Monday, September 22, 2014

Not Enough Hours...

Finding difficulty in finding time to write a blog these days.  Don't think I've worked so hard for many years  (like ten?).  Combination of things causing my activity I suppose.  Freedom from the severe pain in my knee.  Seeming to have loads of energy, perhaps supplied by the supplements taken for the arthritis?  Good weather helps, everything seems better in the sunshine, and have to say that having learned to crochet, as well as returning to knitting after many years, fills all the 'free' time I have left.  The rest taken up with coping with preserving (bottling, cooking, freezing...) the abundance of soft fruits that keep coming in - apples and some blackberries from the garden, more blackberries growing wild, bags (and bags) of plums given by friends....

Add to that the food cooking for various organizations, or for charity.  Four lots in one week - so you can see how busy I am.  Not of course busy by normal standards,  happy though that I can still cope with doing it as a 'geriatric', and only because most of the work is done sitting down.  If I had to stand up writing this blog there wouldn't be one.

Two things to mention, one is that on Thursday afternoon in the Taste of Britain, BBC 1, 3.45pm, it covers Warwickshire, with a mention of Berkswell.  This is/was a small village north of Coventry, and after the main Blitz, when the bombs were dropped each night for seemingly weeks, and many incendiaries landed in our streets, my parents decided to rent a room in Berkswell, over the village shop, so that we could all sleep in our (camp) beds, instead of spending each night sitting huddled in the shelter.  We would leave at 5.30 each evening, returning about 9.00am the next morning.

It was Christmas Eve in Berkswell when I was so worried that Father Christmas wouldn't know where I was, but - bless him - he filled the stocking that had been hung at the end of my camp bed, but mercenary me couldn't wait to get back home in the morning to find out if he thought I was someone else, so he'd also left some pressies hung on the end of my proper bed.  And very disappointed I was that he hadn't.

Berkswell, at that time (early 1940's) was, as I remember, just a village green with a few cottages built around it, and the one village shop.  Now I expect it will be much larger.  Perhaps the village shop is still there, maybe it will be on the TV prog.

Second thing I wanted to give a mention to was the beef dripping.  If you remember I added some clarified beef dripping (sold in supermarkets) to the pan to extend the real dripping.  When the silverside was cooked, I drained off all the fat into small pots, but as there was still quite a bit of fat still tied onto the top of the joint, this I removed, put it into the shallow lid of the roasting dish, and continued to render it down.  This filled another small pot. 

Asked B to try both to see if there was much difference, and he said the flavour was much the same but the 'real' dripping was much softer.  B has already used up all the 'real' on toast, and half of one of the other pots of the 'mixed'.

Today made B a beef 'casserole' for his supper, I call it that although it was cooked (more like heated through) on the hob.
What I did was melt a chunk of the 'mixed' dripping in a frying pan and used this to fry some chopped onions, then added quite a few halved small chestnut mushrooms that needed using up.  A few of these were removed for me to add to my salad, and I tasted one while it was still hot.  White mushrooms tend to soak up fat, but chestnut mushrooms stay firmer.  Being already brownish in colour, as they cooked they got darker and really looked a bit like meat.  They tasted like meat, thanks to the beef dripping, so that's mixture of 'real' and clarified beef dripping is something I'll be making again for culinary use as it's a good way to make mushrooms (and anything else) taste really 'meaty'.  Perfect for Strogonoffs.

As always, thanks for your comments.  Wish Mary Whitehouse was still alive, she made a lot of sense, and as you say T.Mills, reviews and reports in the press so often get twisted.   So often the headlines are carefully worded to catch our eye and think they say something else such as:  'Vicar raps...'  This I've seen many times, my mind always seeming to want to adding an 'e' between the 'p' and 's'.  Not even because I want to, it just does.

Can  understand how busy you are jane, sometimes wonder why we do it.  Must be the squirrel instinct in our genes as it is something that generations of rural cooks have been doing for centuries. They knew it was sensible to take advantage of nature's bounty, not having any shops that provided the same, and although we could buy the fruits in supermarkets, at least home-grown and the wild are 'free', worth putting that in big print.  FREE.  Also fresher than any in the shops, and those of us that have freezers can hold them at that level to thaw and eat through the winter months.

This is one reason why I'm so busy this week (and probably for the next few weeks), my 'storing for the winter' instinct is very strong.   Wish the 'spring cleaning' instinct - also strong' - could be carried out with so much vigour.  But I'm not perfect.

Not heard, buttercup, of that historical novel where - in the 1900's - the maid took down her tights. Was the books returned to the library because of the inaccuracy?  Or because the tights were taken down for - lets say - romps?  Think 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' was once on the banned list.  Doubt that any books would be banned now.  Mores the pity.

Have to say that after reading "50 Shades...." am sorely tempted to write a steamy cookbook.  Could call it 'Crude Food'.  Perfectly normal recipes but with a bit more description in the method.  Love to give an example but this blog would probably be stopped because it was 'pornographic'.   Don't let me stop anyone writing something similar, it would be bound to be a best-seller.

Just a couple of recipes today as I have to allow time to lay out all the necessary for an early start to marmalade making tomorrow morning.  If I stay up too late than wake too late, and as I do my best work early in the day it makes sense to stop blogging late and night and try and write earlier.
Not sure what time tomorrow as I'll be at the church in the afternoon, but hope to grab an hour either after I return or during the evening.
Same on Wednesday as I'm hoping to visit the haunted Winter Gardens during that afternoon, and goodness knows what might happen there.  In a way hope something does, then I'll have something interesting to tell you - which makes a change.

Have chosen these two recipes as they are seasonal and although slightly different, you may like to improvise and do a bit of mixing and matching.
With the first recipe, if you don't have butternut, you could instead use marrow or courgette (or a mixture).
Second recipe is similar to piccalilli.

Butternut Pickle: makes about 5lb
4 lb (1.80g) butternut squash (see above)
1 lb (450g) cooking apples, peeled and chopped
2 large onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
salt
5 fl oz (140ml) sunflower oil
3" (8cm) piece root ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp garam masala (curry powder)
half tsp chilli powder
5 oz (150g) stoned dates, chopped
8 oz (225g) dark brown sugar
3/4 pt (425ml) distilled malt vinegar
Peel and dice the vegetables, sprinkle with salt and leave to stand for one hour.  Rinse off the salt and drain well before putting into a large saucepan with remaining ingredients.  Stir well, then bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently until thick and pulpy and a wooden spoon dragged across the base of the saucepan leaves a path.
Pot up in warm, sterilised jars, seal with vinegar-proof lids.  Keep 2 weeks before eating.

Courgette and Sweetcorn Chutney: makes 3lb
2 lb (900g) courgettes, finely sliced
salt
3 fresh corn on the cob, kernels removed
1 lb (450g) onions, diced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
8 oz (225g) tiny florets of cauliflower
2 tsp mustard powder
8 oz (225g) Demerara sugar
19 fl.oz (540ml) distilled malt vinegar
half tsp turmeric
6 whole cloves
1 tblsp cornflour
Sprinkle the courgettes liberally with salt and leave to stand for 2 hours, then rinse well and drain.
Place all the vegetables in a large saucepan and add all the remaining ingredients except the flour and 4 fl.oz (115ml) of the vinegar.
Stir the veggies as you bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1.1/2 hours, stirring frequently.
Blend the cornflour with the reserved vinegar, stir this into the pan, and bring back to the boil, then continue stirring for 2 minutes as it thickens.  Pot up as above recipe.  Will keep for 6 months.

Really must love you and leave you,  but have to say am thoroughly enjoying my busy life, was afraid those days were past me, but not so.  Will enjoy being active while I can.  TTFN



 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Never Believe What We Read?

This morning am almost crippled with back pain. Used to get this many years ago, and fairly regularly, but now not had it for several years.  In those days was told to lie flat (preferably on the floor), sometimes for days, until the pain went away.  Now they say we should move around as much as possible and not rest.   So as I've now managed to get up from my chair into another one, hope to be able to spend a little time chatting before the pain hits me again.

Referring to the Anonymous comment about my mention of all the 'social' technology being used on one causing computers to lose their broadband connections,  this is the reason given in the newspaper the following day.  Readers will remember me saying that my computer didn't work either, and not for many hours (or was it more than a day?) before it started again (without any intervention of mine).  Can understand why some computers might have local problems with interference, but for computers over all regions and I believe not just in this country, having 'crashed', the reason given by the press makes sense.  Don't blame me for any misinformation, I'm just the messenger.

As to 'Fifty Shades of Grey'....  it didn't take more than the first page for me to realise it wouldn't make good reading. Not the content, the way it was written - like a bad Mills and Boon. With any other book I would not have bothered to read more, but knowing there was 'more', then flicked over the pages to discover any hot spots' (and there were quite a few). Apart from the first, didn't really each through as I found them becoming more and more disgusting, verging on the pornographic (not that I'd know much about that).  All I can say is that it would appeal to some, and mainly men I suspect. 
Am not a prude, and have enjoyed reading 'Fanny Hill' (think that was once banned), but that was well written, and certainly not with the extremes as in the above book.  Maybe today girls/women enjoy reading books such as 'Fifty....', but cannot for a moment understand why they feel the need. Something wrong with society if this is the case.  Does that make me a hypocrite because I felt I should find out what all the fuss is about? With me I put it down to research. 

Certainly would not suggest anyone should read Fifty Shades... and sad that it made such an impact (due to the content) that it led to so many people WANTING to read it that it was a best seller, leading to more books in that series.  Cannot believe that it would possible for a film to be made of the book.  Similar films am sure can be found in sex-shops (and maybe where the author found the inspiration?).

Having only had the book a couple of days, it has left me with such a bad taste in my mouth that I asked B to return it to the library a.s.a.p. Didn't even want it lying around for the two weeks until he takes the library books back and gets more.  I feel the same about the book as though it was a rotting, maggot-ridden dead rat lying on the table.

A welcome to Kitty, who - along with several readers - has requested my opinion of 'Fifty Shades...' (given above).

Apologies to Jane (and everyone) as I gave the wrong amount re the beef.  It was 50 slices I got not 70 (plus two bags of 'matchsticks' of beef (for stir-fries) plus a bag of tiny slices (good for sarnies), and a further bag of scraps for making meat paste.  The smaller amounts, fitted together would probably have formed a further 20 slices anyway.  Not that far out. 
As the silverside was rolled, and a good weight, it formed quite a long joint, so the width/depth was  slightly smaller than a usual beef roasting joint, but of course longer, so the reason why it gave more slices.  Depending on thickness of carving, I would serve either three, four or five slices per portion.  Five of the very thin ones was about right for B.   

Thanks to all readers who sent comments.  Have to say Margie, we in the UK (other than Scotland) are very relieved that the Scottish vote was 'No' to separation.  But it was very close.  It is said that the main 'No' vote came from mainly women who (naturally) were more concerned with the financial effect the separation could have on Scotland.  When the supermarkets said that food prices would rise in Scotland if the vote was 'Yes' might well have been the tipping point.  

Scots who live outside Scotland (even if still in the UK) were not eligible to vote, so as there are quite a number of other nationalities living in Scotland (English, Asian....), presumably these would have been eligible, and one would assume they would vote 'No', diluting the 'true Scottish' majority vote that I am sure would have been 'Yes'.  But who I am to make assumptions? It seems (from comments) I do get my facts wrong.  Passing on what I read, and what I hear on the news, adding a little of my own thoughts occasionally, if just how things seem to me, but isn't it good that we can share what we think/believe to be right/wrong? Life would be boring if we didn't have differences.  Just as long as we beg to differ, and not cause offence.

Myself believe that in many instances we should take a pinch of salt with what we read. Certainly when it comes to celebrities, the press seem to make up a great deal of what they write. I've given interviews in the past and even at my level, what was written was not always what I said.  The press are extremely clever at putting two and two together to make five, and when taken out of context can almost prove that the opposite happened to what really did.

Enough about media manipulation.  Back to a safer subject such as food.  Even then there is always the danger of the 'U' turn, and we hear that butter is now better for us than (some) margarine.  Sugar we know is bad for us (not denying that), and there could be a tax on sugar (and its products) so as sugar has an almost indefinite shelf-life (when properly stored), will buy some 5kg bags (works out a bit cheaper than the smaller bags) to store for preserve making and baking, for the next few years at least.  So maybe the press does give some useful news.  On the other hand there may be no tax on sugar, another food may be found to be more 'dangerous' so we have to avoid that - having read the other day that artificial sweeteners could do us more harm than sugar - where do we go from there?

First recipe today has an unusual combination of ingredients that give a really delicious result.  Seasonal too (although we could use frozen fruit/veg). Intended as a side dish, after making it can be frozen to enjoy later.
Remove the peel from the lemon, avoiding the pith.  Using the peel in strips/pieces is to add flavour, using zest would do the same but not then able to be removed. 
Wrap the peeled lemon tightly in cling-film and place in the fridge, then it should keep without going mouldy for at least a week.  Or freeze the lemon, or just its juice).

Pears and Beans in a piquant glaze: serves 6
3 cooking pears, peeled, cored, sliced
half pint (300ml) hot chicken stock
1 small lemon, peel only used *see above)
12 oz (350g) string beans, cut into chunks
4 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon, diced
2 tblsp soft light brown sugar
1 tblsp tarragon vinegar
Put the pears in the hot chicken stock and lemon rind, bring to the simmer and poach for 5 minutes.  Add the beans, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain, reserving 3 tblsp of the stock.
Dry-fry the bacon until crispy and the fat flows, then remove bacon and drain on kitchen paper.  To the  fat remaining in the pan, add the sugar and the vinegar and stir until the sugar has dissolved, add reserved stock, then bring to a fast boil and cook until reduced to a syrupy consistency.  Reduce heat to low, then gently stir in the pears and beans, until coated with the glaze.   Sprinkle the bacon on top.  Then ready to serve.
To freeze: cool and freeze in foil containers, seal/label. Use within 3 months.  Thaw at room temperature for 4 hours, then bake at 180C, gas 4 for 15 - 20 minutes.

Final recipe today is a harvest loaf - not the more normal wheat-sheaf shaped bread, but this time a sweet version, not a million miles away from carrot cake.
Due to the moist ingredients, when well wrapped, this 'tea-bread' will keep well for several days. Serve sliced and buttered.

Sweet Harvest Loaf: serves 6 - 8
3 eggs
6 fl oz (175ml) sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz (175g) carrots, coarsely grated
5 oz (150g) desiccated coconut
6 oz (175g) cooking apples, peeled/cored/grated
4 oz (100g) walnuts, chopped
4 fl oz (100ml) runny honey
6 oz (175g) raisins or sultanas
7 oz (200g) self-raising brown flour, sifter
3 oz (75g) porridge oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
little grated nutmeg (to taste)
Beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, then fold in the carrots, coconut, apples, walnuts, honey and dried fruit.
Gently stir in the remaining ingredients.  Spoon into a greased 2lb/900g loaf tin and bake at 180C, gas 4 for one hour - one and a quarter hours, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cake airer to cool completely.   Serve sliced and buttered.
If intending to keep for a few days, wrap in foil.  To freeze: when cold, closely wrap in foil, seal and label.  Use within 6 months.  Thaw at room temperature for 4 - 5 hours.

Now need to try and hobble into the kitchen where I need to bake bread, write a short list of things needed that B can take to M'sons when he goes for his Health Lottery ticket, then hopefully will find that moving around a bit will help to ease my back. 
Almost certainly will be taking tomorrow off from blogging (instead of today), so expect me back Monday.  If my back has recovered in time, it could be a busy week ahead for me.  Sunday/Monday baking for the church coffee morning, marmalade for MacMillan Nurses Charity day, out on Tuesday to the church 'circle', out on Wednesday to 'ghost hunt',  Friday coffee morning and also hair appt., Saturday flu jab, and in between fitting in the usual household chores, cooking, blogging....  Almost hoping the comp will crash just to give me breathing space.

Until Sunday, hope you all have a pleasant weekend. Weather uncertain, some of us may have rain (we need it), but said to improve again later next week although tending to be cooler, esp. at night.
We've had a good run of perfect weather (at least Morecambe has), so can't complain when the weather returns to 'normal'.  Should be back Monday. TTFN





 






Friday, September 19, 2014

Late Friday evening....

Had planned my day to the minute, leaving a couple of hours to write my blog this afternoon as soon as Norma the Hair had left.  What did I find?  The computer wouldn't connect up with Broadband (again!).  Apparently this is now happening to some connections due to too many people using their comps/tablets/iPods and all things that use the same lines of connection - it cannot cope with them all.

It's only now the computer is back working - thought I'd better check - and as I was up late last night watching much of the Scottish election, my plan was to go to bed early (but the repeats of 'dinner ladies' was too good to miss, so forgive me if I catch up with your comments tomorrow.  I don't normally blog on Saturdays, but as I've missed today, will be back tomorrow, then probably take Sunday off.

It could be this Broadband problem will happen again (it has happened several times) - if a day (or even two) goes by when there is no expected blog, you will know the reason why. However, there are always the Archives to work through - especially the months of each year that are same as the one we are in, remembering that this year crops can be up to a month early.

I have read part of 50 Shades....  in my next blog I will let you know what I think.  TTFN.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Smell of Success...

Yesterday cooked the silverside in a lidded roasting tin that had a lid (gift from my neighbour who is down-sizing and no longer uses it).  Inside the tin was a grid, and the silverside rested on that, with the fat covering the top.   Decided to cook it at a fairly low temperate (140C) and after 4 hours took its temperature and it was 150deg (rare), so turned the oven down to 50C, and left in in for a further hour while I cooked B's supper.  By then the temperature was 160deg, and that was 'medium' (well-done would have been 170deg). 

Removed the meat from the tin and poured off all the dripping - quite a goodly amount due to the extra clarified beef dripping I'd added.  That was covered, cooled and chilled and have yet to check this, but waiting until I have further rendered down the fat that I've removed from the top of the joint, knowing there is quite a bit more dripping I can get from it.

The meat was chilled in the fridge overnight and this morning I sliced it using my electric slicer.  My goodness what a lot of slices I got!! Some slices were very thin (others medium and a few thicker - according to the meals/snacks they are used for).  At least 70 slices in total PLUS three bags of small 'batons' (cut from the end chunk of the joint) that will be used in stir-fries,  AND about a quarter of a pint of tiny scraps that was left on the paper (where the slices of meat fell from the machine) including scraps caught in the machine itself.  These will be made into beef paste. 

The weight of the joint - once cooked and before slicing g - was 2.5kg.  After checking the Tesco website and averaging the price of pre-packed sliced cooked beef,  it would cost me at least £50 to buy the same amount (the price of  potted beef spread was 85p per 100g).
Just goes to show that cooking a large joint of beef (pork, or lamb....) even if only once a year, can save us a LOT of money.  The slicing machine would pay for itself after slicing two joints.

Slice beef freezes very well, have found it worth buying the largest affordable joint we as then B can have roast beef regularly throughout the year (takes only minutes to re-heat in gravy). Instead of using freezer bags (I don't have a vacuum sealer), have found that wrapping closely in thin (cheaper) kitchen foil removes almost all the air.  I write on the bag of each pack of slices whether it is thin, medium, thick, or 'bits'. 
Wrapping fresh salmon in foil before freezing also works well and when unwrapped/thawed it as good as 'fresh'.

Because the kitchen was full of the glorious aroma of roasting beef yesterday (and still hanging around) B has requested the full Monty for his supper - Roast beef, gravy, Brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding.... Not sure if I have sprouts in the freezer, but the green string beans will be fine.  Perhaps should also cook carrots.  Who wants such a heavy meal on such a lovely day?  You can guess who.

Have to say it is usually the smell of certain foods being prepared/cooked that gets our mouths watering.  Who doesn't love the smell of bacon frying, maybe even fried onions, certainly bread that has just been baked, also cakes such as gingerbread....  and of course - roasting meat, especially beef.
Have readers any other likes/dislikes when it comes to the smell of certain foods?

Many cakes do keep fairly well in tins Jane. Am thinking of the moister ones such as Lemon Drizzle, but of course the longer keeping ones such as gingerbread, flapjack, and parkin that need several day to 'mature' before cutting, come first to mind.

Myself find that layers of sponge cake freeze very well (when properly wrapped), and as these thaw out quite rapidly, two (or more) can quickly be filled with jam (also whipped cream if you have it), to serve within - say - half an hour of removing from freezer.
A complete jam-filled Victoria sponge cake will freeze perfectly, but will take longer to thaw than single sponge layers, and useful to know that unfilled sponge cakes (like bread) are one of the few foods that can be frozen, thawed, and then re-frozen.  When first filled with jam/cream, this can be frozen, but once thawed not refrozen (because of the cream).

When freezing a larger cake, always worth partly freezing, then slicing it  (easier to slice when nearly frozen, especially if filled with cream). Separate each slice with baking parchment, before re-assembling and returning to the freezer, then easy to remove one slice if that is all you need (allow about 15 mins for it to thaw, longer if the room is cold).

The richer the cake, especially when containing fruit, the longer it will keep, but it is worth having a go at baking the following that contains fruit (dates, apple) and said to keep for up to a week.  These 'up to' dates rarely mean 'use-by', more as a guide, so am sure this one would keep well (especially if kept chilled) for longer.  In any case, this cake can be frozen (un-iced) if you wish.
If you haven't fresh ginger, use stem ginger, or crystallised ginger, shredded as small as you can - OR use a teaspoon (or two) of ground ginger.

Squidgy Lemon and Ginger cake: serves 12
7 oz (200g) dates, stoned
7 oz (200g) butter, diced
11 oz (300g) dark muscovado sugar
2 eggs
2 oz (50g) grated fresh ginger
grated zest of 1 lemon
7 oz (200g) self-raising flour
1 Bramley apple (9oz/250g) peeled
2 oz (50g) white chocolate
1 tsp candied lemon peel or cryst.ginger, chopped
Put dates in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Heat the butter in a small pan until melted, then stir in the sugar.  Cool slightly then beat in the eggs. Stir in the ginger, and lemon zest.
Drain the dates and chop them finely, add these to the date/egg mixture, then stir in the flour. Chop the peeled apple finely then add this to the mixture.
Spoon mixture into a greased and lined 8"/20cm round cake tin.  Put the tin on a baking sheet (this prevents the base browning too much) then bake for 1hr.15mins at 160C, gas 3 until well risen. A skewer stuck into the cake will probably have a few moist crumbs sticking to it.  That's how it should be.  Leave to cool in the tin.   When cold,  remove from tin, and peel of the parchment. Wrap well, and it will keep for up to a week.  If wishing to freeze do this before decorating with the chocolate.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over just simmering water.  Then remove cake from the tin, remove the parchment, and drizzle the chocolate over the cake, scattering the top with the candied peel/ginger if using.

Will see if I can find other recipe for cakes that will keep well in a tin (other than the heavy fruit ones), so watch this space.

As you can see, this is another mid-afternoon blog.  Seems to be working best for me as am able to get a lot more work done in the morning and also after blogging.  Gives me time for knitting/crochet during the evening, and if nothing worth watching on TV - off to bed by 10.00am (often before B - and that doesn't happen often).

It has been another beautiful day, although it does seem that some parts of the country have had some rain and a few thunderstorms here and there.  We - as always, here in Morecambe - have been more fortunate.

Tomorrow we should get the result of the Scottish vote and who knows whether the 'Yes' or 'No' will win. Am hoping the majority choose to stay in the UK more for their financial security than any other reason.

Call me daft if you like, but in the end asked B to get me '50 Shades of Grey' from the library.  They didn't have it in at the time, but today they did and so this morning B went and fetched it. Just wanted to know what all the fuss is about. Will let you know what I think about it when I've read it.  Could be I won't want to read more than the first chapter - but who knows?  Even an 81 year-old lady might enjoy a bit of raunchy reading (that's what I believe the book consists of, on nearly every page)
As am a fast reader, could be by tomorrow I'll have finished reading and be able to give you my opinion (who cares anyway?). 

Must be the new pills (supplements), seem to be 'feeling my oats' as the saying goes. A couple of weeks ago I felt very, very old,  now I feel much the same as when I was thirty (well perhaps 35). Must enjoy it while I can.

However much the book is calling me, really have to go and start preparing B's supper (and dessert - want to use up the oddments of fresh fruit that need using, in a 'fruit salad'), then the evening is my own to do what I like with (watching TV, finishing knitting another cushion cover, maybe a bit of crochet, then reading, reading, reading.....could be it will be after midnight before I go to bed. And what did I say about going to bed early?  The road to hell is paved with good intentions. TTFN

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Happy Days!

Looks like mid-afternoon is turning out to be the best time for me to write my blog (apart from Tuesday's when I'm out then).
The meeting yesterday (church 'Circle) was very enjoyable.  Apart from the usual chatting about anything 'spiritual' that had happened to each of us (not everyone), there was new face (at least to me). Turned out this gentleman did voluntary work at the Winter Gardens in Morecambe (this building included in the list of the most haunted places in Britain?).  Speaking to him after the meeting he told me that he would show me round the building, and that he and a friend had done some filming inside the building and they had captured a 'spirit' running along a balcony, also a bright blue globe that suddenly appeared and whizzed past them, that was also seen on the film including the 'whoosh' sound it made.

For some reason I mentioned that my husband, although not interested in anything spiritual, said that it is well known that sailors, alone in boats in dangerous sailing conditions, have always felt there is someone 'else' sitting in the boat with them and this really helped them.
Turned out the W.G.volunteer had just joined the Morecambe sailing club, and had actually met B at their Friday social evening, so as B was parked in the church drive, was able to stop and have a chat with him. 
As I asked if I could bring someone with me when I had this 'private' guided tour round the Winter Gardens .  So watch this space and maybe this time next week we'll have been and there will be something interesting (or not) to tell you.

As well as the normal 'circle' meeting, I've arranged to bake cakes on alternate weeks for the Wednesday meeting (that begins with tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits).  My tray-bakes always stay fresh for a day or two, so I can bake on Tuesday morning, take to the meeting that afternoon, and they can stay in the church kitchen (wrapped!!) ready for the next day.  If I make gingerbread, then could make it on Sunday as it improves with several days keeping before being eaten.  All the cakes I make can be frozen, so if any left over they will be able to be kept for another day.

Even my knee was behaving itself,  I needed to use only one stick to walk down the church drive, and once in the room hardly felt I needed the stick at all.  After sitting for nearly a couple of hours, have to stay it stiffened up a bit, but not nearly as bad as it was a couple of weeks ago.
As the doc said it could take 2 days to 2 weeks for me to feel the benefit of the injection, and the two weeks is up tomorrow, expect that how the knee feels now is about as good as it can get - but am happy with that.

Unusually for me have felt more bright-eyed and bushy tailed than for weeks.  Often this 'feel-good' feeling comes a couple of days before I succumb, to a cold (maybe my body charging itself up to deal with it), or it may just be I was due for a bit of good luck.

This morning - another LOVELY day, went out with Norris and bought more wool (chunky and double-knitting), plus 4mm needles to suit the thinner wool, two stitch counters to fit on the needles, a wool needle for the sewing up, and am now (as they say in the US) 'good to go'.  Actually I've already started knitting another cushion cover, but have reluctantly laid that down so that I could chat to you, and then prepare B's supper (fish risotto).

While on the parade met my neighbour (the one I have coffee with on a Friday) asked her if she'd like to come with me to have a tour of the Winter Gardens.  She was thrilled, so that's sorted.  She was going in a different direction to me so we parted company, but as I needed to buy some silverside at the butchers, and he asked me to return in 10 minutes, I did a scoot round the block and then sat outside his shop until he had the meat ready for me, during which time my neighbour, on her way hack, caught up with me and we ended up returning home together,  it was not easy for me to keep Norris's speed down to walking pace,  I am used to scooting along (faster than I should - and even faster on the prom when there are very few people there.  Our end of the prom being often empty of people, they tend to congregate towards the west (town) end. 

Requested extra fat from the butcher to place over the silverside so that I can make beef dripping for B (that always cheers him up), but when I got home found there was not as much fat as hoped (I wanted LOADS) so added a bit of clarified beef dripping to the roasting pan in the bope that this would take up the beefy flavour and end up pretty much like the 'proper' beef dripping.  If it doesn't work to B's satisfaction, then I can always use the fat for roasting potatoes etc.

Thanks to Stephanie for the comment.  Not sure if the other comment from Anonymous was also from Stephanie (she mentioned she had made a mistake with the first).
Don't think our household building insurance covers legal advice, but will check.  Think we can sort it without heading in that direction, although the other advice - Citizen's Advice Bureau - is one worth keeping in mind.

It is true that the trees are fast changing colour, and a lot earlier than normal.  Sometimes it can be late October/early November before leaf-fall, but usually late when we have had a wet summer.
This year just about everything from flowers to fruit have been several weeks early.  It could be the very mild winter that caused this, and with the trees (these did seem to produce new leaves about the right time), it could be the very dry summer that has thrown the tree 'clocks' out.
Being old enough to have ancient memories of how our English weather used to conform, even able to plan picnics a week or two ahead, and choose the right time of year to go on holiday and avoid the rain, then following this 'tradition', we could be about to face a severe winter.  Nowadays we can't guarantee any weather anymore, although have to say, Morecambe seems to have its own weather, and usually a great deal better than the rest of the country.   When we moved here we were told we didn't have many frosts and rarely, if ever, got any snow.  Of course then we had two winters with quite a bit of snow (which I thoroughly enjoyed), since then - just frosts, rain, a few gales, and last winter barely one frost.  Even geraniums, left in pots in the garden by mistake, kept alive during last winter and have continued to bloom.

Perhaps if you brought the spinning wheel out of hibernation Stephanie, you might get inspired to use it again.  Sheep's fleece is so cheap (buy directly from a farmer) that if you do a lot of knitting and crochet, you will end up quids in.  Myself found spinning very relaxing, as with all craft work even those that take a fair amount of concentration.  Could be the sense of achievement when something is finished that gives an added bonus.

Have to say one of my major faults, (and yes I do have feet of clay - with as many feet as a centipede) is not finishing off properly.  In the past have been known to fasten my skirts with a nappy-pin rather than make a button-hole, or stitch on a hook and eye.  However, did improve. 
When my daughter-in-law did embroidery, she did it so neatly that you couldn't tell the back from the front, and I admired this so much.  With me I tend to like to get a job done as quickly as possible, preferably without cutting corners, but maybe I could take a little more care.  Am I the same when it comes to cooking?  No - this I really try to do correctly, as perfectly as possible.

When it comes to cooking, maybe I do take too much trouble with the appearance and maybe the subtleties of flavour.  When I use ground pepper, I always use white pepper when the food cooked is a light colour (such as white sauce - black pepper would show up as dark specks), and also have several different types of salt - rock salt, sea-salt, and pink salt (from the Himalayas), salt from Wales, and at least a couple more different ones.  Have yet to find out who sells kosher salt - recommended by several chefs.

Was making myself a tomato sarnie today (with some low-fat mayo spread on the bread instead of butter).  At one time used to put the sliced tomatoes on the bread, then season with pepper before topping with the second slice.  Now, once the bread has had its 'spread' (butter, mayo, marg etc), I then ahake/grind the pepper onto the bread - this way I can see the pepper is evenly distributed - before topping with tomato (or whatever filling I might be using that needs seasoning).  If I wish to add a little salt, then add this in the same way.

Time now for me to check to see if the beef is ready, then begin preparing B's supper (measure out all the ingredients: butter, chopped onion, Arborio rice, white wine, and poaching the fish - meanwhile heating up chicken stock, then just sit by the hob, adding ingredients in the above order, continually stirring (or almost continually - sometimes I am tempted to take a swig of wine, why should B have it all?).  After 25 minutes it would be ready, but have to allow 30 mins (turn out the heat, cover the pan and leave to stand for 5 minutes more) as B likes his rice slightly over-cooked. 

Have a feeling that if B ate in a Michelin 3-starred restaurant very little of the meal would be to his satisfaction.  For him there would be no enough seasoning, meat too rare, ALL vegetables would have been undercooked, and when it came to desserts (that he would like) the portions would be too small - and not enough cream!!
Thankfully I know exactly how B likes his food and try very hard to make it perfect (by his standard, not mine) so as it is nearly 5.00 really have to make a move. Back again tomorrow, can't say what time, probably mid-afternoon. TTFN.
 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

\Keeping it Short amd Sweet

Another early blog today as am at the computer anyway dealing with the continuing claim for the blogged sewage pipes OUTSIDE our boundary wall.  Seems we have to pay a further £88 for a detailed copy of the sewer network - and this from the Council.  So why can't the council's solicitor just ask for a copy herself from them?

Anyway, this is causing B so much stress and during last night  I discovered him sitting in the living room in the wee small hours (he had previously gone to bed and was in bed when I retired), worrying about it all.  So I'm taking now taking it over and he can forget about it.  I don't let things like that worry me, I just dig my toes in and hopefully give THEM cause to worry.

This afternoon I'll be going to the church 'Circle' meeting (think by then I will need the relaxation it gives me), so will have less time to do things this morning, there is a footie match on TV this evening that B will want to watch (in this room), and myself prefer to have an early night rather than wait until very late evening before I blog.  

Many thanks Sarina for the info on bottling pears in syrup.  Know just what you mean about lids 'popping',  after a jamming session I love to hear each lid 'pop' as they cool down. 
Also thanks to Hazel - her comment came in as I am writing so was able to check my email to read it, enabling me to give a reply.  Worth looking through old books to find how to preserve lots of things.  In the US, in the old days - I believe a lot of preserving was done in cans, but nowadays bottles are used, but still called 'canning'. 

Sorry it's a short blog, but am sure you will appreciate time is not on my side today.  Should be back to normal tomorrow, but not sure what time I will be blogging (have to say I prefer an early blog rather than a late one - then I can go to bed early.  TTFN

 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Finding Time...

Another early start to my blog, so apologies to readers who may not yet have read yesterday's blog.  Worth checking to make sure you haven't missed it.  Not that I suppose there was anything written worth reading (I seem to have lost my blog mojo at the moment - if I knew what a mojo was).  Will try to do better today.

Reason why I'm able to write at just after midday is that "Little House...." that I normally watch at this time I've discovered is a repeat of the one shown on Saturday's so as already seen that one, I have a free hour, or even longer if I chose to miss the one-o'clock TV news which is usually depressing anyway.

Gave my container plants a good watering yesterday, and blow me - this morning woke to find out it has been raining during the night.  Nothing heavy and possibly the foliage in some containers would have prevented much rain getting soaked in.
It's obvious, after rain, how much the plants seem to perk up, and expect this is due to the dust that could have settled on the leaves has then been washed off.  Leave need to breathe, and perhaps we forget we should give these a wash as well as watering the roots.

An interesting bit in the newspaper today how the Chinese government is so concerned with the way children are getting more and more attached to 'the electronics' (computers, tablets, iPads, and mobiles), have now set up a large number of what I call 'boot camps' for a sort of 'detoxing', to wean them away from using these products.  Think the same thing ought to happen in the Western world as if this 'social media' continues it will cause more problems than pleasure (well, that's what my crystal ball is showing).

As this is an early blog, only a couple of comments to reply to, and apologies to those who send any in later today hoping for a reply.  These I will answer tomorrow.

Loved reading your comment Sarina, proof positive that a little knowledge of a great many things is not - as the saying goes - a dangerous thing (unless we dabble in electronics and chemicals), but can get us through life very comfortably and at low cost.
Could you please let me know how you preserve those pears, we have only a few pears on our pear tree and they are not very large, also rather hard.  More use to me if preserved than waiting for them to ripen one at a time.

The wide-screen TV that we have in this room has a flat screen Margie, and personally I prefer to watch the smaller, old-fashioned TV that we have in our living room even though not all the picture is able to be shown (we lose a bit at each side).   We don't have any means of recording TV progs although I suppose we could watch some on the various iPlayers via the comp.  Am not fond of doing that, don't know why.  Perhaps I prefer to watch in comfort, snuggled up in my chair under one or more of my 'throws'.

Our weather remains warm, and I believe will be getting warmer later this week, but in the shade, and also during the night, it certainly is cooler.   The leaves are fast changing colour and many falling from the trees, so we have to constantly sweep our drive due to the many horse-chestnut trees that line our road.  Not too bad at the moment as there has been no wind to blow the leaves around, and once enough have fallen (to be followed by more), the council send a little street sweeper up and down the road and men fills bags with the leaves to keep the pavement clear.  This could be because - if there is rain - the leaves would get slippery and residents (many of the elderly) could slip and fall, break a leg/hip and then sue the council.

Noticed three very ripe bananas in my veggie basket (still in a bag), B had bought in some more bananas and placed them on top, so I mussed seeing the older ones until too late.  However, they will be used as today I intend making the following cake.  The icing is basically a 'ganache', and omit the banana chips if we have none.  Myself would probably omit the icing as I KNOW B will pour cream over it anyway. 
This cake will freeze, preferably un-iced although I have frozen ganache (on its own) and it causes no problems once thawed.

Chocolate and Banana Cake:  serves 8 - 10
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
6 oz (175g) self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tblsp cocoa powder
4 oz (100g) chocolate chips/chunks
6 oz (175g) very ripe bananas (peeled weight)
3 eggs
4 fl.oz sunflower oil
2 fl.oz. milk
icing:
4 oz (100g) milk chocolate
4 fl oz (100ml) soured cream
handful dried banana chips, chopped
Mix the sugar, flour, bicarb, cocoa, and chocolate in a bowl.  Using another bowl, mash the bananas, then stir in one whole egg, and 2 yolks (reserving the 2 whites). Add the oil and milk.
Beat the egg whites until stiff then quickly fold the wet banana mixture into the dry (flour, etc) mix, followed by a quarter of the beaten whites to slacken the mixture.  Finally, gently fold in the remaining whites
Spoon/scrape into a greased and fully lined 2lb loaf tin (allowing the baking parchment to come about an inch above the top of the sides. Bake at 160C, gas 3 for 1hr 10 minutes or slightly longer until a skewer comes out clean   Cool in the tin, placing this on a wire rack.
To make the icing, melt the chocolate and cream together in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  When the chocolate has softened, stir with a spoon until combined, then chill in the fridge until spreadable.  Remove cake from tin, swirl the icing over the top and scatter over the chopped banana chips.

Here is a gorgeous recipe using pears.  Have chosen this because the ingredients sound sort of luxurious, so this could be worth serving to guests as well as just family fare.  We don't all have spiced fruit-flavoured tea-bags, if not use an ordinary tea-bag lightly brewed preferably in a pint (600ml) of diluted apple juice (in place of the water) and add a pinch of cinnamon.
A bit late to do this now, but if you grow redcurrants, then always pick some in 'the bunch' and freeze them this way.  When thawed these can then draped onto or beside a suitable dessert as an edible and very attractive garnish.

Poached Pears in Spiced Tea: serves 4
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
1 tblsp runny honey
1 tblsp redcurrant jelly (or cranberry jelly)
2 spiced fruit tea-bags (apple and cinnamon?)
1 pint (600nl) water
4 firm pears, peeled/halved and core removed
handful fresh cranberries or redcurrants
yogurt or crème fraiche for serving
Put the sugar, honey, jelly and tea-bags in a pan with the water and bring to the boil.  Stir to dissolve the sugar, then add the pear halves.  Cover, reduce heat to a low simmer and poachfor 12 - 15 minutes until the pears are just tender - test with a skewer, cocktail stick or tip of a knife.
Using a slotted spoon, remove pears and place in a dish. Turn up the heat under the pan, throw in the cranberries or redcurrants and boil for a few minutes until syrupy. Discard the tea-bags and serve the pears with the warm syrup poured over.  Serve withy yogurt, crème fraiche.

This is a variation of Apple Crumble. Useful in that we can cut down quite a bit of the prep - as no need to first peel the apples.

Baked Stuffed Apples with Crumble: serves 6
6 large eating apples or medium Bramley's
2 oz (50g) sultanas
1 tsp cinnamon
3 oz (75g) butter, chilled
4 fl oz (100ml) cider or apple juice
3 tblsp plain flour
4 tblsp Demerara sugar
2 oz (50g) hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds
custard for serving
Remover the apple cores (using an apple corer), then make a slit around the middle of each apple using a sharp knife - just deep enough to cut through the peel This stops the skin splitting when the apples are baked, then place the apples into a baking tin of a size where they fit snugly.
Toss together the sultanas with the cinnamon and push these into the holes where the cores were, adding a small knob of butter to each (save the rest of the butter).
Pour the cider (or apple juice) round the apples and bake at 200C, gas 6 for 30 minutes or until the skin is loose.
Meanwhile, put the flour, sugar and nuts into a food processor and pulse together until the nuts are coarsely chopped (if you have no processor then chop nuts by hand and mix everything together in a bowl).  Add the remaining butter and whizz (or rub in) until end result is like coarse breadcrumbs.
After the half-hour of cooking, carefully slide off the top half of skin from each apple and sprinkle with the crumble mix, pressing it onto each apple.  Bake for a further 30 minutes.  Serve with custard.

Final recipe today is a fruit loaf, not a million miles away from the Welsh 'Bara Brith', and am including this as a way to use complementary flavoured spiced fruit tea-bags that we may have (was given several once, didn't like them as tea but PERFECT for flavouring cakes - so use when a recipe uses a normal tea-bag, as in the recipe below).  This will freeze, so could be cut to eat half now, and freeze the rest for later.
Use all white flour or a mixture of whole-meal and white, and instead of using dried cranberries, we could use any dried fruits such as blueberries, cherries, dates...

Welsh Fruit Loaf:  serves 12
14 oz (400g) mixed fruit
1 x 75g bag dried cranberries (see above)
1 mug (8fl oz) hot strong black tea (see above)
4 oz (100g) butter
2 heaped tblsp orange marmalade
2 eggs, beaten
1 lb (450g) self-raising flour (see above)
6 oz (175g) light soft brown sugar
1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ginger
4 tblsp milk
Mix together the fruit and cranberries in a large bowl, then pour the hot tea over.  Cover with cling film and leave to soak overnight.
Next day, melt the butter and marmalade together in a pan, then leave to cool for 5 minutes.  Beat in the eggs.  Drain excess liquid from the fruit.
Mix the flour, sugar and spices together, stir in the fruit and butter/marm/egg mix, also adding the milk, and mix until well combined.  The mixture should drop softly from the spoon, if too firm mix in a little more milk.
Spoon into a greased and base-lined 2lb/900g loaf tin, and bake at 180C, gas 4 for one hour to one and a half hours - until dark golden and a skewer comes out clean.   Cover loosely with foil (shiny side up) if the loaf darkens too much before the centre is cooked.   Cool completely in the tin before turning out.

Am now discovering the secret of getting through all the work that seems to keep piling up is to make time for them.  Perhaps finding the time is the hardest part, but if I'm firm with myself and allow no more than two hours to write a blog (pref less) the work will (eventually) get done.

Off now to make my lunch, then back to 'the culinaries' again. B requests Kedgeree for supper, so need to hard-boil some eggs, the rest is simple enough. 
Hope you all have a good day.  TTFN.







 









Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jack of All Trades....

When I was younger, the saying "Jack of All Trades and Master of None" meant you had a slight knowledge of all sorts of things, but not enough to make anything good enough to sell. 

Decades later it seems that a lot of things sold (other than food and even sometimes that can be included, especially when processed) is not top quality.  In the past, businesses used to pride themselves on giving good service, materials lasted for years (often generations - I'm still using sheets that have the World War II utility label!
Old furniture too can last, yet today everything made (probably deliberately) falls to bits within ten years.  Unless made by genuine craftsmen and then sold at a price few of us can afford.

Nowadays, we 'domestics' have the edge.  It is true we are mainly 'Jack (and Jills) of all trades), in that many of us can knit, sew, crochet, and - of course - can cook, and it was only yesterday, when I'd finished knitting my fifth square, that B looked at them all, admired them and said "Amazing! You could sell these - for about £3 each?  Had to point out that the yarn for each cost over half that, and as it would take a whole day to knit a square, leaving little time for anything else - it would have to be priced a lot more than that and "so why people buy covers and even whole cushions as they would be cheaper".
Incidentally, those who knit will appreciate that plain, purl and moss-stitches, can make lovely patterns when knitted in a certain order.  Using these as they are the only ones I remember other than cable - this I will be trying later.

Myself believe that being able to manage many of the domestic skills at amateur level is even better than being a master at just one.  A professional dressmaker might turn out wonderful clothes, but if no good at cooking is not much use around the house - unless of course we need a new outfit every few weeks. 

I've been feeling very much a Jill over the past few days.  Not only have I just got back to normality after my 'hobblies' and pill-confusion, but I've had to catch up on what chores I have not been doing, and this weekend had the cooking for the social club to deal with. Not to mention the knitting that has led me to discovering that just listening to TV soaps et al is almost as good as watching, so can do the two at the same time.

Then - of course - it is now autumn, and nature really has provided us with a bounty this  year.  In the club compound (where the boats are kept) there is a huge blackberry bush, and it seems that none of the sailors (mainly men) are not interested in the berries, so I ask B to bring me the ripe berries each time he is there (usually every day as he does a bit of voluntary DIY for the club).  It is not as though I NEED all the berries, but you know me, if there is something free that can be eaten and used, who am I to leave it to go to waste, although I suppose the birds might eat them.  There will always be plenty left for them as the bush is both very high and very wide, B cannot reach all.

Our apple tree is still dropping apples,  and still quite a number on the tree itself, so what do I do with all these? Process and freeze is the answer, so now - over the next few days - need to really sort out the freezer/s and find room.  Or else buy another freezer?

It makes sense not to store food too long in the freezer anyway as the running costs eat away at any savings that can be made.  Best thing to do is use what I have to bulk cook meals for the winter (spag bol meat sauce, chilli con carne, curries, samosas (to go with), casseroles, steak and kidney pies, meatballs, fish-cakes, lots of chicken stock.....then to those (when I have room) puddings such as Sticky Toffee Pudding, fruit pies, Ginger Cake, Black Forest Gateau, Cheesecakes, Baked Alaska, certainly Chocolate Fondants, and then start working our way through them.  It is so much easier (and quicker) to reheat a meal (or at least cook something on the hob using meat that has already been cooked before freezing).

Sorry I didn't have time to blog yesterday,  was so tired that I went to bed early (B was out at the social club) and this morning it was after 10.00am before I got up - mainly because I was having a lot of dreams, and I always enjoy these and didn't want to stop.

Today I have more cooking to do, a load of laundry (that will have to be dried on the airer as our deeds forbid us hanging out washing in the garden on a Sunday), and no it can't wait until tomorrow as B got blackberry juice on his cream trousers, and told me he had put all the trousers in the water when sponging just that bit, so if I leave them any longer without properly laundering they will begin to smell a bit 'stuffy'.

Have also to water all the containers in the garden - we haven't had a proper drop of rain for what now seems like weeks, and although a little has been forecast, this in only parts of the country, can't wait for it any longer.  Then - when back indoors - have to carry on cooking and doing as much as need to be done.   B is complaining that bought bread is turning mouldy before he finishes the loaf (and he only bought one little one last week to save me baking), he replaced it with another but from tomorrow I'll be baking bread again, so looks like I'm going to need to make lists for each day to make sure I do most of what needs to be done, otherwise I'll forget.

Haven't yet found that apple-recipe book, but will take another look today and hope that by next week I'll be able to give some useful but different recipes using this fruit. 

Will leave you today with a suggestion we choose one of the diets that Les has sent in.  My favourite (because it works) is the protein and veggie one.  Having said that no doubt I'll be making myself a sarnie with the last of the W.Watcher's bread.  The other day wrote about the calorie content of this compared to other breads, and although it is actually more per 100g than 'ordinary' bread, think the reason that each slice is so low in calories (50g), it is not just because it is light (contains more air), but also that the slices are very much thinner than the normal 'medium' sliced. 
At one time we could buy bread as thin-sliced, medium-sliced, or thick.  We now seem to be able to buy it only as 'medium', 'thick' (sometimes called 'toasting'), and now even 'extra thick' (for those who like thick toast).

Thin-cut sliced bread used to have 24 slices in the loaf, plus - I think - two crusts.  The medium today is 20 slices and not sure if this included the crusts or not.  Having less slices to make our sarnies means we then have to buy more bread so to the manufacturers it makes sense to stop selling the thin-sliced.
You would laugh at me, as when I have only the two crusts left in the bag of W.W. Danish, as they are then thicker than the slices, very carefully slices these in half horizontally to give me two more slices, and also two small thin crusts that are thin enough - when filled - to eat as another sarnie.  Could of course toast the crusts as is, but just getting those extra slices to make extra sarnies makes me feel smug. 

It's now mid-day, and if I don't start now I'll never get going.  If enough can be done today, then will be able to find time to blog tomorrow - probably late in the evening, but am trying to fit everything in so that I can go to bed early, these late nights are not a good idea.
Hope you are all having a good weekend.  From the lack of comments am sure you are all out BlackBerrying or enjoying the good weather while it lasts.  TTFN.








Thursday, September 11, 2014

Just Popping In....

Quick blog today as I'm still trying to catch up with myself.  Surprising how those few weeks unable to move around easily has led to me leaving jobs that need to be done.  The good news is that each day my knee hurts that little bit less and today I was able to walk around the house more than once without having to rely on a walking stick.  Only a week ago I had to use TWO sticks.
B collected the MSM from the pharmacy today, so I've begun to take those as well.  The suggestion (on the container) is that one MSM pill is taken 3 times a day, and for the first few days take two three times a day.  With only 90 in the bottle,  it could be that I'll need another in three weeks.   Not that it matters, as worth paying for comfort.  I can save the money if I stop eating for comfort. Trouble is - I have to take these pills with food, so as I normally used to eat only two meals a day I'm having to eat three smaller meals instead.  Who knows, this might even help me lose weight.  I'll let you know.

Thanks to Margie for the info about Canada and its provinces.  Suppose it is a bit like the US with its many different states, or Australia with lesser but larger ones.
Also thanks for letting me know about Earl Hamner (author and narrator of The Waltons). As the American and Canadian accents are so very similar to us English (although I know there are many variations, especially with the American ones), I've noticed that the word 'about' and some others with the 'ou' in them are pronounced differently in Canada.  When Earl Hamner says this word to me it does sound Canadian, but then what would I know.

The New Zealand and Australian accents are also similar, but the difference again is in the vowels, I cannot remember which, but in NZ like the 'e's are pronounced as Australia would say 'i', or is it vice versa?  At one time I used to think someone from South African was Australian.  Accents are so interesting, I'd love to have had the time to make a study of them.  Am pretty good with all the many English (regional) accents, but apart from knowing the difference between the New England in US, and the deep south (also US), and Maryland (thanks to the Food Network), that's about it.

Grateful thanks to Shayna for letting me know the new channel (No 41) for the Food Network. Didn't realise there was a difference between a pharmacy and a chemist.  To me they seem the same.  The American 'drug store' I always thought of as a sort of chemist/pharmacy, but am pretty sure that is where the teenagers used to meet and sit on high stools at the counter and eat lots of ice-cream and drink milk-shakes.  Maybe this was just a side-line to the medical part of the store.

As well as cooking (and having my hair done), did a load of washing and also sorting out of the kitchen ready for tomorrows baking session.  Seemed sensible to do it in that order so that the cakes will then be perfect for eating one or two days after baking.  (B has to take them to the club earlyish on Saturday).  The scones will be baked very early on Saturday morning ready for B when he leaves as these definitely should be eaten as soon as possible after baking.

Although watching some TV, most of the time I'm more listening to it than closely watching as now I keep my hands occupied with my knitting.  Nearly run out of my chunky wool having knitted three big squares (intended for cushion covers but now thinking they might be better with added crocheted squares to make a big throw for when the weather gets chilly as with mutterings in the newspaper about us having electricity cuts this winter due to some of the power stations having to close part down to make repairs (including the nuclear one at Heasham a few miles up the road from where we live), feel it's best to be prepared.  
Generally, the more I prepare, the less chance there is of whatever I've prepared for - happening.  Go out without an umbrella and then almost certainly it will start to rain.  Going on holiday jpacking an umbrella, a raincoat and wellingtons, and lots of warm jumpers and you can be sure the sun will shine all day long.

So this winter I'm going to make sure I have several torches, plenty of batteries, matches in case I need to light the gas hob (it has an electric ignition), and luckily we have a gas fire in this room that we could light with matches (unless it has a security cut out so the gas won't then come on). Also candles.
In Leeds we once had several weeks of electricity cuts, usually about four hours and only in different parts of the city, so if it was around supper time B would go out to another part of Leeds and have his supper in a restaurant.  He was not interested in any food I'd managed to cook over the log/coal fire, or even over six little tea lights (these give enough heat to boil water - even faster if you use more tea lights).  We also had heat from the open fire in our living room, and I used to light an oil lamp - ready primed and kept a supply of oil for this purpose - and really enjoyed just sitting in the low light warming my toes by the fire and toasting bread/crumpets to eat liberally spread with butter and honey. As I said B was out elsewhere, he is not one who wishes to cope with problems such as those whereas I thoroughly enjoyed them - an indeed anything that is a challenge fills my life with joy.

When I have a moment I really MUST look through my stack of old paperback cookbooks as I know somewhere there is one that deals just with apples, giving loads of recipes for ways to use them up. What better time to share some of them, let's hope I can find it this weekend, and we will then have a chance to do better than making apple sauce,  or freezing slices/chunks of apples.

Might as well make a start looking now - so with that thought will say my farewell for today, hoping - but not certain - that I'll be back tomorrow as usual.  All depends how well I get on during the day.
See you when I see you.  TTFN. 







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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mix and Match?

After using redcurrant jelly by mistake instead of cranberry sauce (in chicken sarnies) - and it worked, today - when making myself some sardine sarnies, instead of mashing them with a bit of vinegar decided to use up the last bit of tartare sauce from a jar in the fridge.  As this is eaten with fish I knew it would work. With the last teaspoon of redcurrant jelly left in the jar, I added that as well. and again found it worked.  Perhaps it was the sharpness of the redcurrants that cut through the oiliness of the fish, but anyway I enjoyed the slight sweetness it gave, which balanced the tartare sauce.  Not everyone's cup of tea I suppose, but then I always seem to be the one eating all the odds and ends and maybe now have enough experience and after many trials and errors usually get it right.

Even went so far as to add to my salad a handful of fresh and ripe blackberries freshly picked from a bush that had been hiding behind another (we discovered it only last year). The other salad ingredients were iceberg lettuce, two mini bell peppers (one orange, one yellow), three large radishes, thinly sliced, and a tomato cut into eighths.  Oh yes, some chunks of smoked cheddar.  When I came to eat the salad (I'd made it in advance and tossed everything together with a little mayonnaise), kept wondering what the unusual flavour was and it wasn't until I'd almost finished I found a blackberry and realised that is what it had been.   These went well with the salad, not so sure about with the cheese, but certainly would have complemented any meat or poultry I might have included (which I hadn't at that time but will do so when I have some).  Think it will be worth making some seedless blackberry jelly to eat with duck, in the same way we eat lamb (or chicken) with redcurrant jelly.

It really is turning out to be an amazing autumn with heavy crops of almost everything that ripens at this time of year.  From your comments it sounds as though you have all been busy amassing what you can and then taking time to preserve it all - in many different ways.

Hazel is turning her berries into wine, and despite all the work it entails, well worth it when the wine works out at only 18p a bottle!  Probably a great deal stronger than bought wine so could be diluted down.  Adding lemonade to wine helps the body extract the alcohol more easily so we get tiddly far quicker drinking added 'fizzed' to the wine. Using the cheapest lemonade (probably diet lemonade) this could bring the price of home-made wine down to about 12p a bottle.  DON'T add the lemonade to the wine before bottling (the bottles could explode), just pour the wine into a glass and then top up with lemonade.

Kathryn is as busy as ever (did you manage to take Dolly to Middleton Sands?), and I do agree that knitting and crochet is very relaxing.  Since Monday I've knitted two and a half cushion covers (one side of each only), intending to crochet the other side.

It's been so long since I knitted that I didn't realise that knitting pins are now in metric sizes.  Why? As I was needing to buy some (I gave all mine away before we moved), had to ask the assistant which size I needed.  The wool was called 'chunky' and she said 5 1/2 mm needles, and as far as I can work out they were the same as we used to call 'nines'.
Seems that knitting is like riding a bike, once learned you never forget.  Took me only a couple of minutes to cast on 60 stitches and discovered the large ball of yarn was exactly the right amount to knit a square (using plain, purl, and moss stitch for form patterns).

It is pleasant to have wool/yarn already wound in balls. Not sure when that started, but my early days of knitting (my mum taught me how to knit when I was five) I used to sit in a chair by the fire, with a hank of wool in my hands while my mother sat opposite me and wound it into balls,  I'd move my hands from side to side so my mum could easily wind the wool.  She was a fast knitter, so I used to spend quite some time holding hanks of wool.

The shop in our 'village' that sells wool, yarn, cottons and all things needed for knitting, crochet and sewing, is a place I love to go to.  Usually I sit on a chair and have a good chat (but do buy things as well). Was very surprised to find that balls of real wool were up to £4 a ball, yet the yarn was under £2 for a ball twice the size. 

I was saying how wool is always the warmest, but so difficult to wash as it shrank when the water was too hot, and difficult to get the water out as wringing it/or spin drying could stretch a garment out of shape. Apparently, nowadays the wool sold is machine washable, so suppose it has been specially treated.

There was a time when I learned how to spin wool using a spinning wheel, and it wasn't that difficult, also very relaxing, and the wool - spun from a fleece that I had 'carded' - still contained lanolin and so my hands were beautifully soft.
A sheep's fleece - even now - can be bought for £5, and probably would give enough wool to knot several sweaters (I bet Kathryn knows more about the costs), so I was twenty years younger (almost a pensioner even then) would definitely buy a spinning wheel, some fleeces and get carding, spinning and knitting.  Possibly even dying the wool in different colours. 
Even before I had the use of a (borrowed) spinning wheel was able to spin wool using a stick that I'd stuck into a potato, tying the end of the wool to the base of the stick, and then spinning it round so the pulled-out wool wrapped itself around the stick.

Must have missed the 'flag fiasco' you mentioned Margie. There is such a lot on the news at the moment about the Scots wanting their independence, with the possibility that they may then join the EU and take the euro as currency.  So that means when anyone goes to Scotland on holiday they would have to change their money.  Will they also need a passport?
Scotland does print its own money (or it is printed for them at the Royal Mint), and some places in England won't accept the notes, probably further down south than here in the north.

Canada seems to have connection with Scotland in that many of the first settlers were Scottish I believe, as were many were French, and on the news it did mention that Quebec wanted to break away from Ontario (is that what they call the rest of Canada?), and become properly French.  o sure if this is an on-going thing or something that occurred in the past and nothing came of it. If it happened would France then own part of Canada and the Scots own the rest? 
The British news reporter was talking to a person from Quebec and he spoke English (with both a Canadian and a French accent..  So I suppose when speaking French In Quebec it would is spoken with a Canadian accent.

Watching the ending of 'The Waltons' (on before 'Little House'....) and reading about it on the website, it is loosely based on the authors life, and the author himself does the voice-over at the end. He definitely has a Canadian accent (to me the difference between the US and Canadian accents is the way they pronounce the 'ou' in words) so would have expected his story to be set in Canada, instead of West Virginia.

Oh yes, can anyone explain to me about Walnut Grove (in' Little House....') sometimes they call it their 'town', yet the other day Mrs Oleson (shopkeeper) told some newcomers that Walnut Grove was part of Hero township.    We would perhaps call Walnut Grove a 'village', but have never heard of 'Hero' as a local town in the series, only other towns with names I recognise such as Sleepy Hollow, and even Minnesota (reached by rail).  Is a 'township' something different? 

Norma the Hair has had to change our appointment time, and this has made it difficult for me as I have a busy week ahead.  The sailing club has a two-day weekend and food is needed (some I will be supplying, and will also need to make a lot of preserves for the MacMillan Day later in the month, so as both Thursday morning and Friday morning I have other commitments, not sure how I'll fit it all in as still need to rest a bit each day.  Pleased to say my knee is slowly improving, and by the end of the month hope to be back to almost normal although the discomfort will never completely disappear.

So - it could be you might not get a blog from me at least one of the days later this week, could be tomorrow or Friday.  Saturday I'll definitely not be blogging, but by Sunday all the work should be done.  Please don't be concerned if I don't blog for a few days as it will be a case of expect me when you see me.   With any luck and a good wind behind me I could get on faster than expected, so a relaxing chat with you to help me unwind.  All I can do is play it by ear.

Before I leave, must mention a prog I watched last night on one of the Freeview channels, think it was called '10 ways to lose weight'.  Quite a few good tips.  One was the way we eat our food.  They did trials with a set number of people (under laboratory conditions). giving them all exactly the same meal, then tested them to find out when they next felt hungry.  But half of them had been given a glass of water to drink immediately after the meal, the other half had had the same meal chopped up and added to a pan with the water and heated to make a soup.
The ones who ate the food as soup did not feel hungry until hours later than the others, and this was due to their stomachs holding the food longer due to the added liquid. 

Protein foods also stay in the stomach for longer so people eat far less when their diet consists of plenty of protein (think we already know that as long as we don't eat carbos).
Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and low-fat cheese help to remove more fat from the body than if they were not eaten, this because these products 'wrap' themselves round other fats and help to remove them from our body.

Recently we had to re-programme the Freeview channels, and this I did so, but before that had discovered that the 'Food Network' - previously on channel 48 - has been replaced with 'Movies for Men' (the mind boggles!).  Can anyone tell me the correct channel number for the Food Network?  Not that I watch it much any more, but one day might wish to.

Will still check comments each day and if there are any requests will do my best to reply to them that day.  Otherwise, will be back as and when.  In the meantime expect most of you will be far too busy crop-gathering and then preserving to find time to switch on the comp.  Oh for those days when all we had was the radio to listen to.  Not surprising we managed to get more work done then - and it was proper work, like doing the washing with no machine to help, and hand-knitting and sewing garments, not to mention all the repairs (we didn't throw away things with holes in them, we either patched them or darned them).
Food of course was always home-prepared (although we did buy bread). that too took time, but how much pleasanter life seemed to be then, hard work but far less stress than we seem to have today.  There must have been bad times, and our nature is to remember only the good - of which there was plenty. 

Still good weather with more to come.  No wonder we see more smiling faces as we walk around.  There is nothing like a good English summer, followed by a lovely autumn to keep us in a good mood.   Pity we have been reminded to have our flu jabs ready for the winter (our jabs to be at the end of this month), and notices to book Christmas dinner are now appearing outside many pubs.  In a month Barton Grange will have its wonderful Christmas display set up, and the supermarkets will be selling tinsel, baubles and mince-pies.  If the weather carries on as it is doing we'll be eating Christmas Dinner on the barbecue.

Enough fantasy, be back again soon, or even sooner.  Enjoy every minute of our Indian summer, and
forget you have a comp (or tablet, or iPad or whatever).  Return to how it used to be and the pleasures it can give.  TTFN.



   

 

  
 



  

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

This could be Interesting. Or Not...

Have still hardly worked my way through the second chapter in Clarissa Dickson Wright's book about the history of Engish food/cooking (can't remember the correct title, the book is in another room and I can't be bothered to get up and find it), but it amazes me how there are so many protein foods eaten then that we never eat now.

I'd mentioned the rather sparse diet of the poorer labouring families, although it didn't differ a lot from the rations in World War II, but I hadn't read the next chapter, and there are lists of menu served to those wealthy enough to 'eat like kings' (most of them were kings!), and these included many foods that the rural folk could trap/kill to supplement their diet, other than the more normal rabbit, hare, deer, and the game birds that we eat today.

Could we face eating sparrows, rooks, larks, blackbirds, thrushes, bitterns, swans, peacocks, curlews, lapwings, lampreys, porpoise, whale, beaver tails, badgers....?  and that's just the few that I can remember. There were more.

Another thing I found interesting, and maybe still known by woodsmen or those who burn logs to heat a room or oven.  Different woods burn hotter than others, as well as being suitable for other uses.
Applewood when burned on an open fire (to heat a room) gives off a very pleasant smell.

Examples given in the book are that bowls were always made of sycamore as the close grain didn't harbour germs.  Ash wood is good for kitchen fires/cooking and was also used to make handles for knives. Light coloured woods such as beech and lime were used to make buttertubs, and oak chips were perfect for smoking fish/meat. 

Oak we know was used in ship building, but also crucial in the building of medieval buildings, and the story goes that the oak chippings from the building of York Minster were so plentiful they were the origin of the particularly delicate flavour of smoked York Ham.

Moving towards the present day we know that cricket bats are always made of willow. Walking sticks of ash, and no doubt readers can come up with the best purpose for the same or other woods.

At the side of me, standing on the marble in front of our fire grate are two blocks of wood, not solid pieces but in thick layers of maybe different woods.  The wood I believe came from Russia and was used in the building of 'Tenacious', one of the two Tall Ships owned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (expect they can be seen on their website).  My Beloved was one of the volunteers in the building of the Tenacious and spent some time at the JST in Southampton helping to fit the planks and other struts, even wrote his name on one of them before it was screwed down (and why he was able to bring back two of the 'offcuts'). He later was able to sail as part of the crew on one of his holidays.

Although the morning was cloudy, the sun came out about midday and it was still very warm, although chilly in the shade.  Looks as though the harvest has been good this year, and as the weather is said to be set fair for several more weeks, we could have a bumper crop of corn.  This means animal food should be cheaper and also cereal crops. Whether this will bring down the cost of breakfast cereals, and baked goods remains to be seen.

Heard on the news that farmers in the north west may have to give up producing milk if they don't get more money.  Apparently Russia are banning the imports of our milk, but myself can't understand why we have to send milk abroad and then replace it with imported milk from (say) France.  Probably because French milk is cheaper - but that doesn't help our farmers.  Although we - as consumers - are enjoying the cheaper milk (4 pints for £1) sold by practically all supermarkets now, and would probably moan if the price rose again, I personally wouldn't mind paying more if the farmers were then paid the extra.

Again, many thanks for your comments.   Do you think jane, if the altering of shifts throughout the warehouse is causing a lot of problems for shift-workers, they couldn't band together and request their shifts stay as they are?  What is the reason for the change anyway?
You didn't mention the variety of apples picked from the trees, but if cookers (and some eaters) they should keep quite well in a cool place if packed so they don't touch each other, wrap each in tissue paper helps to prevent this.

Anyone with a surplus of apples could peel and core them, then slice fairly thinly and dry out in a cool over until like leather.  These should then store well for months if kept in airtight containers.

Do remember we had a Bramley apple tree in my parents home, and when picked my mother would store them (as above) and they kept well for many weeks, probably months. So Alison, you could try this if you have a lot of Bramleys.  Or peel, core, stuff the centres with Demerara sugar, and then wrap closely in rolled-out short-crust pastry.  Freeze, then bake from frozen.  Bramleys soften quite rapidly when cooked so by the time the pastry is cooked (allow a little longer than usual) they will have thawed and be perfect for eating.

It's a good idea to make herb jellies with surplus apples.  Strain the cooked apples (that have been cooked in a little water) and then boil the liquid with sugar (1 pt juice to 1lb sugar), adding chosen herb to pan, then strain before bottling.  Not sure if anyone has yet mentioned crab apples, but these make an excellent jelly.

A lovely comment from Anna who sends us her thoughts on the EU.  Am sure that living on the continent certainly will make a difference, especially moving from one country to another, especially now they share the same currency.  Have also heard than many French people ignore EU rules if they don't like them, and no-one seems to check or even care.  Maybe the problem lies with us Brits, our powers that be seem so insistent on us obeying every rule and jumping on anyone that flouts them.

So terrified was I that I'd be fined £5,000 if I sold a jar of marmalade using a recycled (but of course fully sterilised) jar, that I bought loads of new ones.  But still had to sterilise those in the oven, and buy lots of new lids (but I normally use new lids on old jars anyway when selling the preserves), and very shortly after heard that there had been such an uprising in the WI re having to use new jars, that they did a U-turn and we are now allowed to recycle jars as long as the produce is sold for charity (which mine always was).   Think it would be a much easier life if we took the French view and carried on doing things as we have always done.

Not only are we getting gluts of autumn fruits, this week it seems I'm gathering Grannies, as we have yet another to add to our happy band.  Welcome to Granny Margie, who remembers me from the past (and I bet there aren't many who can do that).  If truth be told I bet half my readers are grannies, or even great.g's.

By the way, thanks to Ciao for letting us know that hawthorn seeds are poisonous.  We do need to be quite sure that any hedgerow fruits we pick are safe to use, so always read up on it first.
Incidentally, reading the list of 'ingredients' on the tub of glucosamine plus that other long name that begins with a 'c', it gives rosehips, ginger, and turmeric.  So I bet these three also help to ease arthritis.  It is said that nature has a cure for everything.  We just have to discover them.

I've finished knitting one side of a cushion cover, and have now begun another square and even before I opened my email and read Granny Margie's comment, myself felt very much like Whistler's Mother, sitting there in a chair, and when she wasn't being painted I bet she was knitting or doing some handicraft work.  All I need - I thought - was to sit in a rocking chair as I worked.  We do have one, but it was on the opposite side of the room.  Perhaps I will get B to move it, and it might even make it easier for me to rise.  All I would have to do is lean forward and the rocker would tip me out.

Not sure what is the name for the type of rocker we have.  It is not the sort with legs fitted to a curved base.  Our chair has a base with four very short legs, and a thick wooden bar above them with a curve in the middle on which sits the main chair, it has thick springs at the back fitted to the base so that sort of bounces it back up when rocked backwards.  We don't use it as it need reupholstering, something I've been meaning to do for years.  It cost me only £5 from a antique shop many years ago and am sure it is worth more than that even though it needs attention.

Believe it or not I managed to go to the church 'circle' meeting.  It was so nice to see the regular members again, although there were only five others there.  Perhaps the rest were on holiday. Normally there are more, often as many as 12, but it was a very pleasant meeting.  We just discussed the different ways that mediums works, and am afraid I made them laugh a lot when I told them I'd decided I didn't want to be a medium and say nice things to cheer people up, I just wanted to make contact with the other side so I knew what was going on 'up there'.  But they knew what I meant.

I still feel I need more proof, despite the many strange things that have happened to me already that have given me the knowledge that there definitely is something/someone who is our 'guide'. And that includes seeing ghosts, so there is 'something'.  But I want to know what, and more importantly Why?
Will persevere and - who knows - maybe I will learn more.  But only if I'm supposed to.  Suppose I have to understand that I need Faith, not Proof.   Life would be much easier if I didn't have such an enquiring mind.   Have a recollection of being told when as a child  'stop asking so many questions' '

Sorry, but I haven't a recipe to give today.  Am still trying to gather my thoughts after the last couple or so weeks on those pills (plus withdrawal symptoms).  My knee still is painful, but not nearly as bad as it was on rising from a chair or bed.  Maybe, once the other supplements have kicked in (everything seems to take at least two weeks before it has a noticeable effect) then by the end of this month life should seem even brighter.  It is as though I've been on the bottom end of a 'Low' and now starting to rise again.  Life does have it's ups and downs, almost with great regularity like a wavelength, so it is good to know I'm on the up. 

That's it for today.  Hope to find something interesting to chat about tomorrow.  See you then.















Monday, September 08, 2014

Live and Let Live....

It's been an interesting few days as the comments sent it have caused more than usual reactions.  So again have to thank all who have sent in their opinions. 

What I have found delightful (perhaps only to me) is that Anonymous - who seems to have miles more knowledge of the world - does read my domestic level blog, and again appreciate his/her reply.  I looked up one of the links given hoping to find something about egg storage, but couldn't find it.  Being old-fashioned I'd still be likely to use the old ways (which I have mentioned before) rather than any ordained by the EU.

Have to say that the recommendations (or is it orders?) that I read about the housing of hens made me realise that I'm glad I'm not in any profession that needs EU ruling.  Obviously the one I read makes sense, but suppose it is the fact that we are told what to do by 'others' rather than use our own British rules. 
With the link I read, strangely there seemed nothing said about the breed of hens.  Only how many should be kept in a set area.  Hens can be fairly small and some very large, so the space should be determined by that.  Or perhaps my speed-reading missed that bit.

Trouble is Anonymous, me - being a housewife - gliding through life with just enough knowledge to get me through, is really all I need.  The minutiae I leave to those who specialise in maybe just one subject, and one thing I am sure is that most people in this country at grass roots level haven't the slightest idea what the EU does for us.  It may benefit the European mainland continent, but we are an island nation, very proud of its traditions and should be left alone other than to sell our products more easily through the Common Market.

Even this I find confusing, for it does seem that the majority of some products we import come from Asian countries that have no membership of the EU (India, China, Japan...).  We are also obliged (I believe) to employ people from European Nations - which we do - but this then leaves us with many unemployed British citizens who could have taken these jobs. Are these then expected to move abroad to take work on the continent? 

However, I don't wish this blog to end up as a political soap-box, but it has been good to allow ourselves to vent our feelings.  Myself can quite understand how Jane felt when she gave her reply, also to everyone else - including Anonymous who I feel has a great deal more knowledge of the way the world is run that I do.  We are all entitled to our own opinions, and if we don't always agree we are free to say so - if we wish.  If we were all of the same mind life would be very boring, so live and let live as the saying goes.  
 
Will check in my books re the hawthorn berries Jane.  Not that I'd be likely to use them anyway, but it is always good to know what 'free' foods are out there.   I've not tried damson jam with lamb, but it sounds good, and today made myself a chicken sandwich (remains of sliced roast chicken) adding red currant jelly that I mistakenly thought was cranberry sauce.  That too tasted very good.

Hope you soon feel better Ali.  When my mother went into hospital with a broken hip it was discovered she had pernicious anaemia. She often used to take iron pills as she always felt so tired, but like many in those days, she didn't have a yearly check at the doctor's so her anaemia was not discovered until too late. 

Annoying to have your shifts changed jane.  Do have a think before you decide to give in your notice as (not sure why) it is always easier to get another job while you still have one.  If you have time off 'sick', then maybe it is then a better job can be found.

We give a welcome to Ivy and my personal thanks as she is a lady who enjoys reading my blog. As I hope all readers do, so personal thanks to those also.
Also welcome to MagdaReuth, and her mention of 'top of the milk'.  How useful that used to be, and in summer there was always more cream at the top of the milk bottles than winter.  Channel Island milk had the most - and richest - cream and I used to siphon that off (using my turkey baster), and even made clotted cream with it - as well as butter.  Then I would add cooled boiled water to the rest of the C.I. milk in the bottle (sans cream) to make it up to a pint again, and even then the milk was still richer in flavour than the ordinary full-cream milk sold today.. 
I've seen bottles of Channel Island milk for sale in the supermarkets, but didn't notice whether it still had visible cream or whether it was homogenised (and is homogenisation an EU thing, or just what we Brits do?). 

Thanks to GrannyD (think another welcome due if not a misprint - we do have a Granny G). It's good that we can all have our say regardless of whether we agree with each other or not, and the occasional criticism does make us all sit up for a while with our feathers ruffled,  hackles rising and feet pawing the ground ready for any battle that might arise.   The saying (might have mentioned it recently) 'The cock crows but the hen delivers the goods' is so true, and probably the world would be a better place if it was run by mainly women.  Far fewer wars for a start.  But then I'm a woman, so would say that.

Today - another lovely day - went out with Norris and bought myself several balls of yarn to do more crochet, plus a pair of knitting needles to use up the chunky wool that is too thick to crochet easily.  I've already knitted up nearly one large ball. 
While on the shopping parade noticed (sadly) that another shop had a closing down sale.  This one was a toy shop, it was there when we moved here five years and two months ago.  What's the betting it ends up as an estate agent or something similar.  Will let you know.

Also called in to the chemist (sorry, they call it 'pharmacy' these days), and had a long chat with the chemist (pharmacist!!), bought a bottle of glucosomine which included that other that began with a 'c' (as recommended by readers) and also ordered some MSM (arriving mid-week).  Told these would all take a week or two before I felt any benefit, but as am already feeling a little benefit from the injection, it can only get better.  With any luck I will now be able to keep the arthritis under control and if it won't go away, hopefully won't get any worse.

It's now after midnight, so will trot off to bed and as I now feel much better am hoping to go to the church 'circle' meeting tomorrow, in which as I may have something interesting to write about tomorrow.  If not you'll have to make do with boring things like recipes.  TTFN.