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Showing posts from 2011

The last day of 2011

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Yes it is really stupid o'clock and I am wide awake but hopefully I may yet get back to bed and catch a couple more hours.

2011 has been the usual roller coaster ride of ups and downs with large expanses of mundane normality in between.  The older I get the faster the days, months and years seem to fly by.  Where did summer go, it only seems like yesterday.  Can you believe Basso will be 4 in February it seems so little time since we picked him up as a tiny baby and now he is a competent, more or less obedient, adult working gun dog.


Mike has trundled through the year on a more or less even keel health wise, his hips and knees have not got significantly worse and his emphysema seems fairly stable too. His weight is down by 2 stone as is mine which must help. The boys have both had their health problems but seem to be OK for the moment.

I too have had my problems with assorted injuries which have all now healed and I think I am running at about  90% capacity.  However, I think I…

Friday morning

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All my plans for yesterday went out of the window with the exception of cleaning one cupboard and making the bread.  My next door neighbour who had emigrated to New Zealand came round for coffee and a chat.  It was really interesting to get some first hand information about the country.  They seem to be settling down but as with all moves abroad it is never quite what you expect and living in a country is so different  from having a holiday there.  For one thing you have a completely different mind set.  Apparently the cost of living is exorbitant, even with things which are locally produced.  The example we were given was that leeks are £2 each out of season and £1 each in season so it is a good idea to grow your own vegetables.  Anyway that aside we had a good long chat and the dogs greeted her as if she had just been away for a couple of days not 6 months.

James returned in the early afternoon as his best friends wife is going into hospital this morning for a hysterectomy which is …

Thursday Morning

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And I really mustn't forget to put the bins out today.  Lots of people put their rubbish out yesterday but with the high winds it got blown around a lot and I was astonished at just how much rubbish people had.  It must be at least double the usual amount.  I got the dogs our bright and early and swung by Tesco on the way back to get some milk.  You should see the mountains of meat going at half price, pork, lamb, beef and of course turkey.  I'm sure a few canny shoppers will be filling their freezers now.  I finished off my vegetable freezing and put the items I had open frozen into vac bags ready to be reheated at a moments notice.


I then set to and cleaned a cupboard out, it was the easiest one so I am starting slowly but if I do one per day including draws it will take me 26days.  Will I be able to keep up my enthusiasm for that long who knows!!!  I have already cleaned both ovens so that is a head start.

Today I have a visit from my next door neighbour who left to go to …

Wednesday morning

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By rights today should be bin day, but it will not happen until tomorrow as Monday was a bank holiday.  Yesterday saw a great day in the kitchen with all the vegetables being prepared and frozen.  I made a leeks with a cheese sauce for lunch and followed a Heston recipe which I found in the Radio Times.  Instead of making a roux based bechamel sauce to start with you just heat the liquid and then add the grated cheese, which has been tossed in some cornflour, a little at a time until it is all incorporated and the sauce thickens.  This method gives a much stronger cheese flavour and is easily lump free.

A friend gave me a lovely Paul Hollywood book on bread making as a Christmas present so I set too and made a nice cob loaf by hand.  I had bought a lump of yeast while I was out shopping before Christmas so I was able to use that and what a difference.  The commercial sliced bread that I had bought was horrid, it was so sweet and doughy.  It is now relegated to chicken food along with…

Tuesday morning

All over for another year now all that's left is to clear up and wade you way through the mountains of left overs.  I had a session with the vacuum packer yesterday and sliced lots of turkey and got it put away.  I made loads of bubble and squeak which is in the freezer and today will also be vacuum packed.  Wet things don't vac pack so I freeze them first.  This means you can even vac pack soup, talking of which that is what we  had for supper last night.  A large mug of restorative broth made from all the debris from the Christmas meals.

The weather was so mild that I took the dogs out for a run without even bothering to put on a coat.  It was lovely and there were loads of people doing just the same thing, walking off their over indulgence.  Everyone was cheerful and we all passed the time of day, with the exception of a pair of very thin ladies who obviously took their running very seriously.  They had faces like slapped backsides and piled into a large BMW in the car-par…

Boxing day

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Yesterday went well and I must congratulate Raymond Blanc on his goose recipe it worked really well but it did require an incredible time plan in order to master all the elements.  Thank heaven I have more than one oven as the goose required 150 degrees then 230 then back to 150 none of which is good for the roast potatoes.  I now have gallons of goose fat for doing roast potatoes for the next 5 years.  Unsurprisingly all that is left of the bird is one leg and some breast slices.  I think it would have done about 6 people at a push but no more.

In the picture you can see the maddening puzzle that James gave me which I had asked for many moons ago and completely forgotten.  The balls are all very heavily magnetised which makes the puzzle almost impossible unless you are a nine year old Chinese boy.  Anyway, we all had terrific fun trying but none succeeded in making the cube with all the beads.

At tea time we broke out the smallest cake you have ever seen as no one likes it with the …

Christmas day

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Christmas Eve

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Yesterday we picked up the meat from the butcher and as it was so lovely and mild the dogs got a good run.  Then it was on with the major surgery of boning the turkey and dismantling the goose. So here is the turkey all boned out and stuffed and ready for the oven.  Today I am going to roast it and then leave it for cold.  The goose is dismantled and the legs ready to confit.  I managed to render a large amount of the fat for the roast potatoes and the giblets from both birds are in a pot making stock.  The scotch quail eggs lasted all of about 10 minutes before they were demolished.  Other jobs for today are to prepare all the vegetables ready for tomorrow so that there is the minimum amount to do on the day. The cranberry sauce is made and the sausages in bacon are prepared ready for the oven.

Sadly we will have to eat today which is always a nuisance.  For lunch I am going to make a quiche and then for supper we will be having some nice trout fillets and salad.  Once Christmas lunc…

Friday morning

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A small sop to the Christmas spirit with a bit of holly picked while I was out walking the dogs yesterday.  I only took a few sprigs with berries for which I hope the birds are duly grateful.
I must admit it was lovely to go to the marvellous food shop in Faversham which was crowded but not unbearable.  We bought ourselves some lovely salami and Parma ham to have with our lunch and dinner along with a wholemeal ciabatta loaf.  I couldn't resist the quails eggs which will be made into scotch eggs this morning and a lump of mortadella which is destined to be tortellini.  I also restocked on things like sunflower and pumpkin seeds which get added to various things.  Mike bought his inevitable packet of fudge for which he really has a passion.

As soon as the shops open I will be off to the butcher to pick up my Christmas order then the work will really begin.  My first job will be to bone out the turkey and make the stuffing and get that ready for the oven.  I think this may take s…

Thursday Morning

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Good morning all, well at last I managed to get a decent nights sleep and feel much better for it.  I managed to get all my chores done yesterday the pheasants are now a nice casserole which will be going into the freezer as there is easily enough for 4 and currently we are 2 as James had gone back up to sort out his post and his flat and will not be back until lunch time tomorrow. The presents got delivered and the garden cleared of you know what.

Today the wonderful Jane is coming to clean and we are going to take a run out to Faversham to restock with coffee and no doubt some little added extras.  Yesterday morning I made some scotch eggs and was delighted with the results - no deep fat frying.  I did the usual of wrapping boiled eggs in sausage meat which had been jazzed up with some sauté onion and sage.  Then into flour, beaten egg whites [as that is what I had left over from a sauce] and finally into Panko bread crumbs.  Then into the halogen oven where they cooked browned and…

Wednesday morning and bin day

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The first camellia is in bloom can you believe it.  The computer is still playing up and has suddenly decided that I don't have the correct permissions to open some of my photos.  It is all a bit crazy yesterday it was fine and today it is having a hissy fit.  
Yesterday passed uneventfully but I never did get round to going and collecting my holly so perhaps that will need go get pushed on to today.  The plumber eventually arrived at about 6pm and we now have a leak free toilet.  
Today is going to be a busy one as I need to get the pheasants undressed so that all the feathers and guts can go out for the dustmen rather than hang around until after Christmas.  I will also need to get the garden cleared of dog poo for the same reasons.  This means getting to grips with these jobs at first light as our dustmen arrive pretty early.  The pheasants are going to be casseroled so they can go in the oven for a good few hours and be out of the way.  The for lunch I am going to make some scot…

Tuesday morning

Well it would seem that winter is over in Kent we are up to 6 degrees this morning so positively balmy.  Yesterday, was perishing but warmed up with the rain in the evening.  I spent most of the day dealing with left overs.  The leg of lamb has made a huge pot of scotch broth [lunch] and two shepherds pies one for supper and one in the freezer.  The chickens did well as I found some stuffed peppers in the freezer which didn't look too good so they had those along with the boiled bones from the lamb and the vegetable peelings.  They certainly thought that Christmas had come early for them as they are far from vegetarian and love some meat sadly I am clean out of beetles and worms.

Today, being the 20th, it is our quarterly day to send off our meter readings for the solar panels.  I will send them the reading and hopefully they will not require a photo of the meter but I will take one just in case.  I hope I have solved the problems with the computer but it did take quite a while of…

Monday morning

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I am filled with envy!!!  I have been awake since 2.30 and the boys are just cuddled up sleeping.  Basso spent most of yesterday sleeping following his exertions of the day before but he did come with me on my trundle round the road delivering the Christmas cards to neighbours and friends.  This morning my computer has decided to play up and it has taken me over an hour to get this photo up.  I don't think the problem is over yet as I keep getting error messages from the photo program despite several reboots.
Yesterday, I was going to rest but in the end I ended up working quite hard.  The washing machine was pressed into action and a couple of loads of muddy clothes were put through.  The kitchen floor got a birthday too, as it was a mass of muddy footprints, and my boots have been washed and now just need a polish once they are completely dry.  The roast leg of lamb was a great success and I cooked it using the meat thermometer so it was just right.  I slid the probe along the bo…

Sunday morning

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Oh what a cold day, we even had a shower of sleet, but we had fun.  Basso did his stuff and found a couple of lost birds in the woods this time getting only a couple of burrs in his coat. As the temperature rose slightly the fields turned from frost to thick mud which made walking difficult as my boots weighed twice as much.  In the end I didn't manage to win the bottle of scotch in the sweep I missed it by one. My guess was for 84 birds and in fact 85 were shot. At lunch time it was all looking a bit grim as they had only got 30 birds but the last two drives were much more successful.  We arrived home in the dark and Basso then had the terrible indignity of having his feet washed.  They were thick with mud so it was a bucket job.  Then it was time for his supper which he wolfed down and passed out in a deep restful sleep.  I was so envious, but I knew if I went to sleep very early I would be up in the wee small hours.  As it is I am up at 3.30 as I only managed to stay awake unt…

Saturday morning

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Just a very light dusting of snow from yesterday morning, and this morning we are down to 1 degree so it is going to be freezing when we go to the shoot.  The plan for this morning is to get on many layers of clothing.  Silk long Johns, thick socks, fleece tops all covered with the huge wax jacket and my silly Russian hat with the ear flaps.  I am not sure if I will be able to move but I intend to stay warm.  Its a good job I don't really care what I look like as I am sure I will look a sight.  The things I do so my dog is happy!!  well that is not strictly true I do enjoy it too.
As you can see it is stupid o'clock again and I am wide awake but I think I will sleep well tonight after a day of fresh air and exercise.
The braised ox cheek with the Yorkshire puddings and celeriac purée went down a storm last night the meat was meltingly tender and the gravy thick and delicious.  Not exactly diet food but very acceptable none the less.  Tonight we will have a take away as I am …

Friday morning

Well here we are at then of yet another week.  The forecast big storm either hasn't yet arrived or it has passed us by.  It is pretty cold at 2.6 degrees but it is quite still and and dry.  I took the dogs for a blast yesterday and it was very cold with the wind chill factor but with my huge wax jacket and the hood up I was fine.  Walking along the coastal strip was particularly windy so on the return journey I came back via the fields which are sheltered from the worst of the wind.  In the middle of the field there was a black plastic bag which had caught on a thistle and was flapping in the breeze.  Basso immediately thought it was a flapping bird and was off at a hundred miles per hour to retrieve it.  The look of disappointment on his face when he discovered it was just a bag was really funny.  It is interesting to see the two sides to his character. In the house he is just a loveable clown but when there is work to be done he is force to be reckoned with.  His whole demeanour…

Thursday Morning

Sometimes fortune favours the brave, we decided to go shooting yesterday despite all the dire weather warnings and as luck would have it the sun shone and we had a lovely day.  It was bitterly cold so we wrapped ourselves up in all our ridiculous hats and coats so we looked quite a sight but we were warm.  I shot quiet well getting a 9 on the first stand however things went a bit downhill there after.  We were extremely flattered when a group of men who were following us quizzed us for all our shooting knowledge and admired our guns.  I think they were pretty new to shooting anyway it was nice to be considered capable.  We came home starving hungry and so stopped off as usual at the kebab shop.  This meal is enough to last us the day and I finished off the salad for supper.

Today's menu is complete as I took out some chicken thighs which we will have in the the lovely Japanese batter this evening and at the same time I put a couple of ox cheeks in the slow cooker to braise.  The …

Wednesday and bin day

After the huge storm of the other night we actually had a rather nice day yesterday with plenty of sunshine.  However, we keep getting weather warnings of another even more powerful storm on the way which I believe is due to hit tonight.  Fortunately, we suffered no damage other than a few things blown around the garden.  Mark came and tidied up and also removed an acer from behind the pond which looked like it was dying.  When he lent on it it snapped off at the root which was rotten.  I am really sad to see it go as it was one of the first plants we put in the garden when we moved in but I guess everything has a life span.  It has left a pretty large gap which will need to be filled but I will leave that until the spring.  We are hoping to put in a new filtration system which will need a bit of space so perhaps it is all for the best.   I did manage to get the pump out of the pond and cleaned in the morning so that will not need to be touched for a little while.

Yesterday was a day …

Tuesday morning

Yesterday saw me complete the allotted tasks my boots are clean again but my visit to the dentist was not without incident.  All was going well until I breathed in some of the tooth cleaning powder from his polishing brush and there then ensued the most dramatic and prolonged coughing fit you can imagine.  I emerged into the waiting room to tell Mike it was his turn still coughing a spluttering with my eyes and nose streaming.  I ended up sitting in the garden for a while as I tried to regain my composure.  What I had not realised was there was a patient waiting who was absolutely terrorised by the dentist - well he legged it.....  Mike merely commented to the dentist that he had failed to finish me off.  Thank goodness we are not due back until June!!!!

The sea food risotto was a great success especially as I had taken all the shells from the freezer and made a shell fish reduction once they had been roasted off in the oven.  I have reduced it down to about half a pint and put it in …

Monday morning

Well I certainly feel a bit more like a human being today after a day of rest and copious cups of tea. I cancelled our visit to Shiona which was the right thing to do, and instead I finished my knitting and am now at a loose end so it will have to be the Christmas cards.  [Not my favourite job]  Anyway, once it is done, it is done.  Today, I have a trip to the dentist for entertainment.. It is 6 months since the last one so just a check up and the usual sand blasting.

My boots have dried since their outing on Friday so they could use a good clean.  Because they have a heavily imprinted sole they get mud stuck in them and it take a while with a knife to clean them out.  Letting them dry and then giving them a good bang gets the worst of it out but never the less it still needs some knife work.  The a good coat of waterproofing completes the job.  They cost me a fortune so I feel obliged to maintain their up keep.

Fortunately, at the crack of dawn yesterday, I made a batch of pea and h…

Sunday and a day of rest

Yesterday was a day to forget I spent some time in the kitchen preparing lunch and also decided to do the washing as it was bright and sunny which meant we were generating electricity so I treated myself to the use of the tumble dryer. James and I completed the crossword puzzle in double quick time and I finally finished the button band on my knitting.  Leaving just the arm hole bands and it is finished.   However, come the afternoon I was feeling very rough and have had a pretty awful night with some sort of tummy bug. Today I am supposed to go over to Shiona's house and help with the dismantling of the village hall following their play. However, I feel so lousy that I think I may have to cancel. I have taken an immodium in the hope of stopping the trots but I still feel pretty awful. I think a day of liquids only is called for and give my gut a rest.

As a matter of interest the partridges were delicious and so much nicer than pheasant. The flavour of the meat is delicate…

Saturday morning

Well dearly beloved I am pole axed this morning.  We may only have been out hunting for 4 hours but they were hard work tramping through jungles of briers.  Basso did his stuff and we ended up with 4 pheasants and 2 wood pigeons.  At one point we had to cross a field with sheep in it and I was asked if he was al right with sheep.  Well I didn't know the answer as he had never encountered sheep before.  The answer to the question is yes he is fine he is terrified of them.  He is a "big girls blouse" and runs away if they chase him!!!!  He had to work very hard and is in a state of total collapse this morning as are both James and I. However, I was pleased with the dog as he worked off the lead for the whole afternoon and was very good with his whistle commands.  Believe me we all need to be very grateful for shops and that we don't need to catch our own food any more. I think we would all be very thin and very fit if we did.

Before we went hunting I had made some indi…

Friday and a hunting we will go

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Two lovely plucked and trussed partridges ready for the oven.  This was yesterdays task then it was off to the oriental supermarket where I bought loads of lovely stuff.  My freezer is now stuffed to the gunwales with prawns and squid and baby octopus so I feel a lovely sea food stew or may be a risotto coming on.  There was a huge accident on the M2 coast bound so we had to make our way back via the M20 as the road was closed but Mike made the drive seem easy as we threaded our way round the back streets to pick up the motor way and avoid the blockage.  For lunch we had some of the char siu meat with inoki mushrooms and pak choi and some glutinous rice not to mention a nice portion of chinese roast pork.  The for supper I really pushed the boat out with some home made dashi which I made with kombu and flaked bonito then added some fish and some prawn balls it was very light but absolutely delicious.

This morning I need to get some leek and potato soup on bright and early as we will b…

Thursday morning

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Shooting was interesting yesterday with all the wind it was quite exciting as the clays were all over the place.  Anyway I was delighted to come in only three shots behind Jeff and to have beaten him on several stands.  We had the usual kebab for lunch which we didn't get until about 2pm by which time we were all starving hungry.  James came home at about 3pm and promptly fell asleep in front of the TV while I knitted a couple of rows.  By the time it was bed time we all agreed that none of us felt much like supper so we just had a ham sandwich and called it quits but not before we checked "filedsportschannel.tv".  And yes we were on it!!! there is a small section about the Throwley shoot and if you blink you might miss Basso going up into the woods to look for a lost pheasant.  The black lab at the beginning is Sandi's "Yoda" so they got the best two dog on it!!!!!!

Today I am going to pluck the partridges and get them ready before I have a shower and get…

Wednesday morning and bin day

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My box of veg minus a small cauliflower which we had bathed in cheese sauce last night for supper.  I see mushrooms cooked with garlic and parsley and served on hot buttered toast, leek and potato soup and artichoke soup, a pepper and tomato stew and the cabbage finely shredded with a lovely roasted ham hock and Dijon mustard.  As we speak there is an ox tail in the slow cooker with all the usual suspects carrot onion and celery and a can of stout.  Oh I do love winter cookery, slow but very warming and tasty.

I took the dogs for a quick blast yesterday but Tuc decided to lag behind, then panicked because he thought he was lost and Mike found him running around the car park like a headless chicken.   I am beginning to worry for his sanity he really seem very accident prone of late.  Basso received an invitation to go rough shooting on Friday so that should keep us out of mischief for the afternoon.  I only hope that he doesn't have another bur experience at least not until the new…

Tuesday morning

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2.4 degrees this morning and feeling pretty chilly but at least we don't have any snow yet.  Not that I mind the snow, actually I quite like it, it makes the world look so pretty it is only when it turns to slush that it becomes a real nuisance.  I do realise I am in the fortunate position of not having to battle in to work, I can just sit and enjoy the view.

James has headed off to London for a few days to make sure his flat is in good order and to collect his post.  So we are back to just Mike and I rattling around the house which seems so empty.  I got Basso out on the garden table yesterday and gave his coat a final good brushing and got rid of the last of the burs.  What a pain this has been.  I really must make sure we stay out of those woods in future.  I may well invest in a de-matting comb just in case.


I got all the laundry turned round and put away but the machine is full again so the next lot will go on after Jane had finished.  While I was cleaning in the kitchen I ma…

Monday morning

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Next door have gone to town with some Christmas lights but the tree is really pretty with just silver balls and fairy lights.  I must admit I am taking a leaf out of Scrouges book and not decorating the house as it will only be us two and may be James for xmas.  I may go mad with a bit of holly and a few candles but that's about it.

I spent most of yesterday trying to remove the burs from Basso's coat with a pair of scissors so now he looks a bit like the sheep dog on the Spec Savers advert.  It is a good job we are not showing him any more!!!  I think I have learned a valuable lesson and will not be taking him into that part of the woods again.

The washing machine was running most of the morning trying to get everything clean and I spent a happy hour cleaning the mud off my boots.  They are now dry so a coat of polish /dubbing will be today's job and then we are ready to go again. I also put the navy blue satin sheets on my bed and what a joy they are to sleep in they …