Saturday, 17 September 2016

Kichen notes Saturday 17 September 2016

Well a bag of shallots and a bag of small pickling onions have found their way home with me today.  I have ordered another two nets of both and may still buy more.  We eat a lot of cheese and the pickled shallots or onions go well with them and sometimes I give them out as part of a Christmas gift as well.

I have also asked again about Damsons at the veg shop and she is going to ask her Dad if he will keep an eye out for some for me.  I don't hold out much hope but you never know.

I also need to get one kg of nice long thin chillis for drying and also for making chilli jam which is another favourite condiment.  Perks up a sandwich very nicely.

I have the ingredients for more piccalilli and I shall get those on the go for tomorrow.  I have bought four new white bowls in which to pop the ingredients for brining. With a covering of cling film in a nice cold place they should brine very nicely.  I still have loads to do on the pickling and preserving front.

I have bought 2kg of fresh Bramley apples and have some tomatoes so I think some tomato and apple chutney could well be on the cards for tomorrow and maybe some apple chutney as well.  I am also keen to get some red onion chutney and my onion and garlic marmalade on the go too.

I also intend when the root veggies of parsnip, swede etc start to put in a proper appearance in the shops to make some of the souper mix out of Pam Corbin's River Cottage preserves book as it makes a lovely base for gravies and soup.

I have bought the first tranche of dried fruit as I hope to get the Christmas cakes made next weekend.  I still have not made my mincemeat but that can be done during the week and it will be ready in plenty of time.

I have also been and bought some natural bran, fine oatmeal and medium oatmeal, some sunflower and pumpkin seeds as well as hemp seeds for the pantry.  I am starting to accumulate my ingredients for home made muesli and granola and also want to have a go at making Dukkah. I am trying to incorporate more grains and seeds into my diet in various ways.  We eat a lot of veggies as well.

This evening I have had smoked kippers for my tea which has gone down very nicely.  I like fish and try and get this into our diet as much as I can.  I have an inkling for a home made fish pie.  Might get the ingredients next week and make one for tea and pop some in the freezer as well.

I have also bought an electric pressure cooker which I am experimenting with at the moment.  I have always been a keen advocate of using a pressure cooker.  I was bought up to it as my mum always used one and so as technology has moved on a tad  I thought that I would give this a try.

So far this year I have made over 60 jars of jam and there is still some more to be made.

Better get a wriggle on.

Hopefully catch you soon.



That's it street cred in tatters

Apologies for being away - I still owe some posts and will get those sorted as soon as I can.  However I am still not out of the woodwork as on Thursday night a dearly loved Uncle passed over which was unexpected but I will be back up to full strength as soon as I can.

Since I have had problems with my back and my feet I have found it very difficult to carry things at all and as a result have ended up coming back home two or three times to unload and then go back to carry on.  Too much wasted effort there especially when I do not really want to be out for any length of time I just want to get my shopping done.  OH rarely takes me supermarket shopping so this added more stress to the already stressful situation as it often means I have to struggle with bulky items.

Well today problem has been sold.  Let me introduce you to Betsy my new best shopping trolley. 

Deep shame here I am only 57 and to my mind am still only a youngster  - well I still feel young inside but needs must - I just cannot carry anything these days.  And I got her from Argos - yes she cost a pretty penny but hopefully that will be repaid with saving taxi costs. 

Today I walked into town and bought my trolley and then tootled all round town with it bought what I wanted and I was able to walk all the way back pretty easily too. The trolley was very easy to manoeuvre as well.  Now that ladies and gents is what I call a result.  It means I am independent and that I can do what I need to do.  It is going to be very useful for trawling up to the market to get fruit and veg.  Not that I am still young at heart and in mind and actions just the street cred has taken a bit of a battering - so what - I can still do what I need to do.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 12 September 2016

Christmas Plotting and Planning in September

I feel a little more in control of things than I have done for absolutely ages.  How long it will last for I have no idea but at least it is with me for the present. 

With this operation in the offing I am concerned that Christmas will not happen this year.  So I am therefore focusing on Christmas at the moment as I do not want to be caught on the hop as they say. I so apologise if this is too soon - it is really but I need to be ready so that I can take time to heal after my op without stressing about getting things done.  That way I will heal quicker and better.  I am aiming for calm and stress free if at all possible.

All I know a present is that the op on my bunion joint will possibly be within the next three months. its not a major op as ops go but it is going to incapacite me to some extent in the long run.  At least six weeks before the operation I will have to come of meds and I believe a month before that I have to have blood clotting injections. not looking forward to that aspect whatsoever as I am phobic with injections.  

I am therefore focusing on Christmas trying to get as much done as possible so that if I am laid up I can concentrate on crafts and things like that but I need the rest of the work done well in advance that way if anything goes pique tong we will stand a fighting chance of dealing with it without it affecting too much else.  Well that's the plan in any event.  And so....

I have been round to the Cooperative and they have all the Christmas sweets out with offers on already so once the under-stairs cupboard is sorted out I shall take advantage and get as much of the food shopping out of the way with as I can and by that I mean stuff with a long-stop date. Hopefully it will not be too much of a shock to the purse strings.  Not that I intend to go OTT but things need to be done and OH would not be bothered one way or the other whether Christmas happened but I most certainly would.

Christmas has always been a big thing for me I like all the plotting the planning, the making, the decorating enjoying seasonal treats like mulled wine and cider.  You do not have to have a lot of pennies although a few do help. I often think that if you are selective and budget and plan on the food front you know where you stand and it also helps one's natural creativity come out as well  - making the most of very little to make it look actually something.  Some things are tradition - but other things well you can always find alternatives and if you have the children at home then you involve them from day one; you make memories now of happy Christmases for them to remember with their own children.  After all Christmas is about family and especially children.

I have Christmas cakes to make.  One for myself and one for my brother.  I have bought a new square cake pan as the one I had had seen better days  - it was a little rusty in the wrong places and it did not owe me anything so a new one has been sourced and bought.  I intend to get a larger one as well as I can get two oblong cakes out of a bigger pan - I am thinking Christmas pressies here.  So to be on target I have two Christmas Cakes to make this month.  Then I can feed them and get them out of the way wrapped in foil and then fed every so often.  The puddings will shortly follow.  I normally like to do them on or around Stir up Sunday but on a practical basis this year they will be made beforehand.

My cake pan came from Lakeland and I also came across a little novelty item whilst I was in there.  A snowflake pasty mould.  So that fell in the basket as well  - I am thinking home made puff pastry snowflakes with apple and mincemeat filling here.  I Have more mincemeat to make this month including an apricot and Ameretto version.  However you could use other fillings like fresh fruit and then serve with custard.

I also need to source new pudding bowls.  I have been looking but missed out on a couple of bargains but I shall continue and see what I can come up with.

So there is a lot going on and an awful lot more to do.

Since starting this post I have been and sorted some of the Christmas bits out buying sweetie tubs, crackers, some biscuits, some peanuts.  So I have made a start and shall add things little by little which will help with the cost and the practical side of getting stuff home and at the right prices.  I am fortunate enough to be able to do this but even if it is a couple of packs of nuts, a packet of after eights it all builds up eventually and all helps at the end of the day on easing the costs over the next few months and without having to resort to a credit card.  I pay for Christmas as I go along this way.  It does not have to be masses of stuff and in fact a lot of what I buy gives me more choice over what I cook and bake over and around Christmas but in reality is for use throughout the year.  So go to the pound shop and check out that tinned salmon and other bits and bobs and if they are useful to you stockpile them.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 5 September 2016

The Pantry Glass Jar store

I am gradually one by one adding to my store of old large vintage sweet jars i.e. black lidded ones and the blue lidded Cadburys Roses jars which are gradually being filled with all my base ingredients like, porridge oats, home made muesli and granola, vanilla sugar.  So far I have managed to collect 16 such jars but I need quite a few more yet.  To start with I was just collecting the blue lidded ones but I have also started collecting the black lidded ones as well.  There are a lot of uses for said jars

[As with most things here  I have to play shuffle to accommodate them.  The plan is that once I have replaced the fridge in the pantry with a new one in the dining room, put up two sheds down the bottom of the garden and transferred the chest freezer and the upright one which are currently in the dining room into the shed  and bought another upright larder style fridge for my experiments on the meat front].  Is to then have shelving built top to bottom in the pantry either side to house the jars so that I can access and find everything easily and also walk into the pantry which I cannot currently  do because a fridge lives in there.  However very slowly things are coming together and in the long run it will make my life easier especially when it comes to the baking. As it will be easier to locate everything.  I tend to buy dry goods in bulk in any event.  As I have said before I tend to buy the ingredients and then make things.

I keep a lot of different shaped pastas in, and also now have jars in which to put all my flours, different rices, and grains, different sugars. As I tend to buy in bulk in any event usually when pasta is on offer like at the Co-op at the moment a pack of spaghetti 22p a pack and some penne 33p per pack.  In one jar I have about three packs stashed. So there is plenty to go at meal-wise and it is just a matter of throwing things together.   I still need to acquire more jars for all my dried fruits and also for my kefir, and alcoholic experiments but Rome was not built in a day and it will happen.  i.e. that one day I will be able to find things instead of turfing things out looking for things and making a mess in the process. 

Interestingly today one of the jars that has come in has been marked up for damson gin.  So that jar will be used for damson gin as and when I manage to lay my hands on the same. So from little acorns oaks do grow.

I know what I want my forever pantry to look like  - I went to a very posh house once out in the middle of the Lincolnshire countryside and the house owner had a pantry down the side of her whole house, it was wide and there was lots of shelving and there was a sink in there so it was like a utility as well. There was also a big veg store and the floor was terracotta tiled. It was kitted out with pine shelving and lots of antique jars and fittings.  So I have this visual image in my head.  That will not happen here but I am starting to put the base of it together.  There was also a deal table in there and a pair of Vintage Greengrocer weighing scales. I collect ground glass stoppered Victorian jars in any event and the sweetie jars are an extension of this.

Right I had better get on I have jars to scrub out and to fill up and get labelled  - especially when it comes to the different flours.

Catch you later.



Thursday, 1 September 2016

Apple and Tomato Chutney

This recipe is for Joan at the veg shop and is from Darina Allen of Ballymaloe fame's book called Forgotten Skills.

It is a traditional recipe which means it makes lots of jars approximately 12 1lb pots.


3.6 kg/8lb
Ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped
Onions peeled and chopped
Eating apples peeled and chopped
850ml/1 ½
White malt vinegar
2 tablespoons
2 teaspoons
Ground ginger
3 teaspoons
Ground black pepper
3 teaspoons
Garlic cloves crushed
1 level
Cayenne pepper


Prepare all the ingredients and put into a large wide stainless steel saucepan.
Bring to the boil.  Simmer steadily uncovered for about 1 hour until reduced by
one third and slightly thick.  Pot into sterilised jars and cover with non reactive
lids and store in a cool dry place.

Always allow the chutney to mature.  I always leave at least 6 weeks before
opening and sometimes that is a real challenge.

If you make one batch you will have plenty to give away for Christmas pressies.

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)