Posts

Showing posts from April, 2013

Tuesday Morning

Image
We are saying good bye to April with another very chilly but bright day.  Not chilly enough for a frost but cold none the less.  I must admit that I am not good at window cleaning; the outside is done by a window cleaner but the inside is down to me.  Yesterday I excelled and cleaned the inside of the kitchen windows which where a bit of a mess.  It does make a difference and on a sunny day it is lovely to have sparkly windows.  The ironing all got done nice and early so I was left with time to play in the garden a bit before I got the roast belly of pork underway.  It was a relatively small piece of meat so I cooked it in the halogen oven and rather than potatoes I made a bit of sage and onion stuffing to go with it and the leeks and gravy.  
James and Zoe took the dogs for a run round the rugby field and I hadn't realised but Basso knows what that means and the minute I mentioned the rugger field he started to bounce about with glee.  His vocabulary is getting bigger and bigger…

Monday morning and the start of another week

Image
Yesterday morning started off very cold but the sun soon came out and it was a perfect day for drying so my machine worked over time and all the sheets got put through.  I am still doing my laundry with the eco egg and no soap powder and I have not noticed any great difference.  The laundry comes out clean so what more do you want.  There is also no need for softener as things are nice and soft when they emerge.  The only problem I have had is that the egg came apart a couple of times and scattered its contents far and wide so I have fixed it with a couple of cable ties.
The hens got a good clean out and I gave away yet another half dozen eggs to one of my neighbours.    For lunch we had a duck breast each which I cooked skin side down in a cold pan gradually increasing the temperature until all the fat was rendered then they were turned over and put in the halogen oven for about 15min at 200 and that seemed to be absolutely perfect.  The potatoes got a saute in the duck fat and it w…

Sunday morning

As predicted the clear skys have resulted in quite a frost this morning and temperatures only just above freezing.  It was cold yesterday and we had been predicted rain in the afternoon though none arrived.  We had however taken the dogs for a run in the morning to make the most of the dry weather.  
I am in a bit of a quandary with regard to the crochet as each little jacket take just over 100g of cotton I am left with a fair quantity.  So I have started another but know that I will not have enough to finish it so I have bought a contrasting colour but then I will be left with loads of that.  It is a bit like the cheese and biscuity quandary where you need a bit more cheese for the last bit of biscuit but you find you have too much so you need another biscuit but then there is not enough cheese and so on and so on.
Today looks sunny and bright but very cold so I am still going to hold off with the plant buying until I am sure we will not be getting any further frosts.  In the mean t…

Saturday morning

Image
Yesterday was nasty and wet for most of the day and so I must admit to a day of total indolence.  Apart from making a few bits and bobs for lunch I did little else.  I parked myself in front of the TV and watched the Franco Zeffirelli film of Hamlet which I had recored earlier.  It is not a Shakespeare play that I am familiar with so I had to pay attention to the dialogue.  Meanwhile the hands kept crocheting.  There was nothing readily available for supper so it was a Chinese takeaway.
I was trawling about on the internet and found this lovely photo of 4 generations of Basso's relatives taken at their kennels in Redruth in Cornwall.  I live with one Spinone can you imagine living with 8 of them?  

Today the weather has cleared up a bit but the temperature has dropped like a stone and it is only 4ºC at the moment so pretty chilly.   I'm glad I decided against having a splurge in the garden centre as it is still a bit cold for young plants.  The black birds have been having a …

Friday morning

Image
I have been fiddling with the remaining yarn and now that I feel more confident with this pattern I have also extended the sleeves.  I still have a fair amount left so I will have to have a look around for some other project maybe matching booties.

I went to Aldi and purchased the free standing induction hob which is really very nice and has ten temperature settings as well as a three hour timer.  This came in handy as I set it on a low simmer at 80ºC set the timer for an hour and left the mince to cook itself while I went off for a rest. The sun was shining so the electricity was free.

I took the dogs for a walk in the local park on the way back from shopping and there I met a girl who I knew from dog training some 10 years ago.  She is into border collies and has about 6 of them, one of whom has just had a litter of puppies.  We had a long doggy chat while the animals had a grand time playing together and though I had not walked far the dogs came home exhausted from all the cavorti…

Thursday morning

Image
Yesterday was another glorious sunny day: I managed to do a little fiddling around in the garden as well as all the laundry which was washed and dried and back indoors by 4pm. [ironing to follow today] I put the venison through the mincer and made a batch of burgers some of which we will be having for lunch today.  The remainder are in the freezer for a later date.  Supper was the cottage pie which had finally got its top of mash.  James was interested in making a loaf without the machine so I supervised him making a Paul Hollywood bloomer which turned out really well.

Today I intend to take a trip to Aldi as they are selling induction hobs for £30 which is the cheapest I have seen them they are normally around the £60-70.  I am working on the principle that if I can use it during the sunshine when our roof panels are making electricity I can save a bit on the gas bill.  Most of my pans are stainless steel so they will work well on it.  I do have the most amazing ability to rationalis…

Wednesday Morning

What a day it was yesterday, we had wall to wall sunshine and it was warm with no wind.  It was the ideal day for gardening so Mark and I  had good morning.  Alongside the pond there is a small bed which had been completely overgrown with weeds and ivy.  There were a few plants and some bulbs but everything was struggling.  The bed now is bare earth and what plants could be saved are in a trug awaiting replanting which I should get on with today while the good weather lasts.  According to the weather forecast it is downhill from now on getting cold windy and wet at the weekend.  Deny went through the house like a hurricane so all I have left to do is a good few loads of washing.  I made the base of the cottage pie at the crack of dawn yesterday and now that I have been restocked with potatoes I can make the mash top and we can have it for supper tonight   James took himself off to the shops and laid in all the ingredients for a Mexican feast which we had for supper and Mike had bough…

Tuesday morning and Happy St Georges Day

Image
The little vest made in DK cotton with a 2.5mm hook.  All that is missing is the one button to finish it off.  I am pleased with the results but not the photo which is taken on my duvet with the iPad.  Anyway you get the general idea.
We took ourselves off and bought some cartridges and also bought James a whistle and lanyard so that he can control Basso when he takes him out. The whistles are not just any old whistle but of a specific pitch Basso works on a 211½.  On the way back we stopped off at a country park near Maidstone so the dogs could have a run.  There was a large field area bounded with woodland so it was an ideal place to do some directional work with Basso and get him quartering the field on whistle and hand signals.  This did cause a little consternation amongst the other dog walkers but I must say Basso was great he must have realised other were watching and did a really super obedient job.
Both lunch and dinner were a repeat performance: an assortment of salads and …

Monday morning

Image
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.  The beginning of another week how the time does fly.  Yesterday started off very cold and there was a heavy frost on the ground when we took the dogs out for their walk.  We were much earlier than usual as I had a roast rib of beef to prepare for lunch.  I had decided to cook the meat rather like they do at Simpsons in the Strand which I had seen on the Hairy Bikers program on beef.  I put it in a hot oven and cooked it until it reached an internal temperature of 40ºc then left it in the warm, switched off, oven to continue cooking and standing for about an hour.  The results were perfectly cooked rare roast beef.  Mike had bought some hot cross buns from Tesco which were really poor quality with almost no fruit in them so they got made into a bread and butter pudding with the addition of a good handful of sultanas.  This was a very definite improvement.  Lunch was such a sumptuous affair that supper was quite unnecessary but the br…

Sunday morning

Image
I was thinking that this blog is starting to sound like the weather forecast but here in the UK the weather is really quite important.  The vast majority of decisions I make are coloured by the weather.  What to wear, what to eat, where to walk the dogs, whether to do the laundry or gardening all depend on the weather.  Yesterday, we were in double figures with warm sun today the temperature has dropped by 10º C and we are only just above freezing.  So it is back to warm jumpers and I will be abandoning any gardening ideas.  At this time of the year each day is a surprise and you never can tell what sort of day it will be.  On the other hand I would hate to live in a country without seasons as it does lend a bit of excitement to life.  
Anyway yesterday I decided to make a batch of salmon fish cakes as my freezer supplies had run out and they are a very nice and easy meal.  I open freeze them, then individually wrap them and pile them all into a bag.  

As Mike had been to the fish mo…

Saturday morning

Image
Another long lie in and another late start.  Yesterday was a very threatening day with regard to the weather it looked as if it would pour the minute you went outside but in fact it didn't rain until about 3pm however the wind was bitterly cold.  Today looks brighter and the wind has subsided and who knows we may even see some sunshine.


 The hens are due for a good clean out and I have loads of kitchen scraps for their delight.  I cook all the potato peeling etc in the microwave for a few minutes and they seem to like them a lot.  Best of all they like the bones from a roast joint which they pick clean in minutes.  
Yesterday we has some salmon fishcakes for lunch with a salad and some homemade tartare sauce.  Then for supper I made the Hairy Bikers pork and polenta dish.  The polenta part has plenty of butter and cheese added so it is very tasty and the pork part is made with sausages and onions and loads of paprika.  It ends up being a sort of cross between a shepherds pie and a…

Friday morning

Good morning all.  First let me tell you about my lunch yesterday.  The Barn is a very ancient building but well appointed as a restaurant.  The main room was set up for a large party so we were shown into a smaller side room with about  6 tables which was nice and cosy especially as the other tables were empty for most of our meal.  The menu was limited to three starters and three main courses which I like to see as everything is cooked to order.  I chose for a starter

Fillet of Cornish Mackerel
Pan seared fillet, smoked mackerel rillette, oyster mayonnaise, ginger jelly, cucumber, chilli and tomato salsa

Followed by
Kentish Guinea Fowl
Spinach, truffle and thyme stuffed breast, wild mushrooms, sauté potatoes
The men went on to have bread and butter pudding and Margaret had an apple and blueberry crumble.  I on the other hand didn't bother with a dessert.  The portion sizes were on the small side but the cooking was excellent especially the guinea fowl which was done perfectly and sti…

Thursday morning

Image
Well the sleeping thing seems to be over I am back to the early start again so it must have been just a fluke.  Yesterday I had the urge to make a victoria sandwich which I filled with a whole jar of "little scarlet" strawberry jam and a good quantity of whipped cream.  As you can see it didn't last long  and that is why I don't make cakes very often they just get demolished.  Still once in a while it does make a nice treat.
Shiona arrived bright and early and was absolutely besotted with the new crochet so we had to go straight to the wool shop and get her some cotton and a crochet hook and get the foundation row set so that she can continue with the pattern while she is in Scotland.  She is driving up there today and what I have seen of the weather it could be a bit of a wild ride.

I finished the top which as you can see I did in one solid colour and it is made with some rather nasty acrylic yarn.  However, it was done as a dry run to test the pattern and as you c…

Wednesday morning

I don't know what is going on but I seem to be sleeping later and later.  Nothing else has changed I am not going to sleep any later but what ever it is I am not complaining.  It has rained over night and is still dull and miserable looking.  If yesterday is anything to go by it should brighten up as the day progresses.  I spent quite a while in the kitchen yesterday making bread and also a meat loaf and some ham a split pea soup.  James took the dogs for a walk in his car which was a novelty and Basso was very reluctant to get on the back seat.  Nip on the other hand has no problems with sitting in the passenger well.  Mike shot out really early and got the necessary ingredients so I could complete my dishes.   The meat loaf got annihilated at lunch time and there is only enough left for a couple of sandwiches.  The bloomer was only out of the oven a short time before the mice had a go at that as well.  Today Shiona is coming over so I thought I would do a macaroni cheese with t…

Tuesday morning

Image
Yesterday was a glorious sunny and warm day.   It really felt like we have turned a corner and are heading for spring.  I took the opportunity to give the hens a good clean out and picked them a couple of handfulls of hairy bitter cress which is growing in profusion in the green house.  I know that I could have eaten it myself but decided to give it to the hens instead.  It is nice to do a bit of weeding then give the weeds to the hens.


For lunch we had a sea food risotto which I was a bit exuberant with and so there was a portion left for the dogs supper.  We on the other hand had bacon and eggs as it was quick and easy.  I was going to make a loaf of bread but discovered that I was clean out of yeast so it will have to wait until I have done some shopping today.  I have then planned to make a meat loaf with mozzarella in the middle but again I am short of some ingredients.  Must go shopping!!!!!
Having just spent a small fortune on some new bedding last night was the first time I h…

Monday morning

Image
Another weekend has slipped by and we are back to another week.  The weather yesterday was very mixed the morning was miserably dull with intermittent showers but by the afternoon the sun was back with us and the temperatures were rising but we still have quite a fierce wind.  Spring at last seems to be with us and the forsythia and magnolia are just beginning to burst into life.  Of the 8 artichoke seeds I planted only 4 have germinated so I have put more seeds in and hope they will now  develop all be it a little later.


I made the pizza dough according to the Hollywood recipe but it was rather too wet which made it difficult to work with, however the finished results were very nice.  I made it in a rectangular tin as it was impossible to handle any other way.  I finally managed to move all my recipes from their file to the Paprika programe and in the end there were 660 which is quite a collection.  It has made searching for them much easier and I can now make shopping lists from th…

Sunday morning

Image
Yesterday started off bright and sunny so we got the dogs out early for their walk it was very muddy underfoot from the previous days rain but the sun was warm on our backs which made it very pleasant.  I got a couple of loads of washing out on the line while the chicken was cooking.  However, as soon as lunch was done the skys were getting black and I brought the washing in which was just as well as it rained all afternoon and most of the night.  I think I must be related to lions as after a very filling lunch of roast chicken with mash and gravy I curled up in my bed and slept like the dead.  Actually that is exactly what the dogs do as well.  As soon as they are full sleep is what they want.  Supper was an easy affair as none of us was really hungry so a cold chicken sandwich made with slices of the bloomer was just what was needed.  The carcass went into the slow cooker where it has slowly bubbled over night and today it will be made into chicken soup with the remaining bits of l…

Saturday morning

Image
Between the downpours yesterday I shot out and cleaned the hens out and collected the eggs.  Three lovely ones and then the joke egg from someone.   Please note that this a standard egg cup so you can see just how small the egg is.


Because the hens are free range you cannot tell which one is having a laugh with us.  Perhaps she just needs a bit more practice to get her egg laying under control.  However it did raise a smile on all our faces.  
As the day was going to be a wet one I set to in the kitchen and made a bloomer from the Paul Hollywood recipe and was very pleased with the results.

Lunch was a quick affair we just had some Chinese pancake rolls which were to be baked in the oven so hopefully not too greasy.  They were fresh rather than frozen and on special offer at Aldi so we thought we would give them a try.  They were OK but nothing to rave about and definitely not a patch on the home made ones that Tak made.  
Dinner was on Basso as we had some pheasant breast which I had…

Friday morning

It is warmer but definitely wetter and pouring with rain as I type.  We had a lovely evening with Shiona and a super supper of ham cooked with marsala then it was off to the Parish Hall to see the play.  "Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World", by Louis de Bernieres.  Yes, he is the guy who wrote Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
The plot of the play is rather like that of Under Milk Wood only in South London rather than South Wales. It was the first night of the play and it was great to see the scenery up in place rather than stacked in Shiona's garage. I am always surprised at the amount of work the people are prepared to put in for just three nights. However, I think it is the preparation rather than the performance which gives the amateur dramatic members the entertainment. It was very well acted and most enjoyable. We made our way home after the performance and James was glad to get off his hard chair where he had been for an hour and half. He was very stiff…

Thursday morning

Image
This morning we are back inside a cloud again.  It has rained over night but left us with thick mist and no sign of the sun.

Yesterday was a day of rest I did go back to bed and sleep but the day was all of a muddle there after.  For lunch I made macaroni cheese which was adorned with some of the tiny peppers stuffed with chorizo - what a stunning combination it was really lovely.  For supper we had some leek and potato soup that James made using the chicken stock from the wings I had bought.  The bread that was going stale made good croutons and a swirl of left over cream completed the meal.  
Today we are going over to Shiona's house to have supper and then on to the village hall for the am-dram's latest performance.  James has an appointment with the physio this morning and he usually comes back feeling tired but more mobile.  I think lunch may well be an english breakfast or some other egg based meal as we are now in full production.  I gave Sandi half a dozen eggs but wi…

Wednesday morning bin day

Image
Yesterday was a busy day both Mark and Denny arrived promptly at 8 am.  Mark had brought some bags of well rotted compost which he has mulched the flower beds with.  No sooner had he started than the heavens opened and we had three solid hours of rain.  I tried to persuade him to abandon the job and wait for better weather but he was determined to carry on regardless.  We decided to go shopping as that would vacate the house so that Denny could get on with her work without us being in her way.  I bought some chicken wings which were going cheap and then took off the fattest joint which I made into sticky wings.  The remaining two joints were put in the slow cooker to make stock / soup.  For the sticky wings I just gave them a dousing in soy sauce, honey and a splash of Worcester sauce then put them in a hot oven.  With some plain boiled rice they made an excellent supper.  The soup has cooled over night and this morning I will have to strain it off and then pick the meat off for the …

Tuesday morning

Image
Spring is trying to happen in the garden and the tiny daffodils are making a grand show.  Yesterday was not as sunny as the last couple of days but it was a little warmer and quite pleasant.  Sandi arrived reasonably early and we took her friends Vauxhall Astra estate to our Albanian car wash.  The car was in a parlous state and smelled like a kennel, anyway, we dumped it with them and went across the road to Aldi to buy some milk.  When we got back the car was done and unrecognisable it had been washed and the inside hoovered  and wiped through.  Sandi was staggered at what a good job they had done and all for the princely sum of £10.  We took it back to our house then loaded up my car with all the dogs and took them for a walk down near the estuary only to discover that the tide was in so both her dogs were in the water almost at once.  Basso did his usual of standing on the beach watching being a complete woos.   He did, however, get soaked in the shallow paddling pool which he en…

Monday morning

Image
On my tour of the garden yesterday I spotted this hellebore hiding in a corner.  It was such a lovely day that we were able to leave the patio doors open for an hour or more and get a bit of air through the house.  It was still cold but much better than of late with none of the easterly wind that has been so chilling.
The salmon fish cakes made part of our lunch along with a green salad and a couple of avocados that were not going to wait any longer.  I had a little mackerel pate left and also some brown shrimps so I amalgamated them with the yolks of some hard boiled eggs and returned the filling to the eggs.  The the whole lot was topped off with some homemade tartare sauce.  All in all a plate full of bits and pieces but very pleasing none the less.  The remaining mutton was made into a light stew which we had with some broccoli for supper.  I spent most of the day getting the laundry done and out on the line to dry, with three beds of linen to wash it take some time.  I have one…

Sunday morning

Image
Having moaned like sin about the wintery weather now it is time to wax lyrical about the sunshine.  How many people do you know who rush out with the camera to take a photo of their laundry? Yes this is the confirmation you have been waiting for I am completely mad!!!!


I just couldn't resist the sight of my sheets billowing in the breeze and bathed in sunshine.  It seems like forever since this has been a feasible option.  It was still pretty cold but who cares when there is some sun to enjoy.  I even delved into the pond to try and fix the pump but it appears to have have died so it will be a case of investigating the electrics and then if all else fails it will have to be a new pump.  I didn't spend long with it as the water was so so cold.
The mackerel pâté made for lunch was delicious and the mutton for supper was also very nice James was unsure of mutton but was pleasantly surprised at the wonderful flavour of the meat.  I have quite a bit left over so I think I will make…

Saturday morning

Image
Another bitterly cold day.  I got frozen and wet not to mention almost blown off my feet while walking the dogs.  They say its character building, actually it's just miserable.  We then headed off to the butcher where I bought a lovely piece of leg of mutton, yes mutton, not lamb.  It is now in the slow cooker then it will be served with caper sauce boiled potatoes and broccoli once it is nice and tender.
Next it was the fish monger where I bought some salmon for fish cakes and a couple of whole smoked mackerel.  Some of which we had for lunch with crusty bread and creamed horseradish.  There is loads left over so I am going to make it into pâté to spread on hot toast.  Once it is made it will freeze well so we won't have to eat it every day for a week.  It should take milliseconds in the thermo.


The crochet baby blanket is coming on well and as I have rather less of the pale green wool I have decided to make the stripes of unequal depth, which I think looks OK.  I just love…

Friday morning

Yesterday was a really miserable day we had rain, hail, sleet, and snow all carried on a bitter northerly wind.  Gone is the little bit of sun and back has come the grey blanket.  It was very much a day for staying in bed with the duvet pulled over your head.  Sadly this was not an option!!!!!!
For lunch I made cream of celery soup in the thermomix which was a real doddle. It was very silky and smooth as I did pass it through a fine sieve.  For supper we were going to have kidneys Jerez but once I had cooked them and boiled the rice no one felt much like eating them and a fair amount has  been donated to the dogs for their breakfast.  Lucky boys.....
Today looks just as bad it is still blowing with a leaden sky overhead and not a sign of relief.   I don't think I can remember such a long drawn out winter.  I suppose it it because we had not real summer to speak of so it feels as if it has been winter for ever.  
Today I am going to have a bit of a trawl around the shops and hope …

Thursday morning

Image
As I thought a double yolker, what a joy it is to have my own eggs again there is nothing like a fried egg on a slice of toasted home made bread.  We trundled off to Shiona's house first thing making sure we were well dressed against the cold wind.  It was blowing hard with the occasional flurry of snow and it was bitterly cold.  Not that the dogs minded they had a brilliant time charging around the garden like lunatics and running races down to the bottom fence.  This is a game Basso likes a lot because he always wins even when the terriers have a head start he still overtakes them and gets to the bottom first.  The amateur dramatic society are using the double garage to paint scenery for their next production so there were people in and out over the morning.  Shiona had made some nice meat balls which we had with pasta tomato sauce and a mixed salad.  Then we moved on to cheese and biscuits by way of dessert.  At about three thirty I drove us back home but I was feeling very ti…

Wednesday Morning/bin day

Image
All four hens are now laying but one could use a bit of practice, she hasn't quite got the hang of the shape yet!  I would like to bet that this strange egg has a double yolk.
Yesterday was a glorious sunny day so once we had done the indoor chores it was off out with the dogs.  What a surprise! the wind was not only really strong but really cold and nearly blew us off our feet.  Needless to say the walk was cut a bit short and we were soon headed home to the warmth of the central heating.  Anyway, it was just as well we were home sooner than usual as a friend called in for a coffee and chat.  Her twin girls were away with grandparents so it was just her 8 year old boy who was very happy to sit and draw and eat his way through a jumbo packet of hula hoops while we chatted about more grown up things.  We talk frequently on the phone but it is seldom that we managed to get together.  She is very keen on cookery and also on feeding her family only what is good so she is prepared to …