Monday, 30 November 2020

Some of my vintage Glassware

 I am cleaning again and I have just washed up some of my vintage glassware.  This is only a teeny amount quite a lot of it is still boxed up. It will be enough for us though. Just the two of us for Christmas. OH enjoys a little drop of Gin every so often.  Unfortunately I am a lightweight when it comes to a drink.  I have a small amount of Gin in a glass but it is always watered diwn wlth plenty of lemonade.  With ice cubes in it is very refreshing. I usually use aclarge Gin glass or a half tumbler.

I have several different Gins, Vodka and Brandy on the go.

We have Cherry Brandy, Mixed fruit Vodka, Passionfruit Gin, Sloe Gin and Damson Gin.  There is Lemoncello in the shed.

It is little things like this that make all the difference.

Catch you soo .



Nice things for the Table Metal Ware

Serving ware seems to have gone out of style with the younger members of society however I still love to entertain and decorate things nicely no matter what the occasion, and I have over the years managed to acquire a lot of beautiful items.  Some of them I have inherited, some of them I have collected and quite frequently I have found nice items in the Charity shops, auctions, and also Ebay.  I thought I would share some of these with you in the run up to Christmas.  This particular post focuses on metal ware. With candlelight on the table the flickering reflects itself in the metal ware and creates a different kind of atmosphere especially in the winter months and mire particularly Christmas.

Going round the Charity shops on a regular basis has given me a feeling for the things I do and do not like.  Sometimes I am not able to afford pieces when I see them, but seeing things means that I actually remember that this may be something that I would like.

When I first got married over 40 years ago and not to the current partner, I was bought by my Mum's younger sister a folding metal cake display stand and this is something I have to this day.  That particular one is in storage at the moment not sure which box but I did acquire a second one which I found at the local Charity shop.  It folds up for storage and then splits out for the plates.

I have also inherited metal ware trays from my mum.  This particular one is a nice one in that it has feet and so I can use it as a tea tray or indeed as a display piece.

Similarly, I found this metal armed tray complete with detachable base which would be ideal for serving sweetmeats or fruit on the Christmas table.

And a further dish.  This one is the largest one and I have two more in the same pattern somewhere.

Do you use proper display items at Christmas as a rule.  this year being terribly different of course.

When I was growing up it was a regular thing especially on Sunday afternoon tea. I have several nice pieces that have inherited over the years and when they are used memories come flooding back of those no longer with us.

A lot of the time I drag things out to give them an airing and make things look nice.  The best part of the metalware trays and bowls is that they only need a wipe to clean them.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 29 November 2020

Busy weekend

It is all systems go here still.  I had stored a lot of things in plastic boxes but some of them have split and the contents are not clean.  As these are going back into kitchen am cleaning as going along so that they will go into clean cupboards. 

We have a busy week this week as gas man coming to change meter and put smart meter in. 

Tuesday afternoon we have a gas inspection and then on Wednesday the fridge freezer will be arriving. OH has dome wiring to do in readiness for fridge freezer as going in different spot. I am also hoping he will be able to put shelves back up on wall as I could do with the storage. I am hoping on Thursday he will start projects in the kitchen. So ut is going to be a busy old week.  Will get there eventually. Fingers crossed snd toes plaited.  Have roast pork and stuffing for tea.  Lots of lovely crackling.  Right must dash 

Catch u soon.



Saturday, 28 November 2020

Poor Boy he has had a busy morning

We were woken early by a delivery man at 8:30am - alarm had gone off at 8:00pm and I had fallen back asleep.  Dealt with that.  Then decided we were still going to do what we normally do (and what the alarm was set for originally) and go and get some fish.

Went to the bakery on the way; too much of a queue so decided to go on and then call back on our way home.

Went and got the fish.  Today we have a Plaice each for tea just served simply with bread and butter, brown shrimp, Crevettes, cockles and a crab each.

Then on our way home called at Harvest Barn and have bought my regular fix of a large meringue Raspberry and white chocolate.  Have also bought some banana chips for my home made muesli and for the Christmas store cupboards couple of bottles of Clementine and Orange juice.  Have also bought a round/truckle of Godminster cheese. Harvest Barn sell a lot of whole foods as well in quite good size bags and at a reasonable price.

Called in at the Bakers; there was still a queue but eventually managed to get hold of the crusty bread rolls were after. This is Peter's Bakery at Old Fletton, Peterborough.  A proper traditional bakery.  The bread has a lot of flavour.

We were nearly home when we were talking Turkey so we came home via the Butcher and have placed our Christmas order for Turkey and also a rib of beef, plus sausage-meat, and pigs in blankets for starters.  Will add a few other things in as I go along but this is the basis of what we have decided on to eat over the Christmas period.

We have eventually got home and eaten some of our shellfish with a crusty bread bun.  OH is now gently snoozing (and snoring but I did not say that) with his companion in crime.  I cannot cope with the snoring and have quietly made my way downstairs to do yet more work on the dining room.  Think it will be done by tomorrow.

It is very cold here today in Peterborough and grey; so an ideal day to get on with that which needs to be done.

At least now we are stocked up for the weekend.  Just need to source some veggies.  OH bought a joint of pork for tea tomorrow, together with sausagemeat for stuffing and some bacon and eggs.  So looks like we have a fry tomorrow for breakfast and a roast pork joint for tea.  We are very lucky in the greater scheme of things.

Catch you later.



Friday, 27 November 2020

Work in the Dining Room progressing much better than it was.  Just to explain my dining room has been used for the best part as storage from items I brought back from a storage locker.  A lot of stuff has been re-homed but what is left I am keeping.  I am gradually sorting through boxes, cleaning if necessary and then re-packing.  It is not just a case of go into the room, quick swish round and ta da everything is done.  This is why it is taking so long, but even with what has been done thus far I am very pleased with progress.  Everything smells lovely and clean.  I may be untidy but never unclean. This house is not easy to keep clean in any event and that is why I always seem to be cleaning. The furniture is also getting a good scrub down in readiness for a good polish later in the week.  It needs a good coat of beeswax.

It is also good to find things that I will use over the Christmas period.  We like cheese and I have a proper cheese safe. OH has been chuntering about buying some different cheeses for Christmas so this needs to be put into use. One day I would like a proper old fashioned meat safe/Cheese safe.

Cheese Safe/Box

Mine is a little different in that there is no base in it.  However there is as you have a lift out cheese board with a central handle and all four sides are wire meshed.

I have even found another small jar of Sloe Gin.

I located all my Christmas garlands that I hang in the dining room and in the front room.  They have been give a good brush down and re-decanted into a big plastic tub.  There are two different lots (one set for each room).

I have also bought some small storage tubs for adding to the pantry and/or the under-stairs store. Boxes for sorting out plugs, fuses, preserving pectin, that sort of thing and also my cheese-making kits. Once the kitchen is back to scratch I will be having a go.  I have a particular penchant for Goats cheese.

Right that is it for now.  Just had a cup of hot chocolate.  It has been a very cold day here in Peterborough. However the siren call of the dining room is bellowing in my ear.

Hopefully catch up a little later.



Thursday, 26 November 2020

Apple Pop and Responsibilities

It is funny how a simple thing sparks a memory or memories.  I have been thinking about making Apple Pop again.  It is sometime since I have made it.  The story behind this is that when I was a teenager, as mum used to work before she was taken seriously ill, I was expected to help out with bits of housework, including my own washing and ironing and also being in the kitchen to assist mum with cooking, baking and washing up.  My father was determined that I would be able to cook properly and keep home by the time I left their care and this was something that was certainly achieved.

Mum at that time used to make an awful lot of wines and beers and she was very good at making them and blending them just like my Nan was.  I was encouraged to have a go and I used to make the Ginger Beer for the family (until my Dad got shot by a batch one summer whilst working in the garage) and then he banned me from making it. I was encouraged to make the yogurt for the family in the yogurt machine which had just come out,, make bread buns, do a lot of the baking.  I was given responsibilities which was a learning curve at the same time. It was a safe environment in which to learn and if things went wrong, we were shown how to put things right and learn useful life skills in the process,  Learning at the heels of your family ensures that you learn to do things properly and safely.

I also used to babysit a lot for local families and Susan and Clare's mum Janet and her husband Brian were from Somerset. They had relocated with his work (he worked for Sainsburys at the time).  She used to make this drink regularly and I was encouraged to give the children and myself it when we wanted. Janet passed on this recipe for Apple Pop which the children could drink as well.  So I used to make this too.  It is not a clear drink, cloudy and very refreshing.  A drink along the same lines as Ginger Beer.

It is a long time since I have made any but this Saturday I am going to start a batch off again.  Hopefully will be able to update with some photos during the week.

Janet's Apple Pop

It is not a drink that is meant to be kept for yonks and yonks, but to be a refreshing drink that is used up relatively quickly, like Ginger Beer.

So I have a little planned work to do this Saturday along with a couple of other projects that need my attention.

I started to sort the cupboard out under the stairs this afternoon and that is where some of my fizzy drink bottles are stored so perhaps divine timing to make this again after such a long break.  This cupboard needs a good scrub out and some patching and fresh paint.  I might get to this late tomorrow with a bit of luck.  It will be good to get this cupboard all sorted out and new shelf covering put on as well.

Right am off to potter.

Catch you soon.



A few more Christmas Decorations

 I am particularly fond of wooden Christmas decorations and whilst sorting out some of the boxes last night I found these.

The first item is a German candle propelled automaton which I love.  These have always fascinated me.

The second is a star lightbox with woodland animals.

The third is a nativity arch that lights up.

My Hurdy-Gurdy music box which technically is not a Christmas decoration but which I use as such.

A small Berry Heart Wreath

A Trio of Decorations

My Hurdy-Gurdy music box which although technically is not a Christmas Decoration is used as such.p

A new triple wicked Ginger and mandarine candle from Wilkos smells lovely.

And finally a set of six vintage medallion baubles.

Some more later on as I find them. I an trying to use what I have this year without having to buy much.  One of those years where I think everyone will be grateful for much more important priorities after this very difficult year 

Take care keep safe




Wednesday, 25 November 2020


 I am starting to reclaim the dining room.  I have had a very busy afternoon washing a corner section of the wall down.  I have a lot of things in boxes and these have been scattered throughout the room.  Some of those have been washed down and stacked in the washed out corner section and I am now about half way down one of the walls where the first dresser is.  I am just about to clear the dresser down and give that a good scrub and sort that out as well.

On the first part of the wall I used to have some pine shelves for a while. It was a dresser top (a Ducal one) which I had bought from the Charity shop.  For sometime that has been in the shed, but if I can I am going to get that put back up in the dining room.  I think I will be able to have this up with the new fridge freezer.and then have my Ercol Tea Trolley along side underneath the shelving.  It is just a matter of buying some screws and re-screwing it back up.

As far as the dining room ceiling goes; thank you to those who left a comment about this.  I think I may try painting it first taking all your comments into account.  That might be safer and also might stop a row or two!

Right am off to get on with a bit more.

Catch up soon.




 After a lot of effort. some trapped fingers one or two blue words we eventually managed to get the two old fridges out of the dining room into the street ready for an early collection. which is another job out of the way.  Unfortunately we did not get to the one in the garden but that can go in the next lot.  At least the two fridges are gone as is the old dishwasher.  However the doorways were extremely tight and we had to get the fridges through two corner bends before getting it into the passageway and into the front garden.

We were going to the tip but it is chucking down with rain, so after a bacon butty I am going to set too and restore order to the dining room as best as I can. The dining room definitely needs decorating but am not sure it will get done before Christmas.  I have seen some nice anaglypta type paper and then have a colour in mind with which to paint it. Just simple and clean that will tidy the room up.  Think might have to paper the ceiling as well.  It is an old ceiling and I think that needs some TLC too. Ideally had wanted it done for Christmas, but will see. I have never wallpapered before so will see how we get on with the initial sort out.  Everything we do seems to be piggy-backing with something else at the moment.  That's life as they say.

Next Wednesday we have the delivery of the new fridge/freezer to look forward to, so am hoping a lot can be achieved before then.

I have found a whole new bunch of Christmas decorations as well, so if I get chance might pop up some more decoration posts as I go along.

Now I have to go and placate the cats.  They were most put out that I had re-arranged where they could sleep last night.  My pets very much seem to be creatures of habit!

I am very stiff and my hands are not good today, but I have to get on far too much to do and it is taking longer than I had envisaged.

Right am off to get on.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Not what was planned

 The dishwasher has been playing up.  I did not get involved on the instruction side and have left OH to do this.  He has been prepping machine and it keeps switching itself off.  That has thrown a big pebble in the pond as I have not been able to get done what was anticipated.  So he has gone back to the drawing board instruction book and is now downstairs attempting to get it to co-operate.  I am keeping clear.

I have cooked roast beef though.  We should have had this on Sunday but got diverted onto something else.  We have Yorkshire pudding, green sliced beans, peas, Kale, carrots and broccoli with some steamed potatoes (we mash them ourselves on our plates  - or should they be called crushed potatoes?). I am looking forward to my tea and I think it is what OH needs as he has been a bit in the doldrums today where everything is negative and nothing has a positive side.  He suffers with bipolar, SAD and I have found in common practice that a good meal seems to kick start him back on the right track again.  Fingers crossed.  After tea I will flip over the fridges and then he can get them into the garden for tomorrow morning.

Hopefully he will get the dishwasher sorted which will help me enormously.  Fingers crossed and toes plaited.

Tea was delicious.  The bonus is we have it to have all again tomorrow although will have to cook fresh veggies.

Sorry must get on.

Catch you soon.



Chestnuts Roasting over an Open Fire

is the well known phrase from the song The Christmas Song which we all associate with Christmas.  However to me it is an important reminder that yes it is about time that I had that seasonal fix of roasted chestnuts.  

My dear dad got me addicted to these as a child. When I was a little girl there used to be a regular trader at Christmas in Peterborough who used to have a brazier and sell roasted chestnuts.  My Dad informed me that when he was growing up there used to be a man with a Hurdy-Gurdy as well (he grew up in Lincoln). My brother and I had never tried them before and so he bought a bag and shared their precious contents with my brother and I. I remember the weather was bitter and we had gloves on and the Chestnuts warmed our hands and we loved them.  Mum was not keen. Dad got us hooked and ever since I have had to have a few roasted Chestnuts just before Christmas.  The other thing that I used to remember is that the Sally Army Band and Choir always used to be out in all weathers raising precious funds and keeping everyone entertained.

For Roasted Chestnuts traditionally, I need an open fire to do that. Unfortunately very sadly I do not have a real fire or an Aga or anything like that.  I would be in my element if I did. I already have an ornamental Chestnut Roasting pan in my brass collection. Just big enough to make a handful.  A while back I even had a proper Chestnut roasting pan, but that went by the bye. I had it over 20 years and it did sterling service. I wondered if you could get hold of them still and I was pleasantly surprised to find several such pans on Ebay, 

As I love cast iron pans, but they are far too heavy for me to lift, i am looking at a replacement pan something like this one:  It costs about £10

I bought a net of Chestnuts yesterday and hope to indulge in this little seasonal treat later on in the week.

To roast Chestnuts over an open fire either go for a cast iron pan or a perforated pan like the one above.  Take each Chestnut and with a sharp knife make a small incision at the tip of each nut and roast over a flame in the fire for about 15 minutes.

Alternatively if you have a Gas cooker hob place the pan on a medium flame and cook in the same way until done. Be careful though allow them to cool a little before starting to peel as they retain the heat but boy do they taste good.

Chestnuts can be used in other winter recipes too and used in home made Liqueurs, jams and sweets and puddings.

Do you like Chestnuts and if so how do you like to use them.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 23 November 2020

Monday Roundup

 After fighting with the kitchen and then getting the dishwasher in situ, I then went and made coffee and we ended up having sausage sarnies for mid-day.  They were very tasty and went down a treat.

Since then we have been and walked Missy and called into the Co-Op down the road (we have two within walking distance) as I needed some more latte capsules for the "Tassimo".  I also found some marzipan and so have bought a couple of those home as well.  I was unable to locate Tassimo pods so went on to Waitrose.  They had some in but not what I was after so it may be a quick trip into town either tomorrow or Wednesday. I also managed to get the dishwasher tablets for the new dishwasher. I also bought a small net of Chestnuts.  I have been craving some roast Chestnuts for the past couple of days.

I then went on to the Co-Op near where I live and could not find any there either.  So will definitely need to be a trip into town.

I also bought back a few basic generic things like milk, bread, stock cubes that sort of thing. I also found some Brillo pads.  All the shopping is now in the pantry out of the way for the time being.  However once kitchen is sorted pantry is on the hit list and this time will be painted out.

Since being back have cleared some more stuff in the kitchen and the old dishwasher is now awaiting the collection men on Wednesday.  The two fridges will  be shifted out of the house tomorrow and there is also an old fridge freezer in the garden as well which is also to go.  That will be a really good job out of the way with as it has been pending for some weeks.

Think it will be an early start tomorrow as we need to go to the tip as well.  That may be where we start tomorrow is to go to the tip first and get rid of all the rubbish from the front garden.  May well have to go on Wednesday also as there is a lot of rubbish down the garden which has been sorted and bagged just needs taking. I also managed to clear the glass from the broken vinegar bottle out the way as well.

So very slowly things are moving at long last but there is still a way to go. 

We also need to source the new sink and cupboard and taps.  Need to look online to order those. The sink has about had it and the taps, despite adjustments keep turning themselves on and flooding out the kitchen (we think guided with some assistance from the cats when we are not down there). Might also have to get some more simple equipment ordered like pliers, screwdrivers and things as we cannot locate any at the moment.

I am also looking to source some items for future projects.  I saw a chair tutorial recently on a blog called "She holds Dearly" link

I am particularly after some green velvet fabric or curtains in precisely this shade of green.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  I have my Dad's old piano stool which I think will look lovely covered in something like this, but I also want to cover some chairs I have also.  I just love this vibrant shade of green.  It is speaking to me.  Green is a colour I tend to use throughout the house in any event as a toning colour.

Lots to do still, think it is going to be an early start in the morning as I was a bit tired tonight so have downed tools a bit.  Am going to work a couple of crochet squares to bring my number up to 30 on this.  Tomorrow though it is going to be the cushions.

Right am off to potter.

Catch you soon.




 The Dishwasher is actually in situ.  Sigh of relief and a big gasp.  Not that the kitchen has not fought us all the way.  I have a tiny galley kitchen with  no room to swing a rat.  The previous dishwasher is/was sited on top of the washing machine, which then leads onto the bathroom.  Very tight indeed.

We managed to get the old one out by sliding it over the draining board.  However as soon as OH undid the tap - talk about Waterloo.  There was water everywhere and the valve was not shutting off properly.  Lots of mugs of water later he managed to get it under control.  I could have throttled him though as in the middle of it all he wanted the pliers and I was supposed to know where they were.  He is the one that uses tools and does not put them away.  Well this time I had no idea at all and I know I have bought new pliers.  So I was a little bit vocal with my displeasure.  Found him something though - not what was needed but it worked.

Then we had to unpack the new one and get that into the house and then move it to where the old one had been.  This went a little more smoothly thankfully.  I have not stopped all morning and am just about to have a well earned coffee break and something to eat.

This is the new one.


Current state of play with the old dishwasher is that it is waiting to be taken out and left in the front garden for collection on Wednesday.

Now off to read an instruction book and work out how to operate it.. A wee bit different to the old one  the cutlery tray is in the top and it has capsules instead of tablets.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 22 November 2020

Saturday/Sunday Round Up

Apologies this should have been posted last night but a headache rather got in the way of things as well as an acidosis attack later on.

Tracy, one of my Welsh Dresser tops. Photos taken at different angles and half shelves.  It would seem that great minds think alike x


It has been a busy day and I have been in the kitchen all afternoon and I am now tired and have started off with a headache which I could do with out.  Enough is enough and I am now sat down to rest.  Tomorrow is another day.

I have managed to check on the Mincemeat it is nice and juicy and I have added some spirit, glace cherries and also some mixed peel to the mix.  The mixture is slowly creeping up the jar.

This is the mixture before adding in the extras.

This is the mixture with the ginger, cherries and mixed peel as well as some Dark Rum.  It is smelling gorgeous.  However still some more fruit to go in yet.

I also intend to do a version using oranges and Grand |Marnier with some dried cranberries in as well.

Needless to say I did not get to my other preserving.  That will be for Monday now when there is a bit more space in the kitchen for preparation etc.


I crashed and did not get up until about 10am which is late for me.  Was still a bit head-achey and still a bit acidy from last night's acidosis attack when I got up.  I do not have the attacks very often but it is usually after I have had a very tasty meal.  Not sure whether the two are connected.

I have been busy in the kitchen again.  Still not done but edging ever closer.  Could have gone in tonight but OH could not see what he was doing so tomorrow it is then.  Still a lot of work to do though.

Have a lot of stuff to do over the next few days but I will get there eventually - it is just the depth that varies!

Despite not getting to the preserving I had planned for yesterday, one of which was more pickled cucumber. OH is partial to this.  He also likes gherkins. I have managed to prep the cucumber in slices for the second batch.  This is currently under a tea towel after having been salted.  Will finish that off tomorrow i.e. wash it out and then add spices and vinegar.

That should keep him going for a little while.

I also managed to get the first batch of Red Cabbage prepped too.  Still more to do.  Yet again for OH.

I also have to strain my flavoured vinegars off that I prepared a little while ago.  There is Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Raspberry and Tarragon. They need straining off through fine muslin and then will be used the dark fruit ones with Goat cheese and also the Tarragon vinegar I use a nip in home made Prawn Cocktail sauce (Marie Rose).  Just lifts the flavour that little bit.  Tarragon vinegar I tend to make every year.  You can also use it to deglaze a pan when making the gravy for a roast.  You do not need much.

Once I can get the baby steriliser out in the week I will make some fruit sauces and also some cordial and syrups for the Pantry shelf as well.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 21 November 2020

A little Local Shopping

Saturday morning is fast becoming the time when we nip to a local village town, collect our weekly selection of fish and shellfish; perhaps go to the bakers, sometimes call at the farm shop and/or the butchers.

We have done that this morning although we had set the alarm to leave reasonably early we slept through eventually waking up at about 8:45am wherein there was a mass panic to get out so that we were able to get what we were after on the fish front.  There is a saying "The early bird catches the worm" ,and this is very pertinent when it comes to the fish stall we go to.  We like a fresh crab each and sometimes if you are not there in time they do not have them.  So there is a method to our madness.

OH went and sorted out what we wanted today whilst I babysat Missy in the car.  He came back with a crab each, Crevettes for him, Crayfish for me, some cockles and we are having Mussels cooked in garlic and butter for tea this evening.  I am very much looking forward to this.  This is an absolute favourite.

On the way back we called at The Harvest Barn and I have bought some Rye Flour, some White Spelt Flour, an Onion Bread Flour and a wholemeal Spelt flour to try out.  I also located some dried Chervil and dried Aniseed to keep in the pantry.  

I have some ideas surrounding Christmas cooking concerning these. I also bought a Meringue - they are expensive but a real treat for me.  A Raspberry and white chocolate one.  Just a few useful bits picked up today, I am careful to choose a few at a time and am slowly getting the pantry shelf stocked.  I do need to go and get some more spices from town though.

Our son has also started asking for some fish and is joining in with our Saturday indulgence on the fish front. The crabs we get are from Cromer.  We were asked to get a couple for them today.  My daughter is not keen on sea food otherwise we would have bought her some as well.

From there we then went on to Willowbrook Farm to get a joint for tomorrow's dinner.  I have picked up a piece of Silverside for lunch tomorrow.  I intend to cook this on a bed of onions with a little water added to the base of the tray, cover the meat with foil and then cook it slowly so that the foil keeps the meat moist.  Then taking the foil off and finishing it off for the last half hour or so.  I always make gravy from the drippings into the tray and the onion helps give a lot of flavour to the gravy.  I do use copious amounts of white pepper when cooking generally.  I also bought some sausage and bacon. Bacon butties or sausage sarnies or even a  cooked breakfast slip in nicely inbetween main meals. I have also picked up a wholemeal loaf (I am quite happy with proper wholemeal bread but OH is not so this has been bought for me rather than him).

So all in all quite a busy morning.  I do prefer shopping small independent shops where I can but this is not always possible and so you have to make the most of opportunities as they come your way.

I have now stopped for a bit of lunch having  my crab which was delicious and a mug of coffee to warm me up.  I am now going to start again in the kitchen.  However, come what may I am having a sit down later on to do some more work on the cushions pattern.  That is my treat for working so hard this week!  Relaxation time.

Right am off to get on.  Enjoy your afternoon I am going to get cracking.

Catch you later.



Friday, 20 November 2020

Trying to Fix the Kitchen

It has been a wet and horrible cold day here in Peterborough.  Work is still progressing in the kitchen.  I have been washing and drying stuff most of the afternoon.  It is cold in there and so I have escaped upstairs for a little heat before going back down again. I am bundled up in a thick jumper with a fleece on top.  My hands have been intermittently going blue as being in and out of water albeit with Marigolds on. 

I am at long last making progress I am glad to say but am going back down after I have had my tea.  Canned tomato soup tonight just something quick. warm and fill me up.  Then I will start another charge at getting the kitchen fixed and sorted.  The window will be washed out later on and new nets will be hung up once OH has cut me a new net wire.  Tomorrow with a bit of luck the old dishwasher will be out and the new one in. Then the work will really start for OH.

We have the collection people coming on Wednesday to collect three freezers that do not work and the old dishwasher so they will need to go in the front garden.  Fortunately we have a dolly for lugging the equipment about.  Before we do that though there is going to be at least a couple of tip runs to empty the front garden, plus there is a load of rubbish in the back garden all bagged up that needs to go to the tip as well.  So there has been an awful lot of work going on in the background as well.  I just hope the weather is a little warmer tomorrow which would help enormously.  If it is a better day weather wise I may be able to get into the garden and get the rubbish from there into the front garden so that OH can get this expedited to the tip.  He can get on with this whilst I am doing other stuff.

Every so often the supervisor Mischief has ben putting in an appearance and wanting a cuddle.  Both the cats seem to want more and more cuddles these days since we left them in the Cattery and they are being a lot more relaxed about the cuddles that we are giving.

Inbetween everything else, I am still managing to do some other bits and bobs.  My Mincemeat is on the draining board in the Rumtopf and I have added mixed peel, glace cherries and candied ginger to the mix. The mixture is starting to release its juices and is very moist. I shall add a dash of alcohol as well at this point. The butter will go into coat the contents before I bottle it up and then I shall melt it to do that. That will be at the beginning of December.

Another load of cucumber has also been prepped for pickling.  The Sourdough starters have been commenced x 3 and also the Ginger Beer Plants have been started.  I also have Apple Pop on the go.  It is a long while since I made this.  Will post up the recipe once I am happy with how things are progressing.  Possibly next Friday.

Tomorrow I have pickled red cabbage to sort out.  I will also need to go to the veg shop tomorrow to top up on ingredients especially veggies for Sunday dinner but I do want other veggies for other projects  I have on the go.  I need to see what they have first though..

I have Cranberry and Apple jelly to make as well as Chilli jelly and Rosemary and Apple Jelly.  So even if I do not get everything done tomorrow I am going to have quite a few projects going forward.  I also want to play with my ginger ice cream sauce recipe.  There is also a fresh batch of wholegrain mustard to make.  Some of the projects take two days or more to achieve which includes preparation but that is all part and parcel of the process. So it does involve flitting backwards and forwards a bit.

I am also hoping in the next few days to get some old fashioned spiced pomanders on the go as well as orange and lemon slices for adding to garlands and the tree.  I am also considering some edible garlands at this point in time thinking of dried cranberries and popcorn for the Christmas tree.  That might come to nothing but we will see.  My Bay Tree needs a haircut as well but I am trying to leave that a couple of more weeks so that I can use the greenery in decorating.  I have holly in the front garden with plenty of berries on.

Once the dishwasher is in I can start emptying under the stairs cupboard which has a lot of jars in there which need cleaning. Once they are all done I can then paint this out and freshen the shelves up with some vinyl to make it clean and tidy and ready for storing stuff again.  I intend to do a lot more next year on the preserving front than I have done this year, but that is a subject for future posts.  The dishwasher is well covered and packed up.

Once under the stairs is sorted I can then do the same for the fireside cupboard.  There are a lot of bottles and jars in there that need washing and recycling too.  Then I may be able to get organised a bit and get some breakable stuff in there and out of the way.  So a lot to do as usual. I can always find something else or a project to do. I am thinking primarily of some wine for the first few months of the year to build up my home cellar again.

I do not think the dining room is going to be decorated for Christmas but it may well be an early project for the New Year. Will have to see how things go. I have never wallpapered before so it is going to be a learning curve.  A skill I want to learn.

For the past couple of days I have not been able to craft.  I am hoping to sit down tomorrow night and trace the rest of my cushion template and then transfer it onto the Calico fabric which I have washed and pressed.  I have not managed to touch the crochet for a couple of days either, but will get there eventually.  I am eager to get started on this as quickly as I can.

So as usual there is lots to do.  Hard honest work that needs doing irrespective.

Once I am out of the kitchen OH can then go in and do what he needs to but I am going to sort the kitchen cupboards out before he goes in to make life a bit easier in the long run.  I also need to paint the kitchen ceiling before he goes in as there is a lot of stuff that is stored in tubs on top of the kitchen units.

We are going to the fish man tomorrow and will no doubt call at Harvest Barn on the way home as well as the bakery.  Will see what tomorrow holds.

Right am going to sit down.

Catch you soon.



Time to Order the Turkey

A lot of people order their main meal for Christmas Dinner in advance or utilise their local supermarket.  Time has now come for us to consider placing an order.

For the past few years excluding last year our main meal has been ordered via our Butcher.  Last year we had a Turkey Crown from Aldi for the first time and we were bitterly disappointed. Despite being slowly cooked the Turkey was as tough as old boots.  We shall therefore be ordering from our Butcher the main components that we need over Christmas. Our main Butcher at Johnsons of Old Hurst has this year instigated an online ordering service for Butchery items which is easily accessible online.  OH was doing some research of his own last night and we had been talking of going down to the Farm to place an order in any event.  I love going here as it is a Foodie Heaven.  Prices are a bit higher but the quality of the food speaks for itself. Their Cornish pasties are to die for.  They have a big Butchery section I buy Green Back bacon here it is lovely.  They also have an extensive choice on sausages.  They keep in Game and a lot of the animals and Deer are grown on the farm and other items sourced locally.  They also have an extensive and very interesting Cheese Counter.  We love cheese. Mind you I am picky and don't buy anything and everything. Mindful of the restrictions we have only ventured out here about once a month.

Johnsons of Old Hurst

These are farmers, who have diversified and opened their own shop, restaurant and tea shop.  They know the importance of good food.  They are open Tuesday to Sunday.  Monday they are closed.  There is a walk around the farm for the children and adults alike and they have an enclosed wildlife area which showcases Crocodiles and other exotic animals from abroad.

I freeze a lot of what I buy and we do not do unnecessary journeys but as we go to the fish man once a week, we are over half way there and we can occasionally fit in a visit to the Butchers, usually when it is quieter during the week. They are extremely thorough and only allow so many people in the shop at one time and there are extensive sanitising facilities outside of the shop. Things are starting to get low in the freezer and I need to top up again as well as order for Christmas.

We will therefore place an order this evening for our main ingredients which include Turkey, chipolatas, sausage meat, a rib of beef, bacon. I also need a Ham joint We have to go and collect in any event, so will add on some other items then.  They have a wonderful food section with a lot of Artisanal products.  They also have a lovely gift section and kitchen section in particular.

I also if I get time want to make my pork pies but I need the freezer to do these and that is not arriving until 2 December.  So the pies will be made after then. I also need to prep up some sausage rolls so that I can literally take them from the freezer straight to the cooker.

So from now on in it is going to be busy, organising this and organising that in readiness for Christmas.  

We also use Willowbrook Farm which is another good Butchers close to us and where I learned to make Pork Pies. Willowbrook Farm.

Tonight therefore I think we are going to be placing an order.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 19 November 2020

The Mincemeat is in the Rumtopf Pot

The scene is set, I have had Christmas music playing in the background and in an attempt to get some Christmas smells and spirit into my soul I have set about making some mincemeat.  It is very cathartic. I have also lit a new apple cinnamon candle that I found at the Chemists the other day.  It is not a Yankee Candle one but it smells lovely. I love late autumn/winter days where you can light a candle, and there is the smell of spice in the air from making goodies for the Christmas Pantry and perhaps having a glass of mulled wine or cider as an aside or even a slug of Sloe Gin.  The darker days are meant for celebrating life in this fashion.

In reality I made this batch of mincemeat  a few days ago; i grabbed a few spare moments where I could.  I will probably add a few more layers to it over the coming days.

I have made many variations of mincemeat over the years  and these are included in the Mincemeat Posts below.  My favourite organic way of making it is by a method recommended to me by my friend Bovey Belle.  There are several links way back on the blog specifically here which also include other recipes I have tried.  I would say at this point that I also like the Pam Corbin's Recipe for Mincemeat too.  Mincemeat also keeps longer than a year.

See the links here: Mincemeat Posts

I note that the link for the Pam Corbin mincemeat recipe is not working from my original post (such is life).  There is a link via Vigo Presses 

here : Pam Corbin Plum and Russet Mincemeat

and a link here for Jam Jar Shop Mincemeat

The first batch is in one of my Rumtopf pots and is now curing in readiness for use this coming Christmas. I have used a lot during the year and more or less run out.  I fancied mince pies yesterday and the cupboard was bare so I had to buy some.  Not on so some more needs to be made although I still have the munchies for mince pies so may well go and buy some more in the interim but really I should be baking them. I will be able to once the mincemeat has cured.  I have since made a second pot as I have apples in at the moment. However you can pep up a jar of bought mincemeat by adding some rum or brandy, some more chopped apple or grated apple, even some nuts - not much just to give it a bit more umpff.

Home made Mincemeat is a lot tastier than a lot of the bought stuff and if you make it yourself you can give it away as a pressie to someone who likes to cook or have the option of using it all year long.  Think mince pies in July!  Go on be a devil.  When you make things yourself you always have the choice especially if you keep a well stocked Pantry/Larder specifically for such a purpose.  I am hopeful that people as a result of the lockdown want to cook more than they have in the past..

Well I know its not July now, but you get the gist.

There is no real recipe for this, just a bit of this and a bit of that and you build it up bit by bit.  Lots of layers.  Whilst in the making, you can add things daily if you want.  

Using up bits of dried fruit that would possibly go to waste or fresh fruit now that is proper "Waste not want not" ethos..  No need for waste with this recipe.  Just keep a note of what you put in, write yourself a list.  That way you will be recreate the recipe next year.  Most of the adjustment though will come with the spicing.  That differs from person to person.  If you are still unsure check out standard recipes and use similar ingredients and spicing, but let your Mincemeat ferment naturally.

However, I thought I would show you what I do, and then what you add is up to you at the end of the day.

I am using a glazed Rumtopf pot (mine is bright red just the right colour for Christmas)  but you could use a ceramic bread crock (I always turn the label side to the wall in any event) and put a suitable label as to contents.  That way round you get to use delicious old pottery and if you put wooden lids on them you are recycling them/putting them to good use. 

I start by adding  a selection of finely chopped dessert apples and I cover these with some dark brown soft sugar, about a teaspoon of cinnamon and mixed spice and some ground Mace and nutmeg.  This will have to be adjusted as I need some fresh spices from the shop (mine were not as strong as they should be) and out local shop does not sell them.  If you are unsure whether to use the full quantity of spice just add a bit and taste, and adjust.  Remember you can put a little in at a time and it will not necessarily overpower the mixture.

I had six small Cox's dessert apples which were past their best which I started this batch off with.  Peel and core  and then finely chop into pieces.  I also added six Braeburn apples as well.

Put in your pot or bowl and then add about three to four ounces approx (I chucked in a good handful)  of the dark brown sugar. Give them a good stir to coat the apple with the sugar.  This liquifies quite quickly. The apples and the sugar will form the coating liquid for the mincemeat.

I then added in a couple of handfuls of sultanas and raisins and mixed in again.  I added 1 teaspoon of mixed spice, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, mace and nutmeg.  Mix again.  I may add more though as I was not too chuffed with what I had in.  This is all about tasting and making sure that you like what you are tasting. You can also add a little dried cloves or ginger as well. I need some new spices in any event as I want to make Speculaas biscuits this year.  Not made them before but it is not Christmas in this household without them.

I start off with a little and then if more is needed - I add more ingredients making sure that there is enough brown sugar and apple to coat the layers. I have also added the juice of a Clementine and some zest from the skin.  You build this up little by little until the pot is full. I also make sure that there is an even mixture between the apple and the dried fruits.  You might have to add in a bit more apple to give an equal ratio as you go along.  I added six more apples and more fruit etc repeating the initial steps apart from the spicing.  

I am about three quarters of the way up the pot and tomorrow I have glace cherries, stem ginger or candied ginger and some mixed peel to add in tomorrow.  What you add in is up to you.  A lot of what I mention is by way of suggestion but make sure the ingredients you do use complement each other i.e. honey and brandy, honey and whisky, rum and apple.

You can add dried cranberries, dried apricots, candied ginger, stem ginger, dried mango, currants, orange zest, orange juice, dried mixed peel. chopped cherries, almonds, (any dried fruit even your own dried fruit like cherries).  

You can also add chopped pear and also cooked plums.  However I would not leave the mincemeat to ferment if using the cooked plums or fresh cranberries, or pears. I would cook this in the oven to cook the mincemeat and to heat treat any fermenting element.  I would follow the recipe that Pam Corbin uses for the Plum and Russet Mincemeat which is linked above.  

You can also use honey, add wine, add rum, add brandy, Sloe Gin, Amaretto, Sherry (not all at once but you have a choice - just be careful with the Amaretto as it can be slightly over-powering.  The alcohol is a form of preservative in any event). I tend to leave the alcohol until the end. This is to preserve and add a little flavour not to drown the preserve.  I like Rum and Brandy, but I also adjust the spicing at the end too. 

I do not always add suet but you can; you can also use the vegetarian version as well.  Alternatively you can use grated butter as a replacement for the suet.  The recipe will need some fat so if you do not use the suet add chopped or frozen grated butter about 3 ozs. Be careful though as equally you do not want the Mincemeat swimming in fat. Just enough to coat it. This also helps preserve the mincemeat. \My butter will go in tomorrow with the rest of the cherries, and ginger.

Therefore as I have said above, write down what you put into your mincemeat to keep account of what you have used and if you like it then you have your own recipe to repeat next year.

Making mincemeat this way needs careful attention .  I use muslin on the top of the Rumtopf so that the mixture can breathe.  Although I want the mixture to ferment I do not want it to go mouldy, so make sure you mix it at least a couple of times per day and keep those juices running  When it is runny enough for you the sugar and apple syrup then you can heat process it if you wish in the oven or just bottle into sterilised jars and store in a dark and cool place.

The options are yours and it makes a few jars of very fine mincemeat for the pantry shelf.

My kitchen and pantry are cold at the moment so an ideal environment in which to let the juices run naturally.  Central heating can affect the preserve and end up with it being mouldy if care and attention is not paid to it.  So if you have an old fashioned cold larder or say an outside garage that is cold that would be an ideal environment in which to ferment and then keep your mincemeat naturally.

One thing that has grieved me though is that under normal circumstances with all the apple peels, cores, fruit skins etc. I would have made up a batch of Pam Corbin's Compost Jelly.  However because of lack of freezer space I am unable at the present time to deal with this.  But next time, it will be made straight after.  Waste not want not.

Catch you soon.



Ground Almonds, Almonds, Marzipan, Stollen and Icing Sugar

Normally at this time of year the shop round the corner is full of fondant icing and marzipan (or Marchpane as it historically known). Marchpane is basically ground almonds, sugar and rose water.  For more information see the National Trust site for a recipe for this Marchpane 

The Marchpane was often decorated with gold, but there are lots of other lovely ways of decorating this sweetmeat.

Various Images of Marchpane

They are quite diverse and spectacular.

This yearmy local shop has had fondant icing in jus aboutt, but not much.  They also have ground almonds in but not a sight of any pre-prepared marzipan.  I think I am going to play safe.  I like to keep ground almonds in as we like Bakewell tart and also almond slices, macaroons that kind of thing as well as the German Christmas favourite Stollen.   

I think I shall be making sure that there is a good supply of ground almonds in the pantry to hand just in case I cannot locate the ready made Marzipan. I have two cakes to cover this year at the moment together with four Christmas puddings.  The cakes are currently being fed.

If you buy in blanched almonds, or almonds with their skins on you can turn this into ground almonds.  If the almonds still have their skins on then blanch them in boiling water to remove the skins.  If bought already blanched, just whizz the almonds up in your food processor.  So it might be worth keeping some whole nuts in as well.  I also use these in Dundee cake.

Here is a recipe as to how to make your own Marzipan just in case you cannot locate any.  It is quite easy to make.  I have given a recipe in previous years and the link is here:

Homemade Marzipan

There is also an alternative recipe here:

Marzipan Recipe

I have also been buying in icing sugar as this year I am making Royal Icing for the Christmas cakes.  Think my baby brother will be happy about this as he is an icing freak.  Basically Royal icing is egg whites, icing sugar and a little glycerine whisked up  and left to stand for a day or so o get rid of any air bubbles that can form when the icing is being whisked.  We always add about one teaspoon of glycerine to the mix as it helps keep the icing softer rather than being rock hard. We do not want any broken teeth; I have already lost one to a toffee apple earlier in the year!

So I am gradually drawing the threads together and getting bits and bobs sorted as to need/necessity.

This year though I want to have a go at making my own Stollen. We love Stollen and it is something that we usually buy, but i have always had an inclination of having a go at this.  Might have to play with that before Christmas and if I can get it right I might make one for my baby brother (if being the operative word).

I also keep icing sugar to hand for making buttercream for little individual buns and Victoria Sponge and also icing; so if you bake on a regular basis it is well worth keeping in.

When I go into town at the weekend I shall have a good look to see what else I can find.  I may have to buy some in, in readiness for decorating the cakes at the beginning of December.

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)