Thursday, 30 June 2016

New Preserving books

Yesterday lunch time it poured it down with rain so everyone headed for the main shopping centre in town whilst the deluge carried on outside.  I ended up popping into Lakeland for a mooch around which is dangerous and quite simply I came away with three books.

The first one: How to Pickle has a lot of spiced and fruit vinegars in, such as orange and rosemary, tarragon, raspberry, chilli and garlic and a good all round pickling vinegar to add to pickled onions, chutneys etc. There is also a recipe for pickled oriental quinces which sounds intriguing as well as the usual suspects pickled cabbage and pickled shallots and pickled peppers with garlic and dill as well as salsa recipes and fresh relish recipes.  A nice little book with some very different recipes in.

The second one: How to Preserve.  Another really lovely little book covering Jams and Jellies, a lot of lovely slightly different jam recipes here.  Fruit Curds; the one that is catching my eye at the moment is Passion fruit and Clementine curd -sounds scrummy; Raspberry and Redcurrant curd, Apricot and Armagnac curd, Seville orange curd.  There is also a section on Marmalade and Fruit Cheeses and finally low sugar jams and bottling techniques including bottled apricots with bourbon vanilla and bottled berries.  I think I will be having a go at these latter two as they will provide a tasty pudding or two in the winter months.

Latterly but not least a book by the well know cookery writer Catherine Atkinson this lovely little tome on Nut Milks and Nut butters  Its a lovely hands on book with a whole range of recipes for making your own nut and seed butters and milks and recipes on how to use them.  There are some seriously lovely recipes in here.  However clear instructions on how to make Tahini - which I love; how to make your own chocolate and hazelnut spread  - lush, different flours from nuts, chestnut butter, cashew nut butter which is also seriously lush.

I think these three little books are going to get a lot of mileage.  Nuts are good for you specifically in respect of vitamins and I use them a lot.  Recently I have been buying them from Lidl as they have worked out as being a lot cheaper but also of excellent quality.

Right must get a wriggle on.

Catch you later


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Proud Aunty Moment

My eldest nephew who has been at University studying for his Degree in Chemistry  and then his Masters has qualified with a First.  He has now obtained employment where he is being sponsored to do his Doctorate at Warwick University where he has been for the past three years.

Gran and Granddad would have been immensely proud.  Very well done.

My youngest nephew has been studying for his final A Levels and if all goes to plan he will be going up to University this September.

Very very proud of both of you.

Aunty Tricia


The experiment begins

A few posts back I talked about using pectolase to rid little mandarin oranges or clementines of the pith without all the hard work of using a paring knife.  Well this evening I have started the experiment of using this technique to see if it is actually as good as they say it is.

I peeled about 20 little clementines and popped them into a separate bowl. 

Once all prepared I got a bigger bowl and popped some water into the bowl and then dissolved about a teaspoon and a half of pectolase into the water to make the solution.  I then popped them into the bowl.  I have popped a plate on them to submerge them and then cling filmed the bowl and I shall have a look tomorrow night to see whether it has worked or not.  Its worth a try as I managed to get 20 small clementines for £1 the bag.  I am trying to keep them whole as I thought they would look good on the Christmas table served as a dessert in a Grand Marnier and sugar syrup - bottled and hot water processed of course.

We shall have to see how we go with them.  I can but try.

I also have some Summer fruit jam on the bubble at the moment in my Jam pan.  The fruit was a frozen mixture of blackberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries and blueberries and is a lovely rich colour.  Just waiting to achieve the set at the moment but it will be lovely on croissants for breakfast.  I love my croissants of a weekend so home made jam will be lovely or spread on a Victoria sponge with fresh cream.  Now in the middle of the winter that would be a taste of summer.

Catch you soon.




I have checked the oranges this morning and the pith seems to be melting away being dissolved by the pectolase so I shall check it when I get home tonight.  Then if it is successful I shall bottle the oranges in a Grand Marnier and sugar syrup.


Jam and Preserves Update

Well the preserves are slowly starting to mount up.  I have the following made so far and still a load more to make.

Strawberry Jam

Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam

Rhubarb Jam

Pear and Chocolate Jam

Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam

Cherry Jam

On the list to do

Apricot and Amaretto



Blackcurrant  - have enough for Jam and Cassis

Elderflower Cordial

So I am slowly getting there

Still loads to do though

However I think that the Pantry needs sorting a little before I make much more so that is on the to do list.  Hopefully OH will put the new flooring in whilst I have it bottomed out.

Right had better get a wriggle on.

Catch you later



Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Some things are just a tad pricey

.. and they tend to be the things we use a lot or have a need to use and they seem to have a hell of a mark up on them.

For many years I used to go to Iceland in Peterborough and buy the catering packs of baking ingredients when they used to sell them. I baked regularly and it worked out far cheaper this way. Latterly it was Bookers but I am going to investigate again buying ingredients by bulk in this way.

Take soap powder for instance.  My preferred soap powder of choice is Persil but I cannot afford the prices charged by the supermarkets nor the price charged for fabric conditioner.  Where there's a will there is a way though and I have decamped from the supermarket to the Cash N Carry.  I use Hyperama in Peterborough.  I buy my Persil when it is on offer but for the best part check which soap powder is on offer and the best deal that particular month and buy accordingly. I have more allegiance to my pocket rather than to a specific brands although as I have mentioned I particularly like the Persil.

Take yesterday for instance.  I needed to stock up on Loo roll, soap powder, fabric conditioner.  The soap powder purchased yesterday was the Surf Lavender which was £10 for a large 90 wash box x 2.  Fabric conditioner I buy by the canister that was £3.99 x 2 sometimes it is the concentrate only regular this month but still as effective. The Loo roll is the Nikki brand (which you could get from Farm Foods and this is where I first came across the brand but this is a large pack of 32 rolls for £6.99.  This is a lovely thicker white tissue that is scented.)  Yes there is VAT to go on but it still works out cheaper than buying from the supermarkets.  All you need is somewhere to store items by bulk.  This will last  me a good six weeks if not more and works out a lot cheaper in the long run.  Keeping clean is important to me and buying by bulk means that I do not have to fret that I have enough of this or that.  Some Cash N Carry stores require that you spend a minimum amount each month.  Hyperama did not do so to start with and then it was changed to £30 a month spend but it has reverted to no minimum again.  You can join on the door.

We are picky about what we buy and it depends on what offers are available.  You have to be sensible you cannot have everything.  However there are some very good deals on meat.  Their mince packs are particularly good quality and about £3 a large tray; chicken breast trays are good value for money very large breast fillets bigger than you get in the supermarket for a big tray with a minimum of at least 20 breasts in often far more for under £20; as are the larger joint buys.

I also tend to look for bottled sauces in bulk here as well.  Yesterday we found Uncle Bens Sweet n sour sauce for 6 at £8.99 for the tray of six. Recently stores have been charging about £1.75 for a single jar upwards unless there is a specific offer on.  You do however have to be calculating when you go to the Cash n Carry as not everything always works out cheaper.  However I do use them for vinegar for my pickles and buy by the cannisters yet again.

I really could buy so much more if I had a bigger pantry/store room.  That will happen eventually though.

However for the basics it does work out cheaper in the longer run.  Many restauranteurs and indeed Polish and Latvians buy in this way as it works out that little bit cheaper and when all said and done it is the pennies that build the pounds and what we save in one place gives us funds to spend on something else.  Half the battle is working out what you need as your basics (each household is different).  A for instance is OHs deodorant we buy a case of 6 Lynx deodorants which ends up lasting him a fair while usually when they are on offer and we pay less in the long run than you would in the supermarket.  You do have to check on an item by item basis though.

This is just what I do to help eke out the pennies that little bit more each month and it works for us.

Catch you soon.



Catch up on Sunday

Sorry this post should have been lodged on Monday but real life got in the way!

Dinner was delicious.  It was the end piece of silverside the pointy end and it only cost me £10 which I was quite chuffed with price wise but it was oh so full of flavour.  It was an ideal size for the two of us plus some sandwiches as well.  I was well happy as I have said before I would rather pay a little more for good quality meat that has the flavour and not have so much in quantity but it was a win win on this one.  I shall certainly look at other joints there as well.  We have for the best part chosen to look at the smaller cuts which make a meal.

As I was out yesterday I got my hair washed before I went out but it does have a mind of its own its a bit wild and wonderful and for a day or so it goes flyaway and you cannot do anything with it and that's with a serum on for anti frizz.  For work I tend to wear my hair up in a clip as I have earphones, a computerised door fob, my glasses, and headband to contend with and sometimes I get into a right mess. (what's new - its just the depth that varies).

I have quite a bit of fruit to process as well into jams, pickles and chutneys so I think I am going to have my work cut out this week.

Catch you later.


Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sunday Sunday

We have had a lot of rain overnight again and although the sun is out it is still quite damp underfoot.  On the one hand we need the rain but it would be quite nice if it dried up properly in-between.

I think I have laid funny overnight as my neck keeps locking so am having to keep giving it a quick massage to warm up the muscles a little bit and getting things freed off a little bit.

We have just had some buns to eat.  OH had Cambridge Blue in his I had Somerset Brie with redcurrant jelly.  Very nice it was too followed by an egg custard each.  I am off out for a little while shortly so I thought I had better give him something to eat as we are not eating until later.  I have a small joint of silverside to cook and am going to serve home made horseradish sauce from some frozen horseradish ensconced in the freezer together with mixed veggies and home made Yorkshire Puddings. I also have a chicken to cook to have possibly with salads during the week.  I want a quick tea tomorrow evening as I have a lot to accomplish this week.

Well I went out ostensibly to support my friend at Spiratulist Church as she was conducting Divine Service at the Harris Street Spiritualist Church here in Peterborough.  I already knew that I was to do the prayers and had prepared something for each in my own words.  There were not many there but it ended up that I was called into action to share with the readings together with my friend and despite being extremely nervous and a little unprepared things did not go too badly.  Which I am quietly pleased about.

So I am now back on terra firma grounding myself down again we are to have our roast shortly and then I will be pottering getting ready for work tomorrow.

The weather - well we have had a lot of rain again but there have been breaks inbetween the showers which enabled us to walk Missy.  She is now a happy little soul as she has had a cup of tea to which she is ever so slightly partial.

Hope you have a lovely evening.



Saturday, 25 June 2016

A little bread and cheese

OH has has a very large pork chop for his tea.  Thick and large served simply with some baked beans.

I on the other hand have had a little bread and cheese.   No ordinary cheese mind but a crotin of goats cheese popped onto toasted French baguette and then dressed with French dressing (although I used a dash of cider vinegar) with fresh mixed herbs out of the garden and a little side salad - not much just a little.  It tasted fresh and wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Sometimes you have to have a little of what you fancy.  He fancied Pork chop I didn't; but equally he would have turned his nose up at my bread and cheese.  It made a lovely light change as I had not really wanted anything substantial especially after the breakfast I had this morning.

I have also bought a couple of round deep dishes ideal for a pudding or pie from the charity shop together with six little stoneware soup bowls which go with some I already have.  That now makes 11 of them; just one more to find and I have a nice set.  I also found three little green glass, glasses.  So just a few little things.  I love matching things up to complete little sets.

We have had a couple of little storms where the rain has lashed down this afternoon into the evening.  I said earlier that if felt stormy.

I have the dishwasher on the go at the moment with a cleaner in it to give it a good sort out.  Once that one is out the way with I will run some cleaner through the washing machine as well and then the housework begins again.

I have gooseberries to make jam and I managed to get a few sprays of elderflowers to go in to make elderflower and gooseberry jam which are in the jam pan as we speak and which needs my attention.

Hope you have had a lovely evening.

Catch you soon.



Saturday thus far

This morning started off nice and sunny and warm.  We have been to the Johnson's Farm shop at Old Hurst for a stock up on some meat. We met up with my step son and his fiancĂ©e for the main reason of the day and that was to breakfast together.  Was really tasty and really good.  And then to the shopping part of the trip.

We have bought two different kind of sausages; he has Old English and I have my Black Fen.  I have bagged them up into twos and we have six bags apiece and they have been segregated so that god forbid he does not get my sausages as he is not keen on them.  I have also split a kilo of Green back bacon into packs of four and with one pack of six.  So that is breakfast or either tea sorted.  We can take our pick.  They are all nicely ensconced in the freezer so that we get the most out of our pennies, together with some 2 rib eye steak, 2 packs x 2 Barnsley chops, some minted lamb steaks, a joint of silverside for dinner tomorrow which will make a nice change, two Buffalo burgers (OH not me) and a very large Pork chop for OH for his tea tonight.

Some bread, (a big traditional cottage loaf) and some buns for OH, some cheese, (goats, brie and Cambridge Blue) a cherry pie, two Belgian buns which were delicious and have been devoured.  I have also bought a big bottle of Stokes tomato ketchup which I like with Mayonnaise and fat chips and a couple of jars of mint jelly.  There are also some very large field mushrooms (yummy), some Asparagus, new potatoes, a cabbage.  I also bought one kilo of goosegogs and am going to make some gooseberry and elderflower jam for the shelf.  I also got some lovely little cherry tomatoes on the vine.  Next year I will have my own and plenty of them.

Right will catch you later.



It has now turned overcast and has been raining; its a bit stormy to say the least, muggy and the air is heavy, very heavy it really does smack of a storm.

I still have things to do so I had better get a wriggle on having stopped for a drink and my bun.  I hope we do not have a storm but I am not holding my breath.

Hopefully will catch you later on.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Thursday Night Catchup

Its been a busy old week and I had hoped to get a post popped up that I prepared the other day but in the greater plan of things real life has reared its head and I have had to deal with other things.  I have since popped this post up entitled "Mulled Pears".

Its rained on and off all day yesterday and we had a lightening strike in the office  - which fortunately I did not see but it upskittled a colleagues computer but then she was sat by the window.

We also had a disappointing tea last night.  A little while ago I bought some breaded cod goujons.  I had never had them before but thought that they might make a meal and I popped them in the freezer. As I am currently working through the freezers for meals so that I can restock again come the autumn this was a meal that came out of the store. Never again.  The chips I did were lovely but I do not think I am ever going to buy fish prepared this way again.  If we have it I shall buy fresh and do it myself in batter rather than crumbs.  Should have listened to my inner voice.  The fish was dry - I am funny about fish at the best of times preferring it fresh to frozen.  However we learn and I shall certainly not be buying them again.  Which is a pity as I was hungry and I had been looking forward to my tea.  Its always the way.

With me working the extra half hour a day it is impacting on how quickly we get our tea so I am going to have to sort out some new strategies for getting things sorted and in place before the winter months hit us again.  I need to get to grips with the timer on the oven and also sort out some more recipes for the crock pot/slow cooker.  Ones that I can prepare the night before and just leave. 

I also need to organise the pantry again it has got into a bit of a state. 

We will get there eventually.

Catch you soon.


Thursday, 23 June 2016

I am not too old

I think this says it all

Mulled Pears

Now that longest day and summer solstice has been and gone my thought tend to start to necessarily thinking about items to put down/up onto the pantry shelves for the winter months and to give my family a treat of something a little different. I grew up in a family that took its food very seriously and it had to be good quality food.  In fact you could mark the seasons with the routines and events and family "get togethers" to either gather and collect or process those elements that had been cherished and nurtured to produce a healthy crop either by friends or by my grandparents.  Bartering was a common practice where everyone got what they wanted without money changing hands. Growing and bartering was out of necessity because they like others of their generation could not always afford to buy and often reverted to making things themselves to get by.  And it is the getting by that is the important thing here.

I miss those days where the family would gather at my grandparents and we would then be up the trees harvesting the produce and then grading and sorting it for different functions. It was a way of life  -  a pattern that followed year to year and let you knew where you stood but it embraced the season also. Nan always did a big roast of something  - often it was pork for when all the family gathered and we all had things to do to help get everything ready.  The better quality fruit was always eaten fresh and/or bottled or frozen and the rest made into chutneys and wine.  My Nan's Plum wine was to die for. It was light and fizzy due to letting a natural second fermentation take place.

I am very aware that not everything can go into the freezer and I tend to put mostly meat, fish and veg in there although I do put some fruit.  So to me it makes eminent sense that I should be putting more stuff up in bottles. I can still remember row upon row of bottled gooseberries, apples, pears, plums and rhubarb on my grandmother and my mother's pantry shelves.  All to give that option of pudding after a tasty meal. during long cold hard winter months where you needed the reinforcement of food in your belly to keep you warm and well.  That variety of food also kept us healthy for the best part and nothing was ever wasted.  So our family always had these as staples and available to use in our pantries.

In this country we tend to use the hot water bath method of processing food in bottles which is known as "BOTTLING" which should not be confused with "CANNING" the American version.  Canning only should be used for vegetables and meat.   It is also used for fruit as well.

Please note that a British Pressure cooker is not the same as a Canner although it can be used for certain elements of food processing but not for meat and vegetables. 

Hot water bath bottling is basically submerging filled jars under water over heat to take out any excess air from that bottle which is the chief culprit for food going off. It is primarily used for fruit.   It was a process that was daunting to me to start with but now I have become more au fait with the practice it is not that difficult if you follow the procedures laid out in recent cook books for preserving.  I say recent because older books give recipes for vegetables which were more often printed when those recipes used to be in common practice.  However due to the problems that botulism causes it has not been encouraged to practice.  I would only personally use a proper canner for processing and preparing vegetables for your own pantry store. 

Anyway I digress.  There are some very nice pears available at the greengrocers at the moment which are ideal for bottling whole.  They are just a nice size and I have some original dual purpose Kilner jars that just need lids and metal seals which I think are going to be ideal for this purpose.  These jars are 4 pint ones so will be ideal for popping up something special for the Christmas celebrations and I am contemplating making Pears in Red Wine as well as putting a couple of batches of pears down under syrup.  I have done something similar before but I have not made this particular recipe which is a new one to me.  The recipe comes from Home Preserves by Jackie Burrows an M & S publication which if you can get hold of it is a very good all rounder when it comes to preserving your own food.  The ISBN Number is:0 90230 81 3.


1 pint of red wine
1 pint of water
8oz of sugar
4 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly
4 strips of lemon rind
1 cinnamon stick
4 1/2lbs of "cooking" pears

Cooking time: approximately 1 1/2 hours

Pour the wine and the water into a nice heavy based saucepan adding the sugar the redcurrant jelly lemon rind and cinnamon.  Heat gently but at this stage do not bring the boil stirring all the time to make sure that the sugar has dissolved properly.  Once the sugar had dissolved bring the mixture up to a boil and keep it there for a couple of minutes.

Before processing the pears prepare a bowl with cold water in and dissolve a tablespoon of citric acid in the water.  This will stop the pears from oxidising (going brown) and keep them white.  As you peel and core each pear and the cut them in half lengthways then drop the prepared pear into this mixture until all the pears are prepared.  then;

Place your pear haves into the simmering wine mixture and cook for about 15 minutes until the pears are just tender. You do not want to over cook them as you want them to keep their shape.  Remove the pears with a slotted spoon from the wine mixture  and carefully pack into warm sterilised bottles.  (I say warm as if the jar is cold and then you add hot liquid it can crack the jars wrecking all your efforts to preserve something).  fully pack the bottles.  Pour over the boiling wine syrup. Place either rubber rings or seals on prepared bottles but without clips or screw bands.

Stand the bottles on a baking sheet lined with a tea towel or newspaper making sure that the bottles do not touch and to allow hot air to circulate.  Place in the centre of  a preheated cool oven  (150 degrees c, 300 degrees f, Gas mark 2 and cook for about an hour. (this is known as the oven method).

Remove the bottles from the oven and secure immediately with clips or screw bands, then leave to cool.  When completely cool test the seal then wipe clean, label and store.

Makes approximately 4lb (4 x 1lb jars).

I must admit the Mulled pears are for me as I love mulled wine.  OH is not a fan.  So this is a little treat for me. Well why not - sometimes it does you good to have a little of what you fancy!

On that point I will wish you good evening.

Catch you soon.



Wednesday, 22 June 2016


Seems to be fair so far I have a line full of washing out which will hopefully be all nice and dry by the time I get home.  Fingers crossed and toes plaited.  It seems a better day lets hope the sun comes out to play again.

I am part way through a post but did not manage to get it completed so I will probably pop this up later on.  The "boss/supervisor" i.e. Missy came up to oversee operations but is now snoring her socks off oblivious to everything. 

OH had steak, chips and onion rings for tea last night.  We are having a fry up later for today's offerings.

Hope you have a lovely day.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Tools, books and computers

Its a pity they do not learn practical life skills in the schools would be so much easier for everyone if they did.  Things like budgeting, cooking, needlework, practical hands on skills like repairing things, gardening, preserving and learning to make the most of what comes to hand.  These life skills go in hand with academic skills one is practical the other shall we say "technical". 

Take me I am very lucky.  Not only did we have academics in the family people who studied and worked hard - so we had good role models in that they stuck at things even when things were not easy but we also had practical people too.  Me well I tend to be more practical than academic although I could do the academic thing when I was a lot younger and in fact utilised the local Library to help do my homework/study all in a quiet environment.  Sadly the beautiful old library in the village I lived in has now gone - even though we still actually need them.

We all have our own "tool boxes" and we add to them throughout our lives from each new experience even negative experiences they all help and shape us to become the person we are. We are in reality a total produce of what we have been exposed to and which influences our life path.  I was always taught you should always be open to new experiences as even if you were not particularly keen on the subject matter it would stretch you that bit more and give you another tool in the armoury to bring out as and when needed.  However what if you do not have the tool in the armoury - that is what is happening more and more today than it used to and yet you need these skills to get by and live. 

Many of us hate change because it challenges us in ways we do not really want to be challenged and shakes us all up and literally takes the rug from under our feet and makes us unsure of where we tread. That in me makes me nervous and unsure until I get my head around things.

Travel is a good one as it not only takes you to new places but the observer in us then absorbs and soaks in the whole caboodle i.e. new cultures, new foods, new ways to do things.  So why should our children not experience this or have access to learning materials.  You can take in some of it from books or by watching tv/the computer to "take you there" but in reality because we are like sponges we take in more peripheral information from actually being there and using all our five senses, sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.  They give us extra information so that we can make an informed decision about something.

Even though we have computers (or should I say quite a few of us do now) it does not mean to say that everyone has access to these and even if they do perhaps mum only has so much electric or gas to last the week/month and therefore there is not the provision to have the computer on as and when.  We are not then on an even keel with our peers as our situations also impact on us as well. Which is why we still need books. 

My father when I was very young paid out hundreds of pounds for a set of Caxton encylopaedias which were red vellum bound with gold blocking and beautiful photographic pages.  They were bought one at a time and were expensive but I and my brother learned from these books and benefited. There was also a set of full English Classic literature i.e Alice in Wonderland, Tom Sawyer, the Water Babies, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Alice through the looking glass, Heidi to accompany those books.

Yesterday I was in a charity shop and on the shelves were a set of Chambers Encylopaedias just standard paper but the whole set was just £10. Its funny how quickly things become devalued.  Books are a tactile thing a physical thing that is there but if the computer goes wrong you have lost the lot.  I know which I prefer but saying that you really need both.

When I was a youngster (too many moons ago) all children had access to the Library.  Nowadays everyone assumes that you have access to a computer.  Often because there is not much money coming into a household it is the books/computer learning thing that suffers most but it need not do so.  Its always worth checking out the charity shop for books especially for children.  Reading is a life skill and once learned it stays with you for life and to me it is one of the most important life skills as it opens you and your world up to oh so much more.  I am a compulsive reader and books are more my friends as they can keep you company and occupied and take you out of yourself when you are feeling low or are alone. Books then lead to imagination and creativity because you see how someone has done something and then have a go at it make it yourself and then put your own twist on things.

Books used to be valued.  I still value mine but I wonder what everyone else's take is on this.  Do you like me believe that books still have a very very strong place in our lives?

Would love to hear from you.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 20 June 2016

Well the pie hit the spot

I cut the pork pie tonight and its not bad.  OH was impressed.  Even the jelly had gone right.  A nice textured meaty pie with lots of flavour and the pastry was nice and crisp.  So am well chuffed.

It went down very well with a slice of bread and butter and some tomato ketchup.

We have also had chicken stir fry for tea. I cooked the chicken thighs first and then I cooked the mixed stir fry veggies that I had in the freezer and then added a little more fresh veg, onion, some crystallised ginger, and courgette.  I also added a stir fry sauce with extra pineapple to the chicken whilst the rice cooked in the pinger.  Takes 12 minutes and comes out extremely well. 

Now completely stuffed.  Did not manage to take a photo of the plated up food. It looked pretty but here are the veggies and the chicken in preparation.

Looked very colourful and was very tasty.  Bit shattered tonight have not been firing on all pistons today.  Its how the cookie crumbles.  There is plenty of stir fry left - offered it to OH to take to work with him but he is all stir fried out more's the pity.  Knowing him he will change his mind.

Right I have to go shopping in the freezer to find something for tomorrow nights tea.  I quite fancy some fish.  Will have to see what I can find.

Happy solstice to everyone and enjoy tonight's full moon  - apparently a strawberry moon!



Right I had be

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Its been one of those days

Where my mojo just got up and left the building. I have not got much achieved at all.  I have done a little more sorting in the garden - still not finished  - no photos until it is and I have watered up all the plants utilising the rain water which saved me going into the house for supplies.

I have dealt with the pork pie but it is presently cooling so will reveal when all nice and cold and the jelly has been added.  Does not look too bad for a first attempt.  Come pay day I will make some more and freeze them and just get them out as I need them.  That way going solo will prove to me whether I can make them or not.  I think in the longer term it will also be cheaper to do them myself this way.  Its given me some ideas to play with as well.  In the past I have made a very large feasting pie made from turkey breasts and sausage meat.  I think I may well be making some of these and dealing with them in the same way.  That way there will be no wastage and it might be a good Christmas present as well.

I have taken all the elderflower cordial out of the steriliser and they are stacked ready to be labelled.  I am looking forward to playing with my big shot in respect of that.

I have also done the bulk of the washing - have yet to deal with the ironing and have been lucky enough to get it dried outside.  I managed to get it dry in time as later on we have had rain again.  Its not cold just keeps raining.  

We have had fried egg, baked beans and home made chips for tea being as I have been busy pottering.  We don't do bad.

My Pork pie is cooked and I have gelled it.  Will cut it tomorrow.  Does not look too bad for a first attempt.

Right I had better get a wriggle on have to get ready for tomorrow. Another busy day.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 18 June 2016

Saturday Tea

We are have had Hawaain Chicken for tea tonight together with rice.

The recipe is here if you would like to try it

It comes up slightly different each time I make it as I tend to use the ingredients I already have in the house rather than the exact ingredients.  Take tonight for example, I had no soy sauce, only red pepper and red onion. (The recipe called for a red and green pepper, white onion)  Soy sauce is salty and so  I  used a chicken stock paste, and some brewers yeast paste (from M & S) similar to marmite as a substitute and it came up more or less the same except that the sauce was a brown one instead of very pale.  Still tasted as good.  The bonus is I am using up ingredients that would otherwise go to waste and I hate waste.  If you haven't got peaches then you could use pineapple as it is a sweet and sour.  I forgot to take photos, but this recipe puts in a regular appearance  at my table even on a week night as the other bonus is it is quick to make.  It could quite easily serve four if you serve plain rice and salad with it too.

Right I am going off to tackle the Pork Pie.  Wish me luck.

Catch you later on.

P.S.  Rowan thank you for the mint cutting it arrived  this morning safe and sound I am going to plant it shortly.  Thank you.



Saturday Plans

I slept a little later than intended but now intend to get a wriggle on.  I have had a change of plan in that I am not going to be sorting the back bedroom today and removing stuff to the unit.  That is for tomorrow today I am going to be in the kitchen getting things sorted, some jam made. 

I had hoped to get some more Elderflowers today and it may still be on the cards but after I came home from the Pork Pie making class last night we had torrential rain again and really you need the Elderflowers to be dry before you start working with them. Especially for drying. We will see how things go.  I will go with OH to walk Missy and make my mind up then, armed with my carrier bag and scissors.

Its still very overcast this morning and feels as though it will rain.  The temperature has dropped a little as well.  I also need to raid the freezer to find something for tea.  OH could "eat a scabby donkey" apparently.  This is all down to me having one night off leaving him to his own devices.  I think what he is after is a meat based dish so I will have to have a rummage in the freezer or as I tend to call it "go shopping in the freezer. I also need to do some bread, as well as getting on with some cleaning.  So it looks as though I am going to have my hands full as well as getting on with some of the things from my to do list.

Catch you later.



Friday, 17 June 2016

Pork Pie Making

Good evening ladies and gents,

It has been a very pleasant evening weather wise and I have  also had a lovely evening learning how to make hand thrown moulded pork pies with the use of a wooden dolly mould. Its been absolutely brilliant and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I attended at Willowbrook Farm for 6:45pm and was met with a lovely Ploughmans salad which I was not expecting and a lovely cup of tea.  We were then provided with the basics, we would need for the class (disposable gloves and aprons) and a fun questionnaire as well.  The course Manager is Jo Fane and the Pork pie class was run by I think Sue.  She makes all the pork pies for the farm. 

Here is the link to the website. 

There is a problem with the website linking properly at the moment which I have raised with them.  My reaction though when I could not get through on the website was to ring the shop direct.  However this evening I have been able to pass on in person the problems experienced and they are going to get someone to have a look at it.  They are hoping to hold another evening on 22 July 2016 so keep an eye on the website if you are interested or ring the shop direct as I did.

The teaching was done on a group basis starting with mincing the meat and the seasoning and getting this prepared and then weighed out.  This then went on to making Hot Water Crust pastry from scratch; i.e. melting the lard to the right temperature, to mixing it in with the extra strong flour and working the dough; to rolling out the lids for the pastry and then practical tips on how to use the dolly and to keep the pastry workable so it does not stick and gradually work the pastry up the dolly to form the case.  Then filling the case with the meat, working the lid, and then attaching the lid to the case but we all took turns in doing things and I was given very good practical visual help with what I was doing.  The teaching was practical, honest, from the heart and I learned a lot.  The course was not expensive either. 

They are going to be running more courses, like sausage making and basic butchering both of which I am extremely interested in.  I thought there might be one or two of you locally who also might be interested in doing something similar or alternatively those who live out of the area but fancy doing something different.

The pies could have been finished at the shop today and they would have cooked them, but as it will not be easy for me to get back tomorrow I decided that I would do this at home and then add the jelly when the pies are cooked.  I have been given all sorts of instructions to complete this.  I am therefore going to cook my pie tomorrow but at the moment it is sitting in the fridge "chilling" in readiness for being finished off tomorrow. They also put them in the freezer. It will need egg washing and then cooking on quite a high warm oven until the meat is cooked.

I am going to assemble some basic equipment together for making my own pies and then I can batch make them, freeze them and then fish them out of the freezer when I am ready to cook them

I have had a brilliant time. Both ladies are very hands on and it has been good honest teaching and they have passed on their passion for good food in the process.

I suppose you would like to have a look at what I made.  I am quite pleased with how it has turned out but I will need to work on the crimping a little.

Remember it has still to be cooked and finished off.

Right I have lots of things to do.

Please note the above is my subjective opinion on something I have really, really enjoyed doing and with such a lovely bunch of people.

Catch you soon.



Things to do this weekend in no particular order

  1. Go to Pork Pie Making class and make first pork pie
  2. Eat the evidence
  3. Make Pineapple Jam
  4. Make Pineapple Jelly
  5. Make Marmalade
  6. Preserve oranges for bottling (an experiment) using pectolase
  7. Make Elderflower Champagne
  8. Make Elderflower Wine
  9. Make some Tiger buns
  10. Remove boxes into storage
  11. Dry some Elderflowers
  12. Make some apple juice
  13. Sort herb border and plant herbs
  14. Sow more seeds
  15. Pot on those seeds already through
  16. Cook meals
  17. Washing
  18. Ironing
  19. Housework

Think that will do for starters.

What do you have planned for the weekend.


Thursday Night catch up and A Little Jaunt

Its been a long old week, quite painful at times because of the damp and I am very tired.

This evening we had a scratch tea of cheese on toast which went down well.  We have not done so badly during the rest of the week with quite substantial meals so it will do no harm.  Sometimes it is the simplest of foods that bring the most comfort.

I have a lot of boxes to move to the unit on Saturday but it needs doing so that I can create more space to do my crafting and also to move.  It is long overdue.  I think I am going to concentrate on that room for Saturday a best I can. 

I am itching to do some serious cooking.  The freezers need running down a bit so that I can stock up some more seasonal goodies.

I have spent a bit of time on Thursday evening looking through the Kilner jar site on Facebook.  Lots of lovely recipes to experiment with and to put up for Christmas entertaining.

This weekend I am hoping it will be fine as I want to collect more elderflowers for the elderflower champagne and also Elderflower wine.  I want to do at least a couple of batches of the Elderflower champagne and I also want to dry some elderflowers for use in winemaking later in the year.

The seeds or the majority of them are starting to surface which I am pleased about although a little concerned about a couple of trays of seeds which do not appear to have sprouted.  It may have been a tad cold for them.  Will let them have a little more time.

The Nasturtiums are through

There seems to be less leaves here than there were.  It is either too damp or I have a snail somewhere.

These are the Pattypan squash nearly every seed has struck.  That is a very good return.

Here are the Artichokes

Scarlet Emperor runner beans and in the pot to the side Borage.

Here are some of the planters and my existing plants (some of which still need planting  I am restricted on compost at the moment but they will get sorted come pay day.

These are from mums the Lily of the Valley tub and a fuschia to the right together with a mixed planer to the front.

Tomorrow night I am going on a course on how to make a pork pie so it is unlikely that I will be in until later in the evening.  Looking forward to having a go.  Doing something new and different does you good. It stretches you. I know the subject matter is not of interest to everyone but I love my food and although I am not perfect I am having a go and then I intend to come home and have a play to see if I can get to grips with it. Will just have to see how things go.

Right I am struggling to keep my eyes open.  Am off to bed. 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)