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Showing posts from November, 2013

Saturday morning

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I had a bit of a cook up yesterday morning and made the tarts that I had seen Michel Roux do on masterchef.  This photo shows a big one but I made individual ones in small tartlet tins which I cooked in the halogen oven.  The filling is just grated potato and onions from which the water has been squeezed.  I didn't add the sultanas or prunes as they would not go well with the salmon which I served with a lemon butter sauce and roast cherry tomatoes.  The combination worked rather well and made a very up market lunch.  I think once made and cooked these would freeze well and crips up in an oven before serving.  They do look very impressive but are actually very little effort.  By the way I used streaky bacon instead of air dried belly which was fine.

James dropped Tubby off while he went and sorted out all the paperwork for his flat which was just as well as it took much longer than he had expected and Tubby would have been stuck in the car for hours.  On each visit he is collecti…

Friday morning

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Good morning all now I bet you are wondering what on earth this photo is.  These are the presents my lovely Japanese neighbour brought me back from Japan as a thankyou for looking after her house keys.  The Apple comes from an apple growing region of Japan and it has to be the nicest apple I have ever eaten, sweet juicy and crisp everything you want in an apple with huge amounts of apple flavour. Then as she knows I cook she got me a ceramic knife, two boxes of chocolate desserts and the pink thing is the most ingenious back scratcher ever invented.


I had a sudden yen to make choux pastry so I made the buns which are topped with a scattering of parmesan and for lunch we had them filled with a creamy mushroom mixture and the leftover potato salad as well as a bowl of roast butternut squash soup.



They cropped up again for supper this time with scramble egg in one and the mushrooms in the other. Meanwhile the sous vide was poaching my salmon which is now cold and ready for the freezer.


Thursday morning

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Good morning all, well it is morning but I'm not sure how good it is going to be.  I still feel like a well worn dishcloth all limp and saggy and tatty round the edges.  Shiona rang me to say she too was suffering with plague and was going to stay in her warm bed and cosset herself which is exactly what I felt like too.  Sadly there were chores that needed to be done so I motored on with those while I had the energy.  Lunch was bit of a mismatch of potato salad, the little pink fir apple potatoes needed using.  Fish cakes with the leftover mash, a tin of tuna and a fried shallot and cauliflower cheese.  I breasted out the pheasants but needed some parma ham to finish them so I shot out to Aldi as soon as it opened and stocked up on some essential ingredients.  They don't look too appetising at this stage, vac packed and put through the sous vide, but I know that a small fry in some butter and the addition of a splash of cream and some mushrooms will make a super meal.  For th…

Wednesday morning

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It is very bright and early but with all the sleeping I am doing things are a bit upside down, not that it matters much, as I can do as I please which is a great luxury I know.  I fell asleep very early last night so being up early is to be expected.  I pottered around in the kitchen yesterday morning and made some soup from the pumpkin which I roasted off first in the halogen oven together with a couple of red onions.  Then put the pulp into the thermomix and whizzed it up with some stock and a good sprinkle of fresh thyme.  It made a lovely silky smooth soup which was just right for my sore throat and together with a slice of buttered sourdough made a substantial meal. The odd aubergine was finely sliced then dipped in seasoned flour followed by beaten egg and then gently fried until crisp. Supper was a bit of a muddle we had some osso bucco from the freezer with a nice blob of mash and the above brussel sprouts stir fried with bacon and almonds which was really tasty and a somethi…

Tuesday Morning

First a bit of good news the mattress turned up at 6pm last night so at least James had a bed to sleep in.  The defective cooker will be replaced but not until December 4th.  Fortunately it is the oven that is defective which is something you can easily live without.  Tubby is enjoying his new premises and has worked out that he must empty his tanks when he is taken out.  Now if James can get his phone sorted out I can have mine back and things should start to level out.  I don't know if any of you have had dealings with T mobile but they seem to be completely useless.
I spent the majority of the day in bed and slept on and off for most of it.  Normally a cold doesn't knock me off my feet but on top of all the recent stress it was the final straw.  For once I decided to take my own advice and rest, drink plenty.  Lunch was a bowl of chicken broth with some pasta and parmesan and then at about 10pm I felt hungry so I made myself a bowl of carbonara and slept like a baby until …

Monday morning but only just

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Despite feeling absolute rubbish yesterday I found a pack of spinach lurking in the bottom of the fridge which needed dealing with so I threw together some short crust pastry then whizzed up the filling of 3 eggs, some "mouse trap" cheddar, the dregs of some double cream, a splash of milk and the spinach which I had boiled down to nothing.  With such a wet filling I baked the case blind then added the filling and gave it 25 minutes at 180ºC and much to my surprise it is a lovely flan/quiche which did us well for supper.
The short crust pastry I did half fat to flour whizzed to breadcrumbs then added an egg and the juice of half a lemon a pinch of salt and enough cold water to bring it all together.  Half an hour in the fridge and it was ready to use.  I have never put lemon juice in before but it was recommended by Paul Hollywood there is no taste discernible but the pastry is lovely.  I also put the flan onto a baking tray which had been heated with the oven so no "so…

Sundy morning

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I will start with the sad news Lucy the gamekeepers dog was stolen from her kennel and then escaped her captors and tried to get home but was killed crossing the road as she tried to get back home.  He was totally devastated she was a smashing dog and went everywhere with him.  I won't say what I wish on the thieves and it is not retribution via the law!!!!  That aside, we had a smashing days shooting with a good bag of 120 birds 2 brace of which are hanging in the garage.  Basso had a grand day, worked his socks off, and is absolutely shattered as am I.  At least we had a sunny but very cold day I don't think I could have stood another soaking. It is my firm intention to have a pottering dressing gown day today as I think I am exhausted and developing a cold sore which is always a good indicator that I am totally run down.  
The James flat saga continues at 6pm last night finally the washing machine and cooker arrived and were fitted still no sign of the mattress.  However, …

Saturday morning

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Yesterday we had a day of long waiting while we fiddled in the flat.  We had been given the times for the delivery of between 8 am and 6 pm - so what time did things arrive?  Well they didn't no mattress, no cooker and no washing machine and just to make things a bit worse T mobile had cut off James mobile phone before sending him a new sim card.  I left at around lunch time and James hung on to wait.  What a complete waste of time for all concerned.  I made myself useful shredding documents from his previous life and now have two nice big bags of chicken bedding.  We assembled the bed ready for the mattress that didn't come and the attempt at hanging the curtains failed as the screws provided were far too long.  One good thing was that we did get his TV up and running so at least he could sit and watch garbage while he waited.
Today is a shoot day and I feel terrible I think I am coming down with a cold, you know sore throat and runny nose etc.  Anyway, I don't suppose s…

Firday Morning

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What a day of cooking I had yesterday.  I made leek and potato soup while I waited for the bread to rise.  A quick dash to Tesco for some final ingredients, then I got on with making the base for my curry dishes half with chilli for James and half without as Mike doesn't like hot food.  Then it was on with three chickens which I have dismantled into their constituent parts.  The wings and drum sticks were put in the oven as the bread came out.  I cooked these in a sticky sauce and they were our lunch. The remaining bones were also given a roasting before going into the stock pot. The boneless thighs and breasts were wrapped and frozen uncooked.  Then bolognese sauce was put into the slow cooker and finally the meatballs were fried off and put into boxes.  I am now at the stage where I cannot fit anything else in my freezer so some of the stuff will have to go to the flat unfrozen. James freezer is completely empty so there is plenty of room for everything.  By the time it was bed…

Thursday morning

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What a day we had yesterday the ladies arrived bright and early and we set off for the flat after a quick cup of coffee.  James headed off for his appointment with the consultant at the hospital having already taken Tubby for his final inoculation and would come and join us later.  It was perishingly cold with nasty wind and rain so we were happy to be indoors. The first thing we did was put on the heating and the hot water.  The flat was piled with boxes and furniture so we got cracking on putting the kitchen and bathroom together first.  You don't want to know what a fridge freezer looks like after being untouched for two and half years.  However detergent, elbow grease, and a steam cleaner have got it back from the brink.  We worked our way systematically through all the boxes leaving just two big boxes of personal stuff like DVD's, books and CD's which as yet have nowhere to go.  
By the time it got to 1pm we were starving and there was no sign of James so we headed o…

Wenesday morning

You will be pleased to know that the move of James stuff went smoothly two nice Polish guys turned up at Shiona's and loaded up the van then headed off to James flat then carried the contents up the flight of stairs and into the flat.  Total cost £120 which I think is wonderful.  Today James has his hands full first thing he has to take Tubby for his second inoculation.  Then he has an appointment to see his consultant and we all know that can take three hours or more.  He is going to leave me the keys to the flat so that the ladies and I can get in and make a start.  
The wonderful Dennie came and ran over my house while James and I did the shopping and took the dogs for a walk.  It makes her life much easier if there are not three dogs milling around as she is trying to clean.  We took Tubby to the woods for the first time - another very scary adventure.  I can't wait until he sees the river when the tide is up.  
I had started off another sourdough loaf which took all day …

Tuesday morning

Good morning all, yesterday was another fairly chaotic day.  James went over to the flat and got the floor mended and also the boiler sorted out and switched on.  I organised to have his stuff moved at 2pm this afternoon they will be picking up the stuff from Shiona's and should be at the flat by about 4pm which means that us ladies will have a fun day tomorrow sorting out the gear.  After two and half years in storage I have suggested that all the linens come home to be laundered so my washing machine and tumble dryer will be doing some over time.  Friday sees all the other facilities arriving mattress, cooker and washing machine and so hopefully by Friday night he will have a home ready to move into.
When I am feeling stressed as you know I cook so yesterday I made the saddle of hare roast with a veloute sauce with mustard and potato fondants.  I followed the exact recipe according the Mr Roux and I must admit it was truly delicious if only a tiny quantity.  So for supper the r…

Monday morning

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Yesterday was one of dashing around most of the morning.  I went to Aldi just as they were about to open but was confronted by an already full carpark.  I had to drive around until someone left to find a space.  However, once in the shop it was most successful. I bought a whole raft of things which will not go off and loaded them into the car.  Then it was back home to put the piece of pork in the oven and make tracks for B&Q where we bought some curtain rails and a step ladder and paint rollers etc. Then it was off to the flat where we dumped all the stuff including the essentials in case you have to sit and wait for deliveries.
A camping chair, kettle, mugs, coffee, tea, milk and sugar and of course toilet paper.  Then it was over to the park with the dogs who had been waiting patiently in the car.  Tubby is gaining in confidence with each outing.  Because puppies develop so fast it is wonderful to see progress each day.  He has already learned that if he returns a ball it will …

Sunday morning

Yesterday was pretty hectic as we tried to organise the flat move.  Curries had a sale so we headed there and bought a cooker - the very basic model with 4 burner gas hob and single oven/grill nothing fancy but perfectly functional.  The washing machine has a 1300 spin speed which is just what you need if you don't have any real drying facilities.  There are washing lines outside the flats but in the winter I can see things being drapped on radiators or a clothes horse to dry so the dryer it is spun the better.  These are being delivered and installed on Friday but as yet we haven't managed to get anyone to move the stuff from storage.  Today I think a trip to B&Q is needed to buy some curtain rods which we can erect in anticipation of the curtains.  When we go camping I start to accumulate stuff to be taken and put it in the front room which is seldom used so I have suggested that James do the same thing then at least all the stuff to go is in one place and can easily be…

Saturday morning

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Not so early this morning!!! yesterday I was struck by something not sure what but by 10 am I was shivering as if my life depended on it and feeling dreadful so I took myself back to bed with a hot water bottle and despite being fully clothed with a duvet and blanket over the top I continued to shiver for two and half hours before finally warming up.  I can't believe it was just that I had got cold but whatever it was has passed and I slept longer than I have in years.


However I did have one success which was my next attempt at the sourdough loaf this one has turned out well but when I cut it in half for freezing it was a little under baked so I still haven't quite got it right.  This time it didn't stick to the cloth because I used shed loads of flour which was the advice I had been given by Henry my cooking guru.  I also made a very nice dish of slowly cooked onions, leeks and garlic to which I added a spoonful of flour and some stock.  I suppose it was like a very thic…

Friday morning

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View from lounge window showing the park opposite
Back of the block with lots of grass for a small boys needs
The kitchen fitter arrived bright and early yesterday morning and got on with the tap change.  I had emptied out all the cupboards where he would need to work.  What I want to know is who throws all the dirt into the kitchen cupboard when you are not looking?  Once he was settled James and I took ourselves over to his flat now that he has the keys and is the official tenant as from Monday.  We measured up for curtains and rails and checked the gaps available for the cooker and washing machine.  Then I printed off a store cupboard list so that we can do a mega shop and fill the cupboards with all the essentials.  We have then decided to have a major cooking session and fill his freezer with goodies like bolognese sauce, meat balls and pies.  Actually it is great as if I have a bit of over production I can pass it on to him.  The biggest problem we have is not being able to rem…

Thursday Morning

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Good morning all, yesterday I had a lovely day at Shiona's she had prepared a super meal of marinated venison which we had with some rice.  We also had to try her chocolates which she had spent the whole day making.  They were made of the most gorgeous dark chocolate with a ganache filling with flavours of christmas pudding.  She does have at her disposal a proper chocolate tempering machine and the correct moulds which makes life a bit easier.  The idea was to make the chocolates as christmas presents and this was the first sample batch.  She had also perfected a way to make an origami box in which to put them.  
I started the day off well but as it wore on so every muscle in my body began to complain.  I had forgotten just what hard work CPR can be and that I would be using muscles which were very unused to doing any work.  At the time with so much adrenalin onboard you feel nothing but I sure knew I had done it the next day.  Anyway nothing that a hot bath and some paracetamol…

Wednesday morning

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Isn't it wonderful how life unfolds in front of you - yesterday was going to be a mundane normal day all there was to do was finish off the sourdough loaf and then wait for the men to arrive to put in the new bannister rail and the guy from Virgin to turn up and mend my Tivo box.  Around 10 am the doorbell rang and it was my Japanese neighbour who had popped in to ask me to look after her house keys while she was away in Japan for a fortnight.  I duly hung the keys on the hook with half the other keys for various house in the road.  I said goodbye and wished her a good holiday.  10 seconds later she was hammering on the door so I thought she had forgotten something but no she had found a man collapsed on the pavement outside our house.  To cut quite a long story short I started CPR and organised for ambulances to be called.  The gentleman was not breathing and a very poor colour.  In the end we ended up with 1 fire engine 2 ambulances and 3 police cars and the road closed.  Once …

Tuesday morning

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Good morning all well it's the middle of the night actually but I fell asleep really early last night as my Tivo box had decided to play up and so I had no TV.  There is a chap coming to fix it today some time between 12 and 4pm and then between 9 and 3pm I am expecting the guy to come and fix the banister rail for Mike. This hopefully will make things a bit easier for him coming up and down the stairs.
Yesterday, I made the remaining lamb into a shepherds pie and a pound of sausages were made into scotch eggs.  To the sausage meat I added some sauteed onions a couple of rashers of bacon and some picked thyme leaves.  We had the scotch eggs for lunch with a salad and the shepherds pie for dinner.  Incidentally I cooked the scotch eggs in the oven rather than deep frying them which worked quite well however the yolks were solid despite only a very short boil first.  I also made a start on the sourdough which actually took all day to rise.  It was ready for the next stage just as I…

Monday Morning

On the last drive of the shoot on Saturday as I stood ankle deep in mud, frozen cold with the rain falling on my already soaked coat and guns firing all around I suddenly thought of the men in the trenches in the first world war and wondered how I would have felt if I had had to sleep that night where I was.  No hot meal and hot bath to go home to, no nice warm bed to snuggle in and every chance of being blown to bits.  What a prospect!!!!  I had been at it for a matter of hours not months, I felt a total wimp and I was left in awe of the men at the Somme and what they had endured.  Some times you need a little reminder of what it must have been like and believe me it gives you a real sense of admiration and gratitude.
I had decided that for supper we would have a slow roast shoulder of lamb which I did for 4 hours at 130ºC on a huge bed of vegetables and doused in stock.  We had it with a gravy made from the blitzed vegetables and a big pile of sumptuous mashed potatoes.  Lunch had …

Sunday morning

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When they start giving out awards for stupidity please will you nominate me!!!  Just as the weather forecast had predicted the rain came in at about 10am and didn't stop until the shoot was finished at 4pm.  Anyone who is prepared to stand in the rain for 7 hours should be locked up for their own safety.  You can almost forgive the guns who have spent lots of money for the privilege but for £10 and two pheasants you have to be crazy.  The fields were quagmires and the woodland paths were rivers.  One positive to come out of this is that my shooting jacket got a proper workout and despite being fleece on the outside somehow it is completely waterproof.  My "cheap a chips" Aldi waterproof trousers kept my legs dry and my hat, though saturated, kept my head dry too.  Basso looked like a drowned rat but had a brilliant day with quite a few good retrieves.  I tried to cadge a lift with the gamekeeper to one of the drives but as soon as we were in the woods Basso leaped out o…

Saturday morning

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Today is a shoot day and I am happy enough to leave Mike at home with James, while Basso and I go and get soaked and frozen.

Yesterday we took a ride out to see the new flat, just from the outside, and have a little explore of the neighbourhood.  Hoo is a pleasant enough little village with all the usual facilities including a post office! about 200 yards from his front door there is a sell everything corner store which will be great for the odd pint of milk etc.  There is ample parking and a fenced off park just opposite to walk Tubby in.  The village is very close to the river and lots of marinas which hug the banks close to Upnor castle.


On the way home we stopped off at our usual riverside walk as all the dogs were in the car.  For Tubby it was his first experience of the a large expanse of grass.  At first he was terror struck and wanted to get back to the car but gradually he gained in confidence and accompanied us across the field.  He met lots of other dogs and people and by t…

Friday morning

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Good news it looks like James may have found some accommodation which will be suitable for him and he will at last be able to move his furniture from Shiona's apple shed.  It is only about 20 minutes in the car and in a small village the other side of the river in a suburb of Rochester.  It is a flat on the first floor so only one set of stairs to climb which is no different than here.  Tubby can go with him and there is a park directly opposite so he will not lack for good walking territory.  There are a few gaps in his equipment and he will need a cooker, a washing machine, curtains and carpets and a decent mattress.  It will be really good for him to take back control of his life I'm sure it has not been easy having to live back at home but at the time there was no choice.
I, of course, feel very ambivalent about it all as he has been great company not to mention a great help around the house.  I will have to adapt to being chief cook and bottle washer again but I hope I a…

Thursday morning

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What a miserable day it was yesterday it drizzled most of the day just enough to make it really unpleasant and it was very chilly as well.  Fortunately Shiona came to visit us and she had brought with her portions of the most delicious moussaka.  Late the previous evening I had decided to make some leek and potato soup as I had some lovely chicken stock which was in need of using up.  Sadly I left the vegetable cupboard door open and Tubby encouraged the others to help themselves to potatoes.  So, what to do with three large partly chewed potatoes well dauphinoise came to mind so that is what I did once I had retrieved the spuds and washed and peeled them.  I must say this went very nicely with the moussaka and made a splendid meal.
James took Tubby to the vet as he has a list of things to do and Friday, his official 12 week birthday, and it would not be possible to take him then so he was chipped, wormed and vaccinated yesterday. This means that we will be free to take him out for a…