Sunday, 30 November 2014

Quiet Sunday and a Little Recycling

It has been a quietish day here at Pattypans although it was very  busy first thing as we had another visit to the tip planned.  Primarily to get rid of the bits left over from the new carpet I had fitted last week in the front room and some other accumulated rubbish. I sorted out a big box of bottles I no longer had any use for. [ I have a habit of saving any jars and bottles that come into the house and I recycle them when I make preserves and/or cordials.  Beer bottles get recycled with home brew as do wine bottles for home made wine.  I recycle as much as I can reusing those bottles and jars I can get replacement closures for and the rest get recycled at the Bottle Bank rather than wasted].

On the way back we made an impromptu stop to get something to eat and drink and then came back to the house intent on getting on with some more sorting out.When we got back it was grey fading to dark the light that is peculiar to a November's day.  Unfortunately I got cosy and I think the pint glass of bitter shandy I had with my lunch finished me off as I fell asleep on the settee (I don't normally drop off to sleep just like that) and by the time I woke up it was a little too late to start anything. I have however rested up for a little while all nice and cosy.  So it will be an early start in the morning to try and get done what I had planned for today. I have this week off to try and get ready a little for Christmas.  A lot to achieve and so little time to do it in.  At least this time round I do not have to do the Pantry it is all done.Just need to do some ironing of OHs work clothes a little later I am waiting on the tumble drier.

Catch up soon



Saturday, 29 November 2014

Christmas Hoarding 2014 Part 3

Well I have been adding a few more items to the list, just a few things here and there and also taking advantage of offers on some items. I am lucky and I know I am in that I am able to put things up here and there.  Equally though I have not gone as mad this year, partly due to prices but I have been a little more selective in what I have actually bought so far. I have bought a few sweets (but not as many as I have in the past). This year though I am going more for ingredients I can make things from like nuts, sesame seeds, potatoes, popping corn. Puff Pastry, dough, for making savoury pinwheels, cheese straws, cheese and sesame twists and for savoury popcorns and home made chips naan breads etc. 

Although I have particular brands of crackers that I always keep in as we love cheese I intend to make a few to ring the changes as well.  I think there will be a visit to the Cheese Shop in Stamford to get stocked up on some of the more specialist cheeses that we both like in the offing if we can and are also hoping to get a Stinking Bishop which is a firm favourite here.

With OH being diabetic I will make a selection of home dips and dressings together with fresh veggies for dipping so that he does not feel left out.  I have also worked out that if I prepare it myself I can experiment with some of the dressings and keep the sugar content very low or non-existent - it will affect the keeping quality but should keep in the fridge (if there are any left for a few days at least).

Right here it goes:

  1. 2 Tins Quality Street
  2. 2 Boxes of Jellies
  3. 1 Box Toffee Thins
  4. 2 Boxes After Eight Mints
  5. 2 Boxes Thorntons Chocolates
  6. 1 Bottle of Pink Fizz
  7. 1 Bottle Peppermint Cordial to go with the Rum.
  8. 2 Bags Speculatis Spice Biscuits (got mine from the £ shop at £1 per bag.
  9.  2 Large Packets McVities Digestive Biscuits (can be used as a base of a cheesecake, in puddings, with cheese so a useful ingredient to keep in - oh and for dunking in a mug of tea!)
  10. 2 Packets Belgian White Chocolate Cookies (from Co-Op 2 for £3)
  11. 4 Packets of Cheddars Cheesey bicuits.(Co-Op 1 for £1)
  12. 4 Packets Ryvita Multi Seed Flatbreads (I love these with cheese and dips) (Co-Op 1 x £1
  13. 1 Bottle South African Chardonnay (On offer £4.75)
  14. 6 Packets of Golden Wonder Tangy Toms Crisps. (30p introductory price from my Local Newsagents but I understand Tesco do them as well)
Things are slowly coming together.  

I would just mention that because I have the choice of ingredients does not mean to say that they will all get used at Christmas.  Because I buy items that have a long stop date on them I will be using them well after Christmas and because I am stocked up on lots of goodies I should be able to get  by without having to do a major shop for a couple of months  - it will be just the fresh stuff and meat.  Shopping this way helps me  in being able  to stock the  chest freezer up because I still budget for the same amount of housekeeping I just don't spend it and then can go predominantly meat shopping after a couple of months.  Its swings and roundabouts but doing it this way works for me and allows me to take advantage of proper bargains and seasonal items. Like Seville Oranges for Marmalade and Strawberries for Jam!

 And of course there are always things to make from those ingredients I was talking about.

Catch you soon



Total List of Christmas Put Down 2014

List of items acquired/made so far

  1. 1 x Bottle of Chocolate Sauce
  2. 1 x Bottle of Butterscotch Sauce
  3. 3 x Bottles of Raspberry Coulis
  4. 3 x Bottles of Passionfruit Coulis
  5. 3 x Bottles of Crabbies
  6. 3 x Lemon Mousse Mix
  7. 3 x Strawberry Mousse
  8. Orange Curd
  9. Pickled Onions
  10. Pickled Shallots
  11. Pickled Beetroot
  12. Pickled Cucumber
  13. Picallili
  14. Pickled Eggs
  15. Apple Chutney 
  16. Pear Chutney
  17. Christmas Chutney
  18. Mincemeat
  19. Raspberry Wine
  20. Cucumber Pickle 
  21. 4 blocks Chocolate 
  22. 3 bags white chocolate chunks 
  23. 3 bags dairy milk chocolate chunks
  24.  2 Bags Belgian Chocolate Chips 
  25. 4Fruit Flavour coloured cake icing pen 
  26. 4 Tubs of Chocolate Vermicelli 
  27. 1 Mixed tub of chocolate cake decorations 
  28. 1 tub of Hundreds and thousands 
  29. 1 tub of silver Dragees 
  30. 1 bottle of French Almond Extract. 
  31. Gold and Silver Glitter Pack 
  32. 2 Tubs Thai Sweet Chilli Pringles 
  33. 2 Tubs Texas Barbecue Pringles 
  34. 2 Tubs Plain Pringles 
  35. 2 Boxes Cadburys Fingers 
  36. 1 bag of Beef Jerky 
  37. 2 Boxes Brazil Nut Cookies 
  38. 1 bag whit chocolate buttons 
  39. 2 bags milk chocolate buttons 
  40. 2 boxes Milky Bar tree decorations 
  41. 1 tub of shimmer stars
  42. 2 Tins Quality Street
  43. 2 Boxes of Jellies
  44. 1 Box Toffee Thins
  45. 2 Boxes After Eight Mints
  46. 2 Boxes Thorntons Chocolates
  47. 1 Bottle of Pink Fizz
  48. 1 Bottle Peppermint Cordial to go with the Rum.
  49. 2 Bags Speculatis Spice Biscuits (got mine from the £ shop at £1 per bag.
  50.  2 Large Packets McVities Digestive Biscuits (can be used as a base of a cheesecake, in puddings, with cheese so a useful ingredient to keep in - oh and for dunking in a mug of tea!)
  51. 2 Packets Belgian White Chocolate Cookies (from Co-Op 2 for £3)
  52. 4 Packets of Cheddars Cheesey bicuits.(Co-Op 1 for £1)
  53. 4 Packets Ryvita Multi Seed Flatbreads (I love these with cheese and dips) (Co-Op 1 x £1
  54. 1 Bottle South African Chardonnay (On offer £4.75)
  55. 6 Packets of Golden Wonder Tangy Toms Crisps. (30p introductory price from my Local Newsagents but I understand Tesco do them as well)

Friday, 28 November 2014

A little Spice makes things nice - Mulling Spices and Mulled Wine/Cider

I tend to cut through the M & S Store in the Queensgate Centre to save walking time when I am in town at lunchtime and I espied bottles of Mulled Wine, Spiced Cider and Mulled Rose available for the cost of £6 a bottle (or 2 for £10) which is all very good but that's a lot of money for what basically is a bottle of wine, or cider which has had added to it in the case of mulled wine some brandy or a liqueur  if you really want to be exotic (but it is very warming).  I love Mulled wine anyway but I had not thought about using it with a Rose for example or with White Wine.  I have had Mulled Cider before which is a favourite.  I will post a  recipe for the Cider at a later date.

Its funny that prices shoot up on food when somebody does something to it.  It is simple to spice a wine, traditionally it is a red wine, but why not experiment with white wine, cider and Rose. 

To prepare in advance if you are using oranges or lemons in preserves in the run up to Christmas do not waste the peels, peel them off thinly in one whole strip if you can and then scrape off as much as the pith as you can without damaging the strip and then dry in readiness to add to the basic mulling bundles.  You can always store the peels in glass jars or in a brown paper bag until ready to use.  They are also ideal for use in home made pot pourri as well.Or if you have a fire throw some on to scent the room but beware it can be a little overpowering.

A basic mulling kit can be made and given as a pressie with a bottle of wine and is very easy to assemble.  A useful present for a gentleman may be.


1 orange (I often use a Clementine)

1 lemon washed

16 cloves

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp powdered cinnamon

1 tsp Allspice

1 tsp grated nutmeg

4 squares/circles cut from butter muslin 4 x 4 inches in size

Fine string

Cinnamon sticks (either long or short)

If you have not prepared the peels in advance do so now peeling them thinly into long thin strips so that they form a spiral as they dry but scraping off any pith (the pith is bitter) and I then hang on a string off my dresser attached by clothes pegs to dry, but if you hang it somewhere warm to dry in the house (somewhere suitable in your home - all of our homes are different) leave for a couple of days to dry which is why I have indicated to prepare beforehand.

Precut 4 x 4 inch squares or circles out of butter muslin.

Mix the whole cloves, and ground spices together in a bowl and mix thoroughly then put a teaspoon of the mixture into the middle of the butter muslin square.  Draw up the edges and then tie in the middle with a piece of string leaving the strings on.  Take a couple of cinnamon sticks, tie the spice bundle to the cinnamon sticks forming a bundle and making sure that everything is securely attached to each ite, and then using a skewer make a small hole in a strip of lemon and/or orange peels and attach these to the cinnamon sticks. as well. 

Now for a basic mulled wine

2 bottles of red wine
4oz of sugar
4 tablespoons of water 
1 Mulling spice bundle

Heat all the ingredients together simmering until nice and hot.  Do not boil.  I keep mine warm in a small slow cooker (OH does not like Mulled Wine) and as I do and do not want to miss out on this its a good way for me to access.

You can add Brandy, Cherry Brandy and Ameretto Liqueur to the mix as well very warming on a cold winters evening.

Catch you soon



Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Maximising the use of the Oven and the Hob

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I  only have a half size gas oven that belongs to the house (we rent) and every time I put the oven on these days I am conscious of maximising how I use the oven to its full potential rather than just one thing at a time.  One thing at a time is such a waste of resources.  This is why when I do a Sunday lunch I cook for the following day as well  by doubling up on everything and then just heat the food up in the microwave "ping" it for 5 minutes and then we have a lovely home cooked meal courtesy of a little planning and being frugal with the fuel.  You have to make the best of what you have and although my dream cooker is the full Aga we have to be realistic and  deal with what we have rather than what we don't have.  We have to be grateful no matter what the situation.

My mum was ever conscious about getting the most out of the oven. I attribute this to the fact that she was one of ten children,who were abandoned by their father when the youngest was a month old and they were eleven living in a two up two down with a scullery and they had it rough and it would seem that my grandmother went without often not eating properly herself but making sure the kids did.  If the oven had to go on she would often make something else like a ring of scones, a pudding or some flapjacks if the oven had to go on rather than just putting one thing in and then wasting all the heat generated.  So I was always taught by my mum to do this.  What I have taken for granted though and which I now realise is not only  have I been blessed by the frugal teaching of my mother, I have found out in later life that not everyone has been taught of  or is aware of getting the best out of the oven.

Sunday morning was also when we did the baking for the week, pies, puddings, cakes,sausage rolls, scones etc. so that there was something for the tins for unexpected guests (the social niceties had to be observed) and also for filling out the pack ups for everyone.  It all helped a little go along way and because we had the ingredients in and kept a healthy stock of cooking and baking ingredients we could get something knocked up and made in a hurry at very short notice.  Because I was bought up with a Baking day (both my mum and my grandmother did this) it was normal for me to carry on the practice and subsequently I keep a healthy stock of such items at all times and do not buy them in as a special.  Because I do this I have mentally budgeted for so much a month of a particular basic ingredient like, flour, sugar, eggs lard, butter and margarine/soft baking spread like Stork and also the hard block Stork.  This allows for home made goodies rather than buying in baked goods and I get more for my money in the long run.

The oven normally has to be switched on before you start cooking to reach temperature and most people put the oven on whilst they are making whatever it is they are going to cook.   this is where I differ. I get two or three things at least on the go and in the making before I switch the cooker on and make things that go into the oven at a similar temperatures i.e. prepare all of the pastry items together, cakes, cookies and then operate a shuttle system if there are two or three trays of similar goods like cookies.  Have one on the top shelf and as soon as the contents are cooked that item which  was on the lower shelf then goes on the top shelf and so on so you are always in advance with the making and  with the cooking playing catch up in the end.  I have a set of cooling racks which I decant the baking onto once it has settled.  I then wash the trays/pans and then dry them in the residual heat of the oven to stop them going rusty.

I also have a tray in the bottom of the oven with all the waste bread in and let the bread dry out in the residual heat from the oven hence making my own breadcrumbs.  Once dry I then whizz up in the liquidiser/blender and store in a glass jar in the pantry.  Will keep for a couple of months like this and I make my own stuffings, etc. as well as crumb for scotch eggs etc, myself.

I use a three tier steamer on the hob thereby only having to use one plate to cook all the veggies for my tea.  A steamer for cooking gives the veggies more flavour and saves on the washing up.  I also use a Pressure Cooker for cooking stews and pie fillings.  So I can create a variety of items for little cost but more in quantity.  Yes it is time consuming and I try and have sessions for the baking and putting items up in the freezers to save time in the week but it is no hardship for me as investing a little time and energy can pay dividends in the quality of food you eat and the more practice you get the better the food gets.  So really it is a win win situation.  It comes down to choices really and I choose for my family to eat as well as I can even though it does require a bit of effort from me.

What do you do to maximise the use of your main oven when you switch it on or do you have alternative strategies.  Would love to hear from you.

Catch you soon



New Book Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen

I am very fond of the Country Living magazine, beautiful articles and lovely food.  A magazine to savour and read page to page as well as being a proper coffee table magazine; always something useful to be found.  One of the regular contributors Alison Walker produces some lovely recipes and quite frequently these are given full coverage within the magazine often with an opportunity to purchase her new book at a reduction.  This was the basis of my introduction to the work of Alison Walker which I personally think is superb.

I first purchased her previous publication A Country Cook's Kitchen and thought that fab it has recipes for making Goats cheese (1kg of) amongst lots of other really lovely items,  and that is a treasured book as well.  Its a proper book with good solid recipes for having a go at making things yourself and a good one for a family.  Good solid cooking.  Both books enhance each other, are good cooking and eating with lots of lovely ideas.

Quite frequently I do not pay full price for a book and often check out The Book People website as well as Amazon and if there is an older out of print book I look for a good second hand copy at a minimal price. You never know what you are going to find with the Book P|eople and. Alison Walker's latest book Handmade Gifts from the kitchen instead of being £20 is £4.99 at the moment and it has a diverse range of recipes and beautiful photography in both books.  There is a gingerbread house kit,Golden Vodka (has gold leaf in it and is a take on the Smirnoff Vodka with the gold leaf in it at £20 per bottle.  Coffee Cream Liqueur, Le Vin D'Orange, Creme de Cassis, Vanilla Caramel Liqueur (I make a version with Werthers and call it Toffee Vodka), Swedish crispbreads, Poppy and Sesame seed crackers, Chocolate Panforte, Chocolate Peppermint Crisp, Mendiants, Strawberry Pastilles, Fruits of the Forest Conserve, Sunblush Tomatoes, Stem Ginger in Syrup, Rosehip Creams, Fruit Salami, Sesame Snaps,Honey and Almond Nougat, Raspberry and Vanilla Marshmallows, Turkish Delight, Stollen Wreath to name but a few.  Something for everyone and at the price it is would make a lovely present for a home cook and I am highly chuffed with my purchase - a saving of some £15.  I am going to look forward to trying out some of these recipes the book is a visual delight.

I am so pleased with it as the book complements those that I already have.  There are some lovely ideas.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Brghh - Its freezing

At 6:00am this morning it was minus 2 - OH walks Missy at this time and he and her came in frozen.  Needless to say the heating went on for a while.  Then again when you really look at things we haven't done bad so far this year it has been quite mild for the season.  

Everything looks etheric and mystical when covered with a proper white hoar frost as though you have just stepped off the merry go round into an imaginary world.

Mind you it was a nice brisk walk into work this morning needless to say I got warmly dressed up and contemplated that it was about time for thermals coming out of the cupboard!  I am dressed for comfort not for speed these days and being comfortable is far more valuable to me these days  - my priorities have changed again another milestone passed another phase waved good bye to.

I have found that if I get over cold or damp I seize up just like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz and I don't like being seized up!  Or if I get cold on the inside I end up with a bad chill and just cannot get warm.

Needless to say I have not long been out of work and it is freezing again a proper Novembers day. Its on days like this that I long for a proper fire/log burner which warms the body as well as the soul, where you can gaze into the leaping flames and lose yourself for a little while in a spot of day dreaming where the spirit discards its mortal ropes and frees itself like a butterfly just for a short while.

Well things to do lots of them just the depth that varies. 

Take care




Cranberries and things to do with them

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Are in the shops  -well they were in M & S earlier in the week.  I always look out for them early as in the run up to Christmas you do not always have the time to set too and make some preserves but for cranberries, and clementines I always make an exception.   I will purchase mine at the beginning of December.  I always make Cranberry and Apple Jelly (not just for Christmas but I make in bulk as we use this quite a lot throughout the year either with a hot meal or in sarnies with brie (lovely if in a baguette and popped into the microwave to melt the brie) and/or meat.v  I also look out in reductions on cranberries in between time as well.  If you haven't got time to use them then and now you can always freeze them.

Please refer to earlier post for recipe:

I also make a fresh Cranberry and Grand Marnier whole berry sauce for serving with the Turkey which is delicious served warm but also cold.  Has a lovely piquant tang to it.  This is one of my little traditions that I have to make year in year out and if there is too much just freeze the residue for use at a later point after all there is only so much the fridge will hold.

And of course there are lots of other things to do with Cranberries not just jelly.

Catch up soon



Christmas Hoarding and Christmas Traditions Part 2

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I have managed to accumulate some more items for the Christmas Hoard the majority of which are bits and bobs for cake decorating.  There are a few more items yet  to go on the list but I will pop these on at a later date.  It doesn't matter how much or how little you acquire as it all goes towards Christmas and in my case into the New Year as well.

  1. 4 blocks Chocolate
  2. 3 bags white chocolate chunks
  3. 3 bags dairy milk chocolate chunks
  4. 2 Bags Belgian Chocolate Chips
  5. 4 Fruit Flavour coloured cake icing pen
  6. 4 Tubs of Chocolate Vermicelli
  7. 1 Mixed tub of chocolate cake decorations
  8. 1 tub of Hundreds and thousands
  9. 1 tub of silver Dragees
  10. 1 bottle of French Almond Extract.
  11. Gold and Silver Glitter Pack
  12. 2 Tubs Thai Sweet Chilli Pringles
  13. 2 Tubs Texas Barbecue Pringles
  14. 2 Tubs Plain Pringles
  15. 2 Boxes Cadburys Fingers
  16. 1 bag of Beef Jerky
  17. 2 Boxes Brazil Nut Cookies
  18. 1 bag whit chocolate buttons
  19. 2 bags milk chocolate buttons
  20. 2 boxes Milky Bar tree decorations
  21. 1 tub of shimmer stars
  22. Kings Garden Dressing Pack.
 Still a few things to gather in

Catch you soon



Monday, 24 November 2014

Bubble N Squeak

For tea tonight - should have been served with lamb, but have ended up cooking a piece of ham and serving that with the Bubble N Squeak as the cats launched an online attack on the remnants of the lamb from yesterday when OH turned hi back for a split second!  The Ham was on the cards to be cooked in any event for OHs pack up but just means the ham will be served warm for a change.  I am not wasting all those lovely vegetables.

I think it was on Saturday on James' Martins Home Comforts cooking programme that there was a segment by the Food Historian Ivan Day about Bubble N Squeak and its origins which was very interesting as the meal originally consisted of left over cabbage and finely   cut left over meat brought together in a pan and turned into a large cake!  Not a potato in sight!

Mine has mashed potato, Brussel sprouts, some peas, some carrots, cauliflower all mixed up in it and then using my Tupperware beefburger formers made into Bubble N Squeak cakes which are then gently fried until golden brown and served with meat of your choice or in their own right.  After all they are very tasty and a star in their own right and its making use of something that would otherwise go to waste.  Fits my ethos of waste not want not very nicely.  I sometimes make a batch specifically for the freezer so OH can indulge in a snack when he gets peckish.

Anyway places to go people to see catch you later



Sunday, 23 November 2014

Its Sitr Up Sunday and Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming
The Geese are getting Fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a hapenny will do
If  you haven't got a hapenny 
Then God bless you!

It would seem that Christmas is on its way - Its Stir Up Sunday today  - and I forgot!

I normally make my Christmas Puddings on Stir Up Sunday but not this year oohps its the reincarnation of the other year when I forgot! - since me not being well in February I have been more forgetful (was probably the bang on the head) but I do not seem to have got myself together very well. Oh b..! They will just have to be made next weekend (I am on holiday then) so should have time to get them done and out the way with.

Here is a post from a previous year including the recipe I normally use (a Delia one) although I have been known to fiddle with the ingredients and also use other recipes but this is the one I tend to come back to.

As a child, (we still have one lurking inside somewhere if we look hard enough) it was always the build up,  the magic of Christmas that appealed most of all.  Simple things like making the Christmas puddings on "Stir up Sunday" and having a stir with "the magic spoon" and making a wish was enough to fire any child's imagination, which we did each year - it was a family custom and a powerful tool.  You have to believe in the magic as the magic leads you to special things.  You do not have to wait for it you make your own special times with your own special traditions.

The same with the Christmas Tree  and the putting up of - pure magic.  Always put up in the afternoon when the grey of a December day started to turn into the pitch of the night; with ornaments brought out of an old wooden tea chest wrapped up in twists of tissue, glass precious baubles and the fairy in a gold ballerina dress with silver wings a wand and a crown on her head;  Plastic colored cut outs of the Magi, hung from the branches with care.  I was allowed to unwrap the treasures and hand them to mum  but Mum used to hang them from the tree and dress it up - and when the lights were switched off and the tree lights put on against the backdrop of a flickering warm fire it was pure magic a moment to savour.  Such were our Christmas traditions and they have followed on.  My brother with his children, mum doing the same with them and me with my tree and my step children.  It was always something to look forward too.   And that is the trick something to look forward to, no matter how simple or inexpensive it does not matter as long as you enjoy the moment.

I hope you get as much pleasure out of simple things as I do.



Christmas Hoarding 2014 and Christmas Traditions Part One

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As some of you may recall every year I normally start buying a few extra items of goodies and things I need for Christmas cooking from the end of August beginning of September so that we do not have a massive grocery bill in December itself.  This system is the old country way that my grandmother utilised and my mum and which I in turn have carried on and no doubt many of you fellow readers also do something similar.  However as food prices have shot up I have found myself taking advantage of real offers on items and stocking up if I am able to on the item on offer.  I always check out whether the item is genuine as quite often it is a ruse to get you to buy a bigger pack of something when often it works out cheaper to buy a couple of the smaller packs.

My Nan/we lived in small country villages that did not normally have a bus route through and so if you did not drive or did not have a car you were reliant on close family or friends helping out but that was usually once a week mainly to go to the local market (in the case of my grandparents for items that they did not grow themselves); but normally for us it was just once a month and because there were not many shops you stocked up as best as you could on basics like your flours, fats, cereals pulses etc; kept a decent tinned store in for the same reason.  

Prior to the freezer being introduced to households (which made life a lot easier) many had bottled fruit like plums,apples, gooseberries, pears - whatever came their way, made jams, chutneys, pickles,  dried goods, wine, ginger beer, ale, stout and cider.  The idea being that the better the Pantry store the better your family pulled through during the winter months in particular and good food means good health for the most part.   But in those days you also had high tea on a Sunday and the ladies also did a big bake to last the bulk of the week where  meat pies, pasties, fruit pies,tarts, flans, sponge cakes, tea cakes and home made breads were prepared and fed to the family - Good simple cooking made with good honest ingredients and not from the supermarket filled with all sorts of unnecessary extras.

One of my family's traditions is to get the Christmas cake prepared early so it could be fed for a few weeks prior to popping on the marzipan and then icing with Royal Icing which needs time to dry and which I pop a teaspoon of glycerine into to keep the icing firm on the outside but soft underneath.  No one wants to break their teeth on hard icing!  I usually make the icing in my Kenwood leaving the icing to stand for a couple of days covered in cling film in the fridge to let any air bubbles have chance to dissipate before icing the cake.  My cake is not made yet but the fruit is steeping in brandy and will be made at the end of the week.  I normally have it done before now!  So am a tad behind but I will get there.

Another Christmas tradition is that the whole of Christmas Eve is spent baking and preparing and then the Christmas tree used to be put up in the middle of the afternoon.  However due to what I have to achieve I normally try and get the front room bottomed out early (sometimes it does not happen) for the best part but I certainly do not have the tree up too early.

Since my previous post on Christmas hoarding I have continued to collect a few items here and there - I haven't bought a lot of sweets this year as I have gone off them a tad and OH is now diabetic - I might make them instead. I love home made rum truffles, Turkish Delight, Coconut ice, peppermint creams, home made fudge and toffee.  I stockpile things like chocolate and cake icing decorations and buy them when they are on offer but they have to have a long stop date on them.before I buy as the ingredients are not just for Christmas.

Another reason for getting a few things at a time is that I cannot carry things very well these days due to medical conditions and it is easier to bring a couple of extra items home and I am easing the budget in the process.

All my goodies are stored in a large red plastic box under the stairs which acts as my preserve store as wel (not the box the cupboard under the stairs).  I make plenty of preserves and we have those too throughout the year (as well as at Christmas) as once Christmas Dinner is cooked its cold cuts and everyone helps themselves.  And of course I use jam in puddings and in tarts so it always gets used up.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sunday Catch up

Its been a busy old week where I haven't had time to catch my breath but that is good in one sense as you really do not have time to get bored.  Not that I get bored often, but sometimes you just need to relax do nothing and breathe to help re-charge the batteries.  However it has not been one of those weekends either.

We started work removing the old carpet yesterday in the front room and consequently the rest of the house is all upside down as what was in the lounge is now in various places around the house whilst we get down to business in the lounge.

Today we have been to the tip 3 times with the car fully laden.  I had to have a new tumble drier as the old one gave up the ghost I have had it about 15 years|) so that had to go and also the old dishwasher needed removing.  There was also some misceallaneous household waste including polystyrene and of course some garden waste.  Will have some more next weekend but it all needed packaging up before taking down to the tip as well but a long outstanding job tackled and out the way with.

We cut down an over eager Cotoneaster which had turned into a tree and all the branches are in the front garden.  We are waiting for a drier day to chop it all down and bag up and also take that to the tip.  I have some minimal clearing to do in the herb border to tidy it up for the winter months and then hopefully we will be able to start on the jungle!  The start of the garden clippings though will probably get cleared next weekend.

And then of course there have been the usual household chores like washing, drying and ironing (not an easy feat when we have had for the past couple of days freezing thick fen fog and the temperatures have dipped) in between everything else and then of course Sunday lunch, Roast Chicken plus the trimmings.  Yummmy.

Right am off to do a bit more

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Stocking up for Christmas

Hello everyone, sorry I have been absent for a while just not enough hours in the day and things have been hectic to say the least.  Mostly centred around the house we have been doing a little bit of tidying up/reackerfurbitation.  I will not spill now but will confirm later on but needless to say that there has been a fair bit of work going on and simply not enough hours in the day.

I have been crotcheting again and nearly have a lounge throw completed.  It is the first one of two which have been planned.  I have been working them in a beige marled Aran wool which will be lovely and snug when sat down watching the TV of an evening and besides you pay an arm and a leg when you buy from a shop but working something from scratch means that I am putting something of me into the home crafted item as well as making my home individual snug and cosy and no one else will have the same items in their home.

I have carried on acquiring men's shirts in different colours to make into a patchwork throw or two.  I thought I would start with simple strip piecing using my rotary cutter which I am not too competent with at the moment and using this method might mean that I waste less fabric with mistakes; I intend to start the first one of these during the Christmas holiday thought it might keep me occupied and out of mischief.

I have however still been able to put a few goodies up for the Christmas Pantry and bearing in mind that OH is now diabetic there has been a tendency to put down more pickles.  To date made and sitting on the Pantry shelf are:

  • Orange Curd
  • Pickled Onions
  • Pickled Shallots
  • Pickled Beetroot
  • Pickled Cucumber
  • Picallili
  • Pickled Eggs
  • Apple Chutney 
  • Pear Chutney
  • Christmas Chutney
  • Mincemeat
  • Raspberry Wine
  • Cucumber Pickle

I have Elderflower and Orange Wine on the go, together with Bitter and Lager Beers too.

I have various mustards and other preserves to pop up too. Thought I might start the one item per day schedule again from the beginning of next week.  So that I get things done without being overwhelmed with what I need to do.

I also popped into Lakeland today and was pleasantly surprised to find that their own pie makers four medium sized individual pies and then mince pie sized pie maker are both on offer - each £15 instead of £30 being the offer for the month.  I have the four pie version but have my eye on the mince pie version as well. Just thought I would let you know just in case you also have your eye on these individual items would be a shame to let a bargain like this go astray.  Would also make a nice Christmas present for a budding cook.

I have also popped a few more items into the Christmas Putdown Cupboard which I will update again in a day or two.

I do hope that life is treating every single one of you kindly.

Hopefully I will be back into the swing of posting again in a few days.

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)