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Showing posts from December, 2013

Tuesday morning and the tail end of 2013

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Yesterday was truly miserable with lashing rain and howling winds.  I had several errands to run or I would have stayed indoors all day.  My first trip was to the butcher where I had to pick up some turkey wings which he had saved for me.  While I was there he asked if I would also like some turkey giblets, well what could I say.  Anyway, for the princely sum of £5 I came home with tons of meat in fact there was so much that I had to break out my enormous catering pan.  First I removed all the livers from the giblets which are now in the freezer waiting for a day I fancy making pate.  The rest which included several drumsticks went into the pan with the usual suspects carrot, onion and celery, bay leaves, thyme, garlic and black pepper corns.  Then the water, a whole 9 litres of it to cover the meat and the pot was left to bubble for the whole day.

For lunch I had planned my favourite salad of endive/chicory with pears, stilton and walnuts.  The whole salad is then dressed with some …

Monday Morning

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Good morning all well it has just started to rain here and we are in for another wet and windy day today.  Yesterday was very cold but lovely and bright and perfect for dog walking.   I made a pot of celery and stilton soup but still had plenty of cheese left over so I made some deep-fried blue cheese beignets.  Which is just a choux pastry mix with added cheese, they are then deep fried in teaspoon fulls and you end up with sort of crispy doughnut like balls of cheese delight.  Today still on the cheese theme I want to make an endive pear and blue cheese salad which is one of my favorites.  Nice and light for lunch.  
I took myself to Aldi yesterday to buy some pillows as many of ours are very old and very dead. 



They also had bags of crystallized ginger for 99p well that was irresistible to me and I have ideas of possibly dipping the pieces in dark chocolate.  Well it will keep me occupied when I am bored. Talking of which I am hoping to go to the wool shop and rifle through their …

Sunday morning

Good morning all well yesterday turned out very differently than I had expected.  I had every intention of having a tidying up day you know sorting out the fridge and dealing with the odds and ends that needed getting rid of.  I started by getting a curried parsnip soup underway as that was to be our lunch.  I had a couple of items I needed from Tesco and a couple of things from Aldi.  Then the phone rang and it was our neighbour who had gone to live in New Zealand and was over for christmas and she wanted to pop in.  As you can imagine we had lots to catch up on so it was abandon clearing up and instead we sat and chatted over a bowl of parsnip soup and some bread and butter.  When she left three years ago we were given her fish to look after and they have grown into sharks in our larger pond.  She was amazed at how big they had grown.  Mike had shot out to Tesco for a few bits and I did Aldi on my way back from dropping our friend off at her brothers house where she is staying.
The…

Saturday morning

Good morning all.  I have had the most sleep in ages so I am feeling a little be odd and thick in the head but I am not complaining.  Sandy and David arrived around lunch time and shortly afterwards so did James.  Fortunately I had sufficient leftovers to go round for all of us.  I wasn't expecting James as he had been told the engineer would come at between 13.00 and 18.00 so he turned up at 10.30.  All that was required was to give James the telephone number as the line was live.  Nothing else needed doing so well done BT it only took 42 days for them to accomplish this, now that is what you call efficiency.  
Today being saturday I have my usual saturday chores to get done and then horror of horrors I do need to hit the shops for a few bits and bobs.  I am glad to say that almost all the food is now used up and the little bit of chicken leftover will be made into a pie mix and frozen for some later date.  I have served creamed leeks on a couple of occasions and they have been …

Friday morning

Well it is bit early but we currently have weather lots of it.  The wind is howling and the rain is lashing the windows.  I think that is what has woken me so early.  Although I had a very long and luxurious sleep last night.  To some extent I think once the pressure of Christmas is over you can rest and relax and I certainly did.  I had a grand day pottering about making stock and getting the laundry done.  James went to visit some friends who had requested any leftovers from my kitchen so I ran up a chicken ham and mushroom pie with a puff pastry lid.  The Termo made the sauce and so it more a case of assembling rather than cooking.  We are on Tubby sitting duty as James is expecting to have his telephone connected today and he needs to be in his flat not out with the dog.  Tubby doesn't seem to mind a bit and sleeps with his hero Basso.  
Today we have Sandy and David coming to pay us a visit so the leftovers will get wheeled out again but I am making some interesting vegetabl…

Boxing day morning

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So how was it for you?  My bird took just an hour and a half to cook 45 minutes breast down and 45 minutes breast up.  It had been brined the night before and I put it into a screamingly hot oven 300ºc then immediately down to 180ºC.  We motored through large chunks of panettone dunked in our coffee for breakfast while the dogs ripped open their presents and squabbled over the results.  We managed to get them all out for a nice walk and to build up an appetite.  The only thing I was unhappy with was the bread sauce which was rather too cinnamon flavoured and reminded us of chinese five spice.  
I must admit that after we struggled through a huge meal we none of us felt like desert so that was abandoned and instead we all crashed out for a sleep. 

Tubby found a good place to spend the night tucked in Bassos pockets all warm and cozy.  Now it is all down to the leftovers, of which there are plenty,  I will strip the bird carcass and get that into the soup pot.  The vegetables will make…

Happy Christmas One and All

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Yesterday was a nice quiet day we managed to get out for a walk between the rain showers and Tubby had his first experience of paddling in water up to his middle and then had a nice rub down with a warm towel when we got home. Of course the water only comes up to Basso's ankles but for Tubby it seemed very deep.

We ate lightly with scallops and prawns with black pudding  and a salad for lunch and supper was a nice piece of salmon and creamed leeks both of which were already prepared so it was just a case of warming things up.


I finished my entrelac sampler which looks like it may well end as a seat cover. The seat of this chair is badly torn but doesn't look to bad now with its new cover.  I will need to see if there is some way to fix it on the seat.  Perhaps some of the double sided tape used to hold rugs on the floor might do the trick.

This is a lovely part of the day just before the mayhem starts it is all lovely and quiet the dogs and men are asleep.  All my stuff fro…

Tuesday morning Christmas Eve

Yesterday morning James and Tubby arrived bright and early and shortly after breakfast we set off for the services at Cobham on the M25 to meet Remi and Marjorie's daughter.  We had a reasonable journey down there and made it in plenty of time. As luck would have it we managed to park alongside her car so we could transfer the luggage with the minimum of getting wet as the rain had started in earnest.  We said our goodbyes and James and I made our way home.  We then realised just how lucky we had been as there was a 9 mile tailback of stationary traffic heading to the service area which we had missed.  The homeward journey was uneventful but very wet and windy and fortunately we were heading against the traffic.  We dropped by the butcher and picked up the meat then it was home and James and tubs went off home and I went straight to my bed where I slept until 8pm.  I had made a cold beef salad and some braised fennel so I got up and had some of that then went straight back to bed…

Monday morning

Yesterday went well and I managed to concentrate enough to get the lunch on the table in good order. The sirloin was lovely and I cooked it to 50ºC internal temperature and then left it to stand for a good half an hour with a hat of foil.  In this time the roast potatoes and yorkshires were finished off and the curly kale was lightly boiled.  The gravy was already made and just needed reheating and the leftover gravy is going back in the freezer for some other occasion.  We ate in the traditional english style with the dessert [open faced apple tart and clementine ice cream] followed by the cheese course which we had with the homemade digestives.  My guests asked me if these were the biscuits that I had demolished late one night, so not only do they read this blog but also remember what nonsense I have written.
I gave them the choice of what to have for supper, it was either pheasant breast or trout fillets and they chose the fish which was lovely and easy and just put through the ov…

Sunday morning

"If you have time to spare, then go by air", never was a truer word spoken my poor visitors had an hour and half delay at Bordeaux so they were due in to Gatwick at 10.30pm.  To cut a long story short we didn't arrive back here until 1.15am.  I set off for the airport a bit early as the weather was atrocious and what a miserable drive it was.  The winds were strong enough to buffet my 3 ton Land Rover around and it was thrashing with rain, just what you want when you are not too sure of your route. Anyway, at least the weather was rather nice for the return journey and being so late meant there was not too much traffic. It might have been the shortest day of the year but not for us!!!!  They are all fast asleep including the dogs who were very confused with all the coming and going in the middle of the night.  I hope they are comfortable in bed but I think I could have put them on a bed of nails and they would sleep like babies.  
I think dogs have long memories as Nip f…

Saturday morning

Good morning all it is really too early to be up but I am wide awake.   The wind is blowing hard and whistling down the chimney.  The weekend weather forecast looks pretty miserable but at least the wind is from the south west so it will be relatively warm though we can expect plenty of rain.

The decorating is over now until January 6th when we start again with the staircase and the last two bedrooms and the bathroom.  This will give me a bit of a break which I feel I really need and I will have the time to enjoy my friends visit.  They are flying in from Bordeaux arriving at Gatwick at 20.55 which means I have a whole day to fiddle around and hopefully get a bit more sleep.  I have a few outstanding jobs to do but mostly I need to have a good long soak and get myself into a more relaxed gear.  This week has been hell on wheels but at least the house is looking a bit fresher.
Yesterday morning I shot off to Tesco at 6am thinking I was being clever getting things done early but I was a…

Friday morning

Well we are almost finished the downstairs - the front room was done yesterday and while that was happening Denny and I attached the bedroom and got that all put back together.  The windows are now transparent rather than frosted!  Today I will be doing the same for the front room but the major task was to convert all the brass coloured bits back to the silver they should be.  I work on the principle that if the shiny things are shiny then the place looks clean. Silly things make a big difference like cleaning the lights suddenly everything is brighter.  I have an armoire which is full of bits accumulated and inherited over a lifetime and given my passion for silver and crystal there is plenty to clean. Going through the stuff made me realise that a lot of it should be used more often otherwise what is the point.  I usually only break out the really nice stuff at Christmas but I think I should do so more often otherwise all it represents is work.  In between this I made the bread sau…

Thursday morning

Well at least it is not 2am and I got a bit more sleep last night.  Yesterday was a lucky day my new kitchen tap had worked loose and I could foresee the disaster that would unfold on christmas day when I would have water gushing and be calling an emergency plumber or the fire brigade.  So on the off chance I rang my wonderful handyman Gary to see if there was any chance he could help me out. As it happened he was awaiting a wood delivery and was at a loose end so he came straight round and fixed it and my loose cupboard door. Now how lucky was that!!!!!  Steve has finished the front bedroom so it is down to Denny and I to put it all back together this morning and clear out the sitting room ready for Steve to start in there.  By the time this decorating is finished my house will be cleaner than an operating theatre.  However, I have made an interesting discovery - don't clean before decorating as that way any spray of emulsion lands on the the dirt not the furniture and so wipes …

Wednseday morning

So the dining room is done, and today the front bedroom is on the list for painting.  Yesterday I was confined to the kitchen which, as you know, is no hardship for me.  I thought I would get away with not having to wash the nets before Christmas but when I had a closer look they really did need a do and as the curtains will have to come down for decorating it was just as well to put them through the machine.  I occupied myself with making another batch of tangerine ice cream this time I did the full recipe and it has not split.  Oddly, it is left for 24 hours to mature before freezing so today it can go in the freezer.  Then it was on with the pastry work and another open faced apple tart the trimmings were then used to make some sausage rolls for lunch as I was also making the chestnut stuffing.  My last shepherds pie did us for supper as we had James with us.  He had a physio appointment and we were on Tubby sitting duty.  James has been doing lots of recall work with him so he is…

Tuesday morning

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How's this for breakfast!!!!  Sandy and I had a birthday breakfast in the wonderful food emporium in Faversham.  The morning started bright and early for me as I had to clear out the utility, kitchen and dining room ready for Steve to start painting.  Those of you who have done this will know just what a task it is.  As soon as he was underway I put the dogs in the car and headed off to Sandy's to collect some bookcases she needed to dispose of and James could make use of.  Then it was breakfast time and after a leisurely feed it was down to the serious task of shopping.  We then went our separate ways I needed to deliver the bookcases  so it was off to Hoo and lug the bookcases up the stairs to his flat.  Tubby was due a walk and my two were getting pretty fed up of being in the car so after a quick cup of tea we took all the dogs for a walk in the park.  Then back home but stopping on the way to buy a 20kg bag of dog food.  Unpacking the car was relatively easy there was no…

Monday morning

Ok here we go for the big push but before I get stuck into all the room dismantling I must tell you about the blow I struck for women yesterday.  I went shooting with Sandy and David, at a shoot I had never been to, in Challock.  The stands were buried deep in some woods and the weather was very misty to say the least.  We eventually arrive at one stand and as I was about to shoot a large gaggle of blokes arrived.  We were a little slow in getting our act together and they started to make good humoured banter about women shooting.  I braced myself as I entered the stand feeling I was about to make a total chump of myself in front of all theses guys.  The clays were very high and coming fast in pairs from the right.  Well I expect you have guessed by now I shot a perfect 10 leaving the guys standing very quietly in stunned and silent awe.  Fortunately they didn't witness the rest of my not so brilliant shooting but as you can imagine it made my day.
Steve [painter] is starting abo…

Sunday morning

Good morning all. Yesterday was a busy one as I started to get me head round the decorating that is about to happen.  I sat down and made a plan of what needed to be done and I discovered that all I need to do is keep one step ahead of the painter.  I can strip out the next room he is going to tackle and while he does the painting I can clean all the stuff then when he moves on I can put the stuff back and start cleaning the next load of stuff.  Once my kitchen and dining room are done the rest is relatively easy.  
I discovered a good trick. I know that in hospitals they use glue to hold wounds together and while I was trying to mend my cake stand, for the third time, I managed to stab my thumb with a knife.  It was only a very small cut but of course it bled like sin and I was just about to get a plaster to keep the claret off everything when I hit on the idea of dabbing it with the super glue I was using.  I thought it might sting but no it just sealed the wound and did a better j…

Saturday morning

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Suddenly it is the weekend again where is all the time going?  I am a bit later this morning as I had a rotten night with various bouts of cramp in my legs.  The only way to stop it is to march around the bedroom until it passes.  If you know any remedies to stop this please pass them on to me.  I have gone months with no problems and it has suddenly started up again.
James and Tubby came round for the morning and we went and did a bit of dog shopping at the feed chandlers.  The remaining pie was eaten and the last of the ice cream too so I have a bit more room in the freezer.  Mike and I had the meat off the chicken wings I had used for gravy making for supper tossed up with a little cream and mushrooms and served on some toast.  The steroids and antibiotics have stopped his incessant coughing so he has had a good nights sleep which will make a big difference.

I think Tubby is trying to tell James it is supper time and has brought his food bowl he is a real little character.  After …

Friday Morning

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Good morning all, well it is morning but I'm not too sure there is much good about it.  Yesterday the pie eating fest went well.  The pie was very tasty but I do need to mention the hot water crust pastry.  It is made according to Paul Hollywood and has both lard and butter and plain flour and strong flour which made it a much better crust than I have ever had in the past. 
 450g/1lb plain flour 100g/3½oz strong white bread flour 75g/2½oz cold, unsalted butter, cut into roughly 1cm/½in dice ½ tsp salt 100g/3½oz lard 200ml/7fl oz  water
It behaved very well when worked with but best of all it was worth eating.  I suppose it was more like rather heavy short crust.  The creamed leeks were a great success and were quickly demolished. 

The James Martin apple pie was also fantastic I couldn't believe that the apples had stayed white in the freezer with no lemon on them and it cooked brilliantly from frozen in 20 minutes. The photo shows the second one which is as it looks straight …

Thursday morning

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Good morning all, yesterday was a day in the kitchen getting ahead with various bits and bobs.  I first went to Tesco at dawn and gathered all ingredients that were required then got on with making the base for my gravy for xmas and also for my guests so on went a packet of chicken wings with lots of vegetables. Then I made a couple of open apple tarts following James Martin's suggestion they are both now in the freezer raw and should only take about 20 minutes in a hot oven to complete.  I will try one on my poor guinea pigs today along with a blob of the clementine ice cream.  Despite the fact that it had split once it was blitzed in the Thermo it turned out really nicely and tastes fantastic. Next it was on with two portions of creamed leeks topped with breadcrumbs and cheese one for today and one for xmas day then last I tackled the hot water crust pastry for the game pie [Paul Hollywood]  It looks fantastic but until it is cut we won't know how good it is.

I had a fair a…

Wednesday morning and bin day

I hate to start the day with a moan but after waiting in all day yesterday at 6.30pm Curries phoned to say they would not be coming until today.  After sales service nil points.  I spent part of the day at James flat so that someone could go out with the Tubby and not miss the delivery what a waste of everybody's time.  I took Basso with me and this will make you laugh; at one point he was behind the sofa and James told him it was OK he could sit on the sofa - well sofa and oversound the same to a dog so to our complete surprise he obediently jumped over the complete sofa skidding and landing in a heap the other side but looking very pleased with himself.  It was quite a jump from a standing start!!!
Now the ice cream. I made it following the recipe but using half the ingredients as I didn't want 1.5 litres in case it was not nice.  It split!!! well of course it would I didnt halve the times - what an idiot! anyway I have frozen it to try for flavour and if it is any good I w…

Tuesday monring

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Good morning all.  The sourdough loaf I started yesterday is just about to go in the oven at least that is once it has reached temperature.  I left it overnight to prove in its basket and now it is up to the rim so that is as far as it is going.  Again despite copious flouring it has stuck to the cloth lining and once tipped onto the oven tray it has spread out like a pancake.  I think the mix was just too wet so the next one I try will be much more solid and see if that cures the problem.

We had our 6 monthly trip to the dentist and touch wood all is fine so I just got a clean and polish up.  On the return journey we stopped off and bought a TV for the back bedroom where the TV is not digital and so old it really has seen better days.  By the time we were approaching home it was lunchtime so we had some kentucky fried chicken from the drive through.  I do know that this is mortal sin and hell fires await me but I hadn't had my weeks supply of grease and cholesterol so I guess I …

Monday morning

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As you can see the blanket is coming on fairly well not that I have had much time to devote to it. Most of my morning was devoted to the Sunday lunch.  I had some frozen broad beans and they took quite a while to shuck from their grey overcoats but I do feel it is worth the effort and the hens love the skins.  James and Tubby arrived at around 10 and it is amazing how much that little lad is growing each time I see him.  I had saved him a cardboard box so he had hours of happy fun tearing into tiny pieces.  While Basso has moaned at him in the past as he was very tired after about an hour of harassment he finally told him no uncertain terms to leave him alone.  Poor Tubby sat back in amazement with with Basso's incredible barking ringing in his ears and a look of surprise on his face.
The roast leg of lamb was lovely and I still have plenty left for a shepherds pie or two and as I have the base vegetables already sweated off it will not take long to put together.  I also remember…

Sunday morning

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I had a smashing day day yesterday the weather was cold but dry for the shoot.  We were very short of picking up dogs there were only the three of us and 11 guns go cover but their shooting was not too good so there were not that many birds to pick up.  In the end despite 400 shots they only managed to hit 89 birds.  Still that was plenty for us to recover and Basso had a lovely time.  If you could see the joy it brings the dog you too would stand in the cold and rain just to give him a good day.  He is like a kid at christmas who has just got the one thing he thought impossible.

At the end of the shoot we all all gather to see the final count and it struck me how very polite and gracious the guns are they all thank us for making their day for them and one guy in particular always asks me if the dog had a good time which I find charming.  For some of the longer walks I bummed a lift with the gamekeeper and Basso and I sat on the tailgate of the truck as we bounced along the road. I …

Saturday morning

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Yesterday was one of ups and downs I started the day well in the kitchen and made my bags of sweated veg ready for the holidays.  I packed them in one onion portions but if I had used my brains I could have cut the bags in half and made them go a lot further.  I also did the flour and fat mix ready for pastry, then it was on with the invention test!

Sweated vegetables onion carrot celery and garlic

 250 grams of pastry base.  I ran out of flour and need to make a bit more .


I lined the bottom of a pan with streaky bacon and a sliced tomato then mixed up 6 eggs with some grated cheese into which I added the leftover pasta.  The resulting frittata was very tasty and did us for both meals we had half hot for lunch and the other half cold for supper.
Mike was going to go shopping but found his car would not start so I stepped in and dashed off to Tesco and while he waited for the RAC.  As it turned out he persisted with the car and got it going so we cancelled the RAC.  In the afternoon …