Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sunday Catchup

Today would have been my darling dad's 81st birthday and June 1st would have been my Nans.  Happy birthday to you both and I hope you are having a jolly old good knees up to celebrate!

I have  chicken roasting in the oven for tea with pigs in blankets, roasties, broccoli, carrots cauliflower and peas with lashings of gravy.  It will not be long before it is ready.

Its been cold here today and miserable most of the day but typical it has now brightened up a bit. On a positive note we do need the rain but it incapacitates me quite severely when it is damp as I stiffen up.  I also know when its going to rain - stick me on a wall hook and I would make a very good barometer!

Lots of things have happened over the past few days which will be revealed over the coming posts and it looks as though I am going to be on a steep learning curve.  What I will say straight away though is that I do need a much larger pantry than I have at the moment. It does look as though I am going to very busy though.

I know its daft but I am craving at the moment going on holiday down to Cornwall, to paddle in the sea and to explore rockpools - I think my inner child wants a vacation!

I have some sorting to do this evening or at least to make a start on.

Must get a wriggle on catch you later.



Preserving Jars and Spares

Over the years I have managed to accumulate a fair amount of preserving jars (a few have also been broken along the way) but one thing that really bugs me is not being able to use a jar because you can no longer get the consumables to use with it or those said consumables become so expensive it prices them right out of you price zone and they then stand dormant, hidden in a box or cupboard out of the way.  The more so now I am bottling more and more items.

That's when I started experimenting with other closures and in fact have used Leifheit seals and rings for some of my original dual purpose Kilner jars and they have worked perfectly well.  There are also cheaper jars out there with plain gold seals that work just as well.  It is just a matter of trying things and being sensible about such choices in the process.

However if you have more bottles that you cannot get closures for then it is well worth contacting "The Kilner Jar Man" at you have original rings for the bottles but they are in a bit of a state he can recover them for you so that you get more use out of them for a fair charge.  He also trades and sells original Kilner jars/similar jars and spares and new Leifheit jars and closures.

The other day when I was bottling my rhubarb I noticed that the jars I was using i.e. the new Kilner jars - the rings were getting a little rubbed and not "gold" in places anymore.  One of my issues with the new jars was that they had not given an option of being able to buy replacement rings for the jars (the seals yes) from the launch of the new range.  However by chance I was trawling the Internet for the best price for some bottles (research) and I managed to come across the ring closures there.  

Please note these are not my pictures but ones on Mr Denyer's website.

I have bought mine from there 2 x 6 replacement rings and two packs of seals x 12 plus P & P = £20 (sold as a joint item  however they do sell them separately) - but at least my jars are going to be back in use  So I was well chuffed.   The jar rings and seals arrived within two days of the order.  I shall be using Mr Denyer's operation again for replacement consumables for the current range of jars but also to get my original rings refurbished for my mum's original dual purpose Kilner jars that are also laying in the cupboard.

Well chuffed for another reason as well.  A few years ago I had bought some Bormioli Quattro Stagioni jars a few years ago and its not often I have come across places selling the closures. I bought about 20 jars at the time (for homemade pasta sauce) and they have been stood in the box in the cupboard but I have found out that the Kilner jar rings and seals fit them perfectly.  A few have already been used and the rest are about to be pressed into service. Being able to do this i.e. reuse items in this way fits very firmly into my ethos/way of thinking.  Where I come from there is an old saying:

"If its not brock why mend it"!

I wish more people took that point of view.


We also go to Lidl quite frequently and OH eats pickled gherkins like they are going out of fashion.  They come in very large jars which will be ideal for my pickled onions.  I am currently looking to find new lids so that I can recycle these.  Will pop up the source when I have had a little more time to locate - time is at a premium right now.

Its a wet n horrible day here in Peterborough what I call "Caravan weather" will probably put the radio on and listen whilst I work.  Usually Heart Radio in the back of the house although I do like Pirate Radio I get a better reception for that station on my computer.

Right must get on  - catch you later.



Thursday, 28 May 2015

Lavender and the Undie Drawer

I always remember lavender from the early days of my childhood as my mother had a big bush of it in the garden.  The smell to me is evocative then of what seemed for ever long summers, being out in the sun bare legged enjoying the freedom to roam and be children.  But it is also a "clean" refreshing smell a comforting smell - warm days, long nights - scented gardens .

I love the scent of this old fashioned long-lived aroma that makes my undie drawer smell lovely each time I open the drawer.  I have some lavender sachets in there made to pretty up as well as make the linen smell lovely. A girlie girl thing which started when I was a little girl at junior school where we were each taught to make a mother's day present for our mothers.  

A simple heart lavender sachet made of various fabrics (mine was made of distinctive green taffeta and then edged with pretty white lace - I believe it was some fabric left over from my mother's 21st birthday dress).  Ours were hand sewn (the school did not have a sewing machine but were keen that girls learned solid skills that would hold them in good stead).  We were not only learning hand-stitching skills whilst creating a mother's day present for our mums, we were also being taught to give of ourselves and create something lovely to please someone special.  So really it was a win win situation all the way round.  It also unleashed creativity and another way to express oneself.  

The lavender bag I made  was finished and was stuffed with some wadding and then the lavender was emptied loosely into it.  These days I make a little twist of muslin stuffed with the lavender  and then tied (more like a little bundle) or a little square sachet which can be replaced year in year out into the pretty outer  sachets  so you still keep your pretty feminine bits and your memories in your drawer.

This would be a lovely little project for a young girl to have a go at to say make something for Aunty, Grandma or even mum. Perhaps if your child has learned cross stitch she could make the front of the sachet in Aida embroider it and then make a fabric backing and then stitch together adding some pretty lace along the way.  I am a big believer that it is just not down to the school to teach our children but that we should also back up what they learn with teaching at home as well.  They are only as good as the amount of time and effort we put into them -  the nurturing element if you like.  You can always tell the parents' that care.

These are some of the sachets I have made and this is a sachet that my step-daughter Ruth made me for mother's day when she was little.  I taught her how to cross stitch but she made this all on her own (hit my stash without my knowledge) and stitched it for me in her bedroom during her quiet moments alone.Surprises like that are very special because they are made with love and come from the heart..

Recently a new shop called Tiger has opened in our Queensgate shopping centre and they sell little packs of lavender for £1 a pack so I have snaffled a few packs (before you all get there now I have told you where to locate) to use in some new lavender bags that I have been making over the past few days.  I already had the lace to hand having come across two big reels at £1 each at my local charity shop so a little bit of thrift in using up other people's remainders, fabric scraps, lace and dried lavender to make new little scented bags to freshen up my undie drawer again - well it is spring and they do look pretty. I like re-loving items that others have passed on with either repairing them or revamping them and putting them to a different use.  I am a very tactile person and wool and fabric speaks to me very loudly - even recycled fabric; and I end up with bits and bobs everywhere. Remember everyone needs something lovely or pretty to look at once in a while as it lifts the spirits, but making things grounds you down and also enhances your home and makes it very individual.

Now that I have made some lavender sachets I need some padded coathangers to go in the wardrobe too.  I try and do a few every so often, because pretty things in a lady's boudoir are very pleasing.

I am however going to try and get a few bushes of lavender set in the garden - I have seed to grow from scratch and then I will be able to produce my own lavender for use in cooking and in pot pourri and for little bunches to turn into lavender bottles or just a few dried sprigs to decorate a present.

Sorry still a backlog with the photos will pop up as soon as I can.



Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Considering Bottled Tomatoes

I love cherry tomatoes as does OH.  I am pretty partial to the plum tomatoes as well.  I happened at dinner time yesterday to pop by the market to see what was available and I found cherry tomatoes at £1 a net at least 2 1/2 times the size of the punnets you get and I also found plum tomatoes at £1 a kilo.  Our household uses a lot of tomatoes during the year and for the past few years I have popped up at least 20 bottles of home oven roast tomato sauce which can be used as a base for pizzas, lasagne, bolognese or even popped into a stew, or used as a soup base, but in any event we use a lot of tomato products.  In previous years I have also frozen cherry tomatoes and then served them up with Sunday breakfast (fry up) frozen straight into the pan and they are delicious.

I do not have a pressure canner  I do have a pressure cooker which is not the same thing but it can be used for processing the tomatoes, alernatively  you can hot water bath process tomatoes.  Please be aware that I process my own tomato products because I know where they have come from  ( usually grow my own or buy from a trusted source) but products processed this way do not have as strong a flavour as the shop bought products so please do not expect the same flavours as the product you buy in the shop. They are totally different. The products are good but different but they can be pepped up by using fresh garlic fresh herbs, pepper etc.  I am loathe to add garlic to the raw ingredients as garlic can attract the wrong type of bacteria and can become overpowering so I am cautious where I use garlic preferring to add it later on. I tend to err on the side of caution when home preserving.

So I am planning to pay a trip to the market this weekend to pick up a load of cherry tomatoes and also some plum tomatoes and the plan is to start off this year's tomato store.  Even if you do a few bottles at a time week by week they soon build up and then when it comes to the winter months you have a ready store of good food product on which to build on and to keep your family fed.  Remember years ago people survived the winters mostly down to good housekeeping and putting stuff down for the winter months at the time it was fresh and in season.  It was vital then as it is now to keep your family well fed and doing a little bit at a time helps the purse and then does not make the job overwhelming either and once you have stocked up for the winter months that is something else less to think about when it comes to Pantry matters  How many bottles you put up will depend on your size of family; but I have found from personal experience that you make a few decide whether you like it and if you do you make the following year but increase the amount you process.  It seems to be a never ending piece of string. Remember though if you follow this type of food processing you will need to make sure you have somewhere to store it and as you get into it even add the more specialist equipment such as a Pressure Canner, Steam Canner, or bulk hot water bath processor (looks like a tea urn) but enables you to process more bottles in one go compared to doing a few at a time.  In the long term it will make your life easier but to start with is not necessary.  Just a deep stockpot to start with is ideal.

I intend to "Put Down" for the winter months this year the following:

Cherry tomatoes in brine
Tomatoes in brine
Solid Pack Tomatoes
Tomato Passata
Tomato Ketchup
Oven Roasted Tomato Pasta sauce
Bottled Tomato juice for home made "Bloody Marys" one of my mum's favourites.

So there is quite a bit to do.  I will pop up the recipes as I do them so that if  you want to have a go and dip your proverbial toe in the water you can do.  It is not complicated there is a process to follow but having ingredients in your pantry that are not necessarily available in the supermarket adds to the charm and the lure of home processed foods.

I will pop up how to process cherry tomatoes in brine to start with but that will be at the weekend and to make one batch you will need 1.5kg cherry tomatoes to make one batch.

Catch you later



Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Accidents do happen

Or maybe that should be things do not go quite right at all.  

First, apologies for my absence I have been having IT issues which now seem, to be resolving themselves a little although there are still a couple of more things to sort - like my pictures.  I need to sort out my photo albums and get them copied to then free up more space on the computer and my phone.  I just need a nice run of time to sit down and work through them -  time which I do not have at the moment, and as a result photos are likely to be scarce on here until I can. The photos are there they just will not download so it is something for me to sort out in the coming weeks and then attach later on.

Then there was the rhubarb fiasco - well nearly a fiasco - I had prepared the rhubarb in readiness for bottling and spending an evening dreaming, stirring, bottling and processing to put this much under-rated ingredient onto my pantry shelf for rhubarb crumble,rhubarb cheesecake and for use with yogurt for breakfast and something blew up which meant I could not process it.  By the time I got to it the following day it had started to ferment (it had been placed in a sugar syrup) so I have turned it into wine and it is now bubbling in the brewing bucket. (3 gallons to be precise). That was a near miss as I hate wasting stuff. Phew - but it is the sort of thing that tends to happen round here.

Fortunately I had more rhubarb so I have processed it and now have 8 jars or rhubarb for puddings sitting on the Pantry shelf.  I am hoping to get some more as I want to do some more bottled for puddings;  I did not get to the jam, so I would like to make that and also rhubarb and strawberry jam, some chutney and some rhubarb compote. I also managed to make some rhubarb cordial. That should be lush in champagne cocktails come Christmas. So I have been a little busy.

However it is set to get busier.  I have blueberries to bottle tonight.

Apricots are starting to come into season. I love Apricot jam and curd. Elderflower blossom is starting to flower and I want  to make Elderflower champagne, elderflower cordial, elderflower wine and a host of other preserves and also dry and freeze some for wine later on.  I think I am going to have to buy some more demijohns though because as well as the Elderflower wine., I have tinned peach wine and orange wine to process as well as a couple of wine kits.  My window cills are getting decidedly full.  The kitchen window cill has become a fermenting shelf.  I have also started off some sourdough starter to have a go with and I am quite interested in having a go at producing my own water and milk kefirs and I have a ginger beer plant on the go as well.  So I have not been sat on my laurels just up to my neck as usual.

On a slightly different tack I saw a beautiful antique pine cupboard at the weekend which was up for sale as a linen/food storage cupboard.  When I opened it up it smelt delightfully of lavender - so I think it was more suitable as  linen cupboard.  Unfortunately there is no room at the inn at the moment, but it has given me ideas for the future.  There were also a couple of antique grain chests which had been restored which would make lovely blanket chests for the bottom of the bed. Yet again no room but the wheels and cogs are starting to turn as I very much like free standing individual pieces, that are re-used and assimilated as storage in this day and age.  

I am also starting to collect embroidered pieces to make a quilt with - damaged tray cloths where the cloths are not perfect but where the embroidery can be re-utilised. I first saw the idea in a Cath Kidston craft book where she had in effect made a crazy patchwork bed cover but utilising the embroidered pieces as well as pretty vintage fabric.  It looked stunning, but as I had come across a few pieces recently for no more than £1 I thought I would start collating bits and pieces now.

Well its upwards and onwards.

Catch you later.



Sunday, 17 May 2015

UFO Revisited My kntted blanket

Whilst I have been absent I have been working away at my knitted square blanket which consists of squares knitted in different shades of lilacs and purples and white.  It is not perfect but it is a first blanket for me and knitted.  Crochet I have no problem with but knitting I get very bored with even though I love and appreciate knitted patterns. I am just not patient enough.

I have spent most of my free time in the evenings stitching up this blanket.  It is a little bigger than I envisaged but it is snuggly and will be ideal to cuddle under on  a cooler day.  To finish it off I just need to knit the edging which I have already started and then when it is finished stitched on then my UFO will be completed and that will be another one that bites the dust. Still have plenty more to go though.

Unfortunately I am having technical issues in downloading the photos I have taken but I will add these in at a later date.  The photos below are the start of the sewing up.

I will see how the UFO projects go but come autumn I may well attempt another one of these and hopefully do a bit better job.  You learn by your mistakes (mine though not drastic need to be brought under control) besides it makes whatever you make very individual and "yours".  It will be well used for cuddling under on a chilly evening.
Catch you soon.



 I received a lovely email from Rebecca and just thought I would share.
Hi, I just thought I would send you an email to let you know how much I love reading your blog.   It has been an inspiration to me, I have started at the beginning and am upto jan 2013.  I hope you continue to write your wonderful posts as they bring joy and peace to my day. I tried to log onto blogger to leave a comment,  but it wouldn't let me. 

Kind regards, 


Rebecca hello and welcome I am glad that my "ramblings" are inspiring you.  Often it is posts from other bloggers that inspire me to do or write something or even try something.I am sorry that Blogger would not let you post - On checking I think that the settings are okay but if you have or if anyone else has problems let me know and I will look into this in more depth.
Writing this blog is a form of self-expression  and release for me - my take on things if you will. I need a gentle come down from the work I do on a daily basis and downing tools and having a go at something is a way of relaxing.  I am at my happiest when preserving or "putting food down" for the winter months.  In reality we eat whatever I make during the year but I always make sure that there are jars of this and that to give me more choice of ingredients come Christmas.  I think on the QT I am a frustrated farmer's wife without the farm.
To each and every one of you thank you for supporting my blog and my ramblings.
Take care 




Rhubarb, The Pantry, the Freezer and "Put Down" Plannng

For those of you not in the know I really am passionate about preserving in all its different formats. I refer to all the preserves that I make through the year as the "Put Down".  I have done for years since I was 19 when I started off with Pickled Onions in a big old sweetie jar.  Things have stalled a bit on the preserves front recently  mostly because I had been concentrating on the freezer.  That is now chock a bloc and has all sorts of goodies stuck within it.  However I want to get back into the swing of  preserving things again as it seems ages since I got stuck in.

To kick start this operation I have bought a very large box of Rhubarb about 10lb (could be more) from the greengrocers.  It is destined to be bottled in syrup for the winter months, some chutney and a few jars of jam.  .  OH will be going fishing again soon so I may well take advantage of that time alone to get stuck in and sort out what I want to "Put Down" for this year.  Whatever I make always manages to supplement the Freezer, the Tinned Pantry, the dried goods pantry as well as the fresh food.Sometimes my meals consist of blending of different elements and that for me is one of the inifinite possibilities available by using what I have to hand.  I do keep a substantial pantry and not everything has been bought at the same time I have built the stores up a bit at a time and when things have been on offer and gradually increased my ingredient repertoire and then maintained that base.  Some months when I go shopping I concentrate on the absolute basics and then say concentrate on the Tinned pantry, baked beans, tomatoes whole, chopped, red kidney beans, soup, cannelini beans, salmon, tuna, tinned fruit, sardines in tomato sauce, anchovies.  Another month I might concentrate.  Sometimes it is a mixed bag a bit of this a bit of that - its very organic and not fixed.  After all each of us keeps a very different pantry and the method can be adapted to suit the individual,

So back to the rhubarb its easy to do as this little tutorial will show.   This uses the first forced rhubarb for the year which is the most delicate but can be utilised to bottle the British summer rhubarb too.

So to start with Rhubarb in Syrup to preserve the rhubarb for the winter months to make sure I have some puddings to hand.  I was lucky enough to get a good price from my Greengrocer and she works with me. If I am after something I ask her whether they have any plans and quite often she will indicate that she will speak with her Dad "The Buyer" for their outfit and ask him to keep an eye out and they quite frequently come back with what I am after at a fair price.

Anyway here are the tutorials I have come across to show what can be done.  The only thing I would stress is that everything has to be spotless.  I use Kilner jars for long term storage of bottled fruit.



and fnally

Bottling is not difficult.  You can bottle fruit in the oven or by hot water bottle processing in the pressure cooker or in a proper pressure canner which reaches higher temperatures than a pressure cooker does.  This is very important when canning/bottling vegetables as it reaches the temperatures to kill off any nasties where a pressure cooker necessarily does not.

Do not be scared if you follow the basic instructions - each time you have a go you will become more familiar and get to know the recipe. 

I pop tomatoes up from early summer to late autumn making my own bottled tomato sauce for pasta or as a base for soup.  

For me though the beauty of bottling is that I am still able to pop fruit up for puddings etc. whilst being able to put more substantial items like meat into the freezer.  There is nothing nicer than opening up my Pantry store and having the choice of foods to choose from that you cannot necessarily obtain from a supermarket and it gives you so much more flexibility.

My rhubarb is destined for crumbles and pies, the syrup once drained off can be used as a base for cold drinks or turned into a sauce so nothing goes to waste.

Catch you later.



Monday, 4 May 2015

A little forum that I have come across

There is a little forum that I have belonged to on and off over the past 8 years or so maybe more and its where I started out with like minded ladies and gentleman learning to do different stuff at home and sharing their experiences and most importantly helping others with practical guidance and some very good recipes. It is very friendly and a lot of long running Internet friendships have been formed as a result of this little forum. I learned to make Mincemeat and how to bottle fruits from this group of ladies and figuratively speaking I think you will find it a win win situation.  Excuse the pun but I think you will find that everyone has something to bring to the table.  It is a members forum so if after you have had a peek you like what you see join up.

Do go and take a peek I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

They are located here:


Catch you later


28 Again for the Second Time around (3rd May)

Its my birthday today and so far I have just been chilling and it has been a really relaxed day.   I am 28 again for the second time around. So far it has been chucking it down with rain but it looks like the sun is trying to come out. Yay the sun has got his hat on.

I have had flowers lots of them:



Lots of Cards

Scratch cards from my stepdaughter  - and I have won a fiver.

Lots of lovely messages on Facebook.

And the really big news is that I think I will be getting the Excalibur Dehydrator that I have had my eye on for over 5 years next month.  Whoopee yay.  

Good things do come to those that wait!

And Cake

From my darling mother who has gone to the effort of making me a cake even though she is not always too steady on her pins, due to back problems and arthritis.  Mum has always made cake for us since we were little.  She makes a lovely cake too - its her way of showing she cares.

I really feel very, very spoiled and so very very lucky.

I have had a lovely day and not long finished roast chicken and all the trimmings for my birthday tea.  I am now enjoying a bottle of Bulmers Indian Summer Cider which is flavoured with apple, ginger and Cardamom.  Its quite a nice drink too.

Catch you soon.

Photos to follow have had computer problems


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)