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Showing posts from February, 2013

Thursday morning

Sorry to be so late but I went back to sleep at 3am and have only just got up.  Now I am well behind schedule and have guests for breakfast so I need to get on.  I will tell you all about it later.....

Wednesday morning bin day

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Yesterday was a day of action in the house Dennie arrive at the crack of dawn and as usual was a whirl wind through the house.  I had done all the ironing and got that put away before she arrived so she had a clear run at the various rooms.  Once the kitchen was done that is where I went to hibernate and keep out of her way.

After much um-ing and ah-ing I finally bit the bullet and went and fetched the mincer from the garage and minced the venison for the burgers.  Like most things it was the thought of it that was worse than the actuality and I was glad I had made the effort as the results were so much better.  With the burgers I made some creamed chard - Mike is particularly fond of creamed spinach so chard is the next best thing.  Then it was a case of using up the last of the vegetables before this weeks box arrived.  A large pot of leak and potato soup dealt with the leftovers.

I continued to put my recipes on the new program and keep bumping into things I want to make which is …

Tuesday morning

Yesterday was a successful day in the kitchen.  The savoury bread and butter pudding was very tasty and surprised us all as we were not expecting great things from the recipe.  It was a very good way of using up one lonely gammon steak and making it stretch for three people.  It also used up some stale bread and some mouse trap cheddar.


Ham and cheese bread and butter pudding


75g/2½oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
1 loaf thick-sliced white bread, crusts removed
200g/7oz thick-cut ham, cut into chunks
250g/9oz mature cheddar, grated
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
100g/3½oz peas
3 free-range eggs, plus 3 free-range egg yolks
500ml/18fl oz double cream


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a large ovenproof dish with butter.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for 4-5 minutes, or until softened.

3. Meanwhile, butter the slices of bread.

4. Layer, half of the buttered bread, onion, ham, cheese, parsley and peas into the …

Monday morning

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Can you believe we are in the last week of February already.  Ok it is a short month, but even so, it seems to have sped by really quickly.


Yesterday James had a trip to B&Q and purchased a plug board for my bedroom which has made a big difference as I have a whole pile of electrical stuff and it was a nightmare of leads and adapters. Now it is all tidy and each plug has been labeled so I know which is which.  The one in the picture is grey but mine is white which looks quite respectable.  It has a couple of USB outlets so that I can also charge my phone and my iPad.
Once the leg of lamb was in the oven I settled down to watch "Skyfall" on DVD.  As usual with James Bond there was plenty of action and explosions however I was mortified to hear them describe a side by side shot gun as a hunting rifle.  What a gaff!!!!  Anyway, other than that it was quite good as Bond films go and the special effects were pretty spectacular.  
The roast lamb was lovely and we had it with …

Sunday morning

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We seem to be stuck in a patch of cold weather it has been below zero for days, and now they are threatening us with an increasing wind chill factor.  It tried hard to snow all day yesterday but it never amounted to much.  It was just enough to make things unpleasant.  We decided to walk the dogs in the woods where it might be a bit warmer and less windy but it was still perishingly cold.  It never ceases to amaze me that dogs can go from lying next to a radiator cooking to running around in the snow with no apparent change in their demeanour.  There is no wrapping up in thermal gear shivering with chattering teeth, just joy and delight.  
While I was in Tesco getting a few supplies I spotted some soft herring roe on the fish counter and suddenly fancied roe on toast for lunch so that is exactly what we had.  None of us were feeling particularly hungry so it fitted the bill very well.  For dinner I made some ox tail soup which was really delicious and by using the pressure cooker it …

Saturday morning

Yesterday was a really miserable day weather wise it tried to snow almost all day but nothing seemed to stick.  It was bitterly cold and quite depressing with sand like snow bowing around.  We decided that it was a day to stay indoors and watch old movies and knit and crochet.  Fortunately I had some nice salmon fish cakes in the freezer which went down well for lunch with a green salad and for supper my last ox cheek stew was reheated with mash and buttered cabbage.  Even the dogs were happy to lie by the fire and snooze not even the bones were exciting enough to get them going.  
Today looks very similar with the temperature well below zero and a fine layer of sandy snow laying on the garden furniture.  I think it may be a good opportunity to get some more of my recipes transfered to the new programe which will take quite a bit of time.  Currently I have just under 300 converted but I think I must have an equal amount still to transfer.  I think I will soon be able to call myself a…

Friday morning

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Yesterday was freezing!!!! Shiona popped over and we took the dogs for a good run but oh boy was it cold.  There was a cutting bitter wind which made it really unpleasant not that the dogs even noticed.  We hit the wool shop as Shiona needed lots of wool for all the animal hats she is making.  I have asked for a lion hat which is made on huge needles with a very loopy stitch.  It took the two of us quite a while to decipher the instructions and get to grips with this unusual stitch.  It is always difficult to understand written instructions and it took us several attempts to get the stitch right.


I bought some more wool from the bin of left overs and have promised to make Shiona a pair of mittens once I have finished the socks I am currently knitting.

We ended up having a very late lunch of monkfish tail warped in parma ham and some steamed broccoli with a lemon and butter sauce.

James had a very good session with the senior physio who he is seeing again in a fortnight.  In the mea…

Thursday morning

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First can I thank you all for your good wishes for Basso's birthday, I'm sure if he could type he would send you all a big slobbery kiss.  I know I am a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic celebrating the dogs birthday, but what the hell, in these dark cold days of February anything to celebrate is a good idea.    James bought him a big bone and a small one for Nip to stop any jealousy but what happened?  Nip took the big bone which he cannot even lift and Basso got the small one.  The Chappie was demolished as if it were caviar so all in all a nice birthday.



It was perishingly cold for shooting with a nasty cutting wind but I had on all my thermal gear so I didn't suffer too much.  Given that it has been three months since I last shot I acquitted myself none too badly and ended the round with a 10 which made me feel really good.  There is a regular clientele at the shooting ground and we were welcomed back with open arms and queries as to where we had been.  It is nice…

Wednesday morning and bin day

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After months of walking around with duct tape on the arm if my reading glasses I decided to push the boat out and buy a new pair.  I have had these type of glasses for ages as they are so convenient and you don't spend half your life looking for them as they live around your neck.  I tried all sorts of glasses on chains but they used to get into a real mess and were usually covered in pastry or mashed potato.  Having discovered this type which fit snugly around your neck and don't fall off if you lean forward I am sticking to the design.  The internet is wonderful as you order one day and they arrive the next.
Today is a big day for my furry friend it is his fifth birthday and he is officially an adult.  Can you believe it is five years since we drove down to Redruth to collect a gorgeous puppy?  So much has happend since then it feels like a life time ago.  He has grown into a big strong well rounded individual with charming good manners and a happy disposition.  He has take…

Tuesday morning

First Anne, the recipe for the Guinea fowl worked really well and as you spotted the sauce is very tasty.  The last of the cold meat was made into a sort of coronation chicken idea which we had with buttered rice and and endive, pear and blue cheese salad.  Mike managed to get the last two of the frozen Guinea fowl from Dobbies butchers and they are tucked up in the freezer for some other time.  It was interesting that the stock made from the carcasses was much more gelatinous than that made from chicken bones, perhaps because they have had that much more time to develop and mature.  Today, it is going to be put to good use in a risotto which we are going to have with some egg and breadcrumbed sweetbreads and a plain green salad.  The boiler has been serviced so that is one less item to remember for a while and the laundry finally got done and put away.  As the boiler is in the airing cupboard once serviced I took the opportunity to tidy it up yet again.  I needed to syphon out some …

Monday morning

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Yesterday saw me feeling a bit more human.  The sun was shining and showing up all the dust so I turned my back on it all and took the dogs for a run.  It was in fact very cold and all the puddles were frozen into sheets of ice but wrapped up warm it was pleasant enough.  The guinea fowls had their allotted 45 minutes in the oven and then out to rest while I made the tarragon and lemon sauce.    They were really very tasty and reminded me of what chickens used to taste like.  The meat was moist due to the minimum cooking time and a good 15 minutes resting.  We demolished one bird at the first sitting and the second was stripped from the carcass for supper.  There is still and adequate amount left for lunch today.  The bones have all been through the pressure cooker and I am expecting a great stock.  So I make that 9 portions and some stock and a dog meal for £7 which I think is great value for money.  The washing machine plodded through load after load of washing and I am down to the…

Sunday morning

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Guinea fowl is on the menu for today it makes a bit of a change from chicken if I can cook properly.    This is the Valentine Warner recipe I have selected:- Roast guinea fowl with tarragon and lemon sauce IngredientsFor the guinea fowl 2 guinea fowl, giblets removed 25g/1oz butter, softened sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper For the tarragon and lemon sauce 1 tsp plain flour ½ lemon, juice only 150ml/5fl oz white wine 4-5 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves only, chopped 75ml/2¾fl oz double cream sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper Preparation method Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. For the guinea fowl, smear the guinea fowl all over with the softened butter, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the seasoned guinea fowl into a deep-sided roasting tray. Transfer the guinea fowl to the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the guinea fowl at the thickest part of the thigh. …

Saturday morning

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Well its Saturday morning but rather too early.  I tried to have a day of rest yesterday so it was beef burgers for lunch.  No horse in these as I had made them myself from good quality beef mince.  I have no problem with eating horse but the problem, as I see it, is being lied to and over charged as horse meat is so much cheaper than beef.  I suppose it is a question of trust if you are told it is beef then you accept that as being the truth.  Being a pessimist I think this may be the tip of the iceberg as far as commercially prepared food is concerned but this is nothing new.  When I was s child we had friends who had a poultry farm and I can remember giving the hens a yellow dye to make their flesh yellow so that they appeared corn fed as this particular batch were going to the USA where that is the norm.  I am talking about 50 years ago so it has been going on for a long time.  Anyway it reinforces my stance of DIY where ever possible.
For supper we had one of the ox cheek stews …

Friday morning

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The trip to France went well despite the tunnel cancelling our train and us having to wait for the next one.  The weather was absolutely foul with lots of wind and rain but we were happily warm inside the car.  We arrived at the restaurant at about 1pm local time and here are some photos of the meal.

Amuse bouche  consisting of hot crab soup, salmon mousse on toast and goats cheese with concasse of tomato.


Two starters either fois gras pate or timbale of lobster


 Palate cleanser of pear sorbet with pear William liquor


 Main course of magret of duck with port sauce, dauphinoise potatoes, carrot puree and peas. There was also fillet of sole with beurre blanc sauce.


A choice of three cheeses


Dessert starting at 12 o'clock with chocolate tart, then creme brûlée, raspberry cream, choux bun filled with creme patisserie and finally a tiramisu.

What a blow out! by the time we had finished eating and drinking the couple of bottles of wine we only had time to shoot into a shop and purchase …

Thursday morning

At least it is a touch warmer this morning but there is a fierce wind blowing so I am very glad that we are crossing the channel in the tunnel not on a boat.  I am a very bad sailor and feel sick just thinking about boats, which is no way to approach nice lunch out.  I managed to run myself down so much over the weekend that I now have a lovely cold sore on my lip.  This always happens when I really tire myself out completely.  Anyway, once today is over I can really take some time to rest up and care for myself.  Shiona and Keith are due here at 8.30 this morning so I will need to be ready by then and not pottering around in my dressing gown as usual.
By the time we get back I should also have a new set of patio doors installed and as this is my only access to the garden and also my freezer that will make a big difference.  The old patio doors have been on the blink for ages and finally are refusing to close properly at all so it is definitely time for some new ones.  There is not a…

Wednesday moring

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Yesterday morning it was like Piccadilly circus here as friends prepared to leave and Mark was jet washing the garden. H was going to catch a train to London so needed to be dropped at the station and Angela was going to drive the car back to Bristol where they live.   I made loads of sausage bacon and tomatoes and put them in a warm oven then as people appeared for breakfast so I could fry off an egg and serve them a cooked breakfast.  What was left ended up as sandwiches for lunch after everyone had left.  The garden is now safe and all the green algae has been blasted away.  Mark also made sure that the paths out the front of the house were also not slippery.
We all shunted our stuff back into our respective rooms and after lunch I collapsed and slept like the dead until gone 5pm.  Fortunately, before dawn I had made a shepherds pie which just needed throwing in the oven and browning and dinner was ready.

Angela brought me a lovely orchid she knows I have a passion for white flo…

Tuesday morning

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This photo was yesterday morning at 5am and it continued to snow until lunch time.  We left for Shiona's house once the car was cleared of snow at about 10am and were astonished to see that once over the north downs the snow was almost non existant.







Goudhurst is a very pretty village and typical of the weald of Kent and as it happens it is also the place where our guests mother spent her honeymoon. Obviously these photos were taken in better weather.
We had a very adequate lunch in the local which is now a gastro-pub with a big open log fire which was much appreciated as it was bitterly cold.  We got back home just in time for a nice cup of tea and by then the snow had turned to rain and the white picture postcard landscape had turned back to its dull muddy norm.
Today our friends are leaving but separately he is going up to London on the train to meet up with some buddies and she is going to drive the car back to Bristol.  I think a latish cooked breakfast will save either of th…

Monday morning

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Well it has snowed here but only a light sprinkling and as we are due to go to Shiona's house this morning I hope she is not under several feet of snow where she is.  Anyway I am not too worried as with a 4x4 we should be able to get there no mater what.
Yesterday, was perishingly cold with a nasty cold wind from Siberia which cut you in half and a constant steady drizzle which didn't let up for a moment.  Fortified with blueberry pancakes we took the dogs for a very short walk which was no pleasure I can assure you.  We then went on to the food emporium and had a nice cup of coffee and bought a few bits and pieces.  Meanwhile James was on duty in the kitchen and put the leg of lamb in the oven for us so by the time we got home it was almost ready and all I had to do was to put on the vegetables and put the meringue top on the queen of puddings.  
With full tummies we put on the fire in the lounge and settled down to watch the rugby.  Mike went off for a sleep but I stayed up…

Sunday morning

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James and I clattered through the bed making yesterday morning and all the house work got done.  and after a quick lunch it was off to bed for a rest so that I could survive the evening.  After a couple of hours sleep I got up for a cup of tea and as I came down the stairs so our friends drew up.  absolutely  perfect timing.  Zoe had made and delivered a very nice tiramisu cake which we had with a cup of tea.  Dinner was all prepared with the exception of the ravioli and there in lies a story. I excused myself and went to make the pasta pastry which I made with a new bag of flour.


What a disaster!!! the flour was course and very dry and absolutely refused to make pasta so in desperation I binned it and I went back to my normal 00 flour and abandoned the other.  Then while I piped out the filling the piping bag split and spat the nozzle and half the filling out all over the freshly rolled pasta.  Anyway, despite the initial disasters the ravioli were delicious and doused in some melt…

Saturday morning

Did I get all the jobs I had intended done yesterday?  No, so they are now tacked on to the list for today.  James has offered to give me a hand with changing all the beds as Mike was reluctant to move until the last minute.  I did however get the kitchen all cleaned and I really love my steam mop for the floor.  The biscotti are made and boxed up ready so the menu should run smoothly for today at least.  
The weather forecast looks pretty bleak for the weekend with may be 10 cm of snow for either Sunday or Monday.  However, it could be rain instead.  Which ever way it goes it's going to be cold that is for certain.
On Monday Mark is coming to run the jet wash over the patio and paths which have become very slippery over the winter with algae.  I am delighted as it is a job I hate doing, I always get soaked from head to foot.  I usually give the green house a go over as well so that it is ready for all the lovely sunshine we are expecting in the spring and summer!!!!
While the ho…

Friday morning

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It is very bright and early this morning but I am not going to make the same mistake as I did yesterday.  I woke at about 3 yesterday and thought I would just go back to sleep which I did until 5 but then came the banging headache which followed me round all morning and didn't dissipate until I fell asleep after lunch.  What a bore so today I have decided it is better to be tired than to have a sore head.
This morning we are below zero after a rather nice if cold day yesterday.  The plumber arrived early and fixed the small leak and has made an appointment to come and service the boiler which we hadn't realised is already 2 years old.  Then it was off to collect Mikes blue badge which was quite a performance but I know they are worth lots of money on the black market so they are quite rigorous with their security measures.  That done it was off to the butcher to collect the meat for the weekend and while I was there I got some ox cheeks which apparently have now doubled in pr…

Thursday Morning

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Yesterday was a really miserable day weather wise.  It was cold but not freezing - it was windy but not a gale - and it was rainy but not a deluge.  In fact there was just enough weather to make it miserable and not enough to make it interesting.  After taking the dogs for a walk I decided it was definitely a day for the kitchen.
In my vegetable box this week arrived two vegetables that I always have trouble with one was a medium sized squash the other sweet potatoes

The squash I made into soup by first roasting it and then adding to some chopped and sweated chorizo sausage and a litre of good chicken stock.  The final soup was silky smooth from the squash with chunks of chorizo and finished with a swirl of cream made a very acceptable lunch.   I recommend this to you most highly.
The sweet potatoes were peeled and chopped into chunks tossed in seasoning and olive oil and made into oven chips which we served with home made burgers.  The burgers were just mince, garlic and seasoning.




Wednesday morning

Yesterday while I was copying across some of my recipes I stumbled upon one for bratwurst with onion gravy and rosti.  I had all the ingredients with the exception of the bratwurst but Mike would be passing Aldi on his way back from the barber.  What an excellent lunch I suppose it was sausage and mash but with a German twist.  The onion gravy recipe was delicious with red wine and dijon mustard in it.


For the onion sauce
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced 

1tbsp vegetable oil 

A good knob of butter 

3tsp flour 

1tsp tomato purée 

1tsp Dijon mustard 

100ml red wine 

250ml beef stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper.


To make the sauce, heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan and gently cook the onions for 8-10 minutes with a lid on until lightly coloured. You may need to add a splash of water if they are catching on the bottom of the pan. Add the butter, flour and tomato purée and stir well over a low heat for a minute. Add the mustard, stir well then gradually add the r…

Tuesday morning

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Yesterday was one of mundane chores. The laundry was first on the agenda and as usual Basso felt obliged to help me with it.  Sadly, this makes for quite a slow process as he brings one sock at a time but he is so pleased with his efforts that it is a shame to discourage him.  I suppose it is like when a small child makes you a cup of stone cold tea you still feel obligated to drink it.

We seem to have cured the small fury creature problems in the garage and the ultrasonic plug seems to have done the trick.  I suppose I too would move out if a rave was happening in my lounge.  Talking of fury creatures, in the late morning a large dog fox walked up the garden bold as brass so I sent my big fury bear to chase him off - I don't think he will be back any time soon!!!! he got the fright of his life and only just made it out of the garden in time.


Lunch was a quick and easy meal of mushroom and bacon omelettes - now here I have to mention that the bacon came from Aldi - It was their s…

Monday morning

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As you can see the crochet square is getting bigger but it is slow work now and I am on the final ball of the left over sock wool.  It is at a stage of being pretty useless size-wise so I am not sure what to do now.  The only thing it is any good for is a dog blanket but I don't fancy washing it regularly as it is pretty heavy.  
The roast chicken made a second appearance for lunch yesterday with some nice mashed swede and carrots and the carcass made some nice broth which we had for supper with some pastina and prawn balls.  I found the idea on the net but I must admit that the prawn balls were somewhat lacking in flavour.  If I were to do it again I think it would benefit from some oriental ingredients like ginger garlic and coriander.  On the subject of recipes I have at last found a good app to organise my computer recipes.  They were all categorised beautifully on my windows machine but when I changed to apple everything was transfered but not in my nice order.  Every file w…

Sunday morning

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Yesterday morning was at least dry but the wind was blowing and it must have come straight from Siberia as it was freezing.  I took the dogs for a walk down at the sea side and forgot to put a hat on consequently my ears froze in the wind.  As if that was not stupid enough I set off in my crocs forgetting my wellingtons.  I slipped and old all over the place as they are old crocs with no tread on the bottom, idiot.  Now you know I can be quite pedantic and one of my pet hates is to see dogs with coats which are quite unnecessary.  On a wippet or other very thin coated dog I can understand but yesterday I saw the most ridiculous ever a chow chow with a coat on.  If ever there was a dog who didn't need an added coat surely this has to be it.

Once back home and defrosted I got on with the roast chicken for lunch.  I had made some stuffing from stale bread with parsley thyme and lemon zest and it was only when I had packed the neck that I remembered that I hadn't taken out the wi…

Saturday morning

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Good morning all, it is a bit bright and early but I am wide awake so I might just as well get up. Yesterday was another day of mixed rain and sun and the temperature is dropping back down.  According to the weather forecast we are in for lots of weather over the weekend.  Rain, hail, sleet and snow with wind and sun in fact a bit of everything.  

The snow drops have managed to stick their heads above the soggy ground and as usual they are the first of the bulbs to venture out but I love to see them as they are a symbol of the coming spring. Mike stopped off at the Albanians to see about having the car cleaned but they feel it will take about three hours so he will have to arrange with James to have a lift home while it is being done.  Depending on the weather one day next week would be good.  As yet I haven't tackled the hunting box which is still in the back so perhaps that is a job for today.  
I have purchased some new bedding and am in a cleft stick about whether to wash it …