Saturday, 28 March 2015

Saturday Morning

Good morning all, the sun is up and for once I am not typing in the pitch dark.  The sky looks overcast and dull but it is dry at the moment.  Yesterday was the day of leftovers as we motored out way through the left over risotto which had been made into suppli al telefono.  Normally I make this with plain risotto but this one was with seafood but it worked just as well the centre of each ball of rice was filled with mozzarella cheese and then put through the egg and breadcrumb process before frying.  There were still left over meat balls and skordalia and the butterbean dish so out of this lot we managed a lunch and a supper.  I am now completely cleared out of leftovers but nothing ended up in the bin so I am happy.  

The post brought me a nice £200 cheque from British Gas who pay me for my solar panels, given that this is winter quarter that is not bad at all.  Mike asked if he could have trip out so I took him with me to the bank and then on to a dog walk.  James was busy sorting out a friend who had car problems and needed lifts to and from the garage.  While I was walking the dogs Mike stayed in the car but he could see us as we were going round the rugby field and it is the first time he has seen Dante really running.  There was another dog walker who looked a little worried as both dogs approached him at high speed so I blew my whistle and both dogs turned on a sixpence and headed back to me which left the other dog walker with his mouth hanging open.  The hours of training certainly pay off and it is pleasing to see others reaction to instant obedience.  I can't tell you the number of times I see owners yelling at their dogs who pay absolutely no attention and just carry on doing their own thing. I am glad that we have taken the time to get the basics right.  

When I went up to check on the hens they had managed to empty their water container and the food container was very low so I think the large dispensers will only last a few days before they will need refilling.  James has offered to come over at regular intervals to make sure that they are kept fed and watered.  This going to be a real pain in the neck while I am in Scotland but there is not an easy answer unless I can get Mike to walk as far as the end of the garden and make sure they have the necessary items.  Next week they will be 17 weeks old and should start laying around 19/20 weeks which will coincide with the Scottish trip I couldn't have timed this worse if I had tried.  If only I had know the day before I got the hens rather than the day after.

Today is the day of Shiona's birthday party which will be in the village hall in Goudhurst so James and I will be heading over there this evening.  Fortunately neither of us drink so driving will not be a problem.  Her idea of using the pizza van to supply the catering is a really good one and takes a major load off her shoulders.  The French trip saw all the booze bought so with any luck there should be little or no clearing up to do after the event.  I believe she has booked a live band so it should be good fun.  Now all I have to do is find something to wear which is no easy matter as my wardrobe is filled with dog walking clothes rather than going out clothes.  Hopefully I can find something which is not too scruffy!!!

Anyway in the mean time I need to organise something for lunch and then something for Mike to have for supper.  My freezer is at an all time low as I am making room for lots of microwave meals which take up a lot of room.  I think I have the makings of a corned beef hash for lunch and perhaps some scrambled eggs on toast for Mikes supper.  

Joy you mentioned "approved foods" well I put in an order of tins and packets that I use and as I am fortunate in having the garage to store dry goods this should not be a problem.  After all you can't have too many jars of olives or capers and tea bags and toilet rolls come to no harm in a cupboard. They have a lot of stuff that I would not give house room to but there are a few things which are useful to have in the store cupboard.

Well on that happy note I am off to make a start on the day with a batch of ironing Oh happy days!!!!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Friday morning

Good morning all what a dreadful day yesterday was it was cold wet and windy and really miserable. We did get the odd glimmer of sun in the afternoon by which time we were all past caring and had given up on the day.  For lunch I made the seafood risotto but rather over did the rice so I have a pile left over.  For supper we had some of the left over meat balls which had not made it to the freezer, at least the men did, I didn't feel hungry so just had a cup of tea.  The left over risotto will be made into arancini or maybe suppli al telefono both of which are made with left over risotto.  As the Italians were a very poor people there are always recipes to deal with left overs.

I had a bit of a rotten day yesterday with a backache which came from nowhere and for no apparent reason.  Very frustrating, I wouldn't mind if I had been digging holes in the garden I would expect to suffer for my efforts but to suffer for no reason somehow is worse.  Anyway, this morning I have woken with absolutely no pain the backache has vanished as quickly as it arrived.  Strange!!!

According to the weather forecast today we are due for part cloud but it should be dry.

I set Mike up with a nice job yesterday which was to process a load of news papers through the shredder to make chicken bedding.  I now have two black sacks full of shredded paper which aught to keep us going for a while.  Today I will investigate how good the cover  on the hen run is as this is crucial.  If the food gets wet it blocks up the delivery system so it is quite important when I am intending to leave them unattended for a while.  Talking of food delivery, I also ordered loads of ready meals to put in the freezer for Mike while I am away.  That should confuse Tesco's computer as I never buy such things.  I have also laid in a load of sweet things as he has a sweet tooth and is quite happy to live on biscuits and cakes.  The delivery is coming next Wednesday so I have until then to clear space in the freezer for all the boxes.  This should galvanise me into having a bit of a tidy up as well.  

James returned from the dentist only to inform us that he needs some root canal work which will be done while I am away in Scotland so he will have to drive over on that day.  All a bit of a nuisance but needs must when the devil drives tooth ache is a miserable thing.  

Joy I had a go at your salad dressing which includes peanut butter - most unusual and very tasty.  It is always nice to have something different.  I bet tahini would work well too.  And on that happy note I am off to sort out the kitchen and make a start on clearing up the leftovers.  

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Thursday monring

Good morning all, it is another perishingly cold morning I can't wait for the temperatures to start rising a bit.  Yesterday was the usual sort of a day the forms have at last been posted so that is one job finally accomplished.  I have started an experiment with the large food and water containers for the hens so we can judge roughly how long they last before needing refilling.  I also spent a while in the kitchen making a big batch of meat balls some of which we had for lunch with some pasta and some tomato sauce.  I also had some soaked butter beans which have now been cooked with what I can only describe as a bolognese like sauce with the beans playing the part of the meat.  I then saw on one of the blogs I read a recipe for skordalia which I also made to accompany some fish fingers and some of the butter beans for supper.  Very nice it was too and this morning the remaining meat balls and beans will go into the freezer for some other time. Today on the lunch menu I am going to make a sea food risotto with a green salad to accompany it.  Then supper may be a bit of a mixed bag James has a dental appointment so I have taken some soup out of the freezer in case he comes home with a frozen face.  I think Mike and I will probably have some cheese on toast for our supper.  

The weather was a bit hit and miss but we got the dogs out for their walk in a dry patch and though it was cold it was not unpleasant.  We took them to the rugby field where, with the aid of tennis ball, we rapidly exhausted the pair of them.  As yet Dan can't outrun Tubby so he has to have a few retrieves of his own so he doesn't get disheartened.  The new food regimen seems to suit both of them and they are at last on the same food if different quantities.  Dan has not yet given up hope of having lunch and everyday he tries to remind us that he too would like a midday meal.  He must think we are incredibly stupid as he points to his bowl and then to whatever food is being served and back to the bowl again.  Sadly no matter how hard he tries we seem to be too thick to understand.  I'm sure he has a very low opinion of our intelligence.  

According to the weather forecast we are in for a wet day so judging when to walk the dogs will be a challenge.  In fact I have just made my second cup of coffee and the rain is falling fast let's hope the old adage 'rain before 7 dry by 11', holds true.  I think I might take a trip to the butcher and lay in a nice leg of lamb for Easter.  I might even go mad and make a cake. I like simnel cake but James hates marzipan so that is out of the question.  I might just make a Dundee cake instead or even just a plain fruit cake.  We so seldom have cake it is quite a treat for us.  I haven't mentioned the nurti-bullet but I am using it a lot to make a fruit drink for breakfast.  Yesterday I was out of fruit with the exception of some blueberries so I opened a tin of sliced peaches - rinsed off the syrup and added them.  I have never used tinned fruit before but it worked just fine.  This morning will be a tin of grapefruit segments and the last of the blueberries.  I think it might be very sharp so a hand full of sultanas should put that right.

Well thats about it for this morning the sun is up and the weather outside is foul the dogs are milling around asking if it is breakfast time so I guess I had better get going.  Have a good day all and I hope your weather is better than ours.....

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Wednesday Morning

Good morning all, yesterday was a miserable day here with rain and an overcast sky.  Today we are forecast some sun but the temperature at the moment is only 3 degrees so it is pretty cold.  Denny arrived early and she looked very unwell but despite my pleadings she insisted on carrying on so James and I pitched in and did the upstairs which cut the work in half.   From us she was going straight to the doctors and I expect she will have been put on antibiotics as she very obviously had bronchitis.  We usually take the dogs out while she is here just to make life a bit easier for her but yesterday she need our help in the house so I didn't manage to get as far as the post office and that has been put on todays agenda.  Lunch was a strange mixture as I am trying to clear up the freezer and make room for lots of ready meals for Mike.  We ended up with lamb cutlets, swede and carrot mash, spiced red cabbage and quinoa - quite a combination but not unpleasant.  Supper was also odd with some deep fried goats cheese served with a tomato and onion salsa and a slice of toast.  

Today I have some mince which I intend to make into meatballs and now that my vegetable box has arrived I have plenty to choose from.  The hens seem to be progressing well and are eating everything I give them including the doorstop loaf which I soaked in water first to render it edible.  I think my mistake was to use only the wholemeal flour next time I will make it 50/50 with ordinary white flour in the hope that it will rise.  I had followed the recipe on the packet which called for double the amount of yeast I usually use but even that was not enough.  The loaf resembled pumpernickel but with a crust you need power tools to get through.  I must admit I feel much better now that my mistakes have the hens to go to rather than the bin.  My house declutter, which is desperately needed, has started in a minor way.  I went through my underwear and threw out lots of bits which were once white and are now various shades of grey.  It is a small beginning but you have to start somewhere.  It is the sheds which really scare me and they will be left until the summer.  I foresee many trips to the tip and the charity shops not to mention a bit of gumtree sale of the better items.  Once the declutter is done I can get down to the spring cleaning.  I am hoping that helping Shiona dismantle a house will put me in the right frame of mind to do my own.  

Well that about it for this morning life is chugging along in a mundane sort of way as we wait patiently for the spring and summer to arrive.  The garden looks a bit of mess as the under gardener Dante is showing his inexperience by pruning the wrong plants and digging holes where they are not needed.  The one good thing about gardening is that it is very forgiving and each year you get another chance to make good.


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Tuesday morning

Good morning all, well the forms have at last been filled in so today it is a case of a trip to the post office to send them on their merry way.  As they go to the office of the public guardian it will be some time before I hear anything.

Dante and Tubby had a trip to the vet yesterday but only as far as the scales.  We needed an accurate  as we are changing their food and the amount fed is weight dependant.  Tubby is now 16 kg and Dan is 28 kg.  The food states 100g per 8 kg divided between two meals.  Fortunately my arithmetic is good enough to make the calculations LOL.

The ostrich stakes although small were very tasty.  They are an Aldi special and have been marinaded so all they need is frightening with the griddle pan.  The last of the garden pie made an adequate side dish along with some courgette spaghetti.  Supper was a pasta bolognese and a large mixed salad. Today on the menu we have some lamb cutlets and I think peas in th French style cooked with bacon and lettuce.

I had a pretty ropy night so I am typing this on my iPad then hope to get my head down for another hour or two before the wonderful Denny arrives.  Have a good day all and lets hope we start to get some warmer weather soon.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Monday morning

Good morning all, it is another perishingly cold day with the temperature down to 2 degrees. Yesterday was very cold in the wind which was freezing.  When we took the dogs for their walk we had half the walk in the shelter of the hedges but the return was in the full force of the wind which was really cold.  Before you ask the forms are still unfilled and sitting on the side, maybe today :). The ironing got done and all the other chores but some how I forgot the forms LOL.  

Now on to the garden pie it was very nice if a bit spicy but for a carnivore like me it lacked a depth of flavour that meat gives things.  I kept thinking how good this would be with a pound of mince added. If I do the same recipe again I would increase the herbs and other flavouring ingredients to give it a bit more welly.  It was perfectly OK and I am sure those who are not meat eaters would find it quite acceptable.  It was, however, a very good way of using up excess vegetables.  Interestingly the bread never did rise but I cooked it anyway in hope but as it turns out I have made and excellent door stop. Normally I would be upset at wasting the ingredients but now with the hens to clear up my disasters it is not a problem I am sure they will think it fine once I have soaked it in some water to loosen it up a bit as currently it is a lethal weapon.  I cook for everyone else so why not the hens!!!!  Dan tried very hard to persuade me it was for him.  First he pointed at his bowl then at the bread then looked at me to see if I had understood, but being a thick human I didn't, so he kept repeating the process hoping each time that I would get the message.  Eventually after 20 minutes he gave up trying to teach me what to do. I am obviously either too stupid or just plain untrainable.  Fortunately, desperate as he was he made no attempt to steal the bread and settled for cleaning the dish from the garden pie.

Today the menu is back to meat with some ostrich steaks for lunch - who went to Aldi yesterday? - all I needed was bread and milk but somehow I came out with a trolley load.  I am seriously untrustworthy in food shops without a list and a supervisor especially when I am hungry.  My veg box is due tomorrow so that will be restocked in the mean time I have salad ingredients and some courgettes to tide us over for today.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sunday morning

Good morning all, it is another cold winter day nothing like the warm spring weather we had a week ago.  I managed to get most of my chores done yesterday with the exception of the dratted forms. The laundry has all had to go through the tumble dryer as we had intermittent showers and it was too risky to dry outside.  I have a new brake light which kwik fit fitted but even that was a bit of a pain I took the car up to the garage at about 10am but the bulb hadn't arrived so I left the car with them and walked home only to be summoned half an hour later to walk back up and collect it but at least the job is done.  I put on a loaf yesterday with some very heavy wholemeal flour which has added stuff like a granary mix however it seems totally unwilling to rise so I have left it overnight in the hope it might make some progress but nothing much has happened.  It looks like it is going to be a disaster but I am not worried if it turns out badly I am sure the hens won't mind.  

The fish pie for lunch was lovely and I made an effort not to break up the fish too much so there were large chunks of salmon, cod and natural smoked haddock.  I had made masses of topping as I needed some for the garden pie as well.  In an effort to reduce the amount of carbs I cut the mash with swede and cauliflower which were largely imperceptible.  Now as for the garden pie there was enough to make one large enough for four people and one for three.  I followed the recipe with all the added ingredients like a glass of marsala, soy and worcester sauce and a teaspoon of chili flakes.  Now here is the rub the recipe called for a tsp of chili flakes and although I had double the amount of vegetables I still added just the one.  This was fortunate as the chili flakes are homemade and pack a real punch. The resulting mix tasted very good if a bit on the spicy side, hopefully with the topping that will ease the spiciness a bit.  Anyway it is on the lunch menu for today and only then will I be able to give a full report.

I don't know if any of you watched the program on the BBC about the truth about sugar.  I must admit I was not unaware of the sugar that is added to processed food but I was shocked at just how much is added especially to savory dishes.  Fortunately I cook most of our food from scratch and we don't have desserts unless it is a special occasion.  They did an interesting experiment with netball teams one of whom was given a sugary drink prior to the game they were then given a buffet meal to follow the match and when the results were weighed the team who had the sugary drink actually ate significantly more than those who had the sugar free drink.  So, not only does the sugar make you fat but it makes you eat more!!! double whammy.  Many years ago we met a couple on a campsite in Italy who were fanatical about sugar and I am sorry to say I thought they were slightly nutty but it turns out they were spot on.

Having done most of my chores yesterday I now have a mountain of ironing but as lunch just needs warming up and browning I don't have much of an excuse to avoid the wretched forms.  They are set out with millions of little boxes to write in which makes it very tedious.  Anyway enough moaning I will just have to knuckle under and get on with it.  Well I guess that about it for today time to get the show on the road, have a good day all.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Saturday morning

Good morning all.  Well the car is back from the garage and I am a grand poorer but I have a completely new braking system so I am not unhappy at least all is safe now.  This is very important as the long journey to Scotland is coming up and the last thing I need is a brake failure.  I do have to stop by the garage today as the brake light has not been replaced as they didn't have one in stock and they will fit that today. My only consolation is I know that had I taken it to the main dealer it would have cost me three times as much. This has rather galvanised my ideas and once I have had a good few months of wear out of the new system I think the time has come to sell the car before it starts costing me too much.  I will be looking to change to a younger model but sticking with Land Rover as I need a car that can handle the dog crates and muddy boots etc.  While a nice little economical hatchback might be ok for normal use I do do some off road driving and really need a work horse not to mention something heavy enough to tow the caravan.  Anyway that is a bridge we will cross at a later date for the moment I will just be happy to drive a safer car.  

I am waiting to hear from social services with regard to a carer coming in to visit Mike while I am away. I have asked for someone to just pop in on a daily basis and make sure all is well.  I did have a go with the soft crate that I intend to take with me for Dan to sleep in.  We put him in it for his afternoon nap to see how he would react and were pleased he made no attempt to scramble his way out of it.  The good thing is that it folds flat and is easy to erect and dismantle and weighs considerably less than the steel crate he has at home. I suppose it is the equivalent of a travel cot for children.

Today I have several jobs lined up first in the kitchen I have the fish for the fish pie I am making for lunch but I also fancy making the vegetarian cottage pie that Lorraine Pascale demonstrated on the TV.  It did look particularly nice and as I have almost all the ingredients I thought I would give it a go. The hens will need cleaning out then I have mountains of laundry to do so the machine will be working hard and I hope I can get it dry outside.  Finally I have acres of paperwork and forms to fill in with regard to registering my power of attorney documents.  You will notice that the order of the jobs reflects my preferences.  It may well be that the forms get put off until tomorrow!!!  Last night for supper I made us some carrot and coriander soup in the Thermomix and using their recipe which was delicious as it was not too heavily flavoured by either the carrot or the coriander and was thickened with some lentils.

Well that is the plan for the day there is plenty to keep me occupied.  Have a good weekend all......

Friday, 20 March 2015

Friday morning

Good morning all, Yesterday was nice James and I went over to Shiona's house and we took Tubby and Dante.  Sadly Dan was sick even though I had given him his breakfast good and early however he had a real blast once we arrived.  Shiona has a very large garden and he and Tubby spent ages chasing each other round and round her pond which is more of a lake than a pond.  Her two dogs were at the hairdressers being made beautiful and didn't arrive until lunch time by which time Dan and Tubby were a spent force.  Shiona helped me fill in the forms for the power of attorney so now all I need to do is come up with the registration fee of £110 and send it all off.  I believe it takes about 9 weeks for the registration to happen but I am in no rush and once it is done I will feel happier.  

Thankyou for your comments I try not to put too much of my personal life on the blog but I was spitting feathers yesterday morning after a pretty bad night.  Shiona had made us a lovely beef stroganoff for lunch and we left her house around 3pm to avoid the rush hour traffic in Maidstone. By the time we got home and fed the dogs, Dan having a huge portion to make up for what he had lost in the morning, I was pretty poleaxed and crashed out to sleep very early.   

Today I have to drop the Landrover off at Kwikfit to have the hand brake looked at and a new brake light fitted.  Then I need to organise a carer to come in daily to keep and eye on Mike while I am away in Scotland for a fortnight.  I thought we were only going for a week but it is going to be two weeks.  James will return every week to sort out the chickens so hopefully that covers all bases.  It is my intention to lay in lots of ready meals to keep Mike supplied.  Shiona and I will share the driving up to Scotland but I must admit I am a little concerned about Dan in the car all day.  I think it will be better not to feed him until we arrive and just make sure he has plenty of water.  I have a travel crate which I will take with us and I will have a dry run with it before we go just so he can get used to it.  Obviously Shiona will want to spend some time with her mother who is in a home and not very well and I am sure I can find something to do with myself while she is gone.  

Well that about it for this morning time I got underway as the car has to be at the garage by 8.30 and I am still pottering around in my dressing gown.  I was hoping to see the supermoon last night but no such luck we are completely covered in thick cloud.  

Have a good day all and once again thanks for your support.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Thursday morning

Good morning all, Yesterday was a run of the mill sort of a day I went out and did the shopping and got the animal food from the feed merchant.  For lunch we had a lamb curry which I never order from the takeaways as the lamb is always tough.  I was determined to make a lamb curry with tender meat so the lamb was browned in a pan and then pressure cooked in minimal liquid for about 10 minutes I then reduced the liquid to next to nothing and finally added my own curry sauce together with a few fresh tomatoes and peppers.  The result was a curry with meltingly tender lamb, mission accomplished.  I had rather overdone the quantity so we had the remainder for supper.  A nurse from the respiratory team came to visit Mike yesterday while I was out so sadly he has rather led her astray.  When she suggested that I might go the pharmacy for him his reply was "yes and pigs might fly, it will depend on what mood she is in".  Needless to say not only am I mortified but pretty hurt as well.  His pharmaceutical needs were met in the afternoon once I had searched the house for the missing puffer. So I guess pigs were flying!!!!!

Today I am due to go over to Shiona's so I have printed off the documentation for lasting powers of attorney which I hope to get filled in.  Apparently there is quite a wait once you have submitted the forms before they are registered with the courts.  You actually need at least two other people one to keep an eye on the person dealing with your finances and one to verify that you have not been coerced into filling in the forms.  I will feel a lot happier once this job is done then I can go crackers with a clear conscience!!!!  As James and I will be lunching with Shiona I have purchased a roast beef dinner for one for Mike which just needs reheating.  This is a first for me, as you know, I have never bought a ready meal in my life.  If it turns out to be acceptable it should make my trip to Scotland a bit easier.  I am also hoping to arrange that a carer comes in once a day to make sure all is well.  This will be done privately and cost a fortune no doubt but I will be happier and more relaxed knowing someone is keeping an eye on Mike.  There is no point in having a break if all you are going to do is worry.  My next move is to check out the new feeders for the hens and see how long the food and water lasts before it needs refilling.  James has volunteered to return and sort out the hens when necessary.  I think I will keep them in the small enclosure until I return so there will be no major shock for them as they will not be used to having lots of space.  

Well that is the plan for the day - I believe we will be under a big blanket of cloud so we are unlikely to see the super moon tonight or the eclipse tomorrow morning.  You may be luckier......