Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sunday Catch up

It has been a quiet day I have been on my own, but busy busy busy.  I am still struggling with the Jam Store.  I have found lots of stuff I had forgotten about including loads of beer bottles.  Me thinks they are going to be put into use over the next few weeks or so and I am slowly starting to restore order to complete confusion.  OH is going to help me re-line the shelves, with constant use the covers have become jaded so I am going to completely recover the shelves make things clean neat and tidy.  I have also scrubbed out the cupboard as well.  One of my Elderflower champagne bottles has struck a leak and been dripping everywhere.  I have new preserves to put away and more to do yet but the making of stuff has been put on hold.  I may start some during the week again, will see how it goes but failing which I will recommence next weekend.  I have found a load of bouquet garni which I had prepared (I had been looking for them as I use in soups and gravies, casseroles etc) - I knew I had a stash somewhere.

Since OH has been back we have had a windy walk with Missy down by the river.  Just to get a breath of fresh air. Tea is cooking (we always or nearly always have Sunday lunch of an evening so that we can make the best of the day and get the most time wise.  I have also cooked two large squash as we are having some with tea roasted the rest will go to make a butternut squash soup with some milk and a little spicing.  I am quite partial to soup and I particularly like home made soup.  It is a meal in itself.

I have ginger beer and apple pop to make at some point too.

Catch up again a little later



Goodies under the Stairs

It is suprising what I am finding lurking under the stairs in the jam store.  I have just found a bottle of Toffee Vodka that I had forgotten all about and in the interests of human kind I have just had a little glass.  Boy is that pokey but rather moorish and due to the fact it is a cold day it has done a little warming up.  (For the life of me I cannot remember what the recipe is or where I got it from), but I think it was a standard  bottle of vodka and literally a bag of Werthers toffees put in a preserving jar and shaken every day until the toffees have completely dissolved, when they are you can bottle and enjoy.  Goes a beigy colour and develops a foam on top but this is all part of the liqueur/spirit of things.  I think I am going to do a couple of more bottles of that before Christmas.  That has slightly anaesthetised my throat.

You need not be restricted to just toffee, you can use pear drops and bubble gum - whatever takes your fancy.

I have also found a jar of something I have never tried before, but that is for another post as it is extremely yummy and involves almonds.

I am back off to my Jam Store

Catch you later



Autumn Sunday Morning

I just love this time of year  especially the change in the colours of the trees, the freshness, preparing to batten down the hatches for the winter months, blazing fires (if you have one) it has a charm all of its own.

The sun is trying to break through cloud here this morning; it is chilly and windy and I am in the house as I have a sore throat which I am trying to stop become anything more as it is too early in the season for colds for me. To counteract this I intend to make a scuttle full of onion soup for my lunch together with some fresh granary bread.  I think I am also going to start taking my vitamin c tablets again just to give a little boost.  Last evening I took a chicken out of the freezer and also a piece of beef.  The chicken is initially going to be roasted and either used for a hot meal during the week,  then for a casserole or a curry and sandwiches.  The roast beef is for tea this evening.

OH walked Missy this morning before he went off to work.  I think I overdid it yesterday as I also went for a walk with him and Missy when he got home from work and this morning my hips and legs feel decidely sore.  Unfortunately,  I just love walking, it is something that I have done since I was a child as my Dad and Granddad used to walk me everywhere usually in the colder weather wrapped up with proverbial scarfs thick coats gloves and hats and then coming in from the bitter cold to warm ourselves by the fire or by the Rayburn if we were at my Nan's and then by the fire.  Wet damp gloves were placed on the rail to dry and we would inevitably be given a hot sweet tea (the kettle was always on the top of the Rayburn) or a hot mug of soup.  [There are a couple of things I wish for my future one is an Aga/Rayburn the other is fires.]

 I started sorting the jam store yesterday and it is slow work but will be a job well done.  I also use it as an overflow pantry at Christmas (all the Christmas buys get closeted out of the way).  I also keep my sack of potatoes, shallots, pickling onions and onions under the stairs as it is cool and an ideal environment for keeping the preserves.  My main pantry is more of a dry larder, but it gets very warm in there so I have to be careful what I store as it soon goes off. Becuase of that I have taken to keeping green veggies etc in the bottom of the fridge to extend their life somewhat.

 I have already found about three cases of jars that I knew I had somewhere but wasn't quite sure where they were together with numerous wine bottles, ginger beer botles, beer bottles, preserving jars etc.  I have also discovered a couple of accidental breakages as well.  So its upwards and onwards work to do.

Catch you all later on.



Saturday, 29 September 2012

Saturday Morning fix

I have also been to the Charity shop this morning.  There were several lovely things there as usual including some furniture which I have my eye on but in reality will not be able to take as I have no room where we are.  Shucks they are the right pieces at the right prices just no room at the inn.  One day I will find something similar and I will have room.  I was primarily after books as in recent weeks I have managed to source quite a lot of good reading for 50 pence a book.  This week the pickings were bare.  Just the one book, but I did manage to pick up a little green ring flower vase and two little green enamel pie plates which I am quite chuffed with.  Unusually the pie plates and the ring vase are both a lovely pale green - I love this colour and I think they are perhaps from the same period.  I am chuffed with them in any event.  All for £4.30 pence.  Not bad at all and a win win situation.

Catch you soon



P.S.  Ooohps it would help if I posted the photos (I am sure I put them in earlier) anyway here they are:


Walking the dog

Even though I live in the middle of a City there are still lots of green places to go for those in the know and I thought I would share with you some photographs I have taken on my mobile phone this morning whilst walking Missy.  I have been out for two hours with her - first half an hour to get to the start of the walk (OH normally drops all of us down in the car) then a good hours run through the fields which run down to the river and then back again.  I did attempt to take some photos of Missy had her in line but soon as I shot the photo she was gone - places to go smells to catch up on she is very fast. But saying that its the first time I have really walked her on her own and she has been absolutely smashing and has come back to me when I have called so I am well pleased with her.  We have been out a good 2 hours.  This post is a little photo heavy.

It is a beautiful crisp morning here but we are now into the season of the long shadows and mist and mellow fruitfulness although there is not much fruit on the bushes this year so there is not going to be much for the wildlife to live off.  I think we are going to all have to do what we can with feeding them in our gardens and taking any excess bread etc down to the rivers to feed the birds.  Lets hope we have a milder winter than we have been having for the sake of the wildlife more than anything else.

Anway here are the pictures I hope you enjoy



And finally home for a cup of tea


Catch you later am now off to start on the Jam Store



Good Morning

It is a lovely sunny morning here - bit chilly but if I wrap up everything should be okay.   OH is working this weekend has overslept gone out in a panic and poor Missy has not had her early morning walkies down by the river so I am going to walk her - I have to get to the river which is quite a way first but then I can let her off her lead and she can run and get rid of her inhibitions.  It lets her have a bit of freedom and although not being quite what I had planned she needs a walk does her good.

I am intent on sorting out my jam store today - it has got into a bit of a muddle and I have jam jars and cannot locate them easily and I am blowed if I am buying any more jam jars at present.  Kilner jars or their equivalent and sauce bottles yes but not jam jars just the lids so I shall be under the stairs when I return sorting out and organising everything so that I can get the new preserves in.  The shelves need lining with new paper in any event.  I am also hoping to get to the charity shop to have a browse.  However I did go into the charity shops in town yesterday and was horrified at the prices for mens shirts.  Anything upward of £5 and if they had a designer label in £12.  I know charity shops need to show a return but where has common sense gone to.  They will if they are not careful end up shooting themselves in the foot  because not everyone has that kind of money to splash out in any event and especially those on a lower income who cannot afford to buy decent clothing.  It is a fine balancing act.

 I also have plans to make some chilli jam and also some mustard but I am not sure whether I will get to that today or not.

Anyways I am off to walk the dog.

Catch you later.



Friday, 28 September 2012

Mint Chutney

This is the recipe for the pickle that I made the other week.  It is unusual in that it is not a cooked chutney at all but more of a pickle.

The recipe is a Mary Norwak one

3/4 pint/375ml cider vinegar
1lb/450g sugar
2 teaspoons of mustard (oohps I missed this out)
1lb/450g eating apples
2 medium onions
8oz of fresh mint leaves
2oz of seedless raisins
Pinch of salt

Heat the vinegar in the pan and then stir in the sugar and mustard until the sugar has dissolved.  Stir well, take off the heat and cool slightly. Chop the apples, onions and mint very finely and put in a bow with the raisins and the salt.  Pour on the vinegar mixture, ix well and pour into hot sterilised preserving jars.  Seal at once.

This is a very light pickle, and the flavour is lovely (I didn't put the mustard in as I missed it off the recipe) but it is still a very tasty preserve - very fresh and not heavy.  Very nice with some cold meats and fried potatoes.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Good Morning Monday

Good Morning Monday the first day of the rest of the week.  I have to confess I have the blues today,  Its a duvet type of day to hide away in the warmth.  However it is still wet, overcast grey (I don't do grey) and dreary and the damp is in my joints again despite me keeping warm.  One step forwards two steps back.  Must keep positive,  But hey ho its just another day I will get through it just a bit slower than usual and I hate doing slow.  Too impatient me by half, perhaps patience is my lesson.  But then each day brings its own blessings and something special it its own way.  You just have to learn things in a different way.  Instead of cup being empty the cup is in actual fact half full and we have lots to be grateful for.  Sometimes getting through the day is challenge enough, but those days turn into weeks and those weeks into months and those months into years and I am very grateful for  the companionship of friends and fellow travellers if you like, we all help each other along the way through thick and thin.

I have the brolly ready so that I can do my Mary Poppins act "bobbing along" the street as I walk to work, getting my daily exercise in the process. Its a reasonable way, but it helps me keep moving and then I have the return journey this evening, but it gives precious thinking time - it is not just walking, (alternative view point again being positive when its easy to fall into the negative) being positive has farm more benefits. On the outward journey it helps me put the day in perspective and on the homeward bound it helps me relax after a busy day - just time for myself and we all need that now and again.

But today has hardly started, it is like opening up Pandora's box we never quite know what to expect but it keeps us on our toes and quite frequently there are surprises and intrigue. It wouldn't do if we were all the same, but then again truth is often stranger than fiction.

On that note I am going to tootle off to work (remember vision of Mary Poppins and her parrot umbrella [well not quite mine's grey but in my childish dreams its a pink one with a  parrot handle] bobbing long the streets of Peterborough) well they wouldn't miss me if it was pink!  The colour of love the colour of passion.

Catch you later on have a lovely day


Sunday Evening round up

Since my last post, its done nothing but pee it down with rain; autumn/winter is upon us in full swing.  If I had a fire I would have had it lit today and snuggled up, oh how I wish I had an open fire to cosy up to.  I have spent most of the day on my own with Missy (the dog) and Squeak (My tabby cat) and Demetri (the stray)currently all fast asleep;  The animals have stayed close all day even Demetri who likes to go out and about has for the past week been hugging the house.

 I have made my greengage jam, my picallili is dry brining and will be finished off tomorrow evening.

We have had a lovely tea, lamb steaks(double chops), mashed potato, cabbage, peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower with lashings of gravy and then home made rice pudding - it all went down very well.

I watched Downtown and since then have been blog hopping. I just have to run the iron over our clothes for tomorrow and then  I am going to get my hair washed and then go up the stairs to Bedfordshire.

I have a date with the picallili tomorrow evening.

Catch you soon



Sunday, 23 September 2012

Chilly September day

Its a cold chilly grey September day today and rain is promised for later on.  Its a day that reminds me so much of when I was a youngster and we used to go to my Nan's ostensibly to start the apple harvest, often going back a week or couple of weeks later  to finish off as  she had a mixed bag of trees all old English varieties, all full of flavour but funnily enough we never had a cider variety but that never stopped her making cider or wines and she was very good at it.  

There was always something going on when we went to my Nan's ostensibly to do with food either cooking it preserving it sowing it or planting it.  At specific times of year you did this or that and therefore to me September/October was always apple picking weather, along with bringing in the last of the marrows and putting the other veg like onions to dry in the big old garage that latterly never was used as a garage but as a foodstore and implement store.  It also followed true to form that if you wanted to talk to my Nan you had to be with her doing something useful as many hands made light work and the sooner we got through things the quicker we would get sat down for a cup a tea and quick snack.

Today I too like my Nan in years gone by have been in the kitchen.  I have some greengage jam on the go which will be lovely in croissants for breakfast.  Greengages remind me so much of my Nan.  She had a greengage tree and she never had fruit from it apart from once  - that was the year before she died and there was loads of fruit which was spread as usual liberally around our family and friends.  I am sure that tree wanted her to have the fruit just that once.  The following year there was no fruit again.  But the Orchards have all gone now  - the person who bought her bungalow completely decimated the deep hawthorn hedge, took out the 8ft tall copper beech hedging and arbour, took out all the fruit trees and sold the land off and had it split into three - thus completely decimating it.  It was a special place to our family for over 60 years.  Anyway I digress.

I have been busy pottering, radio going in my own little world, making the greengage jam and preparing another batch of vegetables to make picallili.  This has red onion, marrow, shallots, green bean, pepper, courgette, caulflower, tomato in it and looks really pretty. Soothing work, rythmic work a time to dream a time to consolidate my thoughts.  There will be more to do next weekend I am nearly out of sugar I seem to have depleted the stock that I had, but that will get put right come pay day.  I also have some chilli jam and some apple chutney to make, so I am beavering way a bit at a time.  I have in mind to make some tomato and herb sauce and also some barbecue sauce as well the the souper stock which I use a lot of so all vegetable based at the moment.  Then we will see what comes our way by way of produce  as to what else I do although I do have to do some pickled eggs and tomato ketchup.

I have stated a new book and I desperately want to get back to it, but work comes first I am afraid. We are not having a joint for tea tonight but minted lamb chops, done with carrots, peas, cauliflower, mashed potato and may be some cabbage.  Solid tasty food to suit a chilly day.

Right I am off to get on - what sort of day are you having and what have you been up to today.

Look forward to hearing from you



Saturday, 22 September 2012


Alison and Mandy you really do have a lot to be responsible for and I am looking forward to this Thursday's trip. I might buy something then.  I am desperate to start my own patchwork and it is on the to do list.  It will happen eventually. However I do still have some things to clear out of the way and complete to free up some space before I set too and do a proper full sized quilt.  However that does not stop me acquiring patterns, fabrics etc in anticipation and after the looky touchy feely session with the fabrics and the crafts that were being executed at Art and Stitch yesterday I am kind of feeling all inspired again.  However, saying that I am always rather interested in recyling items re-purposing them and after an Article from Frugal Queen on how to strip a shirt down and use it for patchwork, I have succumbed and bought one shirt.  I like the fabric it has purples, lilacs greens greys in it  a stripe. 

Look Here.....

 I am going to acquire every so often fabric in a similar way when I see something I like and build up the stash and then have a go at making a quilt in this fashion.  It will make something useful out of something that had been discarded re-purposing and making something that I do need.  You can never have too many quilts! 

This evening I have been sat de-constructing the shirt and getting it into nice sized pieces and into a little pile ready to be put up.  This way round I am collecting materials and it is not technically starting something new - well not quite as yet.  The buttons have been recycled into my button jar too.  

Whilst I have been sat I have had company  Demetri has been sat next to me flat out  and Squeak has been to my size also flat out.  Think they have it a tad jammy - one trained daft human.  Because its fabric they are fast asleep.  If it was wool and was twitching I would have had both of them fighting to take it off me.

This is where I got my inspiration from for using the shirts

Will update as and when I obtain more fabric or actually start making.  The fabric has lilacs, purples, turqouise, grey, sage green, grey and I think pinks, greys will tone in nicely.  At the moment I am thinking of doing the quilt in strips just merely adjusting the angle of the patch.  Will see how it pans out anyway.

Catch you later



Simple Things Mean a lot and Pattypan Ramblings

I obtained a well known company's latest catalogue in the run up to Christmas - not the Christmas catalogue but it has some items in relation to Christmas.  In particular being a foodie I was instantly drawn to the foodie items in the catalogue to see out of interest if there was anything that took my fancy and that I had recipes for or seemingly to see if there was anything new that took my interest, if there was I could buy a jar of that which was different or unknown to me,  try it and then look for a recipe.  I am a bit of a meanie when it comes to buying preserves and besides I like to play and create my own.  

So I went tootling through said catalogue items like Damson and Port Jam, After Dinner Mints (which are seemingly mint creams covered in chocolate easily made at home and you get far more for your money); Kendal Mint Cake, Handmade Fudge, Sticky Toffee Sauce, Shortbread, Scottish Oatcakes, Morello Cherry Jam, Christmas Pudding (why buy one when you can make one that will be absolutely fabby dabby, mulled wine, Lemon Curd, Sweet Onion Relish  Christmas Chutney Real Ale Chutney Pear Apple and Ginger Chutney etc etc etc. Most of these said items are quite expensive for what they are, but they needn't be.  One of my passions is collecting recipes, especially when it comes to preserving.  I collect and  have recipes if not exactly the same pretty much near it and for what I would be paying for one jar if I bought the ingredients from scratch I would probably get nearer 3 to 4 jars for the same price if resourcing my ingredients at the right price. I would rather pay out for core ingredients and then have a bash at making it myself.  Sometimes things work out other times they don't but its all a learning curve and making mistakes is the best way to learn because you iron out all the wrinkles and finding your way round the recipe and what not to do.  

The other part of the reason that I make so much myself from scratch is that I get to source where the ingredients come from - therefore no hidden nasties and I get to put stuff up that can be used throughout the year.   This is a hangover from the way my grandparents used to provide food for themselves and the family and the fact they lived in a village where there was a post office with a few food items in and one small paper shop and that was it; so they had to stock up with food items especially basics because it would be a while before they went to town again - a very practical reason.  However good food in those days usually meant good health and even today I believe that this still impacts on us.  Even though we all do what we can with the resources available to us.  I remember my Nan preparing the Goose in the run up to Christmas (it was running round the orchard free range until about a week before Christmas), home cured tongue, ham, pork pies, faggots (not purchased all home made) together with pickles and preserves put up in season and eked out through the year although Christmas was always time to celebrate and share with family and friends - if someone was on their own at Christmas there would always be an invite to come and have Christmas dinner with the family no one was allowed to be alone.

 However in recent years Christmas is not how it used to be - it is over commercialised and a lot of the pleasure had gone for me until I got back to basics i.e. making a few decorations myself, making a few presents from scratch like crotchet scarves or knitted scarves and getting back to the simplicity of smaller presents.  That's not to say I don't buy things but for me the whole enjoyment factor comes by giving some of your love to someone else in the form of something crafted by you.  Its the simplest of gestures and yet to me speaks far more and gives more pleasure to me (and I hope to my recipients).  A present doesn't have to cost the earth its the intention behind it that matters more than anything else. We have much to be grateful for today, but we shouldn't lose sight of the old ways the old skills because they can and do still play a very important part in our lives - we don't always see them but they are there propping everything up behind the scenes.

So I am back to researching recipes and sorting out what I am going to do in the next few weeks, and trying to make the most of what I have and giving something back where I can. 

Anyway ramble over have a lot to do (as usual)

Catch you where I can



Friday, 21 September 2012

Christmas Preparations Crafts 2012 Part 1

September is the month when I start to prepare for Christmas doing  a little bit here and there.  Where a few extra items find their way into my shopping basket to be stock-piled out of the way in readiness for the Christmas celebrations.  Pickling, making chutneys bottling fruits  all so that we can have something different on the plate and little treats here and there.  September is also the month when I make my Christmas Cake giving it time to mature.  However this year it would appear that I am writing about Christmas earlier than I usually do.  The Reason  - I went for a touchy feely session with my two friends from work to Art and Stitch in Peterbrough ostensibly to look at fabric, patterns and have a good mooch around.  But as usual they had lots of other bits and bobs on the go which took my eye namely the bauble decoration below, so much so I decided to have a look around to see what was available and thought everyone else might want to share in too - so here are the links now its up to you to have a look round and have a play.  Enjoy

I give the links here for ease of reference but I have also added them to my Pinterest Board as well.
 Things to make and do - Baubles

Recycled Christmas Card Baubles

 Cinnamon Salt Dough Decorations

Christmas tree decorations by Tara Dennis

Holiday Card Ornaments
Beaded Christmas Ornament

Catch you later



Thursday, 20 September 2012

Crusty Baps and Chicken Stew

I have been busy this evening - we ran out of bread so after getting myself sorted and fussed an extremely excited Jack Russell I then set too and started to make the dough for some bread baps.  I was quite impressed with the Tiger Roll recipe and so I have used the dough recipe for that minus the sesame paste.  I have made 16 baps tonight and I am extremely chuffed with them.  I have had one already with some butter on. Yummy and crusty but to get the dough to rise properly (my kitchen gets very cold) I put the heating on full blast and then put the oven on result really hot kitchen - that hot I was thinking of stripping down a few layers and the bread has risen really well.  As I say we had run out of bread;  OH needed some bread for pack up and as we are having chicken stew for tea tomorrow night we needed a supply of bread for dipping in the gravy; the gravy is often the best part.  Will be quite simply chicken carrots, peas some stock and a little pearl barley to thicken things up a bit served with the proverbial mashed potato.

Well at least its something filling and warm to come home too.  I think I will make a batch of French Onion Soup on Saturday morning, as it is handy to keep in the fridge and if you just want something light to eat that is warming it is handy to have a bowlful just with some nice bread.  Soup is a meal for the soul as well as the body and I am quite happy just to have that to eat.

Right am off to tidy up

Catch you soon


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

September Morning

I was shattered when I got in last night and as the evening went on things didn't get on any better so I put a rain check on the picalliili.  I will do this tonight together with some pear and ginger chutney which I can put on and have simmering (you just have to keep an eye on it and stir it every so often) whilst I sit with the radio on,  on my Nan's old stool preparing the vegetables for brining.  I quite like the methodical work the quiet time where I can lose myself and my thoughts it is a kind of meditation and nearly always valuable in restoring my inner calm. In recent years I have taken to using the Pam Corbin recipe for Picallili which is one of the better ones I have come across.  In fact that little Preserves book is one of my all time favourite preserve recipe books

 it was cold here in Peterborough last night and the heating was put on for a little while. (It is chilly again this morning)  I can feel the change in the seasons so much and this morning my finger joints are swollen and I feel below par, so have to try and nip this in the bud whilst I can i.e. just take things steady.

I did however on Monday evening receive a big tub of rosehips to process so I may well start processing them tomorrow night.  I thought if I planned things out a little better it would give me chance to process everything in time and this is a tedious and time heavy job as I always remove the seeds from the rosehips.  First because I always keep a supply of the shells in to be used in wine making, ground down to form rosehip (vitamin c powder) make rosehip syrup rosehip and apple jelly and there are various other recipes out there.   I will not get them all done tomorrow night but I can make a start and process them a little at a time.

Another bountiful harvest from nature's larder  - thank you Jean, Becki and Jess  much appreciated xx

Talking about drying things I have also dried some lemon verbena leaves, some sage, some rosemary and some orange skin peels all as little extras to the larder shelf.  I intend to get hold of some red long thin chillis during the next few weeks and string them to dry. You must be careful when handling chillis and I always wear disposable gloves for processing them.  These will be used in next year's pickled onions (I already have a batch prepared and starting to be used in this years pickled onions and shallots) so if you do a little preparation work now your part way there when next year comes round.  Its all part of the rythym of the autumn season.  There is rythym and serendipity to each and every season we just have to learn to dance to our own tune our own heart song our own rythym.

If you have an open fire at home  then get out and go into the woods and collect the fir cones whilst they are dry and use them either as fire lighters or to just top the fire up as when they burn they release the most piney resiney smell.  I love wood/log fires.  You can also save the stalks and stems from herbs throughout the summer and use it as dry kindling, also orange peels that have been dried to scent the house also.  Get the wee ones in the family gathering with you.  That's how I learned to identify plants from an early age and that forager gatherer thing stays with you for life.  We always made a family occasion of it and took a picnic as well.  So while the weather is still fine get on out there.

Right am off to work catch you later.



Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Pickled Onions/Pickled Shallots


2lb shallots/pickling onions
4oz salt
2pints of water
1 1/2 pints spiced vinegar (see previous post)

Preparing the onions:

Onions are beggers to peel at the best of times - t hey always make me cry; I have tried several methods of peeling the same even the one about holding the teaspoon between your teeth whilst peeling the onions all it does is make me look a bigger pratt than ever.  I came across the method I now use by chance.  About an hour before you start to prepare your onions put your onions whether pickling onions or shallots pop them into a bowl and then fill up the bowl with boiling hot water until  until full.  Leave to soak.  Go back an hour later and start to peel the onions by using a sharp knife to make a clean cut to the base of the onion and even off the top of the onion and remove the outer leaves.  Carry on until all onions have been processed putting the processed onions into another holding bowl or bucket.  Place a few of the onions into the empty bowl and sprinkle salt over the onions (this is known as dry brining) working layer by layer i.e. layer of onions and layer of salt and leave the onions for 24 hours to remove any excess moisture.

I always use a cold vinegar to cover the onions as it keeps the pickles nice and crisp.  I have found that if I use warm or hot vinegar it makes the pickles soggy and I prefer a crisp pickled onion.

If you want a sweetened pickle warm up the spiced vinegar and add  a couple of ounces of sugar and dissolve in the vinegar over the heat.  Leave to go totally cold once the sugar has dissolved fully.

After leaving the onions for 24 hours wash the onions well to remove as much salt as you can even if this means washing them in at least three or four cold water washes to remove all traces of the salt.  Drain in a colander.

Sterilise the jars that you intend to use I usually do mine in the oven.  I normally use wide mouthed jars as it makes it easier to get the onions in and layer them properly.   Then start adding the onions layer by layer and use a spoon handle to manipulate the onions into place so that there are no gaps.  Then add the cold spiced vinegar.  I always add a whole dried chilli and a couple of bay leaves per jar and make a small  wadge of greaseproof paper to put in the top of the jar to hold the pickles below the vinegar and I then put the lids on.  Label and leave for at least a month more if possible to mature.  

That is one stone of onions prepared I have a few more stone to do yet as well as shallots.

I would mention one thing.  Sometimes you can get discolouration or spotting or a speckled effect on shallots or onions.  Please do not worry the onions are still edible.

Basic Spiced Vinegar

One of the best bits about the pickled onions is the spicy vinegar.  You can buy this ready spiced, but I usually prepare my own well in advance, and then when the pickles are all used up I decant what remains of the vinegar and we use it where you would normally use vinegar as a condiment.  Waste not Want not and all that jazz.

You should only really use whole spices and not ground ones on the basis that the whole spices do not cloud the vinegar and give a clearer  appearance of the vinegar and preserve whereas using ground spices can and does make the vinegar go cloudy so I tend to steer away from the ground spice, although I have on occasions been known to use them.  Ideally you should prepare your vinegars  at least two months prior  say end of June beginning of July in advance of making your pickles but don't fret if you do not manage to achieve this.  There are ways around this.

Method one:  This is the cold steeping method where your choice of spices are macerated in cold vinegar  in bottles and left to steep for a couple of months.  This is perhaps the best way of preparing your vinegar.

Method two: To spice vinegar quickly.  Place your vinegar and chosen spices into a piece of muslin and tie so nothing can escape and then pop your pickling bag into your vinegar which you have already placed in a saucepan cover and bring to boiling point.  Be warned you will need a window open to get rid of the vinegar fumes whilst doing this.  Once boiled, Remove from the heat and leave to steep until cold.  Fish out your spice bag and  Then strain I usually filter through a couple of pieces of muslin.

Here is the ingredients list for my spiced vinegar to pickling onions:

2 pints of vinegar of your choice
2inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon of cloves
1 tablespoon of Mace blades (the outer dried membrane of the nutmeg)
1 tablespoon of allspice berries
1 tablespoon of peppercorns
1 tablespoon of coriander
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of coriander

For a variation for a hotter spiced vinegar add 1 tablespoon of dried chillies (be careful here) tablespoons of mustard seed or fennel or dill seeds may also be added.

I buy most of my spices from the Asian foodmarket over the road from where I live.  They are usually a good source of finding different mustard seeds at reasonable prices as well as most other spices.

If the above ingredients are a little heavy for your tastes half them, or quarter them and then next time you make your own pickled onions if not quite spicy enough you can always adjust the measurements.  I am always very cautious with chilli as a rule and tend not to put it into my spiced vinegar, but I do put home dried fresh chillies one per jar direct into the pickles with two fresh bay leaves to decorate the jar and finish off the preserve.

So once you get your vinegar prepared (you can then get on and make your pickles)

I will tell you how I do my pickled onions in a further post including some short cuts I have learned along the way.

I am off to prepare my vegetables for the picallili - the first part is the brining process,

Catch up later


Tis Pickling Season

Most of us love the flavour of Garners pickled onions, however around here for Shallots we have been paying around £3 a jar.  What's that you say PP buying pickled onions - I must admit only when we run out.  This is the time of year where I do tend to put a lot down, but bearing in mind that I did a load of pickled onions and shallots last year and they did not last too long (despite doing a couple of stone of each - I decided to do an early tranche at the weekend and I have seven jars (Sarson Tall Vinegar Jars) full.  I have still another couple of bags of picklers to come and a couple of shallots.  £3 a jar is a lot of money - I bought a net of pickling onions for £5.50 and then used  gallon of vinegar to go with- probably £3 a canister which works out a £8.50 works works out just over £1.35 or so (I am not being precise) for a very large jar full.  How much would they charge you in the shops to buy this probably nearer to £3.99  a jar.  Call me tightwad if you will but pickles are one of the easiest preserves to start with and take very little time to prepare.  However really and ideally  there is something that you need to do before you make your pickles and I will cover it in a post this evening when I get home, although don't panic if you don't manage to do this there are ways around it.  So if you want to learn to pickle catch up with me later on.  It is easy and not as complicated as you might think,

I also have quite a lot to do this evening.  I have to prepare my vegetables for picallili, (I didn't manage to get them done on Sunday which is probably a good thing as they only need leaving overnight before making up the preserve the following day).  This also will be tranche 1 on the picallili making as OH is also extremely fond of this and also goes through it pretty quickly; I have to  make some plum jam I managed to get some greengages at the weekend.  I was also gifted a large tub of rosehips yesterday evening so I have quite a tedious and time consuming job to do in cleaning the rosehips of their seeds so that I get a better preserve.  I have in mind to do some rosehip and apple jelly, rosehip syrup and also dry some rosehips during the course of the next few days,  I just need out to get some blackberries for some blackberry and apple jam.  So have quite a lot on the agenda again.

 I will catch up with you later on - promise

Have a good day



Monday, 17 September 2012

Sunday Update

Sorry I did not get back last night things got a bit busy again in the kitchen after I had watched Downtown - wasn't it good.  I got the first batch of pickled onions completed I have 7 large jars of pickled onions now, (these are the Sarson Vinegar jars) although I had to prepare another batch of spiced vinegar.  Because it was late and because I wanted cold vinegar and it was warm in the kitchen I put it outside the back door as it was cold outside esconced in Big Bertha.  That got it nice and cold.  Who is Big Bertha you wonder?

Big Bertha is my very large maslin/preserving pan that I have had since I was 19 years old.  Big Bertha and I have been through quite a few trials and tribulations together but mainly I use her for chutneys, preparing vinegar, or preparing bulk batches of jam.  She is well battered and has the war wounds to prove it.  The funniest of which was that we were decorating the kitchen and the contents of said kitchen were here there and everywhere and I hadn't got room or the inclination late one night to find a better home for her and ended up putting her in the bedroom down by the side of the bed.  Cue one major nightmare from me in my sleep I fell out of bed and landed on the preserving spout and removed Big Bertha's  spout in one easy movement as I fell on my thigh on her got a beautiful shiner on my leg and promptly handed her over to OH to unbend her!  She hasn't been kept in the bedroom since!  So she is well loved and a bit battered.  Poor love!

After getting all my pickled onions done for this tranche I then did the chilli jelly which has come up well and I am really pleased with this.  The recipe called for sour apples but I had only some dessert apples so these were used.  Its made for a very hot and sweet jelly but it will do.  That sort of thing tends to get used up quickly .  I managed to get 8 jars of this as well, so I am really getting  a wriggle on.
I then did the washing up and got my hair washed ready for work this morning and eventually got to bed about 2.00 a.m.

I am off out this evening but my friend lives in deep Lincolnshire country side and has a lot of land and has promised me some rosehips so if not tonight I believe I have some rosehips to process in due course too so may well do rosehip and apple jelly  and hopefully some syrup and if enough dry some as well.

I also picked some Lemon Verbena leaves for drying and also cleaned all the clementine peels  -  this is tedious work as you scrape all the pitch off the peel and sometimes the peel splits into little pieces, but you can only do what you can do.  (some juice went into the Nectarine chutney and I did not want to waste the peels)and they are now put to dry too.  You can create an orange powder from ground up peels which can be added to cooking like in a cake or in a buttercream.  You don't need too much of it though, or alternatively I can leave the peel whole and add it to give extra oomph to a casserole.

Right I had better get a wriggle on and get dressed for work.

Hopefully will catch up later on depends what time I get home but in any event will catch you all soon.

Have a good day wherever you are 



Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sunday afternoon

This Sunday afternoon has been a busy one.  I have made 6 jars of Nectarine Chutney to add to my stash, done the washing up in between, cooked a meat pie.  That's a big deal for me as I made it from scratch including the pastry.  Much as I love cooking I become a nervous wreck when it comes to pastry.  Reason - I was taught to make pastry at school - my mother did not like the technique I had been shown and intervened and confused me so much especially as she wouldn't leave it.  Part of the problem is that I naturally make a very short pastry so it needs care in rolling out where it normally falls apart.  Mum reckoned I made nice pastry just like her mum used to.  Normally I have cold hands but when it comes to pastry they go hot.  But every so often I have another go.  Today I have been able to play on my own in the kitchen without interference and although not perfect the pie has come up reasonably well and "rustique".

 I am a simple cook and my presentation skills need a little work.  However with mashed potato, shredded cabbage carrots cauliflower and lashings of gravy and we have had a very nice tea and there is half a pie left together with gravy and veg which I am going to turn into bubble and squeak should make a quick simple tea for tomorrow evening as I am out  for the evening to a friends home with a bunch of other ladies and now these evenings are starting to draw in you need a decent feed in your belly.  I don't like wasting things either.

I have some vinegar spicing at the moment it has been bought to the boil and now the vinegar has been left to cool so that I can finish off my pickled onions later this evening.  I also have some chilli jelly to complete so have a lot to do and Downton Abbey starts again this evening.  I think I had better get a wriggle on.

Catch up later on



A little bit of baking

When I do my main shopping (usually around pay day) I try to buy in enough ingredients for the month so that I can make my own bread, do a little bit of cake baking, make puddings.  I have found sticking as much to a basic list month in month out usually makes sure that I have enough ingredients in house so to speak to have a go at a lot of basic stuff and a few fanciful things as well. You have to have something nice every so often to tickle the taste buds otherwise things get monotonous and people lose enthusiasm for what they are eating and life in general.  I have a set few things that I tend to make week in week out, like some scones, butterfly cakes, muffins, chocolate refrigerator cake, flapjacks, a swiss roll or a victoria sandwich and some tea breads and then I sometimes make a treacle tart, mini fruit pies or mince pies as well.  It depends very much on what time is available to me in any one week and sometimes I batch bake and then store the basic cake in the freezer and when it has defrosted then I decorate.  I also freeze pastry cakes uncooked so they can literally just be slipped into the oven from frozen and voila a fresh batch of something nice when you are in a hurry or someone drops round unexpectedly.

When you have children in the house, something sweet something nice is a big treat and somewhat of a necessity.  I know when I used to have my two at home, I used to do a batch bake every week and used to put my baked goods to cool on top of the chest freezer; needless to say "helping hands" used to intervene and the produce would disappear very quickly.

Pattypan's Kitchen

I have been busy in the kitchen again.  Yesterday was a busy day I had acquired all sorts of goodies and needed to get on with processing them.  I bought 2kg vine tomatoes and roasted them down in two large roasting trays sprinkled with shallot onion garlic thyme rosemary sage a little sugar a little  white wine vinegar basil bay leaf black pepper white pepper  until everything was golden brown and then just whizz everything up in the food processor and then pour into hot sterilised kilner bottles (or their equivalent) adding  little lemon juice to each bottle before  hot water bath processing them  for half an hour from when they boil.  People think why bother doing it all yourself - because I know where the ingredients have come from there are no nasties in them and I have produced 7 jars of sauce reasonably economically that can be used in lasagne pizza as a base for soup etc. Just on the ingredient front alone works out to 50 pence a jar. (if I didn't have the jars it would cost more for the initial outlay but once you have the bottles it works out a lot cheaper).  This obviously does not take the energy element  into account but this is usually about 45 minutes all tol  Since I have started making this myself I have hardly bought pasta sauce from the shop the only time being when I do run out.  At present I have 14 jars in store and during the next few weeks have plans to put down a lot more as we use tomatoes quite a lot and if I can get cheap tomatoes or grow your own it makes it even cheaper to produce.  This makes a mild pasta sauce compared to the shop bought ones but it is lovely and you can always add extra ingredients to pep it up.

I have also prepared a stone of pickling onions (the first of a couple of tranches).  My onions are sat brining at the moment I will finish them off later tonight but I have to "spice" my vinegar beforehand  i.e. warm the vinegar up with a mixture of spices [tied in a muslin bag] (if you want a sweet vinegar add the sugar now as well) and then once boiled up let it go cold and then use cold vinegar for the pickled onions as it will give a much crisper pickle.  Putting warm or hot vinegar in makes the onions go soft.

I also went mooching through my recipe books.  Quite a while ago I remarked on a pickle/relish that we had found a few years ago at a Christmas market in Lincoln which consisted of apples mint clear vinegar and sultanas as far as I could see.  Yesterday I was browsing my Mary Norwak Complete Book of Home Preserving ISBN 0-7063-5695-0 and I came across a very unusual recipe for a Mint Chutney.  It is not a chutney as we know it but I am quite excited because I believe it is the recipe that I tried and loved  updated with a few tweaks here and there.  So I made it yesterday as I had a whole load of mint in my herb border that needed liberating.  I will post the recipe separately later on but with a few tweaks (ie I hadn't got the exact ingredients so used substitutes) I don't think I am far off getting it how I want it, but it is very refreshing and I am quite taken by it because it creates a lovely little pickle with very simple ingredients.

I also gathered together my ingredients for making picallili yesterday as well and that will be processed later on today (ie prepared for brining)

I was going to make a lasagne yesterday but we didn't have enough cheese so I got some chicken breasts out of the freezer instead.  I was in two minds as to what to do with them but being as I had the pickling onions some peppers and fresh bay leaves I decided to do home made kebabs drizzled with sweet chilli sauce and then served with rice.  They were very tasty (although a certain person grumbled about me using bay leaves) but they do give a subtle flavour to any meat dish.  

We have home made steak pie for tea tonight cooked with mash, carrots, peas and lashings of gravy.  You need more substantial food when the weather starts to get a little chillier.

I also managed to get some greengages yesterday so am going to do some greengage jam and maybe some clementine curd as I have some clementines to use as well.  I also intend to dry the peel from the clementines to add in home baking and casseroles etc..  I also have in mind a more traditional apple chutney and some nectarine chutney and nectarines in syrup and apple sauce. but we will have to see how we get on.  As usual there is always a long list of things to do and if I don't get them done today well there is always tomorrow.

I also need to make the shortcrust pastry for the pie.  I might even make a bread and butter pudding to go with it.

At the moment I am quite missing my chest freezer will have to see if we can get one at the end of the month.

Right I have things to do and I need a cuppa

Catch you all later on



Thursday, 13 September 2012

Comfort Food -Toad in the Hole

Comfort food is a must when the weather starts to turn; this past ten days or so (apart from the mini heatwave the other weekend) especially when you have been at work all day and want something substantial and good for you to eat.  I always have a main eye when I am cooking to how much it costs.  If I switch the main oven on I always fill it up to get maximum amount of food cooked often preparing several things before actually switching the oven on.  On this occasion I added some scones to the oven to make use of the cooker being on.

A meal is a meal at the end of the day and you don't have to have several vegetables on the plate at one time; sometimes its about making the best of simple ingredients and getting the best flavour out of them.  Tonight we have had home made Toad in the Hole made with some decent sausages, home made onion gravy served very simply with home made mashed potato and it was warming, cheap and scrummy and best of all was made ready and served within an hour of being home. We buy a pack of sausages for about £10 from our local butchers and ended up with nine bags of four sausages which works out at about £1, and then there were a couple of onions and about 5 medium sized potatoes the milk eggs and flour so for well under £2 a head we have had a cheap tasty warming meal that has filled and warmed us up

I start off by frying some onions in a little oil and butter  in a frying pan and then add a sprinkling of sugar to make the onions caramelise. Once they are golden brown I take them off the cooker and leave them to cool.

I then get a baking tray and pop the sausages in a little lard or oil and set the oven to gas mark 6 and get the fat and the sausages sizzling hot (I usually allow two sausages a person - as there is just the two of  us I used four and then made a batter mix up of a mug of flour, a  mug of eggs, a mug of milk all whipped and beaten together with a balloon whisk.  When I have established that the fat is nice and hot and before I take the tray out of the oven I put about a teaspoonful of vinegar in the batter mix fold it through the batter mix and then pour it straight into the baking tray and cook until the pudding is golden brown.

I then peel potatoes and boil them up and get them on the go.

Not long before serving I add a little hot water to the onions and then cooking and repeating the process until there is enough liquid in the pan I then add stock cubes, herbs and seasoning (I use a lot of white pepper) and a little thickening if necessary and get the gravy bubbling away. I do test with a teaspoon as I go along to ensure that I am happy with the flavouring.

I usually mash the potatoes up and have the gravy ready for serving and then cut the yorkshire pudding into quarters and served with two sausages each [ there is usally yorkshire pudding left but this soon was snaffled by the OH who finished off the last of the potatoes and the gravy and the yorkie he went back for seconds].  Pour nice hot gravy over and serve.
Nice and warming on a chilly autumn evening.  I have succumbed and put  the heating on as I am cold.

Right am off to have a tidy up and get things ready for work tomorrow.

Catch you soon



Sunday, 2 September 2012

Thought for the Day

Taken from "The Quiet Mind" A  little book of sayings by White Eagle

"Look Below the Surface"

"Do not judge by what you see on the surface, but develop an inner vision and insight into spiritual cause and effect.  Then you will know that you can judge no man"

Sunday Lunch

OH was working today overtime; the day did not start too well in that the car had a flat tyre!  Anyways he went to work but was home early at 12.30 pm and told me to get my glad rags on we were going out to get some lunch.  Not being one to let an opportunity like this to escape I quickly got changed even though I was up to my eyes in bottling the glutney.  Got that finished 9 bottles not bad it is now curing for at least 6 weeks. His nibbs has been told hands off.

Anyways back to lunch went to one of my local haunts The Beehive in Peterborough.  The food is out of this world in there and we have had a very lovely roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes seasonal veg and gravy for £10.50 a head followed by pudding OH had cheeseboard I had a most delightful apple tarte Tatin  with vanilla ice cream- and it was to die for.  So I have had a very delightful and unexpected lunch out and I really enjoyed it.  I am now stuffed!

I an now trying to get the rest of my chutneys and pickles done (that is if I don't fall asleep in the interim)

Catch up soon



Morning to the Potty Household

Well I am up and ready for action.  I am likely to be esconced in the kitchen for the best part of the day completing the projects I started yesterday.  I have also started some apple jelly for some chilli jelly.  My recipes tend to fluctuate a bit whilst I am in the throes of doing things and sometimes I go back and make the recipes I had intended to do with a fresh batch of ingredients and some times time comes into why I don't always do a recipe.  Needless to say there is still lots to do. I also have a gammon to retrieve and cook and some bread buns to make so I shall have quite a bit to do.  And then of course I have to strip the kitchen out completely so I think I had better get a wriggle on.

Better get on

Catch up later on

Pattypan (or should that be Pottypan?)


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Busy Busy Day

Its been a very busy day today.  I have been doing a lot of prepping for one of my marathon pickling and  preserving sessions.

I started this morning by brining some cucumbers - they will be finished off tomorrow with onion vinegar and fresh dill.

I have also started the Bengal chutney (this is carrot based and the link for which I gave you the other day but here it is again.  Not tried this one before but it has certainly piqued my interest and I liked the idea for a quick supper as well.

I have also processed 6 jars of home made pasta sauce as well as I had run out and it has lots of fresh herbs in too.

 I processed two baking trays full of ingredients here they are before going in the oven

I have also started the Glutney recipe. I have used courgettes, tomatoes, apples and onion

I have bought some nectarines to make a nectarine chutney as well.

I have apple sauce to make and also  a sweet apple chutney

I usually make a batch of chilli jam as well and normally use red chillis but this time I am going to try green chillis as per the recipe here

You may wonder why I am going slightly mad with the chutney.  The reason being that most chutneys need at least a month to mature but I like to give at least six weeks.  I also tend to give friends a jar or two of home made preserve as part of their Christmas pressies

I also have lemon and orange curd to make and might also make a spiced apple curd as well that I have the recipe for.

As well as some herb jellies, sage, lemon verbena, mint,  and also some long keeping mint sauce.  When I make this I usually do a couple of bottles of mint vinegar as well with which to make up the vinegar sauce gives it more flavour and punch.

I wont get everything done tomorrow and I have an early start tomorrow morning  as we have the builders in on Monday morning to do something with the plaster in the kitchen .

Right upwards and onwards

Take care



Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)