Friday, 30 August 2013

Things to Do

I am back to writing lists as my memory is decidedly dippy at the moment.  Plus with a list I have the added bonus of ticking things off as I finish them.  Now that is satisfaction.  Something completed.  I have a few things to do this week (as per usual); some things will keep a bit longer like the Shallots there is always flexibility with doing them but I would like to start them even if I do not get them completely sorted. I also have some more runner beans, marrow courgettes, new potatoes, tomatoes and some Victoria Plums that need ripening off . Also the remnants of a net of red onions and white onions so for starters the list looks as follows:

  1. Tomato Ketchup.
  2. Tomato Soup for the freezer.
  3. Picallili.
  4. Pickled Shallots.
  5. Burnt Onions for Gravy.
  6. Red Onion Marmalade.
  7. White Onion and Garlic Marmalade.
  8. Another layer on the Rumptopf.
  9. Victoria Plum Jam.
  10. Mincemeat.
We will have to see how we get on.



Christmas Hoarding

Well I have started the Christmas Food Hoarding.  Most of the dates on the goodies located so far have dates into April 2014 which suits me and gives me a bit more flexibility on time frame which is  a good thing.  These are destined for under the stairs out of the way.  I want to get as much as I can sorted earlier than I did last year so that I can get on when I need to do certain things which are fiddly and need a bit of time spending on them.

Just a few things for starters but the list will increase as I acquire things.  I really should have started with cake ingredients like fruit for the Christmas Cake and Christmas Puddings but hey its about nabbing things whilst I can and whilst things are on offer and more importantly when pennies will allow.  I also have to sort out the Pantry and the Freezer with goodies as well, but that will come in due course.  I am planning on making whatever I can from scratch However I am aiming to get what I can get done so that I am ahead of the game.  Getting the basics done and dusted will help out on time restraints as well which seem to be getting more and more - such is the way when you work full time and have family responsibilities as well as extended family responsibilities as well.  There will be weeks where nothing at all is bought but that is how the cookie crumbles - its a no pressure way of stocking up and equally some weeks there will not be the bargains about in which case I keep the pennies saved to one side until something comes up that I fancy adding to the stash. I thought I would keep a running total of what I acquire and how much I have paid week by week.

So far I have acquired:

Week 1
  1. Box of Crawfords Mixed Family Assortment Biscuits. £3.00
  2. 2 Bags of Cadbury Wishes (profits go to Make a Wish Foundation). £1 for two bags.
  3. 2 Bars of Fairtrade Ghanian Dark Chocolate with Orange and spices. £1.56 bar. £3.12 
  4. 2 Boxes After Eight Mints. £2.00 per box. £4.00
  5. 2 Tubes Pringles (buy 2 for £2.59)
  6. 2 bags x 7 Original Mini Cheddars (£1.89)
  7. 2 x 4 x 2 Packs of Bounty £1.00 per pack = £2.00 
  8. 2 x 3 Packs of Mars Bars @ £1.00 per pack = £2.00
  9. 2 bags mini cheese petit fous @ £1.00 per bag= £2.00
Sub Total £21.48

Will updated again shortly.



P.S. Just to let everyone know that each time I update on my Christmas Hoarding I will update by separate post but you will be able to read the full list of acquisitions on the tab at the top of the page.  Thought it would be easier like this.


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Planning for Christmas

We are at the end of another month; the nights are starting to draw in a little and there is a nip in the air and the blackberries and elderberries are putting in an appearance. We are slipping into autumn gently almost imperceptibly the wheel is turning again.  Bringing in the new shaking things up again.

Soon time to go picking blackberries for freezing, making jam, chutney, bottling, vinegars and wine making and blackberry vinegar.  Also time to look for mushrooms, Rosehips, Rowan berries, crab apples, Damsons, sloes.  Time to get making wine either buying a kit or creating from scratch and putting some beer, cider and lager, bitter or stout down for Christmas as well as Ginger Beer. This is the time of the year where we have to make the best of what comes our way to make sure our pantries are filled to last us through the winter months until spring arrives once more.

 My local Coop has the Christmas sweets in and the biscuits and there are offers on already and the beginning of September is the month that I start to buy a few extras here and there to pop up out of the way. Whether those be base ingredients for making things myself at home or the finished product.  I buy in basic items like dried fruit (it i well worth checking out home brands on dried fruit as they are often quite a lot cheaper), flour, luxury items like a bottle of wine, or a speciality liqueur like Amaretto (I like the Lidl version and its cheaper); chocolate, marzipan, ingredients like pecan nuts, hazlenuts, chestnuts etc..  I always check use by dates and only buy items now that have a long use by date.  Give it another month or six weeks on those items that do not at present have a long sell by date.  They soon will.  Shopping this way helps you actually get the ingredients you are after without causing problems to your purse.  A little and often are the watchwords and also shopping this way gets rid of last minute panic buying, less stress and a pantry that gives you the choice of ingredients from which to work which in turn frees up your recipe choices.  Remember Christmas is about feasting so even if you go without the goodies in the run up to Christmas it will make you enjoy them even more but be sensible with your choices and remember you do not have to fork out pounds and pounds for a cake or cakes make them yourselves they do not have to be complicated and simple recipes are often the most memorable.  Equally I raid the pound shops for offers on bits and bobs especially those cheesy biscuits and choccy biscuits.

The only thing you do have to do is to make sure that you have somewhere out of the way that the rest of the family do not have ready access too. Put the goodies under lock and key   I use the cupboard under the stairs which is my Jam Store.  Anything I make  and put up during the year I always put a couple of jars of whatever it is I have made especially for the Christmas store. I use bits and bobs in between . I have a large red plastic box which I store quite a few of the items in to start with.  If you try and squirrel away a few pennies here and there it will give you a float in which to take advantage of offers in the run up to Christmas.  Quite frequently hams and Gammons are on offer it is worth buying a couple of these if you can or more as it will come in handy not only for Christmas but also for pack ups in the new year and for an evening meal.  Just freeze them until you need them.  I always soak hams/gammons in water before cooking in any event as sometimes the ham/gammon can be a tad salty.  What goes with ham/gammon -  mustard.  Make a few jars whilst you have the time - it is not complicated and ring the changes by adding a different beer or fresh herbs.  There is a very good tutorial on

September is also the month if you have not made any already to make your own mincemeat and also your Christmas cake.  In fact I usually start buying the fruit first so that I can get the cake out of the way with  apart from occasionnaly feeding it and making sure that the cake is maturing nicely there is very little to do until the end of November beginning of December.  Equally once the mincemeat is made that's it until you need to use it. 

 I also have the pickled shallots to prepare and pickled onions.  I usually keep a load on hand for everyday use and also put a load in the freezer to use when time is at a premium i.e. roast dinners, in casseroles and stews.  I also have herb and apple jellies to make. I would like this year to have a go at making my own Gravlax and I have come across a recipe for storing Fennel in sea salt which I think will be ideal for using in making use of all those herbs in the herb border or freezing or drying the herbs and making vinegars and oils for bringing a touch of summer into winter salads especially with home made goats cheese.  Think home made goats cheeses toasted and melted on French bread served with a crisp salad and drizzled with home made raspberry, strawberry or blackberry vinegar.  Or alternatively  making curd cheese  for making your own cheesecakes. or making labnah from yogurt.  Scrummy.

Lots of ideas hurtling around now to sort a plan of action and get cracking either making preserves of whatever description myself and also buying odd bits and bobs and stockpiling in the Christmas box and getting things sorted for the freezer as well.  I also intend to start sourcing a few presents and making a few presents myself.  

Simple things to do now include making honeyed pecans, hazlenuts or almonds for liberally dribbling over home made ice cream or whatever you fancy dribbling it on.  Buy the honey when it is on offer I currently have orange blossom honey but any clear honey will do.  Its just a little something special for the store cupboard.

I have home grown tomatoes sourced (or should that be sauced) from my friends gardening neighbour which I intend to turn into a home made soup for the depths of winter.  I will cook them in the oven like I do for passata and then add some bacon bits and some of the fresh basil that is growing outside my kitchen window.  So that will be another treat for a miserable winter's day.  I also have picallili to make.  I also need to source some Victoria Plums for bottling and for Plum jam.

Right must get on catch up soon



Catch up soon


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Are You Pyschic Workshop with Jacqueline Lesley


There is another Workshop coming up with Jacqueline Lesley on Saturday 7 September 2013.  The details are as follows:


“Dare to believe in your own potential!”

Workshop Day, 10 am to 4pm, Saturday 7th September 2013 – Peterborough

  • Have you wondered if you may be psychic?
  • Do you just have a ‘feeling’ that maybe there is something different about you?
  • Have you had ‘unusual’ experiences?
  • Are you drawn to find out more about this subject?

With her 22 years of experience as a medium and tutor, Jacqueline will lead you on a day of spiritual learning. This will be a voyage of discovery about your own intuitive abilities which will help you to open up to the possibility that you too may be psychic! You will learn how to contact the spirit world and how to attune psychically to your own and other people’s energy.

A day of infinite opportunities awaits you in a relaxed and calm atmosphere with others just like you. Even if you are a total beginner, don’t be shy. This is YOUR chance to take your exploration of this subject to another level.

Ability level: Beginners & improvers                                              Your commitment: £60.00

For Further information and to book on to the class

Please contact Jacqueline direct on the contact details below

To find out more about:

Angelic Healing
One to One Tuition
Individual past life sessions
Gift vouchers
 …… or any other info, please 

Contact Jacqueline direct by email for further information

By Email:;

Telephone: 01733 347164

Mobile: 07779202602

When Booking Please tell Jacqueline "Tricia" sent you


Monday, 26 August 2013

Computer problems

Sorry have not been around for a few days have had internet problems -  hopefully that is all sorted now.  Have a couple of posts prepped  up but have to find the photos to go with them which could be easier said than done.  

Hope everyone has had a good weekend.



Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Evening everyone

I have been at home today  as I had the final hospital appointment for my ankle.  I have to get in touch with my consultant now to see whether or not she wants me to have further sessions.  I must say I have been very impressed with this treatment although the last appointment was extremely uncomfortable today's was more like the first, but apparently it can go like this.  They were running late on appointments today  so by the time I got home it was about 12:30 pm.  

OH is on holiday this week until he is back to work next Tuesday so when we got home he fancied a fried breakfast so that is what we had although I never do have much as I cannot eat an awful lot in one session these days.  I have been trying to find homes for some of my books this afternoon in the bookshelves in the front room.  I have also been sorting knitting patterns out and have sorted out some that I no longer require so they will go to the charity shop at the weekend. Things have sort of got out of hand a bit but although it is slow going I am going to try and get done what I can even if it takes longer than I really want it to. However I do like making things nice and tidy and cleaning up properly.  I hope to get really stuck in when I am on holiday.  

I really am itching to have a go at up-cycling some furniture pieces but I do not have the space or a place where I could undertake such work as we do not have a garage and no shed at the moment.  But I do have some ideas for the future.   So until that day comes things like this are going to have to go on the backburner. Besides now the evenings are starting to draw in I shall settle and start doing my crotchet again.

Back to work tomorrow.

Catch you soon.


Condiments, Burnt Onions and Gravy

Condiments are sauces that help pep up meals like home made mustards and flavouring the mustard to go with specific meats sometimes mixing them with wine another time with a beer or a stout.  There are many kind of condiments including the nations favourite Tomato Ketchup.

Having made the Souper Paste stock the other evening and having the remnants of a net of onions lurking and needing something doing with them I have decided to make another batch of Burnt Onions for Gravy which I make periodically although it is a while since I have raised this via a post. For the recipe please see the link here:  It will in effect be something useful made out of what I already have to hand and not wasting anything.  The net of onions only cost me £1 and I have had lots of use out of the onions so far.  I use onions a lot although when peeling and chopping I am quite frequently balling my eyes out but I have found a trick.  Soak the onion(s) in boiling water for about 10 minutes before you need to use them then peel and chop (chop the root off last).  I use this method for peeling shallots or pickling onions to make pickled onions/shallots.

I am a firm believer that people remember good meals for their flavour as much as anything else and a lot of that flavour comes from the gravy as a rule. I make gravy the old fashioned way using fresh stock where I can (I freeze in pouches in the freezer so I have a ready supply for soups and gravies). A good gravy makes the most of meat juices from cooking meat and vegetable water from cooking the veggies but I also use some of the Souper Paste, white ground pepper, sometimes redcurrant jelly, rowan jelly or elderberry jelly and burnt onions and a few mixed herbs depending on what I am cooking.  I suit the flavourings to what I am cooking. A little bit of that and a little bit of this all helps with getting the gravy just as you want it. The burnt onions form a good base  for sausages and pork dishes - all meats really but also for making soups.

If I use the Souper paste because of the salt content I do not add extra salt but I do use ground white pepper.  It is really a matter of experimenting and getting to know your ingredients and catering to your own palate.

Hopefully I will get the first batch done tomorrow night when I get home from work.  It doesn't take much cooking but make sure the kitchen window is open when boiling the vinegar I wouldn't want you to pass out with the fumes!

I want to have a go at my own Tomato Ketchup and Brown Sauce as well; but we will get the Burnt Onions out of the way with first.  I also want to try and get hold of some horseradish root and freeze it down in ice cube trays as well.  I have tried pickling horseradish root but was not very impressed with the results.   Will have to see how things go.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A Country Cook's Kitchen by Alison Walker

I have a new book; one I have had my eye on for some time and I eventually treated myself to it. This one is called A Country Cook's Kitchen and I love it.  ISBN: 978-1-906417-56-7  Sections on Baking, the Dairy, Preserving. Bottling and liqueurs, curing and potting .  There are Cook Books and there are Cook Books this one has some delightful recipes and ideas with beautiful clear photography.  This is definitely my sort of book and there are recipe here for making your own dairy produce from raw materials like your own butter, including flavoured butters.  I already have Cinnamon sugar put up for one of my winter favourites comfort food of the highest order Cinnamon toast but I had not thought of Cinnamon Butter to really give your toast or tea cakes extra oompf.  Would also be good for a fruit cake.  A residuary product from making your own Butter is Buttermilk and there is a recipe here for Buttermilk Scones. A recipe for making clotted cream and then a recipe for Clotted Cream Fudge. Plain yogurt and then recipes for dips and a  Scented yogurt cooler.  Soft cheeses include Fresh Ricotta with a baked Ricotta Cheesecake; Soft Goats Cheese - do not throw away the Whey as it can be used to replace water in bread making.  It freezes well too; then there are recipes for Goats cheese Toasts and a simple Goat's cheese salad etc. etc.  What I like about this book is its very organic in its approach and keenness on  not wasting anything.  Bottling recipes include Bottled Clementines (I have done these before here ) Bottled Rhubarb with orange and ginger Cherries in Brandy. There is also a processing chart for:

Apple slices
Apricots Halved
Citrus Fruit
Nectarines halved
Peaches halved
Pears halved
Plums halved
Quinces sliced
Tomatoes whole

Then there is a section on making sausages with recipes for French Country sausages, Basic Salami Saucisson sec, cold smoking and bacon.

In fact this book is very much my kind of book and I am very glad I have found itSimple good filling food with which to feed your family what could be better than that.



Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sunday evening Catch up

I have had the best part of the day on my own pottering away at my own housework for a change.  One of the jobs on the list was to sort out and clean the pantry fridge I use lemon juice in water to clean out the fridge and dispose of any out of date items.  That's the pantry fridge sorted and I can now find what I am looking for.  This fridge houses all the dairy and meat products as the fridge gets really nice and cold and its a little too cold for my salad stuff.  The small one in the kitchen is for storing fruit and fresh veg as although cold it keeps the veg well and it is this fridge that is raided when I do a home made stir fry.  I still have the kitchen fridge to clean out but will set about that in a little while.

Its the end of the month again where I start running out of things or have not go the wherewithall to go out and add an item here or there to make a meal out of something.  OH was moaning last night that we were down on provisions (what he meant was things he could get quickly without really having to think about them); but on review I thought well we have got quite a bit of stuff in really and all potentially good meals, but I think the real crux of the matter is he did not fancy eating up what we actually had and so I went rootling to see what we had to hand.

Admittedly I haven't got that much meat in at the moment but I did find a leg of lamb  which I got out and I always have lots of vegetables  and there are always things like peas or mixed veg in the freezer as well.  So this evening we have had roast leg of lamb stuffed with garlic and with a mint jelly glaze (the last of a jar of mint jelly - and then the jar was put in the dishwasher to recycle) served with shredded buttered cabbage minted peas, new potatoes, french beans, broccoli carrots and cauliflower served with lashings of gravy and mint sauce.  There is plenty of gravy left and plenty of meat so it will be cold cuts tomorrow for tea.  I have cooked extra potatoes to make a potato salad and am going to make home made coleslaw for later on in the week (probably  to go with the cold cuts if there is any left on Tuesday evening) I have veggies left over with the gravy for  quick and simple tea tomorrow evening and in turn using up what I have in the house.

One night in the week we will be having stuffed marrow and another night home made pizza as when I emptied the pantry fridge out I came across some saucisson and some chorizo and ham.  I have tomatoes and peppers and pineapple and also some anchovies in the pantry.  Its another meal where you can use what you have to hand to use up bits and bobs like the stir fry  although a slightly different principle but one where you can get the whole family involved.

Later on I have some Souper Mix to make whilst the new veggies are coming in to give a simple stock paste for the winter months.  I have a double batch to make but is very useful in making gravies, soups, risottos, casseroles etc. So this is another ingredient that has earned its place on my pantry shelf

the links are here:

Right am off to potter some more hopefully catch up later on



P.S.  I did double the amount of the Souper Stock paste my mix consisted of fennel, carrots leek sweet potato parsnip  turnip celeriac celery parsley rosemary thyme basil bay  and the salt.  I did not add much of the celeriac celery as both are quite strong flavoured.  The simple rule I kept to was for every kg of vegetables I used 250g of salt.  It is the salt that preserves this paste but of course the bottles and lids need to be sterilised. 



Saturday, 17 August 2013


I have been to my mum's today travelling in by bus quiet in my own thoughts.  The bus service for the Deepings where my mum lives has changed a lot since I was a kid; the buses used to have a conductor or conductress then.  Not so today the driver does it all.  Funny how things change all in the name of progress.

I got off the bus at Market Deeping as the service I had gone on was to Bourne.  Its quite organic my transport routine as I just go to the station to see whichever bus is available after picking up a few things in town before going to mums.  I usually walk from Market Deeping to Deeping St James calling in at the Antiques Centre on the way having a quick look around and then going on to mum's.  This I did today but today I espied some kitchenalia items i.e. a large stone flour crock which came home with me today.  I already have one of these but as I have various different types of flour the more storage I have the better.  I have also had a couple of other items popped up and am hoping to collect them next Saturday whereupon I will if I obtain them pop up a post then. Needless to say there are lots of lovely goodies within their doors.  

Arriving at mum's after an initial cuppa and a natter we then had lunch.  Mum had cooked a  small piece of British ham which was very tasty.  We had it served with fresh cooked beetroot, tomato wedges, some home grown cucumber and then some chip sticks, salad cream and mustard and very simple and very good it was too.

I then set too and started on the conservatory shifting everything out and scrubbing everything including washing and polishing the windows, and polishing the furniture and scrubbing the floor.  It was hard work but I love everything coming up nice and clean.  Well that's another room done. And then I have been through the rest of the house with the vaccuum cleaner and filled the watering cans for the greenhouse for the week.

On a lighter note  - Molly moved the kittens this morning I think more on a practical basis than for any other reason where she had given birth to them was quite narrow and now they have popped on some weight she cannot squeeze in to cuddle feed them.  So she has moved them out of the cupboard and moved them under the table so she can curl round them and keep them warm.

I a officially shattered and am off to bed to get comfy and hopefully have a goodnight's sleep.  I have tomorrow on my own as OH is working.

Catch up soon.



Friday, 16 August 2013

Update on the kittens

They are thriving and starting to pad out a little.  Molly has been delightful with them hardly taking any time for herself just  making sure he offspring are warm and fed.  For the best part they sleep in a heap all three of them either lined up all three together or wrapped like snakes around each other keeping each other warm and for the best part they are asleep.  I still have not been able to get any photographs although I have tried this evening not very successfully.  The only time you hear the squeak is when mum goes in and disturbs them being all wrapped up together to give them a clean or a feed.  They are sweethearts and I am so enjoying them.  I will get photos as soon as I can.  But mum and kits doing well its exactly one week today since they were born.

Catch up soon 


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A Place on my Pantry Shelf - Sesame Seeds

Everything in my Pantry has to earn its place and I keep a base of items that I personally use on a regular basis. Of course your base items would be those items which you would use on a regular basis and therefore may well be very different to what I keep in the  pantry.  That is okay that is the norm - it would not do if we were all the same but equally you have to embrace individuality.  One of these base items is sesame seeds - they are very good for you and contain some of those unusual trace elements that our systems use and need in minute amounts.  I have quite frequently bought Tahini in the past but the jars are always too big and so I decided to look for a recipe to make home made Tahini and I found this link to this tutorial which I popped up for future investigation.  This is what I do find things I am interested in and then go back and play.  This is what happened with this tutorial: which looks like a good simple tutorial and by the looks of it easily achieved.

Since starting this post I have gone on to play and make this Tahini paste.  I make it in little amounts and keep it in the fridge adding to whatever recipe I have.  I keep Sesame Seeds in the house predominantly to toast until golden brown, cool and then store in a jar to sprinkle on a natural yogurt topping that I put on top of ordinary cereal, home made muesli or granola together with a little stewed fruit (a good way of using up fruit that is past its best but which you want to use up).  I buy my sesame seeds from my local Asian Supermarket where they are also known as Till seeds.  I love the flavour of sesame seeds and I am also partial to sesame snaps which I quite frequently buy - and use as bases for puddings or as a topping.

Please see the link here for a recipe to make either poppy seed or sesame seed snaps

If I can make things myself I do as it gives me so much personal pleasure to be able to do things rather than rely being provided by the supermarkets.  I try to buy base ingredients and then you have freedom of choice on what you do with them.  Most things store well in the pantry for a little while and home made has no nasties in them.

And then this moning I was watching Annabel Langbein on the Good Food Channel and she made very simply some lavosh cracker breads.  I have been paying a fortune for these over £2 a box and they are very tasty.  Guess what they use Sesame Seeds as well  here is the link to recipe on Annabel's website.   This recipe uses both white and black Sesame Seeds. I must say that I am particularly taken with her way of cooking.

This is a lovely website and there are some lovely simple recipes there too.

So that is three uses for Sesame Seeds already so I think they have earned their place on the Pantry Shelf.  Do you use Sesame Seeds and if so how or what do you use them in?  

You know me I like to find recipes so that I can make them quite happily at home.

Look forward to hearing from you.



P.S.  You can also use them on home made bread too

New Followers

Hello there and welcome (waves frantically  - sorry do not know morse code)  how remiss of me.  I have been engrossed with preparing posts. I have new followers Yippee.  So excited please do not be shy introduce youselves, put the kettle on and make a nice mug of tea.  Hope you get comfy and find something useful to you.

So welcome to Sadie, Ben, Miss Sandra and Nanny Annie.

Take care and thank you for following



Monday, 12 August 2013

The C Word has been very prevalant today

It started with me reading an article on growing potatoes for Christmas dinner; then going on to me buying some Christmas Tree Cookie cutters from the Works at lunch time and a book entitled a Little Course on Preserving and subsequently a conversation where the shop staff were quite amazed that they had managed to sell a lot of Christmas based items pretty quickly.  This then led on to a conversation about families buying through the year or when they saw something to put up for a family member all to help with pacing the Christmas budget without having to go overdrawn and paying for everything up front.  I indicated that I could quite understand that and that I had been organising one or two bits as I had gone along myself and another customer joined in the conversation and said she actually started buying in January straight after Christmas. Because things are getting tighter you have to do what you can when you can with what you have available to you.  I go looking and keep my ears peeled.

I start shopping at the beginning of September buying a few things a week stockpiling.  It might be a nice box of chocolates at a bargain price/special offer, or crystallised ginger or making a few jars of chutney to give away as a present to a friend at Christmas.  Equally it might be some sweets from the Pound shop whatever I can afford on that particular week.  Sometimes you just cannot squeeze anything extra no matter how hard you try, but there is always another week.  The idea behind doing this is that you set the pace and even if you only do a little bit it will be better than nothing and all helps ease the pressure come Christmas.  This way round if you have little spare cash that prevents you from paying into a Christmas Club this way you create your own food hamper and are able to do what you can when you can.

My watch word here is check your date stamps make sure that anything you buy for your Christmas Food Hamper has a long stop sell by date which gives you extra freedom in that you do not have to use everything up for Christmas but will still be able to bring goodies out for the family in the New Year.

September is the month that I also make the Christmas cake and mincemeat.  I also look  out for bargains on baking ingredients and stockpile these especially dried fruit so that you can make your own goodies.  Pickled Onions,Pickled Shallots, Pickled Red Cabbage,Saurkraut, Picallili, chutneys and other preserves can also be made at this time.  It is also time to start haunting the hedgerows for blackberries for jam and chutney and wine and fruit for the freezer, elderberries, crab apples, sloes for sloe gin etc. etc.  I also start stockpiling goodies in the freezer sausage meat for stuffings, or to make sausage rolls or buy the sausagemeat fresh and then make my own sausage rolls.  You can spike the difference by making them plain just adding some additional sage and pepper, or by adding a good chutney to help lift the sausage rolls to a whole new level.  I also start stockpiling in the freezer puff pastry not just for Christmas but also for weekly treats that the family will love such as cinnamon swirls, pecan splits, bacon and cheese twists, Mille Feuille slices filled with fresh fruit and cream, custard tarts etc. etc. etc.

Tomorrow I am going to get some more white wine vinegar and cider vinegar.  I have pickled eggs to prepare - OH is a bit partial although they are not really my cup of tea and the sooner they are out of the way the better as it will give me time and room to do something else for the Pantry Shelf. I have two very large storage jars destined for the eggs. I also have the pickled shallots to do - I have another batch coming this week.  So there is always something you can be doing to make sure that you do the best with what you have and to make sure that your family eats well.  Pickled onions go well with a home made Ploughmans, or with cheese and biscuits as well as a dollop of chutney. Also Garners Pickled Shallots and onions cost an arm and a leg.  I picked up 10lb of Shallots at 50p per pound, just needs vinegar and spicing and a bit of time and you can end up with a lot of jars for next to nothing.   So pickles and chutneys do have a place on the Pantry shelf and its all part and parcel in preparation for that "C" Word.

Catch you soon



Its never too early so it would seem to put stuff up

When shopping I always look at date labels as the longer something stores the better and you have more chance of using things up.  At my local Coop they have this last week had an offer on McVities dairy chocolate and plain biscuits at £1.65 a packet.  As well as packs of digestive biscuits.  I was not going to buy any but then I clocked the date March 2014.  So it would appear that it never is too early for that C Word  or for putting stuff up or in my case into the Put Down.  

It may be worth keeping you eyes open to see if anything else is on  offer that has a long sell by date on that can be put up in readiness  The same applies on looking for bargains on dried fruit now to stock pile for making the Christmas cake(s) come the end of September.  It is worth looking out for own brand fruit and also offers on flour and other baking consumables; not only for the C Season but also for baking generally.

Thats at the shop supermarket or wherever you frequent.

However I have been lucky enough to source some shallots from a home grower so far I have 20lb to prepare (I will have a pickling session soon as Christmas isn't Christmas without home made pickled onions or pickled shallots).  I give quite a few jars away but I do not just pickle shallots or onions I keep some in a net under the stairs of each and then I use them for roasting or popping into stews and I also freeze some yet again for popping into stews or roasting to accompany a meat dish when I am in a hurry, but it is always useful to have the choice..

I have the remains of a net of white onions and red onions and they are starting to sprout so in the spirit of waste not want not I think I might turn the remnants into onion marmalade for serving with cheese and pate  or for stirring through that stew or popping into home made sausage rolls or serving as a side with a traditional British fry adding to gravies, starting off an onion gravy. There is no need to waste anything just make sure that you time the turning of the remnants into marmalade when you have a new net to open.  I try to make the best use of what I have to hand.

In the next few weeks I will also start to dry some of the thyme,bay leaves, Rosemary, Oregano and Parsley for my winter larder as well as make mint jelly and long keeping mint sauce for the larder shelf.  OH will have mint sauce or jelly with anything so I tend to put both up.  When I want minted peas in the winter months I add a teaspoon of mint jelly to frozen peas and it peps the peas up in the winter months.  I also intend to dry some of the mint I have this year as I think it will be ideal for making my own mint tea.

After the cats broke my Mason and Cash large pestle and mortar (I was none too impressed) I have managed to replace it with a stone one to make some spice blends and also different pestos for freezing and use during the winter months as well as different flavoured oils.  There is always so much to do at this time of year and if you get stuff done quickly it gives you time to get on and do other bits and bobs.

Thyme is of the essence when preserving.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 11 August 2013

Busy Busy Busy

Its how I like it does not give you time to think.

Yesterday I went to my mum's and did the weekly clean for her.  This time round I have bottomed out her dining room and cleaned that from top to bottom and freshened it up.  Next week it is the conservatory if the weather is okay as I am going to strip out all the furniture and wash everything down to make it nice and fresh and also clean the windows on the inside.  Mum has a window cleaner for outside.

I have also been popping backwards and forwards checking on Molz and the kittens.  She has really been very good with them  today hardly leaving them although she has had a couple of periods of time out but for the best part has elected to be with her babies.

I on the other hand have started cleaning the kitchen and re-organising the kitchen again.  Well it will get done eventually.

I have also purchased two sets of plastic lightweight free standing drawers in which to sort out my craft and needlework stuff so that I can find things when I want them.  I may have to get another two sets (they are on offer in Wilkinsons at the moment) in due course but these will do for starters.  Unfortunately I have a lot of craft stuff as I have equipment for quite a few crafts.  It will be lovely to go straight to a drawer and find what I am looking for..

Right I have to dash Squeak is being quite persistent in wanting some fuss  - I think she is feeling left out.

Take care 



Quick update

Molly and kitz are doing well.  It seems that nature is kicked in and she is being a perfect nursing Queen at the moment.  She is even managing time out for herself is feeding like billio and coming down for regular reassurance and a quick fuss from mum.  We would appear to have three long haired kittens two dark tabbies with fine striping and one coffee/smoke colour with tabby markings around the head.  I have not gone to handle them even though Molly is sharing the kitz with me at the moment and does not mind me having a quick check up with her.  However I was a tad concerned earlier on when she showed no signs of returning to her litter so I walked her upstairs back to the cupboard and she had left Aunty Squeak esconced on the bed watching the litter with beady eyes. It would appear that she has been an excellent kit sitter and all the thanks she got from Molly was a quick hiss and spit as she went by back to her litter where they promptly squeaked at her and all cuddled up. I am worried that the kits will not keep warm although I appreciate she needs time out too.

But so far she seems to be doing extremely well with them despite this being her first litter.

Catch you soon


Friday, 9 August 2013

I have Kittens

Molly has become mum today and presented me with two three tiny tabby kittens. They are very vocal. Molly was all over me like a rash before I left for work was letting me stroke her tummy and was generally very affectionate.  Came home tonight not a sign of her.  In the end I went up into the bedroom and called and she came out tome and took me back into the cupboard where  she has holed herself up in what was my airing cupboard and which is now a clothes closet to show me her babies.  I have left them be although I have fed and watered Molly.  They look so sweet.  All as a result of her going missing in June.  Its the first time I have had kittens they are so tiny.  Molly seems to have her waistline back.

I will provide photos as soon as I can but I just want Molly to be happy with her babies with no pressure for the time being.

Nature is a wonderful thing.



Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Hello Everyone

I have been for the second session of treatment on my ankle today at the hospital.  Last time was uncomfortable today blooming hurt although my ankle is okay,sore but I am walking about on it.  Apparently they got a bit more to the nitty gritty on it today and the more I can bear it the better it will be in the long run.  Last session in a couple of weeks time.  I have had the rest of the day to myself at home.

I have the smell of tomatoes roasting filling the house at the moment I have the first batch of the home made tomato pasta sauce on the go roasting in the oven with rosemary basil some tarragon, thyme, plenty of white pepper, red onion, shallot, garlic.  The smell of summer filling the house for the winter months to come.  I bought 4kg of vine tomatoes  from the veg shop today together with pears for bottling in syrup, plums, and I was given some cherries to turn into something as well.

Tea is roasted mixed vegetables  (onion, red pepper, garlic, courgettes, sweet potato and squash) together with roasted chicken thighs.  Thought it might make a nice light supper.  I am off out this evening and so will not see OH until later on but his tea is ready.  Will be able to finish processing the tomatoes later on.  Smells delicious.

Catch you later



P.S. That's six jars of pasta sauce ready for the put down.  Will have to make more in the weeks to come as well as bottle tomatoes in brine and other goodies.  Think will be doing a scuttle full of Apple sauce as well as it does double duty as a pie filling, use as a sauce etc.  Pears in syrup for tomorrow evening.  Back to work tomorrow.

Catch up sooon



PPS  I thought you might see the results six jars of lovely tomato pasta sauce but you can also use this as a base to a soup or for cooking meatballs in too.  Pasta sauce is something we use a lot of here.  There will be some more batches of this to make in the coming weeks as well as home made ketchups.  I have to put all those bottles to some use.


Monday, 5 August 2013

Its been a dull day

Its been a dull old day today although humid and damp.  I woke up with a start this morning thinking it was Sunday and that I did not have to get up then realising that I should be at work!  It sort of wrong foots you for the rest of the day then.  I met up with my friend at dinner and put the world to rights; we try and meet up once a week for a spot of lunch and a we always end up having a good old chin wag and quite frequently end up in lots of giggles.  

The heavens opened up just before I came out of work this evening to walk home.  Fortunately I was armed with a brolly and soon made it home in quick time doing the Mary Poppins quick step and bewailing the fact that my brolly did not have a talking parrots head!

Over the weekend I have been on Ebay quite a bit looking for craft CDs at cheap prices.  Mostly Joanna Sheen CDs. I am talking an average of £5 for each CD.  I am starting to stockpile craft items and wool in readiness for the "C" word and having a go at making some cards myself and some knitting projects as well.  I quite like doing Decoupage when I have the time to sit and play.  Some of the CDs have already arrived.  Victorian Christmas cards, the Victorian Companion and Victorian Birthday CDs and I have The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady craft CD and Victorian Angels and Fairies yet to arrive.  There are a couple of more that I have my eye on but will have to see how the pennies go. There is always next month and the aim is to try and get them as cheaply as I can so I can afford to bide my time.  Having OH out of work for over three years and subsisting on a low wage has taught me a lot of lessons.  It is a long time since I have had a little money to indulge whereupon once upon a time it was a frequent occurence.  We still keep to the budget for monthly basic items and I am trying to keep some cash to one side so as to be able to take advantage of seasonal buys and pop stuff up in the pantry.  A little bit of foresight never hurt anybody.   One of the biggest battles when you have had no money and then have a little more is the temptation to have a blow out. The battle for me is not having the blow out and saving and popping the money up.  We pay cash for everything these days and do not have a credit card.  Debit yes but not credit.  We save and pay cash for what we have otherwise we go without.

 I have several ideas  for using the CDs so far combined with other craft tutorials I have come across  some of which I put up last year and it will be good to play.  A lot of them are Victorian images. Pure nostalgia groupie me.  I need  to save up for new cartridges for the printer before I start playing and I tend to collate everything together before I start playing.  My blog is written from my laptop but the biggie is well out of date and extremely slow never mind it was custom built for us about 8 years ago.  That's the trouble with technology its out of date as soon as you get it!

I also have my eye on trying to obtain some cross stitch charts that I quite fancied when they first came out but due to financial restraints was unable to obtain at the time.  If you take your time and are selective in you choices you can end up with those items at a fraction of the price than they were originally sold for, which to me is a win win situation.  I shall keep browsing as the fancy takes me and if and when I have a few pennies to hand.  I know I am lucky compared to some but I do not drink and I do not smoke and crafts and cooking are  two of my main hobbies and my indulgence.

Tomorrow I am shopping for more Kilner jars and bottles to pop in the store.  I do try and buy them when they are on offer though.  I am afraid I am a tad tight and I do not believe paying through the nose for items.  There are always ways round things.  Before I start bottling and processing I like to have a little stockpile of jars ready to fill.   My friend who has helped with the veggie box contact has indicated that there will be tomatoes shortly and as I am one to put up quite a bit of passata and various other bits and bobs I am eagerly looking forward to be able to stock up but for that I need the jars.  I buy them where I can.  I am also going to put up some bottled red fruit salad as well as white fruit salad/cocktail and pears in syrup and whatever else I can come across. I am hoping to get some more gooseberries during the week to make some gooseberry jam which is one of my favourites. I do love this time of year when we have so much choice of what is readily available.  We cannot have all of it but at least I can put some of my favourites down to enjoy during the year and through the winter months.  Preserving really is my passion whatever form it takes. 

Right I am off to potter.

Take care



Sunday, 4 August 2013

Gooseberry Crumble

Crumbles are one of the easiest puddings to learn to master and crumble whatever fruit is made with is very popular in this house; notably rhubarb but gooseberry is OH's favourite pudding and I thought it would go very nicely with the roast pork we are having for dinner this evening, served with lashings of custard.

500g gooseberries
175g Plain Flour
85g Margarine/Butter
85gWhite Sugar/Caster Sugar/Golden Granulated Sugar whichever you choose
75g Demerara Sugar
Butter for greasing
Pinch of salt

Put the SR into a bowl and then chop whichever fat you are using into tiny pieces and then rub together with the flour until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the pinch of salt and the Demerara sugar.  Set to one side.

Grease a pudding dish.
Top and tail the gooseberries add to the greased dish sprinkle the white sugar over the gooseberries and mix up in the sugar  Add two tablespoons of water.

Add the crumble mix to the top of the pudding dish making sure it is equally distributed and no gooseberries poking through and cook at Gas mark 4 for about 50 minutes until golden brown.
Serve with lashings of custard or with cream or ice cream.

Enjoy ours was delicious.

There were some gooseberries left over so will be having gooseberry fool for pudding tomorrow night.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Busy Saturday

I Thank you ladies for you kind wishes - I am indeed feeling a lot more comfortable than I was aIthough whenever I have an attack of this nature it usuallly takes a couple of days to work itself out of my system, but I have been drinking copious amounts of mint tea which has helped enormously.

I travelled by bus to my mum's again today; an early start as I needed to collect some items from  town before I set off to Mums.  I bought some more mint and some more parsley and also took one plant of each to my mum's.  She has mint but unfortunately its flavour is not very good so new stock was in order.  Mum is not fond of herbs but she does use mint and parsley.

This week as I passed through the villages on the bus it was very apparent that the Farmers were getting busy they had started combining and by the time that we went by again tonight three large fields had been cleared and they were still working at it.  The crop looks well ripe though.

On getting to Deeping I popped to Grasmere Farms butchers and bought 4lb of Lincolnshire sausages (they have to be Lincolnshire) for £11.  When I got to mums I asked her if she wanted any and she had half. I will get some more in a couple of weeks time.  We had them at lunchtime in a sandwich and they were very tasty.

I was just preparing to deep clean the bathroom when my brother and his family arrived.  It was nice to see them and one of my nephews who has grown a lot in the few weeks he has been away I get a crick in my neck looking up at him these days.

After they had gone I started and completely stripped the bathroom out scrubbed it clean and then got it back together again and then did various other bits of housework around the house and watered the garden up whereupon I contacted OH to come and collect me.

He had been at work all day and was starving and so I set too and cooked crushed new potatoes liberally dressed with melted butter, shredded sweetheart cabbage and Lincolnshire sausages with onion gravy.  Basically I just cooked the sausages with the onion in a baking tray in a little light olive oil (not much) until nicely browned and then made the gravy with the onions.  It went down extremely well and was very tasty.  Wethen had strawberry trifle for pudding.  All washed down with a Crabbies on ice and it went down a treat.  We have roast pork for tomorow and I got some gooseberries to make a gooseberry crumble for OH served with custard.  Right Demetri has moved in on my lap he is determined the computer does not belong on my lap -he does.  I am a  bit cream crackered and I have a lot to do tomorrow probably gardening based.  I am off to read my book and then to chill out under the ceiling fan and hopefully get some shut eye as I am cream crackered.  Tomorrow is another day.

Hope you are all okay.

Till tommorrow


Friday, 2 August 2013

Veg Box

I was talking to my friend the other day and she indicated that there was a chap near where she lived who had quite a lot of home grown veggies available including shallots and new potatoes, thyme and rosemary plants and a cabbage.  So I decided to give it a try and I must say I am very impressed. The gentleman who grows them has a big garden and an allottment if I have understood the situation correctly.  We grew up on veggies like this fro my Grandparents and then latterly my Dad.  Home grown is good.  So I had two thyme plants and three rosemary plants arrive together with 7lb new potatoes  for £2 and 10lb shallots all for the princely sum of £8.30.  The plants were five for £1 and the shallots work out at 50p per pound the cabbage was 30pence and it is a large one.  So much so when I go to mum's tomorrow I am going to call in at Grasmere Farm Butchers and get some chipolatas and then cook the sausages in the oven and serve with new potatoes, cabbage and onion gravy and maybe some home made yorkshire puddings.  Should make a very tasty supper.  

I have four more thyme plants and another 10lb of shallots to come next week and probably some runner and kidney beans too.  I am looking to probably get some more new potatoes as well.  Idly researching whether or not you can freeze potatoes apparently you can.  Here is  a link to the site that gives detailed instructions.

So I thought it might be nice to pop some of these early crops up to use in the winter months.

That's apart from having my sack of main crop potatoes when they are ready.

Catch you soon


Thursday, 1 August 2013

Thursday Evening Catch Up

It has just been too hot today although I am one of the lucky ones as I have been in an air conditioned office all day which has been very comfortable until I went out dinner and then the heat hit me and boy was it hot.  I think I am fighting a summer cold at the moment as I really did struggle with the heat at dinner.  The cold has not amounted to much and is in my head at the moment but I have the sniffles.   As a result I was not in the mood for cooking; I have had various ingredients in the fridge like a melon, some pate, celery and I have been and bought some blue cheese and some parma ham and salami and we have had a big plate of antipasti with melon slices, and the cheese served with bread or with crackers.  Something to eat but nice and light. 

There was another reason for me wanting something light tonight; I have had a bad antacid attack with my hiatus hernia (a bit ikky) and I really could not stomach the thought of a cooked meal this evening.  OH seemed okay with  the same and I have a nice glass of cold water to top it off with.  I had tried to get some salad leaves but there were none left when I nipped round to the shop.  I still have a selection of the meat and cheeses so may well get some pear and some grapes and do a similar style meal for another night; I also have some Chorizo so may well ring the changes.

Right I am off to bed still do not feel too clever and it is too hot so I am hoping  to cool down a little under the ceiling fan.

Lovely warm clear night here

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)