Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Tuesday morning

Happy days I managed to get all my monthly chores done and even finished the ironing.  Then it was a buzz around Aldi to resupply the fridge.  However, that was no easy task as it was absolutely heaving and it took me 20 minutes to find a parking space.  Of course I forgot it was pay day and everyone was out shopping.  Fortunately it was a cold lunch of gravlax and potato salad and once that was done I saw it was just starting to rain so I shot out and lit my bonfire and got that all burned off very quickly as it was all nice dry material.  On the other hand I then smelled of bon fire so it was into the shower for me and my clothes into the washing machine. It rained quite heavily last night so I got the stuff burned just in time. Supper was a frikadellen with some baked beans and an egg so again nothing too taxing then early to bed after a satisfying day.  

This morning I have to be at kwik fit at 8.30 when they open and they are going to have a look at my wheels.  I have an annoying squeak which only appears a very low speed and is an intermittent fault so I thought it best to have the car checked over before we set off to tow the caravan.  I also have to take a trip to the vet to pick up some Advantix for the dogs.  The forest is full of rabbits and deer so they tend to pick up ticks and fleas.  However, I am going to hold off applying it for a couple of days as Basso is very under the weather and running a small temperature.  It is really unlike him to be unwell and we are hoping it is just a passing infection/cold.  He has been off his food for a couple of days - he is eating but not with the usual enthusiasm and the usual quantity.  

Mark the gardener is back from his holidays bearing a kilo of parmesan and hopefully coming to give me three hours work on Friday which I desperately need.  There is loads to do in the garden and it has been weighing heavily on my mind, so I am delighted he is back.  

I have also decided that I must buy myself a few clothes as I possess almost nothing without a hole or some problem and I haven't bought anything in the last two years.  I live in jeans and polo shirts but everything wears out in the end.  I also need to have my annual underwear replacement session so that will be a trip to M&S.  I am hoping to get all this sorted before my holiday so there is nothing to stop me relaxing and enjoying the break.  

Well that is the plan for the day now to hit Landsend for a couple of new shirts which I can order online.  If there is one thing I truly hate it is clothes shopping!!!!!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Monday Morning

I think the chicken recipe was a big success and a very pleasant change from a bog standard roast. The recipe can be found on this site  http://www.channel4.com/programmes/gordon-ramsays-home-cooking/articles/all/roast-chicken-with-chickpea-stuffing-and-salad-recipe  It is a bit involved though not difficult.  I used only one chilli as I know mine are blow your head off hot and in the eating between the salad and the chickpeas the chicken almost becomes superfluous.

After my walk with the dogs I needed a darne of salmon to make gravlax with so as the fishmonger was closed I thought I would try Tesco's fish counter.  Would you believe they refused to sell me anything less than the entire fish.  I was not much in the mood to have a knock down fight so I just informed them that I would go to Morrisons.  However, when I got home, with my salmon, I was still seething having had to drive several miles out of my way so I rang Tesco to inform them that their staff were trying to lose them business.  I hope whoever was on the fish counter got the backside kicked!!!!

I got the gravlax made and in the fridge so it was ready to cut off a couple of slices at supper time which we had on toast following a bowl of gazpacho which had been marinating for 24 hours.  All in all a very good days grub.

Today being the first of the month I have my monthly list of chores to do.  Starting with the meter readings and bank reconciliation both of which are indoor computer jobs.  Then it will be dogs ears and the pond filter to clean and last but not least the kitchen knives to sharpen. None of the jobs are particularly onerous but they are all easily forgotten so if I do them all on the first day of the month they do get done.

Now here is something to brighten your day - a photo of Sandy's new boy Luke.  He looks huge in the photo but he is really quite a small lab.  I think Sandy must have laid on the ground to take this photo!!!  He is already part trained so I don't think she will have any trouble getting him up to scratch by the start of the shooting season in October.

Well time for some number crunching and I still haven't tackled the big pile of ironing somehow I always find something more important to do!!!!!!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sunday morning

Yesterday was a reasonable day weather wise because it was dry for the most part.  The first job of the day was to go and get Tubbies stitches removed.  As this would be the last time we would probably see the vet we took him a nice bottle of red wine for his retirement present.  James and I then split the chores for the morning and I did the shopping and he walked the dogs.  I find it quite a miracle that James manages to walk at all let alone take the dogs.  I remember not so long ago walking with him on his crutches and before that in his wheelchair.  He has made tremendous efforts to get back on his feet and although he is in constant pain he tries not to let it stop him getting out and about.  He seems to be quite enjoying the voluntary work he is doing for Oxfam which gets him out of the house and into contact with other people.  While living back at home is not the ideal solution it relieves him of the mundane running of the household and the financial worries of managing on very little money.  For me it is nice to have a back stop and a willing helper to share some of the work. Now if only I could motivate Mike in the same way.  I think he is improving but by infinitesimally small amounts that are almost imperceptible.  

This is the turnip and potato rosti with bratwurst and spring onions, not the most exciting of meals but a good way to lose the turnips.  

Today I have a chicken to roast but I am going to follow a recipe of Gordon Ramsay and stuff the bird with a chickpea mixture.  It is not exactly a stuffing as it is served as a vegetable side dish once it has been cooked inside the bird.   Well it is a bit different from the usual standard roast chicken so I thought I would give it a go.  I have also put all the ingredients for a gazpacho to marinade before blitzing into soup for supper.  

It is still pitch black outside so I think I have two choices either do the ironing or go back to bed and try for a bit more sleep.  I know which one is most appealing!!!!! 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saturday morning

From this

to this

Difficult to see the difference as there is so much of next doors apple tree in the way. Anyway job done and the most interesting thing of all is the guy doing the work had gone to the Royal ballet school.  I have never met a for real ballet dancer. Really interesting person to chat to.

The best news of all is that Sandy has her dog as it passed the vets inspection so she herself is like a dog with two tails.  He is a really lovely dog and very biddable so she will have no trouble finishing off his training.

Now on to more mundane matters thank you all for the recipes for turnips in the end I decided to make potato rosti and I grated the turnip into the grated potato in a 40 to 60 ratio.  This worked fine and the turnip was almost unnoticeable which was the intention.

Today Tubby is off to the vet to have his stitches out not that you would ever know he had any. He seems completely oblivious to his operation.  If only us humans were so able to ignore our wounds in the same way.  We did have a small incident when we were out for our walk a rather silly man came hammering down the path on a bike and only the previous day I had warned him that the dogs don't understand bicycles.  When he rounded a corner and we heard one yelp then an almighty crash. Tubby had knocked him clean off his bike. He was in a heap on the path wearing his bike and Tubby was hiding in bush convinced he had been attacked.  Neither was hurt and hopefully both have learned to keep out of each others way.  I think there may be a new found respect on both sides it was a good job he hadn't run into Basso as that would have been like hitting a brick wall at speed.

According to the weather forecast we are in for another day of rain but at the moment it is dry however this is often the case the dawn is beautiful then the bad weather rolls in.  There are not too many advantages of getting up early but the dawn is one of them.

Ok until tomorrow dear readers have a good weekend.....

Friday, 29 August 2014

Friday morning

Yesterday was a bit of a mixed bag of weather the morning was dull and damp but by the afternoon the sun was out and it got rather warm.  Sandy shared our meager lunch of a bambi burger in a bun and then we set off to look at the dog she is hoping to get.  He is a part trained black lab who belongs to the game keeper and his wife.  He was a really smashing dog but we were concerned that his hocks were not straight and this might be a problem in the making so the decision was made to have the vet examine him before the final decision is made after all there is no point in getting a dog with problems before you start.  If it turns out that he does have problems then it would be better to let him go as a pet rather than a working dog.  As we arrived the gamekeeper was on the phone to the police as a woman, who had already been warned, had loosed 5 dogs which had got into one of the pheasant pens and killed a load of birds.  The young birds represent the gamekeepers livelihood and cannot be replaced, it is not as if you can buy a box of young pheasants at the corner shop.  The dogs are not to blame as they were only doing what comes naturally particularly as they were all springer spaniels and that is what they do for a living.  Anyway my fingers are crossed for Sandy as the dog is really super and would be ideal for her.

Today I am expecting the arboriculturalists to come, around lunch time, to sort out my trees so yesterday morning in the damp dull weather I took some photos so you will see what I am dealing with. 

 Robinia pseudoacacia 

 Magnolia stellata rubra

 Apricot tree inside the chicken run

Once they have been I will take another set of photos so that you can see what has been done but I am not expecting them to look good until next year.

With the men due between 12 and 2pm and James leaving for work at around 12.30 lunch is going to be a problem so I have decided to do a nice big brunch fry up so that we are all fed and watered before the work starts.  As for supper I have no idea yet - I am still hoping someone will come up with some recipe for my turnips.  I wonder if they would slice thinly and then gratinate with loads of cheese and a crusty top of breadcrumbs.  Perhaps they would be OK made rather like dauphinoise potatoes with cream and garlic.  It seems a shame to put them in the compost for lack of any idea what to do with them.

Well time is marching on and I have a monumental pile of ironing to tackle, however I will be very pleased when it is all done and put away.  Then it will be on with making the brunch of bacon, sausage, egg, tomato, mushroom and probably a fried slice now how naughty is that!!!!!!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Thursday Morning

A very late start this morning after a very sleepless night I finally gave in and took a sleeping tablet at 2am and slept solidly until 7am.  Yesterday had been a very busy day with the laundry as it was dry and windy the machine ran all day and I managed to get everything through and dry so I am quite pleased.  For supper I had done an assortment of tapas to accompany the padron peppers.  Patatas bravas, oven semi dried tomatoes and some crusty bread.  I was the only one to get a really hot pepper the remainder were sweet.  Before putting the cherry tomatoes in the oven I had tossed them in olive oil garlic and basil so there was quite a lot left in the bowl.  I couldn't bring myself to throw it away so I sliced a few big tomatoes into it and the then tore a mozzarella into pieces and added that, sort of insalata caprese.  Not exactly spanish but very tasty with the other bits and pieces.

Today I am going to accompany Sandy to look at a gun dog which she may be taking home.  She has been looking for some time and was horribly let down by a friend so lets hope this dog is the answer to a prayer.  With that in mind we are setting off around 12 midday so for lunch I am going to do some venison burgers and we may well have a takeaway curry for supper.  James is on a day off from Oxfam so he is going to walk the dogs this morning while I ponse around in the shower and go to the baker for some nice buns to serve the burgers in.  

Tomorrow the men are coming to take a few branches off my trees so I would like to take some before and after pictures but at the moment it is raining cats and dogs so I will have to wait for a break in the weather.  I expect the trees to look pretty bad once they have been pruned but they should be much better next year.

Well thats about it for this morning not much to report just the usual daily mundane running of the house.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wednesday morning

Yesterday was another day of rain it poured for most of the day.  Denny came and did her stuff so now the house looks a bit more like a home and less like a rubbish tip.  James was called in early to work so his lunch became his supper and he made himself a bacon sandwich before he left.  I had done some pork belly strips which were cooked very slowly in the halogen oven with a homemade barbecue sauce with which a I served baked beans and saute potatoes.  My box of vegetables had padron peppers rather than chillies - these are a bit like Russian roulette as they are generally mild but the occasional one will blow your head off.  I fried them off in a little olive oil in true spanish style and served them as a sort of tapas dish.

As it happened there were no beetroots but there was a bunch of turnips, another of my not so favorite vegetables so no I will have to do a bit of research on what to do with them. Any ideas would be very welcome.  There is plenty to be done with turnip tops but the roots are more of a challenge.

The arboriculturalist [tree surgeon] came around 5pm and had a look at the garden and what needed to be done with the various trees.  I agreed the estimate and am hoping he will be able to do the job on Friday so it will all be in order when I go on my holiday and that will be another major job done.  

At the moment it is not raining so it would be a good time to clear the garden of the dog poo which is liberally scatter around and owing to the rain has not yet been cleared.  I also need to get the bins out for the bin men.  According to the weather forecast today might be dry so a good day to get these jobs done.  Lunch is already done as I put a pound of mince in the slow cooker yesterday with some onions and tomatoes and I have a load of tiny potatoes already boiled.  With lunch already done I can devote my attention to the garden which is looking terrible at the moment.  The vegetable beds are knee high in weeds, the chicken run looks like a bomb has exploded in it.  Every evening around 7pm Tubby and Basso go out for a game and have successfully kicked most of the earth from the bay tree beds onto the pathway.  

I had a chat with Denny with regard to some fencing as her husband is in that line of business and she agreed with me on what was needed so I have left that in her hands.  Hopefully by next spring things will be a bit more in order and I can devote a bit more time to the garden.  It is sad to see it go to rack and ruin but gardening is very forgiving and most things can be put right with a bit of effort.

On that happy note I am off to sort out the rubbish and get the bins out for the bin men.  Then I can get myself in order and out for a walk with the dogs before the weather changes.  Have a good day all and make the most of the dry weather if you are lucky enough to have some.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tuesday Morning

Screen shot from iPad
Yes it was a Bank Holiday, so guess what, rain, rain and more rain.  It started around 9am and continued non stop all day.  Fortunately, the dogs were got out nice and early so at least they didn't get soaked.  I also went out and put some salt on the grass that is growing between the patio stones and the rain has washed it in and hopefully it has not been too diluted to do the job.  I use salt to kill the weeds on hard standing and where there is no risk of it leaching into the flower beds.  I discovered this by accident when I emptied a large bucket of brine onto the patio and low and behold the weeds all died.  I do believe the romans actually used this method to destroy areas so it is not a new invention.

With the weather so dismal it was a pretty nondescript day we watched silly old films and just pottered around.  I did go to the shops to get some fresh parsley for my prawns but other than that it was a case of battening down the hatches and staying huddled in the house.  Now as luck would have it as I drew up in Tesco's car park the car next to me, also drawing in, was covered in advertising for a tree surgeon so I have one of his cards and will be ringing him today to organise a bit of work on my trees.  I think I am past the climbing on steps pruning stage and it is better left to the professionals.

Today we are expecting Denny to come and work her magic and as yet I have not had any ideas for food but I do have some  pork belly slices which would be nice with some homemade barbecue sauce cooked in a slow oven.  My vegetable box is due today but it has not been coming until very late in the afternoon so it is useless for lunch.
  • onions 
  • bunched beetroot 
  • French beans 
  • mixed salad leaves 
  • mini cucumbers 
  • vine tomatoes 480g 
  • mushrooms chestnut 200g 
  • sweetcorn 
  • chillies (free) 
The only thing I find hard to deal with is the wretched beetroot it is not my favourite vegetable and I do get sick of it at this time of the year.  The chillies are somewhat superfluous but they will go in the freezer.

The sun is just beginning to creep up and light the sky and at the moment it is dry but I don't expect that to last long as we are in for another day of rain.  The laundry is mounting but there is little or no chance of drying outside and the rest of the week also looks pretty damp so I guess I will have to bite the bullet and use the tumble dryer.  Joy I see from your blog that you spent your day productively dealing with the plums.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Monday Morning

Well at last I have got around to making the chiffon cake.  The new tin worked really well and as you can see I went for a very simple filling just some whipped cream and raspberries from the garden.  I was going to pipe the cream but ran out of enthusiasm so it just got dolloped on instead.  The remainder of the shellfish made a really nice risotto and it was the stock made from all the prawn heads and shells that actually made the flavour.  For supper we went German with some bratwurst with cabbage cooked in cider.  I used the slow cooker for this filling it with cabbage and chopped onion then laying the grilled bratwurst on top and leaving it for many hours to quietly bubble away.  Needless to say the cake made a nice dessert for both lunch and supper and this morning there is just one portion left.  When I went to pick the raspberries Tubby came with me and was happily picking his own until he discovered it was much easier to steal the ones I had picked and put in a punnet. He's not daft is he?

The recipe

5 eggs separated into two bowls

with the yolks 
120g caster sugar
70ml oil
130 ml milk 
160g flour one third of which was cornflour for lightness
3/4 tsp baking powder {optional}
1/4 tsp salt

with the whites 
90g caster sugar

Beat the yolks and caster until light and fluffy then gently add the remaining ingredients.  Meanwhile beat the egg whites until stiff then add the sugar a tsp at a time until you have a very nice glossy meringue.  Combine both the yolk mixture with the meringue and put in a tin.  Level off the tin and put in a preheated oven at 180ÂșC for 65 minutes.  Turn the tin upside down and allow to cool completely before attempting to remove the cake from the tin.  

I have seen many different recipes but this is the one I used.  The oil is just to make it keep longer but as it lasted less than 24 hour it was probably superfluous.  With the addition of 30 g of cocoa powder it makes a chocolate version.  I added the grated zest of a lemon otherwise it is just a bit too much like cotton wool to eat.  An electric whisk is essential unless you have the muscles of a cart horse and the energy of a 17 year old.

Today, according to the weather forecast, it is due to rain all day however the dogs are going stir crazy as they have been on house rest to keep Tubby company.  Today we intend to take them for a good blast rain or no rain.  Tubby's wound is healing well but we still would like to keep him out of the water if possible.  High tide is not until nearly 2pm so if we get out this morning we should be able to walk with no danger of him going for a dip.

Today for lunch we are back to Italian with some really good quality linguine that I bought in Faversham and with it I intend to do some of the lovely big prawns we got from Aldi and a nice mixed green salad.  In true Italian style I will dress the pasta with the juices from the pan where I have cooked the prawns with oil, garlic and parsley.  The prawns will be served afterwards with the salad. All nice and quick and easy leaving plenty of time for dog walking.  The prawn heads and shells will be collected for the freezer until I need another shellfish stock.  I keep a bag in the freezer and gradually add to it before I make the stock in the same way as you might keep chicken carcasses for the same purpose.

Well that is the plan as yet it is not raining but it is still dark and the sun is not yet creeping over the trees.  Do you have any plans for the day? and what is on your menu?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sunday Morning

This is the shellfish platter organised by my fishmonger that formed the centrepiece of James birthday lunch.  Along side I did a watercress and orange salad and a bowl of lemon mayonnaise and a sliced up french stick.  The three of us made a pretty large dent in the platter for lunch and prawn and crab sandwiches did us for supper.  All the detritus was put in a large meat tin and baked in the oven then from there into a pot of water and boiled for approximately 20 minutes then drained.  The resulting stock is going to fuel a risotto for lunch today along with the leftover shellfish.  As I had little to do towards the lunch I also made a big pot of curry sauce which will end up in the freezer today.  The tomato sauce is already frozen.  In order to avoid half filled boxes in the freezer once the contents is frozen I then transfer to vacuum bags which also means I can heat them by just dropping them in boiling water which saves mess and washing up.  This is also a good method for storing soup.

Yesterday was a generally nice day but we did have the odd few drops of rain and were often covered by threatening black clouds that amounted to nothing.  The temperatures are more reminiscent of November than of August but I for one am quite happy with it being cooler.

I had completely forgotten that it is a bank holiday weekend, not that it makes much difference to us retired folks, it is just another day.  The shops are still keen to sell to us so you don't even need to plan for a day of no shopping.  Somehow I can't see there being a big rush to the coast so the traffic will not be a problem either.  I think today will be a nice day pottering in the kitchen.  It is the time of year for making jams and chutneys but I still have leftovers from last year and as we eat very little in the way of preserves it is a bit pointless.  I look at the laden damson trees and feel the urge to pick but then I remember and don't bother.

My fig tree is also laden with fruit which will not ripen for which I am deeply grateful as I would be looking at a metric ton of figs to deal with. No wonder they get dried in countries where they have long hot summers.  The tree itself needs a good prune but that will have to wait until it is dormant. Pruning fig trees in leaf makes them bleed sap and risks infection getting in and destroying the whole tree. 

Anyway enough rambling time to get on with something constructive.  It is just beginning to get light I may even go back to bed and see if I can grab a little more sleep or I might get stuck into cleaning up the kitchen which got left in a bit of muddle yesterday evening.  Have a good day all whatever you have planned.