Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Done and dusted

The unit is at long last done and dusted.  Fully unloaded and everything brought home. Now thats one thing out of the way and off the check list.  Mission accomplished.

Now i have to make sense of whst I have stashed in the house. I will to start with have to work through room by room.

So tomorrow i will start again in the bedroom.  It is partially done anyway.

I have had to have a couple of days rest.  Sunday I woke up with a sore throat and a stinking cold. I spent Monday in bed to try and break it I wasnt well and kept going cold.  Its a bit easier than it was but I will be having another early night as well.

Yesterday I received sad news about my uncle D who has sadly passed so was a bit upset about that. That only leaves four out of the ten with us.

Still dont feel right so am going to get some paracetamol and get an early night.  Have a good evening everyone x

Saturday, 18 May 2019

A bit of a catch up part one

I prepared this post in full, saved it, and Blogger lost it and it has been a few days before I have been able to sit and actually re-write it.

Real life got in the way again which it seems to be doing a little too much at the  moment!  However the unit is nearly empty.  I cannot say the same for the house but that is also a work in progress as it were.  Hopefully I will not disappear down the rabbit warren again but I still have a lot of sorting out to do.

My 60th birthday was on Friday 3 May.  It was a lovely quiet and peaceful day and I met up with friends. However things went slightly awry.

I had planned on cooking mussels in cider with garlic served simply with sourdough bread and butter and then had decided would have a cake or a gateau style cake to finish off.  Nothing too much - I did not want loads to eat just wanted something tasty and nice.  So off I goes to Waitrose - problem number one no netted mussels.  OH not keen on the pre-prepared version so back to the drawing board.  I still had not made up my mind what I wanted for tea.

I had really wanted to have a vintage style tea party with a few of my friends.  There is a little vintage tea room in Stamford that we found the other day but there is another one local to us.  I had envisaged treating my friends. However that fell by the way side also.  

What triggered this off was that I had seen a cake in M & S which I absolutely fell in love with but which I could not qualify paying £15 for.  

If you remember last Christmas on Facebook there was a surge of different icing nozzles being marketed which created different effects.  I bought some of these - they are currently in a safe place (I don't know where) hiding from me so I could not use those.  These nozzles give the exact effects of the cake in M & S and as I know it is only down to nozzles and different coloured icing I was blowed if I was going to pay £15.  Sorry it is the tight wad in me protesting.  

As I have said though it is very much a beautiful cake.  A simple Victoria Sandwich with beautiful decoration.  If I could have found my nozzles I would have made it.

In the end, I settled for a £5 passion fruit and cream sponge also courtesy from M & S and it was gorgeous.  Not as pretty but very tasty.

However I did have a lovely peaceful day; I met a good friend, had met other friends earlier in the week, received lots of good wishes and received some lovely pressies.

In the end what did I have to eat.  Kentucky fried chicken courtesy of OH.  So at least I ate!

More to follow in a separate post as this has got a little longer than intended.

Catch you soon.



Candied Ginger Recipe

I have made candied ginger and ginger in syrup before and use it in my baking for Christmas more than anything else.  When I first started making this there were no explicit instructions available, and I came up with pressure cooking the ginger, then letting it stand in cold water and then sugaring and completing the process. However I have gone on and progressed what I do in similar terms to the above video.  I came across this video by chance which is nice and simple and seems to contain everything that you need to do.  

I know a lot of readers actually like making things for themselves.  When choosing your ginger go for young sweet ginger that is smooth and not wrinkled as it gives a better preserve at the end of the day.  The wrinkled ginger goes woodier and spoils the preserve.  However you could dry this and then use it in winemaking.  This is a very good visual tutorial.  The easiest way to peel ginger is with the aid of a teaspoon.

An ideal preserve for your pantry shelf either to be included in your baking or given away as part of a Christmas hamper.  I use this type of ginger and stem ginger in syrup in stir fries baking and fruit salads as well as to eat as a sweetmeat especially at Christmas. I also put crystallised ginger into a stir fry if I do not have it in syrup. I also use it in my home made mincemeat.

I include the link here for the above video and comes courtesy of Cuoredicoccolato.

You will need

500g fresh ginger peeled - 400g peeled weight
1 teaspoon of salt

After initial cooking weigh the ginger and add an equal amount of sugar as to what the ginger weighs i.e. if you have 400g of ginger add 400g of sugar plus 1 extra tablespoon.
1/2 a glass of water.

As I have said it is a visual tutorial together with the ingredients on screen which I have added above for ease.

I hope you have a go and enjoy it.  Let me know how you get on.



Friday, 17 May 2019

Hooked Line and sinker

I have recently discovered C J Sansom's Shardlake stories.  I have not read them in the correct order.  The first one I read was Sovereign.  I was that hooked on the story that I just could not put it down. OH was none too impressed as I become anti-social once I get my nose into a book; he gets no rhyme or reason out of me until the book is actually finished and then I am sad that the book has come to an end and elated to have read such a good story.  You have to escape real life regularly in my case.  Not that my life is not good its just that I need to recharge.  I either do this by listening to music or reading.

Today I had a mosey round the Charity shops and managed to pick up another one of the tomes.  This time Heartstone all for the costly sum of £1.50 and in very good condition.  To tell you the truth I went for a cup of tea in John Lewis and started reading it then.  Have continued reading for a little tonight and am having an early night to read a little more.  I suspect it might be a late night.  Will not be able to carry on reading during the day tomorrow as have things to do and we are seeing friends tomorrow evening.

Right am off to be anti-social.

Catch you soon.



Pudding with the Rhubarb - Lemon and Passion Fruit Pots with Rhubarb

Following on from my post for Poached Rhubarb with orange and ginger wine posted the other day here is a recipe using the preserved rhubarb as taken from the same book.  I love it when there is a different recipe to try or indeed use a preserve up in.  This one sounds nice and simple.  Will try some at the weekend.

Ingredients required

600ml of double cream
110g of caster sugar
juice of 2 lemons
pulp of 2 passion fruit
375g of poached rhubarb with orange and ginger wine or 6 heaped tablespoons freshly poached and sweetened rhubarb
3 ginger biscuits

Put the cream and sugar into a pan and bring to the boil then keep at a boil for three minutes.

In a bowl stir together the lemon juice and passion fruit pulp.  Whisk into the cream while it is still hot and leave to stand for 15 minutes.  Meanwhiule spoon the poached rhubarb into the bottom of 6 x 150ml Ramekins.

Slowly pour the cream on top of the rhubarb in each Ramekin.  Cool and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

To prepare the topping put the biscuits into a food processor and whizz until crushed (alternatively put them in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin).

Top the creams with the crushed biscuits just before serving.

Catch you soon.



Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Unexpected Rhubarb and Poached Rhubarb with Orange and Ginger Wine

I waded down into the garden the other day.  The jungle the part that I have yet to tame and for which I have plans for a Potager.  Have not got there yet but that is another story.  On the safari, I  unexpectedly found a substantial lot of rhubarb.  Ever mindful of putting up tastes and flavours for winter days and for use throughout the year I started browsing my books for inspiration.  Not a particular recipe just browsing to see if anything inspired me.

I came across my Ghillie James book of Jam, Jelly and Relish (a book which I love and which is proving very useful as there are a lot of excellent recipes within it) ISBN Number:978-1-85626-909-4.  My  fingers started flicking the pages.  I came across a couple of recipes that seemed to fit the bill nicely.

One of my favourite jams is Rhubarb and Strawberry jam.  I shall make some of this in due course but I wanted something different for the pantry shelf.

I then came across her Poached Rhubarb with Orange and Ginger Wine recipe.  At first look I thought that this was purely for preparing and putting into the freezer; however it would appear that this is a recipe that you can either freeze  or indeed bottle/oven process.  So if you do not feel up to the hard work of bottle processing then freeze it.  It is down to individual needs like how much time you have to prepare something.  Rhubarb freezes well in any event.

This uses a traditional method of processing fruit in the oven which is good for strawberries as well.

More and more people are going back to the process of bottling or canning fruits to save freezer space preferring to put more expensive items like meat in the freezer especially since fuel prices increased.  

Bottling allows you to still provide a pudding during the winter months as well as the main course from the freezer.  

I have not tried this recipe before but it does look promising.  What appealed to me is that you can make a larger batch of this in one go. I will probably make at least a couple of batches as rhubarb is a favourite of OH.  

Bottling rhubarb in syrup is very good as well as you can drain the syrup off and just use the rhubarb in a pie or alternative pudding and the syrup diluted with water for a drink.  Rhubarb does tend to lose its colour though  in the processing and also with being stored on a shelf.  Therefore it is important to keep it out of the light where possible after processing.  I understand that the traditional way of trying to lessen this was that after the bottles were processed and cooled the bottles/jars were wiped down and allowed to dry and then brown paper covers used to be placed over the preserving jars.

The recipe is as follows and makes about 1.5 litres of preserve.

300g-350g caster sugar
juice of three smallish oranges
125ml ginger wine
1kg rhubarb trimmed and cut into 5cm chunks

Use larger Kilner jars for this recipe for ease of packing chunks of rhubarb into the jar or wide mouthed Ball Mason jars, but more importantly because they can stand the heat required for the heat treatment.  

Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/50 degrees C/300 degrees F.

Put the sugar and 6000ml of water into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.  If using the forced rhubarb which is less tart than garden pulled rhubarb use less sugar i.e. 300g.  Increase the heat and boil for about one minute.

Put the jars (without the lids/tops) in the oven to sterilise heat process them and heat for at least five minutes. I usually leave for at least 10 minutes but that is me.

Add the orange juice to the syrup in the pan and simmer for approximately 10 minutes or so then add the ginger wine and turn off the heat.

Take the jars out of the oven one by one and Pack the rhubarb tightly into the jars and then pour over the hot syrup until it reaches the top.

Rest the tops/lids on the top of the jars without sealing.

Lay a dish cloth or tea towel in the base of a roasting tin.  Move the filled jars into this pan on top of the tea towel/cloth spacing the jars out in the pan evenly then add boiling water to the pan.  Put into the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender but still retains its shape.  Remove the jars from the oven and seal immediately.  Allow to cool. 

Now you have a staple for the Pantry shelf for the winter months.  However thoughtful as usual Ghillie has also provided a recipe for a pudding where you can use this off the shelf preserve.  That will follow in part two of this post.

Catch you later.



Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Delightful Day and thoroughly spoiled

Met up with my friend L today for our girlie day out.  Today we went to Stamford and we called in for a light breakfast at one of the local eateries and had warm bagel cream cheese and smoked salmon with a side salad and mayonnaise.  It was very tasty and thoroughly enjoyed by us both - not to much to overstuff us but very pleasantly comfortable.  Followed off with tea of course.

The weather has been gorgeous here today.  The sun has been out and it has been pleasantly warm. We wandered in and out of shops and charity shops throughout Stamford trying on clothes, finding new shops with lots of lovely stuff in and just generally having a girlie day and of course talking nineteen to the dozen as we normally do.  Time soon passes when you are enjoying yourself and we realised we had not stopped for lunch this was about 3pm.  So off we went to find somewhere just to have a bite to eat before turning the car for home. My friend goes regularly to exercise classes and she finds that the best time for her to eat before she goes to class is about 3pm so it suited both our needs.

Down a side street we found a delightful little vintage tea shop quintessentially English called "Pennies from Heaven" and fitted out with beautiful embroidered table cloths and covered to protect the cloths with glass overtops.  Beautiful vintage lighting and nick knacks.  Both of us felt very comfortable in there.

We needed something to drink but not too much to eat.   The prices are terribly reasonable too. The shop is run by a Korean lady.  Very charming and boy can she cook.  We opted for a bowl of soup each served with either a cheese scone or bread and butter.  It was vegetable soup.  It was exactly like the vegetable soup my mum used to make when she was with us.  It had so much flavour it was absolutely delicious.  Lovely simple food.  We shall be going there again and are going to try her Kimchi and Noodle soup next time we go which hopefully will not be too long.  So if you are in Stamford go check her out.  It is not a big shop but it is very lovely.  It is on the top of the high street.  I think the side street is called Maiden Lane but I cannot be absolutely sure of that. It is the side street up near M & S just past the pub.

We then came back by the river and sat at a picnic bench on the way back to the car enjoying the sun and eating an ice cream.

As always and sadly when you have had a brilliant day time soon goes quickly.  However it has been a lovely day just chilling with a good friend and spending quality time together.

Right must get on.  Upwards and onwards.

Catch you soon.



Fruit Blossom Petals

Perhaps this post is slightly out of sync and probably going to be of more use next year but there is still blossom available around where I live.

Both wild and cultivated blossoms always signals spring in this country for me in any event being the country bumpkin that I am. Therefore I am always looking for ways to use up this wild bounty in whichever format it presents itself in the form of petals or fruit or even leaves.

I suppose I am old school being brought up at the knee of my grandmother and my mother both of whom were very concerned in keeping us fed particularly during the colder winters that we used to have.  This resulted in them preserving fruits into jam or bottling them and making wines and beers and syrups and squirrelling them away in the pantry.

Mum always made nettle wine, and other country wines Elderflower Champagne being a family favourite.  We also had the Ginger Beer plants.  Somewhere I have her CJ Berry winemaking book as well as my own but I know there is a recipe in there for Hawthorn Blossom wine.  It is one I have considered making on and off for years and this year I have decided to indulge myself and make a couple of gallons.  

If the weather is good on Thursday I am going to be foraging for the petals.  Being as I could  not land my hands on my books at this precise moment in time I have been pootling along on the internet checking out any recipes I can.  I also have another book in which there is a recipe for Hawthorn Blossom syrup.  Same scenario cannot lay my hands on the book at this precise moment in time.  I have located a recipe for the May Blossom (Hawthorn) Syrup which is below. on the blog but also in my research I have come upon a use for the petals to make home made ice cream.  Now what more seasonal treat could you wish for.  You can also use home made syrups to make sorbets and ice creams.  Link is here on the Hedgerow Harvest website which I have found very useful for the ice cream.

I am also aware of a May Day cup/drink made from macerating Hawthorn (May) Blossom in Brandy which I am also intending to have a go at.

However I have also came across this recipe using wine.

I assume that because it is Hawthorn blossom that there will be a subtle flavour of almonds but I do not know as yet,  The proof of the pudding will be in the tasting.

Talking of puddings there are also recipes for a Lebanese pudding and Hawthorn Blossom ice cream here

And finally

Hawthorn blossom cordial 

There is still an awful lot of Hawthorn/May blossom around here so I intend to go for a walk on Thursday weather permitting to see what I can find and have a foraging expedition on all fronts and then a session in the kitchen making something from them.

Right am off to play.

Have a lovely day - sun is out here and it looks as though it is going to be a lovely day.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 12 May 2019

Sumer is icumen in

Summer is a coming in.  Today made me realise that more than anything and being a lover of folk music I thought that this particular song was very relevant for today.  I have taken deep joy in it.  

We have had a lovely walk with Missy this morning in the beautiful traditional British countryside.  Proper summer is not far off. There are still special places that exist.  Peterborough is known as a Green City and there has been a lot if investment but you do not have to go far to reach the rich countryside bordering on the ever growing City.

We went somewhere different this morning and to a place for which we have not been for about 20 years despite it only being a couple of miles up the road. A couple of proper villages.  I would love to live there it is gorgeous but you also need a deep wallet to do so. Castor and Ailsworth villages are really lovely.

I like Longthorpe village which is just up the road from us and there is the Medieval Longthorpe Tower.  There is something of the history of the Tower here

and some photos here  

When the children were at home we used to take them on different walks down by the river and even on "sheep dagging" exercise for the purpose of feeding our garden plants.  

However, today we went to a place a little further up that I had not been to before. We went to Castor Backwater walking along little tiny lanes; traversing the railway line walking through water meadows full of wildflowers clover buttercups birds foot trefoil egg and bacon cowslips and cow parsley.  There were also mademoiselle and demoiselle  insects (similar to a dragonfly except they have two wings rather than four) not long hatched with their beautiful blue and green iridescent colours.

I think it was the railway bit that brought back the strongest earliest memories of the first home I remember the lodge cottage at Gunthorpe Hall near Oakham, Rutland and of happy days running free and blackberrying.  I make no apology for the fact that I am a country bumpkin and a cottage kid probably that is why I love our natural flora and fauna so much.  Choices are much simpler when you are from that kind of a background. 

We walked all the way through to Water Newton heard the cuckoos sing.  We heard them the other week and it is some years since we have heard them like we have so far. A sign that proper summer is not far off. Maybe it bodes well for a good summer all round as I seem to remember as a child it was always in fair weather when we heard them. 

We also walked by a very large rookery and the rooks were kicking up a stink. One of the largest rookeries I have seen in a long while. Water Newton Mill which has been turned into housing straddles the river but it is in a very private setting.  A glorious setting. There is also the weir. The wild life was teeming.  Swans and Mallard ducks coming into land as a pair on the river.  Another pair with some babies a Cormorant a Heron (I fondly think of these beautiful creatures as old men in a dinner jacket)!  Water Newton is about a quarter of a mile away from the A1. In fact you can see the traffic chundling by from where we were only occasionally catching some of the noise.  

Water Newton by the river was very peaceful with stone housing quite prestigious and boat houses.  The river through here is not steep banked and is a delight on the eye and on walking although I do not think Missy was too chuffed with some of the long grass she had to deal with.  However it reminded me yet again very much of going "tiddling" with a butterfly net down at Duddington Water Mill when I was a child with  my dad and brother and bringing back jars of tiddlers.  Today for me has been a feast for a tired soul and gave me a very gentle boost.  Especially more so I think because the sun came out and after a few days of rain and stiffness I have taken great delight in it. 

Unfortunately and unusually I did not take my phone with me today to capture some of the magic of the proper English countryside.  How long it will last for I do not know this microscopic protected area but I sincerely hope that no more valuable countryside is taken for land for housing or business purposes.  We have many empty buildings set up for factories etc which are now empty.  Why not repurpose those empty places instead of taking further precious land.  

The land surrounding our walk today was clearly being managed with the interests of wildlife at heart and it was good to see. There were also others out walking and taking pleasure in the day as well which is also lovely to see.

On the way back we were in the path of small airplanes taking off from Sibson airport but it did not detract from the beautiful countryside and pleasing to see.  We also saw one of the trains on the Nene Railway go by as well.

I am now waiting for tea to cook.  We have a piece of roast beef being cooked with onions garlic and fresh thyme and cracked pepper and sea salt. Not sure what veggies yet but lashings of gravy and Yorkshire pudding.  I am hungry and looking forward to it.  

Right had better get on.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 11 May 2019


Over the weekend I found a couple of items that really toomk my memories right back to when I was a youngster.

The first item is a picture plaque that used to be on the wall of my parent's home when I was tiny.  I remember it being at the cottage on Gunthorpe Estate.  I would be about 17 months of age and it was a scene that fascinated me.  This particuqr wall plaque was one of four.  There were two large ones and then this one and another which was a sea scene.  Sadly over the years the two larger ones which I believe were water mill scenes and the smaller blue one were damaged and mum got rid of them.  Other members of the family also had similar pictures in different sizes. This picture plaque has survived over 60 years so vintage in the truest sense.

Then there is my Great Aunts vintage doll.  She really needs to go to the dolls hospital for a little Tlc.  Great Aunty Ivy always had this doll together with others in her bedroom.  Funny how things stick in your mind. I would suggest the doll is anout 100 plus years old.   Will have to look into getting her restored but very much a part of my formative years.  Great Aunt Ivy was a beautiful needlewoman especially with crochet and those items I do have are very special but it is always this doll that I associate her with.  She was a spinster and never married.  She stayed at home to look after my Great Grandfather. Then in her 40s developed very bad arthritis which resulted in her having to wear a neck brace and spinal suppirt.  We only ever knew her wuth the neck support and brace.  Happy memories of a lovely lady.

Who was very much loved xx

Catch you soon.



Wednesday, 8 May 2019

A Plethora of picture frames

Finding things I had forgotten about and have then re-found has been a major part of the sorting out the unit.  We are back there again at the weekend and then hopefully that will be an end to it.  Hopefully.

I have in the process found loads of picture frames that I had forgotten about.  I am very pleased about this as I have quite a lot of vintage embroidered pieces that need re-framing and hopefully I have enough to do quite a few of the pieces.  So this will be a work in progress as it were doing a piece at a time.  OH will help with the framing but I actually do all the sorting out and preparation and then the stringing.  

Some of the frames have had their glass broken but I am hoping that  will be easily sorted.  In particular I have a couple of decoupage pictures where the glass has become broken  and it needs restoring.  Everything was otherwise pristine with both pieces.  Some one had spent an awful lot of time and energy in creating these paper works of art.  I love both pictures and so will do my best to restore them to their original glory.

Now I just have to work my way through everything.

Catch you soon.



Wednesday, 1 May 2019

May Day/Bealtaine

The season is changing again as has the month
 May has always been a favourite month for me.  The weather sfter winter is usually better and warmer and there are lots of fresh seasonal flowers and everything is full of life.  New foods come on to the table like Jersey Royal potatoes and Asparagus.  May blossom covers the hawthorn bushes and lilac flowers.

It is also my birth month and this Friday is a significant milestone for me.  I will be 60.  Where has the time gone it does not seem possible.

They say 60 is the new 50.  Still a lot of loving and living to do.  Will tell you how it feels on Friday when I get to the other side of the revolving doors.  Life is very precious and what you make of it.  Catch you soon.



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)