Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Walking into Work

I am now home, finished work for 2014  a time for reflection.  Tonight is New Year's Eve and tomorrow is a brand new page, a new script a New Year.  We are the authors of our own success we will decide what goes on the page although sometimes serendipity lends a hand.  May blessings follow you all through the year to come and may I thank each one of you personally for following my blog and contributing and allowing me a voice.

These past few mornings as I have been walking into work has reminded me of when I was a little girl and we lived in Uppingham.  I remember Winters being cold and bitter nearly always white and most mornings we got up to a scenic white icing covered panorama which made everything look ghostly and etheral. And the cold was bitter really bone chilling bitter like it has been for the past few days.  Then we had one coal fire to huddle around to keep warm and to sit and dream in front of and it was in Winters such as these that I developed the arthritis.  

The worst Winter I remember is the Winter of 1963 when everyone got bogged down with snow, snow drifts, villages got cut off and the snow used to last for days Snow fences used to be put up both sides of each major road especially where the snow had a penchant for drifting.  It used to be the Farmer's job to pop the fences up each year.  These days they do not seem to do it.  Being on the top of the hill at Uppingham we always seemed to get a lot of snow anyway.  My father used to work for a local garage and quite frequently rescued people off Wardley Hill (he drove the breakdown wagon and was an engineer) frequently he used to bring visitors home for a warm drink to get them going again before taking them home often in the early hours of the morning.  It was a bright yellow large wagon and he used to take me out in it on a regular basis, but then everything seems gigantic to a child.

My father used to walk us everywhere in good weather and bad weather.  We used to be wrapped up with scarves, hats and boots and always walked for a good hour or so but it was not just the walking it was the closeness and camararderie associated with those walks, the rare conversations we would have and my father giving us nature lessons in that if it was deep snow we went out in then we would look for animal tracks and try and work out which animal the tracks belonged to; so indirectly we were always being taught something and being exercised in the fresh air. My father walked us like his father (my grandfather) had walked him as a child (and us) when we went to visit, but it was an opportunity more than anything else to communicate and discuss things to really talk.  My grandfather was a good communicator as was my father.  Apparently as a youngster my father used to have to leave out at 6am with his father to walk into Lincoln because the roads were blocked to traffic with snow - it was the only way of getting into work/school and then they had the same journey back of an evening.  Today we moan but we have had it easy compared to then and the country seems to come to a standstill at the mere sniff of snow.

Living here in Peterborough we seem to be a lot lower lying so if we get snow then it tends to be really bad everywhere else in the surrounding villages and we do not really see Winters like we used to.

As I tramped into work yesterday morning my first thoughts were that this cold should kill off a lot of the nasty bugs and insects.  The gardeners amongst us should be pleased, but then it should kill off some of the lurgey infections too. Here's hoping.

There is something invigorating with a cold frosty morning - yes its too cold but it gives me focus wakes everything up plus when I walk I think and put things into perspective sort things out with the internal filing system - it gives me space and we all need to do that from time to time in order for us to grow.

Wishing Everyone a very Happy New Year - see you on the other side in 2015.



Topping up the Freezer

I a very chuffed to have a freezer again - I did not realise just how much I had missed having one.

Today I have been lucky enough to find at my local shop six punnets of red plums which would normally be about £1 apiece reduced to 25p per punnet. Its lovely to be able to take advantage of items like this as now I have somewhere to put them.  I have for the time being therefore frozen them whole.  They will come in useful either for some Jam, chutney or a pudding but at that kind of price you cannot refuse to sniff at them.  There is always something you can do and I had thought about a mixed plum and other fruit compote (thinking with the addition of Raspberries, blueberries and maybe a few strawberries here) cooked down to a puree and then either served with some vanilla ice cream either as a hot or cold compote; or maybe drizzled all over a sponge flan base, topped with ice cream and then meringue and then baked in the oven to brown the meringue (Baked Alaska) now that is seriously scrummy and relatively easy to do. 

I have also bought two larger chickens for £3 apiece which had been reduced.  I shall either roast these whole or pop the in the slow cooker either way they should make good eating or maybe even Chicken and home made chips.

Catch you soon



New Baking Equipment

I nipped into Lakeland whilst I was in town yesterday and fell lucky.  When Lakeland introduced their new catalogue I pored over the book and decided on a couple of items  I could afford and/or would like - and sometimes I manage to get things and other times zilch.  Its the luck of the draw really.

When I went into the shop yesterday I was specifically looking for two items; the Pannetone pan and the Stollen pan.  Both had been advertised earlier on at £15 each which I decided was a little too rich for my pocket but nevertheless if I came across them with a reasonable reduction on them then that was a different matter for consideration entirely.  At first I could not locate them but then on the way out of the shop I espied them under a counter.  Both had been reduced to half price and so I came away with them, and my new book salt, sugar and smoke which I have covered under a separate post.

So sometimes if you wait circumstances change and enable that which you thought to be out of reach to come into your life and that is what happened for me yesterday. I consider myself lucky.

I hope you too have had a good few days.

Catch you soon



Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Salt Sugar Smoke

I first spotted this book by Diana Henry in Lakeland in the run up to Christmas it was on offer then at around £12 or so and I ummhed and arrghed over whether to buy it or not.  However yesterday I noted that it was down to £10.49 so I nabbed a copy and I am so glad that I did.  Not only does it have some very different recipes but it is a very good read about personal hands on experience testing the boundaries of preserving methods.  A woman after my own heart.  So if like me you are passionate about preserving and putting good food on your family's table this tome is one that needs to sit firmly on your bookshelf.  I have only read a little way through it so far but it is a wonderful mix of recipes, hands on experience, lovely anecdotal stories with plenty of reassurance and simplified instructions for how to start to learn to preserve for yourself

I am looking forward to reading more over the next few days or so. There are some lovely recipes.  As I have recently posted I made my first attempt at Gravadlax over the Christmas holidays and this book has recipes for Beetroot cured Gravadlax; Whiskey and brown sugar cured gravadlax and Eastern Gravadlax amongst many other simple and useful ideas.  However what has taken my fancy is a recipe for Purple Fig and Pomegranate jam.  That's it on the front cover to your left in a bowl served with Labneh a soft yogurt cheese.  What I really like though is that on many of the recipes where the ingredients or preserve is not as well known the author has given a how to use section which I think is brilliant. In a lot of cases recipes have survived but the common everyday usage of that item our social heritage has not always survived and it is a matter of trying that ingredient in different ways to find out what works for yuu as a family.

Well worth the buy.

Catch you later.



Monday, 29 December 2014

Easter Eggs!

Pardon me but I thought we were still celebrating Christmas but to my horror yesterday,(Saturday) there perched in a prominent place in my local store was a Cadburys stand for Cadbury's Easter Eggs!

Needless to say whilst at the Co-Op (the store in question) I did manage to pick up another beef joint and two pork shoulder joints for just under £15.  They have therefore been squirelled away in the freezer.  I am slowly getting bits and bobs here and there and filling up a bit at a time.

At the end of the month (January) I intend to go to ABC Meats for minted lamb chops, chinese style chicken and pork garlic chicken, stewing steak, chicken breasts, sausages, bacon, lamb chops, And also Hyperama (Cash n Carry) for  Pork bellies so that we can do some rolled stuffed pork belly joints for Sunday dinner which are a big favourite  I am also quite keen to have a go at preparing my own pastrami, Salami and Pork pies.  Will have to see if the pennies are there for me to have a play at the end of the month.

But Easter Eggs!



Sunday, 28 December 2014


Both OH and I like smoked Salmon and Gravadlax - OH does not like tinned salmon but likes tinned Tuna and fresh Tuna I am not keen on fresh Tuna.  Having said that I have had it in mind for sometime that I wanted to have a go at making my own Gravadlax.  This Christmas whilst in Morrisons we came upon an offer for a whole Salmon  which we had filleted by the Fishmonger.We took out the bones with a pair of tweezers at home.

I have several recipes in various cookbooks but in the end I used this recipe on:

 I had it in my head that this is quite complicated but in actual fact it was a lot easier in practice and the tip about using cling film actually works extremely well. It was good to try something new.

And if I do say so myself it is lovely.  As the fish was about 4lbs in weight once filleted we have ended up with loads of Gravadlax but the beauty of this recipe is that any excess can be frozen for up to two months by slicing and separating with interleaving sheets.

That means I will still be able to enjoy the Salmon in the weeks to come, either on its own with scrambled egg, with home made bagels, in quiche, in sandwiches.  

In future if there is any Salmon on offer I think I will be taking full advantage.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 27 December 2014

Stocking the Freezer and Working with the Pantry Store

 This is the freezer I have gone for from

I now have a challenge for now and into  the New Year of re-stocking the freezer so that we have a variety of meals available to us.  I have never ever been without a full size chest freezer since I was 19 years of age and this last year has been difficult to say the least as I was used to squirreling all sorts of goodies away to help with quick meals, variety in meals available to us.  Being budget conscious i.e.getting maximum usage out of ingredients i.e. making my own stocks and gravies out of next to nothing being prime among those reasons.  A good basis of home made stock makes lovely soup and if you freeze some of the stock in individual ice cube trays one or two cubes can be added to home made gravy; and if you use home roasted veggies which are slightly past their best, cook them and then pop them through a sieve this can then be frozen in pots or individual cubes and helps give a lot more flavour to home-made gravy.  

My mother has always maintained that it is the gravy that makes the meal.  Think of stews where we end up mopping up the gravy with hunks or slices of bread because there is so much flavour in the gravy.  It is our staples and the choice of our ingredients that are specific in introducing the maximum amount of flavour to whatever dish we are cooking and this varies from household to household.

During the past year I have found other ways around things but it has only gone to prove to me that for me the freezer is an essential as it enables me to squirrel away fruit and goodies for later in the season and the ability to say make fresh Seville Orange Marmalade after depleting the earlier stocks put down in the year so that technically you do not run out of marmalade throughout the year and you maintain and preserve a working stock of those items that you as a household use.  For instance I use a lot of apples, and I usually process it in bottles for use as an ingredient in puddings but also as an apple sauce in its own right.  I also use the pureed apple as a pudding in its own right heating up the puree and then serving it hot with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, but you can also add sultanas and a little spice to the mixture.  However if you then freeze apple slices in the freezer for use in pies etc later on you can use the combination of the pureed apple and the frozen apple within the one pie  (and add some sultanas and spice to vary every so often) which gives softness from the puree and texture from the whole apple pieces.  Using the Pantry store together and in conjunction with the freezer opens your choices up a thousandfold.

Yes there is work involved but you do not get something out of anything unless you put effort in, in the first place. However that investment of time and effort saves me money and time during the week when it comes to home cooking.  It all comes down to choices  - not necessarily just for yourself but in the longer term for your family.  

Having the freezer  also gives me the ability to make Christmas pressie preserves from "fresh" ingredients i.e. spiced plum jam/jelly or to turn into a chutney.  A great way to take advantage of reduced veggies and fruit and use them at a later date. 

So far however despite having only had the freezer for about ten days I have managed to squirrel away:
  • 7 x 6 bags of chipolata sausages. [ideal for fry ups, sausage sandwiches, toad in the hole] etc..
  • 4 sticks of sausagemeat; [ideal for stuffings, home made sausage rolls, patties] etc.
  • A Gammon joint: [ideal for a cooked meal and then cold cuts, remnants can be used in soups, hashes, bubble n squeak, quiches, pancakes, sauces].
  • Butter; 
  • 6 double packs of puff pastries; [ideal for making home made sausage roll, palmiers, cheese straws; Milles feuilles pastry and cream slices, Cinnamon swirls, pastry gallettes]; pies
  • 2 whole legs of lamb reduced to £7 from £16 each.
  • Lemon and Lime Ice Cubes.
  • Plain Ice Cubes {for drinks and making pastry}
  •  Apple slices
That's just for starters as and when I see any bargains I will now be able to take full advantage.  So pleased.  Have some bubble and squeak cakes to prepare yet from the remnants of a sack of potatoes some onions, Brussel sprouts and some bacon and some ham.  Nice on their own with a poached or fried egg.

Loads to do still

Catch you soon




Friday, 26 December 2014

Quiet Christmas

We have had a very quiet Christmas so far - just OH and I yesterday.  We normally have a Turkey for Christmas Day dinner but this year we tried a Turkey bomb.  Very nice really enjoyed it but we will be returning the full sized Turkey next year.  The Turkey bomb though would be ideal for a large family gathering. Today my mum should have been with us unfortunately OH is full of cold and so we have had to put her off coming - we do not want her being poorly as well. [my mum like myself because of a wonky immune system does not need to be near anyone with a cold as what would be a mild cold for everyone else always ends up double whammy for us].  However that being said I hate being practical because it is letting her down; although I know it is the best thing to do in the long run - a heart versus head situation; it doesn't make it any easier.

 Fortunately OH seems a bit easier than he was so fingers crossed for Sunday going ahead.

The house is warm and snug at the moment although it sounds like it is chucking it down with rain outside although the forecast does say some snow so we shall just have to see what we get up to tomorrow morning.  OH is out for the count at the moment.

Wishing you happiness for the rest of the season.



Merry Christmas Everyone

Merry Christmas everyone here's hoping that it is a peaceful happy one.



Monday, 22 December 2014

Father Christmas

As a little girl I would regularly be taken to see "Santa Claus" usually at Mawer and Collingham's store in Lincoln and of course in those days they used to take photos of the special moment.  I have one of those photos probably like many other children a black and white photo with a white curly haired old gentleman.  Me sporting a little blue bonnet to match my coat and it also had a little matching muff to pop my hands into and being given a present.  

Much was always made of Christmas when we were growing up.  My father believed in imagination and being able to use it.  He took every opportunity to make us use it and there are several incidents where great concern was shown by us because he had us believing and eating out of his hand.  The innocence of children.  Saying that my Dad and my Granddad (Pop) loved and enjoyed their children.  We were never a bother and we were enjoyed.  There was always loving support and encouragement and love.

One of the earliest incidents relates to a particular winter where my parents' had invested in a gas fire. I think it was the year after 1962 when we had the big freeze up.   This was a big change as we had up until then always had an open fire place in the front room.  I wanted to know how he could get in and was given some spiel about how he had special powers and could open locked doors at will  - that is if he could not get in by his regular route i.e. down the chimney.  This terrified my brother because he did not want anyone coming into his bedroom and begged my mum not to let him in.

During the summer months if there was a particularly bad thunder storm we were always calmed down by mum saying not to worry it was only Father Christmas turning his toys over.  This apparently had the desired effect in keeping us occupied.

Another incident was in the loft.  Dad had a dark room in the attic and he took us up one day.  You could clearly see the outline of the chimney and my Dad said why don't you tell Father Christmas what you would like for Christmas; so there we are my brother and I talking to the chimney and when we had finished this voice answered back saying Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas children don't forget to be good between now and Christmas.  I swung round thinking it was my Dad (which it was he threw his voice) and then the voice came again and said don't forget to listen out for the reindeer's bells jingling as they landed on the roof!

We used to hang a pair of socks each up on the chimney before going to bed together with  glass of sherry each and a mince pie.  In those days no carrots for the reindeer.  Needless to say we always checked to make sure the drink and pie had been eaten and they always were; but we had to check.

When we used to get up in the morning as littlies the presents always used to be under the tree, but as we got older we used to hang a pillowslip on the bottom of the bed.  Good idea in principle but waiting for us to go to sleep was not as easy as all that.

One particular occasion I recall was we went to bed and could not sleep. My brother had napped and had then woken up (we think about half an hour after Dad had managed to pop them there without us waking up - about 1:30am in the morning.  He then came in to me all excited telling me he had been he had been and wanting to open his presents.  I said not we would have to wait but my brother was not having any of it.  In any event Dad came in and I got the blame for waking my brother up - Dad after all had only just gone to bed so was tired and grumpy.

My Grandfather was a Fitter and worked for the same company Ruston Bucyrus for 56 years.   After he retired he found a seasonal job that earned him a bit of pin money and for about 10 years he was Santa Claus at Mawer and Collingham's shop.  He stopped because he had been reading in the papers about senior members being caught for picking items up accidentally and not paying for them and he got so anxious about this that he stopped going into town so often as he did not want to be in that kind of a predicament.  By all accounts though he made a very good Father Christmas .

Did your Dad/Granddad make Christmas special for you and if so how did they do this.  Would be lovely to hear from you.

Take caare



Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Little story about a Freezer from, a Steam Blender and hand held blender with accessories

Now it is the season for fairy stories, fantasies pantomime and lots of imagination so do bear with the writer's over excessive story telling and over embellishing but the facts of the story are very true.  We all need a bit of pantomime in our lives occasionally - not that I am a drama Queen!

Once upon a time Pattypan and her OH, Gee visited a big electrical outlet called Currys as we needed a specific scart cable and some other consumables to get the best out of some pre-existing equipment in the house.  Pattypan browsed the kitchen equipment whilst Gee dealt with his consumables and then Gee came back to meet her.  Pattypan had been interested in a Hotpoint Steam Blender for  little while and a hand blender and selection of tools and we had initially looked in the Hotpoint shop but by the time we had saved up they did not have any in stock.

Gee noticed that there was a Managers special on the equipment and a lot cheaper than we had budgeted for and so we approached a young lady - we shall call her the good fairy a keen honest girl, keen to please the customer and we asked if we could have one of each.  She looked into the matter with the help of a colleague and were gone quite some while.  We were told by the colleague that everything would be there and so we concluded to pay for the said items it then transpired that they could not locate the tools for the hand blender in the stock room and the lid was missing off the Steam Blender.  The good fairy was very apologetic and reversed the sale for us and bless her she lost commission to boot but she could not have been more customer focused if she had tried.  We felt quite sorry for her as quite clearly her Management Team had abandoned her "The Management"  Boo.  They were not in sight when the young fairy could have done with some support clearly she had done extremely well in an embarrassing situation. What puzzled us though is that if you have a Managers special surely you have all the equipment and acccessories easy to access (even the display model). How on earth do you lose the accessories to a hand blender as they come in a stand? We were not impressed by the company, lack of organisation or the lack of support for its young employee. And came away completely disappointed and the lack of customer care.  We use the store more these days to look at things and then buy elsewhere.  What does get up my nose though is they constantly ask you if you need any help - If I do I normally approach a shop floor member direct - when I am just browsing I find it irritating.

We subsequently bought the Steam Blender at a cheaper price again this time from the Hotpoint shop and I am very chuffed with it.

Pattypan's mummy knowing that her daughter had been without a freezer for over a year offered to play Fairy Godmummy and grant her daughter the surprise present of a freezer.  She told me to shop around and get what I wanted and so Pattypan  spread her wings and went internet hopping and visited ao online and watched several product information videos and checked specs, and got OH to measure up the space available and eventually settled on the Electrolux chest freezer with 400 litre capcacity.

We telephoned and spoke to one of the Team operatives who we shall call Prince Charming, who was very professional clear and direct told us how they operated and that they were keen to know of any problems we encountered with the equipment or with the service.  They asked questions as to whether there were any specific requirements for getting the equipment into the house and whether there would be any specialist equipment required by their Delivery Team, and they listened.

This was despite OH and I having a difference of opinion whilst I was placing the Order Gee kept asking questions (I had a two way conversation going on) about things that had already been dealt with -  and which he thought had not been dealt with and kept interrupting.  So I think we amused Prince Charming as well.  He was brilliant calm and cheerful and attentive throughout.  I felt confident by the end of the conversation that he had taken on board everything we had discussed with him.  We also arranged collection and removal of our old chest freezer.  So well done Prince Charming.

Pattypan had thought that it would be after Christmas before the freezer arrived- it could have been next day delivery but due to prior commitments we elected to have it delivered early on the Saturday morning.  We were kept in the loop by email and text about ETA and by email confirming the order and payment and were told that we would receive the invoice after delivery.

They delivered yesterday within the set parameters and kept us in the loop the Delivery man took the old freezer out and was very careful in making sure that the new machine came into the house without a mark on it.  It was all very quick, clean and professional and we as customers felt that we mattered.  I have followed up with a note on Facebook today and filled in a short questionnaire but the whole team have been fantastic.

I still have not got the Hotpoint hand blender and accessories but that may come as a Christmas present or not.  Depends if Santa's pockets are deep enough!

The moral of this pantomime is don't use Currys use  The service is second to none.

My new freezer is in situ and so far is working perfectly.  Thank you Fairy Godmummy for the pressie but thank you for making the whole exercise of buying so comfortable and easy.  I am seriously impressed.

This is not an advertisement for any particular company but an appreciation of poor service from Currys and an excellent snug service from  These are my own views based on actual experience.  I would not think twice about using again.



Solstice Greetings

The shortest day, celebrated generation to generation since time immemorial. Marked by past festivals of differing names and by different cultures all reverent of the turning season and the nurturing of the soil and plotting of crops to suit the sun and the moon.

A beautiful sunset and howling winds rattling down the chimney stack and making the grotty gas fire in the front room rattle like a wailing banshee she is just playing at the moment, playing chase down any little hole or cavity she can enter and then whoosh she is off again to dance another dance

Tonight's sunset was beautiful and no matter how hard I tried to take some photos with my mobile phone what I was seeing through the lens and what came out on the phone really bore no similarity.  You can just about see the pink glow with the trees in silhouette.

The wheel has turned again and we have a new moon to boot.

They have not really come out as well as I would have expected.  Never mind back to the drawing board.

Solstice Greetings to all of you who mark the return of the sun after the darkest light we all march to the sound of our own particular drum.



Whisked Sponge Recipe

For those of you who want to have a go at a Whisked Sponge Recipe this is the recipe I use.  I also use this for a swiss roll  for a chocolate log or Buche de Noel, and a flan sponge case  The recipe gives instructions as to how to process if you do not have an electric mixer.  I am lucky in that I have a Kenwood Chef and it whisks this up in no time at all.

3oz self raising flour
3 large eggs
3oz caster sugar
1 tablespoon of hot water

To finish

Either jam and Icing sugar


Fresh whipped double cream and either fresh, tinned or frozen fruit

Cooking time 15 to 20 minutes
Oven setting 180 degrees C, 350 degrees F and Gas Mark 4

Before you start grease and line the bases with greaseproof discs of two 7 inch sandwich tins.

Sieve the flour twice onto some greaseproof paper or use a plate.  Put the eggs and sugar into a bowl [if mixing by hand you must put this mixture over a pan of hot water] but there is no need to do this if using an electric mixer.  Whisk until thick and creamy and when lifted out of the bowl the whisk leaves a trail when lifted out of the mixture.

Sprinkle the twice sieved flour on top of the mixture (the sieving adds air to the mixture) but you have to be gentle in folding through the flour  with a metal spoon to combine it in the mixture as being rough could knock out all the precious air whisked in.  Just combine until there are no splodges of flour showing.  You do not have to be as thorough as when making a Victoria Sandwich.  Finally fold in the hot water in the same way.

Divide the mixture between the two lined cake tins and then bake until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed (i.e. 15 to 20  minutes but it does vary oven to oven)  Leave in the tins for 1 to 2 minutes then turn out on a baking rack to cool.  When cool sandwich together with the jam and sprinkle with icing sugar or whip your double cream until nice and thick spread it on the two sandwiches not forgetting to leave some for the top.  Add fruit of your choice.  Keep in the fridge if fresh, tinned or frozen fruit is used.

This is a recipe I have come back to time and time again first using it over 34 years ago when I first got married. It is very forgiving and  Quick to make and I used to take them into work every so often as well. One of my favourite versions was fresh cream, tinned mandarin oranges, chocolate rose leaves - it used to be pretty but very refreshing as a pud.  Funny I never bought any home - it soon used to disappear!




Christmas Trifles/Sweets

Now this is really speaking to me.  Think I may have to give this one a go!  All that white chocolate, seasonal clementines and orange liqueur and cream - blow the waste line sometimes there are things that a girl just has to do!

Yummy or what

But then again I might make a home made (Pattypan take on a version of Black Forest Gateau)  OHs favourite;  

During the summer II preserved some Morello cherries in syrup with added Kirsch having in mind Christmas and preparing a pudding that OH would like and not only that these cherries are just begging to be used in this way.  I also have some Morello Cherry jam.  What I thought I would do is make a couple of whisked chocolate sponge cakes round ones cook them and let them cool.  When cool the construction part begins.  to start with I drain thethe Cherries in Kirsch then drizzle a little of the syrup on each sponge.  I then add some of the Cherry Jam which has been warmed slightly and spread it onto the inside of each sponge and then let cool.  Then I add a layer of whipped double cream to both sponges and finally the  drained Morello Cherries in the Kirsch. I then pop them on the bottom sponge only on top of the cream layer then pop the other lid on with the cream and press it gently into place so from the bottom you end up with a base of sponge, syrup, jam whipped cream then the cherries.  When the lid is added you end up with the cherries in between two layers of cream, then the jam, syrup and sponge. Decorate the top with more cream, jam and cherries  and grated chocolate to your taste.  Do not waste the cherry Kirsch syrup left over - offer this into a little jug for drizzling over the "gateau" just before serving.  I have made this in the past it soon goes.  This is a simple way of creating a gateau without all the folderolles! 

I have given the normal way of making the Black Forest however since the last time I made it he has become diabetic.  The cherries were preserved in the mildest of syrups and drained well and I used the Splenda sugar substitute instead of sugar  in the sponge so that he might have a small piece. The cream is unsweetened.

You can also use a plain vanilla sponge and decorate with oranges, strawberries, mixed fruit. of your choices just alternating the fruit to suit your taste.

Right upwards and onwards

Tea break over



Saturday, 20 December 2014

Busy, Busy, Busy

Its been a bit hectic here for the past few days; I scrubbed the kitchen and the bathroom out completely- the really deep clean - with having animals in the house you cannot be too careful -  and sorted out a load of rubbish to boot  we have to go to the tip tomorrow as a result. 

The washing machine man came and sorted out my washing machine out putting in a new drum and block.  So I am now up and running working my way through a fortnight's worth of washing and it is slowly getting done and dried.

Today we had an early start as my new freezer arrived a 400 litre chest freezer and I have also popped some of today's purchases in as well as emptying and re-decanting frozen items from the upright which has jut about packed up as well.  Its brilliant - the new one that is.  OH and I went round Waitrose last evening ostensibly just for one or two items but having a good recce of their frozen section as well which was very interesting one or two items aroused our interest and which we will no doubt get in due course.

Today we went to Morrisons at Stamford taking mum with us - we haven't gone for a Turkey this year but have gone for a Turkey bomb and I have also bought a whole Salmon which was on offer I am going to prepare some Gravad Lax with this - the Fishmonger filleted and prepared the fish fully.  I have never done this before and am looking forward to having  a go at preparing this.

I also have some fresh herbs thyme, dill and sage will get others as I go along.

I still have further shopping to do but that will be Tuesday  before I go for that.

Anyway must get a wriggle on

Catch you soon



Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas Pressie from Work

OH works for Hotpoint Indesit and for the past couple of years he has come home at Christmas with a present from the Company and it arrives in a plain brown string handled box just like this.

Inside that box (which is quite heavy) there is a Panettone (lovely for bread and butter pudding this one has the peel in it) and there is nothing quite like bread and butter pudding in the cold winter months.  Interestingly enough bread and butter pudding was off my eat list as a child but now it is one of my favourites along with steamed Treacle Sponge.

A bag of Cantucci sweet almond biscuits which we eat as they are or in a trifle soaked with a little sherry or Amaretto or Tiramisu or Lemoncello pudding and two bars of proper Italian Touronne nougat which is to die for one chocolate and one plain.  It is a hard nougat but once you start eating it, it goes all soft and chewy.

Its a super pressie and every member of staff gets one. Next year may be different but for now it is very gratefully received to add to the Christmas stockpile.

And the box will join two other boxes which I have turned into hat boxes.  So far I have left them plain but the intention is to decoupage them in due course or paint them not quite decided yet.



A Few Little Treasures

Today's finds:

This little clock which is ideal for my bedroom and goes with my bedroom furniture which is solid pine.  The print is pretty and the right colourways for my bedroom.

A really pretty immaculately embroidered tablecloth which will look lovely over a little octagonal table I have in my room (its a job in waiting as I intend to paint it cream).

So happy with these finds

There are more to come.

Take care



Peanuts Extra Strong Mints and Butter Papers

Its an odd combination but one that holds resonance for me.  It's that time of year again -  nearly Christmas and as usual for this time of year for me I have been thinking of those no longer with us and their little customs, idiosyncrasies, traditions and humour. Remembering them in my own little ways never forgetting them and still missing them.  

This was the time of year that we used to go to my grandparents as it was the time that the family got together.  We would travel from Oakham and then Uppingham to my grandparents' home usually there had been heavy snowfall and we used to be wrapped in blankets and would be singing all the way to my grandparents' home at night and then be bundled in front of the fire given something nice and hot to drink and something to eat and then bed.
It wasn't just the family that congregated there would be Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, Second Cousins from both paternal and maternal sides of the family.  There would also be friends who if found to be spending Christmas alone by my grandmother would always be invited to Christmas Dinner and for tea.  We learnt to communicate from an early age with older people in fact my Uncle took in Grandma who was no relation but a spinster on her own and she lived with them until she passed and we learnt to respect our elders gently but firmly.

There were  lot of us then now there is just about a quarter left, scattered to all four winds all of us wrapped up with our own lives and extended families.  My Nan was the one who held everything together, then my Dad but now both sadly gone and we are the poorer for it.

As a child  I spent a lot of time with my Granddad.  I learnt to walk - with him pushing the lawnmower (very slowly  - it was a push lawnmower) with me holding on to the supports.  He was a story teller and a good listener and he kept us youngsters entertained and out of trouble.   He relayed family history, family stories, playing his Banjo - boy could he play that Banjo (he played Duelling Banjos and made the Banjo sing and answer  I have never heard anyone come close as to how he used to play it- apparently he was offered a full time job in a Dance Band in the 1930s but decided not to take it as he had a young wife and a family to support). He also played concertina and the spoons.   

My grandad was a lovely man who put a lot of time and effort into the younger members of the family - being from a big family himself he was used to little ones being around.  Pop was a calm level headed chap who I never saw lose his temper (I have it on good authority that apparently he did and when he did boy did you get out the way fast - he was slow to the burn but once you lit the blue touch paper you stood back and fast).    

This year I have revived a simple tradition of my grandfather even though I do not have a wood/coal fire - (one day).  Pop as we used to affectionately call him used to buy lovely roasted peanuts from the market in Lincoln and used to keep them in a glass jar (an old honey jar if I remember correctly) by the fire and we were allowed a few each day we were with him - he used to indulge daily when we were not around and they used to taste wonderful.  I do not know how they were prepared but to this day I have not so far found any peanuts that have the same wonderful taste as those nuts.  The peanuts were tiny not large and whether they were prepared in a wood fired oven or not I do not know but they tasted wonderful and they came in a white paper bag.  Sadly our market does not do salted peanuts and I am reduced to buying them from the supermarket unless any of you good folks out there know where some really nice peanuts can be obtained??  The general consensus of the family is that we think what used to happen was that as the peanuts were in their jar in the fire place that the heat released the oils and gave the nuts more flavour but we do not know this for sure.  Mine are sat in their jar by the Gas fire which is disconnected not as romantic or as attractive as a log or coal fire and every time I pass I smile to myself - but the peanuts still do not taste the same.

And my Grandmother  - Nan and Extra Strong Mints - she had a Bureau with a central drawer and she used to keep her quarter of Extra Strong Mints in there in a little white bag. From a very young age I used to get popped one now and again and to this day there is still nothing better for me than an Extra Strong Mint they are still my favourites.  My Mum has the bureau the moment and every time I go I just have to check that there are none in there - as that was Nan's drawer - there never is but that's to be expected.

And Butter Papers - Nan used to recycle them and used them to line the bottom of pie tins and also home made stuffing. You use them just like a piece of tin foil - this is something that I still do and I store them in a polythene bag in the fridge and folding them up and then taking how many out that I need.= when  I am baking.

Silly things but they remind me of happier more generous times and the love of some very special people.  Come Christmas Dinner we always toast absent friends a long running family tradition - but never forgotten

Catch you soon



Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Its only the depth that varies

I have had a really bad cold and raging toothache since the weekend and ended up having to miss the Christmas party I intended to go to because I couldn't eat very  much was full of cold and in agony with the tooth.  I chipped a back one which I have been to the dentist for and had a filling added but I know my teeth I do not think it will be long before I lose it completely. 

The washing machine also packed up a fortnight ago and the Engineer is due first thing on Friday morning it has to have a new block and drum in it.  I am also in the pros of deep cleaning the house although hampered by no washing machine; but I am slowly getting there.  

Shopping with mother on Friday and Saturday.

Decorations at the weekend (I had planned on doing last Sunday but something else got in the way).  It all goes to make life interesting.

I have a new chest freezer arriving on Saturday morning

There is also the main food shopping trip to do

A couple of late nights shopping for Christmas pressies I shall wrap as I go.

Then there is the last minute pop into town for M  & S.

Then the baking.

Next year I am doing things differently.  I have decided that I prefer leisurely time in acquiring pressies and/or making them I do not like last minute.  So am going to prepare a couple of funds for Christmas and the Preserving pot.  Next year Christmas starts early I shall stockpile differently.

I have made some earrings for a friend for Christmas I hope she likes them.

Right I have to get a wriggle on - less moaning more action - just thought should let you know that I am still alive and kicking - just slightly otherwise engaged.

Catch you shortly



Scrapboook Possible Projects for the New Year

 I have a habit of finding projects that I would like to have a go at and then lose the information with the link on it.  Very frustrating and time consuming.  Therefore to make life easier for me and to be more time efficient, I therefore thought I would prepare a quick check list of those items that I am interested in, in the one spot so that I can find them when I want them.  There might be something there that you might like to have a go at too.

I will add to it as I find something of interest.



Monday, 15 December 2014

Buttons and Beads

I was looking for Christmas decorations this morning and in my hunt I ended up finding a bag full of lots of bits and pieces that quite literally I had forgotten about namely some buttons and beads that I had purchased earlier in the year and pots and pots of seed beads and buttons.  From time to time I enjoy playing a little - I wish I had time to play more seriously but there are so many things I am into and yet there are only so many hours in the day.  Something has to give and unfortunately it is the crafts at the moment but I intend to try and make more time in the New Year to have a play day every so often - that's the hope anyway.

I have lots of lovely beading and jewellery books that I have gathered over the years and in the following book there are several patterns that I would actually like to make for myself as well as for Christmas presents.  Next year I intend to start making a few things and popping them up gradually allowing myself more time to do things rather than having a last minute panic which causes negativity.

these beads are intended for a necklace and matching bracelet

These buttons are to make the necklet below

This is the book that the necklet is from (sorry the picture is not as good as it could be the flash is altering the colour)

 I also have some Angel earrings which have been assembled and need attaching to their hoops,  I will pop up a photo once I have located my jewellery pliers.

Here are some of the other bits I have made over the years.

Just simple stringing but with the right beads something simple becomes something unique and I love different.

Bread Sauce

At this time of year you need something simple to make which can be made in advance  and in bulk and then frozen to save time.  Something simple like home made bread sauce which gives a lot of flavour to meat.  Once frozen all you need to do is liberate a pot from the freezer.  I am talking about Bread sauce - some people know about this others do not

This is something that is and has been regularly served up by my paternal family, subsequently my birth family, and myself with roast chicken as it adds a different dimension and a lot of flavour to a roast chicken meal.  My partner's family had never come across it either (he is particularly taken with it).   It is wonderful if served with sage and onion stuffing (with sausagemeat in) as well. I call bread sauce, stuffings and Yorkshire Puddings "padder outers" as they add more to the plate, give lots of flavour and use up a valuable commodity i.e. bread, which may otherwise be wasted.  This fits in nicely with my "Waste Not Want Not" philosophy.

My mum said that she had never tried it until she became engaged to my Dad and went for a meal at his parents' where my grandmother had served it.  Mum had thought that it added a lot of flavour and was a good way of using up any excess bread and after they were married it became a staple with her Sunday dinner roast chicken.

In fact I can remember a time where my brother and I refused point blank to eat it.  Its funny how your tastes change and you grow into things and then you wonder why you haven't discovered it sooner. 

Bread sauce is a wonderful sauce to make with any excess bread and then to store it in the freezer.  Especially come Christmas as it can get a bit chaotic in the kitchen.  In common practice I tend to make my own and freeze it ahead as it saves time and hob capacity and I just take it out the freezer on Christmas Eve and then warm it through in a saucepan or "ping it" in the microwave.  But equally if after your dinner there is a load left do not throw it away you can add it to the chicken or Turkey sandwich  together with home made cranberry sauce or add it to some home made Chicken or Turkey pies.

Why the Nostalgia regarding bread sauce - its because when I was in Marks and Spencers yesterday I espied pots and pots of it - and I thought this was something else to part your pennies from your purse when in fact this is very simple to make and utilises ingredients that are usually readily to hand in most kitchens.  Here is the recipe I use and as I have indicated before it is well worth getting yourself organised and preparing it yourself because it has so much flavour when it is prepared at home, i.e. batch cooking and then to squirrel things away in the freezer.  The same goes for home made soups as they help so much when you are in a hurry.

Anyway that's enough of my ramblings here is the recipe I use:


1 large onion peeled and derooted, cut in half studded with about 18 to 20 whole cloves (the more you use the stronger the flavour so if you just want a subtle hint go steady.
couple of Bay leaves
Good sprinkling of white pepper
About a pint of milk - this varies as to how many people am cooking for 
2oz butter
Pinch of Nutmeg
A couple of while black pepper
About 4 oz bread crumbed
A little fresh cream to finish (optional)

Put the milk, the prepared onion studded with the cloves, the bay leaves, sprinkling of white pepper nutmeg and whole pepper and bring everything up to the boil.  Take off the heat and leave the mixture to steep (I do this overnight), but it can be achieved in about 2 or so hours but the longer the steep the more flavour is released.

The next stage is to remove the onion, bayleaf and peppercorns keeping the studded onion  to one side.  Stir in the breadcrumbs and add about half the butter and stirring in the mixture on a very low heat until the mixture has thickened.  I tend to use a balloon whisk to do the stirring with as if the mixture goes lumpy it can be easily retrieved by a little wrist action.  Now replace the onion in the mixture and leave in a warm place until just before ready to serve.  Then take out the onion and cloves (making sure none of the same have released themselves from the onion as there is nothing worse than a whole clove in your mouth) and beat in the rest of the butter and a little cream tasting to check you are happy with the flavour and seasoning.  Pour into a serving jug and keep warm until served;

Costs pennies to make not pounds!

Catch you soon



Friday, 12 December 2014

Thursday evening catch up (Or should that be comedy of errors!)

Good Evening everyone

Hope it has been a good day for you although it was blowing a hoolie first thing and I had the wind against me as I walked into work and it was bitter. despite being well wrapped up I still managed to get a little chilled.

In my infinite wisdom for some strange reason I decided to go into town after work as it is late night shopping on a Thursday but in the run up to Christmas a lot of the shops are open until 9:00pm.   I had a reason for going in as I needed a present for a Secret Santa gift and I had no idea what I was looking for - I eventually found something which I think will suit the recipient nicely but it took me an age.

In any event OH normally picks me up from work for about 5:30pm but as I was going shopping we left it that I would give him a ring when I had finished.  However I had not counted on my mobile phone dying on me!  I then tried to locate a telephone box (they are becoming a rare breed these days) I tried two both gobbled what change I had and disconnected me on both occasions; so needs must I walked home, traversing the underpass and walking the most open way just in case OH came looking for me (which by the way he didn't)!  It tipped it down so I came in like a drowned rat and had got cold and my legs have seized up.  I am now in PJs having had some supper and am now under a throw, but I think some painkillers are going to be needed if I am to get a good night's sleep my lower torso has really tightened up - might take a hottie bottle to bed to keep warm.  I am on holiday from tomorrow night for a week, a lot to do.

OH is to repaper a wall in the lounge that has got a bit tatty with playful kittens and wallpaper not a good match (lets say their paper stripping skills are second to none!).  Anyhbody fancy hiring them?  I have two different wallpapers with a border strip in between and OH was adamant that we had none of the border left - I knew differently I just could not locate it. Last night I went looking and found it so I think he will be tackling that on Saturday whilst I am out - I have a dinner dance/Christmas party to go to in the evening.

I also located some knitting I had started but not got finished.  A chunky jumper and an edge to edge jacket which I have dragged out and hope to get a wriggle on over the Christmas holidays.  Truth is I am in need of some new jumpers so this is the cheapest option for me at the moment.  I have two sleeves and a little more on the front of the jumper to do and two sleeves and two fronts on the edge to edge jacket.

I also want to start cutting the pieces for one of the shirt based quilts that I want to make just starting with something simple to see if I can find my way around working one;  I have been collecting for the past 9 months or so

I am hoping to get the Christmas Tree up and some of the decorations up on Sunday.  I also found some of my decorations last evening as I was searching for the border roll of wallpaper including my string of old Father Christmas card cut out garland and the Snowman garland.  Both came from a reproduction shop called Past Times which I believe has now gone out of business.  It is a shame as they always had a good display on for Christmas and over the years I acquired some lovely bits and bobs from them.

Right some shut eye required - all out of routine since late home.

Catch you soon




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)