Friday, 30 September 2011

WellI think he is making himself at home

Dimitri seems to be settling in well even coming to the whistle now like Squeak does  - he is learning the ropes and is coming in at night - he no longer is stopping out and seems to be content to snuggle in his blanket, be warm get constant fuss (he is getting this human well trained) and he likes his water fresh and running and when he is thirsty gets up on the bathroom sink and wows at you until you run the tap.  He then drinks his fill and once his thirst is quenched he settles down for some serious snoozing.  Think these photos show that he is getting comfortable.

It looks as though Squeak has taught him well.

Catch you all tomorrow

Sleep tight


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Tea Cakes

Its been a busy day today.  I popped into town at dinner and John Lewis have the Christmas decorations up!  I was not impressed with what I saw and in fact have been scouring my old Christmas magazines for some ideas for home made Christmas decorations.  After all I have a lot of fabrics upstairs, beads, tapestry wools, ribbons lace, fabric etc.  and I am very much in creative mode at the moment and this way on it won't cost me hardly anything.

When I got home I decided to pop on another bread loaf (OH informed me that he had run out and would I please put another loaf on).  I therefore obliged and decided to pop the other machine on as well.  I then decided to make some Tea Cakes. I am very partial to Teacakes by preference having them toasted with a little butter still warm with the butter dripping.  We have also been known to have them for breakfast as well as crumpets and pikelets. The photos will have to follow but the recipe for making the dough in the bread machine is as follows.  Next time though I am going to vary the recipe by using some of my cinnamon sugar, dried apricots, and raisins.  This time round I have used what I have to hand some Waitrose Vine fruits, some dried peel and some yellow sultanas.

Anyway here is the recipe:

Makes 8 Teacakes

For the dough


150ml/1/4pint/2/3 cup warm milk
1 egg
30ml 2 tablespoons of butter
30ml/2 tablespoons caster sugar
7.5ml/1 1/2 teaspoons salt
350g/12 oz/3 cups strong white bread flour
7.5ml/1 1/2 teaspoons traditional active dry yeast
100g/4oz/ 2/3rds cup currants
30ml/2 tablespoons chopped mixed candied peel

For the glaze
1 egg beaten
10ml / 2 tsp water

  1. Make the dough by placing all the ingredients apart from the currants and the peel in the bread pan in the order as listed above.  Place the pan in the breadmaker ensuring that it is locked safely into position.
  2. Close the lid and select the dough option then press start.
  3. Add the currants and peel when the buzzer goes on the machine or after the first kneading
  4. When the cycle is complete carefully remove the bread pan and tip out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface
  5. Knock back the dough and then divide into 8 equal sized pieces shape into smooth balls then flatten out slightly
  6. Place the dough onto a greased tray cover with clingfilm, and leave in a warm place to prove for about 20 minutes
  7. Make the glaze.  Mix together the egg and the water and brush all over the teacakes

    Bake in a preheated oven at about 220 degrees C/425 degrees F/Gas mark 7 (Fan oven about 200 degrees C) for about 15 minutes




    UPDATE: Well I promised I would update on how they turned out.  I am quite pleased with these and they taste absolutely scrummy.  I will certainly be making this recipe again -OH likes them -

    There were eight buns in all but by the time I got home OH had snaffled some and I have had one; very nice with some butter on.  Will certainly be doing these again.

    Monday, 26 September 2011

    Pantry Supplies and Shopping Habits

    I have always been brought up where food is concerned to buy the best ingredients that you can afford at the time that you are purchasing, because the better quality ingredient the better the flavour of the finished product. As funds have become tighter ,I have had to do a lot of shopping around and in many cases not buying finished products  like cakes pies etc at all.  Ultimately just buying the core ingredients out of which so much can be made.  For me food is just about much as flavour as anything else.  Food has to be tasty, filling and good for you.  No one should go hungry.  There is no need for this at all.

    Entrepeneurs/business people  take basic ingredients make something from them thus adding to their value.  There is nearly always a mark up of 50% after all the "producer" has overheads too and is looking to make a living if not a profit on what he or she has done that is the principal of business.  That is the way of the world.  So much as I like buying items produced in this way I am at the moment steering clear. Apart from if and when I spot something new I will then buy a jar and if I  like it then look around for a recipe. After all I have the equipment and usually most of the basic ingredients in stock at any one time.  It is usually just the fresh ingredient that I don't always have to hand and I try and make the best of these at any one time.  

    I do in all honesty enjoy the principals of seasonal cooking  and we eat seasonally wherever we can, but in reality if I can obtain say blueberries at a reduced price out of season then I will if I am able.going to take advantage of this and either freeze, bottle, jam, pop in a pie or turn into a liqueur with them.  You have to make the most of what comes your way.  Bounty is bounty and we have to be practical.  

    I do draw the line with Strawberries though; I believe that there is no strawberry quite like the English Strawberry and home made Strawberry jam on thick slices of toast on a winter's afternoon can be a tasty treat or spread with cream in a home made Swiss Roll or Victoria Sponge, or a cream tea or even a spoonful in a bowl of rice pudding; simple pleasures but tasty ones. All ones that can be made at home quite easily they are not difficult to do.

    We don't have to buy everything we can make a lot ourselves and the added bonus is that you have food in store and are not hugely reliant upon the supermarket.  Obviously we have to be practical especially on those things we come across that are cheaper, but if practical sensible choices are made the planning and preservation will make sure the basics are catered for and that there is room for a few fancy things as well.  What you say I don't have the time.   Everyone has the time, it comes down to a few simple choices. Live well, eat well and be healthy.  The squirrelling instinct in me always comes to the fore to try and make use where I am able of  what comes my way and feed my family well and cheaply. 

    I actually love cooking and "playing" so it is not a chore for me.  I enjoy putting proper meals on the table - we might not have meat everyday, we eat a lot of veggies but despite everything we eat simply and quite well.  There is no need to have at least three veg with meat at every course.  Quite frequently I will do toad in the hole, mashed potato onion gravy and cabbage.  The Yorkshire pudding helps pad the meal out.  We don't have a sweet every day, occasionally we do  but the point of a pudding is just to give a bit more to the recipient especially if there is not much to go around.  The men in our family were always given more on their plates to "build them up" as some of what they did was manual work.  The ladies got sufficient but smaller plates.

    In days gone past it was up to the woman of the house to keep her family fed  and healthy no matter what the circumstances, or the depth of her pocket. Often the food would be under padlock and only the mistress of the house would have access to it.  In this day and age  due to funds being scarce we all need to eat well but that does not mean expensively.  I  would rather spend the time preparing good quality food when it is in season and the price is right to ensure a meal is on the table for future days. 

    If you go to the supermarket and buy a pot of jam it costs in many cases well over a £1 a jar or more these days.  If you can pick up fruit cheaply i.e. plums that have been reduced at a store or a market.  On average you use 1lb sugar to 1lb fruit  or 1kg of fruit and 1kg of sugar i.e. the same amount of sugar as you have fruit and on average you will get 3 possibly 4 jars of jam from 1kg of fruit.  How much will it cost you to buy the same amount of jars of jam?  So you will 9 times out of 10 save and the produce you come up with will be fuller in flavour.  Not only that you will recycle your jam jars and also start off a stock of jam for the period between when that particular fruit is back in use again; if this is not the case when it comes to making that particular jam again you will make double the quantity.  You will also start keeping things in stock to make sure that you can take advantage of anything that comes your way.  I stockpile on sugar - I buy it when it is on offer - sugar is always useful in cooking and baking and is a necessity in preserving, although you can vary the amounts recipe to recipe.

    My shopping habits have changed as a result of lack of funds and I am more likely to go armed with a shopping list for those items I really do need, otherwise like everyone else I would perhaps come back with items that although very tasty and useful in the bigger plan of things were really not essential at that particular point in time.  A few days down the road may be a little different but shopping is done in the moment and we have to be careful with our choices to get maximum return on them.

    I have a central store of base ingredients which I try and keep in at all times.  How I acquire that store is varied, I utilise bog offs, reduced items, items on offer, I shop around  - I don't utilise one shopping store I use them all but prefer to use smaller shops where I can or market stalls or farmers markets or farm shops.  Sometimes I am gifted fruit - which is always a blessing. In the village where I am from bartering or swopping produce was another way of dealing with matters.  A modern update on this is to swap skills or services. 

    If you have a £ (Pound) Shop make friends with it.  Whatever you can get in there i.e. foil, cling film, freezer bags, sandwich bags, cake liners, soup bags, shampoo, toothpaste, cleaning materials, candles, baking ware, sweeties, food items etc.etc.  All helps save money in the long run so that any excess can be put to a better use like buying meat.  I also use the hedgerow for wild fruits, like blackberries, crab apples, wilding apples, cherry plums, horseradish, hawthorn blossom and berries, elderflowers and elderberries, wild garlic, - whatever is available near to where you live.  It does vary quite considerably area to area, but it is something extra for your pantry with a little bit of time and effort and you never know you might actually enjoy doing this.  Today I have bought some more elderberries home and some rosehips.  The elderberries are destined for a spiced elderberry and apple jelly and the rosehips are going into rosehip and apple jelly.

    Also make friends with stores like Wilkinsons - if I need something these days I usually head there first - then and only then if I cannot find what I am looking for I start nosing round everywhere else to see where I can get the best buy from.

    However there is one thing that has gone by the way side - that is the Take Aways.   Although we enjoy them, they are a huge treat these days but not a necessity.  I would rather get 3 or 4 good meals or more for the £20 I would spent on a Take Away or more, but that is my choice.You have to cut your cloth according to your kelt.  Making something out of nothing that is the art and the trick.  

    Out of a few basic ingredients you can make so much but I will cover that in my next post.

    Sunday, 25 September 2011

    2011.09.25 My Day

    I set the alarm for 7.30 a.m. but slept through until 9.30 a.m.  I then got up, sorted the animals out, grabbed a cup of tea and we then went for a walk down by the river.  The walk was lovely as usual and this time round I got some more elderberries and some rosehips.  For apple and elderberry jelly and rosehip and apple jelly for the pantry store.  We came back and I have done a lot more cleaning, washing up and drying up and I have also washed my patchwork quilt and got it nice and dry again.  I still haven't really started with the pantry as I keep getting waylaid but will get there eventually and the lists etc will be done.

    Then I put the bread on, which I have reported on separately.  The bread is lovely though and I am well chuffed with it.

    We have had a late tea tonight, Roast Chicken, cooked in butter and fresh thyme, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, minted peas, colcannon, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage and what is left over will be used for bubble and squeak for tomorrow's night tea with what's left of the chicken the carcass of which will be boiled up for stock for soup and gravy.

    Well am going to watch Downton Abbey and then get everything ready for work tomorrow.

    Take care wherever you may be



    Crafts For Christmas

    I popped into WH Smith the other day to look at the Craft Magazines and I could not get near; I had to wander off and come back.  I was only browsing, but already so many magazines are preparing us for making things for Christmas.  A good thing I think, but what pleased me most is that people are having a go and actively enjoying it.  I ended up speaking to a young mother who was returning to crafting after having a couple of years off as a result of having young ones and she was saying that she was so pleased that she was now going to get time to do something that she liked doing.  Not that she loved her children any the less.  I didn't buy any of the magazines, but I may indulge in one or two at a later date but I have come home and had a rootle in my craft boxes and have decided that I am going to do some serious card playing this year and make my own.  After all I have the equipment upstairs.I need to get cracking.

    However, when I do get chance to play and look around the Internet I end up finding so many fascinating and useful sites.  Bearing in mind that I haven't necessarily got the money to go and buy patterns etc. I found this particular little site which gives free ebooks and lots of other craft ideas.  Its worth looking around even if you don't decide to use it.

    As I find interesting sites will add them to this post, so keep on coming back and if you have found any sites that you think would be of particular interest to others then let us know and I will add them to the list - the more the merrier.

    Crafts will do for starters though - oh and by the way some of the sites offer bought patterns I only use them for the free ones which if you register with them you can then download as a pdf file.


    Bread Machine

    I have the bread machines on at the moment.  I have a Panasonic which was bought from new and a Hinari large loaf maker that I rescued from a car boot for £10.  Why do I need bread machines.  Well its easier for me when I have a loaf cooking I can make dough for croissants or buns which are then cooked in the oven or make a batch of tea cakes.

    I offered to make a loaf of bread for my friend and as we needed one as well I have both machines going like billy oh at the moment.  Both machines are different sized loafs with the option of making a small medium or large loaf  although both of them have different sized tins the Hinari is long and narrow the Panasonic Square and deep - on this occasion I have opted for both to do a larger loaf.  So we will see how we get on.

    I pay about £1.68 for a 3lb bag of 00 Waitrose Canadian bread flour which is also good for pasta and Yorkshire Puds.  I will get approximately three loaves out of that bag using this recipe with a few other bits and bobs but I am paying about £1.60 in any event for a Warburtons sliced bread loaf.  So buying the flour and the other bits works out cheaper in the long run - you just have to plan when you are going to need a loaf putting on.

    The Recipe I have used today is: (I have used the large loaf size)

    Small Loaf

    150ml/1/4 pint/2/3rds a cup of water
    15ml/1 tablespoon dried milk powder (non fat dried milk)
    15ml/1 tablespoon caster superfine sugar
    2.5ml/1/2 teaspoon of salt
    30ml/2 tablespoon of sunflower oil (I have substituted butter or olive oil when no sunflower in the pantry)
    225g/8oz/2 cups strong white bread flour
    5ml/1 teaspoon traditiional active dried yeast

    Medium Loaf
    275ml/9 fl oz/generous cup water
    30ml/2 tablespoon dried milk powder (non fat dry milk)
    20ml/1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar superfine sugar
    5ml/1 teaspoon of salt
    40ml/2 1/2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
    350g/12 oz/3 cups strong white bread flour
    7.5ml/1 1/2 teaspoon traditional active dried yeast

    Large Loaf
    375ml/13 fl oz/1 1/2 cups water
    60ml/4 tablespoon dried milk powder non fat dried milk
    45ml/3 tablespoons caster superfine sugar
    7.5ml/1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    60ml/4 tablespoon of sunflower oil
    450g/1lb/4 cups strong white bread flour
    10ml/2 teaspoon traditional active yeast.

    I am using the bread machines as I say but you should follow your own manufacturers instructions for your machine.  The only thing I do is make sure that the salt is well away from the yeast and sugar when initially mixing in.

    That's the recipe I have used for both machines so I will show the results or the disasters (well it has been known) later on.

    Catch up soon.



    UPDATE:  Thought you might like to see the photographs.  Both bread loaves have come out well and I am very pleased with them.  Have taken the larger of the two over to my friend (who was brassic) - she hasn't had home-made bread for years and she was highly chuffed with it.  Needless to say she snaffled a piece whilst it was still warm.  There is nothing nicer than the fresh smell of bread.  Even OH came down the stairs saying that smells good.

    The first three photos show the loaf made in the Panasonic which I put on the dark crust setting and there is a nice crispy crust on the top.

    The next two photos show the loaf made in the Hinari

    Both bread loaves side by side



    Saturday, 24 September 2011

    2011.09.24 My Day

    Its been a busy day and the nights are drawing in.  This was my front room at 7.15 p.m tonight looks cosy but the days are drawing in.

    Anyway, today started with a walk down to the river with Missy  - I didn't come back with anything today on the foraging front but tomorrow will be a different kettle of fish.  I could not find my usual foraging kit - I have a bag with a pair of scissors, some polythene bags, some carrier bags a pair of marigolds in which I use when foraging.  Sometimes we take a stick with a crook in it as well.  But it was a very pleasant walk and we did not need a coat.

    I also paid a visit to the Charity shop and have had something put by which I will tell you all about next week.  It was a treat to find such a lovely item and I am well chuffed.

    I went to the veg shop today and bought a load of goodies to which I have referred in my previous post; I have a lot of scope with these items and the fruit and tomato bargains from the veg shop on the basics make things easier.  With the Cooking apples which were reduced to 50 pence a bag there is 2lb of apples in each bag which totals 6lbs of apples for £1.50  I think these are going to make some apple pies for the freezer.  Similarly the Tomatoes there is 6lb in weight for £3.  I am going to use these to make some Passata sauce for the Pantry Shelf and maybe some Tomato Soup for the freezer.  I was also given a lot of black grapes this week and so am going to have a go at making some grape jelly, and maybe will bottle a few in syrup as well.  So have a lot to do am going to be busy during the week.

    I then tidied the front room up and then started on the pantry which is still in dissaray.  I have been doing a load of washing up too all stuff from the pantry which needed doing but I also have to scrub out the main pantry - so once I have removed everything I think it will be sometime tomorrow before everything is put back in its place.   Its a useful exercise  although a time consuming one and I am doing a shopping list as I go along for those Items that I have become low on.  I suspect in the next week or two I will be doing a stock up on tinned goods which is also part of my stockpile.  Its a while since I did so so needs looking at.  I certainly need Bread Flour, (I use Waitrose Canadian OO Flour both White and Wholemeal), Butter, Sugar, Lard, Stork Margarine for starters but I do tend to shop around for the best price where I can on the other items. (I also keep them in the freezer when I buy in bulk and get them out as I want them)

    With regard to the bottom photo, please note that I  do not normally keep my eggs in the front room.  They are there because one Jack Russel by the name of Missy has a habit of helping herself to a new tray of eggs, not only pinching them but eating them raw and as the kitchen is in a right mess at the moment it was felt that they would be safer here - although the little rascal pinched a fir cone I bought in earlier on and took it upstairs to chew it to bits.  Fortunately I got to it first.  Anyway my kitchen is calling and I have a couple of loaves of bread to make tonight.

    Catch you all soon and hope you have a lovely evening



    Bit tight on the old purse strings this week

    Funds have been a bit tight this week - end of month syndrome have run out of a few things and have not been able to replace them.  However, all is not lost just have had to make the money go where it will and not be able to take advantage of any offers - but still managed to get what I needed food wise.  But then I went armed with a list for the real bits I needed which were as follows:

    Small bottle of Sunflower oil
    Bread Buns x 4 (for Saturday snack)
    Bread loaf (only because OH had finished my home made loaf and hadn't told me  -another one on the go)
    Fish for tea  (4 portions on special offer normally would make two meals but last night we blew the lot)
    2 x 6 pint bottles of mil
    Pot of creme fraiche
    3 pots of yogurt for
    Box of Weetabix
    Tea Bags 280 on offer for
    Tray of Eggs  (unusually we had run right out) This will last me a couple of weeks unless I do a big bake
    Vegetables and fruit: carrots  x 2, cabbage, califlower, romanesco, parsnips, tomatoes, cooking apples -bramleys (reduced 3 x 50pence bags at least 2lb apples in each bag)  apple pie or chutney not sure yet or Eve's pudding. Sweet Potato 1kg . Punnet of Strawberries

    So I didn't do too badly.  This is just like a general shop - meat is bought separately and budgeted for separately whenever we can get a reasonable deal from the Butchers like 5 rib eye steaks for £18 or so.  They are frozen down and bought out for a perk me up meal or a special occasion.

    I have onions and potatoes in stock although will soon need another bag of spuds

    This little variety means that we will eat decent food during the week - good English comfort food as armed with the few bits I have in the pantry and the freezers we should not do too badly and when I get paid I will hopefully be able to top up a bit more on carefully selected items at the right price.  I think a trip to Lidl or Aldi is on the cards once I get paid.

    Depending on the weather proposed menus for this week are (although they could be changed at the last moment)

    Sunday Chicken for Roast Dinner
    Monday cold cuts with bubble and squeak carcass for making soup stock
    Tuesday Toad in the hole with mashed potato, cabbage and onion gravy.
    Wednesday Beef  and vegetable stew
    Thursday Lasagna
    Friday Fish n Chips.
    (or we could end up having Cauliflower or Romanesco Cheese)
    With the tomatoes I intend to make some more passata (to be bottled) and also some roasted tomato soup and some French Onion Soup.
    As I have the chicken carccass to make fresh stock - waste not want not.

    I also have the Pantry to overhaul today to see what I am short of (seem to have a baked bean shortage but tons of tins of tomatoes) so I have lots to do as per usual but then I was bought up with the phrase idle hands make the devils work. 

    Catch you all later

    Friday, 23 September 2011

    Orange Mousse from a Jar of Marmalade


    1/3 of a 454 g jar of orange marmalade
    300ml natural yogurt
    250ml carton creme fraiche

    In a food processor put the marmalade with the yogurt and creme fraiche whizz together.  Pop into dishes and chill until ready to serve.

    Now how easy is that. 



    P.S. It tastes nice too

    Marmalade Ice Cream

    This is scrummy - just think about it served with home prepared whole Mandarins or Clementines in syrup during the winter months or for a pudding over Christmas.  The peel looks like little stained glass segments and it is pretty simple to make alt hough it is prepared in stages.  Go on treat yourself.

    half a  454 g jar or marmalade
    75g of raisings
    400ml carton of fresh ready made custard (or make your own)
    300ml of double cream


    Both Methods

    In a small saucepan gently heat the marmalade and the raisins stirring until smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly. Tip the custard into a large bowl and stir in the cooled marmalade and raisins.  Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks then fold in the custard.  Don't whip the cream too stiffly as it makes it difficult to fold in.

    Ice Cream Machine

    Transfer to an ice cream machine  and churn for about 40 minutes until thick and creamy.   Spoon into a lidded box cover with lid and freeze for about 2 hours until firm.

    Plastic Container with Lid
    You do not need an ice cream machine to make this recipe.  If you have one then all well and good, follow the manufacturers instructions  but if you don't have one you can use a plastic lidded box or a bowl.  Follow the first part of the method and then place into a plastic lidded box in which to freeze the mixture.  Leave the box for a couple of hours then take out  and then you whisk after a couple of hours with a wire whisk to remove and break the ice crystals down.  Return to the freezer for another hour until the cream begins to firm up.  Whisk again.  To store freeze in lidded container.

    To serve
    20 minutes before required take the ice cream out of the freezer to soften.


    Thursday, 22 September 2011

    What can I make with a jar of Marmalade

    Some of my earliest memories relate to eating breakfast at my grandparents home where we used to stay a lot at weekends when we were little.  I remember steaming cups of tea,  thick doorstep hot toast off the Rayburn and then either Pop's home produced set honey to spread on top or Nan's home made Marmalade.  So I was introduced to good things from a very early age.  

    Most households have Marmalade in the cupboard. Its innocuous enough - most of us eat it on toast and that's it.   If you are lucky it is home made which is absolutely scrummy otherwise most people buy off the shelf. 

    Marmalade just isn't marmalade it can be made of various ingredients.  An all time favourite for me is home made Seville Orange Marmalade as you get the tartness, and sweetness with a touch of caramel thrown in.  All rather exotic but another hot on its heels favourite is Pumpkin Marmalade; this I really adore and love for breakfast or Ginger Marmalade and err there is Lemon Marmalade, three fruit marmalade and it goes on and on - there are numerous recipes out there each different in their own right - so the flavours do vary quite a bit and they are all pretty special in their own way.  

    How about ringing the changes and using a different flavoured marmalade in that cake recipe, it all helps ring the changes and helps you stamp your own i.d. on a particular recipe.  Or why not add  that half a jar that is going nowhere  to your crock of home prepared mincemeat. Or make that Marmalade Cake or add to Parkin, or make a quick orange sauce for duck, or a sweet hot sauce for pouring over ice cream (just add a little water or fresh orange juice to the marmalade and/or a little orange liqueur put in a pan and heat until bubbling and the consistency is as thick or as runny as you want it); and then pour it over your ice cream; or make a tea loaf or Marmalade ice cream or use to glaze that gammon joint for Christmas or those gammon steaks that are in the fridge or make a mousse. The options are only limited by yourself.

    Unfortunately as is often the case with jams etc some always gets left in the jar, forgotten about and is often thrown away. Hands up have done it before, don't really intend to do it again as I hate waste.   

    Rather than just thinking of jam as a partner for toast, how about thinking of it as an ingredient in its own right.  Has that got you thinking?  Well in the spirit of waste not want not, and with everything costing so much more these days why waste a perfectly good ingredient.  There are other things you can do with this innocuous ingredient and none of the taste is lost and it makes something very much out of just a few ingredients.

    Remember It's not just a jar of marmalade it is a revelation it has new uses - it just needs a different way of looking at it i.e. a different mindset.  So don't leave a lonely jar of marmalade on the shelf, go on be a devil and use it up and add new recipes to your repoirtoire.  Simples as the Meerkats would say.

    Wednesday, 21 September 2011

    2011.09.21 My Day

    Its been a busy day again today; first off I had a visit to the hospital to see the chap about some inserts being made for my shoes.   These should be ready in a couple of weeks and I have another appointment to go back to have them fitted properly.  That is two appointments in the same week one with this chappy and then another appointment with my physio.  Apparently it will take me a little time to get used to them and I am more than likely to need them for life, but they should make me walk much more comfortably.  After that I went to work and I was pleased to get home having had a bad headache for the best part of the afternoon, so I don't intend to be too late to bed tonight.

    The bread machine is currently on and I have a loaf on the go.  I really need to stock up on some basics next week like flour and sugar; I like to have bits in so that if I need anything I can set to and make whatever is needed.  However before going shopping I have things to do.

    This weekend I have a major project on  -  the Pantry needs re-organising and scrubbing out in readiness for being re-stocked again.  I have some olive oil in there somewhere, but at the moment I cannot locate it which is a pity as I had planned to make some ciabatta buns topped with seeds.  I think it will be the weekend before this will be done  - when I have found the olive oil.  I also have some cake decorations to prepare, but more on that later in the week.  I also want to get some home made soups made, so that I can get something nice and warm inbetween cooking tea when I get home from work.  Its starting to get nippier and I think we are in for another cold winter.

    Anyway will have to dash.

    Catch up soon



    The Record Box/Memories

    So many memories attached to a box full of vinyl 45's and 78's records that kept a child occupied and which were always dragged out on cold winter days, and I used to jiggle and dance around.

    My mum was one of ten children who were bought up in a two up two down terrace house. In their youth my uncles and aunties had bought records and as they had then all gone their separate ways they had taken the records they wanted and a pile was left behind which were passed on to me as a youngster.

    A few weeks ago I went to my friends home and she had a guest who was quite knowledgeable about music and they were trying to outdo each other on song titles i.e. who could come up with names of songs that the other wasn't aware of. (or at least remember them)  In the end I fetched the records and revived a few memories for them as well as for me rediscovering what was actually in the box.  It turned out to be a very pleasant evening and a lot of memories were bought to the fore.

    Is there a particular old record that holds special memories for you too or was your song.  Would love to hear.

    Am afraid the first two pop stars I was fond of was Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard.  But then I liked Rosemary Clooney and Alma Cogan too.  There  were also lots of records which over the years got dropped or broken and these records really did break and when they went they went with a smash, so I think in retrospect I am lucky to have these.

    I have CD's but to me part of the joy was flipping through the colourful LP covers in the racks in the record shops somehow or the other these days it isn't quite the same.



    Wines to make in Autumn

    Light Table Apple Wine

    Apple Dessert Wine

    Dry Red Blackberry Table Wine

    Blackberry Dessert Wine

    Sweet Social Elderberry Wine

    Damson Social Wine

    Mixed Port Style fruit wine

    Christmas Ale

    Sweet Rosehip and Fig Wine

    Rosehip Syrup

    Blended Fruit Juice Table Wine

    Ginger Beer

    Monday, 19 September 2011

    Mint Syrup/Cordial 1

    I wish you could smell the freshness of this mint as I have been processing it this evening whilst I have been watching the television; I have been indulging myself in the new series of Doc Martin, one of my all time favourite programmes (on a couple of holidays down in Cornwall we have run into the cast whilst filming the next instalment in the village of Port Wen (Port Isaac).  I have already made one batch and because I am pleased with the flavour of the mint I have set about doing a second batch as well.  This type of home made mint cordial in flavour is nothing like a bought version and the colour is more natural too.  This recipe is taken from the Preserving Book that I recently purchased.  It is a short keeping cordial meant to be kept in the fridge, but I have had some success in hot water processing the bottles for longer keeping.  I am therefore experimenting with this recipe with the purpose of longer keeping.

    It makes approximately 14 fl oz and will keep for approximately one month refrigerated.  If hot water bottled processed it will keep for a much longer period, but once the seal is broken the cordial will have to be kept in the fridge.

    To quote from the book:

    "This cordial has a delicate menthol flavour - If you like a stronger taste - and have a rampant crop of mint - double the weight of the leaves (but keep the other ingredients the same).  Serve with sparkling or still water, or mixed with vodka and crushed ice".  I had thought about adding hot water to make my own form of mint tea or it could be used as a base for a mint water ice.  

    The flavour is very delicate.

    My mint came from my local Asian shop at 60 pence a large bunch.  One of these bunches weighs about 4oz which is more than enough mint.  I doubled up the quantities of mint used for a more enhanced flavour.  You can accentuate this recipe with the addition of a few drops of peppermint extrac (only if using spearmint) and/or a few drops of natural green food colouring.  It depends on your mint and whether you are happy with the taste and/or the colour.  I have used neither of these options at present


    1 3/4 oz/50g peppermint, Moroccan mint or spearmint (garden mint) leaves
    10oz granulated sugar (300g)
    A few drops of natural green food colouring
    A few drops of natural peppermint extract


    Starting with your fresh mint


    Remove the leaves from the stems and put them into a large bowl, add the sugar and pound with the end of a flat based rolling pin or a pestle and mortar to bruise and crush the leaves into a paste, adding a few leaves at a time until all the leaves are used.

    This is the paste.

    Pour over 10 fl oz/300ml of boiling water, stir, cover and leave to infuse for at least two hours or until the mixture is completely cold.   During this time prepare your bottles by sterilising them in boiling water and keeping them warm until you come to strain and bottle the mixture.

    Strain through a sieve into a saucepan, pressing and squeezing the mint to extract the maximum amount of flavour. 

    Heat the pan over a moderate heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved.  Then bring to the boil and boil for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the colouring and peppermint extract if using at this point. (I have added a couple of spots of green food colouring) as in my particular syrup although pale green in a cup in the bottle it looks very dark so I succumbed and added the colouring but I think it really could do with a little more.

    Pour immediately into a warm sterilised bottle using a sterilised funnel, seal, label and leave to cool then store in the fridge.  Shake before use.

    I heat process the bottles in a baby bottle steriliser.  Pop the bottles in and bring to boil, process for 20 minutes once come to temperature (i.e. boil) making sure that the bottle is either completely immersed in a deep container i.e. a stock pot or up to the necks of the bottle.  Store on pantry shelf.


    This is what is should look like  -

    N.B.  I would put more green food colouring in, in any future batches.

    It doesn't taste too bad though.

    Enjoy playing



    Sunday, 18 September 2011

    2011.09.18 My Day

    Hello everyone, its been a busy day today was up at 6.00 a.m. to finish the cleaning as my mum came for lunch today, so I wanted everything to be as spick and span  I had cleaned the lounge windows yesterday, but today I have also had the washer on and off all day and have a huge ironing pile to start tackling tomorrow night when I get home.  We don't normally have our dinner until late, but when Mum comes we try and have it early so that it keeps her in routine with her medication etc,

    Its been a lovely day; we had roast chicken, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, cauliflower cheese, carrots, honey roast parsnips, sweet potato and it was delicious.  After letting lunch settle we skiddaddled off to a new garden centre in Peterborough called Dobbies and Mum and I had a really good look round and spent a rather amiable 2 hours constantly chatting and having a nose and window shopping.  Its been good to spend quality time together. We then came home and home made milky hot chocolate with a frothy top, which warmed us up nicely, mum stayed a bit longer, didn't want any tea as was stuffed from lunch and we then took her home.

    I have just flopped and watched the TV  (Downton Abbey) and took some photos of Dimitri who is getting his feet under the table.

    Its been cold here this evening although we have not put the heating on yet.  I have bunged another jumper on.  I am not going to be late to bed tonight as back to work tomorrow.  I just have to go about retrieving two cats who have gone out to play for a while. 

    Angie, promised to post recipes for mint cordial, will do tomorrow night for you.

    Wherever you are take care, be safe and keep warm



    Introducing Dimitri

    Well he is still with us - making himself very much at home; he isn't going out very much preferring to be in the house with us humans and pets. He is slowly gravitating through the house room by room.  He started in the bathroom, then the kitchen, dining room and tonight he has come into the lounge.  He has eaten - chicken (this cat has expensive tastes) doesn't want to eat any cat food.  Is no bother and seems to be coming to terms with Missy - he initiated interaction earlier this evening and wsent to sniff Missy and OH had them both feeding on chicken scraps sat side by side.  Early days yet but I am hopeful. He is a big cat, but he needs filling out a bit, although here he is tidier than he was when I took him in.  A Handsome Puss has to look his best at all costs especially when being photographed.

    Anyway some photographs of the young man in question.

    He has even stopped to pose

    Anyway he seems to have settled down for a while - so far no ructions, just an excited Jack Russell who wants to lick and dick his ears at all costs.

    Squeak is cuddled up too both are in the same room.

    Catch you all later.



    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)