Posts

Showing posts from November, 2010

Tuesday morning

Image
Well it is here at last the snow fell over night and we now have about 2 inches.  From indoors it looks very pretty and Basso is out exploring the new world.  Nip has now joined him and they are larking around having fun in the snow I wish I could take a picture but as yet there is insufficient light for photography.
The chap came yesterday morning and stripped out the boiler and gave it a good clean and was of the opinion that it will last at least ten more years.  So for once a bit of good news.  Sadly it is not the most efficient of boilers but does the job adequately if not economically.
For lunch I made the trout tart which turned out very well and we munched our way through it easily with a nice salad of iceberg lettuce.  The addition of the chorizo sausage made a big difference to the minestrone soup that we had for supper and made it into a complete meal in a bowl.  Today I have got out a couple of pieces of lamb rump which we will have with roasted root vegetables if my veget…

Monday morning

It is not quite as cold this morning we are in plus figures all be it 1.4 degrees and the thermometer is against the house wall so not that accurate.  I made the decision fairly early on that shooting would be silly and so set to cleaning the utility room which was filthy.  It was a good opportunity to thin out some of the stuff on the shelves and tidy up the plethora of containers that I have saved in case they come in useful.  Today I think I will tackle the wall cupboard which if full of cleaning things some of which have been there for years and could do with being thrown out.  Lunch was a very easy affair as all I had to do was re heat the pie and cook some vegetables to go with it.  Today for lunch I am going to make a trout and spring onion flan which we will have with a nice green salad.  The pastry is already made and taken out of the freezer so it is just a case of roll, fill and cook.  For supper we have some of the minestrone to which I am going to add some chorizo just to…

Sunday morning and well below zero

It is very cold but still no snow here they are now threatening us with a heavy fall on Tuesday.  Apart from a couple of trips to the freezer and to clean out the chickens the only outdoor work was to clear up the dog mess which is nice and easy in freezing conditions.  Those jobs done I hibernated in the house for the rest of the day.  I set to and made Nigella's cake which I have to say is absolutely delicious Mike and I had a slice for desert after both lunch and dinner.  The other half of the cake is wrapped up and going in the freezer.
For lunch I did some lambs kidneys Jerez, that is with sherry and Dijon mustard, which we had with plain boiled rice and the pheasant breast I batted out and breaded with some Paxo sage and onion stuffing before frying and serving with a crisp iceberg salad.  Today's menu also includes pheasant but this time in the form of a sort of cottage pie.  I completed the first stage of the candied peel process so today it is time for another 30 minu…

Saturday morning

Still no snow here but the temperature is Arctic.  I took the dogs for a walk yesterday and was bundled up like a Michelin man in multiple layers with my Russian style hat with ear flaps down and still I felt cold.  The dogs paddling pool was frozen into an ice rink, the two terriers were happy to slid around on it but Basso steered well clear after he discovered how slippery it was.  We had a bit of an accident when I was releasing Basso from his gun dog lead.  It caught round his leg and my ring finger bore the brunt of his forward surge.  He yelped and I screamed but nothing seemed to be permanently damaged.  However last evening I could have wept with the pain in my finger.  I am glad to say that after a nights sleep it seems to have recovered and while it is still sore the screaming pain has subsided.  Basso seems unaffected.  I took him to a friend to have his dew claws trimmed as they were becoming dangerously curly and I could see and accident happening when he is charging abo…

Friday and the end of another week

Still no snow here we are down to minus numbers but alas my server is down so I am typing this on to a word document which I hope I can cut and paste across when we are back up and running. Yesterday was perishing cold so other than a foray out to the chickens and a couple of trips to the freezer I stayed indoors and pottered in the kitchen.I made a minestrone soup which as usual has turned out to be ample for several meals.We had some for lunch and the rest will go into the freezer for some other occasions.For diner I made the pheasant breast with cream and shallots which we had with mash and cabbage and very nice it was too.I have worked out that from the four pheasants I will actually get 13 portions of food and as they are free, if you don’t count a bit of blood sweat and tears, then it is very economical.I must admit that with the current temperatures I am very glad that there is no shoot this weekend and Basso and I can stay in the warm.
The boiler man came and we have booked a se…

Thursday morning

Image
The photo is of a midi size clay which I have laid against a CD size box to give you an appreciation of size.  You can imagine travelling at 70mph they are not easy to hit.


The temperature is still dropping but we are still in positive numbers just.  Yesterday was cold but it was beautifully sunny which meant that the roof panels were generating well and it was very pleasant for shooting.  Jeff arrived at the usual time and we went off to Dartford in his car a Mike had very wisely decided to stay at home.  Jeff was shocked at the state of my gun as it really looked as if I had just pulled it out of a skip.  However once I got shooting it proved to be a great success.  I have what is called a dominant left eye which means that I have to shut it when I shoot or it pulls the gun left of the target.  However I now have a small dot on my safety glasses which covers just the pupil of the left eye when I am looking down the barrel.  This means I now have to learn to shoot with both eyes open…

Wednesday morning and bin day

Image
After my visit yesterday to the gunsmith this is what my gun looks like!!!!! Talk about Heath Robinson....
Anyway the proof of the pudding and all that we shall have to see how well I shoot today.  At least the gun is now in line with both my shoulder and my eye which should make things easier.  Chatting to the gunsmith was very illuminating and he has sent me away with some stickers to put on my glasses which will hopefully train my eyes.  Currently I have a dominant left eye which is not the eye that looks down the barrels so I have to close it before I shoot or it will pull the gun to the left.  The temperature is down to 3 degrees and very cold so wrapping up warm is the order of the day.  Silk long Johns, 2 pairs of socks, jumpers, new coat and hat should stop me from freezing.

When I finally stripped the meat off the pheasants and weighed it there was 3.5lbs of meat from the four birds so plenty to make the Calabrian pheasant with macaroni for today which only took a pound and th…

Tuesday morning

Image
This morning we are starting off at 5 degrees but it is destined to get much colder as the week wears on and may even get some snow by the weekend.  Elaine came round for a cup of coffee and a bit of a moan - her husband is due to have some investigations and he is very stressed and taking it out on her so she needed an understanding ear.  Then it was off to the gun shop and the purchase of a warm shooting coat and some Wellingtons.  They are really horrible and shiny and look like Woolworth specials but they do fit well which what I was looking for.  My good boots have been washed and dried and are now ready for the polish.

The coat is very nice and warm and I wore a large pullover so I could make sure it would go over the top without restricting my arms.  So now I am fully kitted out for the really cold weather.  The coat is machine washable so that is an added bonus.  I now have my eye on a pair of fleece boot socks which might make a nice stocking filler.  Sometimes I envy Basso hi…

Comment Inbox

Monday morning again

November is winding down and they have forecast possible snow for the end of this week. I still have a carpet of leaves to rake up some time but I am very glad that this Saturday in not a shoot day as standing around in the snow would be rather too cold for my liking.
I spent yesterday getting to grips with the laundry which seem to have grown like topsy.  I suppose all the added muddy clothes make a difference.  The the washing machine started to play up and finally I got a large puddle on the floor.  I checked all the filters and cleaned up and the last load ran smoothly so who knows what is going on?  I can really do without a broken washing machine at the moment.

We had the butter-nut squash for lunch which I halved and baked in the oven with some garlic and anchovies where the seeds had been removed and a half tomato acting as a lid.  For dinner I made some creamed spinach to have with the smoked haddock and poached egg.  Not quite the usual Sunday meal but very tasty none the le…

Sunday and a day for pottering

We are making progress, Basso although excited to shivering point managed to keep his cool and did some very nice retrieves.  He also found a lost bird in the woods and on the final drive I found him pointing in the middle of a rape field so encouraged him in and he flushed a pheasant that had been pricked [technical term for wounded] which he duly chased and caught.  All in all a very good day but oh boy was it cold.  The temperature was not too bad but it was very damp and misty so standing for protracted periods in a field you could feel the cold slowly climbing up your legs.  We eventually arrived home after dark with 2 brace of pheasants and some wages for Basso's "leg over" fund.  Next Saturday we have off before another 3 consecutive Saturday shoots leading up to Christmas.  The last shoot of the season in January is for the beaters to shoot so I will be taking my gun instead of the dog.  Once home I had a hot cup of tea while I prepare our supper and thank goodne…

Saturday morning

It is a bit chilly this morning but no frost and dry which is very important as Basso and I are off for a days picking up.
Yesterday, was a day of excitement the sun got up high enough to fire up the panels at about 8am and the electricity meter from the grid ground to a halt - we were under our own steam - and it wasn't until we got home from the pictures that we had to go back to the grid for power.  We had decided to go and see Harry Potter before the kids break up.  The film was really good and the special effects are fabulous but you do have to be up to the mark in the story or it will not make sense.  Mike who has not read the last book was a bit lost.  It is so disappointing that we are going to have to wait until June for the last part.  We had done a bit of shopping on the way to the cinema and decided to have something light for lunch - there are several fast food outlets close by so we decided to try SUBWAY - what a mistake it should be called SUB-STANDARD.  I had a cla…

Friday and part of the grid

Image
Yesterday at around 11 the panels were up and by 3 we were hooked into the national grid.  So today when the sun comes up we will be generating our own electricity with the excess going to the national grid.  But better still we will be making money on our investment to the tune of  between 9-11% which is a pretty good return in these days of poor interest rates. As you can imagine the house was in uproar for most of the day but there is nothing to show for all the work just a bit of trunking running inside a built in wardrobe and some fancy boxes with flashing lights in the cupboard under the stairs. The inverter which changes the electricity from DC to AC is in the loft out of the way.  While all this was going on I stripped out the welsh dresser and put all the china through the dishwasher on a quick wash which only takes 29 minutes.  We were only without electricity for about 5 minutes but that still meant all the wretched clocks needed resetting.
Just to put the icing on the cake…

Thursday morning

Well the scaffolding is up and at 8.30 this morning the men are due to put up the roof panels and the electricians will be running the wires down from the roof to the junction box and replacing the existing fuse box.  So I think the house will be uproar for most of the day and I expect to be without electricity for some of the time.  Thank goodness for a gas hob at least we will still be able to have hot drinks and meal.  Though as yet I have not decided what to do.  I have a feeling that we may well have bacon and eggs as that is easy and quick to prepare with the minimum of fuss.  When the guys arrived yesterday to put up the scaffolding it turned out that the boss recognised me from shooting and apparently he will be shooting with Jeff this weekend at some masonic do in north London.  What a very small world it is!!!  On the subject of shooting I have booked myself an appointment with a gunsmith to have my gun measured as Roger is convinced that the comb is too low for me which is …

Wednesday and bin day

Where to start?  I will start with the funeral.  It was decided that David and Jackie would take their car as they had been asked to go to the house and accompany the coffin.  I was going to go under my own steam as Mike had refused to attend. I had only met this aunt once some 30 years ago but there was concern that the numbers would be small so I was there largely to swell the numbers and represent Mike.  Now you can imagine how difficult it was to get three people dressed in black out of my house without a liberal scattering of white dog hair but we managed it.  I got to the crematorium very early but was happy to sit and wait in the car park.  Richard and Jeff were coming from Reading via Bagshot and got stuck on the M25 so arrived halfway through the service.  This was conducted by a very elderly chap called father Paul who apparently is very high church [not sure what that means exactly]  any way he did a really splendid job and was remarkably upbeat and positive.  I was very im…

Tuesday morning

The temperature is dropping like a stone and we are down to 3 degrees again this morning, but do I care? not at all.  All I have to say is hallelujah I have a functioning dishwasher.  The engineer came out yesterday morning only to discover that the men who had installed the machine had crimped the inlet water pipe so the machine was right when it kept complaining it had no water.  No sooner than he had left I filled the machine with the saved dirty dishes and set it off to work on the quick cycle which only takes 29 minutes - fabulous.  Then it was off into the cold garage to divest the birds.  I plucked one but just skinned the second bird and took the meat off the bones.  The whole bird is in the freezer and the jointed one is going to Peterborough with David and Jackie.  They made very good time last night as the traffic was light and arrived shortly after 7.30pm.  I had everything ready so supper was on the table in no time which meant we were not eating too late and by about 10p…

Monday morning again

Suddenly the weekend is over and we are back into fray.  Yesterday I took things relatively easy and caught up on some of the TV I had missed on Saturday.  I had missed "strictly" and that was well worth watching as the dancing is getting very good now.  I set to and made a quiche with watercress spring onion and poached trout which I hope will be nice.  We each had a piece of the trout for lunch and for dinner there was a lonely cauliflower which I made into cauliflower cheese for supper.  The weather was dreadful with lots of rain and wind so I was glad we had been out on the shoot the day before.
Basso was pretty tired so he didn't put up too much of a fight when it came to the grooming which he desperately needed.  Sandi and I had both laughed at the state of him in comparison with what is expected in the show ring - he would have won no prizes on Saturday.  All the muddy clothes have been washed and my boots took ages to clean and re-waterproof but look spectacular…

Sunday and a day of rest I hope

Image
Both Basso and I are completely worn out but very happy.  Yesterdays shoot went well and as we were desperately short of pickers up, three and the game keeper to be precise, there were 11 guns so there was plenty of work for the dogs and us.  We were at the shoot by 8.30 and we didn't get home until it was dark at 4.30 which makes for a pretty long day.  We do get an hour break for lunch which is much appreciated.  Sandie's dog Yoda did very well and on occasions we need all three dogs to find lost birds.  The final drive of the day saw the most birds and by then Basso was so tired that he stopped bring the birds to me and just picked them up to show me where they were and left me to gather them in.  Anyway he earned his pocket money and a nice brace of birds.  I will leave them to hang until Monday before dealing with them.  When we got home Richard Mikes brother was there and I think quite shocked at the state of us!! I fed Basso who was ready for some food by then and put h…

Saturday morning

At the moment it is dry and still but that means nothing I just hope it continues for the rest of the day.
Just in case you thought the dishwasher saga was over - guess what?  The *£$%^"! thing doesn't work.  It worked once perfectly now all I get is an error message to check the water supply.  I rang the "help for idiots" line and they walked me through various things it might be but then suggested I call out an engineer.  He is coming on Monday in the mean time it is all down to hand washing. So much for a bright and shiny new machine!!!!!
Lunch with Len and Margaret went well and despite neither of them being the full ticket they managed to demolish every morsel put in front of them.  The individual beef pies were a great success and I received many compliments on the quality of my flaky pastry.  However the best compliment was all the clean plates.
I was looking forward to a relatively quiet week next week but things seem to have gone mad!!!  While I am out with…

Friday morning

Image
Yesterday was a wild day with lots of rain and strong winds - so much so that they closed the QE2 bridge at Dartford and lorries were blown over on the roads near Dover.  The bad weather has continued over night though at the moment it is calm.

The chaps came at around 10am to plumb in the dishwasher which took them no more that 15 minutes then it was down to me to get it up and running.  The first problems is that the machine is a polyglot and was speaking German so I had to get it to function in the right language, there are 19 to choose from!!!  Fortunately, the instruction manual is written for idiots so I stood some chance.  Anyway, to cut a very long story short it is now up and running on all the right settings.  Somehow it seems to be a TADIS with internal dimensions bigger than the outside.  It has a half load facility along with loads of other programs that I expect I will seldom if ever use.  There was one added benefit to all this upheaval I had to empty the cupboard unde…

Thursday

The forecast storms are not here yet so it is just cold dark and still.  Yesterday was a day of frustration while I waited for the delivery of the new dishwasher we had been told between 7 and 2 but at around 12 a letter arrived which stated that delivery would be between 2 and 9.  Grrrr!!!! I had just spent the whole morning making sure I was in hearing distance of the front door.  Anyway, it did eventually arrive at 4.30 and is now sitting proudly in the dining room awaiting the engineer who will plumb it in some time today - but who knows when.  It was a real shame as yesterday was a lovely sunny day and would have been ideal for shooting or even dog walking rather than ironing.  Anyway, today I am going to accumulate the dirty dishes so that I can put the new machine through its paces. Or am I in danger of tempting the gods?........

Tomorrow we have visitors for lunch but I have that well under control all I have to do is make a desert which will be the Jamie Oliver 5 minute chees…

Wednesday and bin day

Yesterday morning was dull and cold but it was dry for the most part which meant that I could get the dogs walked in relative comfort.  However, come the afternoon it turned really nasty with lots of rain and wind and even some hail but by then I was back in the warm and could watch it through the windows....
Elaine popped in for coffee which was nice and we had some discussion about what you do with teenagers and their temperamental behaviour.  Sadly I don't think there are any easy answers; you can only do the best you can and hope you live through it all!!!!!
I had cooked the pheasant legs overnight in  the slow cooker and then made them into a sort of shepherds pie with a crust of mashed parsnips - I suppose it should be called game keepers pie.  On that subject Sandi rang last night to tell me she had heard from the game keeper who asked if we would come again this Saturday for their next shoot.  Needless to say I was thrilled skinny.  I always feel that I am very biased towa…

Tuesday morning cold and wet

Well I think we are all back in the land of the living, Basso has perked up having rested for several days and my muscular aches and pains seem to have largely died away.  Yesterday was a truly awful day both very wet and very cold.  I had to put my big wet weather coat on to go and do the chickens and consequently I spent as little time as possible in the garage sorting out the pheasants.  I decided against plucking them so I just skinned them and took the breasts and legs off.  The breasts I have made into a pie filling and the legs into a stew/casserole in the slow cooker.  Having sweated mirepoix of vegetables ready in the freezer is a real time saver.
My new dishwasher is on order and due for delivery tomorrow with the installation engineers arriving on Thursday morning - not that washing up by hand has been too much of a chore.  Needless to say this has knocked shooting on the head for this week but the weather is set to be atrocious anyway so there is nothing lost there.  I re…

Monday morning

Well after my weekend of adventures it is time to have a day of rest.  Yesterday I set off to Dover in glorious sun shine but by the time I arrived it was pouring down.  Having driven all that way I decided to give it a go and hope that it would ease off.  Did it - did it hell I shot the last two stands in a hail storm.  Did I do well?  who knows the score sheets disintegrated as did the cartridge box we substituted.  While the others went for hot drinks I decided to get home ASAP and get out of my wet clothes.  I had to drive a bit gingerly on the way back as areas of the road had become lakes but once on the motorway things improved.  Mike was surprised to see the state of me as there had been no rain at all where we live.  Anyway first things first it was out of all the wet clothes and into my nice warm dressing gown and into the kitchen to cook the lunch.  Fortunately I had some meat balls and tomato sauce which had defrosted so all I had to do was boil the gnocchi and grate some …

Early Sunday morning

Image
I have good news and bad news, so I will start with the bad and get it over with.  RIP the dishwasher it finally gave up and flooded the kitchen floor while I was out - poor Mike had to clear it all up.  Next some good news I have picked the first few strands of Saffron from my crocuses - in about 20 years I may have enough for one risotto!!!! then on to the really good news Basso covered himself in glory yesterday.  We had gone to the shoot just as spectators but they were short of pickers up so he was roped in.  On the first drive I was standing on a muddy bank when the first bird fell some 50 feet in front of us.  Unused to the etiquette of a formal shoot Basso was off to pick it up - fortunately I had him on his lead so all that happened was that I was dragged down the bank on my bum but I did manage to stop him.  Some what undignified but no damage done.  Once the whistle was blown and the dogs were released he was off to pick up fallen birds.  He offered one to the gun who had s…

Saturday

Good morning folks well it looks like I was right to be sceptical about the dishwasher it is leaking quite badly and having seen the interior of the door I am now quite worried about the water soaking into the wadding that it is packed with.  I assume this is insulation for both heat and sound and is surrounded by things electronic none of which will enjoy getting wet.  I think I may well take it out of commission until such time as I can get round to buying a new one.  It is 10 years old so it has done well for a modern appliance which has a built in obsolescence of about 5 years.
Our anniversary lunch with Elaine went well and the lesson in lemon curd and dismantling a chicken also went well.  She is a competent cook and a quick learner so I am confident she will now be able to do both things well.
I am very apprehensive this morning as Basso and I have been invited to our first shoot.  Fortunately it is a small syndicate not a large formal commercial shoot.  However, the potential …

Remember remember the 5th of November

We have been remembering this date for the last 33years it was unseasonably warm then as I got married in a flimsy dress and was not cold at all.  Perhaps it was the excitement that kept me warm?  10/10 for my eldest son who remembered and wrote a nice newsy letter, what a good boy....
Now on to the saga of the dish washer.  When we heard nothing yesterday morning Mike insisted that I ring him but he was unable to give me a time and said he would ring back with a time once he had consulted his dairy.  4 hours later the phone rang to say he would be there in 10 minutes, we were in the middle of lunch but Mike said let him come so I agreed.  20 minutes later he turned up and as he entered the kitchen I stopped him and reminded him that we had agreed a price of £80 at which he jumped up and down about labour costs and the cost of the part but finally agreed to the agreed sum.  Then he attacked the dishwasher, I use the word attack advisedly at one point I even offered him the use of a cl…

Thursday morning

Image
Yesterday was a day of two moods firstly I got furious with the guy who was supposed to come and fix the dishwasher.  I had warned him that I had an appointment at 11 so he would need to come before that.  Did he come NO, did he phone NO, is my dish washer mended NO, am I livid YES.  Second mood was one of humility and eating of humble pie.  As you can imagine I was in hight dudgeon when we went to see the financial advisor but fortunately I kept my big mouth shut long enough for him to explain that we had in fact made 17.4% on our investments with him and we must have miss read the information sent to us.  Feeling very stupid we agreed to continue with the status quo and apologised for wasting his time.  Good job I didn't go in spitting fur and feathers, he did admit that the documentation was not very user friendly and could see where we had made our error.  So general face saving all round!!!!
Following on from my success with the brine I decided to make sure it wasn't a fl…

Wednesday and bin day

Good morning folks, I can hardly believe it it bin day again it comes around so fast, today it is the recycling that has to go out and next week it will be the green waste.  We are still lucky enough to have a weekly collection.

On the weather front it is still very mild but the wind has picked up so the lovely autumn leaves will be blown off the trees very quickly leaving us with bare sticks for the winter.  It seems almost as if the world goes from colour to black and white in the blinking of a eye.

I don't know if you have been watching "Professional Master Chef", which came to a conclusion last night.  Personally I was delighted with the result as I had had my money on Clare for some time as she had been consistently good throughout the competition.  I spent yesterday morning sweating off the excess vegetables for the freezer and also made some braised celery which will go well with our lunch of [brined]turkey breast, pan fried with mushroom and a splash of cream. A…

Tuesday morning

Image
Basso and Nip and Tuc have fun on their walk yesterday you can see by the wavelets that it was windy.
First to the question of saltiness when using brine the answer is no it is not salty but I don't season with salt before cooking.  It is also vital to wipe the meat dry or it will boil.... We had a most glorious sunny warm day here yesterday so the dogs got a good airing.  I took the camcorder with me and this photo is a still from a piece of film.  I always find it difficult to take pictures or film when it is bright sunshine as the viewing screen is hardly visible.  I have tried sunglasses but I think the only way is with a hat to cast some shadow over the screen.  As I was playing with the film to get the still you could hear me use my whistle to call Basso and low and behold he jumped out of his bed and came to me when he heard it!!!!  I use the walks to do some training so he always gets some lead walking and some walking to heal without the lead despite the fact that his broth…

Pinch punch first of the month!!!!

Image
Lets start with yesterday which had both success and failure.  I will start with the failure PUMPKIN PIE in the end I decided on a recipe by Anthony Warrell Thompson which only had 3 oz of soft brown sugar in it so I was hoping it would not be too sweet.  I already had pastry made in the freezer to which I added some crushed pecan nuts.  When it came out of the oven it looked splendid.  I was hoping the spicing would give it a sort of Christmas flavour but it didn't we both had one slice and decided it would make excellent dog food.  It was a lot of work to make for a very poor result.  If you are ever tempted to make one I suggest you make pumpkin soup instead.  Now on to the success.  I had one of last years pheasants in the freezer and it looked a pretty sorry sight but I decided to go ahead and give it a good chance so I brined it for an hour before roasting it under a blanket of bacon.  I made great efforts with the accompaniments so that if the meat turned out to be hopeless…