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Showing posts from November, 2008

Sunday and a day of trauma ahead

Yesterday, was another of those damp dismal days it was not actually raining but you still got wet if you went out. I took the dogs for a nice run and we all came home pretty damp but completely mud free which was a bonus. James phoned to say he would be coming down that evening so we decided to have a take away Chinese when he arrived as I had nothing prepared that would do three.

Around 5pm we got the phone call, he has stopped off at Bluewater shopping centre to pick up a pair of tracksuit bottoms. On returning, as he approached his car, the car along side pulled away fiercely nearly knocking him down. He then saw why, they had smashed his back passenger window and tried to crowbar the door open. He phoned to say he would be delayed as he now had to wait for the police to arrive.

While we waited, I ran around to various neighbours trying to find some clear plastic to seal the widow. I then made a few phone calls to see how much it was going to cost to replace the glass and w…

Saturday

Well what a miserable day we had yesterday, it rained continuously all day with hardly a dry moment. Every time the dogs went into the garden they came back soaked. Basso discovered that wet feet have even less purchase on a tiled floor than he expected and his brakes very definitely didn't work, however the wall at the far end served as a good stop for his full four wheel skid.

With the weather so bad, I took myself into the kitchen. The red cabbage was made into braised red cabbage with apple and onion and a really decent coleslaw which I made with real mayonnaise made from eggs and oil and lemon. The broccoli was made into an interesting made up dish of broccoli cheese with a layer of sausages under it so it made a meal in one dish. This was very successful and only needed putting under the grill for 5 minutes before eating.

Mike took himself off shopping and bought a new supply of meat from the butcher. Which included a couple of nice sirloin steaks, some mince and lamb c…

Friday again

The weeks seem to fly past at such speed these days I guess it is just a sign that my brain is slowing down and it only seems that way. It is warm at 8 degrees and wet this morning as it rain quite a bit over night.

I made something quite interesting for lunch "Gnocchi de pane", which are gnocchi made from left over stale bread which is blitzed together with egg yolk, butter, nutmeg,Parmesan and some bacon the stiffly beaten egg white is then folded in and the gnocchi are formed into small balls and simmered in stock for 25 mins. A couple of them were served with the accompanying soup and a scatter of Parmesan the remainder were served with melted butter and Parmesan. The general consensus was that they were very nice and light.

Delving around in the freezer I found a packet of sweetbreads which I cooked by first simmering them for about 30 minutes then draining and leaving until cold. Once they were cool I did the egg and breadcrumb thing with them and fried them off in a…

Back to a more usual time

After yesterdays lie in I am back up at my usual time of 4 am, my Dad always said I should have married a farmer and perhaps he was right this would be a good time for milking the cows but not much use in a suburban setting. It is much warmer this morning with the promised mild spell already on us with a blanket of cloud to keep us warm.

Shiona came visiting with Mary yesterday and so the oriental soup was stretched for three and if I say so myself it was absolutely delicious. The deliciousness was down to the stock which had started life as beef stock which was then moved on to be duck stock and finally added to a good homemade fish stock the base of the soup was super. The addition of prawns, squid, cod and prawn balls just made it better and noodles, ginger, garlic and chopped coriander made it oriental. The final flourish of toasted sesame oil and chopped peanuts just completed the picture. I ate my bowl full with great gusto as I had just got back from a walk with the Labrado…

Very late sorry

Well what a stupid night I had I fell asleep early and woke at 2am didn't know what to do so sat and watched TV and finally fell asleep at 5am only to wake now at 8am with a pounding headache.

The house is all clean, thank you Jane! but I do have loads of ironing to keep me out of mischief, not that I feel much like doing it.

I decided to make pizza for lunch yesterday and for the first time I think I put much too much water in the mix. Needless to say the bread base was like soup so I poured out a proportion and mixed in extra flour and hoped for the best. To my delight it worked fine and we just had a simple topping of tomato sauce mozzarella olives and anchovies. As it turned out we were so full that supper got abandoned in favour of a sausage sandwich.

The dogs got a good walk around the rugby field where Mike dropped us on his way to get his hair cut and we walked back to the house. Basso was really good on the lead and walked nicely to heal all the way. He seems to be ge…

Tuesday and the wonderful Jane

Yesterday, was another miserable day with showers of rain and pretty cold. In the end I walked the dogs in the woods as it was raining and it affords some protection. The dogs of course don't care and just have a lovely time no matter where we go. Once they were walked it was a case of heading for the local shopping mall and doing a few odds and ends. I bought the Christmas cards and today I will sit and write them all and get them ready to post. That is one of the major tasks and it will be done out of the way. Each year when I take down the cards I make a list in the back of my diary of all the cards received which gives me a head start on the sending list. Then of course there are those which have to go abroad and need sending early and those that I hand deliver to the neighbours which don't need stamps.

Catering went out of the window as we were pretty late back from shopping we just had some bread and taramasalata and humus and then for supper we move on to the haut…

No more snow

Once it started to snow, yesterday morning, I had to reappraise what I was going to do. Outdoor work was off, so it was into the kitchen and get stuck into the preparations for the duck. It was surprising how much there was to do and how long it took. I made some gravy using the beef stock from the day before and then some cranberry and orange sauce. The duck was stuffed with quartered apples and I poured 2 kettles of boiling water over it to tighten the skin then onto a trivet and into a very hot oven. We had roast potatoes, leeks, peas and carrots with the duck so it was a proper Sunday lunch something we haven't had for quite a while. In the interim I made a batch of clementine marmalade. [Mikes favorite] which is now bottled and into the garage and hopefully setting well. I had also made a cottage pie with the left over beef so I then started to make the ox tail which will be for New Year but I had run out of carrots so I had to halt that until I had all the ingredie…

Sunday and a day of rest

I had a day of rest yesterday and did very little with the exception of the washing which dried beautifully outside in the cold crisp air. I put a piece of brisket on in the slow cooker with the usual suspects of carrot onion and celery and left it for many hours. The meat was meltingly tender and the left overs will be made into a cottage pie for the two of us which should come in handy when we are in the middle of decorating. In my freezer clearing spirit, I found a duck which we had bought at half price. It is now fully defrosted and destined for the oven for today's lunch, I am still debating whether to cook it whole or divide it and cook the breast separately.

It is 0.8 degrees outside so the promised cold snap is upon us but again there is not frost and as yet we have no snow. In some ways, I would be pleased if it did snow, as it would be fun to take Basso out and see what he makes of it.

Today would probably be a good day to turn the compost heaps but I will have to see …

Saturday and feeling lethargic

It's 4 degrees outside but there is no frost in the garden, it is just cold, crisp and clear. Today, I am supposed to be going to a field meeting for gun dogs but is it miles away and starts at 8.45 which will mean leaving home at 7.30 and I really don't feel like going. I suddenly feel pretty tired and would not mind a day mooching around the house. I am also begining to think that gundog training might be a step too far for me and I'm not sure if I have the energy and dedication that I know it will require.

I need to have a bit of a sort through the freezer and see just what is available. I have been running it down of late in an effort to make a bit of room for the inevitable Christmas excess. We also need to make some preparations for the impending decorator who is due early next week. It will be a good opportunity to take down all the pictures and give them all a good clean ready to be re-hung once the room is decorated. I am hoping that we can keep one room ahe…

Bracing myself for the cold

Watching the weather forecast it looks like we are going to get a bit of real winter over the weekend. I console myself with the fact that it will at least kill off some of the bugs in the garden, but I hope that the bees will be tucked up nice and warm in their hive. Yesterday while very overcast was nice and mild and the bees were out flying madly about. I wonder what they are finding to eat at this time of the year as there is so little in flower.

James and I had a purge in the garden and did loads of chores that needed to be done before the real winter weather starts. The hen enclosure has been stripped out and cleaned as have all their water and food containers. The garden furniture is safely tucked up in the shed and large umbrella has also been put away. Much of the leaf has been collected and tipped into the leaf mold bin, now I must make sure it stays wet so that the leaves will rot down nice and quickly.

Mike took the Landrover over to the dealer and I waited for a cal…

Thursday and the forecast is for rain

Yesterday went well we had the most stunning autumn day with hours of glorious sunshine. It was a perfect day for the shooting expedition. We all had a really good time but none of us shot particularly well. Given that it was only the second time that James had shot my gun he did very well. We were finished by about 1.30 and made our way back to the Chinese where we all stuffed ourselves full. This made supper very easy as we decided that a sausage sandwich was all any one could manage. Once back home we went through the gun cleaning ritual which requires that the gun is broken into its three major parts and then the barrels are clean with various instruments and coated with a light layer of oil. The gun is then reassembled [always more difficult than you think] and put to bed in the gun cabinet. This ritual having been completed we set off with all 4 dogs to give them a bit of a run.

In the rugby field Basso found a pair of knee length furry boots one of which he carried aroun…

Feeling better

Yesterday was pretty much a right off as I took to my bed and largely slept through the day. I think there is some kind of bug going round as the "wonderful Jane" said that she had had a similar day over the weekend. Anyway I feel fine today and the nausea has subsided, which is just as well as I am off shooting this morning. The weather forecast is fine for today but then deteriorates as the week moves on. Tomorrow, it is set to rain heavily so I'm not sure how much work I will get out of James, but not to worry, I can always find him some jobs to do indoors.

I have decided that I will not be providing lunch today and we will take ourselves to the "eat as much as you can", Chinese instead which certainly takes the pressure off me.

Basso was most concerned yesterday and sat by my bed occasionally giving me a poke to make sure I was OK. There is nothing quite like a slobbery wet nose shoved in you face at regular intervals to make you feel better!!!!!

Jane c…

The deed is done

The hens were dispatched yesterday and I was very pleased as I put each one to sleep with its head under its wing before breaking its neck which was quick and hopefully painless. Anyway they are now stock and dog meat but it is quite a performance to pluck and draw them then joint and boil for hours by the time I was finished I was feeling quite nauseated and certainly couldn't face supper so we had a take away.

I must admit I have been feeling a little rough for the last few days so I don't think it was the hens that made me feel so rough and I am feeling pretty rocky this morning. I may well take to my bed and have a days rest and see if that makes me feel any better. I don't feel like eating at all and so I think it will be 24 hours of water.

I had better feel better for Wednesday as I am off shooting with Shiona, Jeff and James. When we abandoned the competition on Sunday we didn't know that James had driven down to lend moral support. He waited for ages for u…

we had a lovely time

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As you can see by the state of them Mary and Basso had a supper walk but the tide was out and he had to play in the mud instead. He is not pleased with what is about to happen before he is allowed back in the house. BATH!!!!! Fortunately the two terriers have learned that it is counter productive to play in the mud and so came home clean but Mary and Basso being young and stupid did no such thing. Mary is small enough to go in the kitchen sink but Basso is a different matter and gets hosed down outside. Once we had got the dogs looking half decent we were due to go shooting but the heavens opened and we decided to give up the idea and just slob around until lunch time. Shiona was feeling pretty rough with the antibiotics and beat a hasty retreat but has left her cartridges with me in the hope that we can get a shoot in on Wednesday. James then telephone supposedly to find out how the competition had gone but more to ask if he could join the shooting party on Wednesday and has…

The morning after!!!!

Well, the sun is just creeping over the horizon and lighting up what looks like a pretty cloudy day but it is warm at 12 degrees. Perfect shooting weather so it looks like the competition is on...
Yesterday went well though it was jolly hard work I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Well put it this way, there are no left overs, with the exception of the chocolate cake which is only half eaten....

Basso was the centre of attention which he thoroughly enjoyed and was a charming gentleman, he shared his slobbery toys with everyone and each person in turn was brought a gift which was dumped in their lap.

Shiona arrived just after the others had left. The timing was interesting Jeff and crew left in time to get home to see "strictly come dancing" and Shiona arrive just in time to to watch it at our house. I shoved the cottage pie in the oven and we sat round the TV eating and watching that and Merlin to which we are all addicted. The choice of cottage pie was very welcome as …

Saturday and another busy day

Yesterday turned out to be a lovely mild and sunny day so I made plans with my friend to walk the dogs and then went and got stuck into the gardening. Two hibiscus plants had arrived in the post and I had just the place for them. It meant ripping out a perennial wall flower which had become very leggy and was definitely past its best. I also still had some bulbs that needed to be planted so I got on and did that and then started to clear more of the leaf litter. The bees were flying madly in and out of the hive and enjoying the warm sunshine though I don't know what they were finding to feed on. By about 10.30 I was thinking that it was time I had a coffee and went and got ready to take the dogs out, there was a ring at the door and there stood my youngest James who had thought he would pop down for a visit.

Lunch and dinner got very quickly extended to account for another mouth and then off we went to collect the 2 crabs that I needed for today's lunch then on to the woo…

Poets day

To elaborate on the stove in the picture it is a one tenth scale model of a ships galley and it is fully functional if you care to fill the fire box with some charcoal it works just fine and has a tank of water which is heated along with the two ovens and the three hot plates. Originally it came with a complete set of copper saucepans but over the hundred years or so they have been lost. It was made in the foundry that made the full size ones in Rijeka as a sort of apprentice piece. Three generations of my family have cooked on it as children, myself being the last. I transported it from my grandmothers house in Trieste about thirty years ago and since then it has fallen to me to polish it......

Yesterday, was a lovely morning so I braved the garden and got on with the leaf clearing but I can see that there are still many trees that have not yet shed their autumn colour and so this will be an ongoing job for some time. By lunch time it had come on to rain so that put pay to that. …

Done

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As you can see it is all nice and polished what a horrid job it is to do!

Nice to know that you are still reading my bilge Denzil!

What a difference the sun makes

What a beautiful day we had yesterday the sun was shining and it was relatively mild with little wind. I spent much of the morning cooking and have made a roast butternut squash soup with some Parmesan croutons, for lunch on Saturday and a cottage pie for dinner. Today I will make some headway with the deserts which will only leave me the crabs to do on Friday. At 11 we went out for a nice walk with friends along the river which was very high as it was high tide and very fortunately the dogs did not fancy a swim though they did paddle. Poor Basso didn't understand what had happened to his usual toilet spot which was now under several feet of water and stood looking at it for several minutes in total confusion.

We had a very pleasant lunch at the nearest pub and then wandered back home. I would have given anything for a nice sleep but unfortunately I had an appointment at 4pm with the Nurse. I have managed to persuade the surgery that although I don't meet the age criteria…

Wednesday and bin day

Yesterday turned into a visitor day as Shiona and her dog came to join us on our walk and then stayed for lunch. Good job the oxtail was easy enough to stretch for three and an extra spud extended the mash so there was no problem. The dogs had a brilliant time as they were now a pack of six so they chased each other all around the rugby fields and were very happy to collapse in a heap when we got home.

The silver side which I cooked in the slow cooker was very tasty but rather dry so after we had a couple of slices for supper we decided that the remainder would make an excellent cottage pie, which is what I am intending to make this morning. It will need to be enough for three as Shiona is returning on Saturday evening so that we can enter the Sunday shooting competition. I have 5 for lunch on Saturday so it is going to be a busy day. Today we are meeting with some friends of Mikes and walking the dogs down by the river then on to a pub for lunch so at least I have not been roped …

Very late this morning

For once I didn't wake up until 6.30 which as you know is very late for me. I did sit up watching TV until quite late so maybe that is why!!! All my good intentions of getting out into the garden yesterday were thwarted as it tipped it down with rain all day. So I ended up just doing the washing and ironing and fiddling in the kitchen. I am in the process of making an ox tail stew which takes a couple of days as I let it go cold so that I can remove the fat from the surface. I also have a chunk of silver side which I would usually salt but I am trying it in the slow cooker just gently braised. It is quite difficult to know how long to leave it as I don't want to make it dry and stringy so I will have to keep an eye on it. I have arranged a walk with the dogs and my friend. She is walking two chocolate labs on a daily basis for which she is handsomely paid.
The weather looks a bit better today and the sky is clear at the moment, most of the beautiful autumn colour has blow…

Surprise!!!

If you took me at my word you would not expect to be hearing from me this early. We were not due to return until Wednesday but we decided to throw in the towel yesterday. This weather is not conducive to camping with three dogs. The site was a bit of a quagmire and walking the dogs night and morning was horrendous as it was absolutely pitch dark, while the dogs can see perfectly well in the dark I have some problems!!! The fields where we usually walk have all been ploughed so they are just mud patches can you imagine trying to deal with muddy wet dogs in a confined space!!! Let me just tell you it doesn't take long to become suicidal... Anyway, the service was done on Friday morning, the radio which had been causing some problems was taken away and we were to fetch a replacement the following day. The other major problem we had was a loose internal panel which had become detached this could not be fixed as the engineer who did the service didn't have any glue with him. …

Busy day ahead

We had a lovely day yesterday and the rain held off for our shooting trip. I did however manage to get a good smack on my collar bone when I let my gun slip and the recoil got me. Well that is a lesson learned!!!! By the time we got back and cleaned the guns and had lunch it was gone 3pm and already starting to get dark so we dashed over to the gun smith as Shiona needed some more cartridges and we needed a rifle rest for the air rifle. It was gone 6pm by the time we got home through the rush hour traffic and I was not in the mood to start cooking again so the pork chops were dumped in a pan while Mike organised a take away delivery. We will take the chops with us and they will do for supper tonight in the caravan. By 8.30 I was shattered and took to my bed to watch a bit of TV but just passed out.

It is a two hour drive to Suffolk and we are hoping to leave at around 10 am to miss the traffic but as yet nothing has been done. I will need to get the kitchen straightened out and…

32 years

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Remember remember the fifth of November, its my wedding anniversary Mike wanted a day he couldn't forget. Well it's 32 years ago that we were married in the the public lavatory which was Chatham registry office. It was all lovely green tiles and smelled of carbolic. It was just us and the witnesses as we were to have a blessing in a local church in the afternoon. It was difficult in those days as we had both been divorced.
In some ways it seems like only yesterday and in others its difficult to remember that there was a time before we were married. It is quite amazing how 32 years can fly past.

Anyway, enough reminiscing, today I am off shooting with Jeff and Shiona so lets hope I get a decent score and it doesn't pour with rain. We are all meeting up at my house at 10am for coffee and will return to have lunch. I have made the Alpine macaroni which was so successful. It is basically macaroni cheese but the sauce is made with white wine and cream rather than milk. …

What is round the corner?

Yesterday morning, as I sat here writing I was thinking how boring life would be over the next few weeks. Just the daily grind and routine. I started by arranging the shooting for Wednesday with Shiona and Jeff and then checked the booking for the caravan service. This is where things started to go wrong. The guy who does the services is on holiday, I am informed, so can they do it this Friday instead of next Monday? Well, to cut a long story short, we are now going up to the caravan on Thursday evening and will be staying until the following Wednesday. This now means cancelling Mike's bridge game on Thursday night and my box of vegetables from Riverford. That done, I ring the painter to confirm a price and we are destined to have the work start when we get back. I grovel to my nice neighbour and ask if she would mind sorting out the chickens while we are away. I can't say that I am looking forward to a week in the cold and mud with three dogs. Next it is sorting out f…

The catering department is closed!

I am all cooked out!!! Yesterday morning I tackled the remaining beef and sliced it and vacuum packed it, the oddments made a super cottage pie and the bones made some rather superior stock. I sent James home with a roast beef sandwich and some of the cheese that was left over but there's still a fair amount of left overs for us to motor through.

Today, if the weather is a bit better I need to get out of the house so I will either go riding or take the dogs for a long walk. I need to organise a shooting day also as I really need a break from the kitchen. I love cooking but you can have too much of a good thing.

We have had the estimate in for the decorating and it is within the price we had anticipated so I will need to get that organised for after we return from the caravan servicing trip. I must admit the thought of having every room decorated fills me with horror as I know that there will be shed loads of work involved in clearing the rooms so that the work can take place.…

What a miserable wet day

The day dawned dry but then it started to drizzle and just got worse and worse as the day wore on. It was cold, windy and foul but fortunately Angela and I took the beasts for a walk straight after breakfast and before it got really bad. It didn't stop us from getting absolutely soaked and when we got home it was necessary to have a complete change of clothes. The dogs of course didn't give a toss, they just had a lovely time.

Henry, took charge of the beef and it went into the oven at 9 am at 170 degrees once he had re-arranged it and removed the "paddy whack" which is a line of sinew that runs through close to the back bone. It was then tied and placed on top of the removed bones which acted as a trivet. It was done by 12.15 and then had a 45 minute rest while I did all the accompaniments. For desert I had done the inevitable chocolate and beetroot cake which I served with creme fraische and was really delighted that no one guessed that beetroot was the main i…

So far so good

There's nothing like a bit of success to make you feel good. This morning I am walking ten feet tall all my culinary exploits were a success.

Our friends arrived at around 1pm after a reasonable drive up from Bristol and the lightish lunch went down well - the crab creams were very tasty and disappeared in double quick time along with the hot soda bread. We spent the afternoon chatting over all the usual subjects and apportioning blame for the various problems of the world - nothing like a bit of wine to oil the wheels of discussion! Dinner too was all OK the risotto was just right and fish was not over cooked and the semolina tart held together despite the rather thin pastry. I was showered in compliments which coming from these particular guests meant a lot. They have run their own hotels and Henry is a chef trained in Paris, so when he says it is good I believe him. The clean plates were a good sign too. His wife, Angela, is a superb organiser and came to my rescue in t…