Posts

Showing posts from June, 2013

Sunday Morning

Image
First let me thank all of you who sent me good wishes for my Birthday I had a wonderful day doing precisely what I wanted when I wanted.  James had bought me a huge bunch of white lilies which have perfumed the whole house.  My long to do list was abandoned for a day and though I had pangs  of guilt I didn't do anything that I considered work.  I did however play around in the kitchen and made the fried aubergines which we had with some cold asparagus and garlic mayonnaise.  I then had the oven going for a loaf of bread so when that came out in went some cheese gougères which are essentially cheese profiteroles. I love making choux pastry as it always amazes me that it works in any other context if you throw a quantity of flour into hot liquid you get a mass of lumps but some how this doesn't happen and I never cease to wonder at how it becomes a lovely smooth dough.  I used Gruyère cheese which gave them a really nice flavour and made the recipe in the thermomix using the qu…

Saturday morning

Image
This morning I am a bit late but I have had to open all my cards and the good wishes I have received via the internet.

I had a lovely lunch yesterday in Tunbridge Wells at a restaurant called "MY WAY" it is very Italian.  I started with a plate of calamari fritti and followed up with saltimbocca alla Romana.  Then they produced a dessert with choux buns and tiramisu lashings of cream and chocolate sauce and a candle.  When I eventually got home there was a large vase of my favourite white lilies as a present from James.

The weather was really miserable with leaden skys and showers but today looks a bit brighter with some wind to blow the clouds away though at present we are still heavily overcast.

I have no plans for today other than to potter about doing just as I please.  I need to make a loaf of bread which I will get underway soon but other than that I have nothing in mind for food for the day.     I have an aubergine which may well end up as melanzane fritte which I l…

Friday morning

Image
Yesterday morning was warm and muggy but Sandi and I made our way to Bluewater shopping centre where there is an Apple shop.  Her iPad had died, well needless to say one of the 12 year old assistants laid his hands on it and it burst back to life leaving us both feeling like idiots.  He did agree that there were some software issues but suggested that she back up her photos and any important things then make an appointment at the genius bar and they would wipe it clean and only put back software that was not causing problems.  We left feeling like dinosaurs and made our way to Lakeland where Sandi bought a few bits and, now hold on to your hats, I bought NOTHING.  We then made our way to M&S where I did my annual purchase of knickers!!! That done we were starving so we made our way to "Wagamama", the Japanese restaurant where we had a nice meal and then we made our way back home.  The men had been under their own steam for lunch and Mike had had a single shepherds pie a…

Thursday morning

Image
Black elderflower in full bloom with lovely panicles of pink flowers
Yesterday was another warm dull day with little by way of sunshine until the late afternoon.  Shiona came over and brought me some asparagus and a punnet of strawberries picked that morning on a farm local to her.  She also brought me some venison liver which she had accidentally defrosted.  We set to and took the dogs for a nice walk in the woods then got stuck into the lasagne that I had made. It was a good portion and followed by strawberries and cream it made a very adequate meal.  We then had a go at catching some of my fish for her to transfer to her pond but as usual it was an abortive attempt.  The fish know just where to go and hide and you don't get much of an opportunity to scoop them into the nets.   We failed miserably not a single fish did we catch.

Having eaten such a good lunch we just had a slice of beans on toast for supper which was fine as none of us were hungry.

Today I had planned more ga…

Wednesday morning

Image
Another cloudy and over cast day again today which is disappointing after the wonderful day we had yesterday.  The laundry got finished and so did some of the gardening.  Of course gardening is never finished but it is always pleasing to get some of it done.  I started the day by having to drive down to the library with a set of jump leads and start James car.  The battery had finally given up the ghost so once it was going it was a case of going to Quick fit and getting another battery.  Considering the battery was the original manufacturers one it had done very well but it has been playing up for a while and finally died.  
I made some devilled eggs [Simon Hopkinson] for lunch which we had with some stuffed grilled tomatoes and the chicken drumsticks were put to soak in a mixture of maple syrup, soy and Worcester sauce, and a crushed clove of garlic.  The whole thing was then put in the oven to cook and get brown and sticky then it was served with plain boiled rice and a mixed gree…

Tuesday morning

Image
Best Buddies with Bones
What a miserable day it was yesterday the sun never peeped through the clouds until about 5pm but this morning looks much better.  
I had a lovely surprise when a friend phoned, out of the blue, to ask if she could come for coffee.  I was just out of the shower so I was delighted to have her visit and we had a good old chin wag.  This meant that my plans for the day got put on hold.  Part of the laundry got done but I still have one load of whites to put out this morning.  James had a dental appointment which was going to involve removing a broken filling so we decided that scrambled eggs would be an appropriate meal for someone with a anaesthetised mouth.  The Japanese chicken was put on hold for supper and what a joy it was.

The recipe is as follows: cut up boneless skinless chicken thighs into bite sized pieces then make a thin batter with flour, crushed garlic, slat and pepper and water.  Then season the chicken and dust in flour, dip in batter and deep fry…

Monday morning

Image
Yesterday was a peculiar day, weather wise, the wind was pretty fierce, one minute the sun came out then just as quickly it disappeared and down came the rain.  As the weather was so changeable we decided to walk the dogs in the woods and as luck would have it we made it without getting wet.  The new wisteria is planted with an entire bag of compost and a very good watering in.  I was shocked at just how dry the ground is.  The light sprinkles of rain have done nothing to wet the ground and the strong winds have dried everything.  I have started to plant out the artichokes but I still have plenty more to put out.  I did do my Sunday greenhouse chores which include giving the tomatoes a feed.  This is a once a week job so I have allocated it a day so that I remember.  Today I am hoping that with the wind but no rain I should get the laundry done in double quick time.
Yesterdays lunch was sirloin steak with a mixed salad and some lyonnaise potatoes and for supper I made a second batch …

Sunday Morning

Image
Gnudi, little ricotta dumplings served with brown butter and crispy sage leaves
Yesterday was a day of miserable weather little sun and lots of rain.  Around lunch time I headed off to Faversham to the barbecue which was being held for the beaters and pickers up who service the estates shooting season.  The game keeper was in charge of the actual fire but his wife and children had been roped in to sorting out the salads and other accompaniments.  The food on offer was the usual barbecue stuff burgers, sausages, chicken legs.  I didn't know many of the people having only been beating twice and as luck would have it the rain held off so we could eat outside but there was a large barn available if the weather had turned nasty.  We were in illustrious company as both her ladyship and a russian princess were among the guests.  I eventually got home at about 4pm and after a bit of a rest I set to and boiled the gnudi that I had made the day before.  As I dropped them into the boiling w…

Saturday morning

Image
First let ma apologise for angering the gods by buying a hose pipe so of course it is going to rain copiously.
This morning when I looked out you could be forgiven for thinking it was November it is blowing hard and raining.  This is of course just the weather to expect as I am due to go to a barbecue this lunch time.  As it is on the Lees Court estate fortunately they have a big barn so we should be in the dry no matter what the weather.  
Yesterday, was a fairly dull day with not much to recommend it.  However the postman brought  the wisteria I had ordered so I will try to get that planted this morning if the weather allows.  The website said 2-3 weeks for delivery but it was 2-3 days.  Fortunately, all is ready anyway so I will go ahead and get it in the ground as soon as possible.  I replanted the greenhouse with some flat leaf and some curly parsley which should keep me supplied over the winter.  
I have a list of jobs for Saturdays.  First it is chicken cleaning out day and th…

Friday Morning

Image
Great excitement yesterday morning when the postman arrived with a parcel in a small box that weighed nothing.  Inside was the 100 foot Xhose which in less than 5 minutes was deployed in the garden and works beautifully.  It weighs next to nothing and expands and contracts just as advertised.  When I coiled up the existing hose it was all I could do to hold it and it weighed a ton.  Of course it arrived just as the rain too arrived and a hose was the last thing I needed but come the dry weather :) it will be a real god send.
Sandi arrived nice and early but as usual she came bearing gifts, a bunch of asparagus, a punnet of strawberries, some ginger biscuits in dark chocolate; she knows me too well, all the things I love.  There was about ten minutes of absolute mayhem as the dogs all greeted each other and ran around like crazy.  Basso is torn between his colleague and best friend Yoda, and the girl he loves KC.  When he thinks we are not watching he can be found canoodling with KC a…

Thursday morning

Phew what a scorcher!!!  We spent yesterday at Shiona's house where it was pretty hot so although we had decided to eat out in the garden by the time it was time to eat we had already changed our minds and decided to eat indoors as it was too hot. Shiona had made a lovely chicken salad [Recipe by Simon Hopkinson] which we had with lovely crispy baguettes and instead of dessert we moved on to a couple of cheeses which we demolished.  By way of entertainment we decided to bath the dogs so the newly acquired bath was filled with tepid water and four out of the five dogs were duly put through the bath.  Jack the oldest dog who is a 14 year old collie was allowed off the hook due to his great age.  As usual Basso was very reluctant to get in the bath but once in the water he stood looking miserable and allowed himself to be shampooed.  We also tackled his beard and moustache which had areas of matted fur which in the end we removed with scissors so at the moment he looks a bit as if h…

Wednesday morning bin day

Image
Now you see it 
Now you don't
The huge tree peony is gone and in its place is a big hole which is going to be filled with some good compost before we plant the wisteria which is due to go in its place. Poor Mark nearly bust a gut getting the plant out but he was not going to be beaten.   Denny went through the house like a hurricane and James and I took the dogs out for a walk.  On the return journey we stopped off at the butcher and bought some lamb rump chops.  Then just as we were leaving we bumped into my old bee guru and ended up chatting on the pavement for quite some time!!! this meant that we didn't have the time to go to the garden centre so yet again it got put on the back burner.  Lunch was a simple affair of spaghetti carbonara which only takes as long as it takes to boil the pasta.  For supper I made the :-
Gratin de Jabron.
1kg maris piper potatoes 150g unsalted butter  3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed  salt and freshly ground white pepper  200ml milk  300ml whippi…

Tuesday morning

Image
Here is an example of a gardening mistake.  The tree peony that was planted a few years ago has become a "triffid", and is in danger of engulfing the whole garden.  I have been dithering about what to do about it and have now decided that it has to go.  We have tried cutting it back but is just grows back lager than ever.  In its place I am going to plant a deep purple wisteria against the fence which I hope will be better behaved.  


While watching the TV the other evening I came across a cookery programme by Simon Hopkinson who I like as a cook.  He made several dishes that appealed to me but I actually had all the ingredients to make a proper prawn cocktail so that was immediately put on the menu for lunch.  It is one of those dishes that has been so badly made, so often, that its reputation has become tarnished.  However, I made the sauce from scratch and served it with lovely homemade bread and butter and it was a real delight.  I also made preparations for a trifle whi…

Monday morning

Image
Yesterday morning was very industrious the bread was made and the hens had a good clean out then it was on to the weeding and a fair amount of that got done too. I have a nice honeysuckle which has been struggling to get going as it gets completely swamped by next doors very vigorous climber which tumbles over the fence and cuts out all the light.  This year I have vowed to keep it under control and let the plants on my side have a chance.  To this end I have also given all the plants on that side a good feed with tomato fertiliser in the hope that they will make some progress.  I had decided to make a hard boiled egg curry for lunch which was nice and easy and left plenty of time for the other chores.   Some time ago I had lots of ginger and coriander which I decided to freeze rather like pesto.  I blitzed it with some garlic and a little olive oil and froze it in small containers.  Well I am glad to report that it works very well indeed and is really handy for any oriental style di…

Sunday morning

Image
Let's start with yesterday: it was a mixed day regarding the weather but as luck would have it I managed to get part of my weeding done while the sun shone.  Lunch was an easy affair as it was just a case of heating up the same meal as we had had the day before.  Even after this there was a big  chunk of ham left which I chopped into cubes and vac packed and put in the freezer.  No sooner had we finished lunch but the heavens open and we had a deluge of rain.  I really didn't mind as it gave me an excuse to give up in the garden and do a few other indoor chores.  We were very lazy and for supper we ordered in a shish kebab with pile of salad.  We are surrounded by take away restaurants all of which deliver to the door so it is very easy to be lazy and would be even easier to get really fat.  I don't feel too bad about the kebab at least it is grilled lean meat and salad which is not too bad.   Mike had been to Aldi and had cleaned them out of the lovely sirloin steaks whi…

Saturday morning

Image
Iris sibirica which has now formed a reasonable clump and I am hoping to split it up later when it has finished flowering.  
Yesterday was a pretty miserable day weather wise and it was raining hard when I woke at 4am but I decided to go back to sleep and managed to sleep until 7.30, quite unheard of, but I do now have a banging headache for my trouble.  However, the sun is shining and the sky is clear so perhaps a day to get stuck in to the weeding that I have been putting off.  
The braised ham turned out really well and though I didn't have any Madeira I used Marsala instead which made for a most pleasing flavour.  It was cooked on a bed of carrot onion and celery after first being browned in some lard.  We had some slices hot with the sauce and some new potatoes but there is stacks left over so today I am going to have it cold with salad and the remainder will go into the freezer.  I have ideas of a chicken ham and leek pie at some point so the ham can go towards that.  For s…

Friday morning

Image
Blue cone of the Korean Fir
Another early start for me and a somewhat busy day ahead.  Yesterday saw loads of washing done but it was too damp to dry outside so it has ended up indoors.  Today it looks dry and at last the wind has died down.  I have a hair appointment at 9am and for once I am looking forward to getting my hair cut.  It is funny how your hair goes from OK to intolerable in what seems like the blinking of an eye.  Well mine has been intolerable for a while so I am pleased to get it chopped off.  
The roasted leg of lamb left overs are waiting to be made into shepherds pies and I had the foresight to do loads of mash so there is plenty left over to cover the pies.  Last nights supper of asparagus soup was really tasty and was so easily made in the Thermomix.  The addition of a splash of double cream made it very luxurious.  The tips of the asparagus were saved and added to the hot soup at the very end to add a bit of contrast of texture.  On his shopping expedition Mike…

Thursday Morning

Have we had summer, did I blink and miss is?  We seem to have gone directly to autumn with rain and gales.  Silly me of course not it is just revving up for Wimbledon.  
Yesterday was a bit of a non day I was desperately tired after a couple of bad nights and very early mornings so I was not firing on all cylinders.  I made a loaf of bread which decided to stick in the tin and so the top broke off rendering it pretty useless except for bread crumbs.  Thank goodness I had decided to have spaghetti bolognese for lunch with an assortment of salads.  There was little that I could mess up with that and besides I had Shiona supervising me.  She had got in a bit of a muddle with her crochet so needed my help to sort it out.  After lunch we took the 4 dogs for a walk and managed to avoid the rain.  Then on the way home we made the obligatory pass through Aldi.  They are now selling what looks like very nice mature steak at very reasonable prices so Shiona bought a fillet and is going to let …

Wednesday morning

Image
Mother blackbird sitting in her rather poorly constructed nest which is perched in the the hydrangea petiolaris which is just above the garage back door.  This door is in constant use but she seem completely unabashed by the frequent comings and goings.  Last year they built in exactly the same place only to have all their offspring killed by next door but one's cat.  I hope that this year they are more successful and maybe the dogs will keep a better eye out for the marauding cat.  
I managed to get some of the weeding done but it was a much bigger job than I though so I only managed to get part of it done before the weather turned and it started to rain.  Not heavily but enough to make it unpleasant.  The left over chicken and ham got added to some risotto rice along with some mushrooms which had seen better days - it was a bit of muddle but it tasted ok and certainly filled a gap.  For supper we had some mackerel fillets which had the pin bones replaced with gremolata [parsley…

Tuesday morning

Image
This photo was taken moments ago as you can see it is dull and overcast but talk about 40 shades of green!!!  Everything is just bursting forth with new leaves and fresh growth including the weeds.  
Yesterday morning was largely taken up with the visit to the dentist which for me was just routine but poor old Mike is in for a filling in July.  I did however manage to make the pies which turned out really well and was a great way of using up small amounts of chicken and ham.  The stuffing lid instead of pastry worked really well and gave an extra dimension to the flavour.  They are however dry in texture rather like a pork pie and so need something wet to accompany them.  For lunch we had a pie and a tomato salad and for supper we repeated the process this time with the addition of some avocados to the remaining tomato salad and a red bean and rocket salad.  The short crust pastry was made in the thermomix until the water was added which I prefer to do by hand as I can judge the cons…

Monday morning

Image
This is a photo of the tent that I helped to erect.  The boys had spent an unsuccessful hour chasing it around the field in the wind.  The poor lads must have been mortified to have an elderly lady come and help them but at least it got put up rather than thrown back into the car and the holiday abandoned.  
Yesterday I had great plans to do a bit of gardening but they came to nothing by the time I had cleaned out the chickens I was frozen.  There was a very cold wind blowing and not a jot of sun to be seen.  Instead I returned to the kitchen and got on with bread making and getting the Sunday roast underway.  I made two lovely one pound loaves which meant that scrambled eggs on toast was on the menu for supper.
Today is our six monthly dental check so we are off to Maidstone to our dentist.  Given that we both have appointments and it is an hours drive away it is going to take up most of the morning.  However, I have plans for the left over chicken.  While we were on holiday we boug…

Sunday morning

Image
Yesterday was a day of laundry I got four machine loads out and dry ironed and put away.  The sleeping bags have gone to the launderette where they have big machines and can easily cope with them.  Mike was happy to do the shopping as he had been without the car for a week so while he was out I made some head way in the garden.  I potted up the chilian guava plant into a decorative pot and then moved on to potting up some globe artichoke plants into cardboard pots which I can eventually plant out pot and all.  The tomato seedlings which had got a bit leggy have been put into the window boxes so hopefully we will see some fruit later in the year. They are very late so I am not expecting anything until the autumn. Today I intend to get some gardening done in the vegetable plot which is looking a bit weedy as is the green house.  The hens were delighted to be let out of their small enclosure and flew up and down the run stretching their wings.  The garden has put on so much growth in ju…

Saturday morning

Image
Some times the gods smile on us and our holiday was one of those occasions.  We had wall to wall sunshine and climbing temperatures tempered with a cold breeze.   At times as the breeze blew the pollen from the forest trees could be seen in thick clouds.  The car looked as though it had been on the Dakar rally and the caravan windows appeared to have net curtains.  It doesn't show well in the photo but we had to wash the windscreen each time we ventured out.


We arrived on the Saturday having had a very nice ride up with no traffic problems and of course when we arrived everything was ship shape and Bristol fashion as I knew it would be.  Sandi and David had had a reasonable week and both their dogs were happily snoozing in the sun.  We had arrived early enough to go into Orford and purchase a few cakes by way of dessert to have with the shepherds pie I had made.  
After they left James and I unloaded the car and settled ourselves in.  James managed to tune the TV aerial in so tha…

Saturday morning

Well I am all set for another weeks holiday the big shepherds pie is made and ready to take.  Mike has enough food for an army so I don't think he will starve.  This morning I will give the hens a good clean out so they will be fine and only require food, water and the eggs collecting.  The weather looks a bit kinder so we may even see some sunshine. I have gone mad and packed a short sleeved shirt so I hope I am not tempting fate.  We are hoping to be away by 10am which will give us a clear 2 hour drive up to Suffolk.  Hopefully we will be going in the opposite direction to the traffic which will be heading to the coast if there is the merest glimmer of sun.  At the moment it is dull and overcast with a chilly wind blowing but as the sun comes up fully I hope that it will burn off and we should have a good day.  James has loads of DVD's for us to watch so we will not be short of entertainment.  
Yesterday we had a pigeon in the greenhouse and of course he couldn't find t…