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Showing posts from 2012

New Years Eve

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With the New Year approaching I have found myself being somewhat reflective.  With all the excitement that the year held with Olympics and Jubilee celebrations for me personally it has been by far the worst year on record.  However, things are gradually getting better so I am hopeful that 2013 will prove to be a better year.  Through all the traumas I have managed to perfect my sock knitting technique and am now on the last ball of wool from the anonymous box I received.  I have cooked and cooked and we have eaten very well as a result.   Bassos' training, all be it sporadic, has come on well and he is a real joy to be around.  Dogs have such a good attitude to life, they live purely in the moment, with neither past nor future, just the now.  I wish I too could live like that!!!! But the thing I envy most is their ability to fall asleep instantly if there is nothing happening and then wake just as instantly if there is some entertainment to be had.  No sitting on the edge of the …

Sunday morning very early

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All ready for the freezer

I had a real cooking fest yesterday and made an assortment of dishes.  I made a nice cold turkey salad to have for supper and the sprouts got made into a sort of gratinated dish with chestnuts and fried breadcrumbs.  Three of the pasties got eaten for lunch but the remaining three will go in the freezer along with a pie of the left overs.  I then made some vegetable soup with the turkey stock and then  some pies with mash toppings and a filling of turkey, ham leek and mushroom.  It doesn't sound a lot but it took forever to make and boy you have seen the washing up.  I think I used every bit of kitchen equipment that I possessed.
Once things are cleared away to the freezer I will need to give the kitchen a bit of a birthday especially the floor which is filthy.  
Fortunately, we are going out to lunch today so I have a day off as far as cooking is concerned but without the wonderful Jane someone has to do the housework and I guess that someone is me.  Th…

Saturday morning

It is blowing a gale here and the wind is whistling down the chimney but as yet it is dry.  We managed to get the dogs out for a bit of a walk on the way back from our appointment with the DWP.  What a revelation that was - talk about in depth questions it was patronising in the extreme we were spoken to as though we were a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic.  Anyway enough of that but I am not surprised that people don't claim what they are entitled to.  I swung by the butchers and picked up a nice piece of rump to make pasties with and couldn't resist a pair of turkey legs which were going spare.   These legs got put in a slow oven covered with foil and today I will strip off the meat and make some soup, to make up for the load that went off.  There should be plenty of meat on the thighs which will also be put to good use. This time I will get on with the job and not let it hang around in a warm atmosphere.

I have finished another pair of mittens and am now knitting a b…

Friday morning

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Only two hiccups yesterday the wonderful stock had gone off in the warm kitchen overnight - my fault I should have drained it and got it into the fridge, and the front off side tyre had a puncture made by a big nail.  The stock went down the sink and the tyre got mended so all is now well.  I am not too disappointed about the stock as I did manage to get a bowl of it for supper one evening.



Individual pies made with short crust pastry filled with turkey ham and leek in white sauce and then topped with jellied cranberry and orange sauce.  I saw this idea done by the Hairy bikers when they made a big pie so I sort of miniaturised it.  They are a bit rough and ready around the edges but the pastry is very short and I had to blind bake the cases before filling.  Anyway the most important thing is that they taste really good.  The left over cream got made into lemon panna cotta with a blob of 'little scarlet" strawberry jam in the bottom of the ramekins.  The stuffing along with …

Thursday morning

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A big sigh of relief and contentment - it is all done.  Yesterday was a great success and all my preparation and freezing meant that it was a very stress free day just a bit of heating and dishing up. A large proportion of the food got demolished and today I have the glorious task of getting all the left overs sorted out.  The left over turkey meat and some of the ham will go into a pie mix and the stock pot will be drained..  The carcasses will be picked over for the dogs so the waste will be minimal just some well boiled bones which can go out for the bin men this morning, if I get a move on.


I think it is not the work involve with Christmas which is so stressful but the responsibility which weighs heavy on the shoulders of the cook.  The one item which, for me, was totally invaluable was the meat thermometer.  Brining the birds also made a big difference in keeping the meat moist and the big surprise was that when I took my turkey out of the oven at 8.30 am and set it under some f…

Boxing day

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Well the amaryllis made it for Christmas and so did we.  There have been times in this turbulent year when I doubted that I would see Christmas but here we are all safe and well.  The birds are all cooked and the duck demolished.  I cannot recommend more highly the idea of brining the birds before roasting it does make a big difference.  The other main thing to make life easy is to remove the wish bone before cooking.  This allows you to carve with little skill and still have nice slices.  
We didn't have any small children opening presents but the dogs took their place well and got thoroughly over excited ripping off wrapping paper and then going quite mad with their new toys.  They charged about chasing each other and retrieving the toys until they were exhausted and collapsed to sleep until lunch.  Everyone was pleased with the duck and there was nothing much left after we had had a go at it.  I carved the cold turkey and the ham ready for today so all I have to do is heat up …

CHRISTMAS DAY

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Happy Christmas to you all - as usual I am up at the crack of dawn - well actually well before dawn.  It is pouring with rain here but relatively mild.  My turkey is all done and in the garage for boxing day and today I will roast a duck for the three of us.  The consensus opinion was that it should be served with mash, peas and gravy so that is exactly what I shall do.  My slow cooker has been on for days with the giblets from both birds and assorted other bits and bobs so the stock for the gravy should be good.  
However first and foremost I shall start the day with a family tradition and that is a big slice of panettone dunked in a cup of really good coffee while playing carols at high volume.  Then it will be on with the peeling of the potatoes and preparing the duck.
Have a brilliant day and may all your culinary adventures be good ones......

Christmas Eve

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The era of the socks has passed and we are now entering the era of the mittens!!!  Last year I knitted 25 scarves for Christmas and I must have knitted at least that many pairs of socks this year.  
Well everything is under control here the turkey is in its bath of brine and due to be taken out at 5am  then it will get a rinse for one hour in fresh water and finally dried and prepared for the oven. Finding a container big enough to hold the bird was not a problem as I have many trug-buckets that I used in the garden.  I took the wishbone out to make it easy to carve.  It feels a bit weird to be cooking the bird today but tomorrow I have the duck to cook for our lunch.  The turkey is for cold meat on boxing day when the visitors arrive.  
We are going to have a risotto with sizzling prawns for supper and just an egg on toast for lunch as I will be busy doing other things.  I have so much stuff in the freezer and it will need to be got out in time to defrost.  Here is the recipe for th…

Sunday morning

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Discretion being the better part of valour I did bottle out yesterday.  Sandi rang me first thing and suggested that it would be better to stay at home so I rang Bill to let him know and he agreed that if he didn't have to go he wouldn't bother either.  None the less I felt very bad and a real wimp.  The day was largely a write off as I had nothing much to do.  I ended up watching loads of rubbish on the TV and knitting the mittens.  We ate the pasties that I had ear marked for out packed lunch and had a take away for supper which is what I would normally have done.  I did however make a loaf of bread and a nice lentil and chorizo dish for supper tonight which is simmering in the slow cooker. 

My vegetable box turned up yesterday so now I have loads of veg for Christmas and today we are off to the butcher to collect the meat.  As you can see all the veg with the exception of the onions have been sourced in the UK which pleases me.

white potatoes (king Edward) UK
onion…

Saturday morning

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The flowers are definitely going to make it for Christmas I'm not so sure I will.  Yesterday, saw James discharged by the pelvic specialist who was very impressed with his progress after such a significant injury.  We were too early for the pub so we decided to go home and on the way treat ourselves to some KFC! Now I am sorry we did, as I made a complete pig of myself and am paying the penalty.  I have been awake half the night with belly ache which is totally self inflicted.  The weather this morning is foul with rain and wind and I am supposed to go picking up with Basso but I must admit that being shot at dawn would seem preferable at the moment.  The thought of hiking across ploughed fields in the pouring rain really doesn't fill me with joy.  The only saving grace is that it is not cold.
We are still having trouble with James former employer, the Metropolitan Police, who are refusing to fill in the form sent to them by the insurance company who need details of his emplo…

Friday monring

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I think I will have a flower for Christmas, the bud seems to be developing before my very eyes.  Yesterday was busy with my brother in laws visit.  I hastily rearranged the menu and did some pheasant breast with mushroom and cream mashed spuds and carrot battons for lunch.  Thank goodness I had sous vide cooked them before freezing which meant it was mostly a reheating job.  the zabaglione that my mate Thermo made was just right.  The lambs kidneys that I had earmarked for supper ended up as devilled kidneys on toast for supper as we were still 4 and I needed to stretch thing out a bit.  
Mike took the Landrover off to get the windscreen washers fixed which as it turned out was just a burnt out fuse.  However, Landrover did a thorough check and we also got some new windscreen wiper blades so everything is hopefully in tip top condition for the winter months.  James collected his boots from the orthoptic department and they look splendid, there is nothing much to see from the outside …

Thursday morning

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This is a photo of the dogs "works Christmas outing".  Sandi and Yoda came round yesterday and we took the boys for a bit of a blast, then we managed to sit them up and get a photo of them.  Sandi had been having some problems getting her photos from her camera to her iPad but we managed to download this one and also a fabulous photo of Lucy, the game keepers dog, who had got very chilled on the last shoot and so made herself a bed in the pile of pheasants in the back of the truck. I'm glad that they remove the birds from the feathers in our duvets!!!

We managed to get out before the miserable rain started but it was already beginning to blow and the temperature was dropping.  The meatballs and rice I had prepared for lunch went down well and there were enough left over for supper.  Today I have my brother in law coming for lunch which has rather caught me on the hop and I am not quite sure what to do.  I think some of the many pheasant breast from the freezer with some…

Wednesday morning

Well what a spectacular cleaning day I had yesterday.  Between us we managed to get all the glass and silver cleaned.  Everything that is ment to be shiny and sparkly is just that which makes the place look very much better. The dishwasher did sterling service with all the bits that are dishwasher proof but so much needed hand washing that Jane, James and myself made a good chain gang.  I still have a few outstanding chores but they are things I can quietly potter through.  Mark came and sorted out the garden so it is all tidy and he is going to come some time in January and prune the roses.  
Mike went and did a few bits and pieces of shopping while we cleaned so for lunch we had a couple of mackerel fillets each with a gremolata to replace the run of pin bones and a tossed green salad.  Supper was also a simple affair of beans and bacon lardons on toast.  I made a big batch of meat balls for us to have for lunch today as I am expecting Sandi to call.  If she makes it early we may h…

Tuesday morning

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Yesterday was really warm and sunny just like a spring day but I believe that is all set to change.  I got on and finished putting the furniture straight in the sitting room so that is now back to how it was intended.  I then sat a wrote out a to do list and frightened myself to death.  I made some packs of mirepoix which have been sweated off and vac packed ready for an assortment of dishes. Some of it got used as the base for our chicken soup which we had for supper.  It seemed only sensible that instead of dicing one carrot I did 6 and so on which has cleared a bit of space in the vegetable cupboard.

Today is the wonderful Janes last day and I am all set to do a bit of silver cleaning and ornament washing rather than her usual run through with the hoover which I will do myself later in the week.  It does seem a bit pointless as I am expecting my friend with her dog tomorrow so the floors will need to be done after that.   With this in mind I made some dog biscuits as Christmas pre…

Monday morning

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Well here we are on the final week up to Christmas.  Yesterday was a nice balmy day and so we took the dogs for a walk in some local woods where every other tree is a holly.  I took my secateurs with me and plundered the trees for some decorations. Then it was back to cook the lunch.  I stuffed the breast end of the chicken with lemon parsley and thyme stuffing purely because I had spare stale bread and a big bunch of parsley.  The added stuffing ensured that there was sufficient meat left over for lunch today.  I now always cook my chickens in the halogen oven, half an hour breast down and the last half hour breast up.  This seems to give the best results and keeps the bird nice and moist.  For supper we had a good old standby sunday night supper of boiled eggs and toasty soldiers.  Since I have been without my hens I have been buying eggs in Aldi and they are by far the freshest I have found but I can't wait until the spring when I can restock my poultry pen and once again have…

Sunday morning

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I am up really late this morning but that is due to a very late night - sleep seemed to illude me but at least another sock got finished.  I am hoping to have its brother done by Christmas.  Anne in answer to your question we usually end up having a sandwich with whatever you can find.  However, I was watching Nigel Slater and he made some nice looking puff pastry turnovers with mashed stilton inside.  I'm sure they could be made in advance and frozen then just thrown in hot oven when needed.  If you are looking for something fresher then what about a couscous salad which you can fill with anything you like. You could go oriental with a coriander and lime base or Mediterranean with basil and tomato or middle eastern with pomegranate and sultanas.   Or a plateful of beautiful prawns brought to life in a pan of hot butter and garlic and adorned with some chopped parsley and a slice of lemon.  The couscous can be made the day before and hidden in the fridge and the other things will…

Saturday morning

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What a grotty day it was yesterday it poured with rain and blew a gale for most of the day.  There were only a few mad souls out walking their dogs when I went and boy did I get soaked.  My wet weather coat has finally given up the ghost and is no longer waterproof.  So the dogs and I came home like drowned rats.  However we were all soon dry and at least it wasn't cold.  For lunch we had a monumental bowl of moule marinier which was really delicious however supper was a disaster.  Mike had been tempted by some party food in Tesco [please see picture above]  I religiously followed the instructions on the packets but oh the disappointment - the prawns were tasteless the bruschetta were soggy and the chicken wings were dismal.  Every now and again we are tempted by ready made things and more often than not we are disappointed.  The men all agreed that basically the problem was that they were spoiled - what a nice compliment!!! 


A friend sent me this joke in my eMail and I just had …

Friday morning

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Mince pies ready for the freezer.  They are made with the orange pastry according to Nigella.  It was very short and difficult to work with so I rolled it between two sheets of cling film but the finished result is delicious.  In the box are the dozen saved but I did make a few more which we had to sample.  I think I may make yet another batch as a dozen will not go far between 6 of us.  I used shop bought mince meat which I have enhanced with a couple of spoonfuls of brandy.  I am hoping that a quick blast in a hot oven will revitalise them once they are out of the freezer.  
The weather here has done a real about turn it is +5 ° this morning quite a change from -4° yesterday.  According to the weather forecast it is supposed to be wet and windy but as yet is still and dry.  
Today we have a bit of a treat I have ordered some mussels from the fish monger which we will collect on our dog walking circuit this morning.  So lunch will be moules mariniere with a good splosh of white wine…

Thursday Morning

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The last of the pasties are out of the oven but the first batch got eaten straight away.  I managed to make a dozen pasties with one rump steak so a very economical meal really.  The last of the the meat and veg I put in a pie dish and covered with the last of the pastry.  The swede was huge so half of that went in the pasties and the remainder got mashed with carrots as an accompanying veg for the stew tonight.  I braced myself went to the garage and dealt with the pheasants which were relatively easy to deal with as they were partially frozen.  The eight breasts got wrapped in parma ham and vac packed in pairs then put through the sous vide.  Now they are ready for the freezer and will just need moments in a pan to reheat.  I don't think the temperature got above freezing all day and the frost stayed in the garden so it was an excellent day to slave over a hot stove.  Today it is slaving over a hot iron as all the bedding is now dry.  I know lots of people don't bother to i…

Wednesday morning

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It is really freezing this morning at -3.6°.  The outdoor thermometer reads close to the house brickwork so I guess it is even lower away from the house.  Yesterdays plans were partially completed but as usual I ran out of time and gas.  Jane was delighted with her pair of socks and given that her feet give her a lot of trouble nice warm socks are just the thing.😥We hit the shops and managed to get most of what I needed.  I tried to get a sensible quantity of bicarbonate of soda to make the shower decongestant but failed, so I think I will have to order online.  All  I found were the small tubs for cooking.  I use quite a lot for cleaning so I may as well order a kilo and have done with it.  I bought some stewing steak so that is in the slow cooker together with the usual vegetables and a can of Guinness.  Today I am going to make cornish pasties with the traditional ingredients of swede potato onion and some rump steak.  I am hoping that there will be enough for lunch and also some…

Tuesday morning

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The temperature is falling and we are below zero this morning.  Yesterdays vist to the dentist proved uneventful but time consuming.  Just the usual clean and polish and book an appointment for 6 months time.  We dropped James off at the hospital for his appointment with the physio and they are at last starting to do some work on his damaged foot.  You can imagine that as his ankle has not moved for 9 months everything has tightened up and is now refusing to move.  I think this is going to be a long and painful road to get back some of the mobility.  
The pork that was left made a nice lunch with some saute potatoes and a big green salad.  The bones ended up in a pot and will be the basis of a lentil soup for thursdays lunch.  Supper was a simple affair of sausage beans and eggs.  It is nice to have a fry up from time to time.  I managed to finish off the pair of socks for Jane who is due today so I hope she likes them.  I have now started a pair in a nice dark chocolate colour which…

Monday morning

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Chilly and cold this morning but dry with no Siberian wind so all in all not too bad.  Yesterdays loin of pork was very tasty and there is plenty left for a cold lunch today.  The most useful devise to ensure a perfect roast is the thermometer I bought from Lakeland.  You just set the temperature you require and when it beeps the meat is done.  While the meat rests you have time to finish off the vegetables and make the gravy.   All the temperatures for rare, medium and well done are on the back of the machine so you don't even have to remember them.  The picture shows fahrenheit but it also does centigrade which is a bit easier.
I had a pretty rotten night last night as I fell asleep early then woke at midnight and was still singing and dancing at 2am thank goodness I dont have a job to go to.  I do have a trip to Maidstone this morning for my 6 monthly check with the dentist but I can spend the rest of the day mooching and knitting.  I did all the laundry yesterday as it seemed …

Sunday Morning

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Good morning all, well what a day I had yesterday.  First thing I felt like going to the shoot like a hole it the head but decided to brace myself and go anyway.  I layered myself in clothing until I looked like the michelin man, determined not to get either cold or wet.  As luck would have it it was a perfect day with warm sunshine no wind and dry as a bone.  However the same could not be said of the terrain which was sodden.  Some of the fields were newly drilled so they were just mud.  I drove Sandi and I to the farthest drives which proved some fun off roading and sliding around in the mud but we managed to get to each place without getting stuck which I think was more by good luck than judgement.  Basso was wearing the electric collar in case he choose to run a muck, but did he, no of course not, he was impeccably behaved and worked his socks off.  At one point we were trying to get a bird out of some really thick brambles Basso was living up to his name Spinone which means thorn…

Saturday morning

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Well according to the weather forecast today is supposed to be a better day but I will be taking no chances and my full wet weather gear will be coming with me along with all the warms thermal stuff.  Currently the thermometer is reading 3.5 degrees and it is still and dry so that is hopeful.  Basso is curled up in his bed oblivious of the fun day he has to look forward to.  On the stove there is a bean, pepper and chorizo casserole bubbling away.  One portion of which I will take for my lunch the rest James and Mike can have for theirs then tonight will be our fortnightly hunting season take away.  I know that I will be poleaxed when I get back so cooking is definitely off.
Yesterday, was a bit of a write-off as on our journey home from Shiona's we stopped at the butcher and bought a nice loin of pork to have for Sunday lunch and also some pasties from the baker for lunch.  I had had such a rough night that I went straight off for a sleep then got up and made a macaroni/cauliflo…

Friday morning

Well here I am back where it all began many years ago.  It was at Shiona's computer that I first started this blog.  Yesterday was a very strange day weather wise it started off bitterly cold but as the day progressed it gradually warmed up and eventually started to rain.  James and I started the day off with a trip to Curries to pick up a speaker he had reserved - mean while my chicken livers were defrosting so without further ado I set to and made some chicken liver parfait which we had on toast for lunch.  We had had a crazy breakfast of what I like to call fried air.  I had 5 egg whites left over from the zabalione so I beat them until stiff then added a little sugar [not enough to make meringue] then the light fluffy clouds were fried off in some melted butter and dressed with a drizzle of molten jam.  I should have taken a photo but forgot.  Anyway a nice way to use up all those egg whites.

We left for Shiona's at about 3.30 and managed to catch all the rush hour traffi…

Thursday morning

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Up a bit later this morning but sadly no snow 😥I couldn't believe my eyes yesterday morning as I sat typing the snow began to fall in large white flakes and for about an hour and half we had a constant stream which lay nicely on the bushes and trees.  I phoned and cancelled my shooting as it really didn't look like it was going to be feasible.  However once I had made the decision the snow stopped and gradually melted.  The beef stroganoff was cut back to serve just the three of us but I had to make a full jug of zabaglione, what a tragedy, we had to have it for both lunch and dinner as the recipe makes enough for six portions.   For supper we had some fish fingers with a butter bean and pepper stew also nice and quick as I was making the stuffing for the turkey which is now in the freezer. 
Today the weather is well below zero and it is perishingly cold.  I am taking James to fetch a speaker that he has on order and then after lunch we are headed off to Shiona's for din…

Wednesday morning

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Good morning all, well it is another freezing cold day with the temperature below zero.  The curtains are back in the sitting room at last and most of the furniture is back in place there are still a few items to move but essentially the room is back to the way it is was intended.  The wonderful Jane helped me to get them back up as it is a two man job to hang them as they are pretty heavy.   James boots were delivered to the hospital so that they can be altered to support his foot and hopefully they will be ready to collect some time next week.  I was interested to read that the hospital is, for the second year running, amongst the 12 worst hospitals in the country.  So I guess I am not alone in my experiences with them. They have sent me a letter apologising for the fact that I was dissatisfied, but they have missed the point, my satisfaction is not the issue it is their poor care for which they need to apologise. I will be alerting to this fact in my reply.
Today I am destined to …

Tuesday morning

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Two large bubble and squeaks ready for the freezer and just right to pull out on boxing day and brown in the oven.  This made a considerable mess in the kitchen as you can imagine.  I put all the potatoes through the potato ricer so they are nice and creamy and I did enough for us to have some mash and sprouts with our venison sausages for lunch.  The gravy was that left over from the roast beef.   I then made a very interesting soup with a sweet potato.  First fry an onion then grate the sweet potato and add that together with some Thai green curry paste [from a jar] and a tin of coconut milk.  Then top up with sufficient stock and boil until tender.  Blitz the results to give a creamy tasty soup.  
The weather was crazy yesterday it was really very warm and pretty wet but we managed to get the dogs out for a blast between showers.  The curtains have been collected but as yet I haven't got round to hanging them so I guess that will be todays job.  I have bought all new hooks as …

Monday morning

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Slightly out of focus cream slice which was last nights supper.  Lunch had been some roast salt marsh lamb with peas mash and gravy so not much was needed for supper.  I had been itching to make "creme patissiere", in the thermo and was not disappointed it took all of 7 minutes once the ingredients were weighed into the bowl.  Once done it can sit it the fridge for ages provided you cover closely with cling film to stop a skin forming.  I can see this being a real boon in the summer for fruit tarts and profiteroles.  
The weather today is a complete change. It is relatively warm and pouring with rain, a direct contrast from yesterday when it was so cold but dry.  Today I am hoping to retrieve my curtains from the dry cleaners and get them back up on the windows.  Not a job I relish but one that has to be done.  For lunch we will have some venison sausages and supper will be a fish pie which just needs defrosting and reheating, it will also clear a bit of space in the freeze…