Friday, 22 August 2014

Friday Morning

We are at the end of another week, they really seem to be flashing by at a rate of knots.  However I seem to be stuck in a rut just keeping everything going.  Each day seems like deja vu a carbon copy of the previous day with minor alterations.  Yesterday I spent most of the morning in the kitchen dealing with a glut of courgettes.  One which was well on its way to being a marrow I chopped deseeded and saute with butter and pepper.  The smallest I sliced and cooked trifolati with garlic, oil and parsley and those in between were grated and made in to loads of pancakes.  I had thought that I would have pancakes to freeze but they were so popular that they have all been eaten.  I had defrosted a couple of ox cheeks which along with a can of Mackeson have made a lovely stew in the slow cooker.  

I am glad to say that Tubby has recovered very well and is bouncing around as if nothing has happened.  It never ceases to amaze me how well animals cope with surgery and what wimps we are by comparison.  Only hours after his operation he found the stairs a bit of a challenge and took them slowly but by yesterday he was racing up and down them at the usual 200 mph.

Today I am off to Faversham to do a bit of shopping and restock my coffee supplies, but best of all, I am meeting Sandy there for breakfast.  This is a really civilised way to do shopping no rushing up and down crowded aisles full of screaming children and people who need to sit a driving test before being let loose with a trolley.  Just a gentle potter around and then a really nice breakfast.  It makes a lovely change and the stuff available is all the sorts of things which are not available in the supermarkets.  The cheese counter is vast and you get to taste any cheese you fancy before you buy it.  The vegetable section has loads of different kinds of potatoes, all sorts of onions not just red or brown.  Trays of wild mushrooms, fruit from the local area as well as peaches which have had a chance to ripen in the sun.  Lemons from the amalfi coast and every herb you could wish for and an entire wall of artisan bread baked on the premises.  It is a real foodie paradise and of course the food in the restaurant is all from their own stock so it is of the very best quality.  I suppose it is a bit like Borough market but without the train journey and massive crowds.  The only fly in the ointment is that it is threequarters of an hours drive away, however, that is a very small price to pay for such luxury.

Time is marching on and the dogs are milling around my feet asking if the catering department is open yet so I had better get their breakfast underway.  Until tomorrow have a great day all........ 

Anyone for chillies?

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Thursday Morning

Yesterday was a traumatic day with Tubby at the vet all day.  I'm pleased to say he has survived his operation but apparently he howled the place down all day.  This is no big surprise as he has never been parted from James or myself so he was very delighted to be returned home.  I had saved him some of the meat from my donner kebab that we had at lunch time and though he was still a bit sleepy he ate it with gusto.  This morning he is running around as if nothing had happened but he is on gently exercise for a few days and his stitches are due out in 10 days time.  Sadly this will be our last visit to our vet as he is finally retiring and the practice is closing.  This is devastating news as he has been my vet for as long as I can remember and I have more faith in him than our doctors practice.  He is now 75 and his wife has alzheimer's in a major way so I guess he has every right to have a few work free years but I for one will miss him terribly.  He has a great reputation among the animal owners and has always kept his prices very reasonable.  Now we will have to have a trawl around for a new veterinary practice. 

I was a bit like a damp dishcloth yesterday as I was very tired and had had very little sleep so after Tubby's return and a quick cheese sandwich I was off to bed and passed out by about 9pm.  I managed to do a couple of loads of washing and get them dry so today I have a massive pile of ironing to keep me out of mischief.  The weather is bright and sunny but the temperatures are well down and it is very chilly.  I have loads to do in the garden but my gardener is on holiday until the end of the month so I will have to wait as I will need his help.  I have rather jumped the gun with the gardenia as I don't have a place for it yet so I think it may have to spend its first winter in a container before I can establish it in the garden proper.  

My coffee supplies are low so I think I may have to take a run out to Faversham and get some more but I will ring Sandy first incase she fancies a coffee and a cake while I do my shopping.  I have loads of courgettes which I am going to make into pancakes as they freeze very well and are always handy to have available for a quick lunch or supper.  I still haven't got around to making my chiffon cake but who knows today might be the day.  Shiona is off back up to Scotland to visit her mother so I will not be seeing her for a couple of weeks.  

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wenesday morning

Yesterday was a chilly day with big black clouds often appearing so the washing is still in the machine.  As it happened it didn't rain but it sure looked as if it was imminent.  Today I will take the risk and get the washing on the line and hope for the best.   

This morning we have to be at the vet by 8.30 as Tubby is going in for a small operation and will be coming home this evening short of some of his crown jewels.  I think the timing is just right as he has been showing signs of the raging hormones of adolescence.  Given the numbers of dogs being destroyed it seems very unfair to bring anymore into the world.  It is also unfair on Tubby who will not get the opportunity to use the equipment anyway.  Basso is intact but that was only because I had visions of breeding from him and showing him but now that that is no longer on the agenda he has passed the point of maximum benefit and he is a very docile dog.  Having said that he and Tubby had their first real fight yesterday over ownership of a toy and Basso ended up throwing Tubby in the pond.  60 kilo of dog in full attack mode is a pretty scary sight.  Since the fight [no blood drawn] Tubby has treated Basso with considerably more respect.  It is always the quiet ones you need to watch out for because when the blow they really blow.

Yesterday evening I went out to dinner with Sandy to a lobster and crab night at a hotel in Faversham which was rather nice and we each got half a lobster and whole dressed crab along with a multitude of salads and different flavoured mayonnaise.  However while the food was fine Sandy was very down in the dumps having just been firmly stabbed in the back by a person she considered a friend.  Betrayal is always a very painful thing.  Details are not important but her hopes for the new hunting season have been dashed.  Her current picking up dog is having trouble with his elbows so she doesn't want to work him too hard and was hopeful of another dog ready for this year.  Anyway she is still at the sad stage but is beginning to get angry which is the first stage in the healing process.  

Today I have Shiona coming over to visit and as yet I have nothing planned for lunch so maybe she can give me some inspiration.  However first and foremost I need to get the bins out for the bin men and get my washing on the line as the sky looks clear and there is a little breeze blowing.  If the weather follows the usual format it will be raining by lunch time.

Until tomorrow folks have a good day.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Tuesday Morning

As you can see my orchids are doing well though they are coming to the end of their second flowering.  I have no idea when or how they flower I just wait and hope and eventually something happens.

Yesterday was as expected rather chilly and very wet in the afternoon so it was just as well that I got everything done in the morning.  The leftover cabbage and potatoes got fried off with an onion and with it I did another dish from the Mary Berry book.  Really easy and very tasty.  Take a chicken thigh and remove the bone from the centre and replace it with a chipolata sausage then wrap in a rasher of bacon and cook.  It takes longer than you think as the heat has to penetrate through the meat of the chicken and then through the sausage. Definitely not rocket science but very tasty and easy to do in the halogen oven.  

Today my mind is blank and I have nothing in mind for food so it may well be a pasty from the baker and a takeaway for supper for the men as I am out with Sandy this evening.  The weather forecast is for another day of rain and the temperatures are well down.  Let's hope September is a bit better as I have a holiday booked for the second week.  Mind you I don't go for the weather just the rest and change of scenery however dry weather does make caravaning with dogs easier.  The site I use has sand instead of soil so it never gets muddy even in the terrible weather.  Once dry sand is easily removed.  I once saw a man take his dogs out in a downpour and he had on shots a kagool and flip flops.  My first thoughts were that he was crazy but when I thought about it I realised it is much easier to dry legs than jeans in caravan.  The caravan shower cubicle has lots of hooks for hanging wet coats where they can safely drip dry away from the soft furnishings and carpets.  Wet dogs get banished to the car until they are dry or they get a going over with the hair dryer.

At the moment the sun is shining and the sky is blue so I am going to get a load of whites on while the going is good.  Have a great day all........

Monday, 18 August 2014

Monday morning

Yesterday was as expected a windy and showery day.  The temperatures are quite low and this morning we are down to 12ºC [53ºF for our american friends] which for August is pretty cold and autumnal.  James took the dogs for a walk quite early and missed the first of the showers while I got on with the roast pork lunch.  It was a small joint, essentially 3 chops worth, so the timing was quite difficult.  I always find it easier to roast a big piece of meat, anyway with the use of my handy meat thermometer I managed to get it just right.  In order to get the crackling under way early I put the meat into the oven at 300ºC which is as hot as it will go and then immediately turned it to 180ºC for the remainder of the cooking.  This seemed to work well and the crackling was perfect.  By the time lunch was done the weather was foul so it was a case of watching rubbish on the TV as there was little else to be done.  James had volunteered to do supper and we had a plate of pasta with pesto alla genovese for supper. The pesto was home made and frozen and I had toasted off a few extra pine nuts to add to the mix.  Today I have left over potatoes and cabbage but no meat so I can see a bubble and squeak being on the menu with perhaps some sausages to accompany it.

I have woken the entire household this morning by sitting on the edge of the bath which I had forgotten was switched on.  It is a jacuzzi type bath with both air and water jets - being empty the sound of the motor switching on was akin to starting up jet aircraft.  We don't often use it in its jacuzzi mode but it is wonderful if your body is suffering from over exertion.  We have very low water pressure so the bath takes a week to fill and I have usually lost all interest by the time it is ready so the shower is the most used bathing facility.  

After reading lots of people cost cutting measures I read about substitutes for shampoo and decided to give one a go and washed my hair with bicarbonate of soda and some conditioner.  Well I am pleased to report that my hair is lovely soft and shiny so this may be a new way to wash my hair.  I must admit that it is nothing to do with economy just something different to try.  I use bicarbonate for quite a few cleaning jobs around the house and find it very useful and a cheap alternative to some of the commercial cleaners.  A teaspoonful down the drain hole in the sink with a little vinegar to follow results is lots of froth and a very sweet smelling sink and touch wood I have never had a blocked sink problem.

James has an early shift at Oxfam so the dog walk will fall to me and given the weather I think the sooner I get out with them the better.  According to the weather forecast we are in for a week of showery cold weather.  I must admit I prefer this to the killing hot weather it is always so much easier to get warm than to cool down.  If the weather is grotty I may even make the chiffon cake and see how it turns out now that I have the correct tin.  There are still some raspberries to pick but all the rain and wind has rather spoiled them.  

Time to get underway - have a good day all........

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sunday morning

If you didn't know already that I am crazy this should leave you in no doubt 

A big cake for a little dog but he did share it with his friends.  It does make me laugh as Chappie is one of the cheapest dog foods on the market but to the dogs it is beluga caviar, there is no accounting for taste.  

I had a mad rush around yesterday morning and visited both the fishmonger and butcher before the dreaded Tesco.  Once all the shopping was done and put away the weather had improved so it was out with the dogs for a nice run.  For lunch we had a piece of salmon which I poached and then served with cucumber and dill salad and mayonnaise.  Needless to say there were eager four footed friends who were anticipating the salmon skin.  Supper was just as fishy we had a small dressed crab each and a big chopped salad and some tiny salad potatoes.  

Today will require a bit more effort as I have a nice piece of loin of pork for lunch which I will serve with buttered cabbage more of the tiny potatoes and if I get it right some really good crackling.  Some times if the crackling is not being cooperative I remove the skin and return it to the oven while the meat rests and I get on with the gravy and vegetables.  

The weather this morning looks very autumnal with strong winds and thick cloud it is much more like October than August.  In fact it is so chilly that my central heating kicked in - it is on thermostat so it keeps the house at a constant temperature.  This is better for Mike's chest as swings in temperature tend to set his chest off.

My gardenia plant arrived in the post and I am now into 14 days of hardening off before I dare put it outside permanently.  Once the outside temperature gets up a bit I put it outside and then bring it indoors overnight when the temperature drops dramatically.

As yet I don't have a permanent position ready for it so in the mean time it will have to go into a big pot on the patio.  I know this is a bit risky as things in pots freeze more easily but if I line the pot with bubble plastic or polystyrene I hope to avoid freezing the roots during the winter.  Alternatively I may consign it to the greenhouse when the temperature really drops as that will keep it 5ºC warmer.  It has to be below -5ºC before there is any risk of freezing.

Well that is my agenda for today nothing very exciting just the usual but hopefully a restful day. The weather forecast looks interesting!!!!!!

Weather for Gillingham, England
19° 10°
19° 11°
17° 10°
19° 11°

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Saturday morning

First things first today is Tubby's first birthday so a Chappie cake will be on the menu for supper. Our lovely neighbours who are renting next door are moving out and the house will be on the market as our old neighbours have decided to move permanently to New Zealand.  My fingers are crossed that we get nice people moving in.

Now a quick comment for Anne I did the tomatoes as per the recipe but omitted the sugar as I am not a sweet toothed person and it worked fine.  Can I recommend using the said tomatoes to fill baked potatoes.

This is the pasta and spinach with three cheeses from the recipe book as you can see there is a liberal sprinkling of cheddar cheese on the top which when cooked became crusty and brown.  It didn't dawn on me until I was eating it that this would make a very nice dish for vegetarians provided they were not too concerned and require rennet free cheese etc.  But it would suit the type who just don't eat meat.  I also used chicken stock but that is easily changed to vegetable if needed.  I also didn't have mascarpone cheese so I substituted a small piece of feta that was lurking in the back of the fridge and mixed it with a healthy dollop of double cream.  Anyway the most important thing is that it was really lovely and we all tucked in with gusto.  I had made it at the crack of dawn and then just popped it in a 200 oven for 25 minutes when required.  The interesting variation was the tomato sauce which entailed frying off some onion and garlic until soft then to that was added some flour and stock to form a fairly thick sauce before adding the tin of tomatoes.  This resulted in a fairly thick sauce which clung well to the pasta.

Well you already know that I am a bit crazy so I made some biscuits for the dogs they may look very bland but they have a tin of sardines in oil with wholemeal flour and an egg so all good things but they do smell rather odd.  

So what is on todays menu?  Well I fancy cold poached salmon with mayonnaise and a cucumber and dill salad.  The only problem is all I have towards this lunch is the cucumber so a trip to the shops will be my first port of call.   I love dill as a herb but have never had any success growing it so I always have to buy it.  It may be a good idea while I am at it to make some gravadlax which takes a few days in the fridge and will make a nice midweek supper dish with a big green salad.

Well that about it for today I have a late start as I was up at 3am but decided to go back to sleep and I managed from 5 till 7 so that is better than a kick in the head all I now hope is that I don't end up with a killer headache.

Until tomorrow have a good day all....................

Friday, 15 August 2014

Friday morning

Yesterday was a bright and sunny day punctuated by heavy downpours so timing was everything if you were to stay dry.  James went off to work at Oxfam and I organised to walk the dogs, now I hope you are sitting down, Mike asked to come with me.  The place where we usually take the dogs is well organised with benches so he walked as far as the first bench which is probably equivalent to walking both up and down our garden in distance.  There I deposited him while I continued on with the dogs and picked him up on the return journey.  While we were out my oven was making some semi-dried tomatoes the recipe for which came via Email from the British Larder and as I had all the necessary ingredients and a punnet of cherry tomatoes I went ahead and made them with nothing particular in mind.  When we got home there was the parcel from Lakeland with the Mary Berry book and in it was a recipe for baked potatoes stuffed with semi-dried tomatoes and pesto all of which I now had so they went on the supper menu along with some chipolata sausages. 

The book is full of useful family style dishes and Mary's useful tips letting you get ahead and also freezing instructions.  There are no earth shattering gourmet recipes requiring ingredients almost impossible to obtain.  However, there are useful twists and additions to homely cooking and best of all some ideas.  Today I am going to do a three cheese pasta bake which includes spinach and as I have all the ingredients to hand it will be a nice easy meal.

I now have the chiffon cake tin but have rather lost the enthusiasm to make the cake but I'm sure that will return soon and this time I will have the tin available.  I have seen a rather nice chocolate recipe on one of the blogs I follow so I may give that a go over the weekend.  

Today the weather is cool and looks rather like rain so I think we are in for another day of showers but I must admit I would rather walk in the rain than in the heat and it does wonders for your hair.  

You may have noticed that I am posting rather later than usual this is because I am managing to sleep a bit longer these days and if I wake at 3am I just try to go back to sleep immediately and sometimes I succeed and grab a few more hours.  

I have been rather remiss this week and my orchids have missed their usual soak on wednesday so I must get them into some water today.  I usually leave them for at least an hour to really absorb all the water they can.  The system seems to work so I am sticking to it.  I made a big mistake a couple of weeks ago and put them outside to get lots of rain water but then the sun came out very strongly and they really didn't like that at all.  So today they will spend their hour submerged in the sink.  The cuttings I took and planted up I gave to Shiona to have a go with.  Talking of cuttings I want to take some of the fantastic fuchsia "firecracker" which is supposed to be hardy but I am dubious so as an insurance policy I thought I would take cuttings.  However first of all I will need to get some potting compost as I am clean out.  Well that is my plan for the day, the first sitting for breakfast have arrived all of whom have 4 legs so I will get on and get them fed.  Then I can get on with the human food for the day.  

Have a good one and dodge the showers if they are in your area.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Thursday morning

Yesterday was a glorious day weather wise the sun shone and temperature was just right.  Shiona rang early to say she was coming over so I hung back on the dog walk.  After coffee and pleasantries we piled all 5 dogs in the car and off we went.  By the time we reached the paddling water there were another group of dogs also playing.  One of the owners approached me and asked if I was Diane.  I confirmed this but was looking very perplexed as I had no recognition of the person asking me.  It transpired that she is my old next door neighbours {the ones that have gone to New Zealand} sister in law and she recognised Basso from encounters in the back garden.  We stood and chatted for quite a while and in the mean time the 9 dogs had a wonderful time splashing each other.  Tubby found a puppy of his own age and the two of them did lots of sparring and rough and tumble so this meant we brought home 5 exhausted and thoroughly wet dogs.  As it happened this was to our advantage as they all went and collapsed in the sun to dry off and left us free to cook the lunch.

Lunch was nice and easy we each had a sirloin steak, just frightened by the griddle pan, with a big pile of buttered runner beans and some of the duchess potatoes that were in the freezer. So 10 minutes saw a meal on the table.  

Shiona and I spent some time discussing a friend of hers whose life had turned to chaos and she is a basket case mentally.  It is the sort of story that if you read it in a Mills and Boon book you would consider it unbelievable.  But a friend in need is a friend you would like to help and given that she has no family there is no one else who can help.  Sadly it is not always easy to differentiate between helping and interfering anyway fingers crossed things pan out well.

Today I am hopeful that my cake tin will arrive in time for me to make the cake for supper.  In the mean time I will be playing with some borlotti beans and making a nice soup for lunch.  James has another early shift so he will not be home until 2pm but soup is easily warmed up.  Today looks like it could be a damp day with lots of cloud overhead. 

Anyway enough burbling time to get on and get this show on the road have a good day all 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Wednesday morning

The days are definitely getting shorter now.  I got up at 5am and it was pitch dark with a huge moon in the sky and only now is the sun starting to creep over the horizon.  

As soon as Dennie arrived yesterday morning James and I took the dogs out for their walk.  This is a double whammy as it gives Dennie some time to work without the dogs milling around and makes us take them out good and early.  We took them to the estuary and though the tide was out there was plenty of water, from the storms, in the paddling pools so they had a whale of a time.  The water was deep enough to reach Tubby's chest but only came half way up Basso's legs.  While we were there we met a pair of young Great Danes who were really pleased to play in the water with some friends.  On the way home we swung past Aldi and dived in and got a couple more packets of the prawns which are safely tucked in the freezer.  Once back home the dogs were happy to collapse and snooze and dry off in the sun.  It was a largely dry day with one big shower in the afternoon but as luck would have it I saw the black clouds approaching and just got my laundry in in time.

I made the cottage pie for lunch and I was hoping that my veg box would arrive in time but sadly they have a new delivery person who doesn't get to us until very late in the afternoon.  So the runner beans will have to be part of todays menu though as yet I am not quite sure how they will fit in or with what.  I also have some borlotti beans which will end up in a soup with some pasta.  I have a few in the garden so I think I will pick them and add them to this lot as I don't think there are enough for a meal on their own.  I feel that I have really neglected the garden this season but I have had my hands full with my damaged men and I am not getting any younger.  I must admit that the weather now feels quite autumnal.  My seeds for next season have arrived so I am planning what to grow and in the spring I will get myself some more hens so I should be up and running a bit better next season.  I still have a couple of projects to get done before we shut down for the winter.  As yet I haven't managed to get a tree surgeon to look at my Rubinia.  The one I contacted didn't bother to reply so I will try another.  It would be handy to have the work done by the autumn and so reduce some of the leaf litter. I would also like a couple of panels of trellis put up so I can grow the new clematis up it and as it is winter flowering that needs doing sooner rather than later.

Time to get the bins out and make some decisions on the food front I have some nice sirloin steaks in the freezer which would go well with the runner beans and some of the frozen duchess potatoes.