Saturday, 31 October 2015

Saturday Round Up

I have been scrubbing the kitchen out again today still got a way to go but I have also been veggie shopping and stocked up on essential veggies to keep the stomach full and keep the gremlins at bay. I like to use fresh veg where I can  and if necessary freeze the veg myself.  I tend to use proper greengrocers or a market for the bulk of the items although some items I do get from the supermarkets like Kale, herbs, Chantenay carrots, oyster mushrooms/other exotic mushrooms like Shitake mushrooms etc.

Today I have bought:

Red Onions for pickling in vinegar - you don't just have to do pickled onions or shallots although I have some more of them to do to.
Pickling Onions some for freezing some for pickling
Shallots some for freezing some for pickling
Swede for adding to carrots for crush
Sweet Potatoes for roasting and for freezing.  These are a firm favourite.
Parsnips for roasting and to be frozen
Carrots with the swede for crush to be frozen
Squash - for pickle and for cooking
Cabbage - Savoy and a Sweetheart - for freezing and steaming
Red Peppers for use in a chicken dish
A very large Lincolnshire fen Leek for serving as a veggie side or incorporated within soup, stir fry or quiche.
Apples Newton Wonder - for bottling and for chutney. These are a really nice alternative to the Bramley but I like Bramleys just as well.
Eaters  - Coxs will be nice with a chunk of cheese, some ham and some pickle.
Red Plums for Apple and Plum Chutney and also Chinese Plum Sauce
Brussel Sprouts -  - for freezing
Couple of bags of mixed veg - reduced - for soup
Three Mangoes (Mango chutney)
Oranges for slicing and spicing, making some wine and drying.
A Melon - to eat fresh with either a sprinkling of sugar or ground ginger.
Lemons - home made lemonade or lemon barley water and used in a myriad of other dishes as well as making lemon curd.
Spinach as a side veggie or in soup
A cucumber
Spring Onions
Cherry tomatoes
2 Cauliflowers for Cauliflower cheese  - for freezing

I always keep a sack of spuds in (a large sack) and  net of onions as in the winter months potatoes are a good staple to keep in as you can always add so much else to make a nice warming meal as are onions especially French Onion Soup.

I have also bought two trays of eggs, milk, natural yogurt,  butter, some soft cheese so we have the options of blinis, pancakes both sweet and savoury.  We retrieved the last of the Salmon I prepared just before last Christmas so I think this will be very nice with some soft cheese blinis my Russian friend Veronika taught me to make.

I am therefore very lucky and I am stocked up a little for the coming weeks we will not starve between the tinned store, pantry store, freezers and fridge as well as the bottled store.

Apart from the preparation of the veggies as above for the freezer I also have some apple chutney, pickled cabbage, some more Picallili, mincemeat and bottling to do.  So as usual it looks as though I am going to be busy.

This evening we have had the last of the crispy duck that we bought three packs for £10 from Farm Foods a while back.  Very worth the money and I shall stock up on these again if they are on offer.  The duck, pancakes and the sauce come in the pack.  All I did was prepare the cucumber and spring onion and then cooked the duck, shredded it and we had it between us.  More than enough for two and very tasty especially when neither of us wanted anything really heavy to eat.

Tomorrow we have home rolled  stuffed belly pork which is to be roasted and served with all the usual culprits.  Last piece, will have to get some more done before Christmas as this is a firm family favourite.

Catch you soon.



Soup for Starters and Hot Water Bottles to keep warm

The weather here has been decidedly back-endish proper autumn this week.  We do not have rain forever then get overfilled in three days on the trot. Walking into work on those three days I got absolutely drenched despite being in all weather waterproof gear.  We have had the mists, very eery and the beautiful colours of the leaves on the trees always beautiful and beautiful sunsets (although very little sun during the day) Much as I love this season my body complains and I become a bit like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz!

When its cold you need something warm  something to stick to the ribs from the inside for me it is definitely Soup weather.  A meal in itself and when you haven't got much money to go around its a warming cheap meal in itself and if made from scratch retains so much more goodness and flavour.  I tend to make my own stock from a chicken carcass or decent vegetable peelings and store it in the freezer for soup and for gravy. 

The beauty of making soup is you can make it from leftovers or fresh veggies it is very forgiving and if you get fed up of eating it there is no need to waste any just freeze it.  Then make a fresh batch of something different and build up a little stock pile for yourself and mix and interchange them. I have some leeks left that are a little past their best but which will be ideal in a leek and potato soup or roasted in oil and butter in the oven and then served as a relish with cold meat or cheese for sandwiches for pack up.  That really is delicious and a firm favourite here.

If you start your meal with soup it is very filling.  So if you do a main course (if you serve soup for starters) you don't have to serve as much and then if you have a light pudding such as some plain yogurt served with fruit you will have eaten well for very little. 

It has been an abysmal week weather wise all the rain over a period of three or four days and so damp.    For Soup and also for freezing I always check out the reductions at the local shops.  When I went to my veg shop this morning Brussel sprouts were £1.60 per kg.  I looked but I did not buy and then later on the at the Coop  I have managed to get 2kg for £1.60.  Nothing wrong with them just the date stamp so they are going to be processed in the morning and popped up ready for Christmas/use before then.  They are lovely in Bubble n Squeak which is a favourite here and a good way of using up mash potato and greens which may otherwise get wasted.  There is something very virtuous in not wasting food and making sure everyone is well fed.

I was having a conversation as usual at the Greengrocers today about how people were coping on such low wages especially with keeping warm or older members of our community who are retired and have limited income. It must be extremely difficult especially if the are on their own and because of the energy prices being so expensive they must be going without something essential like decent food.  You feel the cold more as you get older too because you cannot move around as easily.  I quite frequently sit with a hot water bottle under a blanket at home.  I keep one room really warm  and the others warmish - I have to because of the animals.  I keep the doors shut to keep the heat in.  The house has two chimney stacks but I believe if the fireplaces were to be opened up they would need a chimney liner as the house we live in is over 150 years old.  Having fires would make this house really toasty with a multi fuel stove in each room.  I don't think the Landlord would go for it but it would be nice.

Right must get on lots to do as usual.



Monday, 19 October 2015

Catch up

Things have been very busy here - too busy - its just the depth as usual.

I had a hospital appointment last Thursday, a follow up with the Epilepsy Consultant who is happy that my meds are keeping me under control - well something has to.  They do make me very sleepy at times though so he is going to pop me back into GP care - I know for the best part what I am doing with looking after the condition.  He is going to write to the GP though allowing me some flexibility with the dose  (if I need to) although initially I am to stick with it and see how it goes.

We did a little more at Mum's on Saturday this time dealing with her clothes and personal bits and the kitchen.  Made me a little emotional, because slowly a little bit at a time the ties are being loosened - and I don't like it - the floor is moving under me things are changing and I am having to be brave when I just don't want to be.  The clothes are bad enough but splitting all her baking bits and bobs that was double whammy.  Her personal domain where she was in her element.

I have her recipes.  The ladies in the family one by one from my great grandmother's time have always made a tea bread for family members that is served in the Yorkshire way with butter on, some cheese and an apple for Christmas.  We understand my great grandmother started the tradition, although it could stem from before her time, then my Nan took over, then my Mum and now its my turn.  I have the recipe and I have promised to make my brother and his family the Tea Loaf; we all love it even my nephews.  I have the original recipe and the newer one brought in by my Nan just before she lost her independence. I will post these up shortly for you to try.  The original recipe was a yeasted bread.

I have also said that I will make their Christmas cake so I plan to do that this weekend coming.  Christmas puddings will be done on stir up Sunday.

Yesterday was busy.  The pantry fridge needed a proper defrost which took most of the day and I partially cleaned the cooker as well.  I still have some more to do on that.  As I was too busy I decided not to cook yesterday and we had a simple scratch meal.  However I did have a joint of pork out which I prepared and popped into the newly scrubbed fridge under foil and then prepped the veggies i.e potatoes and carrots and left them in salt water.  I also found some pigs in blankets.  I therefore arranged for OH to put the cooker on when he got home from work which he duly obliged.

Tonight we have had a lovely roast pork dinner with roast potatoes, mashed potato, carrots, peas, shredded cabbage, home made apple sauce,  roasted shallots and pigs in blankets and lashings of gravy and it was tasty.  A lovely warm meal to come home to.  Trouble is when I cook like this it usually later before I get a sit down.  Well can't have something without putting the effort in but it was worth it.  There is plenty for tomorrow night's tea also so that will save some clatting about tomorrow.  Come these autumn nights you need warm food in your belly.

On the crochet front I have nearly finished the blanket for my Auntie about five more rounds and it will be finished.  Uncles is a quarter worked so hopefully will be able to get  wriggle on then.

Am just going to watch Doc Martin and then going to get stuck in again.

Catch up soon.



Saturday, 10 October 2015

Plans for Saturday

I have a lot to do tomorrow  - OH has gone fishing and so I am getting stuck into the bedroom big time.  I wanted him out the way in the nicest possible sense as a lot of the stuff that is in the bedroom needs sorting and re-organising and to do that I have to make a mess and use the computer room where he normally hangs out so I should be able to get a wriggle on. If I were to do it when he was around it would just be moan  moan moan.  He does not do mess.  So its better that he is elsewhere whilst I get stuck in. However it means an early start so I shall not be long before I go to bed.  I really need to break the back so to speak whilst he is out of the way and once this room is sorted quite a lot of clutter elsewhere can be homed.  Some of it is my mum's stuff, but there is a heck of a lot of craft stuff as well and you sort of forget what you have and do not have.  I also have some clothes that need sorting out and I will probably end up sending them to the local Charity shop.

I am still having technical difficulties with blogger not being able to load photographs and I am wondering if it is something to do with the fact that I have changed to Windows 10.  I cannot find the basic settings and have also got problems getting on to Facebook  so many apologies - hopefully it will get sorted shortly.

So far I have found a load of Christmas decorations I had forgotten I had including some to make.  Felt stockings and ornaments and also some fabric mega stockings that need stitching and lining.  I have had the panels for a few years so it would be nice if I can start to get them done. There are also some wreath panels, an advent calendar, some tablemat panels.  But first of all I  Need to find the thread I bought the other week.  Its in a safe place somewhere its just I cannot lay my hands on them (I bought three double reels and a zip came to about £20 - do any of you know of  good source of sewing thread at a reasonable price.  Would be interested to hear..  You never get chance round here to get bored  there is always something to do and if you sit still for long you will soon be set on..

I also need to get some red and green buttons to make some felt button ornaments in the shapes of stars and hearts and maybe a stocking or two.  That sort of thing can be worked as a small project for the evenings during the week but adds some home made charm to the tree.   I think a visit to the stall on the market might be in order. 

Right nighty night make sure the beg bugs don't bite  - catch you sometime tomorrow.



Thursday, 8 October 2015

Thursday Catch up

Still have Internet problems and machine is a little quicker but cannot now post photographs on the blog.  Cannot work out what has happened as I can get as far as choosing a photo for loading and then it does not bring up the screen to say it is done and the screen freezes so you cannot get out of it, so until I can sort out what the dickens is going on we will have to be photographless!  However I think that the supplier will be coming in, in the end as OH still cannot use his machine.

The mustard was completed successfully and I now have 10 little jars ready for the Pantry. I am quite pleased with the flavour I really do think that it will go with sausages and mash and onion gravy. I have left it predominantly as a grain mustard but  I have made one lot of Piccalilli the River Cottage recipe and I have the Spicy Piccalilli ready to process and finish off tonight the recipe from Waitrose that I posted the other day. I prepared all the veggies last night and put them under the salt. I was in two minds as to whether to do it or not but I thought this might be one that I would eat as it does have the addition of stem ginger.  They are all in a large plastic box brining.  It looks quite colourful.

Once that is out the way I have some more cucumber and red cabbage to put to the salt and then I can finish that off tomorrow evening.  That will be a couple of more things out of the way. 

Tonight I also have to weigh out my fruit for my Christmas Cake which I hope to bake on Sunday. This is to soak the fruit in a little brandy and get the fruit nicely soaked before the actual making of the cake. I know its early but I want to feed the cake properly over a few weeks. I am also trying to get as much as I can do done whilst I can so that I can literally tick it off the list and for the best part forget about it. I then want the cake decorated by the beginning of December so that I can concentrate on other goodies to make. I do have my bottle of Guinness ready for the Christmas puddings but I need more bowls before they are made.  I also use Cider which adds a lovely flavour.

I am hoping that OH will be able to get me some more horseradish so that I can prep that up as well.  Thing is with me is that I try something new then decide I like it and that's another thing that makes it to the Make It list for the next year. Very few items end up getting left out.  The more I do the more I want to do.

That means the cabbage will get processed and popped into the box with the salt ready for processing tomorrow evening when I get in.  The cucumber will be in a colander in a separate container to drain away all the juices but will also be processed.  I also have a tray of eggs to process into pickled eggs tomorrow evening so I have quite a bit of work to do still.
Tomorrow evening I will start off an apple chutney with some sweet apples that need using up.  Waste not want not.

And Saturday I am going to have a go with my dehydrator.  I think I will start with some dried apple slices - I have plenty of apples to use up.  It will be good to play.  I have lots of other things to do too but we will see how we get on.

I think next week during the evenings I will be starting with the preparation of the pickling onions and the shallots. There is 4 stone to prepare so far. So it looks as though I have my hands full again.  Glutton for punishment.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Spicey Rosehip Syrup

I am always on the look out for different or interesting recipes  and those made with foraged foods are always dear to my heart.  It is another Sarah Raven recipe from
Sarah Raven's Complete Christmas Food and Flowers ISBN: 978-0-7475-9510-6

To quote Sarah

"Rosehip syrup made with hedgerow rosehips is delicious particularly with the additional spicy flavours of cinnamon, cloves, and star anise.  It is also famously full of vitamin C and so excellent for drinking through the winter to keep colds and flu at bay.  It tastes good as a cold or hot drink diluted one part of cordial to five of water or drizzled over ice cream.  Make plenty for yourself and some extra bottles to give away.  Use small bottles as the syrup will not keep for more than a week or two once it has been opened".


1kg rosehips
2 cinnamon sticks broken up (optional)
6 cloves (optional)
3 star anise (optional)
450g granulated sugar.


Crush the Rosehips.  Bring 1.7 litres of water to the boil in a large saucepan.  Tip the rosehips into it and bring back to the boil.  Then remove from the heat and allow to stand for 30 minutes or so to infuse before straining through a jelly bag or muslin bag.  Leave the liquid to stand.  Bring a further 800ml of water to the boil in another saucepan and add the pulp from the jelly bag.  Bring back to the boil and infuse and strain as before.  Mix the two extracts together in a clean pan.  Add the spices if using and boil over a brisk heat until the volume has reduced by half.

Add 450g sugar to this and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved before boiling hard for 5 minutes.  Strain and pour into small warm bottles that have been sterilised in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes or run through the dishwasher.

I will then water bath process the bottles for 15 minutes. Then will seal, label and date the bottles.

Once opened store in the fridge and drink within a couple of weeks.


I seem to remember that Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall made an apple and rosehip ice cream using a couple of bottles of rosehip syrup.  This spicy version would make a very unusual spicy ice cream.

I will have to have a play.  I am destined to go foraging for Rosehips and Rowan berries this weekend if the weather plays ball.  Its dreadful here today again it was wet n damp yesterday and I am a bit like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz a bit stiff to say the least.

Catch you soon.



Pink Grapefruit Cordial

I received a comment from my friend Bovey Belle yesterday indicating that she had some grapefruit to use up that she had found cheaply so I suggested either Grapefruit Curd or Pink Grapefruit Cordial. You see I too have some Grapefruit to use up.  To boot recently I have also seen Pamplemousse (Grapefruit) Cordial for sale in the supermarkets at quite an extravagant price so |I thought I too would try the Pink Grapefruit cordial as I thought it might be different.  The Recipe is from Sarah Raven's Complete Christmas Food and Flowers ISBN: 978-0-7475-9510-6. I am scheduled to make this later in the week but thought I would share the recipe here in case you wanted to have a go too.

Sarah describes it as "a good winter alternative to elderflower".  Its not too sweet and apparently has a clean refreshing taste.  Best diluted about one part of cordial to four with fizzy water.

Makes approximately 3 litres


6 Pink Grapefruit
1.8 litres of boiling water
1.7kg white sugar (granulated or caster)
50g citric or tartaric acid


Scrub the skins of the grapefruit in hot water to remove any wax.  I usually when preparing citrus do this but I use a new nailbrush to scrub the skins with.  With a swivel potato peeler cut ribbons of rind from the fruit leaving the white pith behind.

Put the rind into a heatproof bowl and pour over the boiling water.  Stir in the sugar keeping the water moving until the sugar has dissolved.  Leave the mixture to cool and then add the juice from the grapefruit and the citric or tartaric acid and steep overnight covered.

Next day strain off the rind and pour the cordial through a funnel into small warm bottles that have been sterilised by being boiled in a pan of water for 10 minutes or run through the dishwasher.  Seal label and date the bottles.  This way the cordial will keep for about a month in the fridge or you can pour it into clean plastic milk cartons and freeze.

However before labelling and dating the bottles I pop the bottles into my baby steriliser and hot water bath process the bottles for about 15 minutes.  This helps take all the air out of the bottles (which is what causes the problem with long term storage of food) and cordials/syrups keep that much longer on the pantry shelf as a result.  Obviously I am careful and the usual rules apply if you don't like the look of something don't use it.  But these are previous posts where I have used the baby steriliser. and

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Sunday Roundup

I am having major problems with the Internet at the moment.  We both have new mobile phones, and we have also received a new hub and Tivoli box.  Yesterday OH contacted the provider, he was told what to do and subsequently did it.  Since then the Internet has been particularly slow in the case of my lap top which I write this blog from; so it may be a bit hit and miss with me being able to get on to actually write posts, but if it does not get any better the provider will be coming out to look at the set up because its the worst its ever been at the moment, so If I am not around  - I will be as soon as I can.

Today has been busy in that I have had chores to attend to  - the washing  - and I have got most of it dried out in the fresh air which I am quite pleased about, pottering in the kitchen.  Oh bought me some horseradish roots so they are soaking at the moment then they will get grated and then popped into ice cube trays with a little water so that I can add it fresh to home made horseradish sauce and also "Tewksbury Mustard".  This mustard has the horseradish added and is not the mustard ball referred to in a previous post.  I am still going to experiment there.  Loads to do as usual  - will get there eventually.

I have also located some Rowan berries to make Rowan Berry Jelly  and some Rosehips to make Rosehip Jelly and also Rosehip Syrup and also to dry some Rosehip shells so that they can be ground down into a powder for adding to dishes - it supposedly is a good way of giving you a vitamin boost during the winter months and bearing in mind because of my medical conditions my immune system is not the best I am going to do whatever I can to keep myself healthy.  If it works for me all well and good if it doesn't at least what I am using is natural  and it does no harm to have a vitamin c boost every so often especially when you have a stinking cold.

I still not have managed to locate any crab apples or Quinces.

I had a flu jab at work the other day as well, although my arm was a litlte sore afterwards I did not feel the needle go in (I am phobic) so that was another good job dealt with.

I am still missing mum terribly but she would be pleased that I am trying to deal with potential difficulties head on rather than not acknowledging them and making out they do not exist and sticking one's proverbial head in the sand.  Sometimes though I have to really gather all my strength together to deal with what to some would be a minor problem.  There's just some things I am not good at  - and I end up procrastinating and putting the evil day off so it then becomes a strong learning curve as well which I then end up fretting about.  

The mustard is finished and potted.

The red cabbage is salted and will be finished tomorrow night.


I did not have time to deal with the Horseradish this evening so that has been re-scheduled for tomorrow  morning before I go to work or more likely tomorrow evening.  It has been washed well and is in the bottom of the fridge before I pop it through the food processor then stand back to let the fumes die down they can be lethal.  It is recommended to put in  fridge at least an hour before grating to help stop the overpowering fumes.

I also got two nets of Shallots yesterday so they have also been added to the work pile and I have some cheap sweet apples which I am going to turn into a sweet chutney.  Will have to get Parsnips and Swede at the end of the month to make Chutney and also to freeze down the Parsnips for roasting and also to make carrot and swede crush one of our favourites.

I will cook some Apricot jam tomorrow night.  I always make some Apricot Jam from fresh Apricots but I also make it from dried.  I need it for my Christmas Cake (to help stick the Marzipan down to the cake) which I will start this weekend - I leave my fruit to soak for a couple of days prior to making.  I was going to do the puddings as well but I think I need the new bowls first so they will be made a little later on once bought.

We walked Missy down the river.  It was a lovely evening and there was still plenty of warmth in the sun and its always nice to escape and stretch your legs.

We had a very nice home made Lasagne for tea which went down very well.

Right better get ready for tomorrow.

Catch you soon.



P.S.  I could not find the grater for my food processor its all in a tub somewhere so I set to with the fine side of a box grater - I managed to get six compartments of an ice cube tray full - they are currently in the freezer but the fumes nearly knocked my head off.  I was very pleased with the texture.  The rest of the roots are in the fridge I will find the grater for the machine tomorrow.  I was in tears


Pickled Red Cabbage

I like my veggies whether cooked from fresh or preserved and pickled for another day.  Pickled Cabbage puts in a regular appearance on my pantry shelf as OH quite likes it.  Its also a good way of livening a salad up in the winter months and the colour gives that plate of food a little more attraction after all we reportedly eat with our eyes first!

Here are the official instructions:

1.5kg/3lb red cabbage
3-4 tablespoon of coarse salt
600-900ml/1 to 1-1/2 pints cold spiced vinegar


Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage then wash and quarter the cabbage.  Take out the hard white centre core and shred the cabbage finely across the leaves.  Spread cabbage in a shallow dish then sprinkle the salt over the top and leave overnight.  Drain off the "brine" by placing it in a colander and leaving it to drain. Then wash the cabbage well before draining again. Sterilise your jars either in the dishwasher or in the cooker. Pack into glass jars not too tightly and cover with the cold spiced vinegar.  Using a knife pop it into each jar individually as it helps release any air bubbles which if they pop will lower the level of the vinegar in the jar and leave the cabbage uncovered which you do not want.  To help alleviate this I pop a square of tightly folded baking parchment into each jar to form a buffer between the cabbage and the lid which should keep the cabbage submerged in the vinegar. Pop on vinegar proof lids.  (You can buy little plastic rounds to pop in which can be sterilised but this way works just as well).  Keep the cabbage on the pantry shelf for a minimum of 14 days after that you can use it.

In older recipes from years ago it was not recommended to use screwbands as they were just metal and used to react with the vinegar.  These days there is a plastic coating on most of the lids.  When I first started pickling many years ago it was recommended that any pickle had an outer covering of a material that would stop the vinegar fly getting in and the product was called Porosan which used to be tied over the metal lids.

It is important that you only use cold spiced vinegar as this helps the cabbage keep its crispness.  Using warm or hot will make it go limp.

It therefore is useful to buy your vinegar already spiced or you can spice it yourself but you do need to make it in advance as you need to use cold spiced vinegar. 

 You can make it in batches and store it in bottles on the Pantry floor which will enable the spices time to mix properly.  Please see separate post for a basic spiced vinegar.  I think there are a couple of other versions further back as well.

Catch you soon.



Standard Spiced Vinegar

It is useful to make this in advance especially if you are going to be preparing Pickled Red Cabbage, Crisp Pickled Shallots or onions where you will need a cold spiced vinegar.  It keeps well in bottles on the pantry floor.


25g/1 oz peppercorns
7g/1/2 oz blade of mace
7g/1/2 oz cloves
6 bay leaves
15g/1/2 oz bruised root ginger
2 teaspoons of mustard seeds
7g/1/4 oz whole allspice
7g/1/4oz stick of cinnamon
4 chillis crushed
1 tablespoon of salt
A generous litre/2 pints of malt vinegar

I have always been taught to use whole spices when preparing spiced vinegar for pickles as ground spices can leave the vinegar cloudy. I also tie all my spices into muslin and then pop the bag into the vinegar boil for about three minutes and then leave the spice bag to soak until the vinegar is cold.  Then remove the spice bag squeezing out any vinegar.  Either bottle in sterilised bottles and seal and pop into the pantry or use once it is cold.

You can use the vinegar hot but this will produce a softer less crisp pickle.

If vinegar is boiled for long it evaporates and so you end up with less vinegar therefore keep the boiling time short.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 3 October 2015

Mustard - Something else for the Pantry

I have posted before about making home made mustard but thought it worth an airing again here.  It is relatively easy to make and is another home made condiment that can be varied by the types of seed and flavourings to which you add to it; even by the choice of beer or cider, or addition of herbs, honey, vinegar  I tend to buy my mustard seeds in bulk and predominantly from Asian food shops (as it works out cheaper to buy them like this).  The darker the seed the stronger the flavour.

The best tutorial I have come across is from the Jam Jar shop which is here:

It does keep for longer than you think it will but I tend to make it in small jars and keep in a cool place;  and then hand on the excess as a gift/present to friends but it is a very useful condiment for cooking especially when you need a little piquancy in a dish or want to devil a dish or a sauce.  

I pack it into tiny little shaped jars that I bought from Lakeland.

My seeds are soaking in the new beer I mentioned  (Butty Bach) which is  lovely beer, very hoppy certainly gets my seal of approval as a drinking beer as well. I think it will be ideal with toad in the hole or onions and sausages. I suspect it will go well with a Beef Wellington as well. 

Once everything is soaked I can add the rest of the ingredients and finish processing it;you can keep it is or partially whizzed in the food processor or fully whizzed before popping into the bottles. I tend to do mine half and half so that you get the contrast of the white and black seeds but it is a paste as well so you get the best of both worlds easily spreadable but with texture

Mustard can be used for so much more than the proverbial ham sandwiches.  This is how we were introduced to mustard as children (they used to put a thin smear on and hide it under the ham) and then with Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding.  My mum always bought the bright yellow tins of Colemans mustard powder

And as children were were always given the job of mixing a couple of teaspoons full of the bright yellow powder with a little water and stirred in a little glass to combine and popped upon the dinner table for serving with roast beef, ham sandwiches, or slices of ham, sausages with onions.  I am a bit uncouth as I love mustard but also love horseradish as well and especially if we have a bit of beef I have been known to have both on the plate.

Although traditionally it would seem mustard was not the paste we know and love so well today but was formed into cakes or balls/cannon balls.  Please see article here for further information:

 and indeed the Tewksbury Mustard Company recreate that same presentation to this day as well as offering jars.

Apparently selling the mustard in balls was one of the safest ways of transporting your mustard in medeival times and  very easily prepared from the ball for use.  Would certainly be a talking point at the table!  I might have a play with this at some point in the future but I might start with purchasing one from the Tewksbury Mustard Company to see what I am aiming to create first. 

Catch you soon.



Out of this quantity I ended up with 10 small jars. (Lakeland do little tiny jars in packs of six)  I think this is going to be ideal with sausages and onions with plenty of mashed potato and onion gravy.   This would be ideal to make for friends for a Christmas hamper or just a few different jars of something like cranberry sauce mustard and mint sauce.  I am going to get OH to get me some more horseradish so that I can make the Tewksbury Mustard recipe as well.

Catch you soon.



Friday, 2 October 2015

Reusing Jam Jars

OH is particularly fond of Gherkins.  He is Diabetic so for him Gherkins are like sweeties for him.

The jars that are left after he has eaten the gherkins are of a decent size and I do where I can recycle jars by sourcing replacement lids.  The jars are nice and large but up until now I have not been able to source lids.  However I have eventually done this from the Jam Jar shop.  I predominantly recycle for food but there are other uses.

They are also nicely shaped jars which can be turned into candle lanterns to decorate the home or to make lanterns for the garden.With a little paper cutting or glass painting you can end up with some very distinctive lanterns and then with the addition of candles or tea lights (or artificial tea lights/candles) you can end up with some home made lanterns.

I have also recently bought new large jam jars from Lakeland 4 x 2 pint jars for £5.97 for the four. Which works out  at roughly £1.50 per jar - think Jam Jar Shop cheaper but you do have postage to pay as well so it could be swings and roundabouts.

They have done these jars for the past couple of seasons but have not stocked replacement lids - which I dislike because if you are going to stock something don't do it half-heartedly - if you get the jars you should be able to buy replacement lids.  But these lids can always be replaced now I have found a source the Jam Jar shop (as above).  You also have a choice of different lids

They also do 2 pint jars from new too 8 x £8.80 = £1.10 per jar

I was just pleased to find the lids really but thought would share in case you like me had been looking for the lids - and at least if you want to you can now recycle the gherkin jars.

These jars are the ideal sized for pickled eggs, pickled cabbage, pickled onions, pickled shallots, pickled beetroot and pickled cucumber and mixed pickled vegetables.

There's some logic in there somewhere.

Catch you soon.



Christmas Decorations

 Now I have the dehydrator I am going to have a go at this fantastic garland.  I love garlands made from natural materials and this one is lovely.


Wooden Christmas tree freestanding decorations
Just ideas as I come across them.


Thursday, 1 October 2015

New Recipe for Piccalilli - Hot and Spicy version

This is the recipe from Waitrose that I am going to try this weekend.  It suddenly occurred to me that not everyone has access to Waitrose so I thought I would pop the recipe up for those of you who don't.


1.8kg of fresh vegetables (try a mix of shallots, cauliflower florets, runner beans, cucumber, butternut squash, courgettes, carrots, peppers all washed and trimmed).

100g sea salt

568ml bottle of malt vinegar
200g golden granulated sugar
1tblsp English Mustard Powder
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tblsp black mustard seeds
1-2 tsp of crushed chillies
3 pieces Stem Ginger in Syrup finely chopped
1 tblsp cornflour


Cut all the vegetables into bitesize pieces and place in a bowl.  Add the salt and stir to mix then cover with a clean tea towel and leave to stand in a cool place for 24 hours.

The next day drain away the liquid and rinse the vegetables thoroughly under cold running water.  Drain again and pat dry.  Reserve 2 tablsp of the vinegat and pour the rest into a large pan with the sugar and the spices. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar then bring to the boil.  Add the vegetables and return to the boil.

Mix the cornflour with the reserved vinegar and to the pan.  Stir together then simmer for 5 to 6 minutes until thickened.  The vegetables should retain a little bite and the liquid reduced. Pack into warm sterilised jars and seal with vinegar proof lids and leave to cool.  Store for 6 weeks in a cool dark cupboard before eating.

You can vary the ingredients according to your favourite veg.

Keeping this away from OH is going to be murder 




I did a double batch of this and I must say I quite like it.  I managed to get 13 jars out of the double batch and intend to make another batch come pay day.   So well chuffed  - 13 jars will not go a long way with OH hence the reason for planning another batch at the end of the month.   Its the one thing he likes me to do as it is a favourite.

Useful Contact Details for ordering items for the Festive Season and Decoration Ideas

 I thought that I would post this information up whilst I remembered and have recently come across the information hopefully so that I remember where the details are in one place instead of turning the house upside down when after the relevant information.


Just a few notes and links to things that I have come across so far - if I don't pop them in the one place when I need the details I will be scrabbling around causing havoc so its simpler to be organised from the start.


(There are some lovely items here and they are a little pricey) - I love the Advent Calendar house with drawers which when opened activate the festive scene at the top.  It is £99 but it is lovely.  Traditionally I tend to go for the more unique pieces of decoration. It is known as the Magical Heirloom Musical Advent Calendar and I think any child (including the bigger ones) would love having this lovely piece as a central point in their Christmas Festivities).


The shops are starting to stock a few Christmas decorations these tend to be very individual too and a lot more traditional pieces at very reasonable prices but it is a case of buying when you see.  They may have more pieces in on another day but if you want a certain amount of something grab it when you see it as it is not guaranteed to be there the next day - although it might be.

I am a big kid when it comes to the plotting and planning and dealing with all the preparations I get much pleasure from all the faffing around and paying attention to detail.  It is a process where you live in the moment to get the effect you want and the decorations and food etc shown off to the best of your ability.  Plus the Christmas Decorations in our family used to be packed into an old wooden tea chest and everything within that crate was "treasure" especially to the eyes of a child.  To me that is what Christmas is about for children the magic and excitement and the belief.  It should be encouraged as an escape and belief in something infinitesimal.


There is always room for home made creations.  My mother had knitted the Snowman  freestanding Christmas decoration and when clearing the house I found it.  It is not finished but all the pieces are made.  I therefore am going to make this up and put this with the Christmas Tree this year as a family heirloom, something that my mum made for us.  I know she enjoyed making it as well as she chatted about its progress to me.  One of the last things she made.
You however could make your own heirlooms.  The small pieces are not difficult to do although daunting if you have never done before.  I will pop up a list of sites on the Internet that provide instructions for making a few simple things for your own tree.  There are lots of ideas out there.  Go collecting small and larger fir cones.  A simple garland can be made from some pretty ribbon and about 10 medium sized fir cones and little net curtain eyes the closed ones screwed into the bottom of the cone and then strung on the ribbon - its probably better to pop a knot either side of each fir cone to stop the cones falling off but it makes a very simple garland.just for the cost of some net curtain eyes and some ribbon.  I made one the other year but intend to make some more this year. 

Little fir cones can be stuck onto little rings of cardboard.  Paint the base first in gold, silver or green or colour of your choice and then stick the little cones on with a glue gun then make a hanging loop from some pretty ribbon and hang off garlands or off the Christmas tree.


October Already and Pumpkins

Where has this year gone?  So much has happened.  So much has changed. And we are well into autumn the different colours of the leaves on the trees giving a fantastic display.  Even my Holly tree in the front garden has lots of berries on it.  Country law indicating that if there are a lot of berries then it is likely to be a bad/cold winter nature providing food for the birds to get by with.  I must say these past few mornings have been a lot chillier there has certainly been a dip in temperature.

October to me heralds the arrival of pumpkins and squashes both of which I use prolifically.  We love roasted squash or pumpkin here and I always pop some into the freezers so that we can get our pumpkin fix with our roast dinner.  I also make a breakfast marmalade with pumpkin that is delicious too.  Me and my food eh!

I popped round to the Co-op last night and they had a delivery of pumpkins two for £3.  So I may well pop round tonight and snaffle a couple. They keep quite a while in a cold place.

We are very fond of our veggies here.

Right upwards and onwards.

Catch you later.



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)