing the leaves down satisfying and peaceful and the result rubbed down sage for use during the winter months.  I took photos as I worked only to find I hadn't put the card in! Idiot or what!  So whether the photos will transfer from the camera memory later on I don't know, but I did try.  I use a lot of sage and for a little bit of effort doing it this way can keep me in sage for a year.  My hands are now stained light green and smell highly aromatic. The stems I keep and tie into little bundles and use on the barbecue as a fire lighter because they are tinder dry and they give off a lovely aroma the smoke keeping flies away.  Everything has a use and purpose - and its the simple things that make all the difference.

I am off to have another cup of tea now and then I have some jelly to process.

Be back soon



Saturday, 13 August 2011

2011.08.13 My Day

Today has not been a normal Saturday in the life of Pattypan.  There has been no visit to the vegetable shop, in fact I was at my destination for 9.30 a.m. ready and roaring to go.

Today I have been helping my friend Jackie and our other friend Linda on a beginners to mediumship workshop and they have been a fantastic group.  It has been lovely to meet so many new faces too.  There is nothing more rewarding than a beginners class and to work with spirit; many go on to follow through and sometimes we don't see them for months and then when we do its lovely to see that they have come on in leaps and bounds.Quite  a lot of today's group have a basis in Reiki like myself.  Its a joy to work with spirit and it has been a joy for many of today's trainees to give their first tentative messages and then be absolutely gob-smacked when their information has been accepted and proved to be right.  Many of today's people come from all different walks of life and only two of the pupils were known to me before today out of a class of 14 and then not well more acquaintance than anything else. It has been a very satisfying day from my point of view.  I am now pleasantly tired - I find that when I have been working with spirit I am extremely hungry afterwards and find that I have to ground myself by eating. I am tired and usually after working I sleep well.

When I got home I went to see my friend over the road - I had a dress that is too small for me and I thought it might do her - but it is too small for her.  Never mind.  She was glad of the company for a while but disappointed about the dress.

I have another friend it can go too ; its a smart little black number.  I gave her another dress today and she was well chuffed. .

It is supposed to be a full moon here tonight but sadly at the moment everything is clouded over so I am not sure I will see her ghostly beams and I really wanted to clean my crystals in the moonlight tonight.  I wish I was down in Cornwall in the countryside to feel the space without any light pollution as such and to feel the stillness and peace of the night - I struggle to see the moon even when she is visible living in town and quite frequently have to go into the garden or walk down the street a little way to admire her beauty.

Squeak is sat on my lap as I am typing this on my laptop; she hasn't moved far since I got home and is cuddled up close for some unknown reason she wants her mum.

I don't think it is going to be long before I go up.

Wishing you peace, love and happiness wherever  you are

Catch you all soon


Thursday, 11 August 2011

2011.08.11 My Day

Well its been a tad hectic today to say the least, haven't had a moment to stop until now.  Its been bery busy at work and I left the office early today as my appointment came through from the physiotherapist.  I worked through my lunch hour because things were so manic we have lawyers going on holiday - some were working evening shift and I have been the only secretary in as the other secretary who works part time is on two weeks holiday and there were and have been tight deadlines on specific pieces of work and hearings to prepare for.  Fortunately I have had some help from some of the secretaries upstairs which has helped a lot.

I left on time, but will have a very busy day again tomorrow.  

I attended the appointment with the physiotherapist and came away with some simple exercises that I can do throughout the day to help start to build on the core muscles to strengthen them.  It would also seem that I have gone flat footed as a result of not walking correctly and I have been given some exercises to do to tighten up the muscles.  So everything is looking pretty positive and I have another appointment in two weeks time for a review and also for a more indepth look at what is required for me long term, bearing in mind that I have a disc out of alignment and the pre-existing conditions that I have.  The physio Nicki is the boss and I feel I can really work with her.  So I have some work to do peeps, but I don't mind that  and it would appear that the Rehabilitiation Clinic as it is called is to be a regular feature for a little while yet.  Anything I can do to help myself I will.  So at the moment everything seems to be going well, which I am really relieved about.  I have been doing some of the exercises already you will be pleased to hear.

We have had  a fish and chip supper - which was quite pleasant and I have been rootling through my cookery books and recipe scraps searching for some new recipes as well as discovering ones I had forgotten about.

I have also started of two gallons of blackberry and apple wine this evening.  I am hoping to get some elderberries at the weekend and start the elderberry wine off too.  I want to start really getting to grips with the winemaking again, because it is also very useful in cooking and preserving.  I am thinking of mulled pears here!  I have a course to attend on Saturday so it is going to be a busy day so I am hoping OH will take me foraging when I have finished either that or we will be going on Sunday.

Take care wherever you are

Will catch up again soon


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Sea Buckthorn Experiment

I have had the migraine back today - which was not good news and I have felt tired and out of sorts and am therefore off for an early night. OH picked me up from work and we took Missy for a walk and as planned went back to pick some of the Sea Buckthorn we located the other day.  I have read of all sorts of horrors in collecting this up to now unknown plant to me as it has a nasty thorn just like a sloe on its stems.  We did try running the tynes of a fork down the branches but this did not do much good at all.  In the end we noticed that off the main branch were lots of little spurs off of which the berries were growing so we harvested these tiny spurs with scissors and bagged them up and brought them home.  Weather permitting I will also be foraging each evening for the rest of the week.

Whereupon I have spent the rest of the evening listening to the TV and working each little spur and stripping the berries with a large pair of craft tweezers.  They are ideal for getting the berries more or less intact off the stem without having a squidgy mess.  It is time consuming but the first run through of juice is the most gorgeous orangy lemon and the juice is tart, but I think it is going to make a lovely jelly.  I managed to strip 2lbs of berries - I have a load more to do tomorrow night.  The first batch has been left to drip overnight and I will make the jelly up tomorrow.  The recipe I am using is a basic recipe for a jelly that I have been making for years.  Basically I gather a load of fruit, pop in some cold water on the fruit just to the top edge of the fruit, boil up and then pass through a sterilised jelly net overnight.  I then measure the juice and for each pint of juice or part thereof I measure out an equivalent amount of sugar.  Pop back into a pan and dissolve the sugar, bring to the boil until a set is achieved and then bottle up.  As I have no apples in this mixture as I was trying to keep it as pure as I can I am going to use a sachet of pectin to help set the jelly  (I prefer the pectin sachets to the Certo) as it gives such a good finish.  I will see what Sea Buckthorn jelly tastes like then, and decide what it will go with.  My first impression is that this will be good with fish because of the acidic taste, but we will see what the addition of the sugar does to it.  I have really enjoyed playing, even though it is time consuming,   Its good to play with new ingredients and tastes.  I am also keen to freeze some of the berries and use them in a champagne type cocktail come Christmas day (as per John Wright's version on River Cottage) and also as a cheesecake topping.  I wonder if they would bottle?  I feel an experiment coming on.

I also earlier on in the evening went out into the garden and picked another two large bowls of blackerries. I have got badly scratched and the bramble thorns have clung on in various places through my clothes and my hands have taken a battering. After doing the Sea buckthorn jelly tomorrow evening I intend to make another batch of blackberry and apple jam  and some blackberry and apple curd, and the hot hedgerow chutney and I might start a batch of compost heap jelly off too.

Right am off to get some shuteye catch you all soon



Sunday, 7 August 2011

2011.08.07 My Day

Its been a lovely day; I still have remnants of the nasty migraine from Friday in that I am a bit heady, but I have been getting out in the fresh air in order to clear my head; its helped but it is still hanging around.

We have had a lovely time at my mum's when we eventually got there.  We had forgotten that it was Deeping Raft Race weekend where all sorts of water filled fun happens, all in the aid of charity.  Deeping St James where my mum lived was totally cut off and we had to go in the back way by driving down the bypass and then cutting cross country back into the village.  Hey these things are sent to try us but we got there in the end.

We had a lovely time at mum's.  Bless her heart she had cooked a leg of lamb with roast potatoes, boiled potatoes, fresh green runner beans, broccoli, cauliflower, yorkie pud, carrots with lashings of gravy.

And then for pudding we had fresh English strawberries, meringue and ice cream.

Unusually for me I cleared both my plates it was scrummy.  Mind you I haven't been able to eat tea yet!

Here's mum dishing up (above)- now perhaps you can see where I get my cooking skills from.

I did the washing and drying up afterwards whilst mum sat for a while.  We then all went into the conservatory for a cup of tea and a good natter.  It was just lovely to spend quality time with her again sat in the conservatory with the doors open and the fresh air coming through. Because of working all the time and then trying to do things at home as well I don't always get to see her as much as I would like, which worries me as I love her to bits, although she knows if she wants something doing she only has to ask and I will go and help. We then pottered a bit in the garden I have four of her home grown tomatoes that I have bought home with me.  I have asked for any green ones later on in the year to make chutney with.

Mum is going minimalistic at the moment and has been dishing out items that she no longer wants around the house.  I think she is worried about leaving a mess behind for us to sort out, although she hasn't said in so many words, but that's what I am reading from her.  I have come away with a stone crockpot I gave her years ago (I collect these) and some brass ornaments one of which is a brass tray that my grandmother always used to have in her home with fruit on.  I have had a good go at it cleaning wise, with a lemon and some salt which has brought it up some more but I think it perhaps needs another couple of goes.  So I am well chuffed with the freebies

Since I have got back  I have picked a big bowl of blackberries out of the garden, but got stopped by a heavy rain shower, so will pick some more tomorrow.  They are in the fridge now for processing tomorrow.

However, the wild blackberries I got this morning 2lb of them I have added 2lb of cooking apples an 4lb of sugar and made 7lb blackberry and apple jam.  It tastes yummy.

The apples and blackberries as they were after being put in the pan and mixed around a bit.

After the initial bubble.

Its a lovely colour, and testing for a set below

Ready for bottling up

All 7 jars and a diddly bit. 

Hope you have all had a lovely day - I am going to sit down for a bit now, but am going to be busy again tomorrow evening.

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)