Friday, 28 November 2014

Friday Morning

Loaf from yesterdays recipe ready to go in the oven.  This was really tasty but the texture was a bit peculiar more like a pate which would go really well with melba toast and a big salad and would be ideal for a summer lunch.

Shiona arrive a bit later yesterday as her dogs had decided to roll in something noxious and had to be bathed before putting in the car. Not too difficult a task with westies a bit more of a challenge with a big dog but fortunately Basso never rolled in anything.  I was still off colour with what is trying to be a cold I think.  However, it has progressed no further than my nose which is streaming.  No other symptoms except I feel rubbish and would cheerfully take to my bed and stay there.

Mike had his day at the care centre and came home like a bear with a sore head.  I ran through the usual questions like, did you have a good day? what did you have for lunch? etc only to be met with monosyllabic answers.  He was spoiling for a fight so we ate our supper quickly and beat a hasty retreat.  The occupational therapist is coming to see him today and I will have a word with her as Mike is making it patently clear that he doesn't want to go to the centre.  On the other hand it does give me a couple of hours of peace and quiet.  Once Dan the man is here I will have a valid excuse to go out as he will need exercising and training and car experience given he is still a bit carsick.  

Well James has just returned from Tesco having done the shopping and it is only 5am so we are all set up for the day now.  Today for lunch I intend to make a ham and leek pie - with the thermomix making a white sauce so easily it should take no time at all.

Have a good day all it is dry and mild here at the moment......

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thursday morning

I don't know what to say about yesterday except it was a total right off.  As you know I am a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic so I went out in my dressing gown to put the bins out.  The bag burst and I spent ages re-bagging the rubbish while I quietly froze to death.  In an effort to regain some body heat I made a batch of cheese and onion muffins to go with our soup for lunch but I was still frozen.  Of course what I should have done is have a good hot bath but no I decided to go back to my warm bed where I promptly fell fast asleep.  James gave me a shout when the lunch was ready and having eaten that I felt really grotty and went back to my bed and slept most of the afternoon as well. Fortunately I had made all the preparations for supper, the lamb chops were defrosting on the griddle pan, potatoes were boiled ready to saute and carrots diced and cooked.  Once again James stepped into the breach and finished off the supper which I found I couldn't eat and gave up after a couple of mouthfuls.  I can't put my finger on what was wrong I just felt rubbish and was doing good impression of a sloth.  

Of course I am up at the crack of dawn this morning having slept for who knows how many hours yesterday.  Maybe my batteries just needed recharging, anyway I am not falling into the same trap this morning.  No getting frozen first thing I have already put on the gas fire as the heating doesn't come on until 4am.  Shiona is coming over this morning and Mike is off to "school" so I will need to get my act together. I feel like a dead rat so the shower will be my first port of call being clean and warm might make things seem a little brighter.  I had a bit of sad news yesterday it seems that Basso's littermate also had to be put down with a form of cancer.  I wonder if there is a genetic predisposition in the litter.  If so, I am glad that Basso didn't pass it on to another generation of course it could be just a coincidence.  Anyway only 19 days to go now until Dante is with us.  He already weighs 12Kg and I am wondering if there is some polar bear somewhere in his pedigree!!!

Well that is it for this morning I am off to the shower to get clean and warm before I make a start on the day.  I have not got a clue what we will be having for lunch or dinner but no doubt something will come to mind.  Does this sound good to you?

Loaf of bread, tuna, olives and ricotta cheese (baked)
Serves about 4 people
Approximately 250 grams of bread
200 grams of tuna in oil
250 g cheese
70 g pitted black olives
salt and pepper
parsley and chives
60g grated parmesan
1 large egg
1 lemon
1/2 red onion
extra virgin olive oil
Break up the bread and put it to soak in a large mixing bowl with warm water until it is nice and soft and crumbly. 
Add the chopped tuna, well drained, coarsely chopped olives, ricotta, egg, chopped red onion, Parmesan , the grated rind of one lemon, nutmeg, salt, pepper, chives with chopped parsley. 
If you need to add a little bread crumbs until you get the right consistency (which should be soft and firm at the same time). 
With slightly damp hands formed a meatloaf and lay them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. 
Pour a little oil on the surface. 
Cook for about 30 minutes in a hot oven at 180 degrees until lightly browned. 
delicious hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Wednesday Morning

Good morning all another chilly one but at least it is not frosty or wet.  Yesterday got blown out of the water Mikes appointment with audiology had to be cancelled due to sickness in the department so I set to and tried to organise to take Mike to see Terry his case worker but he is off sick too.  I suppose it is that time of year when the colds and flu raise their ugly heads.  I have had flu twice in my life and believe me I will never confuse a cold with flu again but people bandy the word around as though the two conditions were interchangeable.  I must admit I am keeping everything crossed that I don't come down with anything until I have my puppy safely home.  I must admit I am really glad Shiona is coming with me.  It will be nice to have some back up and Shiona is just the right sort of person.  Many years ago we were in northern Spain for work and had gone out for a walk around the town of Vitoria only to get hopelessly lost.  After what seem like an eternity my back, which was really bad at the time, finally gave out and I lost the will to live.  I had reached the point where I was quite happy to be left to die on the side of the road. With a mixture of encouragment, cajoling and bullying Shiona walked me from shop doorway to doorway and finally all the way back to the hotel. 
So I have every confidence in her not to mention eternal gratitude, and as you know she has been at my side through all the mayhem of the last few years.  I really am blessed with good friends.  

As everything got turned on its head we had sausage and beans for lunch and the meat pie was on the supper menu.  The mixture made enough for two pies. One we ate last night and the other is going in the freezer for when I am away as it is only enough for two.  The cavolo nero made a good accompaniment and in my box there was also a bunch of salsify which I cooked then fried off in some butter.  If you are not familiar with salsify don't bother it tastes of nothing and is a pain to peel. It is not a vegetable I would recommend.

Today is bin day so I will have to get it all out for the bin men but it is still very dark so not just yet. For lunch today I have some of the gallons of soup out of the freezer and will serve it with some very cheesy scones which I will make nearer the time.  I like to eat them hot out of the oven smothered in butter.  Not good for the figure but very tasty.  Supper tonight will be some lamb chops peas and potatoes nice and simple and easy.  

Well thats about it for this morning have a good day all

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Tuesday morning

Good morning all, not raining at present but we are under a heavy blanket of cloud and have been forecast another wet one.  Yesterday was fine with some sunshine which made it bearable.  I had quite a busy day.  Firstly I passed on the comment on the blog about the lovely picture of Basso.  I wanted to ask Chris if he was looking for commissions which he is so I will pass the word on my doggy friends.  He is at present putting together a portfolio of his work and looking for places to hang his pictures.  The local art shop has volunteered to show his work but they want 40% of any sale which is a bit rich don't you think?  Anyway I assured him that I had ordered him a box of "crayons" on line and they should be with us on thursday.  Sandy and her sister asked if they could come for lunch and see the picture for real.  Some lunch! we had pizza hedgehogs made with a french stick which Sandy brought with her she also had a mozzarella in the back of the fridge so she brought that too.  I had made the tomatoes and also a few rashers of crispy bacon to pack out the bread along with 2 mozzarellas I had in the freezer.  So it was a sort of joint venture, anyway there was not a morsel left so I guess it went down well.

Now just a short recap on my mental health status.  Since I stopped the medication after a few rocky days I now consider myself well.  No more waking at 2am in a flat panic in fact no more panic at all I may not be out of the woods yet but I feel very positive in myself and having such good friends around me [including you out there on the wires] has been very helpful.

Dan the man had is injection and microchip done yesterday now all that is needed is the tapeworm injection and he will be fit to import - time is passing, all be it slowly.  We are hoping for some photos next week.  He has grown a lot and now weighs 12kg so I think he is going to be a very big boy indeed.

Today I have to take Mike to audiology to have his hearing tested and his hearing aids recalibrated. Personally I think some of the problem is selective deafness as Mike is inclined to miss the things he would rather not hear.  Anyway there will be no excuses after this!!!!  Sadly the appointment is at lunch time which is going to mess up the meal arrangements.  Funnily enough I woke this morning calculating how many meals I turn out in a year 365 x 2 [lunch and supper] x 3 people minimum = 2,190.  No wonder I throw the towel in some times and demand a take away!!!!! I'm sure there are restaurants who would be pleased with that number of covers.  Well that is my excuse for a takeaway kebab last night and I am sticking to it.  Today I have some minced beef which I think I am going to make into a pie along with some onions, carrots and celery and a puff pastry lid. If I push it on to supper time I will have my box of vegetables which includes some cavolo nero which will go well with the pie.  As for lunch well who knows!!!! There are always eggs in some form or another and at a push there are beans on toast!!!! or should that be is beans on toast.  Come on grammarians help me out with this one.  I think that beans on toast is a singular dish though the beans are plural What do you think?

Monday, 24 November 2014

Monday Morning

Well yesterday we had a yellow weather warning; it was due to rain and believe me it did, not heavily but constantly.  I got most of the chores done in the morning and the belly strips in barbecue sauce went down well for lunch.  I was going to make a cauliflower puree which has ended up rather too liquid so I added a dollop of mash to it and now it is neither one thing nor the other so today I am going to run it down with lots of stock and call it soup!!!

Just when I thought the day was a total write off there was a knock at the door and there stood Chris my Japanese neighbours husband and in his hand he had a pastel drawing which he had done from a photo.  When I saw it I was bowled over he has captured the subject perfectly.  It was difficult to take a photo in artificial light as the glass reflects everything so I have had to take it from an angle. But I am sure you will recognise the subject.

He has got the eyes perfectly and only the owner can tell that, the likeness is amazing that is my boy Basso looking back at me.  I think you will agree that the likeness is uncanny.  Does he do this professionally? no this is a hobby.  With this level of skill he really should be selling his pictures but no, so I have ordered a box of pastels for him which should go some way to defray the costs.  What a talent!!!!  As you can tell I am over the moon with the picture it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up is it so real.

Well that was yesterday, today we are back to treading water again and counting the days - Dan the man is due for his rabies injection today so lets hope all goes well.  I had a nice chat on the phone with Sally who is having the other puppy we are bringing back and both of us are going quietly crazy with the waiting.  I had sent her a short piece of video film of Basso at work which she was keen to see as she has never worked her spinone.  It is very nice to compare notes with another owner as they a few and far between in the south of the UK.  Most of the spinone are used on grouse moors where their skills are put to better use.

Anyway having failed miserably to do the ironing yesterday I had better get stuck in today before the pile reaches the first floor.  

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday Morning

Good morning one and all, yesterday was a bit on the miserable side weather wise with frequent showers.  We managed to get caught in one while we were out with the dogs.  Tubby as usual was very excited running about barking as we got him out of the car.  A gentleman was passing with a huge rottweiler who completely ignored Tubby's antics, the look of disappointment on his face was very amusing not only was she not impressed she didn't even acknowledge his existence. She had obviously had experience of silly young men and chose to ignore him completely which baffled him utterly.

The shoulder of lamb spent many hours in the oven on a low temperature which ensured that the extra fat rendered out and left the meat very succulent and tasty.  I suppose it was "pulled lamb" which seems to be all the craze at moment.  There is enough left for a small shepherds pie so that is what I am intending to make first thing.  If only I had had the sense to boil a few more potatoes I would have had enough for the pie.  Instead of which I am going to have to make more mash this morning.  Supper was a bit of a revelation as I made some pizza hedgehogs with mozzarella that had been in the freezer.  I have never tried to freeze this cheese before but it worked fine I wouldn't have wanted to eat it as cheese but melted on a pizza it was fine.  The laundry got done but is now dangling around the dining room which looks like a chinese laundry. 

For lunch today I have some pork belly strips which I intend to roast in soy sauce, honey and garlic and serve with rice and whatever vegetables I can find.  If I get them into their marinade soon they will have time to absorbs some of the flavour before they hit the oven.  I believe we are in for another day of showers but at least it is not too cold, in fact as I look out into the darkness I can see it is already raining.  This sort of weather certainly makes you appreciate the sun when you do see it.

The lady for whom I am fetching a puppy from Normandy has kindly sent me cheque to help with the costs and in many ways it will be nice for Dan the man to have his brother living close by - maybe we can have some walks together as they grow up, they will only be some 20 miles away.

Anyway that is about it for this morning lots for me to be getting on with so I will hit the kitchen, and if I have the stamina also the ironing board. Enjoy your day and I hope the rain doesn't spoil your plans.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Saturday morning

Diane looks better now

Nothing like a trip to the human groomer [Hairdresser] to make you look a bit more presentable and hopefully it should last until the new year. Amazing what can be done with some shampoo, a brush and a pair of sharp scissors in skilled hands.  The rest of the morning was taken up with kitchen duties.  I had a small pumpkin, a butternut squash and some romero peppers so the whole lot got a good roasting in the halogen oven along with the usual suspects of onion and garlic then it was a case of adding gallons of stock and blitzing in the thermomix until I had enough soup to feed the British army.  Yesterday was a sort of vegetable day as we had a baked potato each for lunch with an assortment of stuff to put on the top and a big bunch of watercress to accompany.  Then by supper time the soup was finally finished so just the addition of a swirl of cream and that was that.  This morning I have the leftover soup to deal with and get into the freezer.  One portion has gone on the dogs biscuits for their breakfast but I still have several portions which will freeze for some other day. On my way back from the hairdresser I dropped into Tesco to buy some squash and saw they had lamb shoulders at half price well who can resist that!!!  Lunch today will be slow roast lamb shoulder with mash and curly kale.  Although it is more fatty I do prefer the flavour of shoulder to leg and either makes a good shepherds pie with the leftovers.

I have a mountain of washing also waiting for my attention - thank goodness for washing machines and at this time of year tumble dryers too.  Only 23 days to go to puppy pick up!!!! Now I have to hope that the head gardener doesn't decide to cover us with snow until after that day.  I must admit that driving the landrover in the snow is no problem in fact it is great fun.  I have taken it out on a snowy days just to test its capabilities and found it is completely impossible to make the thing skid no matter how I tried.  However I would prefer a good weather run to Normandy.  I am also making contingency plans in case "Dan the man" is still carsick when we pick him up.  I will line the dog crates with inco-pads and take a big pack of baby wipes and nappy sacks incase we have a pukey journey home.  Basso, god rest his soul, puked all over me on the way home from Redruth in Cornwall. Lesson learned!!!!  The car is already kitted out with water bottles and dog dishes so hopefully I have covered all eventualities.  As space is not a problem I thought I might put a pair of sleeping bags in the back just to make sure we don't freeze if there is some sort of problem.  Have I forgotten anything?

Well thats about it for this morning time to get the machines working.  Have a good weekend all.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Friday morning

Good morning all. Yesterday went according to plan once I had Mike loaded on to the bus James myself and the two dogs drove over to Shiona's house where we had a lovely day.  Shiona had a widower friend from Canada staying with her and he was great fun to talk to.  He had been working for BOAC when I was flying to Nigeria as an unaccompanied minor.  At this time the departure terminal was a nissen hut in the garden and the flight took 72 hours with refueling stops in Rome, Tripoli, Kano finally landing in Lagos.  I think it made him chuckle to think I could remember those early flying days.  We had a nice lunch and then had a lovely walk with the dogs in the sunshine. The only fly in the ointment was that James did find the going a bit much for his poor foot.  What might appear to be level even ground to us was a real assault course for him.  Anyway Tubby though he had died and gone to heaven as not only did he get a great walk but Shiona's garden is huge by comparison with ours so he was one exhausted boy when we got him home he munched through his supper then became unconscious!!!!  I was green with envy as that is exactly what I would have like to do but sleep was not on my agenda.

It took us quite a while to get home as we managed to catch all the rush hour traffic in Maidstone but we arrived very shortly after the bus had dropped Mike off.  He was still sitting in the dark in his coat exhausted from his day of boredom!!!  One of the other clients had brought in her collection of paper clippings which chronicled Mikes days as a badminton player.  She had kept them all as he was her son's coach.  Sadly even this didn't seem to brighten him up.  I would have thought he would have been thrilled I know I would have been.  Anyway at least it gave us something to talk about if nothing else.

Now if you watch TV I am sure you are sick of the election in Rochester and Strood.  It did interest me as it is the next constituency to us.  Anyway suffice to say a bloody nose was delivered to all the major parties as UKIP got in with a decent majority.  Lets hope this is the kick in the backside they need to realise the populace are not happy with them.

Today my first call will be to the hairdresser, and Chrissie you describe exactly how I am with the thought of a hair cut. I too always leave it too late!!!!  What I will never understand is how your hair can go from fine to disaster with just 2 angstroms of growth.

I made my curry sauce before leaving yesterday and put in the slow cooker on low so this morning now that is has cooled down I can start filling half litre boxes and getting them into the freezer.  I hope I have made enough to keep me going until after Christmas.  Anyway first and foremost I must go and get dressed before I freeze.  It is a chilly 6ÂșC outside and sitting around typing doesn't keep you warm.  Have a good day all 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Thursday Morning

Good morning all a bit better night last night so I am up at what I consider a reasonable time of 5am. I had a lovely morning yesterday as not only did Mark turn up and do my garden but I went out to Faversham with my friend to do a bit of shopping.  We had a lovely breakfast and long chat about life and its colourful problems.  She has twin girls who are just at that lovely hormonal age between O and A levels so she knows all about family disharmony and the stupid rows that blow up over trivia. I bought all the ingredients to make some curry sauce, now all I need to do is find the time to make it which could well be this morning as we are due to go over to Shiona while Mike is out at his day centre.  So it is either now or when we get back and I don't think I will fancy a big cook up when I get back so I had better get it underway this morning.  I also bought some really lovely goats milk taleggio cheese which was really on the move and so got demolished last night along with some lovely crusty bread and beautiful pickled balsamic onions.  On the return journey we stopped of at Sandys house and picked up some frozen partridges and hen pheasant so at least she has a bit more room in her freezer.  Sandy was out but she had left the birds where I could find them and they were hopefully out of the foxes reach. They are now happily tucked in my freezer, though we will eat most of them I will keep a couple for training purposes with Dante once he has mastered the basics.  Elaine also had to pick up a rug for one of her horses so all in all we had a most successful run.  

This morning James has an appointment at 9am after which we will head over to Shiona's house. Tubby is in disgrace as during a moments boredom he decided the dog towel would look better in shredded form.  17 kilos of muscle can turn a bath towel into confetti in moments.  Fortunately we are not short of towels and a replacement was soon found and at least it saved me the job of washing it as it went straight into the bin.  I dare say we will be in for a few more losses once the new boy arrives.  Basso only did one bad thing as a pup he ate a mobile phone!!!! Oh the joys of a puppy!!!! It is a bit like having a two year old on the loose.

Well that is my plan for the day now I am off into the kitchen to chop onions and get my curry sauce underway.  I will feel happier once that is done and I can concentrate on getting myself showered and ready.  Have a good day all tomorrow is Friday last day of another week and I am off to the hairdresser as I currently look like an ungroomed old English sheepdog.

Diane doesn't look her best!!!!!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wednesday morning

Good morning all sorry about yesterday but I over slept in a major way in fact I was still asleep when Denny arrived at 8 am.  I had had a couple of rough nights and so when I woke at 3 am I took a sleeping tablet which knocked me out until 8am.  Then of course it was too late to sit and ruminate I had to get going in sharp order.  First let me tell you about my leg of lamb which I cooked in the conventional oven but on the oven bars rather than in a tin.  The tin was full of boulangere potatoes which were positioned directly below the leg of lamb so that all the juices dripped onto the potatoes.  I reduced an entire bottle of red wine to make a nice red wine gravy to go with the meat and potatoes and though the original dish calls for onions I had leeks lurking around so substituted them instead. Anyway total success a really lovely meal.  There was tons of meat left so yesterday morning I converted it into a huge shepherds pie.  There is enough for 4-6 people so it is now in the freezer waiting for an occasion when I have visitors.  I think I may be inundated with visitors coming to see the new puppy.  

The weather yesterday was a bit of everything with the exception of wind we had everything else, rain sun cloud fog you name it we had it.  I finally got Nip along to the vet to have his nails cut. I have given up doing it my self since he took exception to it and now he has a muzzle on and pretends to be as good as gold.  

Today I am off with Elaine to Faversham to buy coffee and pick up some frozen birds from Sandy's house. I will also need to purchase something for lunch as there is nothing readily available except eggs.  So we could end up with omelette or scrambled.  Anyway we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Well that is the plan of campaign for today time for me to make myself look respectable.  Have a good day all and once again apologies for my absence yesterday.