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Showing posts from September, 2013

Monday morning

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And still the courgettes flower and produce fruit
Yesterday was another dry day but it was quite overcast and looked as if we were going to get some rain but none was forthcoming.  I set to organising a roast leg of lamb with peas and carrots and gravy and a big pot of mash.  I am hoping that I have enough leftovers to make a shepherds pie today for lunch.  I am a bit dubious as we gave the cold meat a bit of a bashing for supper with some pickle.  
The pump in the small pond had ceased to function so Mike had a look at it and found it had blown a fuse so now it is back up and running.  I have put a time clock on it so that it is on during the hours of daylight but off at night.  

The autumn flowers are beginning to make a bit of a show and the roses are still struggling on producing flowers.  
On Saturday evening James took himself off to Bluewater to refill his wardrobe.  His jeans were paper thin and disintegrating so a new pair were in order.  Some warm jumpers and a winter jacke…

Sunday morning

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One bale of straw liberally spread by the hens
Yesterday was a relatively peaceful day I got stuck into the chores and got them done and out of the way.  Then it was out walking with the dogs as the weather was fine.  There was a bit of a chill northeasterly but the sun was shining so it didn't matter.  Lunch was a very simple affair of some boiled pasta with homemade tomato sauce and a handful of cherry tomatoes halved and added with a big sprinkle of basil and a good handful of parmesan.  This was accompanied by a tossed green salad.  Supper was an altogether more naughty indulgence. Crispy grilled bacon with a fried slice and a couple of fried eggs and the inevitable tomatoes.  Then poached pears and Birds custard for dessert.  A meal that would not have been out of place in the 1950's.
Today I have a leg of lamb to cook with which we will have some of the peas I prepared earlier in the week and some glazed carrots.  There should be plenty left over so that should make a n…

Saturday morning

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It is Saturday morning and the first job of the day is to get the Ballockwort [orchids] into the sink for their weekly drink.  Yesterday was a fine day but we had a bitterly cold wind keeping temperatures down.  This morning it is a mere 12ºC so quite chilly.  
This week has satisfied a very primal need in me to conserve food for the lean times ahead in the winter.  I know there are no lean times these days but the need is still there in me.  Rows of jars and bottles and a freezer full to bursting is just the ticket.  Yesterday saw me finish off all the fruit - tubs of applesauce to have with lovely roast pork and pears poached in red wine and vanilla for a nice dessert.  I had taken out the veal shin which was made into a massive Osso Bucco alla Milanese half of which we ate with polenta and salad and half for the freezer.  I tried the apple butter on some toast for breakfast and found it none too bad.  Given that I don't have a sweet tooth and that cinnamon is not my favourite …

Friday morning

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I am up very late this morning having woken at 2.45 and then decided to go straight back to sleep which took until 4am but then I managed to sleep until 7.30.  It is light and the sun is up something I am not used to.  Yesterday was one of kitchen fury - first there was a huge amount of courgettes in the garden so they were picked and converted into courgette pancakes.  It also gave me the opportunity to use up the rinds of some parmesan which I blitzed in the thermomix and added to some other cheese to give a depth of flavour.  The spiced apple butter was put into the slow cooker to be ready to jar at 6pm.  Then it was on with the green tomato chutney I also had a lettuce which needed to be used up so I made a batch of petit pois a la francais for the freezer. I will leave it to your imagination to picture the mass of washing up I successfully created.  Anyway, come lunch time there was nothing to eat so a flash fried some nasty lamb burgers, bought in error, and served them with a …

Thursday morning

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Three bottles of worcester pearmain apple juice and one of victoria plum
As you can see yesterday was one of great industry.  This is my portion of the spoils we each had equal quantities to take home with us.  We had two juicers running full tilt munching up a laundry basket full of fallen apples.  The biggest problem was the amount of froth that was produced which we got rid of with an assortment of sieves.  Once the bottles were filled the were stood in my huge saucepan and brought up to 78ºC to pasteurise the contents before the bottles were sealed.  The plums on the other hand were put into the steam juice extractor which is a much easier method.

I have also come home with a big bag of apples and pears which I intend to make into apple butter following Joys slow cooker recipe.
The 6 dogs had the most wonderful day playing with one another and racing around the garden. Yoda found the pond in seconds and from then on he was in and out of it all day and even encouraged Basso to pad…

Wednesday morning

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Cherry tomatoes anyone
Yesterday was one of a really busy morning.  First I stripped the hanging tomatoes of all their fruit and will see how much of it will ripen and how much will have to into green tomato chutney.  The window boxes which held the tomatoes have now been replaced by boxes with pansies and bulbs for the winter and spring.  Dennie arrive spot on 8am and set to on the house but first she tried on the first of the pair of socks which are earmarked for her.  I wanted to check for size and as luck would have it it was a perfect fit so now I can make headway with the matching sock.  While I was in a gardening frame of mind I took myself off to the garage and sawed a block of wood in two putting one block under each of the legs on one side of the garden table which is now at a nice angle so that the rain will run off it through the winter and hopefully not rot the wood top.  Mark then came and made some running repairs to the chicken run gate whose supporting post was on th…

Tuesday morning

Good morning all a bit later this morning back to the usual 4am.  Yesterday was a non day for me having got up so early I did all the kitchen preparation work and the laundry by 8am and by then I was ready to go back to bed.  I tried to get some sleep but it proved impossible so I gave up and cooked the cottage pie that I had prepared which we had with some curly kale for lunch.  I did at least manage to finish knitting one sock and start the second while I watched loads of stuff I had recorded.  
Mike went out for a jaunt in his new little car and is feeling a bit better about it.  Having driven the land rover for so long, which has to be the easiest car in the world, he is adjusting back to a more active driving situation.  For one thing he has to remember the hand brake which he hasn't used in years.  I spent some time on the phone to the insurance company and managed to retrieve about £400 from them so my day was not wasted.  Back in April Mike had let the land rover roll aga…

Monday morning

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Well this is a stupid time to be awake but what can you do if you are wide awake.  Yesterday was a really dull day it was dry and not too cold but it was heavily overcast all day with not a glimmer of sun to be seen anywhere.  When I went up to let the hens out into their main run I also went round and gathered some items which were ready to be picked.  There seem to be ripe tomatoes every day and then there are the runner beans.  Courgettes as yet have not overwhelmed me but they are producing a constant supply.  The carrots were on their last legs so I finished picking them and they went on the lunch menu along with the runner beans.  The eggs and tomatoes went towards supper.  The piece of beef which I thought would be no good was in fact no good it was rather tough and tasteless.  However, the nice vegetables and Yorkshire pudding and gravy made up for the disappointment.  The leftovers will make a decent cottage pie for us today.  
In anticipation of a day dealing with my friend…

Sunday morning

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Mikes new baby car
Yesterday was a day of pandemonium as we found a car that was for sale in a garage in Sittingbourne.  We had been on the lookout for a Smart for Mike so that we could have a bit of independence from each other.  By way of entertainment Mike likes to go shopping on a daily basis which leaves me without a car.  This way he can go shopping in a car no bigger than a shopping trolley and I can have the big car to take the dogs etc.  As we live in an urban area parking can be a problem but this little thing just fits on the tiny driveway between the garage doors and the pavement. The buying of the car was very straightforward and it came with tax and MOT until June next year.  What took the time was organising the insurance - you know what they are like they need your hat size and inside leg measurement before they can extort large sums of money from you.  Anyway it is done now and we drove home in convoy arriving back feeling completely drained and starving hungry.  Jam…

Saturday morning

So where was the forecast rain?  we didn't get any here.  I dashed out into the garden when it was hardly light and filled the troughs with potting compost and left them to get watered by the rain. Just as well that I hadn't planted them up as there was not a drop of rain here all day.  We took the dogs out bright and early too.  Well it certainly galvanised me into action so I suppose I shouldn't moan.  
Now to the questions about the bolognese sauce I based my authentic recipe on a program I saw on TV where they were looking at authentic Italian food and the debate about tomatoes is an ongoing one even in Italy but essentially I just fry off minced pancetta carrot celery onion and garlic then usually two kinds of meat beef mince and pork mince but better with veal however that is hard to get.  Then I wet it down with a glass of red/white wine and some water and seasoning and leave it on the gentlest possible simmer for as long as you can.  Some say that a tablespoon of …

Friday morning

Good morning all as usual I am up at 4am but that I can live with.  After my day of sloth impressions I must admit I feel a bit more relaxed and less tired.  Yesterday morning I decided I would have a bath rather than a shower, just for a change.  I am not one for baths normally as with our low water pressure by the time the bath is ready I am usually bored with the whole idea.  I also have in my mind the soup of bacteria that I am wallowing in [not a pleasant thought].  However, it was an opportunity to try my soap and see if it really did float and to my surprise it really does.  I also took the opportunity to wash my hair with the same soap and it has done a very nice job.  I also took the opportunity to clean the jets in the bath and give myself a good pummeling.  By the time I had emerged from the water I felt knackered and ready for bed not a days work.  Perhaps baths are more a bedtime occupation for me.  
James was out for the morning with a physio appointment then he was tak…

Thursday morning

Good morning all, yesterday was a lovely sunny day but it was wasted on me as I felt like a wet dishcloth for most of the day.  Tiredness has a cumulative effect and though I tried to get some sleep it eluded me.  I should have got some gardening done but didn't so I just felt guilty instead.  I did however assemble the pie and it was a very tasty lunch.  One thing I would like to mention, the recipe calls for the grated zest of a lemon but frankly that is too much and it overpowered the other flavours.  However, that said, it was a splendid way to use a very small piece of leftover salmon and make a meal for four people.  The mixture of leek and courgette slowly cooked in some olive oil or butter made a very tasty and economical filling.  The recipe is available on the net but for your convenience I will put it in this blog.
Salmon filo pie Jamie Oliver 3 leeks 2 large courgettes olive oil 2 sprigs of fresh thyme 200 g leftover cooked salmon 100 g feta cheese 1 lemon 3 large free-range e…

Wednesday morning

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Yesterday was another day that started well and ended in rain. I managed to get one load of washing out and dry but then the weather changed and it began to rain which put pay to any gardening ideas I had.  The large gammon steaks were divided in half and we ate half for lunch and the second half for supper.  My vegetable box had arrived early so I prepared the bunch of beetroots in a way I had never before tried. I peeled them raw then grated them and cooked them with butter and a couple of teaspoons of vinegar.  I left them just a fraction crisp and they were unlike any other beetroot I had ever had.  I actually enjoyed them for a change!!!!  to go along with the beetroots I did a couple of ears of sweet corn which I took off the cob and also cooked in a little butter and pepper once they had been boiled.  While I was in a cooking mood I did the ingredients for the salmon pie as the filling needs to be cold before adding to the filo crust.  This will be our lunch today if all goes …

Tuesday Morning

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Thank you for the comments Beth it does give me a sense of purpose if I have some feedback and Joy and Anne you are my regular contributors so you were not meant to be included.  I was feeling a little forlorn yesterday but a brisk walk out with the dogs soon dispelled any black clouds hanging over me.  The weather was really lovely, it was cold but the sun was shining, and it didn't rain until late in the afternoon.  James came with me and walked farther than he has done before which is good and shows that all the exercise he has been doing is bearing fruit.  However, just as we approached the road both dogs were put on the lead and Basso spotted a pigeon.  One good pull and James would have been flat on his face but a very firm command of "leave it" did the trick and though his eyes stayed glued to the bird he made no attempt to chase it.  Sometimes all the hours of training do pay off.
Lunch was a case of clearing up the leftovers.  I blitzed the remaining soup and m…

Monday morning

It really feels very autumnal after the storms of yesterday.  The day started of clear and sunny with a cold wind but we managed to get the dogs walked and our trip to Aldi.  Lunch was easy as the veal was poached and cooled early all I needed to do was to boil few spuds and make the sauce.  I started by making it in the thermomix but it split so I resorted to a hand mixer and glass bowl so I could see what was happening.  The spit mixture was not wasted I just started with a couple of egg yolks and gradually added the split mixture which cured the problem then it was just a case of adding a tin of tuna some anchovies and a tablespoon of capers.  It sounds like a very fishy sauce but somehow it is quite delicate.  I decided to cut the veal using my ancient meat slicer which allowed me to get nice thin slices.  With the leftover poaching liquid I made what I can only call garden soup as it contained an assortment of vegetables none of which were enough for meal. 
By the afternoon the …

Sunday morning

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Oh how I wish I was still asleep!!  The house is cold and dark and everyone else is sleeping soundly. Yesterday, I decided that the time had come to do the laundry no matter what the weather, so it is now strewn all over the place drying.  The weather forecast had given us a window of opportunity yesterday morning but it was drizzling with rain so no good for drying washing and today we have been promised gales and more rain.  
The hens got their regulation clean out and what a mess they have managed to make with their bale of straw.  You cannot believe how far they have managed to spread the straw and they are only about halfway through the bale.  I am now debating whether to move them to the greenhouse for the winter once the tomatoes are finished or leave them where they are.  The move to the greenhouse just means that I only have to check on them once a day rather than twice.  It is a bit early yet but the decision will have to be made at some point.  

The chicken goujons were a …

Saturday Morning

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The weather yesterday was really strange it was reminiscent of a sauna.  When I took the dogs for their morning constitutional it was dry but really clammy, however, this didn't last long before the rain started and then it was on and off all day and most of the night.  During one of the lulls I took the opportunity to dash out with some salt and sprinkled it on all the weeds coming through the gaps in the patio slabs.  The next downpour washed it in so hopefully that will kill off any greenery that is trying to establish itself.  I find this one of the cheapest and easiest ways of dealing with this type of weed.  I am careful not to get salt on the flower beds as it will do them no good at all.  Boiling water works well for those sort of weeds if they are not too close to existing plant roots.  This reduces the amount of weeding that requires hand and knees and a trowel.
Our friends Len and Margaret had been searching out bathroom fittings and dropped in for a cup of coffee.  It…

Friday morning

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Yesterday was a marathon in the kitchen as I had abandoned any ideas of doing the laundry as it was so damp outside.  First I made a kilo of flour into bread which made two big loaf tins full.  Then it was on to the chicken curry and also a batch of harvest pancakes.  I call them harvest rather than courgette as they had an assortment of bits from the garden including a few carrots and some runner beans.  Then it was on with the coconut soup which also contained some of the chicken and some prawns.  This has to be one of the most delicious soups ever so I will put the whole recipe.

Serves 4
2 tins coconut milk
300ml chicken stock
350g chicken cut into slivers
3 lemon grass stems heavily bruised
1.5 cm ginger grated
225g shelled uncooked prawns
1 red chilli deseeded and sliced
3 spring onions sliced
Juice of 1-2 limes
3 tablespoons of chopped coriander
3 tbsp fish sauce

Put coconut milk and stock in a pan and bring to the boil then add the chicken lemongrass and ginger and reduce to a …

Thursday morning

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The cupressus arch all nicely trimmed by Mark and just look at the roses having a second flush of flowers.

Yesterday was a bit of right off after I went back to bed and slept solidly for a couple of hours I woke feeling really groggy.  The weather was grim and dull but dry and a few degrees warmer than earlier in the week.  Lunch was quick and easy to prepare as the trout fillets only took moments to cook and I had made the cucumber sauce in the thermomix.  Supper was just as easy as all I had to do was to boil some pasta to accompany the bolognese sauce grate some parmesan and dress a salad.  
Mike had seen the ENT consultant on Monday and was waiting for his appointment to have an MRI scan just to check that his hearing loss is down to his age.  They were also going to make an appointment with the audiologist to get him a new mould for his hearing aid.  Well during the night he managed to knock his hearing aid on the floor and Nip decided it must be a wine gum and gave it a good c…

Wednesday morning

This is horribly early this morning so I may just scribble a few words and retire back to bed. Yesterday was a busy day with both Mark and Dennie arriving at 8am and work getting well underway.  The ingredients were all prepared for our Mexican lunch and for supper we just had a plate of soup made from leftovers and a few borlotti beans from the garden.  
Mark was largely tasked with cutting back shrubs which had really overgrown and tidying up things which should be neatly cut like the cupressus arch and the bay trees.  Fortunately it stayed dry but the wind was bitterly cold even mark had to put a jacket on.  We had a couple of showers but not until later in the evening.  Dennie did her usual blast through leaving us all clean and tidy.  I fiddled with bits in the garden and also in the house.  Mike had stripped off his bed and it is always so much easier to make the bed with two people so Dennie and I made short work of that while he went to Maidstone to buy some chicken food whic…

Tuesday morning

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Well I wanted rain for the garden and yesterday we got it.  It rained almost the whole day: it started at about 10 am and continued right through until 5 pm.  It was also very cold and quite wintery in feel. While I ferried Mike to and fro the hospital for his appointment James took the dogs for a walk and to buy a few ingredients for our Mexican lunch today.  We managed to get back home before the rain really started but James and the dogs got caught in the first downpour.   The pot sticker dumplings were a nice hot meal given it was so cold and nasty.  They look like bite size cornish pasties and are fun to cook as you first boil them then fry just one side and serve with a dipping sauce - we had sweet chili dipping sauce.  

It was a sort of conveyor belt lunch as fast as they were coming off the production line they were hungrily devoured.
However, come supper time we were all hungry again and the sirloin steak was crying out for some egg and chips.  With not a single potato in th…

Monday morning

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Another weekend done and gone and the start of another week.  Yesterday was very chilly with intermittent sharp showers and bright sunshine.  Once I had defrosted the loin chops I noticed that they were very thinly cut which would make them quite difficult to cook without turning them into shoe leather.  I then decided to finely slice them and made a pork stroganoff with finely sliced mushrooms and onions and a good splash of cream.  I also made another fig tart tatin and used up the leftover pastry to make nibbles of stuffed olives but this time I added little slivers of anchovy which made them very tasty.   What I forgot entirely was to cook some rice to go with the stroganoff but as we had a desert and some amuse bouche we actually didn't need it.  
The afternoon was spent catching up on the last night of the proms which I had recorded as I had fallen asleep the previous evening and missed it.  I also watched the Burghley three day event riding competition which was a clean sw…