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Showing posts from January, 2012

Tuesday morning

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Yesterday as usual started with a trip to the vet with Tuc who appears to be back to his usual self - constantly demanding food!!!  His 0% fat diet is going well and it looks like this may be the way he will need to eat from now on.  However I don't think he will be getting polenta and pheasant breast for too much longer.  I will have to have a look around for a low fat dog food that he can have.

James friend came round at about 10.30 and we started making bread.  We tried with both fresh and with fast action yeast the results showed little difference.  We then also tried to cook one small loaf in the halogen oven which was less successful.  It did work but it would not be my first choice of method of cooking.  While the bread was rising we took a trip to the cash and carry where I stocked up on things like bleach which the wonderful Jane goes through at frightening speed.  While the bread was in the oven we had our lunch of meat balls and pasta with tomato sauce.  Then it was ti…

Monday morning

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The eager boys waiting for supper
Yesterday started with a trip to the vet at 9 am and we now know what has been going on with Tuc he has pancreatitis.  Anyway at least we now know what to do so he is on protein and carbohydrate only NO FAT. Well all the regular dog food we have has a proportion of fat in it so I had to use my culinary skills to prepare his food.  For breakfast he had an egg white omelet with a table spoon of porridge.  The for his supper he had some sloppy polenta and pheasant breast.  Fortunately I had plenty of pheasant in the fridge which had been through the sous vide machine.  He seems better in himself and is very keen to eat!!!!
Then it was off to Faversham to get some coffee - and a few other bits and pieces including some biltong that was reduced.  While we were out James had been put in charge of the Heston chicken that had been brined and then needed 2 hours at 90 degrees.  We called in on Sandi to return her first aid kit and after a nice chat we made our w…

Sunday morning

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Yesterday started with  a trip to the vet where Tuc was given an anti-emetic and also some antibiotics then it was back home for cage rest and 2 hourly warm water drinks.  He has had no further vomiting and is now asking for food which I take to be a good sign.  We are due to take him down to the vet this morning at 9 am and I am hopeful that we can start re-feeding today.

We were all at a loose end as we had had our plans cancelled, so we bought a paper and did the crossword with the help of Google and the iPad. The shooting picnic of scotch eggs and pea and ham soup was what we ate for supper and  for lunch we had sausages with bacon.  I made up some bags of poached fruit which I put through the sous vide machine for two hours so now they can sit in the fridge until needed.  It is a nice stand by to have available when you just fancy something sweet to finish off a meal or a quick and easy breakfast.  In the bags I put an apple and a pear cut into eights and a plum halved, together …

Saturday and Beaters day

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After all the anticipation it looks like we will not be going to the shoot today.  Tuc has been very ill and spent most of yesterday in the vet being rehydrated on a drip.  The vet is unsure what the problem is but his best guess is gastroenteritis ? cause.  Fortunately, the other dogs seem to be fine so I am hoping it is nothing infectious.  If Basso started vomiting we would need a boat.  No sooner than we got Tuc home last night than he was sick again but is now holding water down and has been put on cage rest.  We are due to take him to the vet again at 9am which means that the shoot will not be possible.  As you can imagine I am pretty gutted but the dog comes first so we will get him sorted out and forego the shooting there is always next year.  One good thing is that I have made a pile of scotch eggs so at least we wont have to worry about lunch.   Last nights dinner was served in two sections we had one piece of toast with the Morecambe bay shrimps before collecting Tuc and a …

Friday morning and the end of another week

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As you can see the strelizia flower is still not open, any bets on when it will finally break out?  The vase of lilies however are opening and scenting the whole room.

Yesterday was a nasty wet day so we decided that we would only take Tuc for a short walk as he was still feeling delicate.  Over the course of the day he had about 5 meals of just a tablespoon of boiled rice with water and the vomiting has stopped and he is looking a little brighter.  Today we will move on to rice mixed with some of his regular biscuits at about a 50:50 ratio made into a sloppy gruel and see how he gets on.

After our walk we swung by the butcher to pick up my sharpened knives and while we were there I bought some 4 ox cheeks which are in the slow cooker with a can of Mackeson and an onion.  Once tender I will add an assortment of vegetables and thicken the gravy then divide into portions and off it goes into the freezer ready for pies or stews.  Then it was on to the fishmonger for some undyed smoked had…

Thursday Morning

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Yesterday we were blessed with a reasonable day it was dry with no wind but very dull and not too cold which all in all was ideal for shooting practice.  James came with us and the three of us had a really good shooting session.  We moved from stand to stand only shooting the type of clays that mimicked incoming pheasants.  We also tried to remember that we had two barrels on the gun.  With clays you use one barrel for one bird and the second for the second bird but when shooting real pheasants you can use both barrels at the same bird. If you miss with the first you can have a second bite at the cherry.  I was pleased with the way we both shot and so I hope we will not make ourselves look stupid on Saturday.


Shiona brought with her this photo of the cot blanket she has knitted for a baby in Australia.  It is knitted in very fine cotton and has taken her ages so I volunteered to put a crochet border around the outside to make it look a bit neater.  Please note the background of a pure…

Wednesday morning and bin day

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Not quite so stupid a time to be up but still very early.  Yesterday I did manage to go back to bed and get a couple of extra hours but woke feeling very groggy.  It was a perishingly cold day with miserable drizzling rain which persisted for most of the day. Definitely a day for staying in doors and keeping warm.  After all the trauma of the last couple of weeks we are all suffering with adrenalin hangovers and as if it were not enough for James his motorbike has a clutch failure just to make his life complete.  On the up side we have been having constant problems with our patio doors which keep slipping off their runner.  The man came out to fix them again yesterday and has recommended a new set of runners should this happen again.  I was concerned as the guarantee runs out in 3 days time but as the problem is an on going one they will fix it under the guarantee if it reoccurs.  Unfortunately the door has a lot of use as it is my access to the back garden and the garage where the fr…

Tuesday morning

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Well it is really stupid O'clock but hopefully I may return to bed and catch a couple more hours.  Yesterday was a day of ups and downs. On the up side I have finished cleaning the kitchen cupboards, the ironing got done and put away.  We had the most luxurious breakfast of eggs Benedict because I had a go at making hollandaise sauce in the sous vide machine and then didn't know what to do with it. It seems to be a completely fool proof method where all the ingredients are put in a sealed jar and floated in the machine.  Once the cooking time has elapsed you just whiz it with a stick blender and you have perfect hollandaise sauce.  It saves all that beating over a saucepan of boiling water stuff.
On the down side James finally got a diagnosis through of moderately sever PTSD {post traumatic stress disorder}.  Which in some respects is good as at least he now knows that his problems are real rather than imagined and given that the Met have done nothing to help him for 7 months…

Monday morning

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Yesterday was a day of rest and laundry. Some how I seemed to have loads of sheets that needed dealing with so now I have a nice stack of ironing.  Talking of bedding I must tell you about my new silk duvet.  The first thing you notice is that you feel as if you only have a sheet covering you because it is so light.  However the warmth is great and while I am all lovely and toasty I don't get too hot and have to kick it off.  The second really good feature is that despite being in a faux satin cover it doesn't slip and slide all over the place.  The hypo-allergenic quality doesn't matter to me but I know that that is why most people usually buy them.  They are on sale in John Lewis but the quality is not as good as those directly from China and the cost is more.  It did take three months to arrive by sea but in the end it was worth the wait.  So we are now ordering a 2 kilo king size which is the same price as a 2 kilo single as they are sold by weight not size.

Lunch yest…

Sunday and a day of rest

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The intrepid bunch of pickers up wrapped up against the cold and ready for a days work

We set off as usual at about 8.15 loaded down with clothing and hot soup and pasties for our lunch.  The first few drives yielded very few birds but as the day progressed things improved.  After lunch Basso and I were assigned the back gun who follows behind the beaters to get any birds that double back.  Well Basso had his work cut out as the guy was a good shot and birds started to rain down.  He had to charge around and fish them out of big patches of brambles which he does with great ease.  The word Spinone comes from the Italian word for thorn - spino and this is where his rather unruly coat serves him well.  He ended up with a bag of ten pheasants and a woodcock.




We have some nice photos as Shiona was our official photographer.  The total bag for the day was rather poor with a mere 76 birds shot.

We finally made it home by about 4pm and after cups of tea and foot washing for Basso we settled do…

Saturday morning

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It is dry and 10 degrees so not too bad but the wind is whistling around the house.  So all in all not too bad a day for pheasant shooting.

Yesterday, saw us out bright and early with the dogs then home to get on with making a few bits and pieces.  The new ramekins got filled with crème brulee and in the absence of a blow torch I managed to make the caramel tops with the halogen grill which is very hot.  I have also worked out the recipe as for one egg yolk so I can now multiply it up as necessary.
1egg yolk + 75mls cream + 15g sugar, vanilla to taste then 14minutes at 83 degrees, a good shake and then a final 14 minutes before pouring into ramekins and allowing to set.  Very easy and no guess work!!! for perfect results each time.

The left overs pie [goose and pheasant breast] went down well for the first course then we set too making a bed for Shiona in the front room.  Fortunately I have a blow up bed which takes minutes to inflate and is really very comfortable.


I slept very wel…

Friday morning

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Good morning all, well it is only just morning and here I am again.  Sleep seems to be a bit of a luxury at the moment.  I think I have been running on pure adrenalin for some time and until my anger has burned itself out I think I will have to resign myself to rather short nights.  Yesterday, again saw us eating out of bags of pre cooked sous vide food which has been a real boon,  I also set to and made a game pie but in the style of a shepherds pie with a mashed potato crust.  I also got another loaf done and continued with the cupboard cleaning.  I find that there is nothing like a bit of anger to push me forward with cleaning jobs.

Shiona is due to come this evening but she is having boiler problems and may have to dip out if she can't get it fixed.  I hope she can make it as she has at last received our silk duvets from China and I can't wait to try mine.  However, I am sure we can manage to eat the whole game pie regardless.  This morning I am going to make some pea and…

Thursday Morning

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Yes it is stupid O'clock but I do have a reason.  Yesterday saw the culmination of 7 months of torture at the hands of the Metropolitan Police and James finally resigned.  This is, of course, exactly what they wanted in order to save themselves any further embarrassment.  However, as luck would have it, I had already put in a formal complaint to the Department for Professional Standards.  I am of a generation who were brought up to respect the police but I can honestly say that view has changed completely.  While individual officers may be honest there are plenty who are neither honest nor trustworthy and as an organisation they take the biscuit for institutional inefficiency and ineptitude.  This whole debacle has wasted untold amounts of taxpayers  money which is something they are extremely good at doing.  We now find ourselves with a son who has had his whole life destroyed and is unemployed with a mortgage to pay.  Thank goodness we are here to provide a soft place for him to…

Wednesday and bin day

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Yesterday, was a relatively quiet day, Jane came and did her stuff and James went off to London but not before we had taken the dogs for a freezing walk.  The small pond that they play in was frozen over and Basso was not inclined to try skating.  His great big paws make excellent slippers and wellingtons but are rubbish as ice skates.  I plodded on with the cupboard cleaning and have now managed 19 of the 26 so I feel I am nearly there.  I also managed to get three loads of laundry done so that is dangling around the house.

I though long and hard about shooting today and decided that as we will be going to the pheasant shoot at the weekend I was not in the mood to get frozen and or wet today so I have cancelled.  It also gets me off the hook for lunch.  Mike and I had some chicken broth with pastina for lunch and for dinner I did a pile of sticky chicken wings which had been accumulating in the freezer. There are enough left for lunch today and they are as nice cold as they are hot. …

Tuesday morning

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Just a glimmer of spring on what was a very cold day.  I was in Tesco by 7am and it was really freezing so I was glad to whistle round and get home.  The car resembled an ice cube when I went out to it but fortunately it has a terrific de- icing facility you switch the engine on and press a button which puts on all the heated screens etc. and in a couple of minutes it is safe to drive.  No nasty scraping ice off the windscreen.  Sadly our garage isn't big enough to get a car in so it has to double up as my kitchen extension/ butlers pantry.

Once home it was on with all the vac packing and on with the sous vide.  I put through the chicken breasts which as it turned out I bought on two whole chickens as it was cheaper.  This meant that I also had legs to cook as well.  The carcasses went in for soup /dog food.  I then made up a couple of packs of potatoes both chopped and sliced and 4 bags of fruit, apple pear and blackberry this time.  Finally in went a belly of pork which has had …

Monday morning

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Bread Making day




HEY HO AND UP SHE RISES
I got a bit distracted so the loaves are rather well baked but never the less delicious and the mini loaves act as bread rolls for accompanying a bowl of soup.
We had a nice frosty walk with the dogs and they were surprised to find their usual paddling pool had turned into a rather unsafe ice rink.  Basso was completely in hunting mode and searching every bush for birds with no success.  Once we were home it was on with lunch which was some of the sous vide belly of pork, crisped up in the halogen oven served with carrot and swede mash, parsnip purée and cabbage cooked with bacon and chestnuts.  Sounds like a lot of work but actually it was merely a case of opening a few bags and warming things through.  
Then it was on with another experiment.  I have made crème brulee in the sous vide machine which is quite an interesting performance but it looks fine and it will form part of our lunch today as we are expecting Shiona.  She has her dogs booked in…

Sunday morning

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The dreaded "crap" drawer done

BEFORE


AFTER
Not easy to see the difference but it is much tidier and cleaner and I have binned quite a few bits and pieces.  Anyway it is by far the worst of the cupboards and drawers so now I feel I am on the home run with just 10 left to do.
Either the general knowledge crossword was easy or I was on form but it only took about an hour to complete, leaving me plenty of time to fiddle in the kitchen.
The sous vide machine got put into good use as I took some pigeon and pheasant breasts out of the freezer and cooked them ready for a game pie.  I also did some vegetables, glazed carrots and some new potatoes which can now sit in the fridge ready for when they are needed.  Which as it turned out was sooner than I though as James and his friend turned up at supper time so I was able to very quickly serve the ox cheek stew with carrots and potatoes and for dessert some of the stewed fruit with custard.  Job done a two course meal in under 20 minutes an…

Saturday morning

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Another drawer done and cleaned but there is still the "crap" drawer to go and you will see that it is going to be a major task.


Where does all this stuff come from?  You will notice in the left hand corner I have some tools, hammer, screw drivers and pliers which are off limits to the men in the house.  I am going to have to take a deep breath before I tackle this mess.
This morning it is freezing cold at -1 with a thick frost and yesterday was pretty chilly.  We picked up Len and Margaret at the allotted time and made our way to the gun shop where Margaret bought Len a lovely jumper in the sale and I bought a nice pair of shooting gloves which will allow me to shoot with gloves on when it is really cold.  I also bought 1000 cartridges which should keep me going for a while.  Then it was off to walk the dogs and then the pub for a nice lunch.  I had a Bouillabaisse which I followed with a crepe with lemon and sugar.  Very nice but not much in quantity so I was glad of supper…

Friday morning

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Flan case ready for the oven with its very expensive baking beans


The finished article which I must tell you, if you like crab, then you must make this tart, it is truly delicious and served with a green salad would grace the tables of the finest restaurant. recipe at the end of this blog

Using money as baking beans is an inspired idea and really helps to cook the base and keep it crisp. I now have a jar in the middle of the table and every one is asked to donate any 1p coins to the baking bean jar. I also used a thermometer to judge when the custard was ready and as soon as it reached 70C it was out of the oven and left to set at room temperature.  As it turned out I had crab meat left over so I also have a pot of Cornish cream of crab soup as well.  For dinner I made some prawn cocktails which is a real blast from the past and as I didn't have any mayonnaise I had to start from scratch with the Marie rose sauce.  We followed this with a cube of belly pork that had been cooked in…

Thursday Morning

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Where to start, yesterday got all turned upside down and I ended up in the kitchen for most of the day.  First I made a loaf of bread as I am trying to get ahead of the "eaters" and now have a whole loaf sliced and in the freezer and half a sliced loaf in the bread bin.  Then it was on with the sous vide and in went the pheasant breasts while the legs joined the chicken carcass in the stock pot. It had taken me a good hour and a half to prepare the pheasants from their feathered form. Next into the bath was the chicken legs and breasts packed separately.  Then finally in went the belly of pork which needed 8 hours.  The men had seen the Hairy Bikers leek and crab tart and put a request into the catering department so I ordered 2 crabs which then had to be picked!!!  The crab meat is in the fridge and the shells in the freezer for a shellfish reduction,  Today I will make the tart so it is a good job I watched Heston last night as he came up with a tip of using coins as bakin…

Wednesday morning and bin day

We are finally back to the normal regimen of bins our on Wednesdays now that all the festivities are over.  However, before the bins can go out I have a 4 pheasants to deal with.  We were discussing this last evening and commenting on how heavy the birds are to carry back when we are out on the shoot so in the interest of accuracy I went and weighed a brace of birds on the spring balance in the garage.  6lbs was the weight and given that we often have 3 or 4 brace to lug back to the truck you are talking between 18 and 24 lbs which is not an inconsiderable amount to carry.  There is method in my madness and I do the birds early so that all the detritus can go out immediately with the bins.

Yesterday passed quietly with Jane doing her stuff so I was out with the dogs giving her a free run of the house and keeping me from under her feet.  The sous vide machine lay idle but I did spend some time getting a few bits ready for a session today.  I still had a pumpkin left from my previous we…

Tuesday morning

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Now this going to make you laugh I know it certainly made me giggle.  We set off for Landrover at the crack of dawn and told them the sad saga of the wheel nut remover.  The nice young lady inquired if we were sure it was missing and I told her that we had searched the car yesterday with no success but I was happy for her to look.  She called one of the mechanics, who had very small hands, which he pushed down into the back panel where the jack is kept and low and behold there was the nut it had slipped from it place and was deep inside the panel.  You will see that we now have a bright green luminous bag in which to keep the nut so that this will never be a problem again


We were back home by 8.30 and the car went and had its brakes done with no problem.  The Halfords bill was just under £500 which is a considerable saving on the £800 to have the job done by Landrover.  Just enough to cover the cost of sous vide machine!!!!!  
Last night we had the pork chops which had been in the water…

Monday morning

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Yesterday went more or less according to plan the dogs got a walk and the hens got looked after.  Mike went and did a bit of shopping for a couple of bits and pieces and I made a nice prawn risotto for lunch.  It was served with a couple of scallops on the top.  These had been cooked for ages in the water bath and then just given a flash in the pan to caramelise the outside.  Absolutely perfectly cooked!!!  I also made a wholemeal loaf which is now in the freezer ready sliced.  Mike was so taken with the fruit that he bought a load more so that too has been pealed, sliced, bagged and poached.  For dinner we had some left over turkey which had been vacuum packed at Christmas and just left in the bottom of the fridge.  I served it with some carrot and swede mash and some hot gravy.

Once all the gadding about was done we then had the difficult job of collapsing all the back seats in the Landrover to push the dog cage out of the way so that we could find the locking wheel nut spanner.  We…

Sunday and a day of rest

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No house work done yesterday much to busy having fun.  The weather for the shoot was nice and dry but there was a wind that was coming straight from Siberia.  Now here is a laugh for you.  One of the guns wives had brought their married daughter to the shoot as she had a new black lab which had been professionally trained but had never been on a shoot as she [the dog] was only 18 mths old.  I was asked to take them under my wing and look after them and show them the ropes!!!  You will appreciate just how ironic this is as I am only now getting to grips with the etiquette myself.  It reminds me some what of the surgeons motto of "see one, do one, teach one".  Anyway they both did well and the dog did get a retrieve as I sent Basso for a difficult bird which left the easy one for her to get.  The thrill for the dog owner is all in the risk when you send your dog out for a bird you are never quite sure what will happen - will the dog run off with the bird and find a nice quiet …