Friday, 27 February 2015

Trying to get organised so that I can play

When I am working on a project or projects I tend to keep the Work in Progress in a carrier bag however every so often things go to pot and I end up with a carrier bag stuffed to the gunnells this is true of the little stash above but there are a lot of useful goodies therein so I need to make a start in getting things sorted out so that I can find things.  This particular bag has quite a lot of seed beads within it, but I have a large box on top of this somewhere in the back bedroom. It would be nice to get them in one place.It will happen eventually, boxes for different things.  It would be lovely to lay my hands on my craft items and be able to go to them just like that.

I was specifically looking to see whether I had beads available to me in order to have a go at these beaded dragonflies.  I have some beads but the fittings within the wings that have a central coloured stone I do not have any of.  I am going to have to look out for some of these.  I had hoped to be able to start these beauties this month, but that does not look possible at the moment. These beauties are from the book Vintage Style Beaded Jewellery by Deborah Schneebeli-Morrelli ISBN 1-58180-547-0.  It has some lovely projects in.

Never mind.

I do have patchwork material, buttons, beads, wire, sewing thread, buttons, gold thread to play with, crotchet squares, crotchet cotton, plenty of seed beads, sequins in this bag and lots of other stuff upstairs including loads of fabric.  Now I just need the time to sit and play.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 26 February 2015

When you cannot afford it you roll up your sleeves and have a go

Well you do in my family and that is the way we have been brought up.  When it was my mum and Dad's anniversary one year when I was at home I think I was about 16 I wanted to treat them both to a meal but could not afford to pay for them to go to a restaurant  (I was still at school and not working) so I did the next best thing. I cooked it myself from scratch, arranged for my Dad to take mum out for the afternoon and early evening and then got stuck in, in the kitchen.  I think I prepared home made prawn cocktail (I made the sauce from scratch), Roast chicken with all the trimmings, and Black Forest Gateau also cooked from scratchDear old Dad was in on the plan but not on what I intended to cook, so he got a surprise as well and my mum certainly did she had not got a clue but they both enjoyed the meal.  It was something simple, something that was not expected, so even more of a surprise, but the point of this little story is that I did not let a simple thing like not having a lot of money phase me and I did what I could with what I had available to meYou do not have to spend a lot to give someone a treat or do something special, sometimes just giving something of yourself is all that is needed.

Another year I had not got  lot of money to hand as OH was out of work but I still wanted to do something nice for my mum, so I set about embroidering a damask panel with a central wide open Rose and then making it up into a little bed cushion with  lace edging for her present, but then I set too and printed off some images off a craft cd I have and decoupaged a birthday card for her despite never having done decoupage before it came out rather well and the front of the card could be used as a picture frame so double use out of the home made card; but best of all my mum was pleased because I had taken the time and the trouble to make her something from bits and pieces that I already had.  My mum classes it as unnecessary to spend money you haven't got and is quite happy with a card with lovely words although we always find something or make something that she likes. 

Sometimes with a little planning you can provide presents for friends or loved ones from plants that are already pre-existing in your garden or if another friend is happy to share seed  you can bring on plants from cuttings or seed and plant them up, spruce them up with some home made wrapping paper ( you can get little rolls of brown paper from the £ shop) or I bought a roll of white lining paper for just over £1 and am going to use paints, stamps, stencils and ink to make individual wrapping paper and then tie with pretty ribbon.  Alternatively you could give a hand tied bunch of flowers from your garden simply arranged, tied with pretty ribbon (I do tend to recycle ribbon ironing it out in between uses) and you can always make some home made truffles, fudge or coconut ice to go with them.

The point is by having a go and making things or tackling things yourself you learn a new skill, produce something original which makes you feel good about yourself, the person you are making it for is pleased and has been given some pleasure.  Really it is the giving of oneself that is the real gift rather than the item itself.

The main purpose of this post is if you cannot afford it  there is always a way round things if you are prepared to have a go and it probably will not cost you a massive amount which lets face it is why you are probably having a go anyway.  Years ago people did not have a choice.  If they needed  a new dress the cheapest way was to make it yourself for a lot of the populus - there was only one option make it yourself.  Unfortunately the proper in depth teaching at the schools for Home Economics as it was called when I was at school and Dressmaking is not in place.  That is why with the cooking I buy ingredients and then make things with the ingredients from scratch.  I am the same with my craft and needlework buying the fabric and notions, haberdashery items and trimmings and then create a one off design even if following a pattern.  I get a lot of patterns and/or ideas off the Internet for free.

There is no such thing as I can't do it that is a negative phrase if you think about it logically and ends up affecting the confidence of the person trying to have a go.  Its like learning to walk you have to take baby steps and have lots of practice until you find your way around whatever it is you are working on.  Its okay to make mistakes when doing something like this its the way you learn.

That is why in the summer months I have taken to growing salad leaves and herbs myself.  Salad leaves don't last long in the fridge, but picking it straight from the garden just before you need it means you get it in premium condition and taste.

So come on roll your sleeves up and be prepared to have a go - it will open up a completely new and different avenue in which to channel your creativity enabling you  to express yourself.  It can be remarkably cathartic and healing.

Catch you soon



The Case for Sausage Meat

I don't know about you but over the course of the month we use quite a few sausages whether they be in the shape of chipolatas, chunky sausages or sausage meat.  It is a very useful  versatile ingredient that I keep in the freezer. I use it for making home made sausage rolls, utilising short crust or puff pastry whichever is to hand; home made stuffing; (especially in stuffed chicken or stuffed rolled pork joints) mini pork pies; home made Scotch eggs;(best made fresh as they do not freeze more's the pity) sausage patties and sausage plait.  But sausages in their own right make a comforting warming evening meal of the old favourite Toad in the Hole, We also coil chipolatas into a frying pan with snippets of fresh rosemary and a little red wine fried in the pan  and then served rustically with either some pasta or balsamic tomatoes with herbs and chunky plain bread or served with butter.  

Run out of sausagemeat but still have some sausages to hand, skin them down and you have sausagemeat to go although I prefer to buy it in the sticks as you are not wasting the skins that way.  Equally though a nice sausage plait forms a lovely evening meal  especially if served with some fresh veggies and gravy. So sausages (or their various formats) are not just for breakfast you can indeed do an awful lot with them which gives them versaltility and a place in my freezer.

Catch you later.



Catchup on Monday

I had a quiet and pleasant day on Monday despite having to go to the Hospital.  I was put on the wrong foot because my taxi was late and managed by the skin of my teeth to get there for 10:18 instead of the nominated 10:15.  They were very understanding though.  We went through the usual palaver of being measured  - instead of being 5 foot 5 inches in my stockinged feet I am now 5 foot 3 inches.  Somewhere along the line I have managed to loose two valuable inches!  We then came to the taking of the old blood pressure.  They strapped me up and then the machine thought and thought and thought in the end I asked if I was still alive of the lovely nurse and then it worked.  Despite rushing around my blood pressure was still well within the bounds of normal  - ahh I am alive then.  

Next came the weight.  I have lost another 1 stone and  half - which I am well pleased about as it is less impact on the joints which is what I am after.  I have not dieted as I never loose anything when I do but I have been watching portion control and being sensible.  That is a stone and a half in a year.  Still a long way to go but at least I am getting there.  They are very keen to watch my vitamin D levels as apparently people on long term medication for epilepsy do not process vitamin D in the same way so I have had to have a set of bloods to test my vitamin D levels and other testing as standard.  If they need to give me a top up then they will request me to go and see the GP again. If the levels are acceptable they will leave me until next time but they have recommended that I take a good daily multivitamin as standard.  Apparently the tiredness and the pain in my bones is a symptom of the vitamin D being low.  I certainly felt better after the top up last year.  (What I really could do with is a couple of weeks holiday down in Cornwall in the summer sun and just laze but I do not think that is going to happen this year.  Doesn't stop one dreaming though)

When I first went back to the Hospital they X-rayed my hips and I was told that there were degenerative changes in my hips.  In recent months I have become a lot stiffer - I am okay when I am walking and on a roll but when it comes to going up steps, it causes a lot of stiffness and pain and I do struggle quite a bit.  I mentioned this and she examined me manipulating my legs and joints and indicate that it is getting worse - so I suppose it will be monitored as per usual.  Do not have to go back until next year unless the bloods show up anything. 

Whilst there I asked about antibiotics.  I am conscious that when I get a simple cold I get it double whammy compared to everyone else and I am poorly (mainly due to my immune system being up the creek without a paddle).  I indicated that I had tried to manage without  antibiotics because overall I was concerned that with frequent use there would be a problem with the antibiotics working effectively.  I have been given general advice that if my cold is over a week old then I must seek assistance as it can impact in other ways on my system although she did understand where I was coming from.  If I had not of asked I would have been left in the dark but now I have  plan of action if and when I am ill again.  I do not make a good patient at the best of times.  Otherwise they are quite pleased with me.

I had to pop along and get my bloods done fortunately I got an experienced nurse and I hardly felt the needle go in (I don't like needles) - it does not help that my veins are tight with giving up blood in any event.

I then had a quiet afternoon at home where I started to sort one or two things out and just relax a bit.

I am desperate to get to grips with some of my craft stuff but I just cannot settle at the moment  too much on my mind and too much running around other people.  I always seem to come last on the list.  Come on Tricia you need to focus a bit more - trouble is these days I am easily distracted.

We have also lost another much loved family member, my mum's older sister (87) and I am taking Mum on the train to my Uncle's home in Lincoln whereon in we will travel by road up to Ollerton for the funeral.  That is next week.  Now I have got to get my head around travelling by train.  Mind you it will do me good.  If it works out okay it means in the summer that I will be able to get around under my own steam to go and see my cousins (I have a lot of them)[ if OH goes fishing. He is talking of going again - we have had a good couple of years where he has not gone].  Will be a good excuse to catch up and do some shopping.  I will also try and get to see one of my older cousins and catch up with her.  I also intend to apply to learn to drive this year as well as I do need to be able to get around.  It would be nice if I could because it would mean that I would be able to take my mum out and about.  Well that's the plan anyway.  Need to get the licence first.  Which means Doctors giving approval.  It is over a year since the fit I had last year and the Consultant indicated that provided I was clear he would give approval for me learning to drive.

There is so much that I want to achieve and have a go at but sometimes its knowing what to do first that becomes a bit of a stumbling block.  Have got to dip my toe in the water (proverbially speaking) somewhere down the line so might as well jump straight in.  Told you before its just the depth with me.

Catch you soon hope all is well with you especially our American and Canadian cousins struggling with the piles and piles of snow.  Keep safe wherever you my be.

Until next time.



Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Beginning the road to preserving

Many years ago when I was first married I started my road to preserving with home made Pickled OnionsI had a large old glass sweet jar that was packed to the gunnels with pickling onions and whole spices and plenty of malt vinegar.  They were a success but over the years I have refined my method and I have actually learned from making my preserves.  To start with I was not cutting the base of the onion properly and so they were either falling apart or looking a bit tattered on the bases and when all said and done if you are preparing something for your Pantry shelf you want as much as you can to eat - you can be over zealous..  However if you feel with the knife there is a natural line between the onion and the root where this can be achieved neatly and quickly.  I then used to spice the spiced vinegar bought from the shop up further by creating my own spicing bag to give it extra oomph and boiled this up in the vinegar.  You then allow this to cool leaving a clean tea towel over the pan to stop anything getting in and then decant the cold vinegar onto the onions.  Doing it this way stops the onion from going soggy.  I then add home dried chillies and bay leaf and black peppercorns to each filled jar.

I suffer badly from tears so when it comes to peeling any onion these days I soak in boiling water for a maximum of two hours and then strip the onion down of its outer leaves.  This works wonderfully for me in stopping the crying and the only part of the onion to go soggy with the hot water is the bit you want to remove in any event, but please do not leave the onions in the hot water for long.

All things have been learned via trial and error and from reading various different recipes and different approaches to preserving.  Pickles are ideal for the beginner to try and add so much flavour to food.  For example I regularly prepare red spiced pickled cabbage and in the winter months add this to salad leaves to pep the salad up flavour wise but also to give  very pretty visual.  After all we are all meant to eat with our eyes first.

Pickled onions are good to have on hand in the Pantry as you can use them in stews and casseroles (drained) as part of  cheeseboard, part of a ploughmans and you get more for your money.  If the recipe makes too much for you to start with give them away as a present at Christmas.

I therefore started with the pickled onions, graduated to pickled shallots, pickled cucumber, pickled beetroot, pickled red cabbage, chutney, pickled spiced eggs, picallili etc.  Each year I did something I added extra things to the list to be prepared in any one preserving year and even now some 36 years or so on I am still adding new items to the list.

If you do not want to start with a pickle why not start with a jam and practice learn from the preserve.  If you make your own jams and make your own bread you have bread and jam for Saturday night supper and/or to give the kids as a snack.  Kilner have just added their own butter churn to the items available so that you can make your own butter (new item on the kilner blog). So you have then made your bread, jam and butter.

One of the main reasons I started to preserve was to add some different things to my meals that you could not necessarily obtain from the supermarket and over the years I have worked out those items which are the old faithfuls and made year in year out based on what my family eats.  Every year I have at least a couple of experimental recipes I make them but if I am not keen on them they do not get made again.  It is trial and error but it is something I enjoy very much.

One of the good things of making your own jams is that you can use them in your baking ie in a sponge cake, in jam or curd tarts, coconut cheesecakes, swiss rolls, Baked Alaska.  They can be served with croissants and/or toast for breakfast in the morning, added to puff pastry slices with some buttercream to make home made milles feuilles etc.  Added to plain yogurt, semolina pudding, Steamed puddings, Queen of Puddings.  The list goes on and on. Home made Apricot jam can be used to spread over a Christmas cake to help stick the marzipan down.
Want some tutorials on where to start and some recipes to try then check out the Kilner blog at  The blog is regularly updated and it has very good basic information for any novice preserver.

The only thing I would say is that sometimes the recipes take longer to set than is specified in the recipe so don't panic too much just persevere and you will get there.

Another good site is the jam jar shop which also has recipe tutorials on their site at and various other recipes.

So go on have a go its very addictive and you will learn as you go along.

Its very satisfying and adds an extra dimension to your pantry shelf and to your food table.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Ham Hock

My family even at their poorest have managed to eat well and make the most of whatever has come their way even though the ingredients may not have been the most expensive cut but whatever they have had has always ended up being extremely tasty and going a long way.  Extremely important when there have been children in the house with never-ending appetites.

Both my grandmothers' and my mum have always advocated the use of the ham hock, utilising it for the meat, using it hot to make a meal with some mashed potato, onion sauce and a green veg to make a tasty midweek meal (My mum's um had 10 children to feed so at least a couple of the ham hocks were used. Thereafter using the meat in sandwiches for pack up for the family, sometimes plain, sometimes with mustard, and these days sometimes with salad.  If there is still ham left over sometimes this was put into quiche, sometimes as a dressing to go with hot pea soup or you can pot it.  Then of course there is the stock from the ham hock which can be frozen into individual cubes and then added to gravy or decanted into bags ready for using as the base of a home made soup.  So you basically use everything and then the dog gets the bone as a perk.

I have gone to the meat market recently  in Peterborough and this is where I sourced these ham hocks which are quite large for £2.99 each.  When you consider how much sliced ham costs this works out as a very economic version.

They are not difficult to prepare and make good eating.

You will need:

1 reasonable sized ham hock (you can soak these in cold water overnight to remove any salt)
bay leaf
white pepper
black peppercorns 4

Wash the ham hock down and soak overnight it you think it may be a tad salty and then taking a pan that will fit your ham hock pop the hock in the pan and then cover with cold water (sometimes you cannot completely cover it but as long as it is at least half way or above the hock that should be okay).  bring to the boil - there will be a foamy scum develop as the hock boils - throw this water away refill with fresh water and then bring back to the boil again  then add the bay leaf, peppercorns, white pepper carrot chopped into sticks, quartered onion or shallots and continue cooking until the meat is cooked.approximately 1 1/2 hours or until meat is cooked.

Lift hock out of stock and place in a bowl or on a plate.  If using a bowl you can add the stock and then once cooled down pop in the fridge.  The stock will jellify but storing it this way will keep it moist.  I leave the fat on and only strip it off with a hock just prior to slicing as yet again it keeps the meat moist.  You can use the stock but if dealing with it this way I keep it in the fridge and just add it to sauces gravies etc fresh fro the fridge.  The fat tends to go very rubbery but it is a good protector for the meat.

If however I decant it on to a plate I cover with foil and then decant the stock either into ice cube trays or into soup/stock bags and pop it in the freezer for making soup at a later date.

As you can see there is a lot of meat to be had from this large hock and at £2.99 you cannot go far wrong.  If there is still some meat left over but not enough to do much with - freeze it and keep adding the remnants of meat to the freezer as at some point you will have enough either to serve with sarnies or add to soups or do whatever else you want to do with it in the spirit of waste not want not.

As they say with Pork you eat everything but the squeak.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 23 February 2015

Quiet end to a busy week

It has been a very busy week this past week at work where in a normal team of 5 only two of us have been in - so it has been busy to say the least.  So much so I have been shattered this weekend and well for once have done absolutely zilch, nuffin.  

I have done some research on some cooking ideas and crafts and some new to me blogs; watched tv spent time with the animals and generally just chilled for a change. Have also written up some recipes I want to try this year.  I have a book quite a thick book where I handwrite recipes that take my fancy

Its been cold and miserable here in Peterborough today and I am so glad I have been in the warmth just simply being me.  It has been quite liberating for me not to be charging here and there and everywhere  after everyone else for a chnge - I just needed time out for me for once.

Tomorrow (now today) I have an appointment to see the Consultant at the Hospital.  I have booked the day off work  as i have to walk to the hospital and walk back.  No doubt they will order bloods whilst I am there which always takes some time and home .  When I eventually get out  I am hoping to fish out one of my craft UFOs on my return as my fingers are itching to be occupied again  and I am in the mood to craft.  I have found a lovely little blog called the patchwork heart which is a riot of colour and beautiful projects and it has kind of ressurected my crafting mojo just a little bit. 

 I am itching for a new project but I have to finish some UFOs first  By the time I have finished I hope to have a stack of blankets/throws; I have however a load more on the list I want to have a go at including some fancy cushions (my Nan used to make these for me) which are a form of smocking referred to these days as Canadian Smocking which gives fancy organised pleats to velvet and/or sateen cushions to add dimension and style to simple cushions.

Right am nodding its another day.

Hope you are all snug and safe wherever you may be.

Catch you soon



Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Liver and Bacon Casserole

The measurements are guidelines only sometimes I add a little more liver sometimes a little more bacon depends on what I have

1lb pigs liver
4 1/ oz streaky bacon
1 chopped raw onion and/or roasted onions in butter
Beef stock
Marigold stock powder
teaspoon tomato puree
redcurrant jelly
Stock cube

I tend to roast my onions and then add a raw onion on top.  Place both into a casserole dish with  lid.

Gently fry the bacon after cutting each rasher into about 5 pieces until golden brown.  Place in casserole.  Flour the pigs liver lightly and then fry until golden brown.  Pop into casserole dish.  Add some water to the frying pan to relase the flavour left in the pan, add stock, redcurrant jelly (2 tsps) stock and thickener bring to the bubble and then add slaked cornflour to thicken the gravy.  Add to casserole dish mix well and pop into the oven gas mark 4 to 5 for 45 minutes.

Serve with mashed potato.

Served with mashed potatoe it was delicious.

Catch you soon Pattypan xx

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Eves or Apple Pudding

I a trying to get ahead of myself a little bit by cooking tomorrow's pudding tonight as I a going to have the oven on this evening for cooking liver and bacon casserole (and we have pancakes for afters) I thought I would do a ring of scones but also an Eve's Pudding.  I have some apple puree left over from the other night and it would be a pity to waste it so its going into pudding.

For the Eve's pudding

450g/1lb cooking apples peeled cored and sliced
75g/3oz caster sugar

Sponge Mix

200g/4oz self raising floiur
pinch of salt
100g/4oz butter
100g/4oz caster sugar
2 eggs beaten
30ml (2 tablespoon) fresh milk
fresh cream or custard to serve

Arrange apples in layers in a 2 1/2 pint greased ovenproof dish sprinkling sugar between layers.

To make the sponge

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy

Add eggs a little at a tie with a spoonful of flour between each addition to stop curdling beating well after each addition.

Fold in remaining flour alternately with milk.

Add the sponge mix to the top of the apples making sure well covered.

Bake at 180degrees C/3509 degrees F Gas mark 4 for 1 - 1 1/4 hours until when testing with a skewer the skewer comes out clean.

Serve with lashings of warm custard.

Guaranteed to bring a smile to light up your face - comfort food at its best.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 16 February 2015

Craft Ideas

I have been browsing the internet looking for different ideas on the craft front that I am quite interested in having a bash at, but at the rate I am doing things at the moment it will take me forever to do hence the pit stop here for all the things that interest me so that I can pick up on the tutorials, craft ideas, items to make, suppliers at a later date and so that everything is altogether in one spot and I am not hunting around trying to locate something I knew I had.

As I find further things I will update.

Catch you soon



The first is a little bag tutorial which gives a link to suppliers.  What I loved about this bag was that you could make several different versions and just utilise the same frame, although the frames would not seem to be too expensive via the supplier below.  I thought that this might make a nice little present for a friend or friends say make two different versions so that they have the option of updating their bag to what they are wearing.

And a potential supplier


I would also mention that I regularly use the Craftsy Website - I have never purchased any of the classes but would mention that they do put up tutorials for free every so often which I download.  It might be worth checking them out every few weeks or so and putting in free in the search and they should slowly build up.

You have to register to create your own link and then you get the opportunity to save these free classes/tutorials.


This is also a very good site for Freebies  - although there are patterns to buy there are lots of free ones across several different types of craft 

I absolutely adore this beautiful throw/blanket it is so feminine and absolutely gorgeous.


A flower cushion with the petals being made from felt



Tutorials on Etsy  - various


(7) I love this drapy cover up as brought to light by Coco Rose Diaries

Absolutely gorgeous



And this little blog has that many projects I want to have a go at you are spoiled for choice.  Crotchet work at its most beautiful; 




Sunday, 15 February 2015

Test Driven

 I have test driven the cooker - first starting with some toast for a late breakfast and then this afternoon cooking a full roast dinner, roast pork, chipolatas and bacon, roast potatoes in goose fat, peas, carrots, french beans, Brussels, Yorkshire Puddings and lashings of gravy.

Has not come out too badly need to get used to different positioning on the shelves as the burners are the opposite way on to what they were with the old cooker but it has been sheer luxury to get so much more in the oven.  I also made home made apple sauce as well.  Have prepared some onions - roasted them for the base of French Onion soup for tea tomorrow evening followed by the remnants of tonight's tea.  If anything is left over after that then I  will make a mixed soup (a bit of everything that comes to hand) for Tuesday night's tea otherwise it will be something fresh; I quite fancy a liver and bacon casserole with Mashed potato for Tuesday night's tea we will have to see.

I have also prepared a gammon joint for OHs pack ups during the week and there is a nice lot of stock from that for more soup.  Waste not want not.  Some of that is already in the freezer. In these colder months we need something to keep us warm from the outside in.

Right must get on.

Catch you soon.




Its Arrived

Well its arrived and I am chuffed to little bits a proper cooker I am going to enjoy using this its a proper full size cooker with double oven whoopee.  I am a total saddo really getting excited over a cooker, but then I do like to cook.

To quote from the ao website

"Perfect for the no nonsense chef, the Hotpoint HAG60K gas cooker is presented in a stylish black enamel and will look great in any kitchen. And just to keep an eye on things, the digital display acts as both clock alarm and minute minder to keep your dinner from becoming too well done. But with so much valuable cooking space, the real work goes on inside.

In addition to 4 versatile gas burners that are supported by sturdy enamel pan supports, there’s also an invaluable hob flame safety device, just in case. If a flame goes out, the gas will automatically switch off meaning there's no need to worry about gas leaks.

The main cavity offers 65 litres of cooking space, which is plenty of room for the larger family. Since it's a conventional oven, it will always be hotter at the top of the oven than at the bottom. In combination with all that useful space, this means that you can cook your delicious turkey at the top of the oven whilst popping in dessert at the bottom. It also has 2 useful cooking racks so you can fit in as much or as little food as you like.

But if you’re really going for the Christmas feast then just upstairs the secondary cavity offers an additional 35 litres of useable space. It is fully variable and can work as either an oven or grill. This cavity can be used to complement the main oven or can be used on its own for cooking smaller items to save on energy.

To spare a thought for all your hard work, it even comes with catalytic liners built in to aid the cleaning process. These liners will absorb any additional grease that may be in your oven and keep it away from your delicious dinner. Now isn’t that thoughtful".

Please note this is not an advertisement, just me being chuffed to little bits with my new cooker and my own subjective view. I am  very pleased to have a full size cooker again and a double oven.  Brilliant.   I am now off to cook Sunday lunch. 
Catch you later

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Rechargeable Kind of Day

Its been a hectic week this week.  The week did not start well and I ended up having to have further time off work this time because of an upset stomach.

Since then things have been none stop both at work and at home and we have also had to have a service on the boiler and a check of the gas appliances in the property (we rent). Last year it was being voiced that perhaps next time round we would need a new cooker and this is the case.  The new cooker was supposed to be delivered today but due to a technical hitch it will now be tomorrow morning before it is delivered and fitted.  The ovens that have been provided thus far have been half sized which means having to be organised and a lot of shuffling about with trying to get tins in - standard sizes just have not fitted but I hope that is all about to change. This time round though we have put a little extra to the purchase of the cooker which is a full sized one and has we think a double oven.  Its a Hotpoint one.  I have not seen it yet OH has as he went with the Engineer to get it but is not sure of the product code - which can make a difference.  From the sounds of things it may be the cooker I had been looking at in any event.  So the best part of the day was spent waiting and I was hoping to do a little cooking today but that has now been deferred until tomorrow.

If it has got a double oven it will be ideal for batch baking and also just having one oven on to do tea during the week will be ideal.  Once fitted I can then get cracking.

After receiving notification that the Fitter was not coming now until tomorrow we sat and watched the Rugby.  Brilliant.

I then cooked OH home made chips, steak, onion rings, fried mushrooms and I had chips and onion rings with tomato ketchup and mayonnaise and we both thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

Apparently I then nodded off to sleep on the settee was out for about an hour and a half.  I seem to have been doing that a lot just lately.  It has just been good to be at home and just chill and do absolutely nothing -  time to recharge - reboot.  I am now sat enjoying a glass of Jeremiah Weed a Kentucky cider which is a favourite of mine.  It is going down rather nicely.

OH had some of our home cured bacon with some mushrooms in a sarnie for supper. I could not fancy anything but might have some cheese and crackers shortly.

So it has been quite a chill out day - which I sorely needed.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 12 February 2015

Caraway Seeds

Have any of you ever used Caraway seeds in your cooking.  I have experimented one recipe  which I use  on a particularly regular basis is for baked potatoes with cheese and caraway seeds and it is very tasty.  I have already popped up the recipe for this.  It is relatively quick to use.

The Victorians were very fond of Seed Cake a staple of the Victorian tea table.  The seed in question being Caraway.

Caraway seeds (Carum carvi) are known as the steadfast herb/spice as supposedly it prevented lovers from straying and it kept a man's pigeons and poultry steadfast too.  It was also meant to ward off witches!  But moreover Caraway is known as a digestive herb/spice to quote:

"Chew seeds raw or infuse them to sharpen appetites before a meal as well as to aid digestion, sweeten the breath and relieve flatulence after a meal". 

Well that's the nice way of putting it.
The liqueur known as Kummel is also flavoured with Caraway 

I bought new Caraway seeds last week as I had depleted my previous stock and ended up paying through the nose for them and then found them on the market even cheaper
My new book Prepped by Vanessa Kimbell also  has a plethora of lovely recipes in for Caraway Seeds including:

Caraway crackers

Caraway and Parmesan Muffins

Caraway and Lemon Pumpkin Soup/Pumpkin Pie

Caraway and Lemon Potato cakes

Caraway and Lemon chicken Pasties

Caraway Biscotti

Caraway Soda Bread 

So it looks as though I am going to get some mileage and some new recipes to play with.  As I make houmous (hummus) on a regular basis (I have a stockpile of dried chick peas lurking in the pantry shouting use me use me) I though I might well start with the Caraway Crackers as they look rather rustic and dippable and then serve with some carrot cucumber spring onion crudites (carrot cucumber and onion sticks to the down to earth) and use them for a nibbles night this Saturday night.  Something that the OH can enjoy as no sugar and he is more into savoury than sweet.  It will be non-expensive with most of the ingredients to hand in my Pantry store. 

I might also make some cheese onion and yogurt dip basically you put half a pot of natural yogurt into a bowl add a pot of cottage cheese grate a load of cheddar cheese into the yogurt and cottage cheese mix together then grate half a raw onion or to taste into the mix sprinkle a little paprika on the top and chill.  It should thicken up slightly but is very very tasty and ideal for dunking.

There is always Victorian Seed cake for High Tea for the traditionalists.

Right am off to play

Catch you soon



Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Home Made Baked Alaska

This is a pudding that will please both adult and child alike and it is tasty and not as complicated as you think it is

I usually make my own flan sponge base using the whisked sponge recipe I posted earlier on but equally you can buy one

Here is the link to the sponge recipe:


I have a couple of special flan sponge tins which you do not see very often.  It has a groove all the way round it which forms the raised rim on the sponge.  if you do not have this type of tin just use an ordinary sponge cake base.


1 x 18cm (7 inch) sponge flan case or a single layer of sponge cake
30ml/2 tablespoon brandy or sherry (optional)
Raspberry jam
Fruit (optional)
Meringue topping made with 3 egg whites
Dairy ice cream made with fresh double cream or bought vanilla or flavoured ice cream
Glace fruits to decorate (optional)

  1. Put flan or cake on to an ovenproof plate or dish
  2. Moisten with Brandy or Sherry I use raspberry jam/raspberry puree for a non alcoholic version
  3. Make meringue topping
  4. Spoon ice cream straight onto sponge on top of raspberry jam but you can add fresh fruit as well. 
  5. Pipe on Meringue in swirls or swirl it with a knife and make sure there is a seal between meringue and sponge.  Stud with glace fruits if using.
  6. Bake in oven at Gas Mark 8 for 1 - 3 minutes until meringue starts to go golden
  7. Serve immediately.

A real crowd pleaser you can serve with lit sparklers stuck into the meringue for added effect.




Cheese and Caraway Potatoes

I love baked potatoes done the old fashioned way but I also love this different take on baked potatoes using three simple ingredients i.e. Potatoes, Caraway Seed and Gruyere cheese.  It is delicious well I think it is anyway and very simple to do and the recipe is fro Jekka's Complete Herbal.  It serves four


4 large potatoes
100g/4 oz/1 cup grated Gruyere Cheese (I love this as well)
2 teaspoons of Caraway seeds


Scrub but do not peel the potatoes (tatties).  Cut them in half lengthwise and wrap the halves of potato singly in a boat of foil to catch any drips and sprinkle each half of potato with the grated Gruyere Cheese and a little caraway seed.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas mark 4 and cook for 35 to 45 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Enjoy - even OH likes these


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

A Shopping List of Sorts, Bookcases and Books and a Book Review

I am very keen to expand my preserving repertoire with meat and fish products this year and there are several recipes that I am itching to have a go at but before I get too carried away which is often my want I think I need to get myself organised a little more.  There is no harm in planning but we have to be sensible here.  There are a couple of reasons for this the chief one being that I have always had a very good memory both short term and long term but occasionally just recently it has been letting me down and in those circumstances when it comes to shopping in particular I thought it might be safer to write a shopping list if you like.  However this one is not going to be on any old scrap of paper I have decided to write in a hard-back book the ingredients for the recipes so that when I go meat shopping or grocery shopping I have the lists to hand which gives me free choice and quantities.

 The second reason for this is that on occasions things are on good offers and it would be sacrilege to miss out on a deal to make something just because you cannot remember the list of ingredients or the cut of meat.  This way hopefully it will be a win win situation.

One of the positives of sorting out my bookcase is that I have rediscovered lots of books - especially little books with lots of lovely recipes.  Cookery books that look inconsequential  including a couple of Bero Cookery books (an old one and a new one).  My mum always used to use the Bero cookery book it was her old faithful and I learned to bake using its recipes, no doubt like many before me.  However once you start leafing the pages you discover a treasure trove of good cooking - little gems of inspiration and along the way I have found recipes for meat products that you can prepare at home.  In many ways we buy all these products from regular Artisan producers (more preferable on the point of flavour from my perspective) or the supermarket - which in a lot of cases I have been disappointed with despite promising so much.   When you cannot find what you are after then its time to have a go at doing it yourself.

I am really interested in a new area of preserving to me of meat and fish preserving.  Recently I had sent away for a couple of books which have spurred me on even further.  Then quite by chance I was flicking through a book I had already bought for the bottling section and other preserves when I found a whole section relating to meat.  The book is The Gentle Art of Preserving by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi.  What a cracker of a book.

This unassuming book on the outside but fantastic on the inside  covers a lot of areas and is split into sections such as:

Oil, Fat and Butter

The recipes I am  looking at predominantly come under the heading of salt; they include:

Old English Bacon
Beef and Chilli Dry Cure Bacon
Dry Cured Pancetta
Petit Sale
Bradenham Style Ham
Christmas Ham
Small Prosciutto
Chilli Lemon and Rosemary Coppa
Traditional Pork and Leek Sausage
Italian Fennel  Seed Sausage
Small Cotechino style sausage
French Saucisson
Sobrasada Style spreading sausage
Spanish Fresh Chorizo
Spanish Dried Chorizo
North African Merguez
South African Boerwors
Italian Sopressata
Ricardos Salami
Rhubarb Cured Haunch of Venison
Cured Duck and Goose Breasts
Dry Cured Bresaola
Salt Beef

This is just one book I also have a recipe in another book for Lamb Prosciutto.  So now you see why I need a notebook/shopping list; especially as the list gets ever longer.

This really is a fantastic book the photography is beautiful and the information presented in a very easy format.  One of the other sections covers Sour Dough, Kefir Drinks water and milk, yogurt, creme fraiche they all come under fermentation.  There is also an extensive section on smoking and the recipes are different to many other books I have of a similar nature.  It is very user friendly.

So there are now a few things to add to the Wish List

Excalibur Food Hydrator with thermostat and timer I have been after this for about 7 years
Biltong/Jerky Drying Box
Pressure Canner and Pressure Canner Tester have been after this for about 7 years too
Water Bath Processor for bulk water bathing fruit
A Cold Smoker
A Hot Smoker
More Plastic boxes of different sizes for curing

and to add to that

A Cave/Cellar
Large Cold Pantry
Large Dry Pantry
Meat Safes

I really love this book as it gives me so much scope to play but is such a good introduction for the novice as well.  See what a good book does it gets you into all sorts of trouble.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 8 February 2015

Pancake and Waffle Mix To keep in the Fridge

In a hurry during the week don't have time for weighing up as you are desperately trying to get the family a meal make this up and you can give them pancakes or Waffles or both; its also pancake day soon so what better than to have this ready to go in the fridge.


6 cups/900g Plain flour  or half plain flour and half wholemeal flour
3 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup/100g skimmed milk powder
1 tablespoon of salt
2 cup 200g solid vegetabke shortening such as Copha or Trex (you can use lard if you want)

Makes about 1.2kg


In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, milk powder and alt and then stir until well amalgamated.

Add the vegetable shortening/lrd and using  pastry blender tool or two knives cut the fat into the flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs.

Put into a self-sealing bag. Label, date and refrigerate for up to 6 weeks

To Use



2 Cups/300g of Pancake and Waffle Mix
2 Large Eggs lightly beaten
1 cup/250ml milk

Makes 10 to 12 Pancakes

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and stir until just blended.  Do not overmix.  The batter should be slightly lumpy.

Coat a large frying pan with cooking spray.  Heat the pan to hot but not smoking.  Spoon the batter into the pan using about 1/4 cup (60ml) per pancake and cook over a medium heat until until bubbles form across the top about 2 minutes.  Flip the Pancakes and cook the other side for 2 minutes more.

Serve immediately or keep warm in a 100 degrees C/Gas mark 1/2 oven while cooking the rest of the pancakes.

You can serve with sliced bananas and strawberries, whole blueberries or even chocolate chips or you can add these to the batter and then cook.



2 large eggs separated
1 3.4 cups/260 g Pancake and Waffle Mix
1 cup/250ml milk
3 tablespoons of butter or margarine melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Makes about 5 waffles


Following the manufacturers preheat a waffle iron or a waffle machine

In a large bowl lightly beat the egg yolks.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until the mixture is just moistened.

In a bowl beat the egg whites using an electric whisk until soft peaks form.  Using a rubber spatula gently fold egg whites into the batter until no white streaks remain.

Cook the Waffles following the manufacturers instructions.

Serve as a classic breakfast or brunch dish or serve with maple syrup or fresh fruit. 

Having this mix saves so much time.



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)